No, I was catching it from the STDIY'er (scared to do it yourself). I
just finished installing a mini-split a/c unit. I thought I might be in
over my head but aftering careful planning and research it went in
easily and I saved at lease a thousand dollars. The money I saved will
pay for it's electricity for a few years.
What you got was derision for your attitude, not for doing the work.
Telling people they're idiots if they don't do something themselves,
is, well, idiotic. You made up your own mind about the value of your
time and your priorities, have the courtesy to let other people do the
Although I did say that people who don;t do it themselves are idiots it
was merely a typo. I meant to say I that I DON'T have a problem with
people tha don't do it themselves. It is the people that tell them they
CAN'T do it that I have a problem with.
I respectfully submit that you are the one providing the above
description of "skilled" labor. I've seen the results of the labor you
describe, and it isn't skilled. I've taken some of those immigrants
and trained them to be skilled labor. Let me assure you their rate of
pay went up as their training and experience suggested.
Anyone can swing a hammer. It takes skill and care to properly design,
create a materials list, build, and finish even a relatively simple
book shelf. I build my own. If I were to do it for others on a paid
basis, most would choke on how much money it would require. After all
Ikea is cheap. It is cheap for a reason.
If you are relatively good at carpentry, plumbing, electrical,
drywall, painting, concrete work, and all manner of other skills that
go into the building and maintaining of a home, I commend you. Most
homeowners are completely unqualified when it comes to diagnosing and
curing most of even the minor ills they will be faced with as
homeowners. Hence the high demand for qualified, experienced trades
people like plumbers, electricians, etc., etc., etc.
Here's a hint: When you find a good plumber who doesn't think
possession of a plumbing license is also a license to steal, keep him
(or her) happy. They are few and far between. Personally, I've known
one. He is now retired. And he was an immigrant...
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
Oh, we found a guy that's the real deal. He's made cabinets and a bench and
table for us that's been great. But to just say that anybody that says they
are a carpenter is talented and qualified is silly.
I agree with much of the (deleted) rest of your post, but take issue
with some of your points here regarding the quality of DIY
vs. professional work.
If you are a perfectionist and reasonably handy, then on many basic
carpentry, electrical and plumbing type projects you can do a higher
quality job than a professional if you do your research and are
willing to take a lot longer. As you state, you may save out-of-pocket
costs but you will almost definitely take longer and the true savings
depends on what value you assign to your non-business hours time.
Professionals are not being paid enough for perfectionism nor do they
usually bring that level of commitment to the job. I find that the
"skill" in "skilled labor" has more to do with the efficiency of their
labor than with the quality of the final result. Of course, if you are
willing to pay unlimited sums for a job then you can mandate
perfectionism though even this is not necessarily true.
For example, my mom is a perfectionist and goes with the highest
quality/highest cost contractors yet is repeatedly frustrated with the
lack of skill and attention to detail -- unfortunately, even the best
contractors often bring in subs and unskilled labor that don't
justify the premium they demand. She is now in the process of builing
a standalone 1-story, 1-car garage for which she is paying $100K+ yet
the carpenter brought in by the contractor has made countless
mistakes, disregarding clearly speced architectual plans.
And then, the problem is that you never know. It can be a crap shoot. As my
current experience indicates, you can't always find a referral. I don't have
a million friends, and of the dozen I've asked, nobody has needed a plumber
in recent memory. But, years ago, we got very lucky when we needed to have a
couple of ceilings sheetrocked. We'd found lead paint, and after collecting
advice from 200 million sources, we decided the best way to deal with the
badly cracked plaster ceiling was to enclose it, after installing some
recessed lights. A friend recommended a guy whose work was described as
"holy shit....amazing". He took forever to show up, wanted about 30% more
than other estimates, but the ceilings looked like they'd poured into an
upside down room. I walked in during the installation and found the guy had
a half dozen little bubble levels suspended from strings somehow. I just
shook my head and said "Yeah...OK". Perfect. We were happy.
I'd be surprised if I could find someone like that again. Or, maybe I might.
