We have now renovated three homes all with knowledge learned from YouTube videos. Those renovations have allowed us to grow our net worth and passive income in ways we just wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. With each purchase, money was so tight, we couldn’t have pulled it off if we would have had to hire out all the work. Enter You Tube videos.
Research shows that doing new, novel things boosts happiness.
This has proven true in my life. But it’s bigger than that. It gives me butterflies. It makes me nervous. It’s stressful. It’s exciting to see it come together. Then there is a huge sense of accomplishment. And that lasts a LONG time. I’m in awe. “I DID that!”
Most of the work in my life is quickly undone. Floors need to be swept again. Laundry washed day in an out. Even when I was working, I redid the same kind of work over and over. Each week provided a new dose of the same. But not renos. We gut and install a new kitchen and 6 months later it’s still there. It’s still awesome. I still DID that! Even if we could afford to hire out all the jobs now, I wouldn’t. Because that sense of pride and satisfaction in learning a new skill and creating something beautiful is hard to replicate.
We rented for 10 years before we bought our first home. So as a couple, we had exactly 0 practice in small projects. Here is how we went from almost no hands on experience to renovating 3 fixer homes.
So if you are feeling brave, or crazy, here are the 3 steps to get you through the job.
1. Watch lots of You tube
Watch 4-8 videos for each major step. So in a kitchen remodel we watched that many for cabinet removal and installation, and counter top instillation. In our bathroom the list included: building cabinets, installing floor tile, back splash tile, shower tile, tub installation, how to move copper plumbing, installing and sealing backer board for the shower.
Watch videos from different people. Each tradesman has a slightly different approach, and will offer different tips. Over time you find your favorites, who explain things clearly at your level and with the amount of detail you need.
Watch long videos. Don’t be scared of the long videos. This isn’t an HDTV tv show. You really need to know all the little details. A 3 minute video on setting tile will leave out all the little factors that you need to know. “Mix thin set” isn’t enough instruction if you have never done this and feel apprehensive. You will want someone to explain how to test the thickness, how big of a batch to make, what tools you need to do this, or what time frame you need to use it by. All this is something a 3 minute video will skim over.
2. Get the Right Tools
Nothing will make you hate a project more than not having the proper tools and materials. Every project I have tried to “make do” with the tools I currently owned has been a total disaster! Even with the cost of tools, we have always brought our projects in for much less than hiring a professional would have cost. In a moment of pure stupidity, I once tried to spread flooring adhesive with a paint stir stick. I’ll let you guess how effect that is to produce a 3/16 even spread. So even if you have to make an extra trip, and lose an extra hour (which was the case there), buy the right tool.
Rent expensive, rarely used tools. If you only plan on doing this kind of project once or twice, you can rent some of the bigger tools. This will save money and you won’t have to store it for years till you use it again. If you want to lay tile just once, renting a wet saw will make more sense. You pay $50 vs $300, and you don’t need to store an enormous wet saw for years. Smaller more versatile tools are worth buying high quality. Drills, levels, hammers, etc.
3. Enough time
It will take longer than you think. Every single time. You will run into unexpected problems. You will make extra trips to the home improvement store.
Making sure you have enough time will reduce your stress over the project. Feeling rushed by an unrealistic deadline sours the project. An unrealistic time frame can also make the rest of your life suck. If you don’t have enough time to finish the project it will eat away nights and weekends you weren’t planning. You will live in a construction zone far longer than you bargained for.
We couldn’t wrap up our master bath before Mr. Mt went back to school this summer. So we had to wait 4 months until Christmas break. 4 months of our bedroom full of construction chaos. Not fun.
After 4.5 years of being homeowners and project doers, I have to say I love it. I won’t be signing up to work construction 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. But a couple 1-2 week projects a year is amazing. We have been able to leverage these newly acquired skilled into more net worth and more passive income. Each year we learn more, and take on bigger projects. With no plans on stopping anytime soon.
The Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling: My go to reference for how a house is actually put together. After repeatedly checking it out from the library, I finally just bought a copy 2 years ago.
Complete Do-it-yourself Manuel: We have had an old version of this book for years. Very practical step by step help.
Mrs. Frugalwood’s DYI Tips
Any projects you’ve tackled? How did they turn out?
Do you find this kind of thing fun or a hassle (or both!)?
Do you like the idea of buying a fixer to build sweat equity?