Installing Dryer Cord
- Home Improvement
9 I’m a new homeowner and literally know almost nothing about home improvement. I would love to learn basic concepts by doing things one at a time …. But I can’t just jump in and do most things. Are there any good resources (websites / books) that provide project ideas or tutorials that are organized from extremely basic to very advanced? I could use this to start with extremely basic things, learn skills, and get ideas as I go.
7 Welcome! You’ll certainly find many specific questions and answers on this site, but not so many general how-to’s. it is a Q & A site after all. First, you will need some tools! There is a great thread on this site about the tools everyone should own. I suggest you read it! The internet is a great resource and you can find answers to almost any problem or project you have. If you are looking for more general knowledge, we suggest you look in the book section of your local hardware store. They usually have some good beginner books on plumbing, electrical, painting and other common jobs around the house. This book rated well on Amazon in the “how to do everything” category. High on the list of common tasks for homeowners are basic electrical and plumbing: Changing lights, switches, dimmers, thermostats, unplugging drains and toilets, replacing faucets and/or components. Typically, the simpler projects revolve around replacing existing components, while more complex projects require new installations or major changes. Also check out this blog as it provides some good walkthroughs. If I can give you any advice, you can do anything you set your mind to – don’t be afraid! Read and try it out! But also know when you are in over your head and you should call in a professional. Avoid serious electrical work and never try anything involving gas. Good luck and have fun! 7 5 3 Well, I’m not sure how your inspection report went, but mine was a “great” list of DIY ideas! But really, you need to figure out what your home is missing, make a list, figure out the complexity of each job, and then go from there. 3 Your home will give you ideas on what projects should be done as you see things that need to be “improved”. Start small and work your way up to larger projects. Some good starter projects:
- Paint a room
- Replace a light fixture
- Replace faucets or other hardware
- Mount a flat screen monitor on a wall
- Seal cracks or drafty areas around doors or windows
- Replace a toilet
- Add insulation to the attic
A small project is one you can complete in a day or less and requires no special skills other than following instructions and using some basic tools. Larger projects require planning, more resources and a more comprehensive toolset, and take longer than a day. Professional help (trade) and knowledge of building codes may also be required. So plan and choose wisely before tackling large projects. 2 Learning to DIY and learning new DIY skills is pretty easy if you think of it as a process. There is so much information on YouTube, Lowe’s website, etc., but you need to know what to do with that information. This is how I like to think about DIY projects when I have never done them before: Learning by doing a project The best way to learn DIY skills is to work on a project first. It’s difficult to learn something as tangible and practical as DIY in the abstract. Therefore, it is helpful to learn in a situation where you can apply your new knowledge. Learn in a variety of ways There are many ways to learn how to do home improvement. You can watch Youtube videos or read instructions on the internet, you can learn by doing hands-on experiments and exercises, or you can learn from a teacher or a knowledgeable friend. But honestly, the best way to learn is to do at least two of these things. Ideally, you want to use lessons, whether digital, classroom, or in-person, in combination with a hands-on trial. It’s shocking how doing things that look easy when someone else is doing them can be practice, but actually applying what you’ve learned with your own two hands is what solidifies your knowledge. Approach learning in stages When Learning how to DIY and do-it-yourself is as much about getting your hands dirty as it is about taking a certain approach. This is how I like to break things down – it makes learning something new more manageable and these steps help me gain confidence as I go:
- Vision – define what you want to achieve. Consider completing a specific DIY project or learning to use a new tool. This will motivate you along the way and, of course, provide context for learning these practical skills.
- Deconstruct – Break down your vision into parts and steps. This is a key moment for gathering information, and you are trying to put together all the information about what goes into a DIY project – what tools are needed, what materials and supplies are needed, what steps are required for this project multiple phases to this project, etc…? As I mentioned above, deconstruction is definitely both cognitive and physical. This is a step where both digital information and hands-on testing are useful. I like to watch YouTube and instructional videos and then start tinkering. For example, before I installed my ceiling fan, I took apart the new fan I bought. Taking it apart helped me understand how it would fit back together.
- Practice – The best tip I ever got from a professional was to practice before actually doing DIY. The thing about DIY is that it can be a pain to undo your mistakes when you mess up. Most DIY pros and experts make practice cuts on scrap materials, test stains and paint before using them, dry parts before attaching them, etc. Sometimes practicing means you have to buy extra materials, but it pays to make mistakes ahead of time and not in your home.
- Construction – Now that you’ve broken your project down into its parts and individual steps, it’s time to put them back together. Construction is like deconstruction both cognitively and physically. You need to put all the pieces together in your head and then actually work on your actual DIY project. As you go through your project, you may find opportunities to interweave practice moments, which can make things more efficient. You may also find something unexpected during your project and need to go back and do more deconstruction to figure out how to handle it. The biggest thing for me in building is knowing that setbacks and hiccups are normal in DIY.
I’ve never used Google Helpouts or Ehow, but I know both services offer the ability to video chat with home improvement experts. If you don’t know anyone to ask for help in the event of a setback, turning to one of these services may be a good alternative.
- Reflection – this is the most important step! During reflection, think about your project and what went well, what didn’t go well, and what you would do differently next time. It is this thinking that actually turns the information you gathered and the things you did into knowledge! Studies have shown that reflection can be the most important part of any learning journey. There will always be things you could have done differently or better, and actually recognizing those things and thinking about how you could improve them is the signal that you have indeed gained expertise.
Have fun and be bold! It’s really easy to get intimidated by DIY projects. However, gaining experience is the best way to become more confident in your abilities. Be prepared to do projects on your own. If you enter the planning or deconstruction phase and find that you want to hire someone to do all or parts of it for you, it’s easier than ever to do so with tools like Angies List, Thumbtack, Red Beacon and Porch. But you have to at least be willing to do this yourself before you hire someone – definitely don’t just assume you can’t! You might just surprise yourself 0. I would focus on one skill or system at a time, plumbing, electrical, painting, etc. Once you get bored with one change to the next, you may feel like you are making progress in many different areas 0 Google away for each project. I also found it useful to have some books on hand for electrical, plumbing, etc. 0 Follow blogs like www.askthebuilder.com, www.designbidbuild.com, www.thisoldhouse.com and www.thefamilyhandyman.com 0 Friends with DIY ambitions? My friends and I have set up a work party rotation. We regularly help with each other’s DIY projects. Usually at least one person knows something or can do research, and we all learn from each other. You still need the other responses to books, projects, etc. as a starting point, but if you team up, the learning will be faster with less effort. If you don’t have your own projects yet, you can just offer your help. You can learn a lot while being someone else’s third hand. Installing Dryer Cord.
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