Six Home Improvements That Don’t Require a Contractor

The reasons for wanting a home renovation are many: Increased property value. A fresh take on an old space. Begrudgingly impressed neighbors.

Now, that is not an invitation to start hacking away at drywall without abandon. The first rule of home improvement is know your limits.

Wiring, plumbing and windows? Unless you are personally an expert, it’s best to hire those projects out.

But there are loads of other fixes you can take on sans contractor, especially if you’re willing to take advice from Youtube. And if worries about time and commitment have you on the fence, fret not: most of the projects below require just a couple weekends to complete.

Shelving and Storage Solutions

Proper storage is integral to having a clean place and an organized life. Home remodel experts Porch reported that 90% of people they surveyed ranked it among must-haves for a home. But not all storage is created equal: for the price, you’ll be amazed at the distance between those particle-board and metal bracket shelves and something made from actual wood. Got a weird nook anywhere? Maximize the space with a few custom-cut shelves. It’s fairly simple if you remember the cardinal rule of woodshop: “Measure twice, cut once.” Here are four DIY options with a clean, elegant look that can be made on a budget for less than you’d spend on most out-of-the-box numbers, and here is a simple how-to that’s garnered over a million views on Youtube.


If you heard moulding was too old fashioned for today’s hyper-modern homes, you heard wrong. Putting moulding in a bathroom, kitchen or hallway adds a craftsman-style detail and about a thousand style points, especially if you do it yourself. Just take a look at the before and after of the hallway above, as redone by ambitious home renovators-turned-bloggers Young House Love (their site hosts a thorough how-to of this project along with more than 3,000+ other renovations they’ve performed).

How to Install Pre-Finished Engineered Flooring – This Old House4:06

Tear Out That Carpet

Carpet in the home is one of those love it/hate it scenarios. Regardless of your stance, there’s not much worse than a carpeted space overdue for a makeover, whether due to wear-and-tear or outdated styling. If this struggle sounds familiar, opt for something with less fuss: interlocking wood planks or hard laminate tiles are easier and cheaper than ever to install on your own, last for years, and are more forgiving of traffic, pets and kids. Add area rugs for personalization and sound-dampening, bing bang boom.


The energy-efficiency craze has led to many new homes that are equipped with net-zero technology on arrival. Take in California, whose homes come with Tesla Powerwalls already installed and estimate that their approach to homebuilding saves owners $300K over the first 30 years, the average length of a mortgage. Take this as a cue to treat your own property as an investment and prepare it for the future. Replacing your refrigerator, dishwasher, air conditioners, washing machine and dryer can save you thousands in energy bills and give you a solid start toward a more efficient household.

Focus on the Bathroom

In terms of usage, the bathroom is second only to the kitchen, so it makes sense that it’s consistently in the top two home renovations every year according to the National Association of Home Builders. If you don’t wanna go full reno, focus on the details: a coat of paint, upgraded fixtures and a designer mirror will go a long way toward bringing your bathroom up to date. For YHL, it was as simple as tearing out the wallpaper and adding some moulding and a bright paint accents to complement the existing features. You’d never guess that only a few days passed between these photos.

The Yard

Curb appeal is real, and can be as simple as painting or replacing your front door. If you’re feeling more inspired, consider laying new stone walkways, planting a native garden or tearing out the lawn completely in favor of something more dynamic.