Like many here, I was born with an unhealthy desire to do things myself. It is in my DNA, it isn't gonna change.

This is NOT a post about the evils of the government deciding what/when/how I can do things on property that I supposedly own. That ship has sailed. Good or bad, it is the type of civilization that exists on this planet. Let's move on.

What I want to know is this. What is the most practical way for someone like me to be allowed to do the maximum amount of any particular building/remodeling job myself while working TOGETHER with the trades/inspector (as little as possible) rather than against them.

Specifically, I'm asking what are the best ways for me to find the right guy in the trade or approach a given tradesman to get them to agree to a contract job where:

  1. I pay them for the time it takes them to "walk me through the job and tell me how they would do it". A mini-brain dump about the pitfalls and codes involved.

  2. they go away and don't bother me.

  3. I pay them for the time it takes them to come over and "inspect" my work and tell me what I need to change and how. He is on site for interim inspections from the county and he gets paid for all of his time by the hour.

  4. After a couple iterations of the above, I pay them to "finish the job" and call the inspector to come approve the job.

Item 4 above would vary from job to job, but an example might be putting in a driveway...I do all the excavation and prep and gravel and build the forms and put in the rebar, yada yada, and then he and his crew order the cement truck and pour it and finish it. This is just an example with one specific trade.

So, is there a way to find such a contractor? Would just about any smallish contractor do this if I posed the job to them in the proper way? Are there some trades where this idea can fly, and others where there is no chance?

The question is posed mostly to the many tradespeople who frequent this forum, but I also would like to hear from any DIY'ers similarly afflicted who have found a workable path through this quagmire over the years.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Tester101 Jul 13 '15 at 14:00

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    I'm not sure there is really an "answer" to this, it seems like it would mostly be opinions. Remember that stack exchange is not a forum. – Steven Jul 13 '15 at 13:14
  • Hang out at the bars where the tradespeople hang out, and make some friends. Most folks are not going to trust you to do their work, and are not willing to put their license on the line for somebody they don't know/trust. – Tester101 Jul 13 '15 at 14:08
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    Some contractors are willing to advise/work with DIYers; some aren't. Only way I know to find out is to ask then to price a job while allowing for "sweat equity" -- have them tell you which portions they think you could handle and what that would do to total cost -- and see how reasonable they seem to be about it. – keshlam Jul 13 '15 at 15:05
  • It is sad to see this question closed, there are some stack Nazi's that really ruin it for others. I am a mostly DIY'er, but will sometimes use others when the situation warrants. For Example, I installed almost the entirety of my own HVAC system, but I had an AC company come out and run the refridgerant lines to the condenser. I just did the work, and then called them up and explained the job. They were happy to have the extra, high skilled/low risk work, and I was happy to pay for it. – Mauser Oct 10 '18 at 19:18
  • I also had them come out and set up some connections on the thermostat. I banged my head against the manual enough that I just was done with it, so I called a company, they came out and fixed it, while i watched. learned, and helped. Most people are happy to have someone help them do work, the people you pay are no exception. – Mauser Oct 10 '18 at 19:21

You might find such a person, but it'll be tough. I suspect you'll spend a lot of time on the phone, reading your 4 points out, before you get someone that's willing. My guess is that you'll end up finding an older, semi-retired handyman type.

Concerns/roadblocks include (but aren't limited to) the fact that you're asking the trade to take some measure of responsibility for your work. (I know you said 'inspect', but sometimes things get buried/missed/fail later, and that would make a trade nervous.) The initial "brain dump" sounds good, but I sometimes find that I can only make choices once I'm elbow deep in a job. That, and you'd need someone that communicates well. The last thing that springs to mind is about specialty tools: if I've invested a grand in door hanging stuff, it's easier/faster/more cost efficient for me to just hang the door than to instruct you on how to work through it with non-specialty tools. (Though maybe you're heavily tooled up and this wouldn't be so much of an issue...)

Anyway, I do wish you luck. I think this approach can work for some jobs, and won't be as applicable for others.

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