I am not a very handy person when it comes to most mechanical problems I face around the house; much to Joan’s chagrin. Of course, I make up for this deficiency with my charm and rapier style wit. I can fix a broken toilet, replace gaskets on a faucet, handle simple electrical issues, but much beyond that and I am worthless.
I have turned to YouTube to learn how to tie a bow tie, but I would never consider this as a source for major issues around the home… or in other aspects of my life. I have friends that are in the trades and I have friends who are in the professional services business and both groups derive a great deal of business from do it yourselfers who messed things up.
We have all heard of the guy who tackles a task beyond his scope in home repairs only to completely foul it up to the point that a professional must come in and repair their repair in order to solve the original problem. The goal was to do it himself and save a little money; because everyone knows that plumbers make too much money.
The plumber makes a lot of money because of the vast years of experience doing a task for the thousandth time that a DIYer is attempting for the first time. The remedial work that the plumber must do is more costly than if the person started with them in the first place. I, on the other hand, know and understand my limitations. I will gladly pay a professional plumber to fix something and I have been known to hover around looking over their shoulder to see what I can learn about the process or the repair. Sure, I probably make them nervous and may possibly annoy them with my questions, but I love to learn and watch someone perform their trade so well.
I remember when I was about ten years old my dad and I were watching a stonemason build our fireplace. He told me that he could watch a bricklayer for hours. He marveled at how quickly they worked and how perfectly they assembled a wall, straight and true, with such perfection. I have never looked at a bricklayer or stone mason the same since then, and I find myself in the same position of watching with admiration a person lay bricks.
On the other end of the spectrum, in the realm of ideas, words and numbers, are the attorneys and CPAs. Although, I would find it terribly boring to watch a CPA amend a return, or a lawyer prepare a brief, I respect their knowledge of the tax code and understanding of the law. Even though I am married to an attorney and have had to file returns in the past and have prepared a complicated return in the course work of becoming a Certified Financial Professional, we engage the services of both, because I know my limitations and appreciate their expertise. There are a few reasons for this: 1) I can’t be expected to know every nuance of the tax code and how it will impact my returns. 2) I don’t want to represent myself in the event of an audit. 3) I have much better ways to spend my time. My time is valuable and the ten to fifteen hours or so that it would take me, is ten or fifteen hours that I can’t spend with the people that mean the most to me or doing the things that bring me joy.
For me, the decision to hire a professional is an economic one. I first consider my area of expertise and the learning curve required to tackle a task and how long a project may take. Then, I consider the degree of difficulty and ask if I am suited for it. After that, I consider the possible outcomes if I do it incorrectly and what would be required to fix it. Finally, I think of all the things that I could do with that time.
I know my limitations and I revere them. I am not afraid of them nor do I consider myself a failure for not being able to handle simple mechanical repairs. There are people for that, and their livelihood is dependent on my need for them. This is precisely why you may see me paddle boarding on Lake Michigan while my grass is too long.