Author Topic: Which of these are DIY projects?  (Read 6442 times)

secondcor521

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Which of these are DIY projects?
« on: March 05, 2014, 06:25:55 PM »
I'm handy enough to change my own oil and cook from a recipe, but not handy enough to swap out a transmission or cook from scratch.

I've got the following house projects I want to tackle someday soon, and was wondering which of these you'd recommend DIY and which you'd recommend hiring out.  I don't mind if stuff isn't perfect, but I don't want something that looks obviously amateurish.

Basically, if something is dangerous, awful to do yourself, or requires significant skill, I'm OK with DIY.  Otherwise I'd rather do it myself and save the labor costs.

Thanks for your input.

Here's the list:

Inside

Insulate ceiling
Insulate walls
Insulate floors
Add radiant heat flooring (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/02/16/the-radiant-heat-experiment/)
Replace carpet (with hardwood and/or new carpet)
Paint bathroom
Paint interior
Replace blinds with better ones


Outside

Burn burn pile
Amend yard soil with topsoil
Fix PH balance in yard soil
Replace tree in front with flowering pear
Replace front shrub with Japanese maple
Remove ugly grassy bushes in front yard
Replace lawn
Paint exterior
Install deck in back yard

seattlecyclone

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 06:38:02 PM »
My personal ranking of easiest to hardest (inside projects only):
1) Replacing blinds
2) Interior painting (bathroom or otherwise)
3) Insulating a ceiling from an open attic
4) Replace carpet
5) Insulating existing sealed ceiling/walls/floors (getting in there and patching everything up afterwards would be a pain)
6) Add radiant heating to the floor

I wouldn't think twice about doing the first three myself. They all should be pretty quick projects that require only very basic tools and knowledge. The others would take a bit more time, effort, learning, and equipment.

Milspecstache

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2014, 06:40:11 PM »
Inside:
Insulate ceiling - If in the attic this can be easy as you can add batten insulation or rent a blower and blow in bags of insulation.
Insulate walls - This could be difficult.  Some people recommend using foam which always appears to be a pain in the rear to me.  What are you exterior/interior walls made of?  How old/any plan to replace them?
Insulate floors - Easy if on a crawlspace as you can install battens of insulation and hold them up with thin metal rods called insulation hangers.
Add radiant heat flooring (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/02/16/the-radiant-heat-experiment/) - Difficult but doable if on a crawlspace/basement.  Personally I am not for it unless you go for it during new construction.  Not a lot of ROI usually.
Replace carpet (with hardwood and/or new carpet) - Tearing out old carpet is easy.  Putting down hardwood floors is doable.  Putting in new carpet is something I have always hired out.
Paint bathroom - easy
Paint interior - easy unless very high ceilings
Replace blinds with better ones - easy


Outside

Burn burn pile - easy, just need to know local regulations and don't do it on windy, dry days
Amend yard soil with topsoil - easy but need more info with regards to the amount you want to add
Fix PH balance in yard soil - buy a soil tester and add sulfur if too low or lime if too high (going from memory here)
Replace tree in front with flowering pear - How big is the tree?  How close to something valuable/easily damaged by falling tree
Replace front shrub with Japanese maple - easy, just cut and plant a new one
Remove ugly grassy bushes in front yard - easy
Replace lawn - not a lot of experience here but I did overseed my lawn last fall to put in more clover and rye
Paint exterior - easy but what kind of exterior?  Wood in good condition?  Or cedar in poor?
Install deck in back yard - May need permits here...  How big and recommend calling your local building dept to ask if permit required

Spork

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2014, 07:19:03 PM »
Burn burn pile

The secret I learned from my father in law:  obviously no wind and wait until it's rained.  It doesn't matter (much) if the burn pile is wet as long as everything around is wet.  Then: take a cheap pump sprayer and fill it full of diesel.  You know have a flame thrower.  Douse the pile with diesel.  Put a little bit of gasoline in one spot.  Toss a match (stand back) at the gasoline.  Now stoke the fire with your flame thrower.  It might take a while depending on how much you have and how wet it is.  It will eventually catch fire.

Diesel burns without remorse... but it takes effort to get it going.  The sprayer makes a mist that WILL burn.

fmzip

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2014, 07:26:16 PM »
If you decide to replace the lawn, check out this forum first.

