Dwell Well > Essential DIY Skills to Cut the Cost of Hiring Tradespeople

Essential DIY Skills to Cut the Cost of Hiring Tradespeople

Whether you have just moved into a new home or you’ve got some maintenance issues in your existing property, there are always renovation upgrades that need doing. From light fixtures that don’t work to taps that continually leak, these small jobs can quickly add up not only in the time it takes to fix them but also the cost to hire a tradesperson.

And in the world of ever-increasing prices and energy costs, being able to do tasks around the house for yourself can help you save money. So let’s dive into some of the essential DIY skills that you can use to skip tradesperson waiting times and costs.

Fixing a leaking tap

Energy costs are on an upward trajectory and show little signs of slowing down any time soon. Water is a significant contributor to those utility bills so avoid pouring part of that down the drain with water waste. Leaky taps waste up to 5,550 litres a year, and those costs will quickly add up as the days and weeks pass while you wait for a plumber.

The most common reason for a leaking tap is the washer and simply replacing this can solve the problem. It’s a relatively easy job that just requires a little bit of confidence to remove the tap handle and some effort to remove and restore the nut. 

Top tip: Turn off your water supply before attempting this job to prevent a flood!

Replacing floorboards

When moving into a new home it’s common to replace the existing carpet to help put your stamp on the place. But, once you have lifted the original carpet you may fall in love with the floorboards underneath and decide they are too good to cover with a carpet.

That’s all well and good until you discover some floorboards are weakened due to damp or others are sticking up and will be a trip hazard. Thankfully, replacing or securing floorboards is a simple job that can be done with little more than a drill and a crowbar. 

Top tip: Before drilling screws or driving nails into floorboards, check underneath for any pipes or cables and turn off the relevant utility for safety.

Installing a light fitting

One of the fastest ways to transform your home is to install lighting fixtures that align with your design preferences. With so many different types of lighting fixtures to choose from, it’s an important style choice.

But the excitement of buying a light fixture can quickly dim if it’s left in the box waiting for an electrician or handyperson to find a couple of hours in their busy schedules to install. Not to mention the average daily cost of £320 for an electrician, which can be better spent elsewhere. 

Fortunately, this job can be done yourself, although you may wish to rope some family or friends to help move it into place while you do the wiring. Make sure to cut the power to the circuit before carefully removing the old light fixture and then detaching the wires from the ceiling or wall to the fixture. When installing the new one, make sure to match the wires like for like, being sure to attach the ground wire (brown and yellow) first.

Top tip: Ask your partner, family members or friends to help hold the light fixture in place until you have secured it completely to avoid it falling and breaking.

Upgrade your skills

Our homes rely on electricity to run smoothly, something that will continue to be important as the world looks to renewable energy to steer us away from fossil fuels. Why not consider investing what you might pay a tradesperson or handyperson as a day rate in a brief course to improve your DIY skills?

You can learn in a couple of days to safely replace basic electrical accessories and equipment, basic plumbing techniques or plastering. This will avoid disrupting your DIY or renovation plans by waiting for someone else to complete the work. There are also plenty of online tutorials that can help guide you through many of the everyday DIY processes that don’t require a skilled professional.

Unclogging drains

If chemical solutions aren’t working, it can be more effective to get your hands dirty and physically remove a drain blockage yourself. Whether this is a build-up of sludge or other materials being sent down the drain, the blockage is commonly found in the u-bend of your sink or toilet.

One quick solution is to use a bent wire hanger to stick down your drain to break up the blockage. If that doesn’t work a plunger may do the trick. However, for a persistent blockage, you may need to manually unblock the u-bend.

Place a bucket underneath to catch any water then begin by unscrewing the caps at each end of the u-bend. Clear out the blockage by hand and replace your u-bend to enjoy fully functioning drains again.

Top tip: Keep a hold of the u-bend as you unscrew it to avoid unnecessary spillages.

DIY essential toolset

It’s important to stock up on essential tools to ensure you’re able to complete many home maintenance tasks yourself.

Here is a checklist of essential tools:

  • Screwdriver set

  • Tape measure

  • Spirit level

  • Duct tape

  • Hammer

  • Pliers

  • Torch

  • Adjustable spanner

  • Drill (ideally cordless)

  • Sharp knife

  • Hacksaw

Sealing windows to remove draughts

In the interest of preserving as much of the energy we produce from our heating, it’s important to avoid draughts for better and more effective insulation. Worryingly, around 18% of a home’s heat is lost through its windows. There are several solutions to ensure you can seal your windows quickly to prepare for the winter.

From draught excluder tape and weatherstripping to silicone sealant, there are many products available to purchase from hardware shops. All are easy to apply and can make a significant difference to how well your home is insulated.

Top tip: For an even application of silicone sealant, use masking tape on both sides of the area, leaving a narrow strip before you apply it. Remove before it dries for a professional-looking seal.

Learning to shut off the main water and electrical supply

To complete many of these simple DIY tasks you will need to learn how to either turn off the main water or electricity supplies. Normally found in your kitchen, under your stairs or in a utility space, you will need to find the stop valve to turn off the main water supply.

Once found, all you have to do is turn it clockwise to make sure no water is being sent through your pipes. There may be some residual water left in the pipes so always turn the taps on and drain this before doing any basic plumbing work.

As for the main electricity supply, find your electrical service panel, which is commonly tucked away in a closet or utility space. Here you can either switch off the power to specific areas of the house or flip the main breaker which will cut the power to everywhere.

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