Opinion

Nailed It

Attention all you home DIY folks...

Attempting an ambitious home DIY project during lockdown? Well, best you know your limits. Find out whether you’re a professional, a deluded amateur or something in between...

Invested all your money (and probably some of your parents) in the giant ponzi scheme that is the New Zealand housing market? Brought a great house, but it needs a bit of work?

Firstly, congrats on your subjugation to the mort gage (for the unaware, mort is French for death and gage is pledge or contract — ‘ death contract’, nice! At least they got the name right.)

It does make any holiday periods differently though; for example, Easter should be about Jesus or at the very least chocolate, but for proud new homeowners, it’s a chance to stage a four-day DIY fest. And then of course there’s the extended period afforded by lockdowns during pandemics...

As far as I can tell, DIY is primarily the domain of 30 to 40 year olds. Most under-30s have so completely given up on home ownership, they’re spending $20 for avocado on toast just to troll people.  The over-forties have figured out that while you can exchange your time for money, at the end you can’t swap that money for more time, so they’re quite happy to pay someone to do the job.

The DIYer falls into three categories:

The Full Experience

This is a tradie of some description. Usually very skilled at one thing and at least above average at everything else. In my experience, The Professional has significant advantages, the primary one is that they are very good at measuring. I know a builder/artisan who’s so fastidious he has ‘measure twice’ tattooed on the inside of one wrist, and ‘cut once’ on the other. Great advice for DIY, terrible advice for Cure fans.

The Professional owns all the tools to do the job, but many lack the drive to do anything in any timely manner. Which I totally understand, if I was swinging a hammer all day for work, it wouldn’t be the first thing I would want to do on a day off…

The Semi-Pro

The Semi-pro buys their tools from an actual hardware store and always has a friend who has a trade account: “Nah, never pay full retail”. The Semi-pro generally has some of the same skills as the professional and often works in a trade-aligned role — think civil engineer or quantity surveyor. This belies one of their biggest flaws — the semi-pro thinks they are better than they actually are. “My cousin John’s a builder, and he failed School C. Twice! How hard can it be?”

They will get the job done, and in their particular goal-orientated way, it’ll be on time and under budget (or that’s what they’ll tell you, Semi-pro pride means any mistake is kept on the full down-low) and they’ll play it cool too.

Semi-pro’s are the vegans of the DIY world — better looking, smarter, but way less happy.

Office Hands

As the name suggests, Office Hands are way out of their depth. While The Professional might renovate a kitchen, and the Semi-pro a bathroom, Office Hands are the everyman, bottom feeder of the DIY world. They’re scared of tackling a fence, let alone a deck.

Office Hands are not going to fare well during lockdown as they usually have to make at least three trips to the hardware store each DIY day, forgetting something each time, and then still have to pop over to the neighbours to borrow a square drive for the drill. Once they finally get started, Office Hands delight in asking their partner to hold something for them while they look at it and use their “eye-o-meter” to check it’s true.

Office Hands will get the job done though. It’ll take twice as long as they planned, cost only slightly less than getting a professional in, and it’ll look somewhere between average and OK. But the sense of pride and accomplishment Office Hands gets makes it all ok.

So from one Office Hands, to (probably) another: if you’re tackling a DIY project during lockdown, good luck and remember — don’t cut corners and, most important, measure twice, cut once!

By Sam Cummins