Welcome to Defined Sight
We touch base on a variety of topics that have allowed us to continue being malleable and bend without breaking.
Some Most topics have a light level of humor, because we like to celebrate life daily.
forgetting celebrating our 15 year sexiversary, we reflected on all of our DIY and home improvement projects over the years. For some people, they might have been a deal breaker! Some were definitely “Relationship Level = Advanced” projects.
But, if you can make it through these projects in your life, it’s a good indicator you’re gonna make it as a couple.
Should you really DIY to save money? It might be at the cost of your relationship! Let’s dive into the phases of relationships and experience required…for DIY and home improvement projects…so you can weigh your options if saving money is worth risking your relationships!
Relationship Status = Honeymoon Phase DIY Projects
Oh, this is a cute phase. As a new couple, you feel you can tackle the world together! You buy a new book together on how to DIY for newbies. And read it nightly together. Even start a Pinterest board dedicated for your bathroom remodel projects.
You buy a 1970s house. And the custard yellow bathtub, toilet, sink, counter, bath tiles and blue carpet does not even deter you! Because, you are in love. And can tackle it all!
But, you don’t really have any money for these updates.
You are in debt up to your eyeballs with student loans and the bank for whatever reason, just loaned you 135K for your first house. (What were they thinking?! Oh, it’s 2008).
So, you really only replace what goes out first. And oh, they start going like dominos…not the pizza, the chain reaction…that never ends.
1st DIY Project In Honeymoon Phase = The Custard Yellow Toilet
When you start telling guests how to flush the toilet, and rush in after someone uses the bathroom to see if it all goes down, is when you need to replace the toilet.
A handy friend of yours comes over and confirms, “You have to replace the crapper…dude…it’s 40 years old.”
And so, you google all your options, “Cheapest Water Saving High Power Flushable Toilet” and start looking for it in the big box stores on the weekend. After spending 2 weeks (wasting your time searching for the perfect toilet) you finally found the one.
The best price/value is the $129.00 unit. You buy it. And all the tools needed to also accomplish your first DIY project with your partner ($$$).
You spend a whole day taking the old unit off. Because, you really have no idea what the F you are doing.
As a reminder – it’s Sunday (because you spent all day Saturday buying the one) and didn’t finish the project in one day. So you spend an entire work week going without your main bathroom toilet.
Thank goodness the former owners put a spare 1980s-ish toilet in the basement…on carpeted floors (that’s another project).
Saturday rolls around and you enlist help, “Hey Dad, can you come over?” But, dad’s DIY skills rank about as high as yours.
You did not know this.
Your dad is still your hero and can fix all your boo-boos.
Within a couple of hours, swear words, and a lot of sweat, he has the new toilet on. Yay!
But, when you sit on it, it rocks back and forth and you feel like you are going to fall off.
You are sent to the store to get shims.
But you thought it was shams, so you are really confused when the store clerk has you picking out pillow cases in the bedding department.
Realizing you could use some new pillow cases anyway, you return eventually with the shams and the shims – and oh caulking. Which, you still can’t say this word without giggling.
Finally – Installation Of The New Toilet Is Complete!
The moment dad leaves, you flush it and water starts running out the bottom. WTF – didn’t the caulk (LOL) work?!
You call real help. The mom and pop plumbers that have a solid reputation. And explain, “Yeah Hi, we thought we could install our own toilet, but clearly, we can’t…can you fix it?”
They come over, take off the unit, do some magic and now your toilet rests level so that when you flush, you don’t get wet socks. And oh yeah, take away your old unit that is still sitting in your garage because you didn’t know how to dispose of it (without a fee or fine?!) and sends you the bill ($$$).
3 months after this debacle, your champion 1980s toilet takes a dive.
You immediately dial the plumbers.
They remember you.
You don’t even bother going to the store to pick out a toilet, “Yeah, install the best one you have on hand…oh, you can be here tomorrow? I love you.”
The total price of the professional downstairs toilet + install + removal of old crapper is less than the upstairs debacle. By far.
