Knowing how to do things yourself is a great way to save money and be less reliant on repairmen and buying expensive replacements. Increase your DIY knowledge for free with this handy list.
Photo by fotographix.ca.
Increasing your DIY skills is great way to decrease the amount of money you spend paying other people to build and repair things for you. You don't have to commit yourself to a career as a handy man or join a trade organisation to pick up life long DIY skills. You can find a diverse and wide pool of learning opportunities in your local community and many of them are available for free or very cheaply. Browse the following list to find a method that works for your schedule and budget.
Volunteering is possibly the best way to learn new skills. Not only are you increasing your own knowledge base but you're donating your time to the community and helping others. Many churches and community groups have programs where local residents, usually elderly or disabled, can submit requests for help with home repairs and maintainance; tagging along as eager but untrained labour can really help out other volunteers.
Smaller scale than volunteering in the greater community, don't over look the chance to volunteer with friends and family. If your neighbour is rewiring his garage or putting in a new fence volunteering on a Saturday to help out not only builds a relationship with your neighbour but lets you learn a new skill or practice an existing one.
Seek Out Workshops
All around you people are sharing DIY knowledge, you just might not be aware of it. Opportunities vary widely based on size of your locale but you can almost always find something going on for free.
Hardware and craft stores frequently run free workshops and demonstrations. Bunnings for example almost always have some sort of basic DIY workshops going on at the weekend showing you how to use certain paint techniques, install a new light fixture, or such. While their hope is that after learning how to install a new light fixture you go over the lighting aisle and buy a new one to take home, nothing says you have to do so. Craft and hobby stores offer similar DIY workshops on everything from arranging silk flowers to detail painting die-cast miniatures. It's worth calling around or visiting the websites of local stores to see what is being offered.
Photo by Urban Data.
The internet has been the best thing that has ever happened to the DIY community. With a good search engine on your side you can find out how to do nearly anything, find any part, and find people who can offer advice all at once. A perfect micro-example of this in action are two repairs I made on an aging washing machine several years ago. While setting the wash cycle the cycle knob snapped off. Traditionally I would have had to call a repairman who would pay a house visit, bill me for the visit, and bill me for the replacement part. Using the model number of the washer I was able to search out a parts list for the washer and get the part number for the knob.
One google search later for the part number and I ordered a replacement for $US10 with free shipping. Later that year—same washer!—during the spin cycle it sounded like a jet was taking off in my laundry room. I researched the problem online and used an exploded parts diagram to take the shell off the washer and assess the problem. Thanks to a post on a repair/DIY forum I took the metal wash tub out of the plastic wash tub sleeve to make sure the noise wasn't being caused by anything actually caught in between the two. The noise was in fact caused by two finishing nails that I hadn't taken out of the pocket of a pair of jeans before throwing them in the wash and not, thankfully, by the motor of the machine dying. I don't even want to think about the price of the billable hours and actual repair for outsourcing that job to an actual repairman. My total expense for both repairs, besides less than 2 hours of my time, was only $US10.
With that in mind there is almost nothing you can't look up online and get some solid answers and even diagrams for. Whether you want to know how to safely wire a light switch, flush your sprinkler system for winter, stop your garage door from squeaking, or anything else that someone before you wanted to know how to do, you can find it online. Starting a search query with "how to ..." opens up a world of learning. Photo by kodomut.
Sign Up for Classes
The only entry on our list of suggestions that costs money, signing up for classes is sometimes your best option. Depending on what you want to learn how to do dispersing the startup cost to a classroom or learning centre is sometimes desirable to purchasing all your own equipment.
Let's say you want to learn how to weld. You'll need a welder, accessories, access to lots of scrap metal to practice with, and so on. You could try to find a friend with a welder and some metal you could practice with but in terms of the speed with which you'll acquire the skill, instructor competence, safety, and an adequate supply of materials to practice with it may end up being a better value to take a class at a local community college or TAFE. Hit up google and search for continuing education courses in your area to see what the offerings are. Photo by tm_lv.
If you have a technique or suggestion for learning new DIY skills for free or on the cheap, let's hear about it in the comments.