Infuriatingly vague assembly instructions enough to give anyone headache
Put tab (A) into Slot (B). Then use the (C) screws to fasten the top to (D) the body.
Sound familiar? Those are instructions for a do-it-yourself assembly item – the confounding directions that come with a thing you purchase unassembled.
If you’re anything like me, you take all the parts out of the box and then begin putting them together until you get to step 8 and have to resort to actually reading the instructions. That’s where you find that you’ve done everything incorrectly, and have to disassemble what you’ve put together and start all over. This is particularly troublesome if glue is involved.
As you peruse the assembly directions, you realize that the person who wrote them doesn’t count English as his or her first language. They often come from China where someone who doesn’t know anything about self-assembly – not to mention American English – wrote them. Someone else with poor language skills then “translated” the instructions into English, thus explaining why they make no sense to any of us.
I haven’t even addressed the frequent problem of missing parts. When you open the box, it’s best to take an inventory of supplied parts. Then if there are some missing, you can at least take the item back to the store for a replacement. It’s much worse if you’ve already begun assembly and have to dismantle what you’ve just done.
Of course, “real men” don’t read instructions – or stop to ask directions. I don’t know why that is, but I’m like that, and you must know someone with similar traits. Maybe you’re married to one.
I have only basic skills in mechanics, learning what I know from my father, a plumber. He was a master craftsman, and his carpentry and plumbing skills were outstanding. Even though my abilities are suspect in contrast with my dad, I’ve been able to take care of minor things around the house.
But something strange always happens when I do. The job generally takes two to three times as long as I anticipated, and always involves complications. I lose patience and begin a griping session. On top of that, sometimes I don’t have the right tool for the job, making the whole experience a royal pain. At that point, I say I shouldn’t have begun the project, or I should have called a professional to do it.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Not long ago, I spotted an article that said one in three people are like me – they regret ever starting a do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement project.
An outfit called Zillow Digs says that in the past three years, three-quarters of homeowners completed a DIY project, but nearly 40 percent of them wish they hadn’t. More than half of these “regreters” had tried their luck at adding or expanding a room. Remorse is understandable in those cases – I suspect the job was way beyond the capabilities of many of these would-be construction gurus.
Zillow says 80 percent of the people it surveyed had no regrets tackling such things as replacing a light fixture or cabinet hardware. You and I probably agree we fit into that category.
Budgets can be an issue. Zillow also says among those who tackled large jobs to “save money,” about a quarter of them actually went over budget. DIYers did better with smaller projects like painting and replacing plumbing fixtures. Zillow says getting a professional involved in larger projects can eliminate headaches and costly mistakes.
Here’s a brief look at what Zillow found. The first number is the percentage of people who regret doing the project, and the second number is the percentage who went over budget.
Refinishing cabinetry in kitchen or bath: 49 percent and 20 percent; refinishing basement: 48 percent and 23 percent; installing or replacing carpeting or hardwood floors: 43 percent and 23 percent; retiling a floor or shower: 37 percent and 13 percent; building or installing a deck: 35 percent and 22 percent; and reinstalling new countertops: 33 percent and 12 percent.
The DIYer faces an interesting problem: his ego. He likes to make people think he can do anything successfully, but he’s also loathe to admit he needs professional assistance. So often, he forges ahead without proper preparation or talent and experience and ultimately pays a price. This comes despite plenty of videos that explain how to handle the project. “Real men” don’t watch videos.
I’ve arrived at the stage of life where anything complex – including installing a new HDTV set or computer – requires professional assistance. Not only am I confident that a professional will do the job right, I don’t mind paying for that service. Besides, it makes me feel as if I’m doing my part to improve the employment picture.
We’ve come up with a few projects at home that need attention, and I’ll be on the phone soon calling for help from someone who knows what he’s doing. No more DIY for me.
You may have arrived at that point as well and decided that whatever it costs, it’s fine as long as you get a professional result.
To make it likely you’ll get satisfactory work, ask a friend for a recommendation. Word of mouth testimony usually works just fine.