Women and DIY Home Improvements

by Rachel Laurendeau on December 26, 2012

According to the statistics from the Joint Center For Housing Studies of Harvard University, twice as many single women are buying homes as single men. Add to that, the fact that women are the primary decision-makers on big-ticket item spending and household spending and it becomes abundantly clear why there is such a growing trend in women taking on home improvement projects themselves.

Why are more women interested in DIY?
Women take on home improvement projects themselves for a wide range of reasons:
• out of necessity (if they don’t do it, no one else will);
• for the satisfaction of doing DIY jobs around the house and yard;
• you can save lots of money on simple do-it-yourself projects instead of hiring a contractor to do it for you;
• you can also save time and a lot of extra hassle by doing projects yourself instead of hunting around for a contractor, waiting for estimates and working around someone else’s schedule just to have someone else do the work.

Are there any particular challenges for women when it comes to DIY home improvements?
• One of the main challenges that I’ve found is that tools are generally made for men. I’m a petite 5 foot 1 inch tall woman with small hands so those large tools may as well be made for giants. Often, the smaller tools just don’t have the heft or power behind them that is needed to do the job right. (There are, however, a few of companies like Tomboy Tools that specialize in making good quality tools for women.)
• It can be a little daunting to step into no-woman’s-land at the home store and start asking questions. Most of the time, there are no issues but from time to time you do run into folks who are a tad condescending towards a woman buying building supplies. Really, you just have to shrug it off and keep focused on the task at hand.

What are some good novice DIY home improvements?
Really, whether you are a man or woman, my feeling is that you should leave certain jobs up to the professionals unless you are well-seasoned do-it-yourselfer. For example:
• Do shovel your own gravel or river rock for your backyard pond. Don’t try to move an oversized granite boulder without heavy machinery.
• Do change a light fixture. Don’t try to upgrade your knob and tube wiring.
• Do hang wallpaper in your dining room. Don’t sand and paint over lead paint.
• Do change a bathroom faucet. Don’t try to clear your clogged sewer lateral of invasive tree roots.

The statistics show us that women are completely immersed in home ownership and all of the decision-making and work that goes with it. It’s time for everyone in the home improvement industry to acknowledge it and move forward with that in mind.

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