DIY vs Hiring Out | HTH001
to The How-To Home podcast, presented by FilterBuy.
I’m your host, Aaron Massey, a DIY home improvement enthusiast, and full-time
content creator, running mrfixitdiy.com. Alongside me, is my cohost Tracy Pendergast, a home and lifestyle blogger operating her
website, heytracy.com. Each week we’ll cover the real world ups and downs of
owning a home, answer your questions, and if we don’t have the answer we’ll
talk to some experts to help you get the most out of your remodel, repair, and
home improvement project. So, without further ado, let’s start the show.
Welcome to The How-To Home podcast. We are joined by a very special guest right
now. You may recognize him from HGTV’s Design on a Dime, or his extensive list
of other TV credits, or some of his production design work. He’s a man of many
hats. Ladies and gentlemen, David Sheinkopf is here.
you, thank you.
a pleasure to be here. Thank you, thank you.
great, though. It’s nice and quiet in here.
new? You know, just always juggling lots of hats, and doing my general
contracting. Always bidding jobs, and keeping guys in line, and keeping my
management skills as sharpened as I possibly can.
mean, we’ve been communicating on and off for a better part of, what? A year or
two, just via Instagram, I think. So glad that you would take the time out to
join us on this.
you. No, it’s a pleasure. It’s always nice. I love doing podcasts, because I
find it’s such a great way to connect with people. And now that they film them,
it’s also a great avenue to show what people are thinking.
not a podcast guy, so this is kind of new for me. But, I’m really excited about
the opportunity, and it’s fun.
I say you’re doing it rather well.
thank you. Appreciate it. So, today we’re talking about DIY versus hiring out.
I obviously have a DIY brand. I encourage everybody to at least have some
knowledge about DIY. If you own an old home, or you own any home really, it can
be 10 minutes old, it’s still going to need work. Today we’re talking about
what types of things a homeowner might want to consider versus when they’re
considering whether to do a project themselves, or to hire somebody else. I
thought maybe you would have a bit of a different perspective than me, given
that you do this type of work for a living.
mean, sure. I think one of the main things is figuring out scope. It’s figuring
out whether you want to do a quick remodel with some paint and some trim. If
you want to get in deeper and do some cabinetry and more aesthetics, or if you
want to go full [inaudible 00:02:36] and do a remodel. Anything that you’re
doing you always have to have your scope in mind, and your budget in mind. If
you do those two things it’s going to become a lot easier in the long run. I
think people can do things themselves, especially in the age of Google, and
YouTube. It’s great. I mean, I do it all the time. If I want to figure out
something I’ll just pop it into Google, just to get a broad sense of what
something might be. But, when people get in deep sometimes they get in trouble.
Again, if they get in deep, and they get in trouble, that’s when you call in
the experts. The problem is, once you get in deep and you call the experts,
you’re generally going to be more expensive than if you’d started from the
said that, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
do you feel about collaborating with people? Like doing the hybrid project,
where the homeowners say, “Hey, we’re going to do the demo, get everything
prepped for you. You do this, then we want to come in and do the finishing
work, and kind of work as a team.” Does that slow you down? Or do you enjoy
don’t not enjoy the collaboration, it becomes a bit of a cluster bomb when it
comes to scheduling, because if I say, “I need that done tomorrow.”
They’re like, “Aw, we just couldn’t quite do it.” And I’ve got a guy
lined up that is now giving up his time for that day. What do I tell him? So,
that becomes a bit of an issue, only because, when I run a job as a contractor,
a contractor’s biggest job is to be a project manager. In most smaller
contractor’s worlds, like mine, I am my own project manager. I find that to be
probably one of my best assets when it comes to working. When people start
injecting their own work into a project it can slow down the pace. For me, my
whole job is, the quicker I work the more money I make. Besides having the
client be satisfied with the work, that’s the second priority is making money.
So, that’s basically how I feel about that.
think that’s kind of interesting, because it’s something I wouldn’t even think
about. If, for example, you’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m going to save some
money by doing it myself.” Doing the demo, foe
example. Well, you’re thinking, “This is going to be the quality of demo
you’re going to get.” Right? It’s going to super clean, the nails are
going to be out of the studs, everything’s going to be stripped down and ready
for tile, drywall. Whatever your subcontractor is coming in to do. The
homeowner is just like, “Yeah, I knocked down some stuff.” But, you
didn’t really clean it up. You didn’t do the part of the demo-
due diligence to clean it up and get it nice. That screws you up.
I think life is about perspective. One person’s perspective is completely
different than another person’s. I’m a detail oriented person. Don’t tell my
wife, but I am. I mean, that’s what I do. It’s so funny, I find contracting to
be a fine ballet. Depending on how fast the job is moving, I find it to be,
“How do I layer guys on top of guys without, A, aggravating them to the
point of them not wanting to come back that day, or the next day. B, making
sure that I maintain my scope of progress. And, C, also the money aspect. Am I
spending too much money? Am I spending it too quickly? For the most part, I
always under promise and over give. That’s what I really try to do, because to
me that’s the best way to be. I’m very honest with it, and I try not to promise
things that I can’t achieve.
think that’s the key to any really successful business. You never want to
really over promise, and then be like, “Oh, well here’s what you
you’ll find that there are so many contractors out there. I mean, I’m not going
to put it just in the contractor world, because I don’t think that’s fair. I
think in any avenue of business that comes up all the time, where people are
like, “Well, I mean, you know.” Again, it comes down to perspective.
If I have a sub that I’m using for the first time, and I’m trying him out, and
he does something, and I say, “Okay, well this needs to be corrected, and
this.” And he does it, and it’s still not to my liking, I can’t blame him.
