Do it Yourself or Write a Cheque Home Renovation


A few weeks ago, in a moment of rage, my son broke the bathroom faucet. I will admit that the faucet was on its last legs and I had considered breaking it myself a few times. The wall mounted sink in our upstairs bathroom was not functional and its days were numbered. My son did us a favour. A replacement was in order. But the question we faced: do we go the “do it yourself” (DIY) route or just write a cheque as we embarked on this small home renovation?

I’m not handy. Basic home renovation – or rather home maintenance – tasks are often beyond me. Sure, I can change a lightbulb, but what many people would consider basic are often things I can’t do. For example (and I am happy to learn from a kind and patient person), I don’t know how to hang a picture on the wall. I have no idea how to install shelving. Plumbing? Electrical? Not a chance (but that is probably beyond most of us who are untrained).

I learned many years ago that I have some ability to build basic furniture if I have a manual (with pictures) to guide me. I built my son’s Ikea furniture and also helped put together our previous barbecue (the fact that it literally went up in flames a couple of years ago is not my fault). Hand me a hammer and some nails and show me where I have to bang things in and I will follow those basic instructions.

But if things get complicated I get overwhelmed easily. Home renovation is just not intuitive for me. I watch those shows on HGTV in amazement when I see homeowners installing hardwood floors in the living room or a toilet in the bathroom. I have to say, I am in awe.

My husband, David, over the past 20 plus years since we have known each other, is becoming handier and increasingly following the route of DIY home maintenance and renovation. Our backyard deck will need to be replaced in the next couple of years, but David is fixing individual slots of wood as necessary. He installed our dishwasher a couple of years ago. He actually owns a few power tools and knows how to use them!

So, when the faucet broke in the upstairs bathroom, David stepped in and decided he could fix it. Replacing the faucet of a heavy porcelain wall-mounted sink is not an easy task, especially for a novice do-it-yourselfer. It took him a while, but he did get the broken faucet out. But then he was stuck. There was no way to install a new faucet without removing the sink from the wall. I hate this sink. It has no counter and no storage. I voted to just smash it and get rid of it. Luckily, I eventually calmed down and our kind neighbour (a general contractor) came over this weekend and showed David how to safely remove it.

That sink is not going back in that bathroom. I made sure of that (no the sink isn’t broken, it’s intact, but it will find another home). I bought a proper sink-vanity at Ikea soon after our faucet met its untimely end (okay it was actually timely) and the box sat in our living room for weeks. Once the sink was fully removed I jumped into action and started to build the vanity.

The vanity and its drawers in my living room, ready to be installed in the bathroom

It took me three hours just to get through the first few steps, and I got some help from my son and husband, but I am proud to say that I built most of my new bathroom vanity. It’s sleek and its functional, with two huge storage drawers and counter space. And I built it.

But we are not finished yet. You see, when you go the DIY renovation route, everything takes a really long time. So, it’s great that the original sink has been removed (and is now sitting in the corner of my dining room) and that new vanity is built. But the sink and drawers are sitting on my bedroom floor, and as I type, David is trying to install the floating base of the vanity to the bathroom wall. We haven’t even started on the plumbing yet.

The old bathroom sink’s temporary home: my dining room floor.
The empty bathroom wall is waiting for its new vanity.

Our neighbour has kindly offered to come over again this week to ensure the vanity is firmly installed and the plumbing is right. And maybe the sink top will go on and the drawers will slide into place. Oh, how nice it will be to brush my teeth in my new bathroom sink. When embarking on a home renovation writing a cheque is definitely easier. Doing it yourself is definitely more challenging and sometimes more stressful, but when it’s complete, it’s definitely worth it.