Like many real families, we are do-it-yourselfers. Correction, my husband is a DIY-er. I’m his sometimes assistant.
We are lucky that he has the skills and the desire to take on the majority of our home, vehicle and yard maintenance and repairs. Sure, there are some things that are best left to the licensed professionals, but for the most part, we can take care of projects ourselves. I’m sure over the years we have saved thousands of dollars by being DIY’ers, and we’ve been able to do things the way we want to do them.
However, experience has shown that there are some -shall we say politely- “challenges” in doing home projects ourselves. Those challenges have taught me a few important rules to remember:
- It Won’t be Perfect – No matter how hard we try, we are amateurs. We may have the attitudes of perfectionists, but try as we might we aren’t pro’s, and there will be mistakes or imperfections. The way I see it, if anyone is in my house and looking so closely at my trim work to see blemishes, then they better be close enough family or friends to not care.
- It is Expensive – Yes, we save a lot of money on labor, and we can bargain hunt and be creative in finding materials. But there is still an outlay of cash or credit, and we can count on our preliminary budget always increasing as unexpected “challenges” pop up along the way.
- It Won’t Happen Quickly – DIY projects are not speedy. When we hire a pro, that person can step in and knock out the task in a couple days. When we are working on it ourselves, we are not only frequently learning as we go along, but we are fitting it in after work in the evenings, on weekends, and around the rest of life. Setting deadlines for completion is just silly.
- It is Messy – Let’s face it, living and working in the same space causes clutter, dust, dirt and general mess. This is not a time to try to be neat and tidy.
- It Will Get Ugly Before it Gets Pretty – I’m not talking about the physical mess… I’m talking about how we think it is a nifty idea to put a married couple in a confined space, to work side by side, with all of the above challenges, add in limited time, differing opinions, and unexpected issues – and it can be the recipe for the Perfect Storm. A sense of humor is mandatory, as is understanding that moment when exhaustion has set in and it is time to call it a night.
So with all of this, why do it? Why enter into any projects? Because beyond the cost savings, there is a great sense of accomplishment and pride at completion. And, sometimes, they can actually be a little fun.
My husband and I have just begun a new project. We are re-doing our Miscellaneous Room. This is a room that originally was my stepson’s bedroom. Since he grew up and moved out, it has been a playroom, a music room, and a partial guest room. Now it is time for it to grow up and become an office and writing space. This project is not requiring major construction – we aren’t taking out walls. But we have cleaned it out, will be repainting, installing a hardwood floor and a new door, and redecorating.
We know it won’t be perfect, but we are excited with the plans and know it will look much better than it did.
We know it will be costly. Today we ordered the materials for the floor. Eeek. Enough said.
We know it won’t happen quickly – but we are trying to work on it a bit every day and evening. My husband is eager to get it done because he knows how much I get agitated by the fact that:
oh, boy, is it messy. The previous contents of that room are now spread throughout my second floor. Books cover the guestroom bed. There is a computer on the floor, a file cabinet in the hall, and a bookcase in the middle of my bedroom. I wanted to use the calculator the other night but had no energy to go digging for wherever it may be at this point.
We have just begun, so I can say that so far we are still happily working together and speaking to each other. When we get to the point where we are attempting to lay the floor down, it may not be all rainbows and sugar. But as long as we keep our eyes on the prize, we’ll get through it.
And on a future day, as we sit in our cool new office, we’ll start discussing the next project to tackle…. But perhaps we’ll take a couple weeks off in between first.