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.

Comments 7


Sarah Kate
10/26/2012 at 1:50 PM
Please let us note that drunken dust-busting is the venerable anchor leg of this intricate project...
10/26/2012 at 3:29 PM
You should have included a picture of the individual overseeing the project from the stairs. I hear he was really helpful.
10/26/2012 at 4:36 PM
We had grand plans for a contractor-done renovation of our kitchen. It involved knocking down a wall, placing a header, etc. After your post about the kitchen touchup (and due to some other factors) we decided to scale back and do a minor renovation much like you're own.

We had a contractor handle ripping out the existing tile and putting in new tile, but we have done all of the plumbing and cabinetry. We are just waiting on the countertops to come in and hopefully, with the help of a resourceful DIY enabler, we can do that ourselves as well.
10/30/2012 at 12:19 PM
Are you using "post form laminate" counter tops? If so, I'd be happy to give you installation tips since I've helped install probably around 100 of those in the past 5 years (doing custom kitchens).
Kathy S
10/30/2012 at 12:00 AM
We would LOVE to have DIY friends nearby as we just bought a house that could use some fixing up (all doable we think) but we lack experience. When my handyman dad was around to help us out we accomplished things (like fixing the toilet and replacing a faucet) and learned at the same time. Now that he's gone we're still doing things (like replacing a ceiling fan and putting up crown molding) and we've completely lost it! The directions that came with the fan are pretty much useless -- we followed them and now the screws won't go into the holes we drilled. And crown molding is hard! Whoever told me it was "easy" was lying or had never done it themselves!! Have you guys tried it?
10/30/2012 at 12:15 PM
Installing crown moulding can be a total bitch job (even for me and I'm a cabinetmaker of 10+ years). Installing crown in an old house with crooked walls can be a total nightmare. I would suggest doing coped joints (rather than mitres) in corners to allow for any "off angles" which would leave you with unsightly gaps. Unfortunately, coped corners are not easy to do for beginers either. You need patience and steady hands.
10/30/2012 at 12:09 PM
I have friends with homes of their own, and only one of the 4 I'm thinking about is handy in a DIY sense.

One has no inclination to do any repairs to her house whatsoever (even very simple repairs like caulking gaps, fixing holes in her drywall, etc). I've offered help and suggestions, and she's content to ignore the flaws or hire someone to do anything complicated.

Another friend bought a house that was in near mint condition and has no plans to do any changes or repairs.

Lastly is my DIY friend. His wife is not very DIY inclined, but she is still fairly crafty (she is a teacher and regularly has to make craft projects and other fun stuff for kids). When my friend came to gutting his bathroom, he fully expected that with some help, he could gut it and have it finished in about a WEEK. I pretty much laughed in his face (seeing how my bathroom reno took over a year and a half).

He tore out the floor and all the drywall, but left the whirlpool tub in place.

He was lucky to have me around to help with woodwork for braces and other needed support pieces.

I ended up doing the entire tiled floor basically by myself over about 3-4 days, and he did the tub surround. I had suggested he watch a few specific videos on tile install and grouting, but I'm faily sure he did not watch them, since his grouting job did not turn out too well.

I was a bit disappointed by the end results, but he seems proud of the final product, so I haven't said much.

He plans to redo the entire kitchen in the next year or so with IKEA cabinets. Not a bad choice, but installation is critical, so I hope he asks for my help installing those...
Since you've not signed in yet, you will need to fill in your name and email below. If you have a Facebook account, save yourself a step and use Connect to login.

Denotes a required field.

Please enter full URL, including http://

You can use Markdown syntax in your comment. And you can also use lots of Emoji!
  • Search

  • Login
  • Follow
  • Advertising

If you're looking for information on advertising and sponsorships, head on over to our sponsorships page. You can purchase site sponsorships in a few easy clicks. 

Toolbox Tuesday
Open Housing
  • We're Featured!

Old Town Home has been featured in the following places and publications:

The Washington Post
Washingtonian Magazine
Old House Journal
Apartment Therapy House Tour
Washington Post Express Feature
Home & Garden Blogs
© 2024 - Privacy Policy
Login Below
Sign in with Facebook

Unexpected Error

Your submission caused an unexpected error. You can try your request again, but if you continue to experience problems, please contact the administrator.