The Myth of the Inept Guy
I just saw an Allstate Insurance commercial that opens with a couple staring at a wet hole in the ceiling. The man says: “It’s just a burst pipe. I can fix that.” The women laughs derisively and says: “No, you can’t.”
Similar scenes are played over and over on TV and in the movies and they really annoy me.
Sure, I know a couple guys who rely entirely on expensive professionals for all their home repairs and improvements. But I know scores of guys who do some pretty darn impressive things at home. Building decks, replacing car engines, I even know a guy who built and flies his own airplane!
Unless you are paid a huge hourly rate, and your home project will cut into your day-job time, you should consider home repairs. It was even a Boy Scout merit badge (Home Repairs).
My list of skilled men I admire starts with my father who had a white-collar job his entire life (after WW II infantry duty) but was an excellent: welder, electrician, plumber, roofer, auto mechanic, carpenter, bricklayer, framer, painter, and on and on. His opinion on home repairs and improvement was: “The toughest part of a home repair job is getting up the guts to try it.”
My wife’s uncle shared this bit of home improvement wisdom. “If you try a home project and screw it up so bad that you have to rip everything out and start over again, you’ll still be financially ahead of hiring someone to do it for you.”
Home improvement is not without its risks. You could lose a finger or eye – or even die. But the rewards can be incredible. Just the satisfaction of saving money can feel great.
Take, for example, replacing a light switch or electrical outlet that is loose and won’t hold a plug. The job might cost $5. A cheap electrician might charge $50 for the same job.
But, it’s not all about the money. The skills developed over the years are a treasure. The pride and joy when receiving a compliment from your spouse or friends is terrific. And when you do hire a professional, you are often doing it because you choose to, not because you have to. It’s kind of like a man’s equivalent of a spa day.
Most home jobs will require tools you might not have. My father advised strongly against borrowing tools and instead buying your own. “You’ll borrow someone’s old worn out tool and when you break it you have to buy a brand new tool and give it to the guy who loaned you the old tool.”
Better to buy the needed tool. Often the savings from not hiring a professional will pay for the tool after the first repair. Other times it might take a while. Over the years you’ll find you need to buy fewer and fewer tools as more and more jobs fall within your abilities.
During a job interview a couple decades ago, my future boss told me not to measure my self-worth from the job he was about to offer me. He said things can change too quickly, and then you will be lost, undefined. He suggested I take up a hobby or craft, something under my control from which I could obtain self-worth.
I think he was onto something. Diversify your skills and interests and you’ll always have a place to land.