Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pay the man

IT people are frequently highly-educated, with extensive formal and on-the-job training. And we all, if you look at our resumés, think that we're fast learners. That's probably because everything we work with keeps changing every couple of years, so anyone who's been doing this for very long has learned multiple generations of tools. Many of our jobs also require us to be generalists, with a broad range of knowledge across multiple unrelated fields.

It's probably not surprising, then, that we tend to be DIYers. Never changed a light fixture? No problem. Give me a few minutes with a book and I'll know enough to do it. House needs painting? Heck, I've always wanted an excuse to go get one of those power sprayers, I'm on it! That's why we're shocked to hear how much people pay to have someone do work that, after all, we could do ourselves with little or no training.

That was my frame of mind when I had to replace the shower door. The frame was mounted on tiled walls. I only cracked two of the tiles a little bit trying to get the old frame off, and lifted about a dozen away from the wall. No problem, just ran to the hardware store for some tile adhesive. And I only put the adhesive on a little too thick, so two of the tiles fell off the next day when I started mounting the frame. And I only cracked one more because I was unfamiliar with the mounting hardware.

I had to remove all the tiles and start over because the adhesive was actually nowhere near dry. I wanted to make sure it dried all the way, because I wasn't completely sure I did it right this time. When I tried again three days later, there was only one tile that fell off because I had gone too thin with the adhesive. But after waiting a day for the grout on the rest to dry, I was able to scrape that space out and get the last tile up and grout it. The caulk and grout I used to patch the cracks looks mostly okay ... for now ... while it's still white

All in all, it only took me a week and a half to hang that door. And the cracked and patched tiles will probably still look good when I go to sell the house. (At least I hope they will; the color was discontinued years ago, so I'd have to re-tile the whole damn bathroom otherwise.) I'm so glad I didn't pay a hundred bucks to some barely-trained tradesman to do it for me.

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