How To – The Philosophy Behind Home Repair – Knowing what you can do Yourself

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    Most projects around the home can be performed by the average home owner however there are millions of people that would never even attempt the smallest project because they don’t have a belief that they can do things on their own.

    This is a pretty sad way to look at life.. feeling that you are unable to do something that others can do and most of the time its simply because you don’t believe in yourself.

    Now there are things that you can not do on your own and require a professional and there are things that you can not do on your own because they require more then one person to do… but for the most part if you are willing to put in a little time and effort there are very few things that you can’t do yourself or persuade a couple friends to help you get done.

    Even if you can not do the work yourself it is important to be active in the parts of projects that require hiring professionals. The more you know about how the work should be done the better the results will be and most often the less it will cost you in the end.

    For Instance if you are the type of person that hires a heating contractor and then when they arrive .. points at the vent hole in the floor and says ITS BROKEN .. you are going to get screwed by your contractor.

    On the other hand if you know how your heating system works and you can diagnose the problem before they arrive you have a pretty good chance of saving money … for example with the same contractor if your thermostat has been giving you problems and you believe that is the source of the trouble you could buy a new one at a home center and replace it yourself and if that does not cure the problem you can realize that a new controller panel or other problem may require a professional.

    But if you don’t take that simple step you could end up paying hundreds for an expensive controller when it was a $50 thermostat that needed replacing.

    How do you know your Limits for Home Repairs?

    There are always a number of factors that come into play on weather you should hire out the work or do it yourself.

    Personally I do not like any contractor or repair person working on anything I own whether it is my house, car or computer.. I just do not like the feeling of having people inside things that I depend on so I try to limit it to the very minimum.

    I also realize that there are times when it is better to have someone else do the work.

    For instance you can purchase tires on the internet but mounting and balancing them requires equipment that is beyond the average car owner. You pay the extra $10 per tire and have them do the work.

    On the other hand if you don’t know what you are buying and all the alternatives you may not end up with the best price or work.

    It is similar to walking into a bar and ordering a bottle of bud and then seeing a sign that it is 25 cent beer night. The beer you ordered is half in your stomach and the bartender decided they wouldn’t mention the special for some reason.. maybe they didn’t like how you looked or figured you only wanted a bottle of beer not draft.. but there you sit at the bar paying 10 times as much as the person next to you for something that is about the same quality.

    That is why the more you know about anything the better off you are. You can apply that to every situation in life whether its getting your car or faucet repaired or going to the Doctor.

    So when the cost of doing it yourself approaches that of having a professional do it or if doing the work is such a burden because you do not have the tools that is definitely a reason to hire a professional.

    Countertops are often cost or labor prohibitive but there are ways around it. If you want new countertops you can install laminate countertops yourself with some basic tools. If you want marble or granite countertops you can start with a wood underlayment and then install granite tile that comes in large sections so you have very few seams or you can install tile or concrete yourself.

    There are work arounds for most situations but there are times when you just can not perform the work yourself.

    For instance Concrete Foundations will require a crew of guys to install however you could opt for pouring a footing and then installing concrete block walls that are reinforced with rebar.

    Large sections of concrete slab require a lot of concrete to be poured and there is really no work around for this .. you just have to call in a professional but if you know what they will be doing and the costs its like seeing that 25cent beer night sign before you place your order.

    So, Physical Ability and access to tools play a big part in what projects require a professional but you should always understand the work to the point that you could be part of the crew doing it.

    Building Your Skill Level

    Building your skill level is important through out your life.

    Every project or new thing that you attempt even if it does not come out perfect gives you skills to do things better the next time or attempt harder projects.

    Its like Pizza ..

    When you first learn to cook for yourself you may start by buying a pizza on a Friday night and then you pick out a frozen one at the store and cook it.

    Once you are confident you can make a frozen pizza you start adding toppings and then maybe you pickup one of those pizza shells that are precooked and add the sauce, cheese and toppings.

    Eventually you decide that you want to try making the dough yourself. It is probably the hardest part of making a good pizza but after a few tries and hitting Recipe websites for suggestions you get it pretty close or maybe even better then the local pizza place.. maybe not the best you ever had but good enough for you, your family and a friend that stops by.

    The same thing is true for the projects that you attempt around the house or with your vehicles.

    It takes a lot of skill to complete complex projects and you will probably never complete any project as fast as or as good as the best professional but the thing is you can do it yourself.

    You will also save money and this will let you make better choices in materials or complete other projects.

    If you are working on your bathroom and you can replace the faucet and toilet yourself the amount of labor cost you save may let you pay for a new vanity and towel rack.

    The fact that it takes you a full weekend and maybe a few more nights after work will not be a big deal a few months down the line but the fact you could purchase better materials for the same or less then having a contractor do the work will matter for years.


    Final Note

    So, maybe you don’t want to be a professional contractor or repairman but the alternative of having someone else perform all the work around your home means you never learn how things work and you may find you live with broke things just because the labor cost is too much for you to afford.

    I was talking with my father the other day and shared the thought that there are a lot of people in our development that have contractors visiting their homes every few weeks.

    It makes you wonder what they do at work. They are probably the type of person that can not be relied on to get things done. The type of person that hides from work but then takes the glory after other do their work for them.

    There are people who are just unable to do things around their home for real and justifiable reasons but if being lazy or not caring is the only reason then I think those people are pretty sad human beings.

    They are the type people who do not make it through disasters or who sit there in the cold expecting someone to come save them.

    Don’t Be Like That..

    At the very least Try .. you may fail .. but even if you fail you are going to feel good about trying … and then when you do get things right you will be really proud of your accomplishments and you should be.

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