DIY or Hiring a Professional: Factors to Consider

Just how far do you go when it comes to DIY, or “Do it Yourself” type of projects?

For me, it was never a priority to be Mr. Super Handyman and do all maintenance around the house, no matter what the challenge may be. I would pick my spots, do what I could do, and outsource the rest.

Now, it’s clearly advantageous to be handy around the home, and can be cost effective in many circumstances. There are suprising examples of people who haven’t been able to do such things. I remember some years back, speaking to a lady living in a building who said that she knew a couple that called to have issues taken care of on a regular basis – to include the most basic things. Yes, they even paid to have light bulbs changed! That’s taking it too far, and is a total waste of money. There are situations where one can save a ton of money doing it independently, and individually.

On the other hand, trying to be a super handy person can go too far as well. Sometimes, there are things that can take far too much time for a non-professional to do. This makes sense, as nobody can be an expert at everything, and there’s someone out there that can do it more efficiently since he or she specializes in that type of work. In that case, time is money, and one should consider the value of time spent trying to do it yourself. Remember, the money that you truly save has the cost of time, and if you divide the hours spent by the monetary savings, you may find that you’re effectively getting a nominal wage. Is that the best use of time?

Other times, it’s not just a matter of time, but also a matter of specific knowledge on a repair process and getting a job done right and safely. For example, if there was a need for boiler repair or other type of work that requires certain expertise, I would be much more likely to call a professional to get the job done.

I have gone through a trial and error process in the past with some work at home, and learned some good lessons that way. For example, a prior home I owned was a bit older, but was purchased because of the location. After buying the home, we noticed some pests entering as the seasons changed. It was quite annoying, and I became “Mr. DIY Handyman” , as I tried to come up with different ways to deal with the problem. I went to the local store several times to buy products that I thought would work, but ultimately didn’t. It required a decent amount of time for very little in terms of impact. At that point, I called a professional, spent a some money, and the problem went away fairly quickly. There were never any issues again. Even though it seemed like an easy fix on the surface, it turned out to be a good move for me in terms of time and effectiveness to set aside my ego and hand it over to a professional.

Overall, I think it’s smart to really pay attention to what you can fix on your own and what you should pay for. Many times it really does pay big time to be handy and take care of things on your own to save money. No doubt about it. But other times, just as convincingly, it’s smart to go with a professional. It just depends on the situation.


  1. says

    It depends is a good answer. This past year my DH did some pretty major DIY jobs that we normally would have sourced out. I am so totally impressed about how he took apart, diagnosed, and fixed both our dishwasher (replaced the motor) and our clothes washer (fixed the knob thingy).

  2. says

    Squirrelers, this week I caved and hired out the tub and floor tiling work in the bathroom. While I was thinking I could do it (could have done it), it became a matter of time. There are some time-sensitive things I need to take care of in the next couple months (like spring planting), and I couldn’t drag this thing out for the next 5 or 6 weekends. In the end, the $700 spent on the labor was well worth it. I still did the sheet rock, bead board and trim work myself, though. Let’s think of this as outsourcing for productivity.

  3. says

    Last night I had to drive into town to get an oil cap. The last cap my husband forgot to put back on after he changed the oil in our truck.. This discovery was made only after we had driven it 4,000 miles! We were very lucky- there was still a bit of oil left but tons sprayed all over the engine!
    When my friends comment how lucky we are that both my husband and I can fix such a huge variety of things I respond that it’s much more of a curse (and time suck!).

  4. says

    My husband is a great provider, but a handyman he is not. That is ok though, I am just glad he doesn’t try to fix things, make them worse, and then call in a professional.

  5. says


    We drew the line at installing a chimney cap because our roof is very steep. But we do paint, have tried out hand at tiling, fixed the gutters, refinished our garage cabinets, patch holes, etc.

    I’d love to figure out how to build our mini-fridge into our bar area (Paul brews his own beer, and the fridge can fit his long keg perfectly), but I don’t feel adequate enough to do so… fact, we might have to buy all new cabinets to do so anyway. Sounds like a project!!!

  6. says

    My BF thinks that he is Mr. Fix It. What he is, is Mr. Give Me A Break. He can’t fix things as well as he thinks he can which usually ends up as a half-finished project or something looking like a patch work. i try to discourage him, but I’m clearly not effective. Sigh.

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