Doing it Yourself

There are plenty of jobs you can do yourself with a little research, moxy, and resolve, and perhaps the help of your handiest uncle or auntie....

Seven DIY projects that won’t bust your budget

Living on Maui is expensive. So is hiring people to fix things for you. Sometimes, you have no choice. Unless you’re an expert or journeyman contractor, some jobs should be left to the professionals—for best results and your safety.

That said, there are plenty of jobs you can do yourself with a little research, moxy, and resolve, and perhaps the help of your handiest uncle or auntie.

Courtesy Adobe Stock

Here are seven relatively simple and inexpensive ways to improve your home.

Build a Firepit

An outdoor firepit can add ambiance and functionality. There are many options—from high-end fancy to simple and utilitarain. Of course, as with many things in Hawai‘i, there are rules to be followed and applications to submit. You can find those at the state Department of Health’s Clean Air Branch website:

Add a Backsplash

Backsplashes are mostly decorative, but they also protect your kitchen walls from stains. They come in an array of colors and styles and can be installed in two days. Step one is to adhere the tile using tile adhesive, or mastic. Step two, the following day, is to grout the tile. If there are any electrical outlets in the area where the backsplash is being applied, they’ll need to be cut around, ideally with a tile saw, which can make the job more complicated—but far from impossible. For those with a tight bottom line, vinyl wallpaper is a viable alternative.

Courtesy Adobe Stock

Install a Shelf

Books, knick knacks, kids toys…everyone could use another shelf. And it’s an easy install. Attach supports to a wall stud (drywall anchors can suffice depending upon how much you’re expecting the shelf to bear). Measure the height and distance, drill a pilot hole, and attach the supports.

Caulk Your Windows

Reduce cooling (or, if you live Upcountry and get chilly easily, heating) costs by sealing your windows with caulk. All it takes is a caulk gun and a steady hand. Apply silicone caulk for best results, and seal the interior and exterior. If you’re re-caulking an existing window rather than adding a new one, scrape the old caulk away with a putty knife before application.

Paint a Chalkboard

If you’re a creative type and/or have keiki who like to draw on the walls, consider chalkboard paint. The wall or portion of a wall you paint should be smooth, indoors and clean. It’s best to apply two coats and it should be left to dry for three days. 

Courtesy Adobe Stock

Switch Up Your Fixtures

From the kitchen to the bathroom to the front door, your house is full of fixtures—faucets, handles, doorknobs. Try a new look. Fixtures come in myriad styles and every price range, and can usually be installed in a snap.

Install a Water-Filtration System

Maui has been increasingly turning away from single-use plastics, banning them outright in many cases. While plastic water bottles are still ubiquitous, they’re wasteful and clog our landfills and ocean. One solution is to install an under-sink water filtration system. There are many varieties, and most are simple to install. It’s better for you, and it’s better for the ‘āina. 

Jacob Shafer

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