Daryl and Patty
When learning about home improvement and home ownership, we tend to forget the most commonly found sources of information. For the first of the home improvement interview series, I felt I should look to my own original source of information, my parents. They have always been in the middle of one home improvement project or another and I’ve always been amazed at what they are capable of.
Why did you start doing your own home improvement?
D: It’s fun! And it’s a lot cheaper.
P: Um, we’re cheap
How did you learn your skills?
D: My dad taught me but also trial and error. I still use books sometimes though and I probably have one about electrical that’s one of the first ones I learned from.
P: We’ve always used home improvement books for simple projects.
D: I still make mistakes though too. In the new bathroom recently, I tried to save money and use the thinner copper pipe but I found after I installed it that the pipe wouldn’t hold up. Never buy the cheap copper pipe!
P: There are times that you can get away with cheaper product though. We chose a less expensive tile for the bathroom that looked just a little different. The pipe thing was a problem though…
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What was your first solo home improvement project?
D: I was doing stuff with my dad from before I can even remember. I guess if you want my first solo project, it would probably be installing the new wood stove in our mobile home.
P: Not a great first project. If you mess that up, you burn down and die! My first project was wallpapering the bathroom in our mobile home. I’m pretty sure it was forest green with geese on the border. Not in style now but I was so proud of it then.
What is your favorite project ever?
D: My favorite project ever was building the front porch at the house on 4th Ave in Nebraska. It’s my favorite because your little sister helped me build it and I’ve got some great memories from it. That was when we really began to love the Irwins (Irwin clamps, a family favorite tool)
P: You remember when the dog fell in the footing hole? He was such a small puppy then. It’s hard to believe now because he’s so huge! I love learning from the failures too. I tried to tile a backsplash in our first house and the whole thing was crooked and imperfect. I also love demo…cracked right through the living room wall once right after your dad told me not to hit too hard.
What is your top tip for homeowners?
D: It’s always going to cost you 10 times more than you thought and it’s always going to take you 10 times longer. Also, you’ll need to go to the hardware store about a million times for each project. You can’t get everything; it’s just not possible. Oh, and there’s always a solution, you just have to give yourself time to think of it.
P: Don’t be afraid to try home improvement. Start small. Oh, but don’t be stupid either. You should know what you’re capable of.
What is the best project for someone just starting out?
D: Work on something that you can learn a lot without damaging your actual house. Start with something like a shed for instance. Do something that you can learn how things are structured, maybe some plumbing or electrical work. You didn’t run electrical on your shed yet…
P: I would start by doing some decorative stuff. Painting, wallpaper, and trim for example. You can’t damage too much and it’s a lot of fun.
What do you love most about your most recent project?
D: I love the way it looks and how it’s different than anything I’ve ever seen before.
P: I really like the design of it.
What inspiration did you use for the fence?
D; I had my dogs for inspiration. I needed to make the yard safe in order to keep them inside. For the design, I also had to modify it to use some of the lumber we had on hand which makes it more unique.
P: We did a lot of driving around and looking at the other fences in town. There was a bunch of looking online and on the internet so that we could see all of the possibilities. From there, we sort of came up with our own design.
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What is your next project?
D: Well, I haven’t been told yet. Probably mom’s herb garden though. Or a custom cover for my boat. Something that is really sturdy and pretty, like the pergola out back.
P: I think I can do the herb garden myself…
This first installment in the home improvement interview series will be only the foundation that we base this series on. We will be discussing homes with people from all sides of the industry, from contractors and mortgage brokers to realtors and homeowners doing their own DIY projects.