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bud16415 09-23-2013 07:13 AM

ď Are the days of DIY numbered?Ē
I started this as a reply to a thread about making a natural gas line connection, but felt it might be a thread in itself. Itís about drawing the line when something should be considered DIY or not and the requestors abilities and the one answering the questions understanding of the subject.

The title is ď Are the days of DIY numbered?Ē meaning if we follow the direction of protecting ourselves from ourselves where will it end?

I do agree but also the same could be said for any number of DIY projects. Electrical and structural come to mind, but a DIY can get into trouble in all kinds of ways even with the simple stuff.

It should be universally recognized that information freely shared on line has an element of doubt to its content when it is offered by another person professional or not. Even the high end sites with professional writers I see information given I wouldnít personally follow.

I believe it should be a freedom we all have to take care of our own needs and along with freedom always comes risk. The individual should know risk is in everything we do every day of our lives. I personally think we are dumbing down the population with all our good intentions. As a kid every other house being built in my neighborhood was being built by the owner it seemed. My dad built ours over about a 10 year span, only because it was also self-funded. That house still stands 60 years later and is as good as the days I lived there. No one was looking over his shoulder and it was up to him to know or learn what he needed to know. Just like those days are long gone now are the days of DIY numbered?

Itís not until you spend some time on such a forum as this you realize the wide range of abilities DIY-ers have. How do you guard against the most incompetent trying something that the most competent would have little trouble with? We no longer trust that even professionals know what they are doing as they must be inspected at every step of a project by the government. How can we expect a DIY-er to grasp any of this?

DIY-ers will never go away though because in a lot of cases people are into DIY not because they enjoy it so much but because itís the only way they can afford to keep going or a combination of enjoyment, cost savings and the feeling of being self-sufficient.

I think we should always give advice if itís a topic we feel comfortable with and with the advice give any warnings we feel goes along with it. I donít see anything wrong even trying to feel out the abilities of the one seeking the advice and then tailoring that advice one on one. I also think itís the person on the other ends responsibility to take that advice for what itís worth coming from an unknown free source, and do with it as they please. I think itís great when someone asks for help and someone replies with a complete answer and then a few others jump in and confirm and or add to that answer. A correct answer doesnít mean or assume that the person on the other end will be able to correctly and safely follow the directions. Thatís their responsibility to not bite off more than they can chew.

What do others think?

CallMeVilla 09-23-2013 07:58 AM

Your angst is understandable. However, the essence of DIY is on the job learning ... That is part of the joy because the journey is as much fun as the finished product.

What those of us who are in the trade must remember is to season our advice with cautionary language. The average guy can change out a light fixture but he might not think to shut off the breaker. He might want to take out a wall but not stop to consider if it is bearing or not. The list goes on ...

DIY is the essence of home ownership. We all started someplace ... and now we share our wisdom and skills to elevate others. As long as we use cautionary language, insight as to the skills of the newbie, and well-developed technical advice, the DIY world will be safe and productive.

nealtw 09-23-2013 06:40 PM

Bud; Some people will always dig in and never ask for help until the house starts to sag. I don't have a problem with dumb questions or dumb answers, even when we give dumb answers we get corrected and learn a little more. Just the fact that people come and ask is a big plus, I worry about visiters that never join and try to adapt the answers they find here to their situation, which may not be a good idea. What really bothers me is when a pro gives a quick answer, without having enough information, just the fact that they are the "PRO" may leave people to think that their advice is the best even when it is wrong.

Drywallinfo 09-23-2013 09:07 PM

Actually, DIY is bigger than ever. For example, I fixed our front load washer twice in the last year, thanks to detailed instructions I found. And I am able to do car repairs that I never could before. I even put in some new circuits to my electrical box (after killing all the power outside the house).

Still, I will not tinker with gas lines! Some things just are not worth it.

bud16415 09-24-2013 06:23 AM

I agree with all of you.

The number of views by “lurkers” for lack of a better word on any forum is many, many times the number that registers and actually comments. When someone comes and asks a question I always assume if I can offer some input I’m directly answering the people’s needs but also the 100’s of others that are searching for a similar answer or just going along learning information to use at a later time. There is no way to tell what kind of skills and tools or how they will apply the information they pick up here.

