Saving Money on Home Repairs

Around the house my wife has developed the belief I can fix just about anything. This is a lie. I actually can’t fix anything, but I do have a rather good sense developed of what jobs I can handle and what needs to be hired out. That is one of the best ways to save money on home repairs. Know your limits.

If you can’t fix it, research how it is repaired and decide if you can handle it. If you still can’t do it then start begging some family member or friend who can do to come over and do it. If you don’t know anyone, just pay the money and have a professional come over and do it. The other reason to hire out the job is if you know that it’s critical to the function of your house or to an item in the house. For example, I have learned I don’t repair anything structural in a house, I don’t touch the appliances except to hook them up and I don’t have the slightest idea how my fireplace internals work.

Another good way to save money on home repairs if don’t buy expensive special use tools. Instead rent them when you need them or ask around and perhaps you can find someone who will lend you the tool.

The following is a list of repairs I’ve done and found them fairly easy to do (keep in mind you need to determine your own comfort level on these):

  • Change a light fixture
  • Repair a broken tile in the floor
  • Install laminate flooring in a room
  • Tile a desk top
  • Replace a toilet (Note: keep a towel handy, you will need it)
  • Install a new sink faucet
  • Repair damage or a hole in a wall
  • Paint – walls, floors, or furniture
  • Strip the finish off an old piece of wood furniture and stain it a different colour
  • Repair a broken board in a deck

When it doubt about a repair I research how to do it before I proceed. A great resource I’ve found has been Do It Yourself which has lots of great articles with pictures in most cases on how to do some of the most common repairs.  What else has everyone else tried to repair and thought was fairly easy?

7 thoughts on “Saving Money on Home Repairs”

  1. Good list – I’ll especially agree with the toilet being a surprisingly easy change.

    I did a kitchen counter replacement in my old house (laminate) along with a new sink and it wasn’t that hard.

    A tile backsplash is a lot of work but it’s a good DIYer task.

    Baseboards can be difficult but if you are just doing a small room or fixing a piece – that’s something a beginner can do.

    I’d also add landscaping – most landscaping is a lot of labour and not much skill. If you have a lot to do then consider hiring some cheap labour (ie students or friends) to help out rather than hiring an expensive contractor.


  2. I envy you guys, I should do more of this stuff myself (it’d definitely improve the bottom line on properties I consider purchasing), but I’m nervous doing stuff like this on my own for the first time…

    I paid a plumber $250 to install a new faucet, which felt like highway robbery (to be fair, it was soddered in, so he needed to use special equipment to change it, but still).

  3. Mr. C. – learning & doing small repairs/renos is a “feature” of living in a home that you own. Obviously renters wouldn’t normally be fixing things in their apartments (but sometimes they do).

    In your case it might be tough to learn on your rental unit because right after you buy it, there might be too many things to do and spending half a day on some small job might not be worth it. While there are tenants there, you might be limited in the sense that they might not like having you there for an entire Saturday while you are figuring how to do something (and going to Home Depot 12 times of course).


  4. Mike,

    Good list. I really liked your point about landscaping.

    Mr C,

    Mike is correct. It’s one thing to learn something on your own home, but if you are renting the property out right away you might be better off paying someone to do it right the first time.


  5. I’m going to take a moment to brag. 😉

    My husband has to be one of the best DIYers I know. 🙂 It may have took him awhile but he put in a bathroom in our basement from start to finish (there was no roughed in plumbing either) and put in a much needed sump as well. The only thing he had help with was pouring the concrete (a couple friends and his dad) and some mudding, taping and painting that I helped with.

    The thing is, he was genuinely interested in learning all this stuff and found it to be a lot of fun. We had no real timeline so that helped as well.

    On the other hand, we hired people to do quite a few jobs on one of our recently renovated rental properties. My husband had no interest in learning to install a laminate floor for example. A pretty easy job but rather boring!

    Mr. C, there really isn’t as much gratification in a DIY project on a rental – you have to hurry to get it done, you don’t get to enjoy it and see it each day, AND the labour isn’t tax deductible as it would be if you hired it out! 🙂 So no worries, you’re not missing out on much!

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