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Understanding the DIY Process

Welcome to AT HOME with Tom and Sandy.

Sandy:    Here we are, Tom, more than halfway through 2018. How time flies. Speaking of time flying, fleeting and anything but coasting – we have been sharing our column on a monthly basis with the community for almost two years now. I would say pretty cool. It is indeed an honor to be your partner, Tom, and share boundless significant information with our readers such as our column this month: DIY or hire.

Tom:       Hi, Sandy! And, yes, DIY or hire is a complex and tough decision and makes for a great column for our readers.

Sandy:   Tom, I thought it would be interesting to go to our internet resource “Wikipedia” and see what they say the definition of Do it yourself is. “(“DIY”) is the method of building, modifying or repairing things without the direct aid of experts or professionals. Academic research describes DIY as behaviors where “individuals engage raw and semi-raw materials and parts to produce, transform or reconstruct material possessions, including those drawn from the natural environment (e.g., landscaping).” DIY behavior can be triggered by various motivations previously categorized as marketplace motivations (economic benefits, lack of product quality, need for customization) and identity enhancement (craftsmanship, empowerment, community seeking, uniqueness).

The term “do-it-yourself” has been associated with consumers since at least 1912, primarily in the domain of home improvement and maintenance activities. The phrase “do it yourself” had come into common usage (in standard English) by the 1950s, in reference to the emergence of a trend of people undertaking home improvement and various other small craft and construction projects as both a creative-recreational and cost-saving activity.”

Tom, I have been thinking about folks who are DIYers. I get frequent calls from some people who take on a project and find themselves in a pickle, plight, jam or even a mess once they are into it. I am sure you come across that as well. Is there a process the DIY person could go through that might help them sort out the decision to be a DIY or hire?

Tom:       The simple answer is yes, there is a process. We are rarely asked about that though until as you said Sandy, the homeowner is in a mess. Some folks just start the project without a plan, without a vision and think the project is simple and are unware of all the connections and parts and pieces needed.

Sandy:   I think I see where you are heading with this. Gotta have a plan!

Tom:       That is the key. If someone is going to take on a DIY project they need to understand the process that project must go through. That requires sitting down and really assessing your knowledge base and thinking about all the steps you will need to go through to complete the project.

Sandy:   I get it. Just like the pros do. They need to write it down, make a plan understand the entire depth of the job and depending of the type of project they are contemplating, that could be a long list. But you are right. This step will help plan the project.

Tom:       That is the critical step. Whether you are going to paint a room, remodel a shower or build an addition, you have to plan. While the process will be different for each, they all have a step by step procedure that needs to take place.

Sandy:   The steps that need to be done are typically sequential as well. They need to be done in the proper order. That should be part of the list as well. What other information should people include with this list?

Tom:       We suggest that with each task you write down, you should include a list of materials and tools you will need to perform that step. This really helps you understand the process.

Sandy:   You want to be sure you are not missing something. As a pro, you write up a scope of work and know the connections to the project. I had a homeowner call last week and they were going to install a new window. The removed the window without a problem, however, the new window frame was not the precise and defined size of the window that was removed. It was larger in width. The homeowner assumed he could just enlarge the width of the wall and bingo, install the window. The homeowner – based on your point of having a plan Tom – did not realize there was electrical adjacent to the window, did not take that into consideration and now there were electrical issues. The DIY yourself project turned into hiring a general contractor to take over and the DIY cost of $350 for the window turned into $1,567 for electrical relocation, insulation and to top it all of the homeowner was going to install the flashing incorrectly so there would have been leaks at some point.

Tom:       Another point to consider is if you are doing the project yourself, the duration of each task may not be as critical. We include time when we are hired to do a project because our clients want us to be done as soon as possible.

Sandy:   Well, I don’t know if I agree that it is not as critical. Whoever is doing the DIY project should check with their spouse or partner. I know I would not want my kitchen shredded up for months at a time because of a DIY issue that created delay and lack of understanding the process.

Tom:       LOL, You have a very valid point. I concede to your wisdom.

Sandy:   Okay, Tom, once the list is done are they ready to go and the DIY person “thinks” they know what to do are they ready to go?

Tom:       Not yet. You need to sit down and really study the list to determine if you have the skills to take on all the tasks. Some might need assistance with components of the project, some may determine that do not want to be a DIY, some will move forward and others may after all decide to hire a professional to perform the project.

Sandy:   As another important piece of the DIY project, homeowners when doing do-it-yourself projects around the home, it is important to remember that safety comes first for yourself and for others. Licensed professionals are aware of this; however, many homeowners are not. Many injuries and deaths happen during home maintenance and DIY activities when people have used the wrong tool for the job, or have not taken the proper care when using tools around the home. Additionally, not following instructions, or failing to heed warning labels, can have tragic results. So my word of warning for DIY folks, be prepared and be on your toes when it comes to safety.

Tom:       Sandy, excellent point. Licensed professionals are trained, know OSHA and do not take shortcuts. Another point of concern for the DIY if they have decided to hire a person to help, they need to ensure the “person” is licensed, bonded and insured. This can be where people get into real trouble if they don’t hire a pro.

Sandy:   And this brings me to another point, Tom. What about permitting?

Tom:       Depending on the project’s complexity, a permit may or may not be required. If you are changing anything involving electrical, plumbing or structurally, a permit is probably a necessity.

Sandy:   So, folks should call the local building department and ask the best course of action.

Tom:       I would recommend taking your list and any plan you might have and going down to the building department and asking. They really are there to help, as you know.

Sandy: This is good stuff and should help people decide how to move ahead on their project.

Tom:       In closing, DIY can be very fulfilling. The sense of accomplishment is a reward in and of itself.

Sandy:   I know there are certain problems homeowners grow accustomed to seeing over the years: leaky faucets, squeaky doors, loose gutters a little painting here and a little do-it-yourself attitude and know-how can come in handy. A homeowner does not even have to go to a hardware store to buy a book about how to fix a problem anymore. The internet is filled with articles and DIY videos about tackling common household mishaps and how to fix them.

In short, even though DIY determination is applauded, again, remember to exercise caution around projects that can be dangerous. Every DIY person must know their limits. Attempting some projects without being proficient can lead to injury and property damage. Employ this mantra: “If you don’t know, call a pro.”

Thanks for stopping in and reading “At Home with Tom and Sandy.” You’re in good company and we love sharing educational, fun and important information with you. QCBN

 

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