From the book, How to be Handy: What’s in it for me?

This post is the third in a long series as I release my latest book here online over the next few months… (use the search box at the top right of this page and search “How to be Handy” to read them all) or of course, you can head over to Amazon to grab a physical copy (or eBook) to read with your coffee or give to a significant other, (wink, wink!)…

Today’s excerpt explains the differences between my book and regular DIY books plus some of the benefits of being handy, to motivate and inspire you to have a go at this DIY lark… 

What’s Different About This DIY Book?

Many DIY books are huge and intimidating, full of step-by-step instructions, ‘how to fix a leaky tap’, for example; but what happens if your tap doesn’t look like the one in the book? What happens if you get stuck? What happens if the guide’s instructions don’t work? What if the step-by-step guide was written by a journalist or an academic and not a tradesman, or it’s simply out of date? You get my drift…

I want this book to teach you the principles of being handy, because once you understand the principles, the details you can find out for yourself. And the details matter, (critically sometimes). For example, I could show you how to fix a particular thing in detail, but then if you took those very same details and applied them to something else, the end result could be disastrous.

So let’s take you way beyond following step-by-step instructions, lets get you thinking and acting like a handy person; and then you’ll be able to do anything you set your mind to, absolutely anything, seriously.

Sticking with the fictional tap analogy, the approach in this book will show you how to look at your imaginary tap, figure out how it goes together, spot the details showing you how to get it apart, to notice where the seal fits and to understand how it seals and stops the tap from leaking. Figuring out how the tap works makes repairing the leaky bit a cinch, because you’ll understand the problem, you’ll know where to go to find a replacement seal and ‘hey presto’, you’ve just come up with a workable solution and solved the problem.

Learning ‘On the Fly’

Running a construction business, I see new things all the time, and I wondered, how do I do this? I realised that I approached new stuff in a particular way, Microsoft call it “integrating new information and skills to enhance personal performance”, i.e. Learning on the fly…

Learning as we go is as important as it is inevitable, because of change. Manufacturers alter specifications, suppliers come and go, imports from abroad and progress introduces new technology and materials. And professional need to learn it all (usually without any official extra training). It might look like handy people instinctively know what to do, but it’s not all instinct, it’s more ‘learned’ than that. Of course, I do start by comparing the new task with any remotely similar previous experiences I’ve had, and adapting any applicable existing skills. But critically, the important thing to remember is that I’m always learning. By using all my senses in a way that I’d been unconsciously honing my entire life, plus researching just enough to fill in the gaps and get the job done.

In this book, I’ll explain how you can train your senses, build up your knowledge of the physical world, practice some simple skills and critically, teach yourself just enough to get the job done. Yes, you read correctly, that’s ‘teach yourself.’ But before you rush to ask for your money back, give me a chance; let me show you, read the book and start-taking notice of the physical world that surrounds you. I think you’ll surprise yourself how easy it’s to learn once you practice this simple approach.

You’ll have no doubt heard the cheesy old proverb which says:

‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

Most DIY guides give you the fish, but I hope this book will teach you how to fish! Erm, well, I’m not actually going to teach you how to fish ……………Oh, you know what I mean!

What’s in it for Me?

What? Being rock star handy isn’t enough? Dude! Okay then, here’s the thing; it’s a universal truth that there is ALWAYS something to do in any kind of house, even a tree house or a mud hut. From eradicating unwanted traces of the previous occupiers, to getting it how you want it. Then you’ve got maintenance to think about to protect yourself and your investment.

No matter whether you’re a homeowner, tenant, first time buyer, independent, newly independent or a long-suffering partner; learning a few practical skills will come in handy. Even if you’re turning your back on the rat race to live in a mud hut, you’ll need to know how to repair those cracks and maintain those banana leaves on the roof before the monsoon season starts… (I talk from experience here…).

As you go through the book you’ll start to think and act like a handyperson. Picture yourself being able to do some of these things…

  • Fix simple failures on your everyday items.
  • Look after and maintain stuff you want to keep.
  • Repair stuff that breaks down.
  • Assemble new stuff you buy and with no parts left over.
  • Breathe new life into tired things and be creative.
  • Find free information you need online and offline.

Actually, we can be more succinct, being handy means being able to do stuff, any kind of stuff! Still need convincing that learning this stuff is worth the effort? Let’s look at some more benefits…

Show Me the Money

Property experts say you should spend around one percent your properties value every year on maintenance to keep it looking good and properly protected. Work out one percent of the average house price in your street (dang, I know I should have charged more for this book!) Hiring people to improve, repair or maintain your home or vehicle costs a lot because craftspeople demand good salaries, shiny 4×4 trucks, short days, and sunny holidays in exchange for their considerable skills (quite rightly so!).