What I consider to be a completed project is not his. Or maybe it’s over what I
thought. Regardless, you have to be on the same page. I think when homeowners
work with contractors, again, they have to be on the same page with quality of
work, with consistency.
timeframes, and all that.
feel like the homeowners have to be on the same page with each other, too. I’ve
found that can be a bit of an issue. Even when we were designing our kitchen
together, we were sitting down with the person do design everything, and we
wasted a lot of time, because we both came in, my husband and I, with different
expectations. And it was like, “Whoops. Maybe we should’ve talked about
this a little more.” So, I think communication definitely is key. Everyone
I think communication for me, is the first thing I would look for if I was
trying to hire a contractor. It’s like, how well can I communicate with this
person? How receptive are they to what it is that I want? And how well do they
communicate their needs back to me, so that I can understand how it affects my
budget, or how it will ultimately affect the project?
had the same crew for 15 years. They come and go, but my main frame of guys, my
electrician, my plumbers, my carpenters, who can always be flaky, they come and
go. But the core is the same because of that reason.
do you find your subs?
man. That’s so hard. It’s so hard finding good subs. Mostly, it’s recommendations
from other contractors, or from people. Tracy and I were just talking that it’s
gotten so expensive doing what we do nowadays. It’s not just the fact that the
materials are going up, which they are, because of obvious reasons. But, it’s
also the fact that the cost of living in a city such as our, like Los Angeles,
is going through the roof.
it’s effecting everybody. I mean, you know, I can’t expect a guy to work for 15
bucks an hour when he’s supporting a family, and he’s paying $1500 a month in
rent. I can’t. I have a threshold for my guys, and I keep it that way because
I’m compassionate. I was talking to one of my electricians that said, “You
know, you’re too nice.” And I said, “That’s funny. I’ve never been
accused of being too nice. But, okay. I’ll buy that for a dollar. So, I’m too
nice.” So, that means that I have compassion for people, and that I
understand, and I don’t want to argue with people over a bid. I go back to the
bidding process for somebody. Let’s just say, as a tradesman, I bid a process.
I look at it, I look at raw cost of the materials, time involved, and then the
X factor of the variables that are unknown. I put together a bid, I pad it a
little just to make sure, and then I give it to the client. That’s what my guys
do to me.
they do it in five minutes, 15 minutes, or two days, it doesn’t matter. They’re
doing the same process we all are. I don’t want to argue with him, I don’t
think that there’s room, because he put in his bid what he thought honestly he
was doing. If someone’s ripping me off, I won’t even have a phone call back.
Or, if I talk to them and say, “I just want to know, because I’m going to
put this in as a line item in to the client. Is this what you want me to
represent?” And they go, “Yep.” I’m like, “Okay. If the
client goes for it, that’s great. If not, I’m going to go find somebody
else.” That’s fine. Because, like I said, I don’t really argue with them
about their prices, because I don’t like to be argued. If I say to somebody,
“It’s X amount of dollars.” And they say, “Can you lower
like, “Sure. Then why would they trust me from the beginning? Why didn’t I
give them that price in the first place?” You know?
I don’t want to get into that. So, I just say, “Not really. I gave you a
bid against my bids, and against my knowledge of what’s going on.”
Sometimes I can save people money, but I don’t know that until at the end of
I’ve done this brand, certainly a lot of friends and stuff are always hitting
me up. You know, “Can you do this? Can you do that? Can do X, Y, Z?”
It’s always something different. And my biggest thing, not having the
contractor background, is always like, I never know how much to charge somebody
for something. And what ultimately ends up happening is I always am doing
favors and stuff, and I always under price, you know? And my friends are
thankful for that, obviously, because I’m doing work for cheap. But for me,
it’s like … I think we’ll get into that maybe in another topic. It would be a
great idea to just talk about, like if you’re doing this type of work for
somebody else, how do you price your time? To that point, talking about today’s
topic with DIY versus hiring out, what is your time worth? I think is a
tremendous thing for a homeowner to consider. What’s the opportunity cost? What
are you giving up? Are you giving up time with your kids?
you giving up work to try and get this bathroom remodeled, or whatever it is
that you’re trying to do? What is it that you’re really-
up? Yeah. I encourage everybody to do it, because I think you’ll learn a lot
about yourself, and there’s nothing quite as rewarding as that tangible,
“I built this. It’s done. Look at it.”
also comes down to, you know, there’s an old expression, “The devil’s in
the details.” Everything to me is details. Should that grout line be
3/8th, or a quarter? Should it be an eight? Should it not have anything? Should
I keep that wainscot at 36? 42? I mean, it’s all eye, and it’s all perspective,
and it’s all just an opinion. To me, that’s the whole thing. So, if someone’s
hiring me for that reason, if you are doing it you need to be the detail
oriented person. If you are running your own job as a DIYer you have to do
exactly what I do, and make sure that the project runs smoothly and everything
is concise. That’s going to make a project run super smooth, you know? Then you
always have, again, variables. Is the guy showing up on time? Do you have guys
on top of other trades? Did you back up other trades? Are things not done? Do
you know how irritated my electrician comes when something is not done, and he
just drove from … I mean, a lot of my guys are obviously juggling jobs. They
guys do really well doing what they do, and they’re in demand. But, if I don’t
have something prepped and ready, and he just drove 45 minutes to my job site,
he’ll be like, “Oh, it’s all right.” I know that’s the [inaudible
00:13:31], “Aw, it’s all right.” You know? He’s doing that because he
works for me a lot, and he’s not going to yell at me, but he’s not happy about
it. I think forming a good crew, and finding a good crew, you know, when my
guys come on my job site they hug each other. They know each other. They
haven’t seen each other in a long time. It’s like, “Oh, wow. How’ve you
been? How’s the family? Oh, you just got a new house? That’s great. Can I help
you? Do you need some drywall? What do you need?” That, to me, is a great
environment. I don’t think a contractor has to be stodgy, I don’t think we have
to be considered that guy. I’m kind of a hybrid.
a designer. I’m earn as you learn, but I do have some formal training as well.
I always tell people, “I can build your house, but I can also pick your
pillows. So, it’s really up to you how deep you want to go.” There are
contractors who are like, “I don’t pick paint, I don’t do this, don’t do
tile. I will give you your tradesmen, I will run the job, and that’s it.”
