Ask the Builder: Take the Leap into DIY | Home and outdoor

In this column, I want to inspire you as dark financial storm clouds form on the horizon. Over the past few months, we’ve all been alarmed by the sharp rise in prices for food, gasoline, and, well, everything. This, of course, includes construction materials and prices charged by contractors, if you can even get them to bid on your work.

It’s a perfect transition with Zoe.

Zoe is a young woman who lives in rural New Mexico. Over a year ago, she decided to build her own house, but couldn’t find local plumbers to give her the time of day. She discovered me while searching YouTube and found that I had been a master plumber since 1981.

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She also discovered, to her surprise, that I made coaching phone calls and also drew plumbing risers and isometric drawings. You need these drawings almost everywhere to get a plumbing permit. She had me draw hers, then ordered a phone call. Within a month, she and I were on the phone twice more.

Zoe texted me one day, “Tim, I just did my rough inspection. Passed with flying colors. The inspector said it was the best DIY job he had seen in 30 years. Thanks.”

Suffice it to say, Zoe was thrilled and went on to finish all the plumbing in the house with my help, saving her probably $20,000.

Last fall, Angel contacted me. It was a similar story. She lives in upstate New York and couldn’t get local contractors to give her quotes for building a large skylight. She wanted to turn an unused attic into a playroom for her children.

The purpose of the first call was for me to interview her to see if I felt she had the mental and physical skills to tackle a project like this. I determined that she absolutely could do it.

I then asked him to email me all his questions, and we made two more phone calls to answer them. After those calls, Angel had everything she needed to get started. I estimate she will save about $35,000 doing this skylight on her own. I reminded him that elephants are best eaten one bite at a time.

A week later, Greg contacted me. Greg lives about an hour from me, and five years ago he hired me to come and see his failing roof. Greg said: ‘You should find a way to record and transcribe calls so people don’t have to take notes. Some people need to read what you say, not listen to complex instructions.

Within days, I had discovered a way to make very accurate transcriptions of recorded calls. I could instantly see how it could help you save a lot of money and reduce your anxiety.

Last week, I had a fascinating call with Jean in Spokane, Washington. She had a bunch of projects to do and needed help sorting them out. She wanted to know which projects were most important and which needed to be done first, as she had to budget for things to be done over a period of years. Money was a major concern for her, as it was for just about everyone, including me!

In less than 30 minutes, I was able to give her all the advice she needed to save at least $10,000. I told her about the easy fixes that she and her husband could solve on their own and the ones that would require expert help. I offered to talk to them about learning how to tackle some of the repairs themselves. I suggested brands and shopping sources for some of the items they would need. I also offered videos and articles on my site, AsktheBuilder.comit might help them.

Jean wrote to me the next day: “All I can say is WOW. Sharing your expert knowledge with you in such an accessible way was fantastic. My one call with you covered a multitude of projects. We’ve only owned our house for a little over a year and needed to prioritize which projects to take on first.

“You helped me organize and prioritize every repair… In today’s expensive world, your advice is simply invaluable. We will keep you in our contact list forever.

This is the new reality in the age of inflation. If you want to get your home done on time and within a budget, you may have to do it yourself. It may sound daunting, but with the right guidance, you can rise to the challenge!

If you need to eat an elephant at home, maybe I can help you set the table. I would love to help you save a ton of money and get things done at home. It would make me smile to receive a text from you similar to the one Zoe sent. Don’t underestimate what you can do, for God’s sake!

If you want me to coach you over the phone, go here to set up the call:

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