How to DIY, solo style

It’s inevitable that sooner rather than later in your solo living journey, you’re going to find yourself staring down a DIY project that you’re not sure how to do. Whether it’s changing a light bulb, hanging a picture, assembling flat pack furniture, painting a room, or upcycling an old table, DIY projects range from the practical to the creative. They also have the power to be incredibly rewarding, or frustrating beyond measure!

There are a couple of reasons why you might want to tackle DIY projects yourself. The first is that it’s sometimes hard to find reliable, good quality help. I once had someone come out to fit a new lock on my garden shed. He ended up putting a screw through the entire thing so that the door wouldn’t open!

The second reason is that it can be more cost effective to take on DIY tasks yourself. I was quoted £140 ($177) the other day to have someone come and investigate a blocked drain – a quick look on Amazon, and I found a couple of tools that did the trick for £15 ($19).

Finally, with DIY you have complete control over the process, meaning you know exactly how things have been done. For creative projects, it means you can personalise them as much as you like! If you’re thinking of taking on your first DIY project, then it’s worth bearing in mind the following:

1 – Start Small

As grand as your ambitions might be, starting with small, manageable projects is a good way to ease in to DIY without getting too overwhelmed or frustated. Activities which don’t involve too many tools or complex steps are a good place to start – think painting the front door, or resealing your bathtub. As you grow in skill and confidence, then you can gradually move on to advance to more complex DIY projects such as woodworking.

2 – Follow a credible how-to guide

Going it alone might feel tempting, especially if you already have some DIY skills under your belt.

Fortunately, the internet is absolutely stocked with user-friendly step-by-step guides in formats to suit everyone. Youtube has some brilliant video tutorials, and a quick Google search will throw up credible written and illustrated tutorials as well.

3 – Use the right tools.

You absolutely don’t need to go out and buy the latest electric sander or circular saw, but a having a basic toolkit comprising essential items such as a hammer, screwdriver set, measuring tape, and a power drill can lay the foundation for future projects. You’ll probably find that you gradually add to your collection as you start to take on increasingly more complex projects.

4 – Stay safe!

Don’t be tempted to cut corners when it comes to safety and DIY. The cartoons and memes of people hitting their fingers with hammers or electrocuting themselves while changing a fuse aren’t that far off the mark! Safety should always be a top priority – if the instructions say you should use eye goggles, use them – this isn’t the moment to think about fashion!

5 – Know Your Limits

Please don’t over-reach! DIY projects are notorious for being more complicated than we think they’re going to be. Giving it a go is one thing. But pushing past the point where you have a reasonable idea about what you’re doing can lead to irreparable damage, or even injury. Don’t do it! It’s never a weakness to seek help, and friends, neighbours and professionals can all be great sources of advice and hands-on support.

DIY can be a brilliant way to get creative, as well as getting practical tasks done around your home. It can build resilience and problem solving skills. The more DIY projects you take on, the more confident and capable you’ll get. I know some people who’ve become DIY geeks and spend their weekends in their garages building bookshelves and playing with bits of wire. But it’s okay if DIY doesn’t become your ‘thing.’ Having even basic DIY skills will stand you in good stead, however much you decide to do in the future.

Hannah Carmichael is the co-founder of the Living Well Alone Project. To make sure you never miss an update from the Project, click here to receive our regular newsletter.

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