And that’s fine. I give ideas, I’m not that way.
back to the communication thing, I think if I was to be looking for a
contractor, for example, I would want to communicate. If I’m like Tracy,
“I want to open up this kitchen. I want to open up this wall and have an
open floor plan, but I don’t really know how to do it, and I don’t know design
wise what would be best.” That type of stuff. You would be the perfect
person for that, for me, because I would be like, “I need some design
input, I need to know how everything’s going to flow. I need to know how
everything’s going to look.” Whereas, if maybe I’ve already like,
“These are my cabinets, this is this. This is what I want.” And you
already know, maybe you could just get a guy that’s more like what you’re
saying, or a contractor who’s just like, “I’m going to ber
the project manager-“
oversee it. But you’re a bit more of you’re own
designer, and that kind of thing. So, I think, in choosing a contractor,
knowing that maybe you want somebody who has a bit more of an eye, and also as
jest cares, yeah.
know what I mean? Again, I’m not dogging my trade, but a lot of contractors
just don’t care. I mean, they want to get the job done and they want to move
onto the next. I have a tough time, because 99% of my work is referral. I’m
very busy, because like I said, I’m detail oriented, and I care about what I
do. My guys are good tradesmen, and things last for a long time. I’ll tell you
something that I tell DIYers. There’s a lot of different avenues that you can
go if you want to figure things out for yourself. The Office of Building
Safety, you can go there and pull a number, just like I can, and you get 15
minutes at the desk with someone who’s going to talk to you about scoping a
project. You give them an address, you tell them what you want to do, and
they’ll tell you exactly what you need to do. So, it’s not like there’s any
hidden secrets. Being an expediter, and dealing with permits, and trades, and
all that stuff is one thing. But finding scope, and figuring out scope, is a
whole different thing.
this backyard overhaul project that I’ve got going on, I initially hired the
guys out to just do the block walls. And then I knew, in design, because I like
to previs everything, you know, I try to previs as much as possible so that I know. Just because my
mind works that way, I like to see it before. I knew I wanted these brick
piers, and I was originally going to do them myself. I was like, “Okay,
you guys are coming in, going to do the block, and you’re going to do all this
stuff.” And then, as they got going I was like, “It will take me so
long to do this. The scope of the project. Like, yeah, I could do this, but
I’ll probably do one pier, or one column-
week, for the next eight weeks. Am I going to lose my day? They’re already
here, this is what they do.” I was like, “You know what? I’m going to
eat it. I’m just going to pay the money, they’re going to do all the masonry
stuff, and I’m not even going to worry about it.” I haven’t regretted it
yet. But, you know, I might take some flack from it,
because I’m a DIY guy. But, scope. It’s what we’re talking about. The scope of
the project was too big for me, these wall that I’ve got are like four foot
high at the low end, and there’s too of them, and
they’re both 80 plus feet. I mean, it would take me a year to try and do that.
were talking about before, it’s knowing your limitations, and not being ashamed
of it. If you can’t do something, and you hire in an expert, or you decide to
give your mason X amount more work, he’s going to go, “Okay.” And
he’ll just knock it out.
“I’m already at the job. I don’t have to-“
I mean, he’s there. It’s not a big deal, he can just, “Okay, so let me go
get brick instead of just using cinder block. I’ll go get some brick for
you.” But, that’s the main thing, you know? You were talking about your
project that, you know, where is your limitation?
mean with hiring versus doing stuff ourselves?
in our old house I was a lot more open, because I knew we wouldn’t be there for
a long time. So, I’m thinking, “Okay, this is a good place to learn. Sure,
why not? Let’s figure it out here.” Now, we’re in a home that is our
forever home, so I want custom woodwork, I want things that are going to be
there forever, and things that make our home special. I’m kind of like,
“Let’s paint. Let’s do the finishing work. Let’s put on hardware. But,
let’s leave the interior construction to a professional.” That’s just how
I work. My husband’s great at doing moldings, and things like that. We will
throw our DIY skills into the décor, because that will be ever changing. But,
for those types of things, I like to hire someone.
don’t have any qualms about that. Like i said, I
think ultimately it’s really just about having a little background. It’s being
able to do things that, when something breaks you can fix it. If it’s small
scale. If it’s a huge thing, yeah, I mean hire somebody out. Or, it’s a
specialty. You know, if it’s HVAC, or it’s something that’s very dedicated or
electrical, if you don’t feel like you can do it safely. I think safety is the
other thing you have to really consider, certainly if you have family, kids,
necessarily cheaper to do things yourself. That’s another thing. If you don’t
have the equipment that the professionals have, you’re renting equipment,
you’re sometimes buying the wrong thing, and then realizing it’s the wrong
thing, and then you can’t take it back. There’s so many things that a
professional knows, and does day in and day out, that I think learning as you
go can actually be really expensive sometimes.
it’s also like, do you enjoy it? If you enjoy it, then by all means do it. But,
start small. Don’t dive in head first and be like, “I’m going to
completely remodel my kitchen, I’m going to build the custom cabinets, I’m
going to do the tile. I’m going to do coffered ceilings, I’m going to do the
whole thing.” And you have next to no experience. It’s just not going to
come out the way that you’re grandiose vision in your head is laid out. But, if
you start small, like doing trim, doing baseboards, and work your way up, and
acquire tools over time, and then think about it. It’s like, “Okay, I want
to do this type of stuff more often.” Okay, well then invest in the tools,
invest in the knowledge. Take some time and just build out your skillset over
time, because nobody knows how to do everything.
don’t go to school and be like, “Oh, I know everything.” And you jump
into a house and you’re like, “I can build it from the ground up.”
There’s a reason why there’s all these specialty trades. You can’t know
everything about everything. And I don’t claim to. But I know enough basics
that I can save myself some money, I can fix things when they break, and I’m
not afraid to tackle new challenges. That’s really all that DIY comes down to.
