Do I lose my DIY membership card for this?

Some time ago after I had finished my MBA, and MysteryMan was in the midst of studying for his Professional Engineer’s licensing exam, I was feeling a bit forlorn about the fact that I wasn’t the person taking classes and cramming last-minute for finals.

(I know, I know, but listen we’re in the first stages of building a house without any professional help, so liking school is really the least of our concerns regarding my over all state of mental health)

So a year ago I contemplated taking the 60 hours of required credits to qualify for a Michigan Builders License. For about 5 minutes. And then remembered I have an Actual Real Job and two houses in various states of disrepair and I don’t have 60 additional hours to spare in the next year and a half, let alone in a three month span of time.

And so I pushed the idea out of my mind and kept portions of my sanity intact for the last 9 months or so, until last week I stumbled across the sign-up sheet for another series of residential building classes that start, um, now.

And even though I’ve been working 65 hour weeks, and spending my weekends covered in sawdust, the allure of classes on such exhilarating topics as MIOSHA Construction Safety Standards was just too much to resist.

Even MysteryMan couldn’t put up much of a fight when he saw the sparkle in my eye at the mention of Syllabi! And textbooks! And I had the strong argument on my side of it could be important to know this stuff since we’re building a house in five months. And he’s such a good sport he’s agreed to take the classes with me, although that might be out of self-preservation… can you imagine me with all of the tools and all of the knowledge? Holy hell, talk about a fearsome thing to behold.

So I have the sneaking suspicion he’s doing this as much to keep me in check as anything else, but whatever. A girl takes what she can get.

I don’t suspect we’re going to learn even half of what we need to know to build the house. I believe any construction project is one part trial-and-error, one part sheer guts, half a part of not knowing what in the hell you’re getting yourself into, and four parts having the right tools.

Book knowledge is just kind of a nice-to-have. But, let’s be honest, even a little extra information at this point probably isn’t going to hurt.

Do I actually need a Residential Builders License for anything?

Um, no.

My Actual Real Job involves things like “learning objectives” and the internet, and I hardly ever get to use a hammer in it, although sometimes I would like to. Nor is it a requirement for us to have a residential builders license to build our own home.

And I don’t have any intentions at this point in time of building anyone else’s home. Honestly, I’m not even sure I can build half a house without trying to brain this guy with a two-by-four. Even though I love him. Fiercely. And if I ever hit him with a piece of wood before it was an accident. I swear.

Does this make me a hypocrite?

Probably. I have a deep seeded loathing of “professionals” after some bad experiences I’ve had with people who’ve been paid to work on my house. Like having my water meter installed backwards (that was a fun bill to pay after a year), or the wrong tile permanently adhered to the backsplash in my kitchen.

I mean, I can screw shit up like that and I don’t have to pay myself for it so really? Who needs you?

The last contractor fiasco was 5 years ago, because after that I put on my big-girl panties, stopped screwing around, and started doing all of the work on my house myself. I stopped believing in the phrase “I can’t”.

But I also feel like my experiences could have been so much different. Why didn’t these people care about the work they did on my house as much as they would have the work they did on their own? Why was it all “this can’t be done” or “you shouldn’t do things this way” instead of, “let’s figure out a way this can be done”? I mean… shouldn’t we be licensing these people or something?

Oh. Wait.

I’m not going to lie… I don’t want to be a professional. I want to feel perfectly free to screw up things around my house, and learn through trial and error, and write about all the stupid shit I do (like almost conducting an impromptu mastectomy with a dremmel) all over the Internet.

Really I’m just excited about my crisp new notebooks and no.2 pencils and all the interesting things I might learn in these classes, but there is also a little bit of me that wants a contractor to exist in the world who thinks, like, well… me. Even if she only ever builds one house in her lifetime.

This website has always been a little bit about entertainment, and little bit about information, and a little bit about helping people who are like I once was–sitting on my front porch feeling helpless and frustrated about something that was done wrong on my house and not knowing how to fix it– understand that no project is outside of your abilities if you just have faith in yourself. And the internet. Because I’m not going to lie… faith is nice to have but the internet is really more of a necessity.

End Soapbox.

What you need to know to contract out the construction of a residential structure to subs who know more than you. Apparently.

  • MIOSHA Construction Safety Standards- I’m guessing there isn’t a chapter about using a miter saw on your basement floor while barefoot.
  • Contracts, Liability & Risk Management- Ah, things you could get sued for. MysteryMan, watch out.
  • Design & Building Science – Yes. Please. This is going to be my second favorite class.
  • Marketing & Sales- Blah. Blah. Blah. I want to learn about building things, people.
  • Michigan Residential Code Fundamentals- The class that is going to require flash cards.
  • Project Management & Scheduling- My heart is aflutter. This one may actually come in handy.

Our first four hour class is tomorrow evening. Which is fun. Something else that is fun? I took a vacation day from work tomorrow so that I could tackle hanging drywall by myself. Hopefully I don’t end up in the hospital. Wish me luck!

5 Responses

  1. I view myself as a “professional” even if no one else does, SCREW ‘EM! 🙂 At least I know I’m dependable, honest, hard working and when I do something WRONG I admit it……oh contractors you pay for…..

  2. Amen Meryl! I’d totally hire professionals like us any day. Particularly ones like me, who work for beer.

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.