When you think of home improvements and fix-it projects around the house, what comes to mind? If it’s a burly man sweating through his white tank with an open beer and some classic rock tunes blasting through the boombox, well, it’s time to paint a new picture.

How about a beautiful, strong, intelligent and independent woman tackling that hole in the wall, or installing new faucets, or unclogging the toilet! That’s right. We’re celebrating all of those handy Miss or Mrs Fix-its this International Women’s Day (March 8).

We raise our glass of wine (or beer) to you! Whether you’re married, common law, single or whatever else! We applaud you and your efforts to take on the project yourself. Whatever it may be.

Thing is, we should all be able to tackle certain at-home projects, and yes, some we should leave to the professionals. But before we get into those, let’s take a peek into the toolbox to make sure we all have the essentials.

Homeowner’s toolbox necessities

  • Hammer
  • Rubber mallet
  • Screwdriver set
  • Measuring tape
  • Stud finder
  • Duct tape
  • Utility knife/box cutter
  • Pliers set
  • Wrench set
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Level
  • Wire stripper
  • Hand saw
  • Electric drill and bits
  • Extension cords
  • Electrical tape
  • Plumber tape
  • Caulking gun
  • Zip ties
  • Volt/Ohmmeter
  • Safety glasses, gloves, respirator
  • Flashlight

Now that we have tackled the essentials you’ll need kicking around to take care of minor fix-ups in your home, let’s talk a bit about the things you can do solo, and the things you should be leaving to the experts.

Swapping out a light fixture is an easy enough task for the ambitious DIYer, but please leave the actual wiring to the professional and licensed electricians. Yes, they’re more costly, but they have undergone years of training to gain their expertise and the outcome of their work will (most likely) not cause any further damages, or, worst case scenario, start an electrical fire that could burn your whole house down!

Too often, homeowners brave the breaker box and circuitry in hopes of saving a buck, but wires are easily crossed if you don’t have the know-how — and unfortunately, Grade 6 science doesn’t quite cover the basis in its electricity unit to help you rewire your home.

Frank Cohn, owner of Cohn Construction and host of the Home Improvement Show on Toronto’s NEWSTALK 1010 says electrical work is his No. 1 job that should be left to the professionals.

“I’ve seen too many electrical jobs where people have done it themselves, or had a brother or an uncle do the wiring, and a lot of these people are lucky they’re alive to tell their tale because I find all sorts of buried wires or things wired improperly. It’s so dangerous. I just can’t stress that enough,” he told Discover

The same can be said for major renovations, especially finishing the basement. Unless you have enlisted the help from professional contractors (that may also be in your friend circle), you should leave most of the major renos to the pros.

Often, things such as fire-blocking or vapour barriers can be overlooked in the planning and execution phases of these solo-embarked endeavours, experts say.

Once the base work is complete, you can certainly take over and finish with drywalling, painting and decorating, but like electrical work, leave the major design work to the professionals who know exactly what to look for.

The price to pay for mistakes made during these homemade renovations can cost tens of thousands of dollars, Discover says, so you might as well pay a smaller amount up front and get the job done right.

Next up is — you guessed it — plumbing. The water version of electricity. Go ahead, snake your drain, unclog your pipes, replace the toilet, even, but save yourself the trouble and potential (major) costs associated with mistakes and hire a professional for the bigger jobs. First of all, not many of us want to be stuck with the gross aftermath of a DIY plumbing job gone wrong… am I right? Yuck.

The need to knows

  • Familiarizing yourself with the flush valve assembly will save you bundles if you encounter a running toilet. You can make the fix yourself, without a plumber and without the cost of a run-up water bill.
  • Snaking the drain, or unclogging a sink is another must-know at-home fix-it. HGTV suggests avoiding harsh chemicals until you try using a small plunger and drain snake to fix the problem mechanically. The mechanical fixes will definitely clear up the problem, while the chemicals slow the deterioration.
  • Seal doorways and windows with weatherstripping to keep the heat you are paying for inside the home, and the cold winters outside. Installing weatherstripping is an easy and sure-fire way to keep those energy bills low and the home efficient.
  • Patching holes in drywall. Drywall is everywhere in the home and unfortunately, it can be super vulneable to the hard-knocks life brings. But, it’s an easy fix that will save you a bundle if you learn  how to DIY it. Fill small holes with a filler, or use a screen to cover up more significant knocks. Just be sure to check for electrical wires and pipes before cutting in — if necessary.
  • Changing air filters on your HVAC system is a necessary skill that any homeowner should have. This easy fix will prolong the life of our system and it won’t go unnoticed in your home’s air quality. Be sure to always refer to your owners maunal to ensure you have the right parts.

Now with an aresenal of Miss fix-it tools and skills, we are set to take on anything our home can challenge us with. Plus, we know when we’re in over our heads, we should call the professionals and leave the more expert-level things to, well, the experts!

To all of the independent women out there, or to the ladies (myself included) with a partner who isn’t so much of a “handy-man,” happy International Women’s Day. You are all tough, brilliant, talented and beautiful and you are capable of anything you set your mind to!

Now raise your hammers high and get to fixing!