DIY 2 - Know when to walk away
For some men, like my late Dad, the very concept of ‘walking away’ from a DIY job would be utterly mystifying. No matter what the job - leaky pipe, cracked u-bend, non-firing boiler, asbestos in the loft, radioactive waste disposal- Roger Ousey possessed the unique instinctive gift of instantly knowing what needed to be done.
Dad, himself, was also frequently utterly mystified that his DIY gifts had almost entirely bypassed his first born. My DIY experiences typically consisted of starting, cocking up, trying again, cocking up some more, then finally admitting defeat and picking up the phone to Dad. The personification of patience and calm, Dad would then talk me the essential steps to minimise the collateral damage linked to the drilling disaster, shocking wiring – quite literally on one occasion– or plumbing catastrophe. Diaries would be hastily coordinated and an upcoming weekend pencilled in for Mum and DIY SOS Dad to come up to Manchester. They’d arrive with their Rover practically doing a wheelie such was the weight of the restorative tools in the boot.
Dad has gone now, and, in his absence, I’ve become vaguely competent at DIY, thanks in no small part to the wonder that is You Tube, DoitYourself.com, DIY Chatroom forums, and its assembled cast of shelf-fitters from Sunderland, wheel changers from Wyoming and Uttoxeian u-bend cleaners. I now confidently approach the vast majority of jobs safe in the knowledge that I stand a better-than-average chance of not making things even worse.
I’ll never be my Dad so my advice here is not practical but rather psychological and intended for anyone – like me - who still really needs a big Red ‘L’ signs on their toolbox. Specifically it relates to your ability to recognise that critical moment, mid-job, when things are about to go badly, badly wrong and to stop, exhale and walk away.
This is far easier said than done. In the white heat of the DIY battle, swear-words cascading out of you as fate conspires to thwart you at every turn, it’s far too easy to slip into the ‘destruction zone’, a strange parallel universe where regardless of the impending carnage you simply won’t allow yourself to stop, you’ve come too far already.
Destruction zone behaviour might look like:
· Forcing the drill bit harder and harder into the unyielding wall even as sparks fly and acrid smoke starts to emerge
· Realising at Step 8 out of 20 in the construction of your IKEA BESTA tv-bench that you have almost certainly got one of the internal wood divides the wrong way round....but then pushing on regardless.
· Lying, tired, exhausted and cramped underneath the bath, plumbing spanner locked onto the offending leaky joint, you find yourself suddenly unable be 100% sure of which way is clockwise.........
So train yourself to recognise these moments, breath, and make a tactical withdrawal. Yes it might cost you a few hundred quid to get a professional in, but the alternative will be far more costly, both financially and from the lifetime of grief you’ll in for from your better half