Home Projects Non-Professionals Can Tackle

December 9, 2020 Updated: December 9, 2020

Dear James: My brother is the contractor/builder of our new house. He will let us do some of the work ourselves. What are some projects a nonprofessional can handle? —Eddie W.

Dear Eddie: You are lucky your brother is the builder because most builders really don’t want inexperienced people working on the construction site. There are tasks that must be done in progression. If you make a mistake doing one item and it has to be redone, it will delay the construction and may increase overall costs.

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Chat with your brother about your true level of building expertise to determine which potential tasks you may be of assistance for. Be honest, and don’t overestimate your skill level. Actual craftsmen, especially ones in trade unions, go through years of training and are quite talented. Don’t use your own house as a learning project.

Once you have determined what you plan to do and about how long it will take, the builder can give you a schedule of when you are expected to begin and finish each task. Obviously this can change as the building progresses, but it is a good idea to have a tentative schedule. Always keep in mind that each day’s delay in completing the house costs you money.

Even though the builder agreed to have you help build your house, the individual workers may not be as keen on the idea of having a novice there. When the construction begins, arrive at the site before the first worker gets there, and stay until the last one leaves. Let them know you are not afraid to put in the time. Ask many questions, and they will respect your work ethic and interest in learning from them.

A simple task you should be able to do is install the blocking in the wall framing. Blocking is short pieces of lumber to install between the wall joists wherever things such as handrails, sinks, towel bars, cabinets, etc., will be attached to the finished wall. All you have to know is how to use a circular or table saw and nail the pieces in place.

Another task is to run the telephone and television cabling throughout the house before the walls are closed in. You need just a hammer and a cordless drill. With the money you save on the labor costs, install high-quality twisted cabling for the best communications.

Also, before the walls are closed in, install your security system. If this is done during the construction phase, it is easy to install a hardwired system. These are more reliable than a remote system with batteries. Run wiring to all the windows, doors, and a wall in each room (for motion sensors), even if you don’t now plan on that many sensors. At least the wiring will be in place if you plan to expand the system in the future.

Making your new house airtight is important. Once all the insulation is installed in the walls, the interior side should be covered with plastic film. It is stapled up to the wall studs and around the window and door openings. Plan on spending quite a lot of time taping all the joints and caulking all the edges at the wall openings and electrical and plumbing fixtures.

Send your questions to Here’s How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit Dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2020 Creators.com.