10 DIY Construction Projects
Can’t afford to have a pro come in to build that new kitchen or bathroom that you’ve been dreaming of? All it takes is a little talent with a hammer and screwdriver and a lot of a hard work and determination, not to mention some great resources for instruction, and you’ll be well on your way to designing and building those things you want around the house with a little DIY resolve. For the tougher construction projects, be sure to reach out locally to hire a good building contractor or carpenter, but for the simpler tasks, why not try them on your own?
Here’s some of the top DIY construction projects that you can try tackling on your own:
In the Yard
We all want to have a nice yard that feels warm and inviting to friends and looks good in the neighborhood. Why not try one of these to get started with your own backyard DIY project:
- Back Yard Fire Pit
A fire pit is one of the easiest outdoor projects a homeowner can take on. A fire pit is the perfect way to have a few friends over, sit around a warm and cozy fire and create some amazing memories to remember for years to come. Did we mention that a backyard fire pit is easy to make on your own? Summer nights are fun for hanging out in the backyard with the kids roasting marshmallows and telling ghostly tales. In the fall, invite a few friends over for some adult drinks and talks of youth around the glowing embers.
- Bricks (red brick or even retaining wall bricks work well)
- Masonry adhesive (optional)
- Campfire ring (optional)
To build the pit:
- Map out a circle to determine how large the pit will be.
- Dig a 12-inch deep trench around the perimeter of the circle.
- Insert a campfire ring inside the trench line. This is optional but is a great benefit if you want to keep the fire pit up for an extended time.
- Begin laying the bricks to enclose the circle.
- Carefully stack the bricks one layer at a time until you have 4-5 layers. In between layers you can use a thin line of masonry adhesive to ensure the bricks will not topple over during a bonfire.
- Once the bricks have been stacked around the perimeter, you are now ready to add a little gravel inside to cover the bottom. This will help drainage from the fire pit.
- Add wood and light it up and enjoy!
Have an old chandelier sitting in the garage? If so, make use of it by taking it outside for a super cool light at night.
To make a solar light chandelier:
Cut all wiring and remove light bulbs from the chandelier. Replace all light bulbs with inexpensive solar lamps and then hang the chandelier from a tree branch where you’ll have beautiful lighting all night long. Best of all, the solar lights are inexpensive and you won’t have to pay a penny for electricity to keep the lights glowing all night long.
A tree bench is a simple creation to make and will be a great place to head outside for a little solitude this fall or even in the spring or summer. You can get great instructions to build your own bench from scratch here. You can also opt to purchase an inexpensive bench and sit it under your favorite tree where you can enjoy hours of alone time catching up on reading or just enjoying the nature that surrounds you. Be sure to hang your solar chandelier light overhead and enjoy the bench at night as well as in the day.
In the Kitchen
The kitchen has long been the one room in the home where every member of the family can sit and chat or where we can entertain friends and family for hours on end. Nothing beats a few easy to do DIY projects to really make your kitchen burst with warmth and coziness so your friends and family will feel right at home every time they visit.
It’s easy to pop up a premanufactured shelving unit next to a dining table in your kitchen area, but what about making your own shelves from one wall to the other. This will ensure you have sturdy shelves and plenty of space to place nice artwork dishes and other wares in your kitchen where guests can easily soak in your collection while enjoying a glass of wine, playing a game of Scrabble at the kitchen table or just having a cup of coffee and a lengthy conversation about life.
To build your shelving unit you will need:
- Tape measure
- Large drywall screws
- Boards (These will be measured to fit in the space you determine, but need to be at least 2 inches thick and no less than 6 inches wide.
Start by measuring the wall to see how long the wood needs to be. You also need to decide how wide you want the shelves. Be sure to buy enough small, 2” x 3” boards to hold each side of the shelving boards when it is time to hang them.
Using a level, hang the small board straight on each wall and use large drywall screws.
Be sure that the wood has been measured and cut to fit just inside each wall so you can easily slip them onto the small boards to hang them. You can also use shelving brackets to hang the shelves easily without extending the wood wall to wall.
If you don’t have a saw to cut the wood on your own, you can reach out to Lowes or Home Depot or other hardware stores to cut the wood when you purchase it.
Shelves should be placed no less than one foot apart when hanging them.
Installing a new kitchen sink can be an easy task if you are going to install using the old countertop that has already been cut for a sink. All you need to do is measure the space and make sure you purchase a sink that will fit. You just need to make sure you have at least an inch or two inside to clamp the sink and hold it down so it doesn’t shift once it is installed.
You will need:
- Slip Joint Pliers
- New sink
You’ll first need to remove the old sink as well as the water lines underneath the sink. You’ll find several clamps around the edge of the sink that holds it to the countertop. When you begin to pry the clamps up, you can force the old sink upwards, and with the assistance of another person, will be able to easily pull it out of the opening on top of the counter.
Since we are working with the same size sink, you can easily slide the new sink into the opening. Be sure to clean the edges before putting the new sink in. Unless the sink is pre-drilled for the faucet, you will need to drill the correct sized hole to place the faucet.
Once the sink is situated, you can now begin installing by connecting the drain and the clamps to hold it in place. When connecting drain pipes, be sure to use plumbers putty to prevent the pipes from slipping or leaking.
