Renovation-Headquarters Banner

Being Your Own Home Handyman - Part 1

What are the differences between a home handyman* and a person who can’t seem to do any basic household repairs or small installs correctly, turning them all into disasters?


*In this article the term handyman is not generic, it is meant to apply to ladies, women, girls, boys and any other individual who knows which end of a screwdriver to hold! Knowing which end of the screwdriver to hold is a basic prerequisite to reading and understanding this article.

Let us first define what is meant in this article as a home handyman. A home handyman is a person who can hang a drapery rod or track, change an electrical switch or receptacle, change a set of taps or replace a faucet washer, hang a picture, change a light fixture or install a ceiling fan, paint a room; all of those little household chores and tasks that everyone who lives in any type of apartment or home faces on a daily basis. It is not meant to define an individual who can design and build a deck, replace roofing, install a hardwood or tile floor, make and/or install a set of kitchen cabinets or replace the windows in their home.

If you have a desire to be a home handyman, then these are the things that you must do and have:

  1. Things You Must Do:
  • Attitude:
  • You must, before you start the project believe in your mind that you can accomplish the task at hand. If you start the project by saying to yourself; I know I can’t do it, I guaranty that the project will become a disaster. So you must start the project with the right attitude; I can do this!

  • Thinking & Planning:
  • Before you start any project, no matter how small it is, you must think about what the project will entail. This includes, what tools you may need, will you need lighting (If you are going to change an electrical switch you will want to turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse from the electrical panel. In most cases that same fuse or circuit breaker will provide power to the lights in the room you are going to work in. No power, no light. How will you see to change the switch?), what parts will you need, will you need a ladder or stepstool?

    Is this a one or two person project? In many cases even a small, simple project is much easier to accomplish if there is a second person to hold and fetch. As an example it may be of help if you have someone to hold the flashlight, hold the end of a drapery track, or support the new light fixture while you are connecting the wires. If you will be using a ladder it may be advantage to have someone who can pass you tools, screws and anchors, instead of having to continually climb up and down.

    Make a written list of what you will need, tools and materials. To do this, picture yourself actually doing the project. Go through the project, in your mind, step by step, at each step add the tools and parts that you needed as you visualized the project to your list.

    Many home improvement type projects will include a list of tools and parts needed that are not included in the packaging.

    Read all the installation instructions from start to finish BEFORE you start the project. Make sure they make sense to you and that you have all the tools and extra bits of hardware that you may need to complete the project.

    Check that all the parts that have supposedly been included actually have been included before you start. That means counting screws, nuts and bolts and any other small pieces.

    As an example:

    I recently purchased an outdoor ceiling mount light fixture that had a built in motion detector. According to the instructions in order to complete the installation, which included setting up the motion detector, the light bulbs had to be installed, which were not included. I knew that the light bulbs were not included when I purchased the light fixture, it said so on the outside of the box, they never are, so that fact was not a surprise and I have a lot of spare light bulbs.

    However, to my surprise, the light fixture used four 40 watt candelabra base style light bulbs – back to my local hardware store! Had I not read the instructions first, I would have ended up with the ladder parked in front of the front door to my house and my tool bucket and parts of the light fixture laid out on the porch while I went to the store.