on being handy

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I have to laugh when I get an email or a comment saying, “you are so lucky to be married to such a handy guy” or “We’re just not handy around the house~we could never do these kinds of things.”
When we were married, we knew nothing about diy or home repair. NOTHING.first apt 1our first apartment: what in the heck is wrong with this shower head?

In fact, when my husband and I were getting serious, it was a bit of a concern for me because my dad is the ultimate handy guy. My dad was wisely told me that my future husband already had the most important traits:he was honest, a hard worker, and loved me and the Lord. Everything else could be learned and come with time. If he wanted to. But I couldn’t expect to change him or make him be what I though he should be. It was advice that came back to me when I would see what other husbands were building and repairing and creating. I would try to remember why I married him and what I loved about him…and it had nothing to do with his carpentry skills.
We have learned slowly together over the past 13 years, thanks to patient neighbors and friends, my dad, and the ultimate diy tool: youtube how-to videos. It’s crazy what you can learn when you don’t have money to hire someone. My husband amazes me with what he does now and his willingness to save money by trying to do it himself. A lot of things we try to tackle ourselves. Some things we get into and look at each other and wish we would have hired someone. We’ve even had to hire out to fix our mistakes!may 2008 033 1
Saturday afternoons are precious now with 5 kids in multiple activities and we really have to determine what is diy worthy and what is worth hiring someone for. Sometimes that is the only time we have all together and so we don’t want to always fill it with projects. My neighbor was doing a kitchen re-model and I noticed an electrician’s van in her driveway. I went over and asked the guys if they could come over at lunch for an estimate and ran home and scribbled down every electrical project I could think of that we’d been wanting to get done.april 2012 017 1
They told me I’d have to wait for a rainy day since they were so busy, but if I could be flexible, they would call me if they had a cancellation or an opening for a couple of hours. I got the call today and they got everything done on my list in an hour and a half. It would have taken us a whole Saturday, if not more. Worth every penny of that $100. And they got a chuckle out of my hot-glued corbels, but they were easy off for them to hardwire the lights and then I hot-glued them right back up.april 2012 011 1april 2012 015 1april 2012 016 1
Sometimes I can look at the diy world and feel a bit guilty if I don’t try to tackle it myself.
Or get a bit envious when I look at these Ty Pennington husbands that can build a dream house out of scrap 2X4’s in a week.
But it always feels soooo good just to get some long-awaited things done around here when we hire someone.
What about you? When do you hire out or how do you decide when to diy?


  1. It's good to know those things can be learned. :) I was also slightly worried about it when we got married too, because my dad is an electrician and has worked in pretty much every construction trade, so he's seriously the ultimate handy man. And my brother is the same way, he did most of the work in their new house and by the time he was done they had around $250,000 in equity. It's crazy, but my husband and I are slowly picking it up, and if all else fails those two are only a phone call away. :)

  2. Natalie Cox1/8/14, 8:07 AM

    Totally know how you feel!  My husband is handy, but slow, so it's nice to save money, but then way too much family time is spent DIYing. I'm trying to convince him that he can take our cars to have their oil changed!

  3. melissa*320 sycamore1/8/14, 6:02 PM

    Oh Kathy, high ladders are not my friend either!!

  4. My husband is pretty handy when he wants to be (ie. it's not hockey season).  But he is not a gardener at all.  Even in AZ we have some gardening to do.  I just had a guy out the other day to give me a quote for a lot of little garden things.  He kept saying 'your husband could do that'.  He could but I would be his assistant and I don't want to be doing that stuff when it's 110 out so, Like you said, it's money well spent. :)

  5. Ahh shoot! We never hire anyone for anything. Mark and his brothers and dad are so handy or they figure it out. Although we desperately need some recessed litghting in the kitchen and Mark actually said we may have to hire someone to do that! Hallelugiah!
    I am grateful that they are so handy and envious at the same time for those that hire it out and be done with it.

  6. I love this post...and I don't think it's just about DIY, it's about life!!  Your dad's words saying that your future husband could learn those things "if he wanted to" is the BEST advice ever.  Priceless.

