DIY or PAY - where do you draw the line?

For years and years, my husband and I took care of household maintenance and remodeling projects ourselves. He grew up with a DIY dad and I, having owned 2 houses before meeting him, learned to do some handy tasks, and I’ve learned lots more from him over the years. We’ve built and removed walls, pulled wire, hung ceiling fans, replaced plumbing, built decks, remodeled 2 kitchens and 2 bathrooms, and laid tile. For the longest time, the only thing we had done by professionals was installing carpet because we didn’t want to do that ourselves.

Now that we’re older, wiser, and a bit more comfortable financially, we’re doing less and hiring out more. We wanted to replace the windows in the house about 6 years ago, and we could have done it ourselves, over the course of a number of weekends, but by hiring pros, it was done in a day. My husband used to climb up on the roof to clean the gutters (I don’t do heights) but after his multiple spinal surgeries, we called in a local guy - definitely money well-spent. Last winter, we had a metric ass-ton of snow on our (roughly 100’) driveway. In the past, we’ve shoveled ourselves, but this time, we put a sign at our mailbox saying “Plow Wanted” and we gladly paid a couple of guys to dig us out.

I feel safe in saying there will be no more remodeling in the house - we’ve got it to where it works well for us. I still want to replace a couple of closet doors, but we can handle that ourselves. I’m pretty sure we’re not going to build another storage shed - if we decide we need one, we’ll buy it and have it delivered and set up. When the water heater dies, we may well have someone install a new one - depends on how much older we are.

The next biggie will be mowing the yard. Driving around the riding mower is easy enough, but walking behind the push mower on the slopes and in the ditches is getting more challenging. When my knees complain too much, I’ll start writing checks for that. It appears we’ve gotten to the point where our line is drawn according to our physical limitations. I’m guessing the next line will be from home ownership to an apartment where someone else can deal with the heavy stuff.

In some ways, I miss the projects we did together, but the next thing we’ve planned is a cruise, so there’s that! :smiley:

If the DIY requires me to use a tool or material,the checkbook comes out. :smiley:

As I’ve gotten older and my value of my own time has increased, I will outsource to others who time cost less than my own.

If the cost of buying to tools (to do it right) exceeds the cost of hiring someone and it is a one time thing, then I will pay someone else to do it.

Or safety. I prefer someone else to climb up on my steep roof!

And physical limitations.

I used to do it all myself. A number of Kitchen and Bathroom remodels where we completely started from scratch.

I designed and built a two story addition to our house. Including having to move the mechanical room into it and adding infloor heat. I hired out moving the meter and breaker panel. That though took years.

Now adays I hire the big stuff out. I just don’t have the time to do it. And while I usually do enjoy it, it just takes too long. And summers are very short where we live.

I still do a lot of the DIY stuff at age 69, unless it involves the roof or the AC/furnace. I also wouldn’t tackle a larger job like tiling the kitchen floor or doing a reno on the bathroom. Still doing yard stuff, anything requiring woodworking, and minor electrical/plumbing like outlets, lights, toilet repairs and the yard irrigation system. I spent a career in and around construction, so much of this is second nature. I’ve been trying to convince my wife to hire a yard maintenance service to take care of the weeding, mulching, etc. Our patch of grass is now so small that it almost takes longer to get the mower and cord out than it does to cut it. Years ago I did my own car maintenance, but they’re way too complicated now, and crawling around under a car just ain’t happening.

At least when I do have to hire a contractor, I have enough experience in the trades to tell when someone is fucking things up. I can also usually tell when an project estimator is talking out of his ass, and eliminate him from the bidding.

We are hard core diy. We just built a 2000 sf ICF house, and hired out 4 things: basement and garage concrete slabs, drywall, siding, and roofing. Everything else we did ourselves, even dug our own basement. I love building things.

The downside is eventually everyone will hire somebody that does terrible work. Either because they don’t care or are too inept.

That knowledge keeps me doing a lot of DIY.

Some manual labor jobs I hire out. Snow removal. Large landscaping jobs. Painting the exterior of my home.

Time marches on and I realize age will limit what I can do. At that point I’ll have to hire contractors and hope they do a good job.

I used to do everything, including projects I was in no way qualified to do, like replacing a bad breaker. Now my free time is worth so much that I cannot afford to spend it doing home repairs.

Moving. I like doing little projects, but I’m never not paying for movers again. Even getting stuck with terrible movers was less stressful than doing it myself.

Time and money, whichever I have more of makes the difference.

