One of the most important relationships you'll make, outside of your spouse, is a competent OB mechanic shop, lol. I do the majority of the work on my little engines, but usually get help if it's something serious on the big one. Finding the "right guy" is key. Ask around, you'll have to wade through 50 different opinions, but eventually, a pattern will form. Pick up the O.E.M Service Manual for your engine and have at it. The little ones are usually quite easy to work on. Plan on cleaning or rebuilding your carb once a year, and keep a close watch on your fuel system and you'll be fine. In response to your question about "is this the norm", sadly enough, quite often when you're in the "wrong" shop. Best wishes.