This means DIY could save you hundreds or even thousands every single year; giving you more money to spend on more exciting stuff like your own sunny holidays.

Oh, the Personal Satisfaction

Don’t underestimate the satisfaction and the intense feeling of pride you’ll get when working with your hands. I can recommend Matthew Crawford’s book “The Case for Working with Your Hands: Or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good” to understand more about this.

You’ll also enjoy the feeling of being able to cope when everyday items ‘wobble’, fixing them on the spot or preventing them from failing altogether by recognising what’s happening. Even nicer is the feeling of maintaining something you treasure or improving your home. No matter how small the job, the sense of achievement is hugely satisfying and rewarding.

Getting Your Work Done on Your Terms

Hiring people can be a lottery because of variations between your expectations and what the other person thinks is acceptable.

Besides, for many people, having big hairy blokes* tramping through the house can be inconvenient or upsetting even, especially if they are less than professional in their management of any mess. Apologies for the stereotype, but I’m most definitely hairy…

Whereas, being handy and doing-it-yourself, you get your jobs finished on your terms, exactly how you want them done and no waiting weeks or months to start. You also have complete control over how much it costs and the quality of the work.  

DIY, Fun and Keeping Fit

Your savings on gym membership is worth the price of this book alone, and it’s more fun than going to the gym. Fun? Yes, fun. Anything’s more fun than staring out of the window on a treadmill, isn’t it? Come on!

For example; I use my practical skills to cut down and chop up unwanted trees for the local authority. Lugging logs through the woods, swinging an axe and stacking, turns my hard workout into valuable firewood, (I live in Norway now and winters are long and cold…), warming me twice as they say.

Many other DIY jobs are physically demanding too; paint preparation and painting usually involves lots of climbing up and down (steps?) Bending up and down to lay a wooden floor (aerobics?) Knocking down brick walls or digging foundations (weights?) Consider mowing the lawn with a push mower (cardio?), which saves money as well as entertaining the neighbours and keeping you fit. Oh, and don’t forget the little victory dance when you finish a project or fix the washing machine… (Zumba?).

Saving the World

We all like to do our bit to protect the environment. As a handy person, you’ll save valuable resources by keeping your stuff in good repair, and avoid the untimely purchase of replacements. Handy people understand the importance of quality, buying things that will last a long time with some simple maintenance. Fashion, peer pressure or obsolescence is less likely to persuade you to buy replacements for things you have that still work just fine.

Plus, there’s charm in building relationships with something you hope is going to be around forever. For example, the good quality tools I bought as a teenage apprentice, now fit me like a glove…

In addition, you’ll be able to make ‘new’ things by reusing or re-purposing stuff other people don’t want anymore, gaining interesting characterful things for your home. There many cheap things, furniture especially, that will love a new lease of life in an alternative setting after a few easy modifications or improvements.

How to Use This Book

You can of course choose to read the book from cover to cover wearing comfy pyjamas in your favourite armchair, or you could cherry pick chapters sitting on the toilet (eww!). Either way, will you do it? Will you follow through? Remember Jim Rohn’s words; “The book you don’t read won’t help.” So, use the book as a starting point, but make the effort to practice what you learn as well; it’s the only way to improve your skills. I know you want to be handy or you wouldn’t be here, but will you do the work? Do you have what it takes, huh? Huh? Yes, of course you do… Excellent!

A Note About Stuff

I like the word stuff. It covers a lot of, well, erm….…stuff! Because this book isn’t a step-by-step guide, I’ll refer to lots of things as simply ‘stuff.’ Just replace the word ‘stuff’ with tap washer, toaster, tractor or whatever else you’re working on beginning with ‘T’!

Don’t forget I’m Here to Hold Your Hand

You’ll not be alone. You’ll find me pottering around on the companion website ‘’, where you can ask questions if you get stuck.

Have I managed to convince you that this DIY stuff is going to be cool? (with the longest introduction to ever grace the front of a DIY book!). Are you still with me? Then you’re a superstar and good to go, read on…

Next time we’ll start the Developing Practical Knowledge chapter… where the serious work begins!

If you don’t want to wait, you can, of course, buy the whole book (wink, wink!). Available at Amazon… How to be Handy [hairy bottom not required]

Stay well


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.