As a woman who has remodeled one house and yard and is working on the second, I believe that doing it yourself is a virtue of the highest esteem. I have come to realize, however, that even more important than the DIY spirit is what I like to call KIY, or know it yourself.
Whether you are preparing to fix a leaky underground pipe like our reader Larry, install an irrigation system, or build a stone wall, the very first thing you have to do is to learn about the process, the risks, the available materials, the optional vs. mandatory aspects, and so on. Then, if you decide to hire a contractor to complete the job, you can speak knowledgeably and get the job done both correctly and how you want it.
That’s the key, really – making sure that “how you want it” and “the right way” are one and the same. I believe that knowledge is the defining principle of successful Do It Yourself-ers. After that, whether you pick up a hammer or open the yellow pages is inconsequential, really – you can do either one with confidence.