And being comfortable with what you get, you know? And being like, “Yeah,
I made some mistakes, maybe it’s not perfect. But, can I live with it?
think the rooms in your home that are always evolving, like children’s rooms
are a good example, or play rooms, stuff that you know is going to evolve and
change as the years go by, those are great places to DIY and kind of test your
skillset. The spaces to me, like the bathrooms and the kitchen, the hubs of the
home, that are there to last. That’s when I feel like you bring someone in.
to me, I think the worst place to start figuring out your DIY talents are when
you’re saw cutting floors, and when you’re laying down things that are
permanent. If someone wants to try their hand at doing a concrete patio I think
it’s great, as long as they don’t mind jacking it up if they have a problem.
That’s when you get into issues. Are you doing things that are permanent over
things that are temporary? If you’re doing something that’s permanent, that can
be changed, great. If you can adjust it, like you were saying, like
woodworking, and things that, all it’s going to cost you is some material.
You’re not going to have to completely rip out something if it’s incorrect. Or,
are you satisfied with small amounts of imperfection? Where is your eye? What’s
your detail sense? How far do you want to go? How deep do you want to dive?
in my house is perfect. Nothing that I’ve built is perfect. You know, there’s
always a tolerance, there’s always an error margin. It’s like, can I live with
that error margin, or can I not? It’s like, can I look at it, like you’re
saying, to my eye and be comfortable in knowing that I did my best with it, and
it looks pretty good. And it’s better than it was. Or, is it like, “That
is just such an eyesore, or whatever. I’ve got to start over.”
90% of what my eye catches nobody else catches, because that’s my job. My job
is to catch everything. There’s also the thought of, don’t hide a flaw, flaunt
it. If it becomes a problem, or a mistake, don’t try to start covering it up.
Figure out a way to incorporate it into your detail, you know? There’s
solutions to every problem without ripping things out. You can always figure
out ways. You might have to compromise on certain things, but there’s not wrong
thing about compromise. It happens. We’re not perfect. Human beings make
mistakes, you know, my guys make mistakes. If my guys make mistakes they eat
it. But, if a client makes a mistake on a design element, and they want to
change it, they can either compromise and go, “You know what? I can live
with that.” Or, “Let’s tear it out and do it again.” Either way,
as long as they’re happy at the end of the day, that’s my main goal.
going to ultimately have something that comes up during the project that’s
going to change some element of what you were thinking. I think, as a
homeowner, you need to be flexible, and understand that is a possibility. And,
if you are hiring, communicate that with your contractor and be like,
“Look, this is what I really want. I hope that we can get it.” But,
be receptive to them saying, “Look, if we’ve got to do that, we’ve got to
change this. We’ve got to move this, we’ve got to do that, we’ve got to do
this. This is how much it’s going to cost. Do you still really want to do
hate saying this to clients, but does your budget meet your expectation? And
that’s just the truth. Do you have caviar dreams and a fish roe budget? It’s
hard. People want a certain thing, but are you willing to pay for it? Are you
willing to get the $500 a day finish carpenter, or you getting a guy for 250
that does it as a framer, but he knows how to do finish work? There’s a big
did a lot of design shows.
how do you deal with that when you’re on a very tight schedule, you’re on a production
schedule, and when you guys have to wrap you have to wrap? Were there details
that weren’t always tied up, that kind of …
did you feel about that?
good. But, again, on a couple of my shows I worked with designers whose scope
didn’t meet their timeframes. They were a bit overexcited when they decided to
design something. If I was working as a carpenter, On Design on a Dime, I
didn’t have the final say on a lot of things. I was working as a party of a
team of three. So, if I did something that I didn’t feel was right, I would
tell them. I would have producers, no disrespect, “Why don’t you just put
that together out of MDF and paint it?” I’m like, “Because it’s going
in someone’s home, and it needs to be finished. And I need to put glass on top
of it.” “Well, it’s not in the budget.” “Well, then we need
to figure it out, because I’m not going to give them a painted piece of MDF as
always wonder what people in shows are actually left with. Like, what stays in
their home? What’s staged?
gets dumped, you know? I mean it’s true. If we’re being honest about things in
design shows, I did 145 shows on Design on a Dime, I’d say 80% of them, we hit
it out of the park. But there was that 20% that just wasn’t, you know?
left feeling a little …
whatever it was. Whether it was client dissatisfaction, production problems, a
carpenter didn’t have this. We were being over exuberant with what we thought
we could do. On my show, we didn’t have elves, we had us. I started out at the
beginning, it was us and the guys from Trading Spaces, and Ty. I remember
seeing Ty Pennington at an event or something, and we would go over stuff. He’d
be like, “Oh, yeah.” And I remember being in New York, and I was on a
job, I was like a family visit, and I’m seeing one of the carpenters, and I’m
sorry I can’t remember her name, but she was a female carpenter on Trading
Spaces, she’s working on a chop saw in the rain, under a popup on West 79th
Street, on the Upper West Side. I’m like, “Hey, from Design on a
like, “Hi.” And I’m like, “Hey, from Design on a Dime.”
She’s like, “You get it. You get it, don’t you?” And I’m like, “Totally.”
She’s like. “Oh, god.”
show in the history of the world has given me more anxiety than Trading Spaces.
It was honestly the most terrifying, exhilarating show ever on the air, I feel
on again isn’t it?
it’s back on.
would spray paint carpet. They would hot glue flowers to the wall. It was great
TV, but I always wondered what the people left in that situation were feeling.
know, I don’t think that things always last. I mean, i
can’t imagine. We used to do a room in 14 hours, you know, reasonably speaking.
