From the occasional broken appliance to a spring paint job, home maintenance and repair can quickly add up. But rolling up your sleeves and doing the work yourself can save some serious cash.
Given the current state of the economy, DIY home improvement projects are growing in popularity among many Americans – especially those with higher income levels. According to a 2012 Merrill Edge Report, in the past year 70% of affluent Americans say they took on home improvement projects that they would normally hire someone to do, ranging from plumbing and painting to home cleaning.
But the DIY home improvement trend (Pinterest crafts, anyone?) seems to be unique to higher income Americans. When we look across all economic brackets, the U.S. is actually moving away from the do-it-yourself mindset. According to an AA Home Emergency Response study, these days home improvement skills are seldom being passed on from generation to generation. In the 1970s, 71% of men said they learned DIY home maintenance skills from their fathers, versus 67% in the 1990s and just 44% today.
This trend seems to be a generational one; while older generations are confident in their home improvement skills, younger folks tend to balk at the idea of fixing home issues on their own. When prompted with a DIY challenge, 73% of 55- to 65-year-olds said they believed they could do the job themselves. 55% of those under 35 said they could do it, and just 32% of those under 25 believed they could tackle the challenge.
Lack of confidence may be getting in the way of the money saving benefits of do-it-yourself improvement, but thanks to niche DIY communities, there are a number of resources out there to build your home improvement know-how.
Think of Houzz as Pinterest specifically for home improvement and design. As a homeowner, you can browse a database of photos and ideas and save your favorites to an Ideabook. On the more practical side, if you have specific questions, you can message professionals or ask the community for advice on a project.
This Old House
This Old House has hundreds of step-by-step tutorials, complete with photos and supply lists. Topics range from kitchen repair to drainage issues and everything in between.
If television is your preferred medium, DIY Network, a channel from the makers of HGTV and Food Network, has 24/7 programming that focuses on expert how-to project instruction for homes inside and out. Shows include Kitchen Crashers, Renovation Realities and Bath Crashers.
IKEA Hackers takes furniture from the notoriously cheap Swedish furniture store and repurposes the parts to create unique, functional pieces for your home without the hefty price tag.
If you’re going for chic décor on a tight budget, check out Apartment Therapy’s DIY column, which offers a stream of ideas for every room in your house (or apartment). To get started, check out 5 Budget Kitchen Upgrades You Can Make This Weekend or this DIY Reclaimed Wood Picnic Table.
If you want to take the old school approach, there are a number of books that can help you understand which products you can and can’t tackle. Home Improvement for Dummies, How Your House Works and The Big Book of Home How-To are all available through Amazon.