My Perfect Mortgage
DIY vs Hiring Making the Right Decision for Home Projects
5 minute read
July 30, 2018

Some people know little about repair work and rely almost exclusively on professionals. Others fall into the category of “handy”, and find no DIY job too intimidating. But is there a point when you should hire someone rather than DIY?

Absolutely, and here are five situations where that makes perfect sense.

When the Job is Beyond Your Skill Level and Abilities

Painting a couple of rooms or replacing a doorknob may be a walk in the park for you. But maybe plumbing or replacing a garage door opener isn’t. Sure, there are always instruction manuals, and YouTube videos to help you get the job done. But unless you have experience with a particular job, it can end up taking more time and costing more money than you initially assume.

Generally speaking, a DIY project is something you should take on because you can save money. But if you get into a job that you know little or nothing about, there’s no way to know how much time, effort, or materials you’ll need to complete the job. In the end, you could spend more money and invest more time than it would take to simply hire a professional to do the job for you.

When a Job Needs to Be Done Immediately and You Don’t Have Time

A lot of people today have demanding jobs. If you’re working 60 or 70 hours a week, it may be impossible to get to a home or auto repair job done, since you have very little spare time. Even if you have the expertise, if it’s a job that needs to be done immediately, you’ll be best to call in a professional.

An excellent example is painting the inside of your house. The work may be simple enough, but it’s time-consuming. If you’re trying to do it in your spare time, it can take weeks.

Even if you have the patience to spread the job over that amount of time, your family may not agree. Painting the interior of the house can be incredibly disrupting. Any room that’s being painted will effectively be out of commission for the duration of the job. Furniture may be removed, the flooring covered, and the trim taped up. Your household may lose the use of that room for the days or weeks it will take you to complete the job.

This is even more pronounced when it comes to mechanical repairs, such as to your car or some of the components in your house, like the furnace or air conditioner. Even if you have the skills to perform the repairs, if the job needs to be done quickly, and you can’t do it immediately, it will generally be better to assign it out to a professional.

When the Opportunity Cost of DIY is Higher than the Benefit

This limitation applies primarily to people who are self-employed or who work on commission. If you do either, then you fall into the time is money conundrum. You may be fully capable of performing a DIY repair, but if you do you’ll be losing time that may be dedicated to earning money.

In this situation, you might have to put a dollar value on your time. For example, if you’re capable of earning $50 an hour, and a DIY job will take 10 hours to complete, the real cost to do the job yourself will be $500. If you could hire the job out for $400, you’d actually save money by paying someone else.

When You Don’t Have the Right Tools to Get the Job Done

Anyone who's done much repair work knows that tools can be extremely expensive. If you’ll have to pay $200 to buy a tool to complete a DIY job, it might be cheaper to pay someone else to do the job – someone who has the right tool.

This is especially true with jobs that are infrequent. If you might only need the tool once in 20 years, it may not be worth paying for. Not only will the money be tied up in something you’re not using, but it will be one more bauble taking up space in your home. As well, if the tool is mechanical, it’s entirely possible that it will break down before the next use.

In still other situations, doing a DIY job may require you to purchase several tools. Again, you’ll have to evaluate how much money you’ll actually save by purchasing the tools, and how much need you’ll have for them in the future.

When the Job Could Involve a Costly Mistake

While you may know a thing or two about performing home renovations, what will you do if a rehab job results in structural damage to your house? It’s a situation were trying to save $1,000 could end up costing you $10,000. Rest assured the home renovations you see being done on TV are never as simple as they make it look.

This is where professionals have a few advantages. One is that they do this work for a living, which means they do it all the time. Another is that they almost certainly have a network of other professionals to step in and handle what they can’t. And finally, and perhaps most important, they have insurance coverage in case something goes horribly wrong.

Anytime you take on a DIY project, you also have to assess the risk of something going wrong in a major way. If there’s at least a reasonable possibility of that happening, it may be best to call in a professional.

Make sure any DIY projects you take on are a comfortable fit for you, and unlikely to end up costing you more than you’ll save.

Our advise is based on experience in the mortgage industry and we are dedicated to helping you achieve your goal of owning a home. We may receive compensation from partner banks when you view mortgage rates listed on our website.