Sometimes we’d do OT, and we would do it. We would have time to build projects
outside, and we would do what’s called interstitials, and we would do little
build outs. We would basically leave a couple of steps left, or you would have
a project that was partially left. I had a beautiful shop over in Sliver Lake that, if I could knock out furniture, I would
knock out furniture. I mean, I would just build it. If they would allow me. Or,
we got to the point where it was kind [inaudible 00:29:08] like a whole Go Pro
thing. They would give us cameras, and we would mount a camera. I had a tripod,
and I would try to shoot everything, so at least they had some steps, so they
could justify that to the network being like, “We were able to do this,
because we did have him do this.” But, I wasn’t willing to compromise
everything about who I was as a builder.
a builder, that’s what I do. I build furniture from scratch with my hands. I
guess it all comes down to integrity, you know? Networks don’t always care
about that, they want television, you know? And they’re not the ones getting
the phone call at the end of the day, we are. Or, the hate emails. There used
to be the chats. Oh, my god. They were awful. I used to see-
YouTube comments now.
that’s YouTube comments. I was like-
you blink so much?”
my god. You cannot look at the comments most of the time. Or, certainly you
can’t take them to heart.
my god. They used to drive my designers crazy. I didn’t get as bad, because I
was just doing my thing. And they were like, “He’s too handsome to be
building.” I’m like, “If that’s your worst comment, God bless.”
It’s all good.
of this podcast is to talk about real things. You know, like the TV world, I’m
from it, you’re from it. We have that background. There are certain things that
are done for TV, and I think ultimately people see these things and then they
get these grandiose expectations about what they can do for what budget and
stuff. And it depends. I mean, L.A.? You’re not going to be able to do the type
of work that you see somewhere in the Midwest. You’re like, “Oh, they
bought this house for 150,000, put 50,000 in it, and now it’s this super luxury
about just 300 grand? They bought a house for 300k?
mean the pricing is different around the country. And it’s like, I’ve talked to
some TV production companies and they’re like, “Yeah, we don’t really do
shows in L.A., because it’s a barrier to entry for most people.” They’re
like, “What?” They see this price tag on how much stuff costs, and
it’s like, yeah, in different parts of the country, in different cities and
stuff, stuff costs different amounts. The cost of living is certainly higher,
and you know, it’s different everywhere.
to defending designers on television. Obviously, you know this too. Colors look
different. When you color correct something, things look different. 4K has
completely killed the television design world, because you see every little
speck. It’s like, “Oh, my gosh. I see every little line in that.” You
know? It’s like you can’t fake it anymore. Everything has to be true blue. I
think, in defense of designers, what people are seeing on television is not
always representative of what people are getting at home. It’s generally not as
good as what they’re seeing. Back in the day it was great, you just squint and
walk away. That was like [inaudible 00:32:14] that I’m a production designer.
It’s true. We used to go up to jobs, go like this, and be like
“Perfect.” That’s all it was, because it was film. Film added grain,
it added quality. Now, that everybody’s shooting in 4K, and flat video, the
resolution is ridiculous. It’s different. I would be terrified to be doing
design shows right now, just because of the expectation of producers. If
everybody’s micromanaging, and picking apart projects you’re doing? It would
drive me nuts.
the timeline isn’t realistic. It takes time for things to dry. It takes time
for things to be put together, and that’s why it always baffles me when it will
be like, “14 hours later.” And you’re like, “Chip and Joanne
built a whole new house.” It’s really exciting, but how? I don’t know.
the TV world, it’s different. People just have to realize that there’s
realistic expectations, and there’s what you see on TV. That’s really all it
comes down to. I think people just get brainwashed a little by the stuff they
see out there. I think, in terms of DIY and stuff, you see a lot of stuff as
well. I see a lot of stuff out there that has a DIY name tag on it, and then I
see some other stuff. And you’re like, “Man, there’s such a discrepancy
between DIYs depending on who’s doing it.”
I was in it for a long time as a DIY expert. I mean, I’d go on television
shows, I’d do this, I’d go in symposiums. I’d speak at home shows about DIY
stuff, I knew a lot about DIY stuff. I am a DIY person, I’m also a professional
in my field. The only difference between a DIY person and myself is how long it
takes, and how much you spend. That’s all. It’s having the knowledge and the
experience. If you do something as a DIY person you’re going to gain
experience, even if you make mistakes. Mistakes mean experience, and you won’t
do it the next time the same way. I have no problem with that.
is just another word for experience, really.
really is. They talk about, you know, doctors have a practice. It’s not called
a practice for now reason. You know, everything with a doctor is going off of
experience and intuition, you know? It’s the same with what we do. When I look
at something in proportion and scale, it’s intuition. Do I have a sense about
it? Do I look at something and know it’s right? To me, design, it’s funny. I
will say it is perspective, but there is also right and wrong about things. If
that’s too high, for some people that might be fine. I go into homes all the
time and I see people hanging pictures like eight feet off the ground. In a
common world, five foot is the marker for a middle of a photograph, or of
anything of a focal point. That’s just a given. History has proven it. It
doesn’t mean you have to do it, it just means it becomes a starting point. Half
the thing I think about design, and when people do it themselves, is you have
to make a decision. You have to make a choice, and then follow through with
can make a mistake, and you can change it. If you paint a room and you don’t
like the color, paint it back. If you hang a picture and it’s too high, lower
it. if you have a Spackle hole, fill it and repaint it. It’s not the end of the
world. The only way you learn these things is by trying. I don’t want people to
think that they have to always hire a contractor. There are nice ways to play
in the sandbox together as a homeowner with contractors. You can pick and
choose. Not everybody has enough money to have everything done full tilt boogie
by a contractor, and I get that. Like, we were going back to the question, is
there a way to work with a homeowner on a project? I mean, I certainly think
there is, as long as everybody is considerate of everybody’s time.
guys laying the block for my retaining wall, my intention was that I was going
to be involved the whole time, and help them, and do all this stuff. But, what
I found was that these guys, there was just a team of three guys, and they just
had a system. And for me to interject myself into their system screwed it up.
