Dumb Stuff

I was in the construction business for a long time and I saw a lot of dumb things in my time. I tried not to do any of them myself but back when I was an apprentice I am sure I made my fair share. Mostly I saw things when we were doing renovations that other people had done either because they lacked the skills to do it right or they were trying to do it on the cheap. I am here to tell you, if you don’t know what you’re doing or you can’t afford to do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it.

A big issue is electrical work. Nobody wants to hire an expensive electrician, sure. I get that. But what’s more expensive, hiring somebody who knows what they’re doing or running the risk of maybe burning your house down? There is a lot at stake when you’re dealing with home electricity. There’s a reason those guys only do one thing – it’s complex and possibly dangerous work. You want somebody who has the proper tools and gear, the training to do the work, the experience to have done it before, and the knowledge of whatever building codes you’ll need to be following. I heard of a guy who electrocuted himself on a metal scaffolding recently – it is real unfortunate that he died, but it does serve as a serious reminder not to be messing with electricity without knowing exactly what the heck you need to be doing.

There are a few plumbing jobs that people can do if they’re comfortable with tools. However, plumbing is another thing often requiring an expert. I knew a guy who tried installing his own fridge with a water filter. The water connection leaked under the fridge for weeks. You know how they finally figured out that’s what was happening? The floorboards rotted out and the fridge fell through into their basement. A bad plumbing job causes all kinds of problems. From leaks and water damage to mold and rot, it can really break your bank.

Of course, I’ve had guys do dumb things regardless of the skill level required on the job – accidentally welding a bucket handle to a pipe, miscutting wood and pipes, having to bend plumbing or ventilation ducts in crazy ways thanks to poorly located support beams. And every good builder has a story about somebody getting shot with a nail gun, getting stuck in wet cement, or losing a finger because they weren’t paying attention while using a saw of some kind. There’s also the welding burns from acetylene torches or from leaning on a pipe that’s been freshly welded.

Construction isn’t really the kind of job where you should be messing around. There’s too much at risk and too many ways to get hurt. What I’m saying here is if you’re doing the work on your own, know what you’re doing before you start. Don’t just take it on because you don’t think spending the money is worth it. These people cost money for a reason – they know what they’re doing! If you think you’re saving a buck by doing it yourself, think of what could happen if you do the job wrong, and how much that will cost you. That contractor suddenly starts to feel like a bargain, huh?