Moving out on your own for the first time is scary. There, I said it. Suddenly, you can’t rely on your parents to do everything for you. From grocery shopping to cleaning to home improvement skills, it’s all up to you to keep yourself alive and make sure your house is a functioning home.
One of the most daunting parts about living on your own is keeping your house in working order. With electricity, plumbing, and decorating, there are a lot of things that can go wrong! That is why it is so important to familiarize yourself with some home DIY basics. Nobody has the money or time to call in a pro for every little repair!
Keep reading for a list of essential home improvement skills every independent woman must know. You will be glad you did!
How To Change A Lightbulb
We’ll start easy. While this is not one of the typical home improvement skills you think of off the top of your head, it is obviously an important one. Knowing how to remove and replace lightbulbs of all shapes and sizes safely is the first step to becoming independent.
While your parents may have had a cupboard full of all the spare lightbulbs you could need, running your own house means knowing which ones to buy. Different light fixtures require different sizes, shapes, and wattages, so do your research before running to the hardware store. You don’t want to drop $20 only to find out those bulbs are useless to you!
Make sure the electric current is off before you mess with the light fixture. Whether that means flipping the switch off or unplugging something, do that before taking the old bulb out. From there, the number one thing to remember is lefty loosey, righty tighty!
How To Fix The Toilet
Whether you are living alone or with a roommate or partner, plumbing problems will probably spring up sometime. While no one expects you to learn everything, learning how to fix minor issues with your toilet can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
The older your toilet, the more likely it is that eventually, it won’t flush right, will keep running, or will encounter some other problem. Remove the lid off the back and familiarize yourself with the parts of your toilet. That way, you won’t have to call the plumber every time it makes a weird noise!
For a full lesson on how to repair a toilet, check out this video from Tool Dude Tony.
How To Use A Drill
Let’s get real:
Who doesn’t want to learn to use a drill? Power tools are just so fun! This one tool can help you with a wide array of home reno projects, so it’s one of the essential home improvement skills, in my opinion.
Drills are surprisingly easy to get the hang of and let you do so much for yourself. You never know when you need to hang a curtain rod, fix a cabinet door that is falling off or build a new bookshelf. These types of jobs are a way too small to call a pro about, and you don’t want to be that friend who needs help with every little DIY.
Put one of these puppies and some screws on your holiday wish list! This awesome model by Pink Power is lighter, so your arm won’t fall asleep while you’re drilling, plus it comes with drill bits and drivers.
How To Turn The Power On and Off
Electricity is nothing to mess with. Most of the time, you should leave any problems related to your home’s power to the professionals. However, you should at least know how to turn the electricity on and off at its source. Before you even move into your home, locate the fuse box and find out if it’s the kind with the switch or the old-timey type with individual fuses you replace.
Why does this matter?
While you might think you will never need this, it could be one of the home improvement skills you will use the most often. For example, if you overload the circuit and blow a fuse, you need to know how to turn the power off before you can fix it. You may also need to cut the power to one specific room, like if you are installing a new light fixture. Finally, if your house has a basement and there’s a leak, turning off the power can save you from electric shocks and shorting out electronics down there.
How To Hang A Picture
While attaching posters and photo prints to your wall with scotch tape might have been acceptable a few years ago, real adults should learn how to hang pictures properly. Putting your art into frames and hanging them straight isn’t that hard, but will make a huge difference in how polished your house looks.
Whether you are hanging one piece or an entire gallery wall, it’s all about measuring. Figure out where you want the center of your picture to be, then measure the frame to figure out where to pound the nail into the wall. Thrillist suggests putting your photo’s center 57″ up the wall for maximum impact.
Hanging pictures is one of those home improvement skills that will help you make a house into a home. It might not be as practical in an emergency, but it is something you will use again and again!
How To Patch A Hole In The Wall
Many of these home improvement skills are more beneficial for new homeowners. You are suddenly in charge of your own place, which can be totally scary! However, renters will find this skill crazy useful.
Every home renter’s worst nightmare is to move out without getting her security deposit back. Knowing how to patch holes in the wall gives you a better chance of reclaiming that cash! Before you turn in your keys, fix any nail holes or dents you may have made. Whether it was from hanging art or the corner of your couch banging into the wall, you can easily make the wall look like new.