It’s like, I was doing more harm than good by being involved.
would slow them down. They knew what each other was going to do ahead of what
the other guy was going to do. They’ve done this a million times, so for me to
put myself into that role is like I’m inhibiting them. So I was like, “You
know what? I’ve just got to step back and let them do their thing.”
Fortunately it worked out for both of us, because I ended up having other stuff
going on anyway. I was just like, “You know what? I’m just going to let
them do their thing, because I’m just slowing them down, and it’s not worth
either of our time for me to try and get involved.” I mean, I asked
questions, and I was able to interject what I wanted. And I was like, “Why
are you doing this? What are you doing here?” Just so I can get a little
more knowledge about that process. But, I stayed out of the way, and I just
filmed it. I just put a camera on them and I was like, “Hey, do you mind
if i film this and take care of it?”
shoot me from this side. This is my good side.
know, it’s babysitting. That’s what I do. I’m a professional babysitter of guys
that are supposed to be able to wipe their own noses. Sometimes they do, and
sometimes they don’t. It’s catching mistakes before they becomes bigger
mistakes. The little, teeny details, that if you don’t catch, can become
monumental at the end. I mean, huge. So, that’s things like that. And if
homeowners are willing to sit there and remeasure, and take a level to things,
and take charge of their project, and take charge of their life, and babysit,
and make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do, there’s no
problem. You can do everything yourself. It’s when you don’t do that, and you
expect guys to wipe their own noses all the time, and check. Not that tradesmen
mean to do problems, sometimes they’re just rushed. I mean, honestly, sometimes
they just don’t care.
sometimes mistakes happen to the best of us.
we’re going to take some voicemails coming up. Do you want to stick around and
answer some questions?
You guys have called in, and we’re going to answer a few of the voicemails
right now. You guys want to call in and leave us a question at any time, you
can call us at 978-709-1040. Just leave us a voicemail, and we’ll do our best
to answer it on the show. I’ve got a few lined up here. Feel free to interject
if you have an answer for them.
got a problem with my shower. It is disgusting. It feels like no matter how
hard i scrub the tile, this black and orange stain
won’t come off the tile. Frankly, I’m tired of looking at it, tired of looking
down at grossness while I’m trying to get clean. How the heck can I get a clean
shower that’s going to be easy to maintain?
think the first thing they’ve got to figure out is whether it’s mold seeping
from the back, which in the shower obviously is definitely a possibility. But,
you can also try vinegar.
old bathroom, that I recently remodeled, my Jack and Jill bathroom, had a
similar thing. I think what he’s referring to is the transition between the
tile and the tub. What typically happens if you’ve got all the moisture and
everything running down the wall, and when it hits that grout line, or caulk
line or whatever at the tub you end up getting that black dirt and stuff, it
just builds up over time. If you’re in an older home, I mean I scrubbed the
heck out of that stuff back in the day. Before I completely gutted the bathroom
and redid it [crosstalk 00:40:14].
did a great job, by the way.
you. There’s just no way to get rid of that. The only thing that I would
suggest, if that’s what he’s talking about, take out that grout line, and redo
the grout line, or use some tub and tile caulk, and redo that transition.
Because, that’s the only way you’re going to make it look white again.
had a similar issue with our floors in our new house. And that’s because, when
the investor did the flip, he never sealed the grout. So, we actually got it
steam cleaned, which pulled all that gunk out of there, and then we made sure
it was sealed, and it hasn’t come back. And, yes, vinegar solves everything in
of life’s problems [crosstalk 00:40:56].
vinegar is the best cleaning supply on earth.
yeah. We have 50/50 vinegar to water. I mean, my house half the time smells
like vinegar because, my son does something, he spill something it’s like,
strawberries on the couch? Vinegar. Saturate, let it lay.
it’s also a natural ant abatement remedy.
doesn’t keep them away, but it drives them away from certain areas for awhile. So, it works well for everything.
big Ghost Buster packs full of vinegar.
it all out of there. Hopefully, that answers a bit of that question. If you
want to send us a picture you can always email us or whatever, and I can maybe
give you a bit more clarification on it. But, based on what he’s saying, I
think that should address it.
we don’t need a picture of him in the shower, just the shower [crosstalk
I don’t need him in the shower. Just the tub, just the tile or whatever.
Whatever’s dirty, but we don’t need you. So, you can keep that to yourself. All
right, let’s fire up another one here.
I have a home improvement question. I might have gotten drunk last night, and
accidentally punched a hole in my drywall. And I was just wondering how I can
patch that up quickly, before my roommates get home? Thank you.
term, I’d say AA. But, on a short term-
might want to seek some anger management classes?
healthier alternatives to let out your aggression. But, I mean, it happens.
super easy. I mean, they have patch kits at Home Depo. It’s super easy, that’s
not a big deal. You can fix that. After dry time and everything, it all depends
of course if you do have that texture on you’re
you’ve got the orange peel. But they have orange peel stuff in a can.
it actually works.
it stinks to high heaven.
does, but it works pretty well.
does. You’ve got to be liberal with it.
you’ve got to be liberal with it, and you’ve got to feather it.
you try to just-
big. If you try to do just that spot you’re going to end up with this weird
Frankenstein looking toad skin thing.
