There was a cool story about doing home improvement on your own versus hiring someone in the latest Real Simple (April). The story was strangely skewed toward hiring someone to do the job, however, and missed the benefits of doing projects yourself.
First, the story says, consider three factors before making a decision.
1. Peer pressure. Whatever your family and friends do, you are more likely to do. So if everyone you know colors their hair at home, you will feel pressure to eschew the salon. Similarly, if your family has always hired contractors instead of doing it yourself (DIY), you’ll probably hire, too. Follow your gut and make the decision that is right for you, regardless.
2. Your positive attitude. People assume their DIY project will go well but often underestimate the time and skill it takes.
3. Your perspective on your free time. People believe they have more time than they really do. (What??? I don’t know anyone whose schedule isn’t jam packed.) We have a hard time measuring time and “are willing to take more risks with it” than we are with money, the story says.
Then Real Simple suggests you answer four questions. Can I realistically pull this project off? (i.e. learn the required skills?) What kind of time commitment is really involved? (Double estimates from a contractor.) How much will this task cost to complete myself? (Supplies + calculate your hourly rate.) And lastly, how much will I really enjoy the process?
I wager that doing home improvement projects yourself (which is a lot like growing your own food) has many benefits that the story missed…
1. The enjoyment of learning how to do something challenging that you didn’t think you were capable of.
2. The money saved over time from learning new skills. Snake a toilet once, and you’ll never fork over $200 to a plumber again.
3. The confidence from pulling a project off. What an accomplishment!
An important part of the DIY v. hire debate is determining how much your time is worth. See the post below to calculate your hourly rate!