Do not replace the soil! Read this forum first. If you plan to replace the lawn, the time is the end of summer early fall. Details here:

http://bestlawn.info/forum.html

« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 07:33:44 PM by fmzip »

secondcor521

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2014, 09:51:52 PM »
Thanks all!

To answer some of the questions:  10 year old frame built 1.5 story house with crawlspace.  Vaulted ceiling in living/dining/kitchen, attic access through ceiling in two of those rectangular attic access spots.  Walls are 2x4 with hardiboard exterior and drywall/texture/paint interior; all are in good shape and no plans to replace.

The lawn is standard suburban subdivision lot with grass - it was not leveled well and the grass is "clumpy" in spots as opposed to smooth and thick.  I think the lawn is a combo of rye and Kentucky bluegrass, which is pretty common around here.  The dirt under the grass seems muddy and clay-ish and compact rather than the good farm topsoil I'd rather have.

Thanks again...

homehandymum

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2014, 01:21:01 AM »
The lawn is standard suburban subdivision lot with grass - it was not leveled well and the grass is "clumpy" in spots as opposed to smooth and thick.  I think the lawn is a combo of rye and Kentucky bluegrass, which is pretty common around here.  The dirt under the grass seems muddy and clay-ish and compact rather than the good farm topsoil I'd rather have.

For the grass.  I'd be aerating it - take a large garden fork and spike holes into the ground, then top dress it with a sprinkling of compost.  Repeat and repeat and repeat etc every 2 - 4 weeks.  I have no idea about your local weather pattern, but definitely do this during the seasons that your grass grows.  You can also get some spike things to strap onto your shoes to aerate the lawn as you walk around it, but they seem kinda like a gimmick to me.

Also, anything that is patchy you can over-sow with some better seed.  Get top-soil by the trailer load and use a shovel to level in any serious dips, and maybe hire a roller from an equipment hirage place.  Are you trying to make it look like a golf course? In which case you are looking at serious work, water and cultivation.  Otherwise, just mowing regularly and re-sowing with the type of grass you want will eventually lead to better looking lawn.

Anyhow, that was all off the top of my head, having watched my Dad obsess about his lawn for years :)  Here is a link with some professionals giving advice :)
http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens/gardening/articles/a/-/5823186/lawn-perfection/

nereo

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2014, 06:24:23 AM »
Burn burn pile

The secret I learned from my father in law:  obviously no wind and wait until it's rained.  It doesn't matter (much) if the burn pile is wet as long as everything around is wet.  Then: take a cheap pump sprayer and fill it full of diesel.  You know have a flame thrower.  Douse the pile with diesel.  Put a little bit of gasoline in one spot.  Toss a match (stand back) at the gasoline.  Now stoke the fire with your flame thrower.  It might take a while depending on how much you have and how wet it is.  It will eventually catch fire.

Diesel burns without remorse... but it takes effort to get it going.  The sprayer makes a mist that WILL burn.

Whaaaaaa...?????  The OP was asking questions about tasks such as painting and replacing blinds... while your method is almost certainly effective, I think it carries a bit too much risk for someone who hasn't done that before.  For example; what if his "little bit" of gasoline is much more than yours?  or if he considers "one spot" to be a square meter and you consider it to be a square inch?  god forbid if somehow diesel gets poured on the burn pile but gasoline goes into the sprayer - we'll have one less mustachian (or at least someone without hair or a mustache).

here's a safer (albeit less fun) method:  Use newspaper and normal, boring, dry kindling to start a fire on top of your burn pile. OR, use one of those 'duraflame' logs for maximum simplicity.  Once it catches use a metal garden rake to slowly catch parts of your burn pile.    No petrol needed, no danger of screwing up.

Spork

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2014, 07:28:29 AM »
Burn burn pile

The secret I learned from my father in law:  obviously no wind and wait until it's rained.  It doesn't matter (much) if the burn pile is wet as long as everything around is wet.  Then: take a cheap pump sprayer and fill it full of diesel.  You know have a flame thrower.  Douse the pile with diesel.  Put a little bit of gasoline in one spot.  Toss a match (stand back) at the gasoline.  Now stoke the fire with your flame thrower.  It might take a while depending on how much you have and how wet it is.  It will eventually catch fire.

