Sorry everyone, I’m just way too happy now to post anything even remotely negative. Instead, allow me to regale you with home improvement tales.
Holy cow, I just passed my plumbing inspection and I couldn’t be happier. Besides replacing a toilet and some very basic repairs, I had never really plumbed anything before. Now, on the first try, with the toughest inspector in town, my work to plumb our addition has been officially approved. Wooo! (and phew!)
However, the point of this post isn’t to toot my own horn, but to encourage you to follow in my footsteps. Allow me to explain what happened. Then, I’ll convince you to do your next home improvement yourself too.
Mr. Tough Inspector Pays a Visit
We have several building inspectors in town. The head inspector (I’ll call him Gerry) is known for being strict. He is feared. I knew firsthand from an inspection last year. As a result, I admit to trying to game the system so that I get a friendlier inspector.
This morning, I shuddered a bit when I saw the village truck pull up. Instead of my friendly inspector, Gerry was behind the wheel. Oh no. 30 seconds into the inspection, he pointed out that my pipe slope was wrong and I’d have to tear it all out. My heart fell through the floor. Hours of labor devoted to a drain was now down the drain. However, it turns out he was looking at the pipe from the wrong direction. It was OK. I stepped away from the ledge.
He continued to quiz me on how I had tested both the supply and waste lines. I had done all of this and was able to explain the testing to his satisfaction. He then announced that I had passed and work could continue. Happy, happy, day.
Let me back up a minute and tell you how I got to this point.
Amateur Adventures in Plumbing
We’re adding on to our home. We’ll have 2 additional bathrooms when the dust settles, so a big part of the job is plumbing. I called a recommended plumbing company for an estimate and it would have cost between $4,000 and $5,000 dollars. Ugggh.
I then hit up the local library for a bunch of books on plumbing. I checked out the 5 best I could find and then substituted my nightly hour of pleasure reading with studying PEX, PVC and vent lines. I also must tip my hat to Mr. Money Mustache for his informative and encouraging post on PEX (supply line plumbing).
Over the next 4 weeks, I plumbed my 2 new bathrooms and also a washing machine. Was it easy? No. Some parts of the job were challenging. I had to chip away concrete so that my waste lines would have the proper slope. I had to figure out how to get pipes wedged into tight spaces. I spent many, many hours crawling around the nasty crawlspace.
Was it worth it? Completely. I now have thousands of dollars in my pocket that I would not have had if I hired someone. I also have a skill that I can apply over and over again. If a friend has a plumbing issue, I’ll be the first one to raise my hand (wrench?) and offer assistance.
What is the worst that could happen?
When I talk to others about my home improvement exploits, they usually look at me in awe: “Oh, you are so brave.” or “I could never do that.” or “I would never try that.” However, the only difference between them and me is some library books and a willingness to try. Really, it’s not that hard. I do all kinds of stuff: electricity, drywall, tiling and I’ve never failed. Also, I didn’t know how to do any of this 10 years go. Perhaps my first drywall job wasn’t the smoothest, but it wasn’t horrible either. Here are my tips:
- Hit up the library. There is a wealth of information waiting for you.
- Free classes at Home Depot: I was at my local HD just last Saturday when I noticed they were conducting a class on trim carpentry. Turns out, Home Depot offers a different class every week. Check this link for more information.
- YouTube: I don’t think YouTube has ever failed me. Here is a video on PEX clamp connections. Anything you could ever want to know is on YouTube.
- Google it: I had a lot of minor issues and questions. Google never failed me.
- Don’t be afraid: I know a lot of smart people read this blog. Trust me; gluing PVC together is a lot easier than doing taxes or writing code.
- Take your time: This is key. The first time you try a task, it may take you 4x as long as a pro. Don’t sweat it. No one remembers a job done fast; they remember a job done well.
- Be careful: Wear safety glasses and ear protection. Turn circuits off. Don’t cut your fingertip off with a table-saw.
What is the worst that can happen? If you fail (you won’t), you can just hire a professional at that time. You’ll be set back a couple weeks. No big deal.
What’s is the best that can happen? You’ll complete your job successfully. You’ll stare at your accomplishment with a beer in one hand, a huge smile on your face and a huge sense of gratification. You’ll have gained enough confidence to repeat the task and try others. You’ll save lots of money. You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.
Life is good
Despite all of my big talk, I still get a bit nervous doing some of this stuff for the first time. It’s natural. Use your fear positively. Fear makes you more careful and try that much more to get it right.
You may be a bit scared too fitting your first pipe or laying your first tile, but forge ahead! You can do it, I know you can.
OK, enough blabbing. Drywall goes in on Monday and I have a swell trip to California in 2 weeks. Lots more to do!
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