I've owned real estate as an investment for about 11 years all together and have done just about every job imaginable in fixing the properties up. Before that I renovated 2 homes. I did not grow up as a skilled tradesman. My father went to school nights or worked and I spent most of my youth either babysitting for my 7 younger siblings or studying. (I attended a Prep school, so we did not have any shop or tech classes.) So I never did nor learned how to do any work that involved manual labor in regards to fixing houses.
These are the skills that I possess today:
- electrical - any kind of wiring
- plumbing - done it all
- furnaces - installed them and the duct work
- kitchens - installed complete kitchens starting from 4 empty walls
- replacement windows - piece of cake now :)
- installing insulation
- carpentry work
- drywall and mud work
- gutting - my favorite!
I could go on, but you get the idea. So how did I learn to do all these jobs? I remember the first house I bought. It needed an exterior paint job. After, wearing myself out scrapping old paint, I read about using heat guns to remove the old paint. I ended up catching the house on fire (the insulation under the siding caught on fire). Now I could have given up at that point and hired someone to paint all my houses, declaring myself as not "handy". But I persisted and learned how to do the job.
The same has been true with every job I have done since. In the early years of learning plumbing I constantly started fires when I sweat pipes together in tight quarter. And I am still making mistakes!! I have screwed up more jobs then most people have even tried. Then I fix it. (I see a lot of poor work that homeowners have done that they never bother to fix)
I think that the main difference between me and my colleagues that are not "handy" has to do with a willingness to figure out how to do something and to persist until I learn how to do it well. And this is a lesson for anything in life that I preach to my kids. You've got to be willing to do something poorly until you learn to do it well.