If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that we’re big fans of do-it-yourself projects. Even when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, I was happily transforming a backyard shed into a cute little office, and we managed to get all 27 of our garden beds planted this spring, even though we had a new baby in April. My husband made a concrete path to get to the backyard office, and he’ll be spending tomorrow building a sandbox for our son while I work on painting the porch we just finished putting on the office. Sometimes it feels like our project list is never-ending.
But I am also learning to step back and consider other options besides the DIY route, and sometimes it just makes more sense to hire someone. We have a 3/4 acre lot, and more than half an acre of it is fenced with six foot wooden fencing. The previous owners put in the fence, but never stained it or treated the wood with anything. It’s very weathered, and ever since we moved in we’ve talked about staining it. To do it ourselves would involve renting a pressure washer and a sprayer for the stain, and buying lots and lots of stain (probably $500 – $700 worth, depending on what we got). Then we would have to find time to get out there and do the project, using rented equipment – which means we’d be on the clock the whole time. With two little boys, we almost never have large chunks of uninterrupted time to devote to a project. Nursing, diaper changes, and snuggles with our baby have to take priority, as do all the things that a three-year-old needs.
So after talking it over, we decided to look into hiring out the fence project. We got a few estimates, and ended up choosing a company that uses a product that will supposedly seal our fence permanently (it comes with a 30 year warranty), as opposed to just coating it with stain. It’s going to cost us about two thousand dollars (gulp). Obviously that’s more expensive than doing it ourselves would have been, but there’s a big convenience factor involved, and it’s hard to put a price tag on that. We don’t have to go rent the equipment, buy the stain, figure out how to use the equipment, and then try to find the hours and hours of time that it would have taken us to wash and stain the huge amount of fencing we have.
We’re still big DIY-ers. We love projects, and we have a lot more planned. Most of them we’re happy to do ourselves, from regular maintenance to appliance repair. Our son is able to “help” with some of them, and we love involving him (he has his own little garden bed this year, with lots of radishes in it). But while I used to have a DIY-at-all-costs mentality, I’m starting to be more flexible on the subject. Part of that is because we’re not broke anymore. As long as we’re frugal most of the time and stretch our dollars as much as we can, we’re able to afford to hire someone occasionally. And another part of it is that I value my time more than I used to. I would rather be with my boys than spend several days sprucing up our fence.
What do you think? I know a lot of my readers are frugal DIY-ers too. What projects do you think are worth hiring out rather than doing yourself… if any?
Sounds like you made the best decision for you. Once you factor in what your time is worth you my end up spending more than the $2000 quoted. Sometimes leaving it to the preofessionals more than makes up for frustration trying to do it yourself. Especially if you are never going to do this again you would not need to learn this as far as DIY goes. Can’t wait to see photos!
Karen (scotland) says
I can really relate to this post. We have always been huge DIY-ers but I feel our thoughts starting to change. My husband is a sailor and is at sea half the year (literally). We now have four children aged 6 and under. His salary has doubled in ten years.
Add all that together and it means we are time-poor and cash-rich(er than we used to be!)
I’m considering getting a painter in so that I can just get the whole house painted top to bottom in one week flat. We’ve never actually completed a single room since we moved in here properly and rooms are often left half-painted for months. I’m thinking it’s time to bite the bullet and just get someone in.
Our main problem is that we have high standards and shoddy workmanship drives us mad. I would really, really grudge having to pay a tradesman who hasn’t done the job as well as my husband or I can do! :-) And I’m a pretty neat painter so rough edging or not lifting the lightswitches to paint under the edges will make me crazy.
Anyway, just to say, yep, I think you’ve made the right decision.
Karen (scotland) says
Meant to add that I started to look at things in terms of my husband’s hourly rate and as if I was paying him for his time. Plus my time as his labourer.
Suddenly makes tradesman seem much cheaper!
we stained our fence .22 of an acre, with rollers and paint brushes and 2 5 gallon buckets of stain. Our daughter slept most of the time in her swing, she was pretty young. You should do whatever you want- I mean it’s only money. It’s not worth anything by itself only by what you can get for it.
I am interested in the permanent stain/seal. Could you give more details on that or direct us to a website explaining it? Thanks!
Jennifer – this is the stuff: http://www.zerovoc.com/Zr44WoodSealer.php We haven’t had it done yet, but I have found no complaints registered against the company that applies it in our area, so we’re optimistic!
