When I moved in to my first flat I felt a huge weight of responsibility. It was my job to keep the place maintained, to put up shelves correctly, to know what sealant to use.
Invest in a simple set of tools and with a little common sense you will be able to tackle most jobs around your home.
For each new job that needed done I’d do my full research. I’d google the issue, watch YouTube videos and learn the pros and cons of various tools involved. Over the years I’ve done loads of DIY jobs and collected a range of tools.
So don’t immediately call your male friends and family members to fix something in your home. Empower yourself to take care of it yourself. (Within reason. Don’t start cutting through pipework or anything!)
But tools are expensive
The old adage is ‘you get what you pay for’. Take that with a pinch of salt though. Something bought from the local bargain store may not be the most robust. But you don’t need to spend hundreds on the most top of the range items.
Buying individual items rather than a cheap multi-set is likely to get you better quality. Plus it saves spending money on things you won’t use.
What do I need to get started?
Here is my list of the key things you’ll need.
There are different shapes and sizes of hammer. Avoid the very teeny and the massive mallets and get something in between. Get one that’s made out of metal and has the ‘claw’ on the back so you can remove nails with it or use it to pry things apart.
You can get an electric drill for not too much money. You’ll need it to make holes for putting up shelves or joining things together.
There are different drill bits for things like wood, stone, tile and metal. Get a drill that comes with a good variety of drill bits. Or if it only has a few you can buy a separate set. Always use the right type of drill bit for the material you’re drilling into.
A drill with a ‘hammer’ function means it’ll be easier to drill in to stone if you have brick walls in your house.
Screwdriver (Interchangeable one)
This is one of the most useful and versatile things you can buy. I recommend getting a screwdriver with interchangeable heads. That means you always have the right kind to hand. Remember to use the head that best fits the kind of screw you have otherwise you can mash it up and it’ll be unusable.
Getting one with magnetic heads really helps you to not lose the screws too.
Just line it up so the bubble is in the middle of the two black lines and your shelf will be exactly level.
A lot of DIY involves cutting. A decent knife will be more sturdy and reliable but you can get sets of sharp disposable knives for just a couple of pounds.
Those lines on the side of the blade mean you can just snap off the end when it gets blunt. But it also means you should never ever use it sideways or the end could snap off and go flying. Only use it in the cutting direction.
(You might think that’s obvious but I had to explain that to a few women recently who were using them to ‘dig’ and it was terrifying.)
Pliers are vital for gripping at awkward things, pulling out nails, holding things together, twisting difficult nuts and bolts etc. Get a couple of pairs.
“Measure twice. Cut once.” Get a good tape measure and make sure you use it accurately. After all, you can’t un-cut something.
These little things are very handy for a variety of small jobs. They’re not really built for big bits of wood or anything complicated. But they will do in a pinch for small bits of wood, plastics etc.
This is a handy tool for detecting metal pipes, electrical wires and joists behind walls and floors. Pass it over the area and it’ll beep where it detects something.
It’s really important to know you’re not going to drill through an electrical cable or water pipe so it’s well worth a few pounds for one of these. Better than the call out charge for an emergency plumber (not that I’ve ever done that. Cough cough)
Any job will take at least twice as long as you think it will
I’m scared I’ll destroy everything!
It can be scary to start on some DIY if you’ve never done it before. Your mind races with images of the roof falling in or a water pipe spraying the whole house.
But it’s really not that complicated.
Just take it slowly and use a lot of common sense. Think about what might be behind the thing you’re working on. Wear protective goggles, gloves and a dusk mask if appropriate.
As a rule of thumb any job will take twice as long as you think it will. If you’re new to it then add a bit more time to make sure you’re not rushing and making bad decisions.
Satisfaction is all yours
It’s incredibly satisfying to step back and look at what you’ve achieved. Whether it’s putting up your favourite picture or fixing squeaky floorboards.
I once spent an entire weekend stripping, wallpapering and painting my hallway. Ok some bits weren’t amazing but the difference was astounding. And the sense of empowerment I felt by doing it myself was wonderful.
So do your research, use the right tools and give it a go!