We built a house today.
OK, it was a small house.
OK, fine. It was a shed. But it was a BIG shed.
And we didn’t really build it. We assembled it; we bought it at Home Depot and just had to put it together.
Did I mention it was big?!?
So, even though we didn’t have to “measure twice, cut once,” or use power tools (although I did break out my friendly drill, even though the instructions said to use a screwdriver), it was a pretty big project. Dear Husband and I put it together, and – miraculously, amazingly – the kids played together and with the dogs and left us alone to finish it.
After finishing the shed, I have some advice to impart on how to stay sane during a DIY project like this – i.e., putting together something with a 50-step instruction booklet.
1. Budget Time for It.
When I teach editing and formatting legal documents to my students in my day job, I always tell my students to think about how much time it’s going to take them to do the editing and formatting, and then double it – that’s how much time they’ll need to complete that process.
Apparently the same is true with DIY projects.
We started the project at around noon. I have proof:
We took a break around 1 PM to watch M ride her bike down the street without her training wheels (wahoo!) and then eat lunch. We started again at 2 PM.
We finished at 5:10 PM.
For those of you doing the math, that isn’t two hours.
Make sure you have enough time to complete your project. Take the amount of time you think it’ll take and then double it. That should be about right.
2. Get Out Tools Needed Before You Start the Project.
I was lucky: I had read the instructions, got out the tools listed, and my daughter got our HER tools, too. We were totally ready for this!
Dear Husband was kind of impressed by this. Not only had I gotten out all the right tools, but I even had a rubber mallet (courtesy of recovering my dining room chairs and adding nailhead trim). Yes, the big ol’ shed required a rubber mallet.
3. Have a Sense of Humor
This is key. By the end of the third hour of putting this thing together, we were punchy. We were either going to kill each other or die laughing. Thankfully, we opted for the latter.
Somewhere about that time, the rubber mallet was named. It became “Ryan Mallet” – an homage to former Michigan QB/former Arkansas QB and current back-up QB for Tom Brady.
“Honey, hand me Ryan Mallet!”
Trust me – after three hours of putting slot A into slot B and then whacking it with the mallet to get it locked in place, you would have thought that was freaking hilarious, too.
4. Have a Partner
Aside from the fact that the instructions said that two people were needed for most of the feats listed in the instruction book, I was very grateful to have Dear Husband helping on this project. For one thing, who else would hand me Ryan Mallet? For another, who else would think that was funny? Like every time I said it? (Thank God he loves me.)
Seriously, having a partner in crime on a project like this is imperative. As I’ve said before, DIY is one big logic game. And, as the saying goes, two heads are better than one. So, when I couldn’t figure out the instructions to install the first roof panel, I had Dear Husband read the instructions, too, to see if he could figure it out.
As it turns out, neither of us could figure it out. But it was fun being together anyway. (I kid. We figured it out. With Ryan Mallet. Which wasn’t in the instructions. Don’t judge.)
5. Have a Beer (or beverage of your choice) When Finished.
After all, you’ve earned it. I think there’s some unwritten rule somewhere that one should have a tall cool one after completing a project like this. You know: “You’ve managed to use almost all the pieces with only a few, non-essential-looking ones left over. It’s Miller Time!”
So, that’s my advice for staying sane while doing a DIY project. Would you add anything? Let me know in the comments.
Did I mention I love our new shed? It’s the new home for all my gardening stuff.