Beware the Cult of Do-It Yourself

How punchable are these knobs? (Very)

(Appeared in the MX on Nov 29)

Last week I had a spare VIP ticket to a comedy night. Included were food and drinks, and on the bill were some of Australia’s best acts. I ended up going alone. It was short notice, and most of my friends had a good reason for being unavailable, but from three of my friends I heard the most horrendous excuse. Ever.

They couldn’t go out, because they had to be up early on Saturday morning to get supplies at the local hardware barn, in preparation for a weekend of renovating. Upon hearing this sentence, I wished I had the ability to projectile vomit down the phone and have it splash all over their faces.

Since when was renovating something you ‘had’ to do? Instead of fun? Renovating is something you can employ others to do, because it’s work. You can’t employ someone to spend a week on the Gold Coast, go to a music festival, or drive home from the races in a stolen golf cart.

Renovators argue that they save money by doing it themselves. For work most people earn an hourly rate. The hours that I’d waste doing something it’d take a trained someone to do in about a quarter of the time would amount to tens of thousands of dollars in lost leisure time.

Investing in the future is another big reason. It’s the same reason many use for putting off holidays and adventures. Talk to anyone who’s retired and wasted a lifetime on this strategy. They regret it nearly as much as that first marriage before they were thirty.

Then there’s nesting. Male birds often build intricate nests that include blue bits, borrowed bits and shiny bits. All to attract a female. Very similar to what some human females need before they’ll walk down the aisle.

Like nest builders, many renovators waste their lives continually adding and improving. Putting in a playground when there’s one around the corner, the dining room that’s used once a year, a pool when 99% of Australians live less than five minutes from a public pool or the beach.

The time spent adding all this always exceeds the time you spend actually using any of it, and the cost seldom improves the resale value of the property by the same amount. Did you see ‘The Renovators’? Those houses were on TV and most still didn’t break even.

Instead of renovating, you’re better off investing in signed Ricky Ponting tops, playing the pokies, or burying your money in the sand. It’ll at least give those idiots with metal detectors some joy.

Anyone who discusses a home project is another level of excruciating. Hearing about a holiday is boring, unless there was an injury, robbery, or natural disaster, because you weren’t there. Most people involved in renovations don’t even want to be there, so image how horrible it is to hear about them? Unless someone cuts off the water or electricity to an entire suburb, or a limb.

Each one of my three renovating friends called me over the weekend to ask how the night went. ‘Amazing,’ I said.

Each one replied with, ‘I really miss having nights out like that.’

Of course they do. Losers.