Spring is in the air. Well it was yesterday. Today it is chilly and icy again. But still, it isn't raining or snowing. This is a great time of the year to start planning out your DIY tasks for the year. Figure out what you need to do, how long each task will take, and when you can do it. Then you can work out if you might be able to save cash by doing it yourself, or whether it is better to save up and get in a professional.
To help you out, here's some DIY tasks that are a lot easier than you might think, and some places or ways you can learn for free.
Plus I've thrown in a couple of tips to help you solve common household problems yourself without having to pay for help.
There's a number of books that you can use to learn how to do many household tasks, and you can find out a lot online. Use the videos on YouTube as well to get a good idea about what is involved. Video how-tos are my favourite as there's a lot that you can physically learn about DIY from doing it or watching someone else.
There's nothing quite like actually seeing it in practice. And doing so may make you realise that a task is actually more than you can handle, or something you'd be better off getting in a professional to do simply to save time!
Actually I wasn't sure how to categorise this. Learning by giving your time to others. Many places have a Timebanking group, and you could exchange your skills and time for DIY lessons from a professional.
Church and community groups - think 'big society' here - may also run projects helping with home improvement, repair, and decoration for those on low incomes, disability, and pensions. You could volunteer to do the grunt work in exchange for getting a few tips on how to do the more professional stuff. Kind of like doing an apprenticeship, but also making a bigger contribution to society.
Free or cheap courses
DIY shops, craft shops, and community facilities run workshops and courses, for free or more often for a nominal fee. By charging a small amount it stops people booking, then not turning up.
Recently a friend of mine attended a plastering workshop for women run by a charitable group that travels about towns and villages running a couple of evening workshops through the local council. You should check with your local council or local authority to see if there are any similar workshops in your area.
Some of the community events can be hard to find, but look for Facebook groups in your local area that you can join, and local forums, and also noticeboards in churches, community centres, and libraries.
B&Q runs You Can Do It courses for adults and for kids too, in 15 of its centres around the UK. Courses last two to four hours, and start from £10. To find out more visit the B&Q You Can Do It webpage.
Got an item at home that's broken? Find out how to repair it for free, if you live in London. Try the Goodlife Centre's Repair Cafe - click here to find out more.
Easy DIY before it gets worse!
Then there's the little things you can do quite easily - you just didn't know you could. And if you do them straight away before things get worse, and beyond your ability to repair, then you'll save money. For example, do you have a door that it is sticking a bit as you open and close it? Try tightening the screws in the hinges.
Do you have a tap that is just letting a measly amount of water out, no matter how far you turn it on? There may be an air bubble in there. Tape or use a jubilee clip to fasten a washing up glove to the end of the tap and let it fill up, The water will push the air bubble back and out of the pipe.
If water is starting to take a while to empty from the sink, try pouring hot water down there (only use boiling water if you have metal pipes). If it is blocked entirely, then get some household soda and pour that down there (you can find it in the supermarket in the aisle with the washing powders and fabric conditioners). Where a blockage is caused by grease, this should clear it.
Make sure who pull on the Marigolds, and clear the outside drain of clogged up fat and grease a few times a year.