Home Repair Skill Levels Explained

home repair

skynesher / Getty Images

Doing your own home repairs can be satisfying, creative, and fun. With the right set of home do-it-yourself skills, you can save a considerable amount of money and time. Vital to successful home repairs is the ability to accurately gauge the difficulty of the project in relation to your own home repair skill level, whether beginner, intermediate, or expert.

Safety is at the heart of this. Pushing your limits may seem like a good idea at first, but you may find yourself in over your head. Never hesitate to stop work on any project that feels uncomfortable to you, and to call in a professional to complete the work.

Home Repair Skill Levels: Examples
  Beginner Intermediate Expert
Fix a sticking door X    
Light a pilot light X    
Install a remodel electric box   X  
Build a stone wall     X
Build a waterfall     X
Build a floating deck   X  
Install a outdoor shower     X
Install a new bathroom fan   X  
Build a dog house   X  

Beginner Home Repair Skill Level

Beginner-level home repairs require few, if any, prior skills before you start. Beginner repairs use common, inexpensive hand tools that many homeowners already own such as hammers and hand saws, along with a limited number of corded or cordless electric tools. Beginner projects usually can be completed within a day, and sometimes within just an hour or two.

Precursor Knowledge

As a beginner, you might be starting with no skill base at all. Generally, though, you already possess skills such as sawing wood by hand, using a cordless drill, painting both with a roller and with a brush, and hammering a nail by hand. Beginner level repairs are not overly physically taxing, with a personal lift maximum requirement of around 50 pounds being the norm.

Beginner Skills vs. Other Skill Levels

As a person with beginner home repair skills, you might have just bought your first home. You may not have had prior opportunities to hone your repair skills. Or you might be a long-time homeowner who, because of extenuating circumstances, has decided to take on more repairs by yourself. Intermediate- and expert-level projects such as building a deck or removing a load-bearing wall might feel daunting, but you are curious and have a willingness to learn new skills. While safety should always be foremost in mind, you can rest easier since beginner level repairs tend to remain more on the safer side than do intermediate or expert level repairs.

Examples of Beginner Home Projects

Intermediate Home Repair Skill Level

Intermediate level home repair skills are characterized as skills that straddle a fine line between beginner and expert, with ever-changing factors such as timing, budget, physical strength, or the ability to round up assistants tipping the scale in either direction. Intermediate-level repairs can include some permitted work. Repairs at this level often extend for days or weeks. If niche or special tools are required, they are usually low cost and easy to obtain. Often, it can be difficult to distinguish between intermediate and expert projects, especially since intermediate-level homeowners may want to push their skill level a bit further to save money.

Precursor Knowledge

Intermediate home repair skills encompass the entire set of beginner skills, adding experience with a wide range of electric power tools. You may also have an introductory knowledge of dealing with electrical and plumbing systems. This skill level can include tasks that require lifting more than 50 pounds, especially for long periods of time.

Intermediate Skills vs. Other Skill Levels

As a person with intermediate home repair skills, basic repair skills are already second nature to you. You have a full range of hand tools and you are building up a good set of quality power tools. You're willing and anxious to take on more ambitious projects that extend into the expert level. Safety is important to you, and you are careful to employ strict safety practices at all times.

Examples of Intermediate Home Projects

Expert Home Repair Skill Level

The expert home repair skill level is one that encompasses nearly the entire gamut of home repair skills. Many of the projects at this level are also performed by certified or licensed professionals such as electricians and plumbers. Codes, permits, and zoning are often involved. Many of these projects require expensive, specialized tools that have limited utility with other projects such as wet tile saws or PEX crimpers. Expert-level skills often touch upon dangerous projects, such as running new circuits out of electric service panels. Projects at this level often can extend into weeks or months.

Precursor Knowledge

As an expert-level do-it-yourselfer, you have experience with most tasks at the beginner and intermediate levels. You know how to use nearly every common electric power tool, plus specialized tools such as electric nailers, powder-actuated nailers, and rotary levels.

Expert Skills vs. Other Skill Levels

You may have already owned a home and this home is your second or third remodel. You might be interested in purchasing and flipping homes for profit. You have done home repairs and improvements for years rather than for months, and you have remodeled entire rooms by yourself or with a partner, allowing you to experience a diverse range of home repairing and remodeling skills. Scale can often define the expert skill level. If replacing a toilet is at the intermediate level, then replacing a toilet plus a myriad of other difficult tasks that constitute an entire bathroom remodel represent the expert level.

Examples of Expert Home Projects

Licensed Contractors and Specialty Tradespeople

In most jurisdictions, licensing is required for general contractors and tradespeople who deal with electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems. Often, separate registrations or certifications are needed for specialty contract work like asbestos and lead-based paint removal, demolition and salvage, mold remediation, fireproofing, and landscaping.

As a do-it-yourselfer with beginner and intermediate repair skills, licensed professionals are valuable and necessary for completing home projects effectively and safely. Even do-it-yourselfers at the expert level who are adept at certain skills often hire professionals to perform those same tasks in order to save time.