Growing up my family did not have a lot of money. So when something broke, or something around the house needed to be fixed, or updated, my dad had to do it. My parents grew up during the Great Depression, so they knew how to stretch a dollar, but there was just not enough money for my parents to call a repairman or a contractor. As a child I would follow my dad around watching him work on the house—everything from replacing an electrical outlet to remodeling the back porch, to fixing a leaky faucet.
When I got a little older I helped put a new roof on the house. The first, and only time I came home drunk in my teens, my punishment was helping my dad rip shingles off the garage on a humid 90 degree day. When I went into the army I went in as a 12B Combat Engineer. I built bridges, pole buildings, among other things. When I got out of the Army I worked in a lumber yard where I learned how to install doors, windows, drywall, kitchen cabinets, and other things. If I could not do it, I could not explain to a customer how to do it. While working at the lumberyard my brother and I installed a new kitchen for my mom, and put in new hardwood flooring.
There was no YouTube back then, so some of it was trial and error, some of it we learned in shop classes, or just figured it out. We never once considered calling a contractor. It was just not something we would do.
What got me thinking about all of this was posts on the Nextdoor App/website, every day there is a post asking if anyone knows a business, or a handyman who knows how to fix a leaky faucet, replace an electrical outlet, put up a tile backsplash in a kitchen, etc.
Every single time I read those posts I thought to myself, “Seriously? You cannot replace a light switch,” or “Replacing a cartridge in a faucet it pretty easy, why would you need a handyman or a plumber for that?” Now I know my limitations, I will not mess with my breaker box, and larger plumbing projects. I did however, design, and build my kitchen, as well as laid new flooring in the house.
Now this originally started out as a Facebook post just wondering if Americans had gotten so used to our disposable world that people had just stopped trying to do stuff themselves. A friend sent me an email about that post because it had gotten her thinking. And she made some pretty good points.
One is, is this an issue of class/Income. If you can afford to hire someone to do it, why wouldn’t you? When I rebuilt my kitchen I looked into it being done by a contractor. But, that literally doubled the budget, putting it well outside of my price range. So I would have no choice but to do it myself. Another point is did you have a parent that was a DIYer? If not, you likely did not learn the skills required to be able to do home repairs and/or improvements on your own.