  7. That is amazing. They did all of that for 100 dollars?? Amazing and would they be willing to come to Chicago?? :)

  8. The joke in my husband's family was that his dad was so unhandy that he'd call an electrician to change a lightbulb. My husband has that gene, although he's overcome some it by the necessity of owning a fixer and land. He still has problems unrolling duck tape without getting stuck and laying it smoothly. But that's not why I married him. I grew up in a large, DIY family. I was the eldest of a string of girls and I liked being with my dad, so I picked up DIY skills from him; but not as many as I liked. I (and my older kids) do the stuff like minor repairs, painting, laying flooring. Hubby comes in while we're working and gives moral support and encouragement. My husband was out of town for the day (he works at home) and I built a garden bench out of an old headboard and some scraps while he was gone. He was totally blown away, impressed and amazed at my creation. So anything major we call the pros. 

  9. I'm right there with you House Proud ladies. My husband is wonderful at the things he does best. He grew up military so no inherited DIY genes passed down from his father, but we are having fun learning together. He is wonderful with his experience on airplane repair and has does wonders in repairs and major work on both vehicles....a foreign and a Chev truck. The spirit is willing so that is a big plus. I was the oldest of 3 and did pick up some DIY things along the way, but could have used more. This is just too much fun!!  and every job relocation brings us to a new place with new surprises. Keep at it ladies!

  10. I grew up surrounded with remodeling enthusiasts like my father and grandpa and I sort of found myself becoming a DIY buff over the years. I like to do immerse myself in projects like landscaping and painting while I hire an expert when it comes to electrical stuff. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. I am the handy one around the house, and I am scared to tackle electricity. I know my limits, and am not interested in pushing them all, only some. So if we need help with electrical elements or serious plumbing and such like, I diy the phone call like its no bodys business...

  12. Yeah...it was the busiest 3 months of my life ...but my bro-in-law is a builder so he helped us with how to schedule subs...and let me tell you we scheduled them tight!

  13. Cookiecrumbsandsawdust1/16/14, 10:49 PM

    Even as hardcore diyers, we definitely hire out when it's illegal! Like playing with gas lines. Plus, I always make sure they are the ones pulling permits, because sometimes that just a hassle.

  14. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

     Thanks, Katherine! I love doing projects when my husband is out of town :)

  15. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    Heather~agree! I think when we are in the middle of every project...how nice would it be to just hire someone and be done? But then I remember how much it costs to hire someone. I hope you get your lights in soon :)

  16. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    So true! We want to get our deck stained, I really don't want to DIY it, so I'm going to get a quote and decide if we want to wait a few months and save up, or bite the bullet and do it ourselves.

  17. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    Thanks, Susan. I think he's pretty awesome too.

  18. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    Isn't it though? And it can change weekly, monthly, or yearly depending on your family and financial circumstances. We definitely hired out our basement too! :)

  19. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    That's about the extent of our diy work too. We definitely hired out the carpet install downstairs!

  20. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

     Oh my! During Thanksgiving dinner?? LOL at ADD Diyers :)

  21. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    They were such cool guys! They wanted to go to lunch, so I think that was extra motivation. They charged $65 an hour~I thought it was a pretty good deal.

  22. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    See, I guess we're not that handy~I have never attempted drywall in any shape or form! :)

  23. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    John~ you sound like a good guy to have around! We don't mess with electrical either, except for simple light fixtures.

  24. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    Electricity used to scare me to death, but then I did my first light fixture, and now I'm okay with simple things like that. But plumbing? Nope. I can plunge a toilet and that's about it.

  25. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    I can see how hiring out could be completely addicting! It is so nice not to have to deal with the huge ongoing mess and then the cleanup afterward!

  26. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    That's what our contractor's wife said when she came to see our finished basement: he's so tired on the nights/weekends that it's hard to get anything done at home. I bet your husband does great work though and probably shudders at all the diy jobs :)

  27. melissa*320 sycamore1/16/14, 10:51 PM

    I bet you saved so much by being general contractor though...3 months?? That's amazing.


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