Diesel burns without remorse... but it takes effort to get it going.  The sprayer makes a mist that WILL burn.

Whaaaaaa...?????  The OP was asking questions about tasks such as painting and replacing blinds... while your method is almost certainly effective, I think it carries a bit too much risk for someone who hasn't done that before.  For example; what if his "little bit" of gasoline is much more than yours?  or if he considers "one spot" to be a square meter and you consider it to be a square inch?  god forbid if somehow diesel gets poured on the burn pile but gasoline goes into the sprayer - we'll have one less mustachian (or at least someone without hair or a mustache).

here's a safer (albeit less fun) method:  Use newspaper and normal, boring, dry kindling to start a fire on top of your burn pile. OR, use one of those 'duraflame' logs for maximum simplicity.  Once it catches use a metal garden rake to slowly catch parts of your burn pile.    No petrol needed, no danger of screwing up.

When I burn, I generally wait for a day that is wet enough that newspaper/kindling just wouldn't catch a burn pile on fire in a reasonable amount of time.  A duraflame log might work.  (I think that is effectively diesel/kerosene and wood chips).   

You may have a point on me not being explicit enough, but I err on the side of "my environment is really wet around the fire" and kindling just isn't going to cut it.

If I need to be explicit, the more obvious observation is: don't leave it alone.  Not at all.  Sit and watch it.  Wind can turn on you.

MustachianAccountant

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2014, 07:46:39 AM »
Burn burn pile

The secret I learned from my father in law:  obviously no wind and wait until it's rained.  It doesn't matter (much) if the burn pile is wet as long as everything around is wet.  Then: take a cheap pump sprayer and fill it full of diesel.  You know have a flame thrower.  Douse the pile with diesel.  Put a little bit of gasoline in one spot.  Toss a match (stand back) at the gasoline.  Now stoke the fire with your flame thrower.  It might take a while depending on how much you have and how wet it is.  It will eventually catch fire.

Diesel burns without remorse... but it takes effort to get it going.  The sprayer makes a mist that WILL burn.

Whaaaaaa...?????  The OP was asking questions about tasks such as painting and replacing blinds... while your method is almost certainly effective, I think it carries a bit too much risk for someone who hasn't done that before.  For example; what if his "little bit" of gasoline is much more than yours?  or if he considers "one spot" to be a square meter and you consider it to be a square inch?  god forbid if somehow diesel gets poured on the burn pile but gasoline goes into the sprayer - we'll have one less mustachian (or at least someone without hair or a mustache).

here's a safer (albeit less fun) method:  Use newspaper and normal, boring, dry kindling to start a fire on top of your burn pile. OR, use one of those 'duraflame' logs for maximum simplicity.  Once it catches use a metal garden rake to slowly catch parts of your burn pile.    No petrol needed, no danger of screwing up.

There's no composting facility in your town??

Spork

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 08:08:38 AM »
Burn burn pile

The secret I learned from my father in law:  obviously no wind and wait until it's rained.  It doesn't matter (much) if the burn pile is wet as long as everything around is wet.  Then: take a cheap pump sprayer and fill it full of diesel.  You know have a flame thrower.  Douse the pile with diesel.  Put a little bit of gasoline in one spot.  Toss a match (stand back) at the gasoline.  Now stoke the fire with your flame thrower.  It might take a while depending on how much you have and how wet it is.  It will eventually catch fire.

Diesel burns without remorse... but it takes effort to get it going.  The sprayer makes a mist that WILL burn.

Whaaaaaa...?????  The OP was asking questions about tasks such as painting and replacing blinds... while your method is almost certainly effective, I think it carries a bit too much risk for someone who hasn't done that before.  For example; what if his "little bit" of gasoline is much more than yours?  or if he considers "one spot" to be a square meter and you consider it to be a square inch?  god forbid if somehow diesel gets poured on the burn pile but gasoline goes into the sprayer - we'll have one less mustachian (or at least someone without hair or a mustache).

here's a safer (albeit less fun) method:  Use newspaper and normal, boring, dry kindling to start a fire on top of your burn pile. OR, use one of those 'duraflame' logs for maximum simplicity.  Once it catches use a metal garden rake to slowly catch parts of your burn pile.    No petrol needed, no danger of screwing up.

