How to become a Fix-It-All Householder

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Workbench (Photo: @ako via Twenty20)
A fix-it-all householder or a “jack-of-all-trades” is a person that is skilled in a wide range of repairs around the home. Being friends with a family handyman (or a handywoman, for that matter) is a blessing, but becoming one yourself is even more, well … handy!
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort into learning the ways of being handy (and invest in the right tools) you could be on your way to becoming your district or neighborhood’s fix-it-all householder. Although it is a commitment, there are few things that feel better than being able to perform home maintenance or repair a plumbing issue for the fraction of the cost of hiring a professional.
Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a ix-it-all householder.

Invest in tools

Tools are a big part of becoming a fix-it-all householder. With the correct tools, a job can take minutes instead of hours. Start small by purchasing essentials like a hammer, screwdriver, pliers, and an adjustable wrench. You should also eventually invest in an electric drill, ladder, and cordless nail gun.
As your projects become more complex, it may be a better idea to rent the heavy-duty tools and equipment you require for individual jobs, instead of purchasing your own. When buying a tool, ask yourself if you will use it frequently after you’ve completed your current project.

Have a designated workshop

A fix-it-all householder needs a workshop! Having a dedicated workspace for your projects will help you stay organized and on task. A workbench will come in handy as well. If you can’t start with a workshop, even a small space in your home will do. Store your tools in or near the same area so they are conveniently located. Home repair often requires lots of small tools to complete, so prepare for your workshop to fill up fast!

Take free classes

Several home improvement stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and locally owned hardware stores offer free classes on home improvement projects. Some examples of the skills you could learn include, how to paint a room, how to lay tile, how to install a faucet, etc. Classes usually last between 2-3 hours and can be very helpful for homeowners looking to learn basic skills.

Do your own online research

There are thousands of how-to videos available online for free. The videos offer advice on proper tools, materials, and step-by-step guidelines.
Once you’ve done research, and completed a couple projects based on videos you’ve seen online, you will recognize sites you trust and find useful. Remember, always read the comments section, if a video or article is giving bad advice, it will be evident in the comments section.

Keep your owner’s manuals

Unfortunately, your house doesn’t come with an owner’s manual. Instead, it comes with a million little owner’s manuals — one for every major appliance, your TV, your hot tub, etc. As a homeowner, you can feel like you’re drowning in owner’s manuals.
But don’t throw them away. If you’re having a difficult time figuring out where to put them, consider placing a small filing cabinet under the bench in your workshop.
That being said, when you buy a tool or product, read the owner’s manual for instructions on how to properly use or install it. For example, if you purchase a ceiling fan, read the guide and follow the steps for its general assembly. Oftentimes, the knowledge shared in a manual can be used for other similar projects.

Keep spare parts

You never know what you might need when you’re in the middle of a project, so it is important to keep spare parts from past projects. These include things like nails, screws, batteries, wires, glue, and washers. For larger projects, you might want to keep extra lumber, tile, and paint.

Write it down

As you acquire new skills and become a fix-it-all householder, take the time to write down what you’ve learned. Take notes on what worked and what didn’t. Snap photos of your projects during different stages of completion. Print out your photos on a standard sheet of paper and write notes underneath of what the photo represents. That way, when you come across an issue you’re sure you’ve dealt with before, you will have the right info readily available.

Always put safety first

It goes without saying, but handiwork is not an area where you should be taking risks. Take all the proper safety precautions.
Here are some general safety rules to keep in mind:
  • Always wear the appropriate safety equipment
  • Make sure to turn off the breakers to areas where you will be working with electricity connections
  • Turn off your main water source when working on plumbing issues
  • Use extension cords when needed instead of stretching a tool’s cord too far and either damaging it or creating a hazard
  • Unplug appliances or other motorized items you are working on to prevent electrocution and fire dangers. When working with electricity, make sure you are not close to standing water
OSHA has several resources on common construction safety issues and how to prevent them from happening.

Ask for help

If a project feels a little out of your depth, hire an experienced contractor. It is better to get expert advice than trying to complete it on your own and causing damage to your property.
Even if you have to hire a contractor, you will learn a lot by observing the work completed, which means you may be able to handle a similar project on your own the next time around.