Lesson learned: Leave plumbing to professionals if this is not in your skill set. Save time. Money. Your Sanity. And your relationship with your spouse and father.
2nd Project In DIY Honeymoon Phase: Building A Fence
If you can keep a plant alive for a year, you can get a dog. If you can keep a dog alive for a year, you can get a kid.
You have now successfully kept your peace lily plant alive for 2 years. It’s time to adopt a dog.
The best dog in the world enters your life. He likes to take off chasing cats, rabbits and small children. But, you feel like an abusive parent if he’s on a chain to go potty.
Within 1 month of adoption, you are calling every available store and person to try and get materials to build your fence in the short window of summer months.
Menards now knows you buy your first name and grimaces when you call and tries to pass your phone call on to someone else.
Eventually, you line up materials and some teachers who have side hustles as handy men in the summers. Yassss.
But, do to your crazy work schedule as a new, young manager, you have no time to oversee this project. There’s a lot to do, in a short amount of time.
You come home one day to blobs of cement drying all around your lawn.
Someone is digging holes by hand because they fear they are going to hit a line (“I’m sure they are only 3ft down, I’ll just dig 2ft by hand”).
All the red, orange, yellow and blue flags where the lines were marked are now placed by the deuce piles in your backyard because you haven’t taken the time to pickup dog poo for a week.
And your mom in law has rearranged your kitchen cabinets and is ironing your clothes.
What the what?
Instead of handling this situation, you runaway from it.
Literally. You change out of your business clothes, into gym clothes, leash up your mutt with crazy energy and go on a 6 mile run. And return hoping its all just done and over.
Sort of. It takes 2 weeks of complete chaos/weird moments to finish the fence.
Lesson learned: Make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers anyone working on your property and take a vacation to not be around it if your sanity level can’t take the chaos. At all. A vacation may cost more, but remember – a vacation is Lucky Life Lesson #13.
Relationship Status = Keep Your Spouse Busy For Hours
The most wonderful thing happened in the world, you finished your MBA! Congrats! You made it a habit to always work while going to school full-time, so you really have no idea now what to do in your free time.
Just like how the dog needed a good walk or run to not be naughty and stay out of the garbage, your spouse realizes you need to be kept occupied for hours on end as well with your new free time.
And it’s fairly easy to do. You have patience like none other for fixing things. Like the new-to-you vehicle you just bought. Apparently, the former owner drove 90 miles to/from work (yes, 180 miles) on the freeway. Every. Day.
But, a high-mile vehicle didn’t deter you from buying it since they were long miles. The paint chips from rocks flying up were a little intense. This needs to be fixed asap or rust will set in. Luckily, your spouse buys little handheld touch-up paint bottles.
You now dedicate your Saturdays to sunning in the driveway painting your car like it’s an adult coloring book. Which, is very therapeutic and de-stressing.
Neighbors take notice, “You know, dealerships would fix that for free likely if you just brought your vehicle in for an oil change because they want your business.”
But, you didn’t care. This was your nirvana.
Painting, Painting and More Painting
The shed in your backyard looks like an abandoned haunted house. You know that your house would never be able to get put on the market with that level of distress.
So, you spend more weekends, and even take time off of work! To scrape, prime and paint. But my goodness, it looks like a brand new shed after you got done with it.
Your 1970s house also has weird colored rooms. We are talking baby blue. Hunter green. And “I threw up cotton candy” pink. It has to go. Weekends (months?) are dedicated to updating the the colors in this room to gray (like the color of this blog), white and black.
Awww. So easy and relaxing on the eyes.
Your kitchen cabinets are also painted yellow. I know – who on earth would do this? You end up spending 2 weeks worth of week nights dedicated to tediously taking off each door, hardware and paint.
The Carpeted Bathrooms And Bedrooms Have To Go
Your allergies can’t take the dust any more. You are tired of scrubbing dog messes out of the carpets. And visitors put their shoes back on to use your carpeted bathroom.
You need to fix this situation.
