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  1. #1
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    Default Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    I just want to vent for a bit about all these DIY TV shows.

    One thing that makes up about 15%-20% of my business is fixing the screw-ups of DIYers and bad contractors. So many of these TV shows make construction tasks look so damn quick and easy that it gives people a false sense of security. These shows encourage the general, untrained, public to attempt to fix electrical, plumbing and structural problems on their own. Granted, there are people that are capable of doing some of these tasks properly but a vast majority are not capable of properly hammering in a nail.

    If a homeowner wants to paint a room, attempt build some bookcases, tile a backsplash or do any other relatively menial task that is 100% visible to anyone that walks by, then all the more power to them. If a homeowner wants to repair an electrical problem, add an outlet, run new water supply pipes to a bathroom, etc, then they should only be allowed to do so if they are going to tear the house down when they decide to move out. If I was going to purchase a house and I found out that a homeowner did any of these things I would tear it apart in the inspection to make sure everything was done up to code and done properly and after that I would still have to seriously consider buying the house pending how much work they did on it.

    Jobs such as finishing a basement, which on the DIY shows seem relatively simple, are not nearly as simple as they appear. They forget to put PT plates on the floor, the vapor barrier gets left out, they think that they donít really need insulation in the walls, the wiring may be properly hooked up but the wires are not properly run and secured, the drywall joints are all bumpy or cracking, the sill plate is not properly secured to the cement floor, they used 6 penny nails instead of 8ís to secure everything and the list goes on and on and on.

    These shows have only been on in force for about 10 years or so. The long term effects of the shoddy work that was done canít even be evaluated yet. Iím sure many of you have seen the show Renovation Realities where they try to show the good and some of the bad. They have actually shown people cutting through live electrical wires and I saw one guy using a chainsaw that kicked back, got caught in his shirt and, luckily, only nicked his shoulder. These instances could have easily resulted in two morons getting themselves killed. Shows like Trading Spaces are a true DIY show made up of tasks like building simple furniture, painting rooms and calling in electricians and plumbers to take care of the important tasks.

    I honestly think that some of these new shows are a danger to people attempting to DIY and they give a bad name to quality contractors who had to go to school, buy equipment, buy vehicles, get insurance up the ying yang and build a good name for themselves.

    I would love to see a show where a crew with an inspector for a host goes back to these houses that were redone about a year later and do a follow up. He would inspect the quality of the work and see what did and didnít stand the test of time such as cracked tiles, plumbing that has leaked, cabinets that are falling off the wall, doors that stick or leak, etc.

    I feel that I can write a book about this stuff. I want to keep going on and on and on but in being fair to the readers here I donít want to bore any of you. I've said about 10% of what I want to say but Iíll leave the rest up to you guys.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    I still want to know how they hang artwork the same day the walls were painted.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    You mean remodeling a bathroom takes longer than 29 minutes and two commercial breaks ?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    True, true, oh so true.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    that's what drives me out of my mind. people see this then they think that it costs $2,500 for a gut bathroom remodel and we'll be done before they get home from work.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    Amen MLB!!!

    Speaking as a former lifelong painting contractor, I just shake my head as they are painting a room even as the carpenter is sawing in one corner and the electrician pulling wires in another! It would drive me nuts to be on such a job site!

    Granted, a bad paint job might not electrocute someone or give them dysentary from a back sewer connection, but it can create situations that will take huge amounts of labor to correct. I still chuckle about the time I was waiting in line at the paint store when a women came in and wanted to know how to remove the silicon caulk she had put all over her house after the carpenters had put up new crown molding everywhere. But she sure saved a lot of money over those expensive painters she didn't hire!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    A rebuttal?

    Yeah, me too- but I've also seen many 'professionally done jobs' that were just as bad. And I've seen some stellar work done by homeowners that rivaled the best of the pros because they took the time to do it as best they could instead of just good enough to get paid for it. We all know how simple it is to add an outlet to an existing circuit; many other jobs we do are far more complex than this. Anyone can do this safely if they will but take some time to research it and then follow directions explicitly. And darn near everything comes with good instructions or they can be found on the web. Some of my skills were taught to me by others; some I found on my own. My self-taught skills came the same way a DIY'er gets them- by trying until you get it right. Does that make me bad somehow? No, it makes me humble and appreciative of the experienced folks who make the job look easy.

    What the problem really is lies elsewhere- it's attitude. When you think you're smart enough to do something you've never done before you probably aren't Get that in your head and keep it there. When you say "I think" what you're really saying is "I don't really know so I'll guess at it instead". That is never the right approach, yet we're all guilty of doing that at times. We know better than to ask advice from someone with less knowledge than ourself, but the average DIY'er doesn't know how to make that determination. They asked the sales rep at the big-box store who seemed to know about it. And that rep probably did know more than the DIY'er, though not much more. We understand this because we're experienced; the DIY'er isn't. And often the DIY'er doesn't know the difference between a good and a bad job- they only know what they have seen. We all see this stuff everyday, but because it is our business we notice the details which escape the DIY'er who has only spent a short time thinking about and looking at these details. It's our daily bread and we'd fail if we tried to match them at their job just as badly as they may fail matching us at ours. At least the DIY'er tries, and that is one heck of a lot more than many people do. If they fail it's because of a lack of knowledge, but when a so-called 'pro' fails it is pure stupidity. Which one do you think is worse? Which attitude is correctable?

