April 12, 2008

not-so-master craftsman

Ever since I was about four, I have had this fascination with the idea of "doing it yourself." As soon as I could read, I was picking up Dad's Reader's Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual and discovering what a "sump pump" was, what the most common dimensions were for dimensional lumber, and reading the step-by-step plans for building everything from a deck to a racecar bed. As a result, my first instinct is to do it myself. The frugal part of me thinks that by affording no outlay of capital for labor expenses, I can end up ahead.

So, last week when Lydia's side of the closet fell down, my "yourself" kicked into gear. Insipired by Jason's long-term projects, I even installed SketchUp and attempted to draft a concept for a built-in replacement closet for Lydia, designed exactly to match the clothes she wanted to put there and last until the house comes down. I was all ready to go with this plan until this morning.

I woke up at 4:30 as usual, but incredibly, Adam was still asleep, so I hopped on to the Lowe's site to start my shopping list for the day. I had even planned out how I was going to ask them to cut the plywood so I could fit it into the trunk of the car. And then, "just for inspiration," I thought, I checked out the Home Organization section.

Well, it turns out that the fine folks at ClosetMaid have come up with a few shortcuts for rebuilding your collapsed closet. To make a quickly-becoming-arduous story short, when Adam woke up about 5:30, we had a bottle and diaper changed, and then the two of us went to pick out what is now in our closet. (Side note: if you bring an almost-eleven week-old to Lowes at six in the morning saying, "we're going to fix up mommy's closet," you get an extremely high "awwwwwwwwww" response.)

I bet at this point in the story, Jason is screaming at his computer Mac, "you sellout! have you no integrity!? you even learned a level of CAD to do this!"

In any do-it-yourself project, you have several factors going...
  • money
  • quality
  • pride
  • time
I'm sure there are more. Here's my take on how plan A (hardcore build it yourself) stacked up against plan B (what I ended up doing.)

Plan APlan B
moneyAlthough the material cost for Plan A was less than plan B, I didn't have the right tools to get the job done. One of the reasons that anything is manufactured in a factory is economy of effort - they have the tools to get the job done and the materials to do it with.
qualityI think I had a good plan for the closet on my own, but it was untested. And, as stated before, the tools I had at my disposal may not have made it the quality that I would have hoped for.I'm very pleased with the result, and while the workmanship of the product may not have the quality desired, the usefulness of the end result is high quality.
prideHad I done plan A, I'm sure the pride factor would have been humongous... as long as everything worked out.Doing it this way still gives me pride in the accomplishment, if not the product.
timeThere's no way I would have been able to measure, cut, sand, paint, fit, attach, test, finish and refill the closet in a day.I was done with construction at 9:45 this morning, and when the touch-up paint finished drying at 11:00 a.m., it was ready to move in.

The navel-gazing takeaway of the whole experience is that as of ten weeks and six days ago, my hierarchy of needs has shifted. The last item on the list was the trump card, having the chance to spend 80% of my day being available for Lydia and Adam instead of measuring twice and cutting once.
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Anonymous said...

Way to go Patrick!! Good thinking!!



Anonymous said...

You sellout! You have no integrity!