Do Things Right The First Time


It will be fine, it’s so close to the main drain pipe that it shouldn’t be an issue, my discount plumber said to me almost four years ago. He said it would take at least an hour for him to cut out and replace the section and that it just wasn’t worth the time and money. He was talking about the last little section of galvanized drain pipe left in the house. Though his advice seemed stained by laziness, I liked the part about saving money on parts and his labor. So we left the old snarly section of drain pipe where it was.

This past Sunday evening, I looked down in utter disbelief. The water in my shower wasn’t draining and was starting to back up. Holy jumping up and down martha, I thought to myself. I had just raced back in through the house and jumped into the shower. The afternoon had been spent replacing two windows in my house and I was trying to get cleaned up before our friends arrived.

I tried to plunge the drain. Didn’t work. After we all had dessert, my friend and I went back in with a coat hanger and tried to get the clog out. That failed as well. The next morning I went out and got some lye and poured that nasty chemical down the drain for a few hours. Still clogged. I borrowed a nice long drain snake that you operate with a drill and spent another few hours trying to get it unclogged to no avail. At this point I had wasted half the day and my anger was building.

I then called a highly rated drain specialist to come and snake the drain out. After he arrived, he spent a solid hour trying to get it unclogged with zero success. He couldn’t get his snake to the clog. At this point I finally accepted that the entire section of drain pipe needed to be replaced, just as it should have been four years ago.

My lesson yet again,was do things right the first time. My example was plumbing, but it’s much more than that. It’s how we do all of our work. It’s how we talk to people and handle the relationships in our lives. It permeates many aspects of our lives.

Here’s five more reasons I’m convinced we should do things right the first time.

5. To really save time. Many a person has left their tools out to save a bit of time, only for the rain to come and ruin them overnight.  What can often tempt us to save mere seconds ends up costing us days of our lives when you factor in the cost of not doing things right the first time. Spending a little extra time doing things right the first time is the best way to save time.

4. To prevent stress and lengthen your life. We are almost always aware when things aren’t done right. This knowledge leads to a lack of confidence in the work and often causes us stress. Stress wreaks havoc on our body and will ultimately shorten our lives. No amount of money being saved is worth days, weeks, months or even years of stress brought on by something not being done right the first time.

3. To save resources. We often choose an inferior or sub-par path in an attempt to save money or time. In my relatively short life, the work usually needs to be redone and often ends up costing much more than it would have if it had been done right the first time.

2. To make the world a better place. We often justify our decisions by how much we think it will impact us personally. I can’t see it from my house, we often say, followed by hearty laughter. If we conclude that it won’t affect us much, we often choose the inferior path. It’s a lie. Someone will suffer the consequences directly and everyone else in the world will suffer them indirectly. There are those that are in the direct path of a tsunami, while the rest of the world is affected by the ripples.

1. Life is short. We often tell ourselves that we will do such and such right the next time. This is assuming there will be a next time. I think it’s wise to live life today so that if we were gone tomorrow, our affairs would be left in such a manner that people would continue for some time noticing that we had done things right the first time.

Are we always going to be able to do things right the first time? No. We can only do our best with what we know about the given situation. If we think we do not know enough to make a wise decision, we should seek out others more knowledgeable than ourselves for advice.

A friend of mine, very experienced in working with plumbing and drains came over and helped me cut out and replace the entire section the next day. It now works like new and should be good to go for many years to come. It’s a good feeling.

Do you have any stories of when you cut corners and  directly saw the consequences? Or times when you did the right thing and have already experienced the fruit of it? I hope you are all doing well,



  1. Great post. I have my fair share of not doing it right and suffering down the road. This post is a wake up call. Thanks for posting.

  2. We have a saying in Spanish: “Lo barato sale caro”. Loosely translated means: Cheap ends up being expensive.

    I could tell you stories, but I need more space.

  3. I too have had my fair share of getting “bit” by taking “short cuts” at my own home AND the rentals. What is most amazing to me …is… these things ALWAYS “blow up” on weekends….when it’s MORE expensive or help isn’t available. I have found routine maintenance to be the best advice. Many a flooded basement because someone didn’t clean the leaves out of their gutter. BUT tell me it wasn’t a great feeling when this thing was fixed and you heard that wonderful “gurgle” of water going down the drain!

    • Totally agree about the routing/preventative maintenance! It was an awesome feeling when it was all done and we turned the water on. It was also an awesome feeling to get to shower again!


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