I’m by far not a pro but work in a field that is highly mechanically design orientated and deal with tradesmen of all kinds and have been a serious DIYer my whole life. So the term “Jack of all trades master of none” probably applies to me. Most of this DIY stuff is a combination of common sense, and information with the added ingredients of desire, skills and tools to get the job done. The biggest obstacle I often see the fear of the unknown and the courage to try. I rented a 200 pound vibrating floor sander a week ago and was doing our floors when I told my girlfriend to give it a try. She said oh no not in a million years. I said its simple you hang on and flip the switch and try not to hit the walls. It took all of 5 minutes to teach her and I couldn’t get it back. 99% was getting past the fear of trying.

Her brother is an emergency room doctor with no fear of cutting into a human body and fixing something but when he comes over he says I wish I could do wiring like you do, it scares the heck out of me. He wants to build and wire a man cave in his house. I got him a basic residential electrical how to book that I took the time to see if it was truly useful and gave him a power tester and said read the book first turn off the power to what you are working on then test that its off, ask lots of questions and it’s not really that hard to do. He’s feeling his way safely and building confidence as he goes.

DIY must be alive and well because walking around the building centers I see lots of non-pros with flat wagons piled high loading up undersized trailers at the contractors door. One of my pet peeves are some of the 30 minute tv shows where they always start with a young couple and a couple sledge hammers smashing a kitchen into tooth picks, and half hour later they have an amazing new kitchen. I always assume there are 30 pros we don’t see standing by to do the fine details.

To me gas connection and plumbing isn’t any different than anything else. There are a set of rules and ways to do it and no reason to fear doing it. In fact the reason I do my own gas installations is because I want it done right, and tested correctly. If a DIYer wants to do gas he needs to know the facts and that they need the correct tools etc. It’s about education and confidence. Even if you don’t DIY knowing what is right and wrong is a big help when having others do your work in being informed as to if they are doing it correctly.

BridgeMan 09-24-2013 11:37 PM

Coming from a background of European (Russian and Dutch) immigrant parents, who came to this country with a sense of self-reliance, I still had a long ways to go when I bought our first house in 1969. Didn't know diddley about structural framing, concrete, electrical, plumbing, etc. But I very quickly learned that I needed to acquire such knowledge if I was to successfully deal with the complexities of home ownership and maintenance. The alternative was quickly going broke trying to keep the place standing or improve its performance, if I had to pay someone for every little thing that needed attention. The point was brought home during my first simple project on that house, when I wanted to wire a light fixture above a planter I built adjacent to the front entry door. My brother-in-law, a so-called "expert" at such things (being a motel maintenance man), almost burned the house down, with sparks flying, as he clumsily tried to tie into an existing wiring circuit while it was still hot. I quickly realize I could do a far better job myself.

I suspect today's society is too wrapped up in entertaining themselves with electronic gadgets, TV and other indulgences, to have much interest in the nuts and bolts of home construction and maintenance. Most people today would much rather just pay someone else "to do the deeds" for them. A big problem with that is that far too many so-called "professionals" are anything but. Which makes me think that the DIY thing will never really die, as people realize (with the proper training and resources) that they can be just as capable of doing a job effectively as someone who makes his/her living in the industry.

Drywallinfo 09-25-2013 06:19 AM


Originally Posted by bud16415 (Post 91848)
I agree with all of you.
To me gas connection and plumbing isn’t any different than anything else. There are a set of rules and ways to do it and no reason to fear doing it. In fact the reason I do my own gas installations is because I want it done right, and tested correctly. If a DIYer wants to do gas he needs to know the facts and that they need the correct tools etc. It’s about education and confidence. Even if you don’t DIY knowing what is right and wrong is a big help when having others do your work in being informed as to if they are doing it correctly.

