Dangers of DIY

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Good Ol’ Handyman Hank can add some outlets, no problem!

Hoo, boy, that was some nap! Sometimes you close your eyes, and next thing you know it’s been four months since you wrote a blog article. Whoops!

I just came back from a side job in which I came across some pretty atrocious electrical work, which brings up some important points I wanted to talk about.

Don’t be a DIY Dingbat

The concept of DIY can be an incredible game-changer, not only for your savings rate but also for the continued advancement of your growth mindset. Every new project taken on presents new obstacles and challenges to overcome, and new skills to learn. These things are good.

There comes a point, however, at which we must make an important decision: Can I do this in such a way as to not maybe burn down my house, or should I send this one over to the pros?

In the course of the last couple of days, I have repaired an exploding (sort of) circuit breaker and a flickering kitchen light. Doesn’t sound like much, right? Anyone could do it, right? You’re going somewhere with this, right?

Get to the Point Already

Darn right I am. The circuit breaker issue ended up being several compounding problems linked to faulty wiring done by (I’m guessing) a blind gorilla with anger issues in the late ‘70s. I think that was the same gorilla that wired the kitchen light (in a different house), because both of those examples ended up involving loose connections and improper wiring techniques that could have resulted in catastrophe.

Now I know that not everyone can do things as beautifully and perfectly as dear old Captain DIY (I can almost hear Mrs. DIY’s eyes rolling), and that’s ok. As the incredibly talented Paula Pant says, “don’t let perfect get in the way of done”. In other words, don’t let the fear of not having your project end up magazine-worthy stop you from trying. To a point.

Whole Lotta Lousy

With the prevalence of DIY websites and youtube videos popping up everywhere, you can almost certainly find several thousand people far less qualified than you showing you how to repair or install anything. While this can really be a great bonus in terms of replacing a doorknob or choosing the best fabric for a throw pillow, it might not be such a great option when it comes to diving into a serious project. By which I mean something that has the potential to explode in your face or flood your house with sewage.

There is a much more broad lesson here that I’ve been skirting around. That can be summarized thusly: Know what you don’t know, and be cautious in your skill expansion.

I’m absolutely not saying that you should shy away from projects around your house for fear of insurance claims; I’m just advising careful consideration as to where the skill boundary lies for you. As a family friend of mine said after I showed her how to change a light fixture, “now I know just enough to be dangerous”. She has since moved on to the much safer hobby of welding.

Almost Done

In conclusion, definitely give yourself a hearty pat on the back for that delicious DIY beer you cracked open to help you slog through this blog post. But maybe that furnace repair you’ve been getting ready to tackle should be outsourced. A few bucks saved won’t go very far to fill that crater that used to be your basement.

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