With just some spackle or pre-made drywall patches, the house will look like you were never there. Bonus points for covering it with paint!
How To Paint A Room
Many people think that painting a room is super easy. I’m here to tell you from experience that it is, in fact, a lot of work that takes major planning! While it is not the hardest of the home improvement skills on this list, there is more to it than just swiping a brush or roller across the wall.
Painting a room requires a lot of equipment you might not know about. Sure, you need the paint and a ladder, but also a drop cloth, painter’s tape, brushes, rollers, a screwdriver to open the paint can and a hammer to close it again…the list goes on.
That’s not all.
Home reno shows will have you believe that you can paint a room and live in it the same day. Wrong! In reality, the painting process takes the better part of a week. You may need to start with a primer, which has to dry before you can begin painting. If you are using a darker paint color, it will require multiple coats that all need to dry in between. Add in colorful trim or decorations, and you have many days’ worth of work on your hands. And because of the paint fumes, you shouldn’t move your stuff back into the room to use it for at least a day or two.
How To Stain Wood
Did you ever spy the perfect piece of furniture or a wooden picture frame but were turned off because it needed some TLC? Giving old wood new life is honestly super easy if you know how to stain. Just grab a can of wood stain in the color of your choice, a brush, and have at it! First, you need to sand down the wood, if it has already been stained, sealed, or painted in the past. Then, apply the stain evenly and with the grain of the wood, then wipe with a rag and let dry. For a darker color, repeat the process. It’s that easy!
Growing up, my parents were obsessed with DIY, so I have learned how to do a lot of these things. Of all the home improvement skills, though, I am most familiar with staining. Mom and Dad decided to save hella money on their new house by purchasing unfinished doors and molding and staining them ourselves. This process works for picnic tables, shelves, benches; you name it!
How To Plant A Garden
Now that you’ve conquered all you can DIY on the inside of your house, let’s move to the outside. Planting a garden isn’t for everyone, but it can be an impressive feature for your home. Whether you want to beautify your outdoor space or grow some tasty veggies at home, having a garden will make you feel more like a real adult!
Properly planting and tending your garden can raise your property value and your enjoyment of your home. That means getting the home improvement skills needed for gardening right can be incredibly rewarding.
First, figure out how much space you need and what you want to plant, then grab your seeds and start digging! Anyone can throw some seeds into a hole in the ground, but learning how to care for each plant according to its specific needs takes some time to master.
Don’t worry, apartment dwellers! I didn’t forget about you. Even if you have no outdoor space at all, knowing how to grow plants is a valuable skill to have. Being able to keep something alive is great practice for a pet or kids. It also gives you a sense of purpose and responsibility. No matter how tiny your home is, you can always grow an herb garden or a few succulents to bring some fresh greenery into your house.
Where Can I Learn All This Stuff?
Scrolling through YouTube every time you need to fix something is all well and good until it’s an emergency. Nobody wants to search for the best video tutorial when their toilet is flooding the bathroom! That’s why it’s better to take action to learn a new skill now. Your future self will thank you!
There’s an amazing one-stop-shop out there filled with affordable online courses for all kinds of home improvement skills. Udemy can teach you everything from farming to feng shui and everything in between! Their step-by-step directions let you learn at your own pace and take your lessons anywhere.
Udemy also has TONS of other online courses on every topic imaginable. You can learn how to code while waiting for your paint to dry or get dog training tips during a break in hanging photos. The courses are always changing, too, so check back if they don’t have one you love right away.
You Got This!
Moving away from your parents for the first time can be super intimidating. There are many things that your parents did for you that you now have to do on your own. Home renovations and improvement projects make up a huge percentage of those things.
While it is ok to call in a professional for a big project, picking up the phone every time you want to hang a shelf just isn’t financially practical for most of us. That’s why you need to learn some home improvement skills! Tackling the tasks on this list will turn you into an independent woman who doesn’t need any plumber! Knowing you can fix small things on your own is not only good for your bank account but for your self-esteem, too.
Did you learn any home improvement skills before setting out on your own? Which essential DIYs did I miss on this list? Let us know in the comments below!