Monday, February 28, 2011

A Credo for Do It Yourself Shows

We watch a fair amount of DIY shows (some would probably say too many), and here's the thing: there are a lot of yahoos out there that take these shows as gospel.  They don't have a clue about how to actually do anything, but they see it on TV and think they can do it too.  If for no reason other than that, it is the responsibility of all DIY shows to do it right:
  • Be a good example.  If you don't work safely and responsibly, how can you expect your viewers to do so?
  • Don't mock the homeowner who got himself in too deep.  You are the expert.  That's why you have the show.  Mocking that one homeowner makes other homeowners feel like they shouldn't ask questions which leads them to more trouble.
  • Use the safety gear you hate.  The safety glasses?  They make you look like a total geek.  The mask?  It hides your luscious lips.  The gloves? They make you seem oh so much less manly.  The ear plugs? What?  USE THEM!  ALWAYS!  If you don't, your viewers won't.  And then you can feel responsible for the lost eyesight from the spraying tile saw, the inhaled fiberglass insulation causing an asthma attack, the mangled fingers during demolition, and the deaf ear from the jack hammer.  Pretend OSHA is looking over your shoulder.  For your newby viewers' sakes.
  • Use the right tool for the project.  No axes for demolition please. That just gives me the heeby jeebies.
  • Get a building permit.  This part is often not shown on DIY shows so many homeowners don't even know they need a building permit for the work they are doing.  That can cause all kinds of problems when the cease and desist orders start flying. 
  • Work with the building inspectors and historic district commissions instead of indicating that they are just there to derail your project.  Building inspectors and historic district commissions are there for a reason: your safety and the integrity of your home and the neighborhood.  Often they will work with you.  If you ask.  Not if you try to power your own idea of code through and expect them to accept it.  Having a good working relationship from the beginning is far better than an adversarial one that begins three quarters of the way through the project.  Make your viewers aware there are building codes and there might be other covenants on the property before the inspectors strike.
  • Salvage what you can.  In our new greener world, don't replace all of the windows, and doors, throw out the old fixtures, wood paneling and trim, or destroy the radiators.  If you really can't reuse them in your project, bring them to an architectural salvage yard or a ReStore.  Someone else can often reuse these things and keep them out of the landfill.  But only if you don't throw sledge hammers at them or shatter them in the dumpster.
  • Make it clear that if you don't have experience, you shouldn't do it at home.  There are certain jobs that should be left to the pros.  There's been a lot of DIY wiring going on on shows lately that makes me cringe.  People are shocking themselves and laughing it off.  They could die.  They could burn their houses down.  If you don't know what you are doing with something as potentially dangerous as electrical wiring, hire an expert!
  • Don't glorify the yahoos who shouldn't be doing it at home by giving them their own shows, it just encourages more yahoos.  'Nuff said.

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