The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement
Want to do it yourself? Know your limitations
Most people believe, at one point in their lives, that they can take on the world, and rise to any challenge.
Fortunately, most people will eventually abandon that conceit and concede that they have limitations. Everyone can’t be a rocket scientist; few of us will ever hit a major league curve ball; the great Canadian novel can be written only by a select few.
Which brings us to home improvement projects.
While simple jobs can usually be accomplished without much training or special tools, in many cases, professional help is required.
If you are a novice and are all charged up about taking on a do-it-yourself job, stop and ask yourself if you really can do this without wrecking the house, injuring someone or draining your bank account.
Most people can upgrade insulation, paint a few walls, hang wallpaper, seal a window and door, or carry out small roof or gutter repairs.
But other improvements, such as replacing a roof or installing a door or a window, demand certain skills that are not possessed by the untrained.
Reflection is also required if you have never wielded an electrical circular saw, or don’t know the difference between a soffit and a crawl space.
What is your motivation?
Are you doing this to save money? Are you trying to prove something? Are you trying to bond with a special person in your life? Do you think you look good in a carpenter belt? Are you looking for a hobby?
What are your expectations? Do you think you can replicate
the gorgeous mansions portrayed in architectural magazines?
If a tree is dangerously close to your house or a hydro line, are you smart enough to call in a pro?
If you are undertaking an outside job, will the finished product be visible from the road? How far are you from the nearest hospital? Can you swallow your pride and to seek help from a know-it-all neighbour if a vertical post goes sideways?
No risk, no reward. In-house home improvement has its benefits, of course.
A person can save money on a DIY, if the person does not actually calculate the time spent and wasted on the job. Amateurs take at least twice as long as pros to complete a task.
Too much time is wasted by amateurs as they try to locate tools and procure the necessary construction materials.
Fail to plan; plan to fail.
Expect to allocate time and resources for contingencies. Upgrades can often be akin to peeling an onion, particularly in older homes where walls have been concealed by layers of plaster, lathe and dry wall.
A job that you think can be wrapped up in a day will take at least five weekends to complete.
If the pre-existing conditions are perfect, amateurs can usually get the job done without hurting themselves.
However, invariably, a wall will be crooked, a support beam will no longer be supportive, or the “level” floor will not be on the level.
Precision is crucial.
Measure twice, cut once. Attention to details pays off. Since many hands make light work, try to enlist the assistance of a trusted friend or a relative to lend a hand.
Jobs involving electricity or plumbing should be left to the trained professionals.