That's a whole lot of generalizations. What stands out the most is that you
seem to be saying the plumber's got no business making money. And, it's
obvious that his fees include whatever overhead he has to deal with. What
business hasn't got overhead? What's important to me is that someone state
their fees clearly, and from that point on, it's up to me to decide what's
worthwhile. In this case, I know there's a decent plumber (somewhere) who
can do the work in X number of hours, and when it's done, I won't need to
think about it. My roof's another story. That's something I'll probably
replace myself, since I've done it successfully on a previous house.
It strikes me that if you:
1. Have a lot of time
2. Have the skills
3. Either enjoy it (lots of people do, bless them) or have no competing spare
a. Just plain cheap beyond all reason and at any non-monetary cost
...what he says makes sense (except the thing about seemingly objecting to
contractors making a living....)
1. Don't have a lot of time
2. Dont' have many skills (great painting skills) and don't particularly care
for every project being a learning experience and my house being my guinea pig
3. Sure have a long list of stuff I love to do in my spare time otherwise
a. Am not stupid-cheap.
So I have in the 11 years I've lived in this house built up a good list of good
skilled folks. And a pretty good knack for discerning who's good and who's not
and getting good value.
My mother in law! If she needed an ambulance, she wouldn't call one unless
she had a coupon. Her frugality was good at times, but not at others, and
she didn't have the skills to know the difference. So....she did all her
laundry with cold water and powdered detergent, with old iron pipes. They
ended up so clogged that they couldn't be cleared. Overflowed, ruined all
the basement carpet. Called a "handyman" to replace the pipes, because he
was cheaper than a plumber. $2000 later....no need to finish the story. So
much for saving money.
You won. That's exactly what she said. :-)
This woman was the queen of cheap. At one point, her ancient gas oven would
no longer light - it required a match. Because it was so old, she decided it
was silly to put any money into fixing it. The result was that every so
often, we'd go to her house and notice that her hair was singed. She was
sticking her head halfway into the oven to light it because she ran out of
the long wooden fireplace matches (which were a lousy idea to begin with, in
terms of safety). I finally convinced her that the gas company would look at
it for free (yippeee!!!), and behind the scenes, arranged for them to tell
her it was illegal to operate the range any more. In fact, they said I
wasn't too far from correct. They disconnected it and put an official
looking seal over the pipe. :-) It took a week of cold meals for her to
agree to be taken to buy a new stove. Unbelievable.
That's the LEAST outrageous of the stories I could tell you. :-)
Let's see.....there was the electric can opener, reminiscent of something
out of an M.C. Escher painting. She once left it on a stove burner and
melted it in such a way that it leaned forward at about a 20 degree angle.
Since it was originally tall enough to open a 46 oz juice can, you could
still get a 16 oz can under it, even with the tilt. But, the magnet would no
longer hold the can in place at that angle, so you had to palm the can from
beneath while it was opened. Of course, this meant that whatever was in the
can ended up all over your hand and the counter. Her only other options were
3 or 4 of those little openers intended for campers who are gluttons for
punishment. We bought her a nice new electric opener which she refused to
even take out of the box. "That old one's just fine, thank you." Then, she'd
go for the bug spray and hose down the gap between the stove and the
counter, where the effluent from tilted cans spilled and attracted every ant
in the neighborhood.
New phone: She had an ancient rotary phone. It took almost a minute to dial
anyone. Since she never opened the windows in the kitchen, the phone was
encrusted with years' worth of grease and crud, which made the dialer thing
sluggish. We figured that if she ever needed to dial 911, she'd be dead
before she got past 9. So, in went a touch tone phone with big buttons. The
first objection was that she didn't want to pay for touch tone service. Once
we explained that the phone didn't require it, she decided it was still too
fancy for her, and refused to make or receive calls until the phone was
removed. That took 2 weeks, and it was paid for with OUR money. :-)
Free Government Food: She thought it was frugal to get on some sort of
program which offered free "staple" food items to people in need, which she
was not. Things like canned pork, with white labels that just said "Pork",
and "USDA - Don't Call Us If You Don't Like This Stuff". She'd come home
from wherever and usually put away the 5 lb brick of American cheese.
Usually. Not always. Twice, we found shopping bags in the basement with
cheese that had turned green and expanded to the point where it blew open
the thick plastic wrapper. Sometimes, bags of rice crawling with maggots. We
have no idea what the "pork" was, although dog food comes to mind.
Time to mow the lawn.
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