Opinion: DIY is Easier Than Most People Think

John M. Dabbs

The DIY craze has taken on a mind of its own since the pandemic. Many people are tackling projects they'd once put off. The projects can be as simple as repainting or refinishing a floor or furniture. Coming from rural Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains, our parents instilled a sense of self-reliance in us. We often do things for ourselves that many people would hire done in modern times.

Failure is an option

The one thing I find holding most people back from DIY projects is a fear of failure. My dad can do most anything - though he isn't physically able to do a lot of things now that he once could. Both my mother and father believed in reading and talking to people to learn how to do things they didn't know how to do. Many times its as simple as just starting out and seeing where the journey takes you.

I've tried to install plumbing and doors, and ended up calling my dad for a bit of expertise. When he'd show up the most he'd offer was usually a suggestion or two and moral support. He says you just have to try it, it doesn't matter if it turns out perfect - most of the time. He was right. My grandfather was the same way.... (it didn't matter if it was perfect). In fact, I remember growing up and my grandmother calling dad and asking him to do something, helping my grandfather, because Grandpaw wasn't doing it right. Granny wanted things done right and not half- (you know what).

Todays adventures

People have it much easier today when it comes to DIY projects. There are many videos which can be found online, and websites where a person can find step-by-step instructions and tips for dealing with common problems. There isn't an excuse for not trying many projects around your house.

I've known people who didn't even know how to change their own tire when they had a flat. Somethings are worth knowing. You can build a bird-feeder, or a birdhouse; mount your own mailbox; change out a faulty switch, fixture, or outlet (always turn the power off first when dealing with electricity).

Don't be afraid

You can't be afraid to try things. I've even re-roofed my house and my grandmother-in-law's home before. I'd helped my dad and Grandpaw put on a new roof, it's not that hard. I must admit that the apraiser from the insurance company could tell it was an amateur job when he saw my work. I called a roofing contractor to do the next roof - and it cost me more dough but looks good.

I've found the people who notice the imperfections in most work are the people who actually build homes for a living (or furniture), the people who did the work, or their in-laws. Remember, imperfections build character. It's what makes projects so endearing and builds fond memories. I keep telling myself this when things don't turn out perfect. I try to tell this to my wife too.

Remember the code

When doing DIY projects, remember the Do-It-Yourselfer's Code... "know the building codes or where to find them." It's also important to know if you can do the work yourself, or if local laws require a licensed professional to do the work. This is especially important when dealing with plumbing, electricity , and building structures.

When in doubt, ask. That's what government officials are for. It's better to check on these things before hand than to cause major problems. As with most things, a little common sense goes a long way. It's a shame common sense is less common now that it once was.

I hope your parents are as gifted and talented as mine were. They are still fearless when it comes to doing things themselves - whether it be repainting a vehicle, reupholstering furniture, or building a house.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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