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I’ve always enjoyed DIY projects. I like knowing I can do it myself. Plumbing, wiring, building decks, hanging doors and cabinets, fixing washers, dryers, toasters, etc but my knees, lower back, and common sense have decided that some things are best done by others. I won’t climb on slanted roofs any more. The ground seems to be getting farther away every year. A mistake with 120vac can cause a fire or kill you. Lifting and toting is best left to the young.

However, mowing the lawn is still a piece of cake with my Husqvarna HU800AWD.

With it’s Honda motor purring and all 4 wheels driving, it’s a bagging, mulching and side-discharging, grass-cutting monster. I’ve got a 30 degree berm at the back of the property and I can mow it crossways, sideways, straight up and down, or stop in the middle and change directions. Just point it in the right direction, squeeze the throttle, and walk behind it. And I always wear boots with lug soles.

I love to DIY pretty much everything except plumbing. It’s just too darn messy. Mechanical, electrical or garden work, I’ll gladly do it.

I will do it myself if it is relatively simple, if I can do it alone, and I have the tools for it (even if it means going to the hardware store about 1/2 mile away to get the parts).

Replace the stopper on my bathroom sink faucet? DIY
Add a new deadbolt to the front door? DIY, although this required a few more parts than first thought (I bought one of those “install it yourself” kits, only to find that the part that drills the hole in the wall wouldn’t fit on my drill and I had to buy a separate one)
Replace my toilet? PAY
Paint my bedroom walls? DIY
Replace my kitchen electrical outlets? PAY
Replace my furnace thermostat? DIY

My problem with plumbing is that most of it is in very inconvenient places. Electrical can be almost as bad, but luckily there aren’t many outlets inside bathroom vanities.

I still, at age 67, like doing projects that require me to stretch my abilities a little bit, but not so much that I end up stopping mid-way and seeking professional help.

That said, I don’t do electrical or plumbing, except for very basic teeny tiny jobs like changing out a light switch or something. For example, the timer on the bathroom fan has started buzzing when it is turned on, so I will probably change that one out pretty soon. I might unscrew a P-trap if necessary to fix a clog or retrieve something valuable. Other than that, it’s call in the pros. And I make sure I find good people to do this work through Angie’s list.

I generally don’t mess with the electricity or plumbing. I mean, I’ll replace a light fixture or something else that only requires I twist some wires together, but if it involves wires that aren’t already in place I leave it to a professional. Same with plumbing; I’ve replaced toilets and other fixtures, but if the problem isn’t the fixture or right near it, I’m all out of ideas.

Carpentry I’m good with, usually limited only by the size of material I can get from the store to my house. I don’t have a pickup or a van or a station wagon, and while I could rent one for an hour to transport large plywood sheets or long pieces of wood, that kind of commitment is only necessary for large, “let’s DO this”-type projects.

Is there a lumber yard near you that does deliveries? I do my own carpentry projects too, and have a very small car. If I need large sheets of material, I call Hammond Lumber and they bring it to my house for no extra charge.

When I was a kid my dad never paid anyone to do anything. My brother and I were drafted to help strip and replace the roof when we were 9 and 11. We remodeled the kitchen a few years later. Not new appliances and counter tops, we gutted it and moved walls and doors and plumbing and electrical in carefully choreographed stages so we wouldn’t accidentally have to go to a restaurant or get takeout for dinner. When I was in high school he was finally defeated when he couldn’t get a freon license and crane for less than the cost of paying a company to replace our AC unit.

My wife grew up in a completely opposite environment where changing a light bulb was licensed-bonded-insured contactor territory.

I DIY more than most, but I get no support. Putting in two long days to save $5,000 sounds great, especially when you’re young and don’t have the $5,000, but living with one bathroom for two years because I couldn’t work more than 20 minutes without interruption while also being constantly attacked for not finishing the damn thing was absolute hell.

I forgot about the car. My husband lived in a Detroit suburb when he was a teen - went to school with an Iococca daughter - and he worked on cars all the time. But it was a simpler time with simpler cars. Early in our marriage, he did a little bit of car stuff, but when you can get your oil changed for $20 in 20 minutes, why DIY? And as engine compartments have gotten more crowded, plus all the computerized stuff, about all we do is change our own wiper blades and various bulbs when required.

We’re lucky to have a good garage nearby where they know us and have taken good care of us for a decade or more.

I just remembered another one that went from DIY to pro. When we did the first major remodel on our current house, we ran a wire up to the attic with the intention of putting in a foyer light and rerouting a couple of switches. That was in 2004. In October of 2015, we brought in an electrician to finish that little chore. But instead of a foyer light, we’ve now got a ceiling fan in the living room and the light switches are connected for more logical functions. And all that cost less than $200 (we already had the fan.) Definitely well-spent!