3 DIY Projects You Can (kind of, maybe) Do Yourself

When improving and upgrading your home, things aren’t always black and white. I’m sure you’ve tackled a project that you had no business tackling, but in the end – you learned something. Maybe that something was to hire someone next time, or maybe you found you were good at it. But even I will admit, there are lines not to be crossed. With that being said, lately I’ve been getting the motivation to write from other articles that rub me the wrong way. If you can’t tell by now, I’m all about DIY projects!

Photo by Im3rd Media on Unsplash

This morning I read an article that was going to tell me what home improvement projects were illegal for me to do myself…well, that’s a pretty bold claim. Of all the things I’ve done in my life that may have been questionably legal, who knew installing a water heater was one of them!

By the way, it’s not – sure does make a good headline though! I’m sure what the author was trying to convey was that there are certain things that should be done by professionals – whether it’s because of regulations or the sheer skill involved to do it in a manner that is safe reliable. Yet, instead of informing readers of some precautions to take when deciding whether to take on a DIY project, they chose to reinforce their ideas that houses are scary and confusing and the police will take them away if they don’t pay a contactor to change a light bulb. OK, I admit, that was a little dramatic – but let’s look at some projects that you CAN (kind of, maybe) do even though someone may have told you otherwise.


I will make one comment before we go further – please ALWAYS check with your local building code enforcement agency before changing the form, fit, or function of your home or repairing and replacing anything appliances that are hardwired or have a gas supply. Most of the time you will find that you are well within your RIGHTS to make the repair or addition to your home. Many times you will also find that your are not experienced or skilled enough to make that same repair or addition. This is OK – we all have our limitations, plus many of times its good to ask for help. That’s how I’ve acquired my many mediocre skill sets!

Build a Deck

A deck is by no means one of the easiest DIY projects. It will require a great deal of physical labor, patience, time, and money. Well, less money if you do it yourself opposed to hiring someone – if you do it right the first time. Unlike the unnamed article about the questionable legality of building a deck, I am here to tell you it is not illegal – if you follow the rules! My county has an online document all about building a deck. It covers the permit requirements, gives your diagrams to explain and illustrate the proper construction, it gives you tips on how to prepare and build to pass inspections, and even talks about rare issues that you may run across and how to fix them.

From the sound of it, it seems like the code enforcement agency actually wants you to build a deck – a far throw from it being illegal. Again, I will caveat this with the fact that in order to pull this off the correct way, and get it successfully inspected, it will take some hard work. If this is too far out of your scope of work, hire a professional – but if you’re willing to learn, do your research and build yourself a deck. By passing inspections, the city/county/whoever inspects it, is ensuring that your deck is safely built so you can sleep tight knowing that your deck cost you a fraction of what it would cost if someone else built it.

Install a Water Heater

A water heater is another great example of something you can replace yourself. Depending on the type, installation, your location, and the age of your home, you may need to refer to your local code enforcement agency again (they’ll become your close friends at some point) because you’ll probably have to pull some permits. Chances are, when replacing your old one, you’ll need to make some improvements to the situation to bring it up to code. This is why many people opt to hire a plumber to do the dirty work for them – but what’s the fun in that! My situation right now is going to require me to make some major changes and/or bring my house up to code when I replace the water heater. The old one is in the attic!

Every plumber I’ve talked to laughs and just shakes their head. Most have told me they wouldn’t replace one in the attic – I’d need to move it down to the garage. This is when I started looking into whether or not I could do it myself. Turns out it’ll probably be a hybrid job – I’ll need to pay a plumber to move a gas line to the garage, and I should be able to do the rest – run new water lines from the attic, install the water heater, and install a new power vent. Just know before you tackle this project that if major upgrades need to be made to bring everything up to code, you may be in over your head. Again, NOT ILLEGAL, just a pain in the butt most of the time. But lets be real, aren’t all DIY projects?

Replace you HVAC System

This one falls in the category of ‘Kind of DIY Projects’. While replacing your HVAC system is not illegal – it is very difficult and some aspects of it are not legal for you to do without the proper licenses. Just like any electrical appliance, you need to have an understanding of how its wired in. If you’re replacing the condenser or evaporator, you’ll need to know how to braze. And most important of all, you cannot handle refrigerant unless you are licensed by the EPA to do so. So yeah…that was a buzz kill. But replacing the system is not in itself illegal for you to do. The more you know. As for me, I’ll probably skip this one.

Adding On to Your House

I’ll briefly touch this one – Just like the other projects we’ve talked about, you’re going to need to pull multiple permits and pass multiple inspections. This may not be a big deal to you if you do this for a living – and that’s why I’m writing about this. It’s completely legal to tackle these huge projects yourself – just make sure you’re going about it the right way.

