Sunday, 3 May 2015

Are we loosing our DIY skills?

A better question might be "do we do any DIY stuff at all?"

'Screwdriver' by Brent Thomson
under a CC license
Personally, I don't consider myself to be particularly skilled in making or fixing things. Despite that, I do enjoy attempting to fix things - at least those things that I believe I "understand" - which sometimes works great. Also I often take the opportunity to take things apart and then re-assemble them, when it comes to things that I have a duplicate of or that I'll be replacing shortly. From time-to time I also try some handiwork, such as painting, placing tiles or insulation, etc. To be honest, I'm not always successful but, as I said, I do enjoy the process. And whenever I do succeed, I end up saving some money, too.

I have the feeling, though, that the people willing to engage with such common DIY projects are getting less. I admit I haven't consulted any statistics so, maybe, that feeling of mine is wrong.

However, it is a fact that we are not given too many incentives towards DIY.

Putting aside the increasingly popular mentality of "buy-use-discard", there are other factors, too. Indeed, many devices carry warning that they are not meant to be serviced by consumers. Some rightfully so but some others not so much. Even addressing the supplier's service, however, usually leads to the device being replaced, in part or in total. For devices out of warranty, sometimes the cost of repair seems to be provocatively close to the cost of a replacement model.

Regarding the handiwork within a house things should have been different. Fixing most everyday things or starting on a new craft it is normally a few Google searches away. There are numerous sites, such as Instructables, that are making getting into DIY projects a smooth experience. One can also find simple, beginner's advice in Lifehacker. There is also a lot of motivation around. For instance, Pinterest has a huge number of pins on DIY projects. For that kind of work, the obstacles may be of a practical nature rather that the lack of knowledge or understanding. One needs to have the right tools, the right materials, the space to store and use them as well as the necessary free time. This is a very discouraging combination. And, of course, there are cases where calling in a professional clearly makes sense.

Overall, it is true that venturing in any DIY area takes an initial investment in tool/ materials (and the space to put and use them), which in some cases, may be substantial. Sometimes, it also involves a steep learning curve that may, initially, frighten people. It normally involves some reading and lot's of trial and error. Having somebody to help you at the first steps is really great but I suspect it 's not the norm.

It is important to keep in mind that DIY as an approach doesn't concern just the complicated stuff. Simple things, such as fixing a wire channel across the living room wall or painting the plant pots a different colour also qualify as DIY projects.

The bright side of DIY is that in the long run it pays off. That and the fact that it leaves a feeling of satisfaction, even if the outcome is not, well, fully successful!

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