Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DIY - Do It Yourself

Description of DIY from Wikipedia:
Do it yourself (or DIY) is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals. The phrase "do it yourself" came into common usage in the 1950s in reference to home improvement challenges that people might choose to complete independently.

I have one problem with the the description. It states "without the aid of experts or professionals". I find this to be incorrect. There are many ways to receive "aid" and still consider a project as DIY. While DIY projects get finished by your doing, they frequently require some type of influence or some form of aid. Whether it be from an internet article or from knowledge gained from someone who has already done the same thing, it is still a DIY project. There are just different levels of DIY, which I explain below. I would just define it a little different than they did.

Anyway, if you frequently DIY then you already know the many benefits, here are three:
  • COST - This is one of the most, if not the most, attractive benefits. Some DIY projects require little or even no money. They are most certainly less expensive than hiring someone. You can shop around for materials to find better prices. You can reuse materials or use something you already have that is just laying around. But the biggest savings usually come in the form of labor. You will pay nothing for your own labor, except with the time you spend. If you lead a very busy life with little extra time, or you find your extra time more valuable than paying someone to do it for you, then you are most likely not a DIY kind of person. But the next benefit might override that position.
  • GAINING KNOWLEDGE - The knowledge that you can gain by DIY is invaluable. Not only will you be better suited to repair or add to a DIY project later on, you will broaden your mental tool set for the rest of your life. To me this is more important than the cost benefit. If you like to know how things work or just like to do things you have never done before, then DIY is a satisfying way to go. Which brings up the next benefit...
  • SATISFACTION - The satisfaction you get by DIY is almost always better than having a professional do it. When you DIY, you have ultimate control with everything to get a result that you want. When complete, and if everything was done properly, it should be exactly the way you want it. If you hire a contractor, for instance, how can you truly know the job was done properly, unless you hover over them continuously(which, btw, most contractors do not like)? It might seem to have been done properly, but then sometime down the road, you may find that it was not. Usually this happens after the warranty expires. For instance, my mother had landscaping done by a contractor. Everything was great for about two years, except the trees hadn't really grown much, which didn't seem like a big deal at the time. They still looked healthy, so she didn't really pay them much attention. The third year rolled around and the trees started turning brown and the lawn, which was perfectly flat when put in, was now very "lumpy". There were mounds and valleys throughout the entire lawn. So I started looking into the soil for a problem, and I immediately found some. They did not remove the decorative rock that was originally there, they just spread it and then covered it with dirt. Where a lot of rock was, ended up being where the lawn was mounded. The valleys had no rock underneath. The soil was like brick. The tree roots had not grown out of the original small hole they had dug. I pulled the trees out by hand, roots and all. The moral of the story here is, you will always have peace of mind and satisfaction when you DIY, if you have the ability to do so.
There are drawbacks to DIY. In order to get all of the benefits you, absolutely, must have the time, the will, and the ability to do whatever it is you want done. If you don't have all three, you will be in over your head before you begin. Having the ability does not mean you have to know what you are doing. It means having the physical and mental ability to get the job done, start to finish.

There are different levels of a DIY project. I'll give a simple example.

Let us say you want a cake with frosting. You have a few options. You can...
  1. Buy one that is ready to serve and 100% complete.
  2. Buy a plain cake, then add ready made frosting.
  3. Buy a plain cake, then add frosting that you made from scratch.
  4. Buy cake mix, and ready made frosting.
  5. Make the cake from scratch, use ready made frosting.
  6. Buy cake mix, then make the frosting from scratch.
  7. Make both the cake and frosting from scratch.
You can see the different levels of just a cake with frosting. If you want to decorate the cake and/or add other things to the cake, you will exponentially get more and more levels. You can consider that making the cake was DIY for every level except the first, which is where you simply bought the entire cake ready to eat. A lot of people would claim that only the last(#7) is a true DIY cake with frosting, and I would disagree.

So with a project as large as this, you can consider it DIY as long as you don't just hire a contractor to do the entire thing. You could still get someone to help you fill in your pool with dirt, or to help create your pond. You can buy pre-made grow beds or have someone build custom grow beds for you. As long as you are in control of every aspect of the project, you can get aid. Just like you don't have to make the frosting to make your own cake with frosting.

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