9 Life Lessons You Learn When You DIY Your Home Repairs

published Mar 29, 2022
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Woman repairing the outdoor window trim on her house
Credit: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Are you facing your first-ever home repair or maintenance project and not sure how to begin (or keep going after that)? Make your way through our starter pack. This content was created independently by our editorial team and generously underwritten by the Toyota Corolla Cross.

Rolling up your sleeves and fixing something yourself isn’t easy. The process takes time, effort, and research. But, with that extra elbow grease, you can learn more than how to patch up a piece of drywall or unclog a drain. Below, seven DIYers share what they’ve come to realize by completing their own home projects. Read on, and get inspired to break out the power tools.

Lesson #1: It’s going to get hard. Don’t quit!

“There have been countless times I have been working on a project and run into an obstacle and all the frustrations that lie with it. I have learned that the best thing to do in that situation is to walk away, do some research, gain some clarity, clear my head, and approach the problem from a different angle. Every time I have persevered! This never-give-up attitude has given me a whole new sense of confidence and pride in myself that I never could have imagined. This approach also has given me the confidence to tackle larger and larger projects. Perhaps most important is that I’m setting an example for my kids that you can do anything if you work hard and persevere!” —Heather Fronek, Central Point, Oregon

Lesson #2: Your first try won’t be perfect. 

“Practice makes improvement, and it is okay to make mistakes. That is how we learn.” —Yolandé Ntsele, Durban, South Africa 

Credit: Sarah Crowley

Lesson #3: Don’t ignore the small problems. 

“One of the most essential pieces of advice I can give on DIY home repair is, don’t let the small things go forever without being repaired. How often do you have a kitchen drawer that jumps the tracks and jambs up or a leaking sink that you just throw a bucket underneath and promise you’ll fix it later? When you see something that needs fixing, please put it on your list for a once-a-week, half-hour repair. Set aside the same time, once a week, dedicated to improving things that need to be repaired. It might even be a piece of furniture, clogged bathroom vanity, or that out-of-reach light bulb. Have the family join you and talk about your day. Make a list and mark things off as you go along. You’ll be an expert at DIY repair and be happier for it in no time.” —Mitch Couch, Lemoore, California 

Lesson #4: Learn — or pivot — from your mistakes. 

“On every single DIY, there is a roadblock that comes up, an unexpected difficulty where my project seems hopeless and ruined. I’ve learned to just go with the flow and adjust with the mess-ups. Everything is fixable in the end, and I’ve never come across a mistake that couldn’t be worked with or pivoted from. To be honest, some of the issues end up creating a much better final product because [they] forced me to get really creative. And that’s exactly the case with issues that come up in life as well!” —Taylor BeepBoop, San Francisco 

Lesson #5: It’s true… Sometimes things get worse before they get better. 

“I was patching a hole the other day, and I realized that, in order to get a smooth finish, I actually needed to make the hole bigger. This is the case for a lot of my projects. Before I can arrive at a beautiful ‘After’ photo, I have to go through the dusty demo phase. Like our mental health, friendships, or life obstacles — sometimes projects are worse before they are better, but we need to trust the vision.”Vanessa Medina, Southern Indiana

Lesson #6: Don’t forget to enjoy the process. 

“Have fun with your DIYs and be sure to celebrate your successes!” —Hana Sethi, Oakville, Ontario 

Lesson #7: Don’t make tasks harder than they need to be.

“Allow for the power tool to do the work. You should not exert additional force — let the power tool work.” —Ntsele

Lesson #8: It’s all about the little things. 

“Go the extra mile to make something look professional. This is the tedious work, usually prep work, or at the end caulking or filling holes. It’s not fun, but when you stand back and look at the project, you can admire your work. That’s what makes the work look professional versus ‘home DIYer.’” —Sethi

Lesson #9: Go ahead and get lost in an activity you love.

“Two years ago, when the news of the pandemic first broke, I found myself with a lot of time at home. My real estate career was put on hold while I attempted to homeschool two young children and care for my 1 year old. I felt uncertain, fearful, and restless. That’s when I decided to pick up a brush and paint the walls in my dining room. At that moment, I realized that the do-it-yourself projects were more than just transforming a space for me. They gave me a sense of control in a world that has been so uncertain. I couldn’t control anything that was happening, but I could control the color of that wall. Do-it-yourself projects are a form of therapy for me. They give me the opportunity to get completely consumed and lost in the project, shutting out all of the outside noise. A good podcast and a paintbrush, and I’m in my happy place! No matter how big or large, the ability to craft something with my hands and control the outcome is incredibly gratifying. Even today, as I see terrible things happening or struggle with the challenges of motherhood, I find myself retreating to DIY.” —Lena Taylor, Atlanta