DIY Projects: Should You Do It Yourself?

The idea of doing something yourself is an attractive one. You can save money by taking matters into your own hands. However, before you decide that it’s the best idea to do it yourself, consider whether or not you might actually be better off paying someone else to take care of it.

grout repair

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

How Much Time Do You Have?

Do it yourself projects represent the classic exchange of time for money. If you want to do something on your own to save money, you will have to invest time into the project. Do you have that time to invest?

Take a look at what you are doing with your time, and whether or not it makes sense to pay for the convenience of someone else take care of your project. Consider what you are giving up when you take on a do it yourself project. Are you giving up time with your family and friends to engage in the project? Do you have less time to do what you really love because you are doing something yourself?

If you have the money to pay someone else to do it, and you wish you had more time to do what’s really important to you, it’s worth it to consider giving up the DIY attitude in favor of letting someone else take care of it. You can always make more money, but you can’t recover the time you’ve lost.

Do You Have the Necessary Expertise?

Even if you think that you have the time for a DIY project, you still need to take a step back. Do you have the necessary expertise to complete the project? Some projects, like building a basic nightstand, can be learned  fairly easily. And almost anyone can mow the lawn in a satisfactory manner. But there are some projects that really benefit from expertise. Plumbing and electrical work are examples of situations where it might be better to have the experts do their job.

There are other projects that might require an expert’s touch. While dry wall isn’t the hardest thing in the world to put up, it can look better when you have a professional helping you out — as we found out when my husband’s cousin helped us repair the damage from our flooded basement.

Think about the purpose of the project, and the impact it is likely to have on your home. In many cases, if you make a mistake, it can cost even more to have it fixed. Honestly evaluate whether or not you have the necessary skills and expertise to do a good job. If you don’t, your DIY project could quickly change from a money-saver to a money pit as you end up calling in the professional to fix the damage you’ve done.

When You Don’t Have the Money

In some cases, DIY becomes necessary because you lack the funds to hire someone else. Be careful in these circumstances. You might be able to get a loan to help you cover the costs if there is an immediate problem, or, in certain instances, your insurance policy might be able to help you pay for the work. If the need isn’t immediate, though, you might be better off creating a savings plan and working toward your goal. Don’t rush an unnecessary DIY job just because you can’t afford to pay someone else. Save up for the work.

Right now, we’re in the process of having the flooring in our home redone. We’re saving up and having it done in stages. We don’t have the time to do it ourselves, and we don’t have the expertise to do the job with the quality we want. As a result, we’re doing it a little at a time, and taking it in steps that fit within the parameters of our spending plan.

DIY can be a great way to save money and learn a new skill. However, doing everything yourself might not be the best solution. You might actually benefit from paying someone else.

What do you think? When is it best to hire someone else, instead of doing it yourself?

About the Author

By , on Sep 22, 2012
Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

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Leave Your Comment (7 Comments)

  1. Clayton says:

    I have done plenty of DIY, but normally all the money you save is spent on getting the tools and knowledge to get it done, unless your going to do it several times.

    I also found out that learning some new DIY can be very time intensive.

    I learned this working on cars and doing plumbing for a rental house. I was able to get my rentalk house turned around in just two weeks instead of the 6 weeks it would have taken had I done it myself. Plus it was done much better than I ever could have on my own.

  2. Kris says:

    Fixing things yourself is a great way to save money. But not always a great way to save time. I like fixing things myself (my kids call me Mr Fixit) but I always check for a good article or video to see what I’m getting into before I get started.

  3. Jane Gordon says:

    I love DIY projects, they make me feel self-sufficient! There is nothing better than fixing or creating something that would have cost a lot of money to hire some one to do for you! Thanks for the post, this was a great reminder!

  4. Appliance repair is another one, sometimes this can be simple. Hiring someone can cost as much as a new one sometimes, say with an old washer or dryer. A friend recently put a new pump in his washer, but didn’t quite get the fitting right, and caused $750 in water damage, so it is good to know one’s limits.

  5. Ashley says:

    It all comes down to how valuable your time is. If you’re unemployed and are struggling to find work then even if you don’t have the necessary expertise it might be worth having a crack even if it’s to try and keep your mind active learning a new skill/trade.

    Who knows, you might even be able to turn it into a little cash by doing the same job for neighbors and friends/family.

  6. Jenna says:

    Things that involve permits should be left to the professionals. Small cosmetic updates can definitely save you money when you do them yourself.

  7. I do a lot of things myself, mostly because I like to save the money but also because I like the learning experience. When I do it myself, I know exactly what went into it. That being said, there are some things I outsource. For example, our new carpet. I could have royally messed up the cutting or something and botched it irreparably, so I outsourced!

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