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9 Basic Construction Skills You Should Have

When things happen around your house – whether a hole accidentally made to your drywall or a shelf falls under pressure – repairs need to be made with a certain amount of skill. Perhaps you are planning a repair in your home, or even a renovation. It can be easy to underestimate the time, effort and skill required to take on a construction job. Even a mid-sized project can include framing, carpentry, concrete, drywall, electrical, plumbing, painting and more.

Here are a few ways to know if you have the basic construction skills to take on a home repair job with confidence.

1. You Understand Safety

Since construction work has inherent risks, one of the basic construction skills you should have is a knowledge of the safety measures. Whether you are lifting supplies, cutting through a cord or sanding walls, you need to be familiar with safety techniques and equipment in order to prevent injury. Too often, people who take on occasional jobs are impacted by repetitive movement strains, inhalation of fine dusts or toxic chemicals or trauma caused by improper technique.

2. You’re Physically Ready

Manual labour is at the foundation of many basic construction skills. Almost all construction work requires some form of physical ability, including lifting, bending, digging, supporting heavy objects and the operation of power tools. A bigger job will require endurance, dexterity and ongoing attention to safety; part of knowing you have the ability to taking a construction job, means having the confidence to know you are physically ready.

3. No Sign of Panic

When a project first appears, whether by accident or by the suggestion of a spouse or family member, do you feel an immediate sense of fear? While it’s normal to feel some degree of discomfort if you are unsure how to proceed with a project, some people feel much more. If not knowing where to begin a project gives you an immediate sense of anxiety, it is probably worth considering a professional for the job.

4. You Have the Time

Another factor in assessing whether or not you should take on a construction job yourself is less about skill and all about time. Anyone who undertakes a fix or build project can tell you, it usually takes more time than you expect to complete. This is especially true if construction work is infrequent, or if you are doing it for the first time. If your time is limited, you may want to consider finding someone experienced to do the job.

5. Literacy in Design and Planning

Construction work almost always involves some element of design and / or planning. Whether you design a project yourself or interpret someone else’s drawings, you will need an understanding of three-dimensional spaces. For larger jobs, you will need to be able to read blueprints and potentially spot any errors. Understanding design planning will help you to properly estimate your time, identify material costs and keep your project running smoothly.

6. Vision and Depth Perception

While easily taken for granted, good vision and depth perception are an important part of any construction job. From reading gauges on power tools to details on design drawings, it is important to be able to read and monitor fine print and details. Similarly, depth perception is critical when operating tools or machines, cutting or placing materials or putting on finishing touches.

7. Comfort with Building and Mechanical Knowledge

As simple as it sounds, general contractor work requires a good understanding of your materials and their physical properties. How strong is the binding agent you plan to use? Can that beam support the brick you plan to have in your wall? Every project has critical, material-related questions.

Understanding yours and knowing when to ask for advice is vital. A mistake in calculating material strength or structural load-bearing may not be obvious right away. You may only discover it down the road, which can lead to bigger bills and even more work.

8. You Know Your Codes

Codes and regulations are an important part of any construction job. Your work will be subject to building codes, safety codes and environmental regulations. If your project requires a permit or is subject to inspection, you will be ahead of the game if you have prepared properly, with an understanding of related codes and regulations.

9. Know When to Find Help

Since every construction job is different and every homeowner has a unique set of skills, only you can know when you are out of your depth. Not everyone has the skills, time or stamina to complete a construction job. If you find yourself questioning your knowledge, the process or materials, you will likely gain peace of mind by enlisting the help of a professional.

Home repair and construction can be daunting. We hope this list of basic construction skills helps you determine if you are ready to take on a job on your own, or if you might be better off with the help of a professional.