Some of you are naturally hardwired to excel at do-it-yourself home improvement projects. You revel in the chaos that is tearing up carpet, building a shed or knocking down a wall to achieve that coveted “open concept” layout.
But for those of us who dread a weekend full of paint and mishap, the answer to our stress might be that we are trying too hard to prepare.
We’ve watched several different tutorials — all of which claim this project (any project) is very straightforward if you just follow these five easy steps — and we’ve made our detailed supply list. We’re going to gather what we need and then we’ll mount that flatscreen TV or install that new tap without incident.
Last Autumn, my husband and I had a new fence installed in the backyard. It’s white cedar and the wood has dried out enough since it was installed that it’s time for us to stain and seal it before the weather starts to take its toll. The thing is, we really don’t want to do it.
The reason we are about to become frustrated is because we are not living by my father’s Golden Rule of Home Improvements:
Trip 1: Getting ready
You go in with your basic list. Tools or paint or hardware or whatever you know you’ll need to get started. Maybe at this point, you’re still debating on finishes or you have a couple of technical questions for the professionals. This is the trip where you hammer out (heh) those details.
If you forget something, no biggie. In fact, if you just realised the last thing on your list is waaaaay on the other side of the store, just leave it. You’ll be back soon enough.
Trip 2: I didn’t see THAT coming
Your next trip comes approximately halfway through your project when you hit some unexpected snafu that you couldn’t possibly have predicted. The “standard” tap base is inexplicably huge compared to the hole you’re working with. Ohhhh, look, there’s hidden water damage! Wait, how could you have run out of washers, of all things?
Back to the store you go, slightly frustrated and sweaty, to get your new list of supplies (plus the thing you forgot to get during Trip 1, so it’s FINE because you had to go back anyway).
Trip 3: Remind me why I thought this was a good idea?
Trip 3 is, by far, the most annoying of all DIY hardware store trips because this is the one you really didn’t see coming.
You were sure you got everything you needed during the last trip — you even got stuff in multiple brands and sizes, just in case. But then some damn little piece broke and of course it’s a vital little piece and without that little piece, this whole thing is a wasted effort.
You’d love to send your partner to the store while you chug a quick beer and/or meditate, but they have no idea what you mean when you make weird hand gestures and say things like “the screw with the really wide base in the bin near the bottom/middle of the aisle directly to the left of the bathroom section!”
So back you go for that one last little piece. By now, your hair is all dishevelled and you’re running into the same store employees from the previous two trips and they’re looking at you with love in their eyes and pity in their hearts.
“Still having trouble?” they ask, and you yell a little about the damn broken thing and they nod sombrely. They’ve seen this story play out a million times before.
The good news is, you’ve made it! Your project is complete even if your sanity is slightly out of whack. But if you can remember this for next time, if your new mantra is “Every DIY Project Will Require Three Trips to the Hardware Store”, you will become adept at tackling home improvement projects with confidence and fortitude.