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usagi_tetsu 05-19-2013 09:15 PM

sweat equity
Ah, the joys of home ownership. We bought the house we're now living in back in November of 2011, and the impetus for the big move from renters to home owners was that my mom who is barely into her 60's is already having a lot of health and mental issues. The only place we could find in the area with a decent mother-in-law space/suite/apartment was this house and renting was not an option. The house is a two-story model from the 1950's, with a full, finished basement (the mother-in-law suite, that has a full kitchen, bath, bedroom, laundry area, and living room), and 2-car garage, and thanks to the previous owners, a raft of problems and half-***ed fixes. That's the downside to owning vs. renting - if I'm in a rental and something breaks, than the landlord is fixing it or I'm not paying rent that month (or my lease is so bad that I need to break it, immediately).

Being as I am the only real wage earner in the house, we have had to fix up our domicile with a lot of sweat equity rather than putting out good money to have others do it for us.

Got a leak in the basement whenever it rains? Yep, skip right past the $5,000 basement wrap fix and purchase $200 worth of fill dirt and spend an afternoon and evening hauling it from the road to the side of the house to get a slope away from the house. Leak fixed.

Is the cold faucet in your bathroom tub/shower suddenly leaking and won't shut off? Skip the plumber and watch a bunch of YouTube videos, pull the offending faucet apart, clean it real good, put it back together, and the leak is gone.

Got a 60 foot maple no less than 30 feet from your back door and threatening to land on your house at any moment? That one we called the experts in and gladly paid their asking price for (it took a freaking crane to get that bad boy out, and yes, it was rotting from the inside out, so good thing we did have it done), but we're taking care of several other small trees on the property and grinding our own stumps with the rental of a stump grinder.

This frugality has kind of been forced onto us, but eventually the repairs will slow down and we'll start having the option of socking away more and more money into investments. Or the wife will find a job, and we'll start socking away a lot more a lot sooner. But the whole point of my little rant is this - there are plenty of things you can do for yourself if you don't mind getting sweaty or dirty, and either spend the money you would have spent paying someone else to do it on yourself or your retirement. So what if you have to go buy a $50 specialty tool for a job? Tools stay around and either get used again, or you turn around and sell them on Craig's List to recoup some of your original cost after you got use out of them.

Next up on my need to fix around the house list: bathroom sink stoppers.

What have you guys fixed around your own places and saved some money on?

Dave Cameron 05-19-2013 09:41 PM

I just finished putting in a 12' x 20' extension on my deck, about 3 weeks of work (by myself) but saved a bundle compared to paying somebody else to do it. Plus, I'll appreciate it more having done the work myself.

SeeK 05-19-2013 11:50 PM


Dirt to restore the grade away from the foundation was the right answer. A foundation wrap or spray would cause them to dig and restore the grade. The problem would be solved, what a coincidence!

Your place sounds like mine with the big trees and in-law basement, although I'm much closer to Dave's town.

I've been cleaning up a year's worth of leaves and cutting back the overgrown plants. It'll all be worth it when you look back after a year.

Lohman446 05-20-2013 08:04 AM

I hate paying other people to do things I could. I have done a lot of laminate floors, redone an entire bathroom, finished a basement, and various other things around the house. My wife did heavily request that I not build the beam barn without help and I hired that out but am doing stone flooring inside rather than cement because I can do that.

Lohman446 05-20-2013 08:25 AM


Originally Posted by CJOttawa (Post 2712910)
We rent an apartment but there have been a lot of little projects we're able to do ourselves. The landlord has even reimbursed for some that add value to the unit.

For example: we installed a pressure-balanced shower valve a while ago as the old one would scald us when anyone in the building flushed a toilet. New one: perfect temperature control. The landlord was so happy with the job, he even kicked back a bit extra as a thank you, since we saved him a lot of labor costs and were frugal with materials.

When my father used to own a couple rental houses (he never intended to be in the rental business but they were effectively "place holders" for later projects) he would routinely trade improvements for rent. Renters who had invested their labor into their house would find a house they were much happier in and generally be much easier from his end.

indyjrt 05-20-2013 09:26 PM

YouTube is wonderful for the family handyman. I've used many times for home issues.

desertT1 05-22-2013 05:26 PM


Originally Posted by indyjrt (Post 2713486)
YouTube is wonderful for the family handyman. I've used many times for home issues.

Same here. I'm pretty handy, but spending 10 minutes on YT is often a very worthwhile education when something new pops up.

I just installed and wired 2 motion detecting lights with my dad in my back yard. Days are hot during the summer and the kids can now play outside well past when the sun goes down and I can hang out and keep an eye out. Before, sun goes down, everyone goes inside.

I know when to call for professional help, but I often don't need to.

BoBo 05-29-2013 08:54 PM

Do you have a good link for that grading?

I have crazy water running through my basement - so much that my 1/2 pipe from the sump pump can't keep up

My house is sitting on a hill at the bottom of a half bowl

usagi_tetsu 05-29-2013 09:02 PM

No link, just a lot of basement guys telling me that you really need a 6" slope/grade away from your house for the first 6 to 10 feet. Gonna be hard if you're in a bowl, may have to invest in some serious pumps and pipes to push it far enough away.

mustangii 05-29-2013 09:08 PM

Stripped cat urine soaked carpet out of Mater Bathroom, Sealed particle board with shellac based primer, Installed Laminate flooring. with with with with with
Base boards and door frame trim will have to wait for more cash to come in. ripped up the rug Saturday afternoon and installed the flooring Sunday afternoon. When I get ready to do the living room I'll rent or borrow a table saw. That stuff is a pain to cut with a Skilsaw. lol.


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