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When Is It Time To Call The Professional?

For most Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home project managers, the most difficult decision is to know when to give the professionals a call to come complete a task and when to complete it yourself. The reason we like to do our own home upgrades or an addition is always a pretty internal and selfish reason. We want to save money and we want to be able to say, "I did it myself." How many times have you been to a friendly dinner party and the topic of home improvement projects come up? Ultimately, it becomes a barrage of sentences that all contain these simple statements, "I did it myself." or "We did it ourselves." I must confess that I am also guilty of this. This is why we always have the more informative conversations with people at the local hardware and supply stores. Both parties in the conversation understand the need to DIY and the communication process flows without any issues.

Have you ever had complications with a project and wished you had called someone instead of finishing it yourself? I have, here is an example:

My wife informed me that the dishwasher was broken, I answered her by saying, "Let me have a look at it before you call anyone, okay?" She would humor me and let me look at something I have no idea, other than the basic theory of operation, how it works! I want to be the hero in my mind, the all knowing of my own kingdom. I don't want to let someone else come into my own kingdom and fix something! However, eventually the dishes would pile up waiting for the washer to be fixed and I would be letting a few informal adjectives slip out of my mouth as I looked for tools, only because I didn't know how to fix it, let alone, find the problem. My wife, the good woman that she is, would then politely call, after a period of pre-calculated time on her part, a repair man and schedule to have the washer fixed. She would then inform me at a later time that day of the future repair schedule for the appliance. Timing is everything in that situation isn't it? Now back to my original statement, "the most difficult decision is to know when to give the professionals a call." Well the answer is simple, when we are over our head and out of our league in a project. The definition of the previous sentence is a difficult trial in our own mind set along side our egos for the DIY home project managers. My wife, in the example, followed the definition to that sentence and didn't realize it. As you read the rest of this article, place yourself in your own project and ask yourself the questions in each of these steps.

The first step is to remove your self from the project and evaluate it from an outside prospective. This must be done. If you have trouble accomplishing this, ask yourself how your spouse or good friend would view this project. What is the real objective? In the example, my wife just wanted the dishes to be washed in the dishwasher. My objective was to fix the dishwasher to be able to handle the loads of dishes. The difference is that she had the true objective, to wash the dishes in the dish washer. My objective was to fix the appliance. So you see that removing yourself from the project and evaluating the situation, can help you define the true objective. In addition, make sure that the project will not void or compromise any existing warranties. Do you have a clear objective of the project looking at it from an outside prospective?

The second step is to know your own ability. Do you have a history with the type of project you are working on? If not, did you do your research and homework prior to executing the project physically? How much of the project do you really know? In the example, my wife who already placed herself in step one by default, clearly saw that I did not have a past history or that I did not do any type of research prior to physically executing the project. She knew I was flying blind, armed with only theories of operation so that I could sound intelligent when talking about the project. Recognizing this, she allowed me time to do the research, and saw that my direction was not headed towards the desired results. She saw that I did not have the skill to fix the appliance. Do you have the ability to plan and/or understand fully the project execution and the steps order to complete the project correctly?

The third step is to know if you have the correct tools. If you did do your research and you do know how to properly execute a project, evaluate if you have the proper tools. Do not take short cuts and use tools in a different manner than they were designed for. Make sure that if you do purchase new tools, that you completely understand how to use them. Along this same line, if the project requires a certification of inspection, this also falls in the same category as a tool needed to complete the project. In the example, I did not have all the tools needed to even troubleshoot the problem, which led to a majority of my frustration and creative use of adjectives. Do you have the correct tools or can you get them?

The fourth step is to evaluate a proper time frame to compete the project. Establish a time frame that is realistic. Allow yourself error and determine how much slack time you can afford before the project becomes a burden to the household. In the example, my wife knew that those dishes would have to be done soon. We were washing them in the sink temporarily, but that's not why we purchased a five hundred dollar dishwasher. The money was spent as an investment in the utility of the appliance and not to become a project. Keeping this in mind, she had something inside her that said this project needs to be completed now. What determined that? I do not know, but the time was set and the phone call was made. Is the project going to be completed on time or is the project avoiding becoming "the burden?"

If you answered "no" to any of these questions in the four steps, you need to call a professional to help you finish your project as my wife did. By the way, in the example, the problem our dishwasher had was that a ball check-valve was stuck and prevented it from physically shifting into the drain cycle. Would you have been able to determine that? I thought it was an electrical issue in the controller.

Robert Kempe has 15+ years in industrial construction and industrial engineered manufacturing procedures as a project manager and a part time home inspector. Through his experience he has been able to simplify and make sense of home building and designing in what looks to be a complete chaotic project and decision making process. His articles will guide you through the most difficult decisions and make it a positive uplifting experience. If you find this information useful you should visit the site you will find lots of interesting articles related to this topic provided by Robert Kempe.

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