The DIY Bug


I’m wouldn’t consider myself a “handyman” by any stretch of the imagination.  That being said, I know my way around basic tools and their uses in my house and I love to try new things.  My wife and some friends went out of town last week and I took the opportunity (after talking it through with her) to upgrade some basic things in our house that we’d talked about, but hadn’t actually done.

The first thing that had to happen was I needed to clear out the room that we will be turning into a nursery very soon.  No tools involved really, just a lot of picking up and moving.  The room was my “office” which could also be called the room with the computer and everything else that doesn’t have a place in our house.  Needless to say, the room was a wreck and full of all kinds of things.  I cleared out all the trash and things that needed to get thrown away and began taking everything else to a holding area on the second floor of the house.  Estimated time: About 2 hours.  Estimated savings: I didn’t check how much movers cost for that short of a time.

The second thing that I chose to do was to install vented gas logs in our fireplace.  We have a wood burning fireplace in our house, but we never use it because it never really gets that cold in Texas and we don’t really want to store wood in our backyard.  I had made some returns to Lowe’s and had some gift cards to spend and I bought a set of vented gas logs, which essentially are fake logs that look like they are burning because of natural gas.  Essentially the process is remove gas log lighter, put together log’s gas line, stack logs on top, and enjoy…but it didn’t go like that.  I had the most trouble getting the original log lighter and once I got that done I didn’t have everything I needed included in the box.  Needless to say, there were approximately 2 too many trips to Lowe’s to make this one happen even though it wasn’t that difficult. Estimated time: About 2 hours of actual work.  Estimated savings: Conservatively, about $200 based on word of mouth.

Once the aesthetically pleasing project was done, I turned my attention to the nuts and bolts of all this, getting the nursery prepared.  I then went about moving and putting together a twin bed in the nursery and a queen bed in one of our guest rooms.  We want there to be a twin bed in the nursery for the first few months our baby is with us so my wife doesn’t necessarily have to hike back and forth so much for all the feedings.  It’s my wife’s bed from college and it is a mess to put together, but eventually I did.  Earlier this year, we upgraded to a king bed and it’s revolutionized the way we sleep (especially once my wife opted for a huge body pillow) and our old queen bed went into the guest room.  This bed was exceptionally easy to put together.  Estimated time: About and hour and a half.  Estimated savings: This is why I pay movers.

My final project over my Christmas break was to install ceiling fans in all the guest rooms and nursery.  Texas summers are typically pretty brutal.  We had always talked about having ceiling fans put in, but never really needed them.  This all changed when we babysat for some friends and noticed how warm it was in the room that became the nursery (although this had more to do with our A/C unit going out).  So I went out and bought four identical ceiling fans and started installing them.  The guy at Lowe’s said “the first one will be the hardest, but it gets easier” and boy was he right.  The first one took twice as much time as any other and I had to install it three separate times before it worked correctly, but the rest were much easier.  Took me bits of four days to finish. Estimated time: Between 5-6 hours total.  Estimated savings: Around $350.

I think I ended up saving more than the estimated $550, but more than that I feel good about being able to install and fix things.  I enjoy working on things and I love the satisfaction of knowing I accomplished something.  The hardest part for me was convincing myself that the power was actually out and I wasn’t going to shock the mess out of myself when I touched the fan wires together.  Next up is to prepare the nursery for a new coat of paint which includes fixing some wall cracks and filling in holes in the walls from pictures.


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