Socrates said it first, “Know thyself.” This was followed by William Shakespeare’s version: “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” May we all remember these words as we embark on the world of DIY (do it yourself) projects.

Over the course of my career in real estate, I have walked into many a listed home to find a renovation or redecoration project half finished (or half unfinished, depending upon your perspective). This does not leave a great first impression and, frankly, it does not tend to bode well for the seller in their attempt to attain maximum value for their home. In fact, statistically, homes that are dated but have been well cared for generally sell more quickly and for more money than homes that have partly finished or poorly finished projects running amok. In other words, wood paneling looks far better to a buyer than a partially painted Pepto pink wall.

The partially painted wall is probably the one I see the most. Painting sounds easy. Paint is relatively cheap, and Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” can change the whole look of a home with a can of paint in under 30 minutes. Why then can’t someone finish painting just one 10x10 bedroom at some time during in the 6½ years they lived in the home?

There are two answers to this question. The first is this is not HGTV. Painting is not as easy as it looks. There is a fair amount of prep work involved in painting. Plus, it’s messy. It’s time consuming. It requires patience and attention to detail. It requires additional tools, not just a can of paint and a brush. Painting requires some amount of skill as well. That’s the first answer.

For the next answer, we must go back to Socrates and Shakespeare. Some of us come to this planet unable to start something without finishing it. Some people can finish but have a difficult time starting. Some people have great, creative ideas and have the drive and energy to start but lose the drive and momentum to finish, while others overestimate their skill or ability to do something and get in too deep.

It’s important to “know thyself.” Are you a starter and not a finisher? Are you great at ideas but lack the skill or time to learn a new skill? All of these are relevant questions when it comes time for DIY projects.

We are not currently suffering from a shortage of HGTV programming. This DIY programming makes every project look easy and seamless. Sure, they run into a beehive once in a while or suffer the tragedy of having to put the ceiling fan 4 inches to the left of where they had originally planned, but that appears to be the extent of the snags. They seem to always finish on time and flaw-free.

With this onslaught of perfect projects programming, we have become a society of DIYers, whether we have any business doing it or not. Trust me, the pink bathroom sink looks way better than the over-grouted, wacky-lined, M.C. Escher job that someone did after they clearly had one too many beers.

While nobody except a licensed electrician should play with voltage, there are a number of other things better left to the pros. As for me, I know myself. I can clean my own house, mow my own lawn, shovel my own driveway, but I lack the skill as well as the desire to retile my bathroom or add a guest home to the back of my property. Besides that, who wants to make their guests comfortable enough to stay that long anyway?

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or

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