5 DIY Projects Not Worth Doing Yourself

Today's post is a guest post by Isabella York.

In today's financial climate, it is often attractive to try to save money by doing things yourself that you would normally hire professionals to do. But is this always the best way to go?

To figure out whether to do it yourself, you need to figure out your opportunity cost or "the cost of passing up the next best choice when making a decision." (Investor Words) To do this, you will need to ask yourself some questions in order to decide if you should bring in the professionals. Here are several important considerations:
  • How much am I worried about the quality of the job? Will it cost me more in the long run than I will save by doing it myself?
  • Is there anything that I could be doing with the time that it will take to complete this project that would earn more money than it will cost to hire someone to do it?
  • What equipment will I need that I do not already have and what will that cost me?
With these questions in mind, let's look at some examples of things we may want to do for ourselves which may not yield the time or money savings we would like.

  • Replacing carpeting.   This may seem like a great weekend project, but consider the steps necessary to accomplish it:
    • Remove the old carpet and padding amidst a cloud of dust and dirt -- I hope you remembered to cover up your furniture.
    • Haul away the old carpet and padding.
    • Take care of any problems with the sub-flooring -- problems which a professional will likely be ready and equipped to fix.
    • Install the new flooring.
    • Don't forget that you will need specialized equipment like carpet stretchers to make sure there are no wrinkles in the carpeting, either now or in the future. Once you add up your time, equipment, and inconvenience, you'll wish you had called that carpet layer to begin with.


  • Legal documents.Inexpensive software packages abound that allow you to draft your own contracts, wills, and trusts. Lawyers, on the other hand, are expensive. But are the potential legal problems worth the savings that you may get by drafting these documents yourself?


  • Taxes.Using software or websites, it is easier than ever to do your taxes yourself, but nothing can replace the value that comes from working with a tax advisor who can help you find those extra loopholes and deductions you may not know about. A couple of hours with a tax professional rather than a couple of days of pouring over tax laws will save you money and frustration.


  • Car repairs.With the complexity of today's cars, it just doesn't pay to try to do many of yesterday's simplest repairs by yourself. One example is rotating tires. Many of today's cars have air pressure sensors, which can cause some aggravation when you are left trying to figure out how to turn off the dashboard light informing you that one or more tires has low pressure. An oil change is a similar situation in which your savings are minimal once you purchase the supplies, any tools you need, invest the time to do it, and wash all the oil off yourself! It’s probably worth the $19 you’d spend at the local oil change shop.


  • Home additions.Are you thinking of adding a room on to your home, either for convenience or to potentially increase resale value? Does the renovation involve more than a new paint color for your bathroom or switchplate for your outlets? Unless you are knowledgeable with electrical installations, plumbing, drywall, etc., it is wise to call a professional. There are so many things that can go wrong -- from miswired appliances to roofing issues. The cost of fixing the resulting problems from a bad job can easily be more than calling a professional builder in the first place.

    There are some cases where doing it yourself will save you time and money, but plenty of others where you are just better off calling the professionals in to do it for you. Don't mistake frugality for wisdom; know when to make the call that will save you both time and money.

    About the author of this guest post:
    Isabella York is a mother dedicated to living prudently but not giving up her life in the process. Along with raising her son, she works for Balsam Hill, a purveyor of artificial Christmas trees.

     Creative Commons photo by Robert S. Donovan

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