Nightly, you work on tearing out all the carpet and pluck each staple out of the flooring. It takes you a month. But, you don’t have many friends and you gave up TV anyway.
You want wood flooring, but that takes a lot of time and tools to install you don’t have. Plus, you have a dog and hope to have kids some day. You really don’t need anything too nice right now.
So you get the next best thing: rolled vinyl flooring in a wood grain design. You’ve been watching the sales for months, and you get it for $0.97/sq.ft!
To save delivery costs, you borrow your father’s farm truck that has an extended box, drive to the store, get it loaded in the truck, take it home and have your spouse help lift it out of the box and position it in the rooms. Which, completes his level of involvement in projects as he still has not recovered from building a fence.
Measuring, cutting and rolling into place is actually pretty easy. You use all pieces and if needed, seal any spots where you had to connect pieces with some sort of glue that you found in the same color of your flooring. #Winning
Lessons Learned From The “Keep Your Spouse Busy For Hours” Phase:
Overall, you spent about $500 on paint and supplies.
You also spent $600 on rolled, vinyl flooring and accessories.
Painting and removing nasty, old carpeting is one of the cheapest DIY projects you can do in your home, with the biggest return on investment.
With these simple updates, your home now looks updated and modern.
When you decide to move, you do a little happy dance because you just flipped it for 100K more than you bought it.
The “Keep Your Spouse Busy For Hours” is now your most profitable phase and is GREAT for relationships!
Relationship Status = Let’s Throw Money At The Problem
You watched your parents unsuccessfully install their microwave above the stove. It came crashing down and broke the top of their glass stove top.
This almost caused a divorce for your parents.
So, when your microwave goes out, you pay $126 to have yours installed. Even though it cost you a little stress at the store.
After 4 years of having an unfinished lawn, your neighbor rents a backhoe and starts to excavate his yard and perform DIY landscaping. This wasn’t in his skill set. He’s still in the honeymoon phase of home ownership.
It’s debatable whether or not your sprinkler line was on the property line, or on their property. You don’t want to pay to have it fixed. After all, you didn’t dig it up.
Having your lot surveyed to see where the property line is costly and takes time.
You borrow metal detectors from a coworker and try and find the property pins. Unsuccessful.
You look at plot maps from the city. Dang it. There’s enough reason to believe your line is on his property.
Time to pay up to the tune of $2,000. You channeled the 10 Commandments, “Thou shall not kill. Thou shall love thy neighbor.” And decide to be grateful at least you didn’t incur legal fees resolving this issue between you and your neighbor.
When it rains, it pours.
And when it pours, you realize pieces of your roof look like ash soot coming out of your down spouts. Your roof is literally crumbling away and likely needed new shingles. 5 years ago.
After hearing what some people paid for a new shingles, you almost fall over. You know roofing is not in your skill set, you are not in the honeymoon phase of home ownership.
You know a guy, who knows a guy. And you find the best “off the radar” crew in the city. One day your old shingles are gone, and on day 2 awesome new shingles are on. Best $8,000 you ever spent.
Your neighbors see this, ask for the scoop and proceed to line up the same crew for their shingles and projects. This crew is now employed the rest of the summer. Whole neighborhood makeover.
Final Lessons Learned:
Throwing money at the problem has it’s advantages and disadvantages. By not completing the project yourself, you are potentially spending more money that could be used for savings, investing or other home improvement projects.
The most important part, is to have teamwork in your relationships.
However, when the project is not in your skill set, and time is of the essence, it can potentially save you a lot of stress on your relationships by paying to get it done. And, you are supporting others who also need to make a living.
Always look at situations with a positive perspective.
It’s OK to bounce between the phases, but, try not to stay in the honeymoon DIY phase for too long. Even assembling your own grill (twice) can lead to headaches, heartburn and excessive drinking for the entire completion of the project. Not advisable.
Readers: Do you have any fun DIY stories you would like to share today? Which phase are you in and what lessons have you learned?
Comment below or shoot me an email! We would love to hear from you!
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