Alex D’Alessio was finishing his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Maryland when one of his professors told him that the best engineers were often the laziest.
These people, his teacher told the class, were also the ones who decided to find a solution.
Now, Alex is showing his creative solutions and renovation mistakes to around 424,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram combined.
He and his now wife Kylie D’Alessio bought their home in Baltimore City in August 2020. They didn’t have the money to hire contractors to fix the older parts of their home. With no experience at all, they throw themselves into projects.
The first big project was to redo their laundry room in September 2020, Alex said. The previous owners rented the townhouse for years, so the laundry room was “in pretty bad shape,” he said.
They expected it to be done in a weekend. Instead, with lots of help from YouTube, the project took over a month. It was stressful, but when they stood back and looked at their work, they were impressed.
“Everything from there [on] was built on the confidence of that first draft,” said Alex.
Throughout their renovation, they sent their friends and family videos of the process. After the laundry room was done, Alex started posting videos of himself working on different projects on TikTok.
He posted the first video in December 2020, but went viral in February 2021 when he posted his full bathroom renovation. The video currently has around 863,400 views on TikTok.
When they started renovating their home, Kylie was the handiest, she said. But Alex did a lot of research in his spare time to figure out how to use tools and do the tiling himself, she said.
Now Alex does most of the construction, while Kylie makes the design decisions.
“He doesn’t make any legitimate tough decisions without my, I guess, approval,” she said.
Since he started making videos, Alex and Kylie have made a built-in bookcase, finished the basement, redone the master bathroom, and made other built-ins around their home.
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Living in a house under construction has been an adjustment, Kylie said. They need to make sure Alex keeps his stuff in one place and remember to plan ahead, she said.
Alex wanted to emphasize the fact that he was just a normal person who made mistakes in his videos. He often jokes in his videos that he is a student of “Youtube DIY University”. Many other designers simply show off the perfect finished product, he said.
“It demotivated me and made me feel like I could never do something as good as them and so when I started my page…I wanted to show the actual parts of the renovation “, said Alex.
He failed many times trying to complete a project, he said. These videos remain visible because he never wants to be seen as someone who knows exactly what he is doing, he said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2018 and a graduate degree in project management in 2019, Alex worked at Clark Construction.
In October 2021, in the midst of renovating his master bedroom, Alex quit his job as an engineer to focus full-time on content creation.
Neil Schulman, one of Alex’s teachers during his master’s program, said when Alex told him about the decision, he was surprised but excited for him.
“It still works really well, so more power for him to do that,” Schulman said. “It’s a major change in his career, but he’s young and it could be a super success for him in a new direction.”
The D’Alessios spoke at length about the decision before Alex quit, Kylie said.
“No better time than now because everything – life – is getting more complicated,” she said.
They decided to give it a year and then decide if Alex would continue creating content full-time, Kylie said.
The first six months were slow. Alex only had 1,000 followers on Instagram, and most of the brands had their brand deals in place by October. Kylie remembers wondering when the Instagram account would explode.
When it hit 2,000 subscribers, Alex and Kylie were extremely excited.
“Looking back now, we laugh about it, we were excited about 2,000 and now I think he’s got about 130,000. [followers]“, said Kylie.
Until July, they struggled to maintain their way of life, she said. But once the branding deals are done, Alex has already surpassed her annual income at Clark Construction, Kylie said.
However, Alex is particular about which brand offers he accepts, as authenticity is key to his brand.
“If you only take one paycheck that they’ll give you, that’s just an injustice to your community,” he said.
Alex also takes a lot of feedback from his reviewers. Other content creators and even professional entrepreneurs comment with tips.
Despite his mostly supportive and kind community, Alex has a few trolls in his comments section.
Schulman said he thinks part of Alex’s problem-solving skills came from the classes he took at that university.
“It was really the key to these courses, in a given situation, how to solve the problem and go from A to Z,” Schulman said.
Alex acknowledges that some things, such as completely new plumbing and wiring, should be left to the professionals.
“There are some things that you just can’t tackle both legally and just with a good head on your shoulders, you know you should probably leave some things to a professional,” Alex said.
Schulman said Alex has a bright and prosperous future ahead of him. While social media started out as a casual business, as a casual thing, Schulman can see Alex building a business and branching out.
He plans to invite Alex over to speak at one of his entrepreneurship and innovation classes.
“He can give students a bit of information, an incentive to think outside the box with new ideas in engineering…I think he would be a great motivator for students to come up with ideas,” said Schulmann.
Currently, Alex is working on a home bar and has a list of new projects for the future… When he has nothing to do in the house, Alex might consider renting the house and moving to another repairman, did he declare.
“I’ve also done projects in one of my best friends’ houses and I have houses of other people who have been asking me to do projects for a long time, so I think it would be fine on that front. “, did he declare.