    And the TV shows- dare we speak of them here? After all this is where they all started and I for one am glad this one exists. I've learned a lot from TOH and from it's craftsmen. On some of the other shows I see far less knowledge and craftsmanship, but who is to blame for that? Not us, and not the DIY'er either. If you really have to bash, then bash the money-grubbers who produce those other shows. And remember when you encounter a failed DIY that you too knew that much at some point in your career and you too were just as bad back then. And like the signs which used to be everywhere said "If you worked on it before you called me, my price is doubled". Yeah, I hate to have to go back and fix someone else's mistakes before I can do my work, but I don't do that for free (unless the missus of the house is a really great cook!). So I'm making money; that's what I'm in business to do. It ain't the kind of work I prefer fixing someone else's mistakes but it makes me look good and it pays. I can handle the DIY'er, in fact I enjoy passing along some of my 'wisdom' to those who really want to do their DIY thing better- I applaud that want-tp-learn attitude because it is the basis of all craftsmen. Now if we could only figure out how to get rid of the so-called 'pros' who do shoddy work, I think we'd have far less trouble than getting rid of the DIY TV shows.

    I've never had a problem with a customer expecting me to go start-to-finish in an unrealistic timeframe. I always discuss the time it's going to take well before the first tool comes out, it goes in with my bid proposal. I even go so far as to tell them that I would rather spend more time getting something the way I want it even if they expect less because the job is going to have my name on it and that's just how I do things, and if they can't handle the possible delays they should get someone else. Not once have I fielded a time-complaint because of that; in fact it is just that which gains me my most loyal customers for they know they are getting more than what they paid for and nobody else is going to go that extra mile for them the way I do. So yeah, I can't remodel an entire bathroom in 20 minutes but I can do it better than anyone else will for the quoted price- and the other guys won't do it much faster either! And really, does anyone think that a $2000 labor-cost job is going to take me less than several days? Nobody makes that kind of money except maybe Warren Buffet. If it was a 20 minute job it would have a 20 minute price tag attached wouldn't it? Simple logic for the less experienced minds. Those who've dealt with contractors before know it's going to take awhile- it always does. If we could finish it all in 20 minutes at a $2000 price tag then we sure as heck would- who wouldn't?

    So now if we could only rid ourselves of those so-called 'pros' both on TV and in real life who make us all look bad, then dealing with the DIY stuff would go a lot easier. Not included in that list are our guys- the craftsmen of TOH, the original and the best, the ones who know their business and are still humble enough to know that it's what they do, not how they look on TV, that makes all the difference in the world.

    Phil

  8. #8
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    I too have made a career out of repairing the F-ups of others. While things I find might amaze me, I am no longer surprised by them. A current issue <no pun intended> is with an electric waterheater that has a refrigerator outlet tapped off it. The waterheater isn't heating, time to call in the electrician.

    I had a not-so-handy homeowner that thought he knew how to do wiring. Problem #1, he reversed the hot/neutral wires. Problem #2, they had mice that liked the insulation on the wires, so he used metal tape to cover the exposed wires. There were other things too, these were the biggies.

    Another recent find, a "contractor" built a transition roof between the main house and a detached addition. The old roof/walls were leaking and he told the owner that it all had to come out and be redone. He tore out everything, including the slab. When he rebuilt it, there was NOTHING that was done right, literally, from the slab to the roof. The slab isn't flat and it isn't done right. The walls were poorly framed, sad considering they were only 44" long, and the siding didn't match the existing siding, he used masonite instead of T1-11. The roof eave didn't match the house eave, neither did the fascia, and there was no flashing from the roof to the vertical wall and he did not tie the roofing into the valley along the house. The very first rain storm the whole thing leaked like an S.O.B. When I demo'd the wet walls and ceiling, you could see daylight along the valleys because there was nothing done properly. Sadly, this was the 3rd project this homeowner had this idiot do, the others were a remodeled bathroom where everything was poorly done and MDF was used in the window sill of the shower window, and finally, he overlaid the roof. We stripped the roof to the deck, reframed the addition transition, then tied it all together properly, no more leaks.

    The stories are endless, and when you see the work of these inept people, "licensed" or otherwise, makes you wish there were better laws and regulations out there to control it, but the flip side is this, all the laws and regs in the world can't fix stupid, it just makes the work all that much more expensive and harder for those of us who have dedicated our lives to doing the job right. What we need are laws against stupid!
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    The John Bridge Tile Forum has a thread with 255+ pages of horrific work

    http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/...ght=WORST+tile

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Response to DDIY Don't do it yourself and all DIY shows

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastercarpentry View Post
    A rebuttal?

    So now if we could only rid ourselves of those so-called 'pros' both on TV and in real life who make us all look bad, then dealing with the DIY stuff would go a lot easier. Not included in that list are our guys- the craftsmen of TOH, the original and the best, the ones who know their business and are still humble enough to know that it's what they do, not how they look on TV, that makes all the difference in the world.

    Phil

    your entire response is excellent and i appreciate the time you took to write it out so well. i think you captured more of what i wanted to say than i did.

    it's the shows that get on my nerves more than anything else giving the true DIYer or someone looking to remodel something a total false sense of what is involved in doing a job and doing it properly. and the other's that give us just as bad a name as these shows do are the "hack" contractors.

    it all boils down to referrals and that is how the good ones survive

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