As you already know, simply by the fact that this blog exists, Wendy and I are more or less obsessed with DIY. Whether it's building a few shelves for our kitchen, or going total overkill on our tiny entry vestibule/front doors/French doors/etc, we truly feel that we can do just about anything ourselves when it comes to home improvement. But the truth of the matter is this feeling doesn't end with us in our own house, it actually extends well beyond. And truth be told, at times we may overstep our bounds...or at least come dangerously close. At the very least we're always toeing the line of the DIY/Crazy scale.
If you're not familiar with the DIY/Crazy scale, it's similar to the Barney Stinson (from How I Met Your Mother) Hot/Crazy scale in the video above. There is a correlation to the amount of DIY you're allowed to take on, or willing to tell your friends to take on, and the general amount of craziness you tend to have. As our DIY prowess has grown, so too has our admitted craziness, which is acceptable. What's not acceptable is falling well below the line and simply talking crazy without ever accomplishing any DIY project. I just think it's important that we realize this so that we can attempt to temper our craziness when first meeting people and they have no idea of our DIY capabilities. But once we know you, and know you well, all bets are off. The best part, there's no shortage of boundary overstepping when trying to get our friends to commit to self motivated and executed home improvement.
It's a rare thing for friends of ours to buy a house where they don't have some sort of work they'd like to do or something small or major they'd like to change. For some reason, as soon as we hear "...And I'd love to take out this wall..." or even "...the bathroom is pretty good, but this toilet is horrible." It sparks something in our minds that defaults to "Oh, hey, you can totally do that yourselves!"
I understand that some people have limitations when it comes to renovation, just like others have specific strengths, but I'm often a firm believer in the idea that most people's perceived limitations are set well below their actual ability, and I'd love to help friends (and even random strangers) determine this by coercing them into taking on various projects around their house, just to see how it turns out. I hope this isn't an evil personality trait of mine.
I will be totally honest here and say that I might (and I mean just a little tiny bit) make an intermediate level task sound slightly easier than it really is. It's not done with malicious intent, or even done intentionally, but I know there is no way I would have taken on half of what we've done over the years if someone had given me full disclosure going into things. That being said, we try to make sure our blog is a "No-DIY-BS Zone," and we try to share all of the good, bad, ugly, and the thoroughly tantrum inducing. But I think this is the very reason why I've ended up over a friends house on more than one occasion looking at their failed wiring project, or helping them out with a toilet install that wasn't going quite as smoothly as expected.
As much as we try to convince as many of our friends to tackle a litany of home improvement projects themselves, we know there are some people that simply won't take them on. That's okay with us, it's their house and their prerogative, but you can't blame us for trying. On the opposite side of the fence we have the friends that are eager to do more, and we try to give them a helping hand or friendly advice along the way as they need it. Whether it's just advice on how to do something, who to hire to get it started, or an overall feasibility assessment, these types of friends have the drive, they just need a nudge in the right direction. Though this covers the majority of our friends, there's a third type of would be DIYer that sits somewhere in the middle, and it's unlucky for them if we live close by.
These third type of friends have a want for change in their houses, but a false notion that they don't have the ability/desire/time to do things themselves. We find, with this type of friend, it's best to ease into the conversation, then ply them with alcohol to get them to commit to more as the night goes on. This is particularly effective when the friends enjoy alcohol.
This way a conversation that might start with a discussion of hiring someone to do some painting can quickly turn into a full scale discussion on how easy it is to replace a toilet, drywall a hole in the wall, or rip out and replace an entire bathroom completely on your own! But the key to this is to start with big big talk, but actually take on smaller scale projects to build DIY confidence.
Just a few weeks ago we spent an evening over the house of two of our friends who have some pretty lofty goals with respect to home improvement that include items as significant as changing the pitch and height of their roof, redoing their master bathroom, and installing whole house audio. Though I'm sure they will use a contractor for the majority of the major tasks (and who wouldn't, those are some big ticket items), there's plenty they want to do that they can tackle on their own.
On this particular evening, after many drinks and a delicious dinner, we collectively decided it would be a good idea to install a peep hole in the front door. Our friend had texted us earlier that she wanted to borrow my drill for this task, so I brought along several other tools that would make the job a bit easier. My hope being to show them both that installing a peep hole was so simple, that bigger and better renovations could likely be in their future.
Luckily, I was the completely sober one that evening, and I had no problem finding the center point of the door and drilling a hole for their new front door peeper (in spite of a dying drill battery). After all, I'm not so sure inebriated renovations of any kind are such a good idea, but if this small tasks gets them on the path to taking on the larger items (even with a little help from their friends).
I'm sure we'll be helping many of our friends out on many other tasks in the future. It's just something that comes with the territory of being borderline obsessed with (and somewhat capable of) accomplishing alterations to our home and home's decor in a pure DIY manner. And I know that even if we do the lion's share of a project, just getting our friends involved in some way help them to feel more able to take on their next project on their own. This is even true if the majority of the DIY includes drunken dust busting once the peep hole is installed.
So my question to you, do you have DIY enabler friends that try to get you to take on more than you may be immediately comfortable with? If so, do you hate those people and feel sorry for all of our friends? Or are you those people (like us) who incessantly badger your friends and insist that they are capable and should absolutely take on that home improvement task they're contemplating, no matter how insane it sounds? Where do you fall on the crazy/DIY scale?
However, from our own extensive DIY experiences, as The Beatles so eloquently put it, we know it's always a little easier to get by with a little help from your friends.