Home Improvement

When DIY Works, and When It Doesn’t

Something we all say from time to time is that we have to choose our battles. When it comes to do-it-yourself jobs around the house, that expression is definitely something to think about.

We all love DIY because it provides tremendous satisfaction along with saving us a lot of money. But the question is always present: Should I just hire somebody to do this for me?

It’s a tough question to answer. There are a lot of things that should go into that decision, and failing to think about any part of the process could make it a DIY disaster…or a big waste of money paid to a professional.

When a project comes your way, frame it up with these basic qualifications.

Do I Have The Equipment?

We’ve all got the basic tools that it takes for routine work around the house or on a vehicle. Certain tasks call for much more specialized gear, though, and trying to improvise without those tools can wreck the whole project.

Welding is a good example. You might have a very small little repair to make on a riding mower deck or a boat trailer, and you may even have a little training on welding and access to a friend’s welder. But without the proper safety equipment like a good mask and some kevlar welding gloves, you can easily end up with an injury that costs far more than a bill from a professional welder. If you don’t have the equipment, find a pro.

What If I Don’t Do A Good Job?

One of the most important things in the process is determining if you can undo mistakes you might end up making. When it comes to things like lawn care, it’s not a big problem if you make a mess of it; the grass will grow back and you can pass the work on to somebody who’s better.

Other jobs are different. Painting inside the house could prove disastrous if you ruin carpet or leave huge areas of running paint. Safety is a big concern too; it may seem like you’ve installed the new brakes correctly on your car, but are you willing to bet your life and your family’s life on your workmanship? You might also do something that results in damage that you are unable to repair yourself, creating two repairs where there had been one.

Warranties are an issue as well. Don’t ever work on any warrantied vehicle or equipment; your shade tree repairs will void the guarantee even if you don’t cause the future problem.

How Long Will It Take Me?

Time is money. Even when we can do a repair or upgrade ourselves, it can take so long as to be a real inconvenience. Think about your kitchen. You might be sick of the ceramic tile and ready to install something new, but the process of gradually chiseling the whole thing out on a series of evenings after work might take so long that you’ll wish you’d hired someone to come and do it in a day.

Hauling materials a pickup load at a time might dramatically increase time requirements compared to having a contractor bring things on a big truck or trailer. And don’t neglect opportunity cost. Are you giving up overtime or sales calls to do work that will cost less than what you would be earning? Look at all the costs involved before committing to DIY.

There is a lot to like about doing work yourself. We all like to stand back and admire what we’ve accomplished while basking in the financial savings. It’s just important to think about the whole process and be realistic about what we can and cannot do.

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