Interesting article and a long one.  I read portions of the article and was struck by some of what was said.  These things were "Choose the Hard Way, Develop toughness, Develop your body, Become competent" among others.

One of the things I've noticed throughout my lifetime is that often men will take the easy way out.  What I mean is that if there is something that needs to be done around the house they will pay someone to do it for them.  Sometimes this is not due to need or other requirements just that they do not know how to do the thing and there are others that have that knowledge; other times it is that they do not want to do what needs to be done so they hire someone to do it while they sit back and 'take it easy'.  If one wants to accomplish 'manhood', become a man or whatever you wish to call it and this "Semper Virilus' seems to be a way to obtain the goal or take the journey then why would you not accomplish a great many of the steps at one time.  For example, if you need to have drainage in your yard because it becomes a swamp (alligators not included) each time it rains then why would you not get on the Internet and look up how to install a french drain, take up your shovel and get to work on building the french drain yourself?  Doing this accomplishes several steps in the S-V.  It is the hard way, it helps develop toughness (physical and mental), it develops your body, you learn something and become competent, you provide for your family, you protect your family (from snakes and other swamp denizens), and others.

While doing it yourself does take time and a whole lot of effort and having someone do it for you allows you to sit on your couch and eat bon-bons think of the bragging rights you earn by doing it yourself.  I recently dug a trench to fix my pool filter line and a friend came by and saw the ditch.  He asked me how much it cost to rent the trenching machine.  I told him I had dug it by hand, his response was "Damn, how did you get the sides so vertical?".  Ok, I'm bragging here but I earned that, I was proud of my hard work and it showed.  It may only be a ditch but it was something I had done that was hard and exhausting.  Yes it took me longer than if I had used a machine, or hired someone to do it but the total cost of the repair was $80 in materials for the PVC pipe and glue, instead of several hundred to thousands for a professional to do what I could have done (provide). 

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It seems like an economic decision (I don't mean money necessarily).  We do take the easy way.  If it serves the purpose, why not?  I could drive to work taking 15 minutes or 5; I take 5.  I try to set up my work so that it's easy to get to what I need; I spend less time sorting and become more productive.  (Same in house cleanup.)  I don't change my own oil; I have so much to do already!

So:  when do you do what's easy, and when do you go to more trouble?

I too favor DIY, but sometimes it's nice to round up a couple buddies to help, as long as lunch is on you. I certainly wouldn't hire a stranger to do something I can do myself.

As someone in design-build, I benefit from those outsourcing hard yardwork to others, so take what I say with that in mind.

Yes, there is tremendous satisfaction in DIY, but ultimately, is the final result worth the effort? I see time and time again men with their proud DIY chests strutting their yard prowess, and what do I see? Amateurishly done things that often do not work (that's why we've been called in). I know too many wives in prisons of houses with unfinished or weakly done work because their husbands MUST do it themselves.

There is something to be said for the craftsmen, the master who perfects his craft.

Yeah, you won't get called in to repair the good stuff that works.

I will say there are things I will not DIY.  I don't do roofing or AC work and I will hire a plumber for more complex things, same with an electrician.  I don't do body work on cars either.  Most often if I can find it on the Internet I can figure out how to do it myself.  It's like the french drain I'm installing or the plumbing I just did on my pool.  That's not rocket science you have to ensure you have the right slope on the drain.  I have hired 'professionals' and ended up with plumbing that leaked and damaged my home, tiling that looks like some rank amature did the job, and yard drainage that just wasted time and money.

I like doing a good job and doing it right, my rule of thumb is that if I don't think I can do it right then I won't attempt it.  But as time goes on and I do more and more things around the home I have a better idea of how to do more things the right way.  I also have the luxury of knowledgable friends who've been in construction for decades and know the codes like the back of their hands; same with auto repairs.

Very good points you bring up; anyone can put out a shingle and practice in many trades.

I went through the DIY phase with my first house; carpentry, basic plumbing, paving etc.

Now, older, I value my weekend hours more, and want to do other things rather than spending time on house projects, making multiple trips to the hardware store. I gladly spend money on outsourcing what I choose to outsource. 

For the most part, I agree with Rick.  Men outsource way too much, when fifteen minutes of research and a couple of hours of work could save you hundreds upon hundreds on labor.  And, as you do it yourself ... you get better at it, and more comfortable with it.

That being said, it is important to know when you're out of your depth.  I do my own truck repairs, for the most part.  Replaced a side mirror a couple of weeks back (dumbass truck-driver broke it off).  Did the brakes last month ... during which I got to blowtorch a stuck rotor.  That was fun.  We're replacing the knock sensors in my Suburban in a week or two.

Professionals weren't born that way.  They learned.  What one man can do, another can do.  If they can fix it -- and it doesn't require equipment I don't have -- so can I.  That was the thing with the stuck rotor.  We worked on breaking it for an hour or so -- beat on it with sledgehammers, prybars, WD-40, etc. -- and nearly quit and let my mechanic do it.  But, there's no magical exclusive equipment or special skill to breaking a stuck rotor.  "What would they do?"  "They'd blowtorch it."  "Then lets blowtorch it."


I sent it to the shop to get the front end suspension rebuilt and a lift put on last week.  Because it sounded like a pain in the ass.  Ended up being a good decision ... it took professional mechanics 10-hours of labor, and they complained that the springs kicked their asses.  Good.  For what I paid, I hope it was nice and difficult.  If it were easy, I should've done it myself.


I do outsource lawn work, though.  Because it sucks, its hot in Texas, and I don't wanna do it.  And, it only costs $35 to have a truck full of Mexicans come do it.


I think I am the only person on my block that does their own yard.

My son can do it when he gets a little older.  Save me $35.  Then, I can burn him out on it the same way my parents did me.


I cut my grass too.  Used to hire a teenager, but she moved.

I don't own my vehicle, it's a company perk, including repairs.

I do cut my own grass and yard work, and gladly volunteer elsewhere for same.

Professionals weren't born that way.  They learned.

They learned by doing things day after day, over and over. Seeing all sorts of conditions and dealing with them. Getting calls and complaints when the work is falling apart, and people not paying. Of course there are hacks out there; it's up to the consumer to do his research and reference checks.

I agree things that need to be done again and again are perfect for DIY, but how many patios are you going to install in your lifetime? Or tiled bathrooms?

My first bathroom I tiled myself, and then had to live with all the mistakes. Our second bathroom we had done, and I marvel at its perfection every time I use it.

Professionals do have a place if used wisely.


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