What DIY Tasks Are Worth Your Time and Money?
Although financial gurus will tell you that DIY is the best way to save money, they don’t tell you that saving that money will be at the expense of your time. If you are already limited in free time — if you have a demanding job, a busy family or an active social life — you might not find that DIY home projects are as rewarding as you might assume.
DIY requires you to invest in materials and tools, and then you could spend hours, days or weeks on a project that doesn’t turn out as you expected. In truth, a professional already has the equipment necessary to do the job, and they have the expertise and efficiency to get the job done better and with a higher-quality finish than you could hope to achieve on your own.
While many projects around the house are best left to experts, there are some that are worth your money and time — and here’s a guide to telling the difference:
Do You Know What You’re Doing?
It’s easy to look up how-tos on the internet and follow the step-by-step instructions. Equipped with the web, you might feel like a DIY master — but the truth is that online guides rarely provide the depth of knowledge you need to complete a task as perfectly as you might hope. There’s a good reason that architects, contractors and the like must endure years of education and acquire licensing and certification before they can legally take jobs; homes are exceedingly complex systems, and it takes significant time and effort to truly understand how they work.
If you don’t have any real experience or education in the field of your intended DIY project — and if you lack a real-life attendant to help you navigate the project, like a knowledgeable family member or friend — you probably don’t really know what you’re doing. That means you could struggle for longer than necessary, wasting time and resources on a less-than-perfect outcome. In this case, it’s always better to hire a professional.
Does It Come with High Risk?
There are many DIY projects that flat-out endanger your health, even when you seemingly do everything right. Working with electricity can give you a life-threatening shock or else set your house on fire; DIY demolition could have your roof falling onto your head; pluming projects can introduce serious pathogens like cholera or Legionnaire’s disease; and heavy machinery associated with other projects might put you in harm’s way. If a project you are considering comes with a high health risk, you can’t chance even a small mistake. Thus, you need to hire an expert to shoulder that responsibility and eliminate the threats to your well-being.
Do You Have the Right Tools?
Assuming you know what you’re doing and assuming there is little to no risk to your person, you still have another consideration: Do you have the tools you need to do the job? Tools and equipment usually aren’t cheap or easy to find, so this is could be a significant obstacle to completing your project DIY-style.
If you plan to complete many DIY projects that require the same kinds of tools, it might not be a bad idea to invest in a high-quality set. Additionally, renting and borrowing machinery and tools might help you lower your up-front costs. Still, if you aren’t comfortable using the tools you’ll need and you don’t have the budget to buy the right equipment, you might as well outsource your project to pros.
Can You Find a Low Quote?
One last indication that hiring experts is a better path than DIY is that professional services are priced equivalently to your DIY costs. Because professionals already have tools and materials on hand, they don’t necessarily build those costs into a quote for a certain project. Instead, they look at the time commitment and complexity of the project, which given their expertise, might not be significant. Plus, in big cities like Philadelphia or Houston, handyman services are competitively priced because there are so many providers vying for clients, so it’s possible to secure a surprisingly low quote.
Contrary to what you might expect, DIY is not always the cheaper, safer or smarter option. If you have your mind set on a certain project around the house, you would do well to consider what professional services are available and to research what they might cost.