I considered a poll for this one but there are just too many variables. My question is fairly basic though:
Something breaks around the house–plumbing, electrical, windows, landscaping; or the car needs a tune up or maybe some suspension work. Is your first intinct to do the repair yourself (nevermind if you end up having to call a professional to unscrew what you did, that happens from time to time), or to reach for the checkbook?
Which are you? I’m the first sort. With the house I am absolutely unafraid of anything but natural gas and high voltage, and am comfortable taking a wrench to the older cars. I don’t pretend to be an expert on everything by any means, but I really enjoy learning as I go how to build stuff like the deck & the chicken coop (I look forward to he day my roof gets totaled by hail so I can tear it off and replace the roof trusses to vault the ceilings in the kitchen & living room). I wouldn’t dream of hiring a contractor to work on any part of my house, and most anything that goes wrong with the cars is simply a puzzle/game for me. Yes, professionals can usually get the job done faster, but I hesitate to go that route because part of me feels the need to be self-reliant. That said, I know my limits and will call a pro when it’s time to upgrade the house’s electrical service and such–stuff that will kill me or blow something up is not something I think is best learned through trial & error.
I know plenty of other people who, if you gave them a hammer and a nail, would eventually figure out what to do but have absolutely no interest in using a tool more complex than their checkbook. I don’t think less of them, and I don’t feel superior for my own preferences. But I am genuinely curious: which sort are you, and why?
I’m just like you. But I realize I have some limitations. Clint Eastwood taught me that.
I just paid someone to work on an automatic transmission. Of course, I yanked it out and took it to him.
For the most part, I kind of was forced to learn a lot of stuff. Hard to find (affordable/reliable) people to come and work where I live. I also have a bunch of old weird stuff nobody knows about or is willing to work on. I’ve got lots of time and very little money. So, screw it! Fix it myself. I enjoy moderate success.
I tell people I have nearly every tool known to man, and two of them if I can actually use it!
I can build anything, fix anything, improve anything.
I can improve anything that needs fixing.
Or fix anything that needs improving.
I don’t want to buy anything that can be fixed or built.
Depends. Balky drain needs to be snaked, putting in a new faucet or a p-trap needs replacing under a sink? I’ll do it myself. Need a new light switch? 90% of the time I’ll do it myself. Any thing more complicated and I make a call.
Carpentry of any sort? No way in hell. I got a D in 8th grade wood shop. It was a courtesy-D at that :D.
Car repairs? Not anymore. As a kid I used to help my dad replacing clutches and water pumps and whatnot, but I was never particularly good at it and found it frustrating as hell. For the first couple of years I had a car I went the quasi-macho route of trying to do my own basic maintenance at least. Now I don’t even change my own oil.
The older I get ( and I suppose the more financially stable ), the more inclined I am to whip out the checkbook. Life is too short and I generally find doing repairs tedious.
Do it myself, or trade services with someone who can. I can’t afford to hire a professional most times.
I am really good with any kind of problem solving. That is basically my job in an industrial environment and I will try to tackle anything that like that I can in my personal life. I can take apart, fix, and rebuild anything from computers to guns to plumbing even if I have never seen it done before.
My main limitation is basic craftsmanship however. I am not a good carpenter because the fit and finish never end up being right. I spent a great deal of money and time building a huge doghouse once. It is still around and basically a miniature barn but I couldn’t get everything to line up just right and had to improvise at the end. The thing will probably last over 100 years but it is probably for the best that I didn’t try to build a full-sized structure. I can’t paint all that well either because I am extremely impatient. I would never try to hang wallpaper because it would end up looking like a drunk monkey did it. Artistry just isn’t a gift that I have no matter how hard I try.
Between me and Suburban Plankton, we can pretty much manage any basic home maintenance repair (even minor electrical) or garden/yard project.
My best friend is a wonder building stuff. I can’t tell you how many fences, decks, stairs, shelves, etc I’ve helped her build. She has the knowledge to design stuff like that and I’m handy enough with power tools to follow her instructions.
I try to do just about anything, and usually succeed. But I’m getting old and more likely to pay people to do it these days. Especially stuff that’s hard my knees.
It all depends on what we’re talking about. I don’t mess with cars or electrical wiring, but I’m a pretty decent carpenter, I can do plumbing repairs, and at one time or another I’ve done repairs on assorted major and minor appliances, particularly clothes washers and dryers.
I built every bookcase in this house (and we have a *lot *of books) and a goodly number of bedside tables, toy cabinets, and the like. That way I can make 'em like I want 'em.
What got me started on carpentry, nearly 20 years ago, was when we moved into a new house where the living room clearly didn’t have room for the old horizontal stereo cabinet I’d been using for 15 years, and I couldn’t find anything to buy that would accomodate a turntable, a tape deck, a CD player, and plenty of storage space for both LPs and CDs. So I made a vertical stereo cabinet that did all those things, and we still use it today. At the time, I just had a hand-held circular saw, and I’m still impressed with how straight I cut everything when I made the cabinet. I couldn’t do that with a circular saw now; having a table saw has long since spoiled me.
I assembled one of those swingset/playhouse combo things for the Firebug three summers ago. Took a few weekends, but it wasn’t really that hard. Main thing is, before you start, label all the pieces.