I don’t think that’s a difficult one.
done a drywall patching video, so I’ll direct you to that. But-
plug. But, also, patching is easy. But, when it comes to mudding, and taping,
and doing whole rooms? I’ve done it a bunch of times, but I’ve never done it
well. If there’s one thing that I do hate, and I will hire out for, it’s
drywall. I despise drywall. I’ve made it abundantly clear in all of my content
that I despise doing drywall. I’m just not good at it. I’ve tried mudding, I’ve
watched a ton of videos, I’ve attempted it. I’ve practiced a ton, I just don’t
have a touch for it. Yeah, check out that video, and also get some help. Because,
that one, you might want to-
know what they say? You don’t have to get here, but get out somewhere.
have this brick wall that’s in the back in my garden. The people that before me
owned the house put it right by where the sprinkler system is, and the wall
looks like it’s tipping. I don’t know what to do. I think I may have a year or
two left before it tumbles over. Can you help, please?
going to let a DIY guy handle this one.
think I have an answer to this. Or, I don’t necessarily have an answer to how
to fix it, but I do have an answer to why it’s happening. I was talking to the
mason that was doing the retaining walls in my house, and apparently this is
extremely common. He says that-
He has a lot of fix-it calls like this. Ultimately, what it comes down to is
that these block walls, a lot of them from the 40s and 50 and stuff, and 60s
even, he ways saying that they just never put
legitimate footing in for these walls. And so, what ends up happening over time
is, that as the soil settles, and it sounds like water is getting in there and
loosening up the soil, these walls just start to tip like this. And so,
ultimately I don’t really know the fix for it, other than maybe you can brace
the wall up, and somehow try to put a legitimate footing underneath it, somehow
jack it up, or what. But a lot of those walls, in that case, if they don’t have
legit footings, like two foot by two foot big footings beneath them, they
probably don’t have rebar in them either. And so, you may just be putting a bandaid on a bullet hole.
think in this woman’s case, the best thing she could probably do would be to
brace the wall. You could do it as a permanent fix. You could put a small pad, and
get a piece of number four rebar, and you can actually put a plate up and brace
it, and it will not fall. Pretty much, I mean, you’ve got a good 10 years out
of it. It doesn’t look attractive, it’s a trip zone, and it’s not the most sane
thing to do. But you could also spend 10 grand and fix the wall, and tear it
down. That’s the only way, in my mind, to fix the wall.
this case, I would look for a mason that would come in and give you options.
dangerous thing to let go.
it’s not something that I think most people are going to do themselves. I mean,
there’s not an easy fix for it. I think it’s going to be involved, and I think
probably it could be potentially expensive depending on the size of it. So,
that would be my suggestion. This one, I pulled specifically for you.
Let’s see how you feel about it.
you’re married to a general contractor and you have four projects started, how
do you get him to finish at least one?
Is that you?
cobbler’s sone never wears shoes, as we say. I literally
have been staring at a toilet paper holder in a bathroom in my house for like a
month, because I just keep on forgetting, and it’s too late, and this. I had to
redo the wall, and this, but whatever. My wife’s been very nice about it, but
I’m like, “I know, I’ve got get it done. I’m actually going to do it
today, I swear to God.” It’s prioritizing. I mean, that’s the main thing.
Whether it’s a contractor, or whether you’re a DIYer, or you’re a homeowner,
you have to learn to prioritize. What’s most important? If you start a project
before you finish a project, all you’re going to do is cause yourself
aggravation. So, in my mind, if you do have a bunch of projects up in the air,
just stop, look, and listen.
things down, start categorizing what’s most important to you, how quickly
things are going to happen, and if there’s a way that you can do it in a nice
way. I think maybe if you lean on your husband and tell him you won’t feed him,
maybe that might help as well.
super guilty of this. My wife will attest to all the little projects that I’ve
started. I get like 99% of the way through something, and then a lot of the
time I’m just like, “Okay, I’ll finish that up later.” And it’s
something usually that probably will only take like a couple hours to finish it
up. But, it’s like mentally I’ve already moved on. And then so what ends up
happening is I accrue all these little things. What I have started to do, and I
will say I’ve started to make days where I’m working on the house, where I have
a laundry list of unfinished projects, and I just have a day set aside and I
just start going through the unfinished project that’s just-
Kind of a loose ends day.
wife’s family has a house in Michigan, and she goes away for usually three
weeks or a month with my son. I pop in for like 10 days or something, whenever
I can get away. But, that’s my time, and she sent me a list this past summer
that was literally eight things. And they were pretty big projects, and I was
like, “You know what? I’m going to get on it.” And I did every one of
them. I didn’t even get the accolades I thought I was going to get.
it was expected.
exactly. Thank you very much.
know the language, because I speak it.
was so proud of myself. I was like, [inaudible 00:49:06]. I had one of those
things like I was talking about. I had to pull out all the caulk in my son’s
bathroom, and I had to redo all the caulk. And it wasn’t easy, because the guy
did some rock hard caulking. So, I did it. I had to dig it out, and I had to
get the tool, and the thing. She’s like, “Oh, that looks nice.”
looks nice? That’s it?
get that too. I think that’s the other thing. Like when you’re expected to be
able to handle all that stuff. My wife does a great job. She does give me the
support and all that stuff, but occasionally I’ll put all this effort into
something and then she’s like, “Uh-huh. Looks good.”
you make it look so easy you guys. That’s why. You make it look so easy that we
don’t even think that it’s hard work for you.
that make you feel better? No?
it does sort of. I mean, it does, because you’re absolutely right. It’s funny,
mean, it’s what you do. You know?
wife is a stay at home mom, she takes care of my son. If I had to spend the amount
of time that she spends with my son I would go nuts. My son’s favorite thing to
say is, “Daddy’s working.” I’m like, “Well, daddy’s working
because he’s making a living and all that stuff.” And he doesn’t
understand. But, we all have very hard jobs. I think the main thing in life is
that we all want to be appreciated.
got to give and receive.
exactly. You guys-
think, in general in the home, when it comes to overwhelmed, even if it’s laundry
or anything that you have to do where your list becomes super overwhelming, or
projects become open ended, I think if you set the boundary, “I’m not
going to start something else until I’ve finished this. I’m not going to put a
new load of laundry in the washer until I’ve put away what’s in the
dryer.” Little things. You can dig yourself out of these big overwhelmed
I don’t have that discipline.
is a discipline. Especially when you have a creative mind, like I think we all
bounce around like a grasshopper. I’m like, “Oh, I’m over here.” I’m
like a dog chasing a ball. Like, “Oh, that look good. I’m going to do this
calling because I have a lovely 1910 Craftsman home, and although some things
have been updated, unfortunately the lovely AC unit that’s working nonstop is
losing a majority of its energy out the front door. There’s this awesome gap
between the front door and the base of the floor. As you can imagine, nothing
is quite straight in this home. So, help me save on my electricity bill, and
keep my house cold. Thanks so much.
think this is a pretty common thing, certainly in L.A. Maybe not so much in
east coast and stuff, because of snow. If you have that issue you recognize it
pretty quickly. I think you could probably fix it relatively easily, just get
yourself a door sweep. They sell them at any of the big box stores. You can
install them on there pretty easily. They’re
adjustable, put a couple screws in it. They’re like rubber or vinyl.
