DIY: Is doing it yourself really all that smart?

Do It Yourself! Great idea! NOT!

A large part of the American way of thinking is that pioneering attitude of doing it yourself. The famed "DIY" acronym stands for the loner who doesn't want to pay someone else to do work they can do for themselves.

Really, the DIY attitude comes from the not too old pioneers who HAD to do it on their own because there was nobody else around who could do all that work for them. When you live far away from towns or cities or live in areas that are just developing, you don't have a choice. As a pioneer you had to plant your garden, have chickens, tend a herd of cattle, have some sheep to make wool, maybe some pigs for meat as well. You had to build your own house, barns, keep what tools you had sharp and ready for use, plow your own rows, bake your own bread, and the list goes on and on. But, as a pioneer that is all you had to do. You didn't have a job, or schools, or churches, or non-profits, or the stock market to distract you. You had all day to just work and feed yourself. Your life was what you made of it, literally.

We are not far removed today from that lifestyle. My grandparents lived in Alaska and they were both pioneering folks more or less. They both had jobs, one was a dedicated school teacher, the other was a radio operator for the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), but they built their own house, tended their own garden, had horses, which meant a barn, hay, feed, etc to organize throughout the cold Alaska winters. My other grandparents were also basically on their own. Farming by themselves, and my Grandmother grew up on a farm just 1 generation old. So naturally, my father and mother both are by nature DIYers. Do it yourself! The pride of the American pioneer spirit.

There is a lot of value in that. There is a lot of satisfaction for creating something on your own. Someone once said something like, "Man is happiest when he can grow his own garden, cultivate his own livestock, and eat it."

But, today, it isn't really necessary to do it all yourself. In fact, the economy is dependent on people not doing anything for themselves.

I have been cleaning out my father's shed. The place he kept all of his DIY project 'stuff'. Last year I had to clean out my grandparent's house, garage, barn, and the rest of the property. These are all full of old tools which lay in the same spot they last pitched them the last time they used them. Nothing could have ever been tossed, because you may need it again sometime.

So what you get is a shed of dirty, musty, insect infested, disorganized, and rusty old tools that have accumulated over a lifetime, but became too tired and sick to take care of it. So it just sits and gathers dust.

What do you get when you do everything yourself?

You buy tools, lawn mowers, trimmers, tillers, chainsaws, oil, paint brushes, paint, paint thinner, ladders, stools, all kinds of nails, screws, hooks, shelves, and an entire building to put it all in plus all the stuff you need to service it.

The truth is, the tools make the difference for a DIYer. Even the tools require maintenance. The whole operation requires time, thought, energy, and work. Even when you think you have all of the stuff required, you still have to go to the store to get something that you need to do just one little thing to make a project right.

What if you didn't have any of that?

What if you didn't need a building full of all of this stuff to have the same thing in your life. In a civilized society that is what can be done. Yes, you have to pay someone else to do that work, but really, in the end it may save you.

Today, it seems everyone is having their yard looking good and lawn mowed by a landscaping company. Just think of what that saves you. You don't have to have a lawn mower, weed eater, hedge trimmer, lawn blower, all of the gas cans, oil cans, battery chargers, fertilizer, and other sundries that cost you money and time.

I won't even talk about painting and fix its you have to have the tools to do.

Hire a professional to do it all in a fraction of the time, does it better, and is happy to have the work instead of messing with all that stuff every single week.

Yes it may cost more, but you can use that time to do things that make you more money and you don't build a mausoleum of dead tools and saved crap for the next time. Plus it will be done right.

I think one thing people could offer is a gardening service. In other words, the service would sit down with you and plan the foods you would like to have produced in your garden, they would plant and maintain the garden, and you could pick on your own or even have them pick it for you. They have all of the seeds, the fertilizer, the tools, the know how and the time to do it right and provide you with fresh produce from your own garden, without the hassle of doing all of that work yourself. Once the garden is "in" then they probably would only need 30 minutes a week to weed and keep up the garden. Heck, you could even have them "put it up" for you, meaning, canning or freezing it for you.

I wrote a post about having the right tools and how you can tell professionals by the tools they use. When you are a DIYer, you are always also looking to buy the cheapest tools. The tools that can get that job done. So, you get junk that tears up in a couple of months, but you may want to fix it so you keep it around for years, along with all of the other dead weight tools you have spent good money on. When you hire professionals, they do it with the best tools, they do it well and fast because that IS all they do, and you just oversee it.

If you want to get work done efficiently you can't do it all yourself.

When I look at my Dad, he grew up on that farm where everything was done by themselves. He likes having a tractor to ride, even if it is a riding lawn mower, he likes having the tools, and doing the work of the garden. He enjoys finding ways to rig things. He was always in a hurry, worked hard, did a sloppy unprofessional job, and was proud of it. "It'll do."

In Germany they have Zunft's. These are a group of Masters, Meistern, who practice different trades. The cobbler, the blacksmith, the candlemaker, the carpenter, the banker, the tailor, the shoemaker, and so on. These are trades that people work in for life, offering apprenticeships to young people, and are certified masters of their trades. For businesses and for private people, all of these create jobs and provide services to everyone on the basis of trading money for skills. It is the basis for a local economy.

The best looking lawns are professionally kept. The cleanest houses, have maids. The best running cars are professionally maintained. The list goes on and on.

Stop creating needless work for yourself. What takes me 3 hours to mow, a professional can get it done in an hour and it will look better.