Just Do It
After a short time of owning a home — from a condo unit to a two-story Mediterranean villa — it’s common to develop an urge to become a do-it-yourselfer. DIY repairs and upgrades seem pretty straightforward, especially as you hand a guy with more digits in his bank account than on his hands $300 for a repair job that took him maybe 15 minutes to accomplish. But before you climb up on the roof with a hammer in hand, you need to have a clue as to what you’re doing. YouTube will show you how to do anything from fix an icemaker to blow things up with Bic lighters. Skip the lighter videos and focus on the specific task at hand, watching several to find one that makes sense to you. Anyone with a cellphone can make and post an instructional video, so look for ones that are not shot in Mom’s attic by guys named…well, we won’t name any names.
The surest way to become the coolest neighbor in town is not to have a humongous BBQ and a smoking-hot swimsuit model spouse, although those things certainly count as extra credit. No, the way to earn the title of “Neighborhood Hero” is to be able to help your neighbors complete repairs that they’ve managed to muck up beyond belief. And to do so while staying humble; nobody likes a know-it-all, even if they do know how to get a diaper out of the garbage disposal. Start off slow, keeping an ear out for strings of profanity that would make a sailor blush. Find a casual way to get the attention of the floundering neighbor, such as offering them a fire extinguisher to douse the roaring flames in their entertainment room, or offering to shut off the water main to stop the geyser that erupted when they managed to break through with a posthole digger.
Never Enough Tools
The notion that we have a pretty good tool kit evaporates the first time you try to install a new showerhead or a shelf in the garage. At that point, you realize the motley collection of mismatched sockets, screwdrivers, gummy rolls of electrical tape and two left-handed pliers that allowed you to steal cable TV in college is woefully inadequate for real home repairs. The phrase, “the right tool for the job” may find itself tattooed on your arm after you successfully install your first toilet flusher system thanks to a 4,575-piece Craftsman tool kit. You’ll soon find yourself spending so much time on the Home Depot website that your significant other will assume you have an addiction. You’ll get giddy over the latest flyer from Harbor Freight, you’ll spend hours watching This Old House and reruns of Home Improvement and you’ll flash your headlights when you pass a Snap-On Tools truck.
Read The Instructions
Hurrying is fine when you’re rushing to get out of Costco in time to watch the latest episode of The Grand Tour, but it can get expensive and possibly painful if you do this while stringing holiday lights, installing a water heater or kitchen sink. The phrase, “How hard can it be?” can be relied on to run any project right off the rails and inspire Significant Other to say: “I told you to hire someone!” Yes, we know most instruction forms are written in 14 languages by someone who spoke none of them, but you still have to slow down and get a clue as to what needs to be done and in what order. Write this down (and say aloud as needed): ”Skipping steps and assuming I can guess my way through will bite me in the butt.”
Know When To Call A Pro
There’s no shame in admitting that some projects are simply too much for anyone other than a structural engineer to handle. Completing repairs and upgrades will give you a bigger buzz than a case of Merlot, and it’s also a great way to rationalize buying more tools, a backyard shed, a small bulldozer and a pickup truck. However, just because you’re pretty sure you can figure out how to pour a foundation and run power lines doesn’t mean you should. Electricity and gravity have less of a sense of humor than the typical building inspector. If you want to add a room or a second story or impact-resistant windows to your little slice of paradise, hire the guys who do these jobs for a living. That way you’ll rest easy the next time the winds pick up to Tropical Storm levels.