Welcoming DIY season
Canadian society used to be more do-it-yourself 30 years ago than it is today. Ordinary people with day jobs used to paint their own homes, renovate their own basements and even build sheds and garages themselves. Perhaps the illusion of greater affluence has convinced us we can kick back and pay others to do the work for us.
Maybe this trend springs from the lack of skills training that every Canadian high school student used to receive. Regardless of the cause, three unfortunate ideas have set in to confirm the trend. Abandon these flawed ways of thinking and you’ll be that much closer to making good things happen directly in your home and yard — even if you only have enough money for materials.
Myth#1: Not enough talent
There’s a natural mystique that surrounds people who are good with their hands, and it’s easy to mistake this for talent. In reality, a knack for laying ceramic tile, shingling a roof or finishing a basement is nothing more than basic knowledge refined by practice. Yes, some people need more practice than others to catch on to manual skills, but that’s no reason to give up before you even get started. Effective, easy-to-understand videos are available on disk or online for those who have a hard time learning from books. It’s never been easier to master DIY skills.
Myth#2: Not enough time
Even allowing 10 to 12 hours each day for employment and commuting, that still leaves most of us with at least four hours of discretionary time each day to make good things happen around the house. And even if you devoted only half of this time to working towards your home improvement goals, this still gives you more than 10 hours of productive DIY time each week. Trouble often sets in, however, when distractions bleed away all your DIY time. That’s where a simple schedule fits in.
What would your professional life be like if you only showed up for work if and when you pleased? Structure is essential to success in your career, and it’s the same for do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Shut the TV off, tackle DIY work three evenings a week and it won’t be long before you’ll see how a small investment of extra effort yields a huge improvement in your life. Plus, DIY activities are good exercise, too.
Myth#3: Good tools cost too much
Truth is, the inflation-adjusted prices of today’s best tools are actually lower than they’ve ever been in history. The price you pay today for pro-grade tools is even less than what we used to pay for homeowner-grade gear in the 1980s. Besides design advances, the cost of a professional cordless drill, circular saw, impact driver or mitre saw is an even bigger bargain when you consider how quickly these tools pay for themselves when you’re saving the 25, 30 or 50 after-tax dollars per hour you’d have to pay for a professional to run them instead of you. The world definitely needs professional tradespeople, and while it’s true that homeowners can’t do it all for themselves, there is an alternative when the budget won’t allow you to pay for pros.
Besides all the technical and financial advantages of the do-it-yourself lifestyle, practical self-reliance is a Canadian national quality. This entire country was built by do-it-yourselfers. More than most other nations of the world, we have a tradition of practical handiness. Is this worth celebrating and preserving? I hope you think so. A little confidence, a little time management and a few solid tools make remarkably good things happen.