Michele – We did consider it. When our older son was a baby, we painted the exterior of our two story house. He slept most of the time in his Pack n Play, and we just moved it around in the grass so that we could keep an eye on him. With two children, projects of that size are a bit more daunting. Our second baby is a much lighter sleeper, so the long stretches of nap time don’t happen often. And of course now there’s a three-year-old running around all day, who hasn’t taken a nap in over a year ;)
Regina W says
Great post! My husband and I are still in the mostly broke stage of life, so we’re pretty hard-core DIY-ers, but we run into this issue a lot with some of the more specialized things that need to happen, like car repairs. Can my husband do them? Generally, yes. Will it take him forever and a ton of frustration? If the answer to that one is “yes,” then we seriously consider having a professional do the repairs.
But on smaller things, like the curtains for our living room, we’ll do ourselves when we have the energy (I’m 6 months pregnant and wiped out). Our $1/yd fabric + time to iron and sew a few straight lines is waaaay better than buying 6 panels at the store, even if we have to wait a few months until they’re done.
I think its a great idea to hire people to do stuff when your time is better spent elsewhere.
We bought a house that was a complete fixer-upper. We’ve owned it for 4 years now, and it is livable, but not complete. It probably wont be complete for another 2-3 years.
Hubby wanted to do things like cut the 6 trees that were too close to the house. Thankfully, I talked him into hiring someone (with experience!) to do it. Phew. Disaster diverted.
He also wanted to redo the roof himself. At the time, it was leaking and damaging things inside the house. The thing is, he is only one man. I called out several companies for quotes, and we ended up having a professional do it. For $5500, we had our whole roof (over 4,000 sq. ft. of roof!) completed within a week. Not to mention it came with a warranty! It would have taken hubby a month (and several months of healing from back pain!)
So, as much as hubby wants to do things himself, it’s just not feasable or even a good idea! He’s had to work on the foundation on two areas of the house (one of which he fell through the floor!), and all is working out great. I’m glad I was blessed with an intelligent DIY’er by heart, but sometimes he goes a bit too far. I love his ambition, though.
So, because of my fearless DIY’er, we bought an 1800 sq. ft. house for $35,000 and have saved ALOT of money in doing the repairs ourself. When we refinanced the house last year (lowered it to a 15 year at 3.79%) when it was still not complete, I was surprised that we had over $60,000 in equity in the house. That is all because of my hubby. And the best part is, we are doing it all with cash now that we are debt free (except the mortgage) little by little. It may take us 7 years to be completely done, but it was well worth it!
Over the years we have always tried to keep everything in house, but eventually you have to weigh the cost or time, money, and resources to perform DIYs instead of outsourcing!
My husband used to do all our car repairs. Then he hurt himself and now I wont let him do anything but the basics on a car. Even after surgery he still has a numb foot and has episodes where the back goes out on him. He still wants to do the work and I fight him on it….a trip to the mechanic is pricey but a trip to the hospital is worse. I now consider all kinds of things – like he wanted to put in our fence…I talked him into hiring someone. He COULD do it and save us money. The cost would be mobility later in life and I want to go for walks with my old man….not charge up his scooter.
Diedra B says
I’m not a big DIY-er. In fact, I’m not even a little one. However I believe that you have to do what’s right for you. When something is professionally done by the right person, it will last. Otherwise you can kick their butts and make them come fix it. I’m all for taking on smaller projects. But some things just call for someone who’s performed the task about a million times.
I DIY some things, but like Diedra I still think it’s best to consult the experts. I certainly can do basic things (paint, replace outlets, etc), but I like experts for anything remotely complicated like car repair or extensive painting. For my upcoming wedding, I am doing a little DIY (most of the decor) but not much. I’m crafty, but I also recognize that getting married is a big enough change for me without adding in the need to do more on my own. Buying cake will be expensive, and it’s rough when I’ve made basic cakes for other weddings and stuff, but it will make my life so much simpler.
I did find one thing I will always DIY in the future: cutting my cat’s nails. I’ve done it myself for years with human nail cutters, but I’m a bit timid and have a hard time cutting the back nails. We were recently at the vet, and I had her cut the nails. Imagine my surprise at the $12 charge on our bill! I didn’t even notice until after I paid (my bad). I think I will look at buying the cat-appropriate tool and continuing to cut her nails myself.
I DIY for a lot of things! I have a huge yard and I do all of the maintenance and gardening myself. I do all the interior painting myself too. I DON’T do electrical or plumbing myself — not enough knowledge and in those cases, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing! ha! ==But, as a matter of fact, I’m about to head start pressure washing my deck this morning! I have my own pressure washer — well technically, it is my brother’s from when he had a house, but since he’s living in an apartment right now, he passed along all of his equipment to me. He gets it back if/when he moves into another house, but it is definitely more cost efficient for him to store it at my house and I get the benefit of using equipment I don’t already have and therefore don’t have to rent or purchase! I’ll do the staining next weekend.
the Anything for Hire business directory does exactly what it says on the tin. http://www.anythingforhire.co.uk/