There's no composting facility in your town??

Most folks that have burn piles are not in town...  Just sayin'.    And we're usually talking about a truckload of stuff that would have to be chipped and hauled away.  I've got 2 pretty good piles if someone wants to come chip them and haul them off.  For the most part I just let them rot, but occasionally they just get big enough and unsightly enough that you have to get rid of some of it.

brand new stash

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 08:29:36 AM »
I think I'm about the same level of handy-ness was you.

These are the ones I've done:
Paint bathroom
Paint interior
Replace blinds with better ones
Burn burn pile  --- Have a fire extinguisher and a hose handy...I didn't do it with a diesel sprayer, but with kindling and dryer lint to start it.
Amend yard soil with topsoil
Fix PH balance in yard soil
Remove ugly grassy bushes in front yard

These are the ones I would do without hesitation:
Replace carpet (with hardwood and/or new carpet)
Replace front shrub with Japanese maple
Replace lawn
Install deck in back yard

Mori

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 09:00:24 AM »
Painting and blinds are easy--I've done both.

Hardwood floors: I've patched hardwood and barring any horrible issues with an uneven or weird floor I think you'll be fine.

Carpet pulling--easy, just messy and dirty. Make sure you have a mask on because that dust gets everywhere.

All the burn piles I've seen done are in drums away from the house--are you talking just out in the yard?

I could care less about my lawn (and lawncare) so I have no real comments on maintenance of it. :)


Fix PH balance in yard soil - buy a soil tester and add sulfur if too low or lime if too high (going from memory here)


Quick note here: Sulfur will make the yard more acidic (Lower the PH), Lime will make the yard more basic (Raise the PH). I wouldn't swear on the sulfur, but I know people that have used Lime.

secondcor521

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 06:01:49 PM »
The burn pile is lawn clippings, branches, and leaves from the very aggressive bush in the front yard (the one that is to be replaced by the Japanese maple).  It's a pile about 5 feet tall, 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and is currently sitting in the corner of the property up against my neighbors' fences.  I've been burning it a little at a time in the Mexican fireplace on my back concrete patio, but that's kind of small.

I live in a subdivision in the county, about 100 yards outside the city limits, so right near the urban/rural boundary.

Scandium

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2014, 02:49:25 PM »
We're close to finally getting hardwood upstairs, but the more a look at it the more I think I'll hire it out. Seems like such a major pain to do myself. Four rooms, closets a hallways with several odd nooks. Price seems to be $2500 for the labor over 3 days vs me doing it, buying/renting tools, and probably taking a month to do it. And potentially doing a shitty job of it. An uneconomical decision, but it just seems worth it to have this done properly.

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2014, 02:58:47 PM »
We're close to finally getting hardwood upstairs, but the more a look at it the more I think I'll hire it out. Seems like such a major pain to do myself. Four rooms, closets a hallways with several odd nooks. Price seems to be $2500 for the labor over 3 days vs me doing it, buying/renting tools, and probably taking a month to do it. And potentially doing a shitty job of it. An uneconomical decision, but it just seems worth it to have this done properly.
$2500 for a month's part-time work is not bad at all... and that's $2500 after-tax. And, frankly, it sounds kind of fun!

bacchi

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2014, 03:27:21 PM »
Installing a t&g floating hardwood floor is easy. The only special tools you'll need are a positioning tool and kneepads. If you don't have a miter saw for the trim you can rent/borrow one or get a miter box.

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2014, 05:11:57 PM »
I'd probably get nailed down flooring. Yes, my "salary" for doing DIY would be pretty good, but it just seems like such a pain the the ass with all the nailing and cutting etc. And with a baby on the way I do have a pile other other projects to do so time saved has some value..

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2014, 06:43:40 PM »
I hear you on having other priorities, but I will say that having been in the exact same spot as you (questioning seriously whether to hire it out), I'm glad I bought the nailer and learned to do it myself.  It is actually much easier than it looks and goes fairly fast.  Cuts around doorways can get a little tricky but if you have a power jamb saw or jamb hand saw you'll be fine.  Believe me, it feels really good when you're seeing the results.  I put in about 1200 square feet over 3 days and then finished up the quarter round on another day.  Instead of the quarter round you could also remove the baseboard and then reinstall once the floor is in (cleaner look IMO and cheaper).

