8 Expensive Home Repairs You Can Handle Without a Professional

Most of us have one friend who can fix anything, and we’re jealous of how little they need to spend on repairs and home improvement projects to make their homes beautiful. If we’re lucky, our friend can come to our rescue when we need something little fixed.

But you don’t have to rely on one friend. Through a combination of the Internet and a willingness to learn, you can skip the call to your local fix-it shop and fix it yourself. Here are eight entry-level repairs to get you started.

Image par Sid74 de Pixabay

8 Home DIY Repairs to Save You Money

Note: Cost estimates come from HomeAdvisor and vary according to the region and the specifics of a given repair.

1. Fixing a Leaking Faucet

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $65 to $150
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $1 to $5

Most of the time a faucet leaks, it’s because a small rubber washer at its tip has worn out. Replacing it takes about 20 minutes, and you can usually do it without even turning off your water at the main.

You’ll need pliers or vice grips, a screwdriver, a rag, and a replacement washer.

For instructions, watch this video.

If the drip persists after replacing the washer, you can try some repairs in the taps. If that still doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to call the plumber.

2. Painting a Room

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $300 to $600 (for a 10” x 12” bedroom)
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $30 to $100

Most people have painted something at one time or another in their lives, and you may be planning to do your next paint job yourself anyway. However, you can achieve near-professional results by applying a few small tips and tricks.

You’ll need paint supplies, masking tape, plastic drop cloths, nitrile gloves, and a cap.

For instructions, watch this video.

You might want to consider paying for professional paint disposal. Paint can be toxic if left in your garage, and garbage companies either forbid or charge fees for getting rid of paint. Ask at the place where you bought your paint for suggestions. They’ll usually know (or offer) the cheapest, most environmentally responsible option.

3. Replacing a Broken Light Fixture or Electrical Outlet

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $150 to $850 (light fixture), $60 to $100 (outlet)
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $20 to $80 (light fixture), $3 to $10 (outlet)

Many homeowners have dread working with electricity. They’re right to be careful about this potentially dangerous aspect of their home’s inner workings, but some tasks are so simple to perform and expensive to hire out that it pays to learn how to do them yourself.

For this one, you’ll need a regular screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, a small screwdriver (the kind you use on computers), a voltage meter, and a replacement fixture or outlet.

For instructions, watch this video and this video.

Always check, double-check, and triple-check to ensure there’s no electricity flowing to the outlet or fixture when you do the work. This voltage is unlikely to kill you outright but hurts a lot. The sudden pain can knock you off a ladder or stepping stool if you’re working on a ceiling fixture.

4. Unplugging Basic Clogs

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $150 to $200
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $15 to $25

All house drains eventually clog. You can call a plumber or one of those exorbitantly expensive mobile rooter outfits. Or you can go through one of several steps to fix the clog yourself.

The materials you’ll need vary.

For instructions, watch this video. It walks you through four different methods, each capable of clearing progressively worse clogs.

If these steps still don’t do the trick, call in a pro. They have access to expensive tools that use vacuum pressure or long drain snakes to clear things out in a hurry. The amount you’d spend on acquiring that gear (and the expertise to use it) is more than you’d spend on the repair in this case.

5. Fixing a Hole in Your Wall

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $150 to $225
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $10 to $45

Repairing a small hole in drywall is easy: Just add spackle, let it dry, and then repaint. Something larger can be intimidating but isn’t much more challenging and is only a little more complicated. It’s the same concept with the addition of a few steps to make sure things stay put once your repair is complete.

You’ll need drywall compound, a 4-inch putty knife, a surface to mix the compound on, sandpaper, spackle, and paint. For larger holes, you’ll need a piece of drywall roughly the size of the hole.

For instructions, watch this video.

If the hole is larger than a foot in diameter, the techniques are similar but harder to do well. It’s up to you whether you want to take on this daunting, although doable, task.

6. Fixing a Broken Fence Post

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $140 to $400
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $60 to $150

In most cases, fixing a broken fence post means replacing it outright. The process of detaching it from the fence, digging it out, setting a new foundation, and reattaching the post to your fence is intimidating. But it is possible, and you will feel successful in completing the task.

You’ll need concrete, a 5-gallon bucket, a replacement post, a level, and string. You’ll also need some tools to remove the post from the fence.

For instructions, watch this video.

One advantage of successfully fixing a fence post is that installing a fence post is the hardest part of building or replacing a fence. If you can do this, you can save thousands if and when that time comes.

7. Clearing a Stuck Window

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $150 to $400
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $0 to $20

It may seem like an impossible task to unstick a stuck window, but it’s usually just grimed up over years of disuse. If you clean it and lubricate it, you’ll most likely find it works just fine.

You’ll need a knife, toothbrush, paint thinner, window cleaner, and a lubricant like mineral oil or WD-40.

For instructions, watch this video.

If cleaning the window track doesn’t work, you may need to replace the window or adjust the jamb. This is a job for pros, so call your local contractor or handyman.

8. Fixing a Leaking Gutter

  • Average Cost of Professional Work: $170 to $300
  • Cost of DIY Materials: $25 to $40

Gutters leak for only a handful of reasons: They’re clogged with leaves and overflow; they’re hung at the wrong angle, so water flows away from the drain; they leak where they’re attached to your home; or there’s a leak in the gutter itself. All but the hanging issue are simple to fix with the right equipment.

You’ll need a high-quality ladder, level, caulk, and gutter sealant to do all of the tasks (and to check for hanging angle).

For instructions, watch this video.

If the gutter hangs at the wrong angle, the fix is to take it off and make adjustments. This is simple, but professionals can do it more quickly and safely than you can. When you make that call, consider getting an estimate for replacing gutters more than 10 years old. They probably need it anyway.

When to Call the Pros

This is far from an exhaustive list of things a DIY novice can fix or improve in their homes, and your list will get longer with each successful project.

That said, there are some things you shouldn’t consider doing without the help of a professional. Examples include:

  • Advanced Plumbing. Mistakes can go unseen and cause damage, and your insurance won’t cover your mistakes.
  • Roof Replacement and Repair. It’s better to have a bonded person on the hook financially for any mistakes here.
  • Electrical Work Beyond What We Mentioned Above. The risk of eclectic shock and fire is too significant.
  • High-Voltage Appliance Repair. Those high-voltage outlets can kill you.
  • Garage Doors. The springs are too heavy and powerful. You risk injury or even death.

Spend the money on a qualified pro for these tasks, and anything else you discover is beyond your capabilities. But when you can, learn a new skill and save money.


Chris Reid grew up with a single mother who fixed everything she could herself before the days of YouTube. He tries to fix many items in his 100-year-old home. He recently conquered both a clogged sink and a stuck window.

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