When we moved into our current house, the ugly and ripped linoleum in the kitchen immediately jumped out at me as an item that just had to go. I have no idea how old it was, but it had obviously seen decades of foot traffic, kitchen spills and dirt. Every morning I would make my morning coffee and look at the ugly linoleum floor that was just begging to be replaced.
I’ve always been my own handy person. It just didn’t seem to make sense to pay someone to do a job that I was perfectly capable of doing. I’m always looking for ways to make my dollars go farther and do it yourself (DIY) projects are one way to save money. So for my new kitchen floor, I looked at my calendar, found a free weekend and recruited my best friend to help out.
I found this beautiful earth colored tile along with smaller decorative tiles with roses. I started envisioning my newly Spanish themed kitchen. I couldn’t wait to feel the smooth earth red tiles under my bare feet, and of course appreciate the carefully placed white tiles with the vivid red roses that would fit neatly into selected cut out squares where four of the larger tiles met.
We bought a DIY video and a tile saw and set to work. The first part of the job would be about pulling up the old flooring which I had rightly anticipated would be hard work, but laying the tile would be fun and creative. Or so I thought. The decorative rose tile, which were oh so beautiful, added a lot of time to the job, as we had to cut notches into the larger tiles to accommodate them. Consequently, it was 1 AM in the morning when my best friend stormed out of the kitchen leaving me with a half finished floor. We had done the easy center part of the floor but all the tiles that needed to be cut into odd sizes to fit with the cabinets and appliances were still uncut, and definitely not placed and grouted.
A week later I hired a professional to come and finish the job.
Now I have a different perspective on DIY projects. There are the three questions I always ask myself before taking on a project.
- What will be the extra costs if you do it yourself? Do you have to buy extra tools (such as a tile saw)? Will you ever use those tools again?
- How specialized is it? Do you have the right skills or even desire? Can a professional do it faster and better?
- How long will it take? I’ve learned to always add 20% extra time to my estimates. Think about what else you could do with that time.
While we all want to save money, sometimes with our busy lives you have to make a tradeoff. I had given up most of my weekend for the kitchen floor project and in the end I went to work Monday morning, very tired, with an unfinished kitchen floor.
Here are some other DIY projects you might want to HSED (have someone else do).
- Home repair and maintenance Consider hiring out time intensive projects (such as my tiled kitchen floor). If you tend to be all thumbs or don’t have a lot of tools, consider hiring out even the relatively easy jobs. Another sure sign that you need to hire a handyman, you have a lot of jobs around the house that never get done. Sure it’s nice to save money by doing it yourself, but how long will you put up with that running toilet you aren’t getting around to fixing (which, by the way, might explain those higher water bills).
- Landscaping & Yard Work Many yards take a lot of time to maintain. Some people enjoy it, some people find their weekends slip away weeding and trimming the bushes. Consider hiring a yard service, even if only occasionally, to help you stay on top of it. This is especially true if you don’t have the right equipment.
- Organizing. If you are one of those neat and tidy people, you can skip this one. But if you are like the rest of us, with papers piling up and no place to park your car in the garage, an organizer may do wonders for you. There is nothing like a well organized home to keep things humming along nicely. Have you stopped to consider how much time you are losing in looking for mislaid items? This wasted time is one of those hidden costs you should take into account.
- Carpet cleaning. Yes, there are plenty of expensive carpeting cleaning systems you can purchase or rent at the store. But it can be a pain to use them and they don’t do near as good of a job as hiring a professional to do the work. Watch for seasonal specials and you can have your carpeting and upholstery cleaned affordably and quickly.
- House cleaning. Sure, some people may think you must be ritzy to have someone come in once a week or bi-weekly to do house cleaning. But the truth is that routine tasks like cleaning the bathroom and dusting the shelves are time consuming. If you don’t want to commit to a regular housekeeper, some companies are willing to visit a few times a year for “spring” cleaning services to get to those corners you never do. House cleaning services are usually affordable, so you are paying a reasonable rate to buy you some valuable time.
Everyone is different and so what makes sense for one person to hire out it might make sense for another to DIY. Ask yourself the three questions and see which ones are worth the time, effort and investment that you will make in doing them yourself.