Like many homeowners, Kitty Mui has a list of improvements she would like to make to the southwest Broward home she bought this year.
Her funds are limited, but she has a will-try-anything attitude, so Mui is not calling a contractor. Instead, she's calling a friend to pick up a drill, hammer and tile saw and help her remodel the three-bedroom home.
That ``do-it-myself'' refrain is reverberating around the country during a protracted recession that has more homeowners discovering the gratification -- and the misery -- of manual labor.
Mui, 30, is single, works two jobs and has no contracting experience. She figures if she messes up the first time, she'll try again until she gets it right.
``I think I can do anything until I see I can't,'' Mui said. ``I learn things by doing them, and I figure if I make a mistake, I can always do it again.''
A first-time homeowner, Mui moved in to the 15-year-old house in March. Shortly after that, a contractor left a small gap when he laid ceramic tiles on her living and dining room floors. Since then, she has taken charge, enlisting a friend to help put down a laminate floor in a bedroom, rip out kitchen cabinets and install a ceiling light. Now she is trying to put in a new kitchen sink and tackle her biggest project yet: remodeling a bathroom.
Mui figures she can save several thousand dollars by doing it herself, but her risk-taking has already caused a mishap: As she hacked at drywall in the bathroom, she nicked a pipe. Water gushed out of the wall and a panicked Mui struggled to find the main water shut-off valve.
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