Yes, exactly! And when I consider all my own DIY plumbing jobs that have leaked in some way, at least initially, I will pass. I can live with a little water on the floor. But a gas leak can blow up the house. I guess it would be good to know how to do this properly. The goofs that put in my hot water heater did not tighten and/or test correctly - a few weeks later a guy from the gas company did a test and found a small leak and tightened things up. From him, I at least saw how to test my connections.

bud16415 09-25-2013 07:40 AM

I agree BridgeMan. As a kid growing up in the 60’s there wasn’t the things to occupy our time that they have today or even when my son was young. My favorite pastime was watching my dad work or bugging a neighbor watching him work on home projects. There was always a couple houses going up around the neighborhood and getting as close to that action was always the goal. The builders always piled the scraps in the yard to burn at a later date and as soon as they would leave for the day the scrap lumber and dropped nails made their way off the job site on our wagons and became tree house structure. I don’t remember a unified building code covering tree house construction but there wasn’t much to worry about we were only 25 feet in the air during construction.

I don’t think DIY is dead or even dying but I would be interested in seeing the number of owner built homes in 2013 compared to 1953 thru 63.

My dad built about half the house using a cross cut hand saw and figured he needed a table saw. All he could afford was a saw kit from sears that amounted to a pulley, arbor, pillow blocks and a saw blade. You provide your own motor and belt and he built ours from an old dresser some guys used a kitchen table or the real fancy ones made a plywood box with legs. When I was about 13 he caught me thinking about using it and promptly tore it all apart as he hadn’t used it in a few years. Telling me don’t ever think of using that it’s the quickest way he knew to lose a finger or two. That fear however never stopped him from using it to build a home. That old school thinking is built into us I think.

As my son grew up I never once saw the interest in any of this and none of his friends showed any. I remember a few times his friends asking what is your dad doing when I was fixing something. The one area I see the DIY spirit being carried on these days is with farm kids. When we hire a new person into the shop and they seem to be good at thinking on their own and solving a problem most of the time I later find out they grew up on a family farm or something like that.

We have a drinking fountain at work and years ago someone put in a tee and a ball valve and a bent copper tube to fill coffee pots from. A new guy fresh out of college was trying to fill a pot from the drinking spout and I mentioned to him you can fill it here a lot easier. He took a look at it and said “how” so I told him you just stick the pot under the copper tube and turn the ball valve on pointing to the ball valve with the handle 90 to the two pipes. So he places the pot and grabs the handle and was twisting and pulling on it to no avail. I had to show him how the valve worked and explain how the handle goes in the direction of the flow. I just assumed everyone at some point encountered a shutoff valve but I’m finding more and more haven’t. On the other hand he would probably find me completely stupid trying to solve a computer problem.

bud16415 09-25-2013 08:08 AM

Many people find electrical work the same way. One bad connection and you can start a fire. Or one mistake and you can electrocute yourself. There are people I know that just cringe at the thought of me using a chain saw and others that won’t use a skill saw. You can get hurt badly with any of these things. But I don’t find them less safe than fueling my truck. I see someone smoking and fueling at least once a month or walking past me as I’m fueling smoking. The final straw was when a guy yells at me for answering my cell phone at the pump and I look over to see him smoking.

I say if you have a fear of anything then you should avoid doing it. The relative of mine that dreads me running a chainsaw rides a motorcycle and downhill skis. I used to do both myself and now find both uncomfortable for me to do.

I recently bought an old house to renovate. And one of the many concerns I had was the gas lines not knowing who did what when. I looked it all over and after having the gas turned on the gas company saw there was no kitchen stove hooked up and that it had a shutoff that was closed. He said he couldn’t turn on the gas but I could at the main valve after I had a stove in place. I said that’s fine. He then said if that was mine I would put some electrical tape over the end of that pipe that’s open. I was actually glad I didn’t have him do any hookups. For me there is a comfort in feeling the torque when putting a fitting together and seeing how I wrap the tape or apply the dope. Then checking the fittings etc. I don’t fear when I go into someone’s house that it wasn’t done correctly. But in my own house I trust my skills. Everyone is different.

nealtw 09-25-2013 05:54 PM

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DIY is doing just fine.

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