Wow, just tuned in; great thread!
After reading these posts have to identify most with Taylor. My background: former auto technician; went back to school after about 10 yrs of doing that to get electrical engineering degree; have had career in the latter line of work for past 15 yrs or so.
Why am I a DIYer?
1. I'm mechanically inclined; I've been "fixing" things since I was ten.
2. Mostly out of necessity; again identify with Taylor's experience with contractors in general; they want 2 to 3 months of my salary to do a half ass job!
3. My experience combined with my education allows me to "understand" most systems (be it plumbing, construction, carpentry, automotive, etc.) with some/considerable up front work (i.e. study and research) on my part.
BTW: Absolutely no disrespect to any pros here! If you make your living doing any trade, you figure out pretty quickly that if you're going to do this for the long haul, you had better do a good job. And to do that, you need to understand what it is you're doing! In the case of plumbing, that would not only be knowing all the applicable codes and regulations, but the "why" behind those codes and regulations; i.e. why those codes are necessary!
Frankly IMO too many techs learn by doing ONLY, and are not properly schooled in the "why". Then when they try to take shortcuts, they may not understand which shortcuts are OK, and which could be dangerous. Of course this is doubly applicable for DIYers! Just the more reason why this forum is so valuable (Thanks Terry)!
I also whole heartedly agree with Redwood and Dirty Harry! I don't mess with furnaces, because:
1. I don't understand how they work (in detail) and I haven't taken the time to learn.
2. I been lucky to find a reputable HVAC contracter who is competant, honest, and trustworthy.
I could on and on but will spare you. In closing, I'd be interested in what you pros here think should/could be done to improve the competancy of some of those contractors out there who might be less than up to par? Maybe you guys think there's not a problem.
My perspective? Like I said, I worked for over 10 yrs in automotive repair at indy shops and at the dealership level; that's why I never, ever take my vehicles to a dealer, unless I absolutely have to!