How a Data Nerd Approaches DIY Home Improvement Projects

I started 2021 by buying an 1885 hulk of a home, sight unseen, with visions of restoring its earlier grandeur. In almost two years, I’ve restored three of many rooms and tackled multiple smaller projects, by myself. 

Do-it-yourself home improvements can save a lot of money, but that’s hardly the only reason to dive in. One in 4 homeowners took on DIY home improvement projects over the past two years because they like doing that kind of work themselves, according to the recent NerdWallet Home Improvement Report. I count myself among them. The joy of this work was instilled in me at a young age by my dad, a former industrial arts (shop class) teacher turned school administrator, and hobbyist carpenter. I joke that I’m the only kid I’ve ever known who built her own Barbie house. It was a blue one-bedroom ranch.

Between my current house and the one I previously lived in (also about 100 years old), the only jobs I paid professionals for were the urgent ones and the massive ones:…

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This article was written by Elizabeth Renter and originally published on