The purpose of Commonsense Home Repair is to save homeowners money. In a tough economy, saving money is on everyone's mind. This website is not a slam on the home repair industry. There are many people that would rather pay someone to solve their problems. Savvy homeowners feel that they are intelligent enough to solve problems and repair things themselves.
It is a fact of life that things break at the inopportune times. For many of us that is when we can 'least' afford it. Has that ever happened to you? Do you really want to spend hundreds of dollars on a repair right now? The worst part is not knowing what it will cost.
One version of 'Murphy's Law' states that, 'If anything can go wrong it will go wrong at the worst possible time'. Sound familiar?
When a repairman arrives, your problem is never simple. You always have the model that is too old, neglected or the worst one ever made. Sure he can fix it, 'But'. The fateful 'But', is where he tells you how much it will cost.
The reality is you probably don't have the worst products ever made, the worst installations or the worst circumstances of anyone, anywhere on the planet. Chances are your situation is fairly normal and probably fairly simple. Unfortunately, doom and gloom tends to get people to get the check book out.
The idea behind this website is to give you options. It is our hope that we differ slightly from other 'how to' websites in that we approach things from the 'I've never done this' standpoint. We temper that with the concept that most 'professionals' are not really any smarter than the rest of us. They just know a few proprietary secrets that the rest of us don't.
The bottom line is that, every repair is not a snap of your fingers. You may need to spend a little time getting familiar with the problem. Then you will need to make the repair. The question is, would you trade an evening of watching television to save $100, $200 or more? Is your answer yes? Then take a few minutes and review the following guidelines. You will be happy you did.
Some popular topics are 'Door Repairs', 'Fixing Drywall', 'Troubleshooting Electrical Problems', 'Solving Plumbing Problems' and 'Troubleshooting Water Heaters', follow these links for more information.
The Home Repair Evaluation Section
All of the Home Repair articles have an 'Evaluation' section. The yellow boxes near the top of the page give it away. The idea is to give you a quick overview of what your up against. Use some 'Common Sense', weigh what you could save against how much time and patience you have. How disruptive will a repair be? Do I have the tools? Do I have the skills needed?
These are all good questions. If you can get something fixed for $50 and you are swamped at work and don't have the time. Bite the bullet and spend the fifty dollars. Are you looking at a few hundred dollars, it's not the difficult and you have the time? Well, it's your decision.
Below we give you and explanation of what each 'Yellow' box means. Once you understand them, you can use the Evaluation section to quickly decide if you are up for a particular repair.
What Can You Save?
This is not intended to be an absolute estimate for every situation. Instead it gives you a general idea of what a repair should cost. Unfortunately, you cannot always be confident that the person coming to perform a repair will give you an honest appraisal. In this section we try to warn of possible 'up selling' that you may be faced with.
The reality is, that the cost of a repair can go up dramatically when you are 'sold' things you don't need.
Even if you decide to hire someone, read the article anyway. Having a basic knowledge of what is involved will protect you and give you insight on the right questions to ask.
How Hard Could It Be?
Boy, that's a great question. Some tasks are difficult even for trained professionals. A difficult task gets worse when you don't know what you are doing. Then it can be compounded by mistakes made along the way. No we are not trying to scare you off.
We have tried to give you some guidelines based on 'Skill Levels' and 'Difficulty'. Since this is not an exact science, we have provided and explanation of what we mean by each term used on this site. These are not intended to slight anyone. In fact, your skill level can increase rapidly, after you have successfully completed a few repairs. Use this segment to weigh your skills against how hard something is.
The 'Difficulty Level' indicated is more or less based on the 'Skill Level'. Again, it's not an exact science, but if something is very hard for a trained professional, it will be almost impossible for a novice. The good news is that most repairs are not that difficult.
- Very Easy - These are the repairs that the serviceman does with a slight of hand while he is talking to you about the weather. The repairs that you could have done yourself in less than two minutes. These are the repairs that you will really kick yourself about when you have to write out a check. 'Very Easy' repairs are the ones that anyone could do, even your grandmother.
- Easy - 'Easy' repairs are very similar to the 'Very Easy' ones except they may take a little longer and require the use of a tool. We are talking about five to ten minutes. You might need a screwdriver or pair of pliers. Most if not all homeowners are capable of this level of home repair.
- Simple - We are still in the world of 'just about anyone can do this'. We might be talking about a couple of tools, possibly power tools. A 'Simple' repair will involve a few steps and take up to an hour to perform. This is not where the average person starts to think 'Is this too much?', but you are getting close.
- A Bit of Work - All right, this is where you start to wonder, 'Is this too much?'. This is where you evaluate your commitment level. It is also where you evaluate your financial 'pain threshold'. Repairs in this category are still possible for most homeowners. The caveat is that it will take some effort to be successful. You will have to take some time to become familiar with the steps. You will probably need to obtain parts. You may need to acquire a tool or two. This is the crossover point, where a professional will have the advantage, due to the fact that he is already equipped for this repair.
- Clearly - This is Work - This level has to do with the amount of work involved. Still within the grasp of many homeowners, it involves several hours, perhaps days to accomplish. With adequate skills and the proper tools in hand, you will need to ask yourself, 'Is this something I want to tackle?'. Don't be scared off too easily, you just need to understand what you're in for.
- Difficult - This is where we separate the men from the boys. When we say that something is difficult, we mean that it is hard even for a trained professional. This is a repair that someone you hire will be grunting and groaning to get done. Special tools and knowledge will no doubt be involved. For a 'Difficult' repair you need to think seriously about your skill level, time availability, commitment and financial situation.
