To DIY or not to DIY

There are few things worse than the feeling of having paid good money for a product or service only to realize you could have made something yourself for a fraction of the cost or performed the necessary activity to a better standard.

It’s a dilemma that’s most often confronted when there is renovation work to be done at home. Should you do it yourself or hire a contractor? While you might have the necessary skills, you might not always have the necessary equipment to work efficiently. If you take on the work yourself, you might encounter unexpected problems and you might end up spending more on excess materials and machine hire than you would have on labor costs. Ultimately, it comes down to which is worth more to you – your time (and possibly your sanity) on your money.

Work out Your Worth

Whenever you are confronted with a decision about whether to do a job yourself or not, you can apply a simple formula to help you with your decision. First work out how much it would cost to hire a professional and whether it is worth it to you. Next, calculate the costs of the material and the amount of time you will need to put aside. Use these figures to work out the cost per hour of doing the job yourself, and see whether doing so will actually save you money.

In many cases, the calculation will be a simple one, but for some tasks, the sheer pleasure of doing it yourself will outweigh the benefit of any money saved.

Cleaning Your Home

Not many people enjoy the endless work involved in keeping a house clean, but at least they get to feel proud and derive pleasure once the work is done. However, research from Harvard Business School suggests that those who choose to spend money in order to save time – by, for example, hiring a housekeeper rather than doing the work themselves – end up far happier than those people choose to spend their disposal income on material goods.

Despite this, the research found that few people consider spending money in this way because they prefer the tangible benefits of buying something they can bring to their home right away rather than enjoying the benefit of additional time at some point in the future. Most people believe they are going to have more time in the future than they actually do and that might explain why such choices are made.

Car Maintenance

Twenty years ago, deciding whether to tackle the work on your car yourself or to take it to the local garage was a no-brainer. For the purchase price of a few simple tools, you could save yourself big bucks on the cost of changing air or oil filters, spark plugs and other easy-to-reach components.

Today, cars are becoming increasingly sophisticated and many feature computer management systems that require significant specialist knowledge to ensure settings remain correct after any adjustments. Although you may occasionally save money by changing your own oil, looking out for one of the regular promotional deals that many outlets run means you might be able to get the difference in price down to a level that makes it worth paying to avoid what can often become a messy job. The fact that more people seem to be doing so may be one of the reasons that one in five drivers has no idea how to change a flat tire.

The growth in the number of electric and hybrid cars on the roads should mean that cars become more reliable, but that any problems that do occur will almost certainly need a professional touch.


Unless you plan to completely remodel the outside space around your home, it’s likely that you are more than capable of doing all of your gardening work yourself. The bigger question here is whether or not you enjoy it. For those who get intense joy from a well-kept garden and don’t mind putting in the hours, the idea of getting someone else in to do the work would rob them of much of the pleasure.

Gardens require a large investment of time, especially at the beginning, and keeping the space looking the exact way you want it to will mean putting aside significant periods of time all year round, though making careful choices about the plants or vegetables that you grow can dramatically reduce the demands on your time.

Dressing up Your Home for the Holidays

When it comes to making your home look its best for the holidays, it might seem that the DIY approach will always win out. For the vast majority of indoor decorations and activities, such as trimming a tree, this will be the case. Half the fun of holidays is getting together with members of the family, deciding what goes where and working as one to get it all ready.

However, if you have more ambitious plans for your decorations, such as putting up lights on the outside of your house, bringing in professional help will not only guarantee you a dazzling display but will also save you both time and worry. Professionals, such as the team from Texas Fireman Christmas Lighting have all the necessary equipment to reach the remote areas of your house in a safe and responsible way.

Arts and Crafts

The rise of mechanization means it is rarely cheaper to create your own special products than it is to buy them from the store. The yarn needed to knit even a simple sweater is likely to cost almost $100 but buying one from even a relatively upmarket store can cost less than $20. Making your own clothes may give you access to designs and materials you can’t find on the high street, but you’ll be paying a premium.

Spending hours copying beautiful designs to create your own wrapping paper may provide a moment of pleasure to the recipient of any gift you give, but even if they manage to avoid ripping while looking for their present, the work you put in is unlikely to be fully appreciated in the long term. When it comes to arts and crafts, the time versus money equation rarely comes out on the side of doing it yourself, so the only reason to engage in such activities is for the pleasure they bring you.