Ask Questions

Again, please ask questions and inform yourself. Too many home owners think their hands are tied in some situations when they are not. You may find that you are exceptionally good at building decks, start a deck business, and retire early on your exceptional deck building earnings! You’ll never know if you don’t try – but just make sure you’re following the rules.

Have you done any of these repairs or upgrades yourself? Did you do it the right way? Or did you BREAK THE LAW!!!!???? LOL. Like you’d ever tell me.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Home Projects with the best ROI

Buying, and even owning a home has been a roller coaster of emotions over the last couple years. Housing prices have skyrocketed, building costs are at all time highs, and it leaves many homeowners wondering if they should sell – I mean, will the home values stay this high over the next few years? Most signs point to yes – with continued, albeit slower growth, but many people did decide to sell. My issue with that was, if my house sells for a premium, I would have to buy another for a premium. Not what I wanted to do – so I sat tight. I’m sure the majority of homeowners did the same – it’s just too crazy out there for me!

Seriously though, I’m more than happy with my house even if it does need tons of work. Because of this, I became interested in home projects with the best ROI. It keeps me busy and is a great inspiration for everything you read here on My Homie.

So, you’re like me, you’re not going anywhere any time soon but you’re interested in upgrading your home to not only make it super comfortable and fun to live in, but also maintain and gain value over time so when you are ready to sell it for that bungalow on the beach, you get the best price possible. While we can’t predict exactly what the market will bring over the next few years, we can know what home improvement projects will give you your best return on investment (ROI). Let’s be real, home upgrades are expensive – I don’t want to spend the money if it’s not going to bring value to my investment. Believe it or not, not all upgrades are equal when it comes to that.

I found a really good report that Remodeling Magazine has published over the last few years. You can go check out their full list at the link above, but I want to talk about a few of them below. What’s even better is they have the ranking broken down by U.S. region as well because as we all know, housing markets vary by region. Again, I want to dig a little deeper into a few of the top national average ranked remodeling projects with the highest ROI according to Remodeling Magazine.

Garage Door Replacement – ROI 93.3%

This one threw me off guard – Remodeling Magazine has this one listed as number one. I’m assuming it has to do with curb appeal, and the fact that the majority of garage doors are super boring. Another benefit of replacing your garage door is energy efficiency. If your door is anything like mine, about 30 years old, it has no insulation. Newer doors are insulated and will help to keep your garage temperature regulated throughout the year. It sure would be nice to not have a 100F garage on the other side of my kitchen! While I write this I’m devising a plan to get a new garage door – the insulation part has me sold. Plus, a 93.3% ROI is pretty good.

Minor Kitchen Remodel – 71.2%

Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

This is a much bigger undertaking than replacing a garage door, but it still has a good ROI – as it should! Kitchens are a focal point of a house. Here they say “minor kitchen remodel” as opposed to a complete remodel – which apparently has a lower ROI, in the 50% range. They are talking about new countertops, cabinet front, maybe cabinet paint, flooring and/or appliance upgrades. These are all things I am currently working on and recommend to anyone that just moved into a house that is more than 10 or so years old. Sure, it would be nice to have brand new cabinets with soft stop drawers and kick cabinets below – but that’s not in my budget. In the meantime, some granite countertops and a fresh coat of paint will not only bring your kitchen into the 21st century, but add value to your home as well.

Siding Replacement (Fiber-Cement) – 68.3%

I’m really happy to see siding toward the top of this list. Siding can be an afterthought for many – you don’t see it when you’re in the house and it only needs replaced ever 20? 30? Years – I don’t really know. I do know siding takes a beating in the southeast U.S. and I’m sure anywhere else where the summers are hot and the sun is trying to kill you. My house has beige vinyl siding so it’s difficult to tell it’s faded over the years. This has enabled me to get away with putting its replacement off a little bit, and I’m thankful for that because siding is expensive! Siding is important though because it prevents water from intruding and rotting out the framing of your house (no big deal, right?).

But, its good to know that fiber-cement siding has a high ROI – and this is because of its quality. Fiber-cement siding lasts longer and looks much better (in my opinion) than vinyl. It has a quality finish to it, sharp lines and is paintable. Vinyl on the other hand can get wavy, doesn’t look as crisp and your stuck with the color.

Window Replacement (Vinyl) – 67.5%

Windows are another large investment that bring a decent ROI. I know from experience that windows can cost tens of thousands of dollars so it’s nice to know you can get more than half of that back in the value of your home. Windows are also super important to keep your home efficient, in turn saving you money in heating and cooling expenses. On the list here is vinyl windows – I’m not sure if vinyl is the best type of window out there, but apparently it brings a good return. This may be due to the middle of the road costs associated with them – there are better products. But the takeaway here is if you have to replace windows, it’ll increase your home value.