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2014, 08:56:21 PM »
The burn pile is lawn clippings, branches, and leaves from the very aggressive bush in the front yard (the one that is to be replaced by the Japanese maple).  It's a pile about 5 feet tall, 8 feet wide, 10 feet long, and is currently sitting in the corner of the property up against my neighbors' fences.  I've been burning it a little at a time in the Mexican fireplace on my back concrete patio, but that's kind of small.

I live in a subdivision in the county, about 100 yards outside the city limits, so right near the urban/rural boundary.
[/quotes]

Don't burn that pile in place against the fences!  A pile that large, with leaves (will burn fast unless green) , that has been sitting (drying) could be a huge hot fire once it gets going, one where you need to stand yards back or risk scorching your eyeballs. Keep a good clearance all around the pile, and a barrel of water handy.  We've got nearly 2 acres, so we have lots of room for our burn pile; I wouldn't try to burn all that at once. Start with a 4' diameter pile, when the smaller bits burn off add another batch on top, repeat.  Start early in the day, and watch it all the time; coals will still be live much longer than you think, even if you douse it when it has burned down.

As others have mentioned, make sure your municipality doesn't have a ban on open fires, and that you are not under a temporary burn ban due to dry conditions, etc. Above all, be safe - DH is a volunteer FF, and has seen burns get barns and farm fields.

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2014, 08:35:39 AM »
I hear you on having other priorities, but I will say that having been in the exact same spot as you (questioning seriously whether to hire it out), I'm glad I bought the nailer and learned to do it myself.  It is actually much easier than it looks and goes fairly fast.  Cuts around doorways can get a little tricky but if you have a power jamb saw or jamb hand saw you'll be fine.  Believe me, it feels really good when you're seeing the results.  I put in about 1200 square feet over 3 days and then finished up the quarter round on another day.  Instead of the quarter round you could also remove the baseboard and then reinstall once the floor is in (cleaner look IMO and cheaper).

Wow, just 3 days is really fast, that's what the professionals said they would use for our 750 sqft. I'd probably take 3 weeks.. If I had the time I could maybe have started with one room and gone through them one by one. Wouldn't be such a big deal if it took some time. But with more work these days and a baby-deadline it just seems unlikely.

I'm going to get some quotes from contractors for installation if I provide the flooring. Hopefully I can find a better deal. The quotes from showrooms of $6/sqft for simple-as-heck oak seems like a lot. (plus $3/sqft labor). And yes  I know lumber liquidators is shady, need to find somewhere else to look.

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Re: Which of these are DIY projects?
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2014, 09:44:27 AM »

List


I'm going to let you in on a secret. Almost anything (anything!) can be DIY if you can have the confidence to start something and the drive to finish it. I would say all you listed are DIY-able but here are a couple notes:

Insulating ceilings / attics is generally easy but it is very unpleasant (generally). This might be worth hiring out. And worth moving to the top of the list.

Insulating walls without tearing anything out is possible by the DIY but generally should be hired out. BUT this is a HUGE payback so I'd put it towards the front of the list to have done.

Replacing flooring - I did attached pad carpet and it is very easy to put down and trim. No one can tell that it's not traditional carpeting. I did somewhat cheap and it has lasted 3 years with no problem. Laminate is a little bit harder until you figure out how to do it correctly. Hardwood is a bit harder but can be done by someone with the determination to finish. But is harder than the other two.

Painting - can be done by anyone but you have to learn the tips and tricks just by doing. Does take a certain amount of patience. You'll learn what you have to tape and what you can do without taping with different types of brushes (e.g. chiseled edge foam brushes can be used to run up against trim without taping off just applied paint and worrying about ripping it up). On older houses, trim filler in a caulk gun tube is a God-send for being able to to fill in gaps and make it look good. Also invest in a nail gun and compressor set up. One I got was a couple hundred bucks, came with the compressor, a brad nailer and a finish trim nailer. Has paid for itself over and over again. Plus you can use the brad nailer for making picture frames, dealing with delicate trim, etc. Plus you feel like a boss when you hear the pfft sound of a real air tool doing work.

Last year I re-roofed my house and garage, never did a roof before. Just read, looked at how things were put together, and started doing.