Some made-up examples:

  • Architect's house is always crooked.
  • Mechanic's car is leaking
  • Chef's breakfast is as plain as boiled eggs

Is there an established saying for these situations?

  • 15
    and web coders never have their own website...
    – Frantisek
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 20:25
  • can't see the woods for the trees
    – JMP
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 3:55
  • "On holiday, the busman never stops."
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 5:18

6 Answers 6


"The cobbler's children are always the worst-shod"

is the saying I've heard most often to describe this phenomenon. Some variants are listed here.

  • 6
    The variation I've often heard on this is "The cobbler's children always go barefoot."
    – Joel Brown
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 3:15
  • 3
    What I've always heard (in the US) is "The shoemaker's children always go barefoot", or something along those lines. (Obviously, a cobbler is a shoemaker is a cobbler, but "cobbler" it not as common in the US.)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 1:31

I've always heard ...

The carpenter's house always needs work.

Another is...

The preacher's kids are always the wildest.

  • 1
    I recall hearing the idiom of the carpenter's house always needing work and it had the context of work - life balance. At home, the carpenter is tolerant of the creaky floor and the breezy window; at work, he is intolerant of these failings.
    – sscheider
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 22:58

One proverb is, "Physician, heal thyself."

  • 4
    Or relatedly, "Doctors make the worst patients." Which, judging by my grandfather during the last few years of his life, holds very much true (in that he kept trying to self-medicate and wouldn't cooperate with his doctor's treatment plan). But he still lived to be 99, so I guess it's hard to complain.
    – fluffy
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 5:51
  • @fluffy, your comment should be an answer. Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 12:08
  • Well, it's not quite an answer to the original question, in that it's more about someone who is one profession resenting someone else of that profession doing the work for (or in this case to) them.
    – fluffy
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 17:16

If a barber has a good haircut...go to HIS barber.

  • 4
    Good advice, but I don't think it's really applicable since under normal circumstances a barber can't cut his own hair anyway.
    – Hellion
    Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 2:25

People don't want to do for free that which they earn money for. The carpenter doesn't want to do carpentry on the weekends for free, hence his house always is in disrepair. It's human nature and I've seen it played out many times.


I've heard (from older folks): "the plumber's house leaks and the carpenter's house creaks". If I google that I get no results on it, so it must be very uncommon.

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