I’ll paint rooms (painted most of the rooms in this house, actually), but I won’t do carpet or wallpaper, and would just as soon stay away from linoleum work. There’s a point at which you realize you can’t master everything.
Trained as an electrician, but I can do sheetrock repairs, basic carpentry, change out sink faucets, repair a toilet, replace drawer slides and a host of other basic home repairs as well. The recent discovery of rotted framing and timbers in the back porch required a contractor, however. I wouldn’t attempt roofing repairs, either. And I’ve never done tile work. Since I’ve completed some woodworking classes, I’m confident that I could build a new drawer or cabinet
I’m somewhere between intermediate DIY and contractor.
All of the wired network and the phone system (got a PBX in the garage) was done by me. Half the challenge for each was in figuring out getting cables from here to there. Electrical doesn’t scare me a bit either. I’ve done everything from changing light bulbs to running circuits and installing sub panels.
This past weekend, I replaced a toilet, and in the past, I’ve changed shower valves and replaced water mains. Even replaced a gas wall furnace once.
Oh, I’m an absolute whiz with Ikea stuff.
Broken stuff I can replace using a pair of metal shears and a hammer. I can fabricate a small metal piece to replace a broken part of an attache case, or a kid’s stoller. No welding or forging or brazing.
I’m very handy with appliances and small engines. I’m a competent shadetree mechanic, but I only like working on my racecars. I’ve remodeled a couple of rooms in my house, but I’ll call in professionals when time is a factor (e.g., my kitchen). I don’t do my own oil changes anymore because I don’t enjoy it.
The more I earn, the less I do myself. I like learning how to do new things, but the last room that I had to paint, I paid some painters to do. Because, like oil changes, painting is pretty dull.
Household - very handy. Never called an expert for plumbing or electrical. HVAC is the only thing I have repairmen come to my house for. I understand the basics of A/C, but buying all the specialized tools and gauges makes it cost prohibitive to do it myself. Oh, and roofwork. My roof is damn high, and I’ll pay someone to take that risk on my behalf.
Also built a detached garage by myself, except for having a concrete guy pour the slab.
As for cars, well I have a 30 year old Mercedes, a 25 year old Fiat, and a 25 year old VW Westfalia. So, yes, I am mechanically inclined. I actually ENJOY working on old cars. It really is a zan like thing.
Home construction or remodel, I can do all of it. I’ve been on all aspects of it over the years. Legally, I wouldn’t be able too, but as for knowing what how and why, yep.
Cars, basic only.
Electronics, depends. I’m pretty handy with home computer stuff.
I repaired Hassys and Leicas way back when, too, but I couldn’t even start working on current DSLRs
I’ll tackle most any job but electrical or plumbing. Because the consequences of a miffed job are so high. My tool box is so big it has a V-6.
We had a clogged drain this weekend in the kitchen. I took off the U shaped trap (?) and unleashed a flood. But, there was a clog there alright, and I successfully cleared it, and put everything back together. That’s the extent of my abilities, except for occasionally nailing down a loose board on the deck. Generally, I pay someone to fix my car, my plumbing, my electrical, and do any painting. About 25% of the time I can figure out what’s wrong with the vacuum cleaner.
I’m a pretty competent shade tree mechanic- anything short of replacing engines or dropping transmissions is within my capability.
I’m not a contractor, but I can do a LOT of home improvement stuff. I learned a lot of it with my Dad when I was younger and their old house needed work, and there wasn’t any money to actually hire anyone.
I used to do PC support professionally for 3 years at the beginning of my IT career, and keep current enough to set up and keep my PC, my wife’s laptop, her iPhone, and my son’s iPad going.
I’m more time-crunched than anything else these days, and what spare time I do have, I don’t really want to spend doing home maintenance or improvements. It always takes more money and time than I first expect.
So I tend to hire as much as I’m willing to pay for out- I’ll do trivial crap like pigtailing 8" of romex to our craptastic Al wiring (with the purple wire nuts, of course) so that I can use a copper switch or outlet, reset a fence post in concrete, or fixing broken bedframe rails, or things like mounting a gun cabinet in a closet, but I’m not going to install my own breaker panel, or anything that might actually electrocute anyone or flood our house.
I will do stuff that’s easy like installing a toilet, or a sink faucet though; I’m not afraid of plumbing stuff like that, but I did hire a real plumber to re-work the under-sink plumbing to replace the 40 year old stuff that corroded out a while back.
Household stuff. I will do anything electrical up to the panel. About any plumbing within the house itself. I have done quite a bit of remodeling just installed a shower pan and tiled. Not quite professional but good enough I am not good at fine woodworking.
Car. I do oil changes and that’s it. I just don’t enjoy it.
I don’t know jack about electronics.
Yard I try to do it all myself. 4 acres, small veggie garden and trying fruit trees and bushes.
I am a machinist by trade and hobby. Mill, lathes, and surface grinder. Most of my stuff is well used so lots of repairs and basic industrial electricity I do okay at TIG MIG and stick welding. Working at it as well as sheet metal fab. I have played with metal spinning need lots of practice on that one.