- Very Difficult - We are definitely over the line at this level. You will need to have access to other resources if you attempt something at this level. I have worked in construction for years and have always had access to various professionals. Getting tips from someone 'in the know' is invaluable. Not everyone has that kind of resource. We have included information on this type of repair mostly for informational reasons. Knowing what is involved and the right questions to ask will help you to reduce costs when you hire someone.
- Total Novice - This is not meant to be derogatory. For whatever reason you have little or no skills when it comes to home maintenance. Perhaps you only have limited knowledge of common tools. Do not despair, there are a many repairs that you can make without possessing any skill at all. When you attempt repairs and are successful, your skills will increase. Read through the articles before you write yourself off. Many repairs are not that hard.
- Job Jar Specialist - If you are in this category you are something of an unwilling recruit. Being a homeowner often forces us into situations that we don't like. No doubt you would rather be sitting on the porch with a cool drink than sweating your way through some repair project. You have some skills and knowledge, but you would rather do other things. Again, don't despair, maybe we can help you get things done quickly.
- Handyman - A lot of homeowners fall into this category. How do I know that? Well, stores like Home Depot and Lowes would not be in business if a lot of homeowners were not willing to attempt home repairs and home improvements themselves. To qualify as a 'Handyman' you need to have a willingness to do things yourself. In addition you need to have basic tools, some hand and some power, at your disposal. You also need to be able to follow instructions that are provided. Have you ever assembled a grill or a swing set? Yes, then you are probably a handyman.
- Determined Handyman - Similar to a 'Handyman' this person has dedication. You view a tough task as a challenge, not a 'deal breaker'. A 'Determined Handyman' is willing to take on jobs that involve a significant amount of work. You have tools and reasonable skills, You are 'Dagwood' with a purpose.
- Home Repairman - Admittedly, I do not use this often in this website. At this level, you are in the business or a related business. You know where to get help when you need it and you know the right questions to ask. If you don't have the right tools, you know where you can get them. This is sort of silly to cover this level, at this level, you are not even bothering to look at a website like this one.
Tools You Will Need
Not much of a mystery here. We list the probable tools you are likely to need. This listing may not be comprehensive, due to the specific circumstances that you are faced with. However, it should be helpful, if I say you need a hammer drill for something and you don't have one, well, you can do the math.
Check the Simple Things!
This is a feature that should prove invaluable. Even if you are inclined to call a serviceman, read this section. If it is included in this section it is not hard to do. Save yourself some money and never pay anyone to fix something that is really easy to fix.
What Can Go Wrong?
This is where I make you aware of the dark side of home repair. Sure, I can fix the toilet, you say confidently. Then it overflows and leaks down onto the ceiling in the living room below. To make it worse, the dirty water stains the quilt the your wife's grandmother made. You get the picture. Home repairs are only practical if we don't damage something else in the process. Additionally, evaluate how invasive something is going to be. Will you have the kitchen shut down for a week? Is that practical?
The 'Steps' Involved
I have used the term 'Step' somewhat loosely. Many of the topics that we discuss have more than one aspect. A 'Step' may include several sub steps related to that particular aspect of a subject.
The narrative that is provided should give you a sequential listing of what needs to be done. I am giving the readers of this website credit for a level of intelligence. What you need to do should be clear, even though I don't provide a separate web page for each minute step, with a one sentence explanation.
Sometimes there are multiple possibilities for the cause of the problem. When this is true, the steps will generally progress from the easiest to solve to the most difficult. The logic is, that you should exhaust easy solutions before you dive into a difficult task.
You will notice that some of the pictures are clip art images. We are trying to include a little humor in this subject. All home repairs can be dealt with one way or another. Don't get upset or lose your cool, it's just not worth it. The balance of the pictures that are in the home repair articles are illustrative. Again, we are not providing a comprehensive slide show of every possible step involved. Instead we give you pictures that help you to make sure you are on the right track with your repair. In addition, the pictures have annotations on them that help to identify the elements involved.
When you see a box like the following, you should be aware that there is some danger involved. This is an area where you could be injured if you are not careful. Heed the warnings and do not get hurt. No home repair is worth getting injured for.
WARNING!! Pay Attention to These Boxes!!!
The importance of Safety cannot be stressed enough. We provide 'Warning Boxes' for certain items. This does not mean that this is the only way you can be hurt. Every page on this website has a link to a Safety page. On that page are links to other websites that provide safety guidelines. A common practice on construction sites is to do a 'Task Hazard Analysis' before beginning any activity. You should do the same. Ask yourself: What are the dangers? Could I fall? Could I be shocked by electricity? Do I understand the safety guidelines for the tool i am using? Do I have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the task I am performing? Don't mess with your well being, work in a safe manner. Not sure? Check things out first.
Links to Other Sites
When we find other websites that have valuable information we want you to know about it. Throughout this website you will find links to other quality websites. Check them out and see if you like them as much as we do. Just remember to come back.
This website is designed for people that want to save money. Another great website that helps you to save money is Simple Money Management. It gives you a lot good advice on how you can save money on other things besides home repairs.
We hope that you don't think that this is a site that solely promotes products. Our main focus is to provide useful information. You must know, however, that it takes time to maintain a site like this.
We have included ads that are related to what you might need. Don't need anything, good, ignore the adds. You may find that we have provided you with an easy way to get something you need. It's your choice. Use the information, that's what it is there for.
We hope you find this website helpful. With a little patience and determination you are capable of repairing many items in your home. This will save you money. On any day of the week, that is a good thing. Thank you for visiting.