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Do it Yourself or Hire Out? 3 Things to Keep in Mind

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Should you take a do it yourself approach to things, or hire them out? Here's what to consider.

The personal finance world is full of valuable tips on how to make virtually any project a “do it yourself” project. From refinishing cabinets to installing a new doorbell to redoing your basement, there’s articles, tips, lists and You Tube videos on how to do just about anything.

This is especially true when it comes to craft, decorating and home improvement projects. Sometimes, however, “do it yourself” isn’t the best option. Like when it comes to converting a wood fireplace into a gas one, or pretty much anything dealing with electricity. Those projects can be dangerous and require advanced knowledge that might be beyond the reach of a You Tube video.

So, how does one eager to make the most of their dollars decide whether they should undertake a project on their own, or hire a professional? When I’m making that decision, I try to keep three factors in mind – attitude, safety and time.

#1 – Cultivate a Do it Yourself attitude

 

In the nearly twenty years that my husband and I have been married, he’s learned, with the help of books and the Internet how to: install tile, linoleum and laminate flooring; repair sheetrock; do a flush and fill on the radiators in our vehicles; remodel both a bathroom and a laundry room and much, much more. His most recent do it yourself conquest was tearing off and replacing the roof on our 12×12 shed.

The take-away here is that just because you don’t know how to do something, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn. There are so many resources out there to help you cultivate a do it yourself attitude. The library, the Internet, skilled friends or family members: they all can be resources for you in learning to tackle new projects.

Also, many local home improvement stores hold workshops on different do it yourself projects too. “I don’t know how” just doesn’t fly as a reason these days when it comes to not learning how to do a project yourself. If you’re on the fence about whether to hire out a project or do it yourself, stop and ask yourself what kind of attitude you have (or would like to develop) when it comes to projects. If you don’t know what you’re doing but are willing to learn and have a positive attitude, doing it yourself may be the best route for you to go.

#2 – Don’t Forget About Safety

 

One reason you might not want to make a project a do it yourself project is when your health and safety may be put at risk by completing the project yourself. If you or your family’s safety is even remotely in danger or if undertaking the project and doing it wrong may end up costing you more in the long run, it may be best to consider hiring the project out.

Electrical projects, outdoor projects such as tree trimming, or projects where heavy lifting is involved all might be reasons to avoid doing it yourself and leaving the work to the experts.  Yes, it will cost more, but I think we’d all agree that our health is priceless and not worth the risk. Also, getting that tree trimmed by the experts is likely much less costly than the hospital bills that could be incurred by an injury to a do it yourself fanatic.

#3 – Time is Money

 

Time savings is another reason one might choose outsourcing a project as opposed to going the do it yourself route. We chose to outsource last year when a car repair came up that my husband didn’t know how to do. He estimated that to learn and repair the car would take him about eight hours, however, my brother the mechanic could do it in less than two. We chose to spend the money. My brother got the opportunity to earn a nice chunk of extra cash, and Rick and I spent the day ice skating with the kids. In some cases, it’s well worth it to spend the money to hire an expert.

Factors to consider when thinking about whether or not to do it yourself or hire out.

Learning to do a project yourself provides for big money savings and valuable skill-building, but that doesn’t mean that do it yourself is always the way to go. Take the time to consider other possible scenarios before making the decision of whether to complete a project on your own, or hire out. Sometimes saving money is the best value while at other times, the money spent is well worth it.

 

What’s the latest do it yourself project you’ve taken on? What do you consider before deciding to do a project yourself or hire it out? Are you all thumbs when it comes to do it yourself projects? If so, how do you get the best deal for professional work?

 

 

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.

27 Comments

  • My rule is to always “give it a shot”. Rarely are you going to make something more expensive for a pro when you try it yourself. At the worst, you’ll give the pro a good chuckle when s/he sees your bum repair attempt 🙂

    But usually it turns out that a combination of youtube and the library can show you how to do it just fine.

    I’ve been working on a drywall project. I know I could hire it out, it would get done super fast and would be really well done. But heck, drywall isn’t rocket science! Might as well take my time and diy. It’s turning out just fine.

    • Laurie says:

      That, and you’re learning a valuable skill. I was so excited when Rick chose to replace the roof on our shed last week because now, if he wants to, he knows how to do our garage and barn. Yay for money savings! 🙂

  • I love the idea of DIY projects, but I agree wholeheartedly about the safety aspect. I wouldn’t mess with wiring or plumbing or anything that’s easy to mess up and really has to be done right. But painting and minor repairs I’m all for!

  • I really love watching DIY videos on YouTube and it seems very helpful. Last year, it was my first time to DIY when I repainted our room and I loved the result!

    • Laurie says:

      Good for you, Clarisse! It was a Youtube video that helped me to teach my son to say his “R’s” correctly, avoiding costly speech therapy classes.