You have a new sink, why not build some durable storage to be able to store things under it. For less than $50, you can spend an afternoon crafting under the sink trays that can easily hold cleaning supplies, tools and much more. Shelving units can be found at local discount shops, even the dollar store, and in a wide array of sizes and shapes. Choose the shelves that suit your style the best and place them underneath the sink. It’s a good idea to find stackable shelving so you will have a larger variety of storage space to hold all of your under the sink accessories.
In the Bathroom
Whether you own a new home and feel that the current toilet is just too small, or you’ve decided to renovate the bathroom and you want a nicer toilet, it’s good to know that it isn’t difficult to remove an old toilet and install a shiny new one so you’ll feel comfortable and your bathroom will look great. A new toilet will also help with water conservation and can help save a little on the water bill each month.
What you will need:
- A new toilet
- Toilet flange wax ring with rubber
- Water supply flex hose
- Brass toilet mounting bolts
- Crescent wrench
- Utility knife
- Flat screwdriver
- Slip joint pliers
First, you need to remove the old toilet. You will most likely want to make sure the toilet is clean unless you plan to wear rubber gloves during the time you will be handling the toilet.
To remove old toilet:
- Shut water supply to toilet off
- Flush to remove excess water
- Use a small Styrofoam or plastic cup to dip remaining water from base of toilet
- Remove toilet bolt caps
- Pull toilet until it lifts from spot on floor and remove from the room
Installing the new toilet:
- Read the instructions to assemble the new toilet
- Clean the old wax ring from floor
- Place the new wax ring onto the plumbing floor flange (Rubber side down – see photo – right)
- The bolts should be protruding upwards through the flange as shown in photo
- Sit new toilet onto the wax ring and make sure the bolts go through the bolt holes on the new toilet
- Slowly rock the toilet while applying pressure to situate it on the floor
- Place washers and nuts on the bolts and secure in place
- Once the bolts are in place and secure, take the hacksaw and saw the excess length from the bolt
- Once the toilet is in place and the bolts are shaved down, connect the water supply lines and let the tank fill up
- Check for signs of leaks
- If there are no leaks, you are good to go. If you find a leak, shut the water off and re-install the water line. Continue this until all leaks have been corrected.
Around the House
Installing crown molding in a room is a great way to change the appearance and create a well-defined look in the room. Some use molding to balance a due color scheme while others just want an elegant look in a single-color room. Crown molding used around the ceiling or even placed together in various designs on the walls or at the base of the wall can add a brilliant appearance to any room and can really improve your home value as well as spice up the way things look.
- Install a New Doorknob
This may sound like a simple task to some, but it can take a little skill to get a doorknob situated correctly on the door frame. If you have about ten minutes and a screwdriver, you’ll be well on your way to installing a new doorknob on your bedroom, bathroom or entry door.
To install a new doorknob:
- remove the doorknob from the package
- insert new latch into the pre-drilled hold in side of door
- Affix the knobs (Lock will be on inside of door)
- Screw sides together by lining up both doorknobs and placing screws through the side with the lock
Once the new knob is in place, be sure to test the knob to make sure it turns correctly and will lock and unlock the right way.
If you have hardwood floors in your home, chances are that you want them to look shiny and smooth at all times. In older homes, the hardwood may need to be refinished to bring back the original shine and luster to make the home look great. Many people opt to hire a professional floor contractor to tackle the job of refinishing, but with a little time and a great deal of patience, you can refinish those dull floors on your own.
What you will need:
- A floor buffer (You can rent one for a low price from a tool rental company or from many large hardwood stores including Home Depot and Lowes.
- Belt sander or flooring drum
- Edging Sander
- Shop vac
- Broom dustpan
- Dust mask
To start, you need to completely empty the room to avoid furniture being in the way. If there are nails in the floor, these need to be removed with a hammer to prevent them from ruining the sander and sandpaper.
Once everything is cleared out, you can start with a 40-grit sandpaper and the belt sander or the flooring drum sander to remove the bulk of the buildup on the floor. These sanders are large and will not sand the edges or corners of the room.
After sanding the floor with 40-grit paper, you will need to go over it again with 60 and 80 grit paper as well. After sanding, be sure to sweep the floor and follow that with the Shop vac to remove all dust from the floor.
Use the floor buffer with 100-grit sandpaper to help smooth the wood down and then vacuum again to remove all dust. Removing the dust can take a while, but it must be handled correctly because dust can ruin the finish on the floor.
To Refinish you will need:
- a brush (depending on the product you use, you may need a lamb’s wool brush or a sponge)
- following instructions on the product, start by applying the finish to the area farthest from the exit door as you will not be able to walk on the floor for at least 24 hours after applying the product
- usually around 24 hours after the first coat, you will need to apply a second coat to finish
It can take a great deal of practice to get hardwood floors refinished the right way, but by making it a DIY project, you can save a little money while learning to make your floors beautiful.
There are so many great DIY home construction projects that you can tackle on your own, but if you’re pushed for time and don’t feel like you can handle the job at hand, be sure to contact a professional who can take the job and get it done just the way you want it to be.