(affirmative). And we’re talking about R-value in a home. She’s in a 1910
Craftsman, and she thinks she’s losing all her R-value underneath the door. It
has nothing to do with the completely single pane glass windows.
the complete lack of insulation in the walls.
the complete lack of insulation in the walls. Or the floor that’s completely
seeping. But, you know, I think that when you’re looking at something like
that, your overactive AC unit, you have to look at the whole picture. And, yes,
I think a sweep is a bandaid. But I don’t necessarily
think that’s going to change the whole thing. I think she needs to look at the
whole house, and come up with a game plan. Whether it’s, “Let’s replace
these windows a couple at a time. Maybe we actually take the door off and we
fill it with some wood, and we actually get it within an eighth tolerance to
the floor.” Is the door weather stripped? Like you said, back east people
know in 15 minutes if they’re having air, because the cold air rushes in.
it just flies in.
yeah. It flies in. I mean, we’re all from the east coast. But, that’s the first
thing. It’s like, identifying your problem is half the battle. You could have
people coming in all day long trying to figure out where the ants are coming
in, but until you actually see the trail [crosstalk 00:53:18].
house is a little newer than that, it’s 1930’s, but just the complete lack of
insulation, my HVAC bills are insane, and it’s been an ongoing thing for me to
just try and battle it. Because, yeah, the walls don’t have insulation in them.
And it’s like, okay, how are you going to insulate all these walls? It’s a big,
long ranch, so it’s not like you can just, you know? So, every time I remodel a
room I’m adding insulation into there, I’m making this room good, moving onto
the next project. Changing out the windows, all that stuff.
like you said, there are ways to do projects like that where you don’t have to
tear out. You can drill holes and pump insulation in them. You could do
ceilings in attic spaces and crawl spaces. It changes dramatically your bills
when you do things like that. Back east it’s not uncommon to plastic up windows
for the seasons.
problems everywhere, you know? You’re on the east coast, certainly where my
family’s from, you’re dealing with snow six months a year. Here, you’re dealing
with heat. It’s all perspective, and how you look at it, and what you can
know. People always say, “Oh, you don’t have any problems in Cali.”
It’s like, “Yeah, we do.” We don’t have cold.
you know the other thing is, I chose to not live in cold weather anymore. It’s
a choice. I mean, my friends from back home wear it like a badge of honor. And
I’m like, “It’s great for you. I think it’s great. I love the fact that
you live where you live, I can come visit you. I just don’t want to be there
all the time.”
you’re active outdoors in the winter it’s one of the best things. You know, if
you like it, it’s great. If you just don’t like the cold then find somewhere
else. But then you’ve got to deal with those problems.
is choices. You can either do it yourself or hire a contractor.
Exactly. David, I want to say thank you so much for taking the time to come
out. Really enjoyed our conversations. Great to meet you in person after
following you on Instagram.
think you’ve shared a ton of information that’s really helpful for homeowners,
and for myself. I learned a lot.
know what? I think the main thing is, don’t be scared. Don’t be scared of doing
it yourself, don’t be scared of hiring someone out if you feel that you’re not
up for the task.
sure you guys follow David on Instagram, and on social media, and keep up with
what he’s up to. It’s @davidsheinkopf, right?
@davidsheinkopf, and my website is
you guys so much for watching the inaugural episode of The How-To Home podcast,
or listening to it, however you’re choosing to consume it. Make sure you guys
rate us on your various podcast listening apps. Thank you guys so much. We’ll
see you next time. The How-To Home podcast is brought to you by Filterby.com.
Your one-stop direct to consumer replacement air filter brand, and is produced
in collaboration by Mast Media Group, LLC, and Intelligent Arts and Artists.
The show is executive produced by George Ruiz and Aaron Massey.
You can always call and leave your questions and comments on our voicemail!
– Figure out the scope of your project before determining whether you want to hire out or DIY.
– If you’re running your own job as a DIY’er you need to make sure you’re detail oriented.
– Communication is key!
– The Office of Building and Safety will help you figure out the scope of your project and it’s free to go and pull a number.
– Know your limitations.
– Find the right places to test your DIY ability-start small.
– Does your budget match your expectations?
– Be considerate of other people’s time.
His backyard overhaul – https://www.mrfixitdiy.com/how-to-install-a-post-lamp/
Drywall patching video-
Communication throughout a remodel- https://hey-tracy.com/tips-to-help-your-relationship-survive-a-home-renovation/
WORD OF THE DAY: CLUSTERBOMB
noun: clusterbomb; plural noun: clusterbombs
a pile up of sub contractors and home owners that causes great damage or loss of life.
Q: How can I get a clean shower that’s easy to maintain?
A: In a nutshell: Vinegar, new caulk or steam cleaning + reseal.
Q: I got drunk and punched a hole in my wall. Now what?
A: Long term- AA. Short term: patch kit from Home Depot and spray on orange peel if needed.
Q: My wall is tipping, what do I do?
A: In a nutshell: Fix the footing and/or brace the wall.
Q: How do I make my general contractor husband finish our home projects?
A: He needs to prioritize and finish what he starts. (Threaten a kitchen lock-out)
Q: The AC unit in my craftsman home is working non-stop. I’m loosing all the cool air. Help!
A: Aaron suggests a door sweep for the bottom of the door. David suggests looking at the big picture- floor, windows, insulation etc.
The Gram/ Twitter: @davidsheinkopf