  • Jay’s pretty handy and can do just about anything because of his particular job skills, but I drew the line a few years ago at garage renovation. We had a 3 car garage that we wanted to make into a 2 car garage. I know that sounds nutty, but it’s a long story, so suffice it to say that when he wanted to take on the task himself, I said “no way”. Hey, I like to save a buck too, but that just sounded way too dangerous to me. He had a carpenter friend do it, he did a fabulous job, and it was worth the cashola. You are so right about safety before savings! love, Love, LOVE this post Laurie! 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, yes, Rick and I have had these same discussions. So far, he wins every time, but there have been a few instances when I would’ve preferred he’d have hired out. 🙂

  • I sanded and restained all of our kitchen cabinets by hand this year. However, I paid someone to install our new kitchen countertops. I don’t have much DIY ability, but I try to DIY things that I won’t mess up. Also, like you said, time is money. I can’t spend countless hours on something at this point in my life because of work and kids. Doing the cabinets was easy because I only did a few cabinets each day over the span of a few weeks.

    • Laurie says:

      That was a smart move, Holly, and I remember how nicely the cupboards turned out. We had the same awesome result when Rick remodeled our laundry room earlier this year.

  • I must admit I’m terribly unhandy. I mean so bad, although recently I wanted to get my carpets cleaned professionally but didn’t want to pay, but knew a friend who had a pro grade cleaner so with his help I did that. My hope is that I marry someone very handy…until then I’ll keep renting so that I don’t have to pay for repairs. lol!

    • Laurie says:

      Funny, Tonya. 🙂 My friend steam cleans her own carpets on a regular basis, and has more than made back the few hundred dollars she spent for a quality steam cleaner.

  • Mrs. 1500 says:

    We have been flipping houses for years, and consider ourselves super handy. So when we needed new gutters, we decided we could handle it, because how hard could it be?
    Gutter materials are made of super thin metal, with nice, sharp edges. They come in 10 foot lengths, and not one of our rooflines was only 10 feet long. We put together a long section, it looked terrible and we sliced open a finger doing it. After we took it to the back of the house to put up, we decided we needed about 19 more hands just to get it in place. It didn’t take much to persuade Mr. 1500 to let me hire that out. It cost about $400 more than the materials for us to do it ourselves, plus they are seamless and straight. Way worth that cash.
    Another reason to not DIY is when it will actually cost you less. Insulation is a find example. We flipped a house in Wisconsin, and the insulation cost more at the local store than the insulation company quoted us for both labor and materials. A no-brainer.

    • Laurie says:

      Wow – that’s amazing about the insulation!! Your story proves that it’s a good idea to at least check out the “hire someone” prices before doing it yourself.

  • Ben Luthi says:

    I love changing the oil in my car, even though I only save $10 every 4-5 months or so when I do it. Just the idea of using my raw manly power to maintain my vehicle is quite empowering 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, funny, Ben. 🙂 Rick changes his own oil too. Part of it is money savings, but part of it is that he just likes that control aspect of making sure it’s done right. 😉

  • Syed says:

    I’ve never been a do it yourselfer, but since becoming a homeowner I’m quickly learning! It’s all about time vs money. And YouTube is such a great resource to learn just about anything.

    • Laurie says:

      Exactly, Syed!!! Always best to weigh time vs. money before making a DIY decision. An old friend of mine paid every week to have his lawn mowed b/c it just wasn’t worth it to him to do it himself.

  • We recently refinished half of our basement and it’s probably a project we would never consider if we didn’t have my father-in-law. He is an engineer who has personally refinished four basements in previous homes, so he was well versed and well prepared for the project. I think it turned out great and we love having the extra family space!

  • Kathy says:

    We used to do almost everything ourselves because we didn’t have the money to hire someone and found that the time we spent trying to get estimates and getting people to show up…well, we could get it done ourselves in that amount of time. Now, however, we have more financial resources so we generally hire it done. Plus, we are older and have found that as we age, things simply become much more difficult to do ourselves.

  • I go back and forth on the “time is money” argument. I think it’s true that sometimes there are better uses of your time than a DIY project, but the skills you learn are more valuable than most people give them credit for.

  • Michelle says:

    My dad is my go to guy. If he can’t fix it, then I will call.

  • Taylor says:

    Time is money… such a good point! I learned this while wedding planning. It’s far more practical to spend a little more money on outsourcing something than spending weeks doing it. Good advice.

  • Steve Adcock says:

    Start small. Jumping right into your first DIY project that involves an addition to your home, for example, probably isn’t the best use of your time at the moment. Fix the toilet. Tweak the garbage disposal. Do the small things in your home enough to build up some confidence to tackle the larger things.

    And don’t forget to use resources like YouTube for videos on how to do things. If you’re tackling a job, then chances are someone else has already done it and may have posted a how-to video about it. Use your free resources as much as you can.

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