While you’re at it: If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, consider getting one. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an Energy Star–rated model can save you about $180 in heating and cooling costs each year. You can buy one for about $40 and install it yourself. It’s a relatively easy job; no rewiring required. On the other hand, these are home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.
Many people can do common household repairs. There are resources on the Internet, as well as do-it-yourself guide books, with instructions about how to complete a wide range of projects. Sometimes the fix-it skill is seen as genetic, and people lacking such skills are said to "lack the handy-man gene". One trend is that fewer homeowners are inclined to do fix-up jobs, perhaps because of time constraints, perhaps because of lack of interest; one reporter commented "my family's fix-it gene petered out before it reached my generation."
In addition to the major tasks like painting, renovations, and replacements, we also do little jobs. Some of these include doorknob repair, bookshelves and built-ins, and hanging pictures and curtains. Other companies won’t perform this work, but we’re happy to do it all for you at a price you can afford. Our services are so inclusive that we’ll be the only ones you need to call whenever something goes amiss in your house.
Plumbing vent boots can be all plastic, plastic and metal, or even two-piece metal units. Check plastic bases for cracks and metal bases for broken seams. Then examine the rubber boot surrounding the pipe. That can be rotted away or torn, allowing water to work its way into the house along the pipe. With any of these problems, you should buy a new vent boot to replace the old one. But if the nails at the base are missing or pulled free and the boot is in good shape, replace them with the rubber-washered screws used for metal roofing systems. You’ll find them at any home center with the rest of the screws. You’ll have to work neighboring shingles free on both sides. If you don’t have extra shingles, be careful when you remove shingles so they can be reused. Use a flat bar to separate the sealant between the layers. Then you’ll be able to drive the flat bar under the nail heads to pop out the nails.
If you are willing to buy and pick up the materials yourself, you avoid paying for shopping and pick-up time. But you may find it inconvenient, strenuous, and time-consuming to pick up a load of bricks, a few large sheets of plywood, or similar items. If the company will be doing the shopping and buying, get the company to commit to the time and cost for that task; some will agree that there will be no extra charge.
Depending on where you live, national averages can seem like a steal. Rene Artale’s four-bedroom house near Newcastle, in Westchester County, N.Y., suffered some damage during a storm last winter. A tree fell in the yard, damaging her fence, arbor and retaining wall. And heavy snow caused her roof to leak. The repair bills just kept piling up. Removing the tree, $3,800. Repairing the wall, $4,000. Fixing the roof, $3,800. Fixing the picket fence, $2,800. “It’s obscene,” Ms. Artale, 47, said.
Intimidated by this seemingly daunting project? Don’t be. If you have the will and a whole day (or two) to yourself, you can refinish the hardwood floors in the major areas of your home. You don’t necessarily need to sand, but if the floor is damaged enough to warrant buffing, check out your local hardware store and rent the equipment for anywhere from 4-48 hours. Here’s how to refinish your hardwood floors.
To illustrate, we divided the handyperson services listed on the table below into three groups, based on their charges for four hours of work. The lowest priced one-third of the companies would charge $239 on average for four hours of work, and they were “recommended” by 96 percent of their customers whom we surveyed (see our ratings tables for handyperson services for ratings). In contrast, the highest priced one-third would charge $445 on average for four hours of work and were “recommended” by only 59 percent of their surveyed customers. Just the opposite of what many consumers would assume.