Deck Addition (Wood) – 64.8%

This is another one that I’m glad to see on the list – especially with the increased cost of lumber these days. At 64.8% ROI, it’s good to know that you’ll get more than half of this investment back out of the house. Plus, a new deck, remodeled deck, or an addition to an existing one makes for great use of outdoor space. My wife and I love to entertain so our deck at the forefront of our planning! If you’re on the fence about building a deck, this should help you make a decision.

Roofing Replacement (Asphalt Shingles) – 59.6%

Your homes roof is another one of those super important, yet overlooked aspects of home remodeling that will bring value! I feel like people dread having to replace it because its expensive and you can’t see it when you’re inside! You don’t really interact with your roof you know? I know I’d rather spend that money on a hot tub! But either way, a good roof is a must have in order to protect your investment. Not to mention, your roof needs to be up to par in order to get home owners insurance. Speaking of insurance, take a look at our policy, you may be able to get them to replace your roof if there is a certain amount of damage (wind, hail, fallen tree, etc.). It can’t hurt to take a look! It doesn’t matter who pays for it, you’ll still get a 59.6% ROI!

Again, big thanks to Remodeling Magazine for the ROI analysis! Take a look and see if any of your projects are on this list. Let us know if you plan on doing, or have already done one of these, especially if you sold a home! We’d love to hear from you.

Photo by 金 运 on Unsplash

Best Way to Remove a Bush

When we moved into the house we live in now, my wife and I were overwhelmed by the number of overgrown bushes in the front of the house. They blocked the front windows, crept out into the walk way, and made the house look old and forgotten. We decided early on that we had to remove the bushes! Well, making that decision is the easy part – how were we going to get rid of them was the challenge. I’m pretty handy around the house, but these big bushes had been growing here for almost 30 years – they were going to be a challenge. Based on my experience, I will outline below the best way to remove bushes and shrubs from around your property.

Preparing Bushes to Be Pulled

I began the process of removing the bushes by cutting them back so I could get to the main trunk of each. You’ll need a large chain to wrap around the trunk – drag the other end straight out and attach to your truck or tractor.

Sometimes, if the bush is not too big, you can pull it straight out of the ground with a vehicle and chain. Other times, you’ll need another solution.

Full disclosure – my truck is 2-wheel drive. Maybe had it been 4-wheel drive this would have gone better. So, no. The setup I had was not enough to pull the bushes from the front of my house.

A-Frame Provides Leverage to Pull Bushes

I asked my dad, who had grown up on a potato farm in the 1960s and 70s, what he thought the best way to remove bushes was. His solution was to build an A-frame out of 4×4 lumber and use it for mechanical advantage. Dang – why didn’t I think of that, I mean, I’m an engineer! This simple apparatus saved us tons of time and energy and enabled me to remove large bushes from my front yard.

Removing Bushes with a Truck

Sketch of how the A-Frame is used to pull a bush out of the ground with a truck
Sketch of how the A-frame is used.

Without getting too technical – the above is a sketch of how this apparatus works. Why is this better than pulling the stump without the A-frame you ask? That’s easy – when you’re pulling without the A-frame, you’re really only knocking the stump over – rotating it toward the ground and at best breaking the roots on the opposite side

By using the A-frame, you’re pulling the stump up and out of the ground!

In the diagram below you can see there are two elements of force acting on the stump. One in the X and one in the Y direction.


Obviously, there are limits to how well this works. The first is the size of the bush or stump. You’re not going to be able to pull a large tree out of the ground – well maybe if you have a huge truck or a tractor. But then you take the risk of breaking the A-frame. Second is the chain you’re using. A larger chain is preferred for pulling bushes and shrubs – small chains may break. And third is the vehicle you’re pulling it with. Your truck may generate 300-foot pounds of torque, but that number is reduced by the angles the chain makes with the truck and the A-Frame. If you’re lucky, the stump may get pulled with 50% of the torque produced by your truck.

Even with these limitations, this works much better than trying to pull stumps or bushes without the A-frame.

The A-Frame

Below is a picture of the A-frame we built. We strengthened the main 4X4s with cross members. We attached the cross members with lag bolts for strength andeven went a little further and strengthened the top of the A-frame with plywood on the outside. The top section will receive lots of stress from the force of the chain pushing down on it.

Picture of the A-Frame used to remove bushes in the back of a truck

Below is a picture of the bushes and shrubs that were removed.

Picture of the bushes in front of the house before they were pulled
Removing Bushes from Front of House
Picture of the front of the house after bushes were removed
Removing Bushes from Front of House 2

I wish I would have taken some action shots – or at least more before an after pictures. The pictures here really don’t do this justice. Using this saved me so much time and physical labor.

Overall, I think we spent $20 because we had the 4X4s laying around. We had to buy lag bots and the chain. If you have to buy everything, I’m willing to bet this will come in under $100 – way less than paying someone to do it for you!

Have you used something like this before? Or do you plan on building one? Let us know if you have ideas to make it better!