/ / DIY Isn’t Always Worth The Effort

DIY Isn’t Always Worth The Effort

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DIY stands for “do it yourself”.

It’s a source of pride.

A method of bonding if you do it with a child or spouse.

A way to (maybe) save money.

DYI has certainly grown in popularity recently.

Cable television and the ‘net plaster it all over the place.

Reality shows about everything under the sun:

  • Auto repair
  • Car/bike building
  • Homebuilding
  • Home improvements & repairs
  • How-to tech programming

Pretty much anything under the sun!

DIY projects are great on several fronts, and not just in terms of building or repairing things either.

They allow you to put your skills to good use.

You can (possibly) cut down on the costs of projects since you’re not outsourcing those tasks.

They allow for the learning of new skills.

In general, do-it-yourself projects can be very beneficial.

If DIY projects have so many benefits, why would I recommend staying away from them?

There are times when doing things yourself can be detrimental and possibly have terrible consequences.

There are various reasons, and each individual would have to decide for themselves, but the main situations include…

DIY--power drill, screws, measuring tape, hammer--laid out on a wood workbench

DIY When Time Is Of The Essence

When it is imperative that a project is completed in a swift and efficient manner, it is often best to hire someone to take care of it.

Things like computer or car repairs or projects around the house like replacing plumbing are often issues that require immediate attention.

They don’t usually allow for the time necessary to research and teach yourself how to do the tasks necessary to complete the projects.

In such cases, in order to avoid having interruptions in your daily life, it is usually best to call in a professional.

Even for projects that don’t require immediate completion you still might want to offload it onto someone else.

For tasks like building out a deck or putting together a garden, it can be more beneficial to hire someone experienced.

By doing that, you can spend your time concentrating on other things that require your time and attention rather than work at small intervals when you can find the time.

And here’s a question: have you ever told anyone that you were going to start a project or task?

How often do they ask you:

How’s that DIY project coming along?

Are you almost finished with that DIY project?

It gets old, even if it’s just friendly ribbing, right!?

Kind of like the grandparent who always asks when you’re going to settle down and get married.

Well, if you don’t put yourself in that position you won’t have to deal with it, right?

DIY Can Be Dangerous

Some things that can be done on your own simply shouldn’t if you don’t have the hands-on experience of a professional.

Some of these tasks that come to mind include:

  • Working with electrical components such as rewiring lights
  • Installing items dealing with exposed wires
  • Using unfamiliar power tools
  • Working at heights or on unsure footing such as pressure cleaning a roof

These are just a few examples.

Without working or practical knowledge and experience on tasks like these leaves much room for harm.

Professionals in these areas have the tools and know-how to protect themselves from the many dangers these jobs present.

The most qualified people are skilled at getting the job done while significantly reducing and even eliminating inherent dangers.

Black man sitting on a couch with his foot wrapped and elevated after a DIY injury.
People may tell you how easy DIY is, especially if you watch videos or some other nonsense, but it can still end with you being injured.

Dealing With Important Or Valuable Items

Some items are extremely expensive or even irreplaceable.

Doing something like trying to hang a television that costs thousands of dollars sounds simple enough.

Trying to adjust a piece of jewelry that has been passed down through several generations may also seem easy.

At least when you watch an expert do it in a video.

But, the slightest slip-up or oversight can cause irreparable damage.

Imagine you’re investing in collectibles and try pressing comics books the first time on a rare variant.

Or if you try cleaning your great-great-grandmother’s jewelry with a DIY cleaning solution.

Even something as common as changing brakes on a car where the smallest miscalculation or error can lead to not only the destruction of the vehicle but the loss of life which can never be replaced.

DIY And Humiliation

Many people think going to the salon or barber is a waste of money.

They’d rather keep the cash and do the job themselves, or have a friend or relative do it for them.

Think of mothers who put a bowl on their sons’ heads, cutting around it leaving their boys looking like mushroom-heads.

Sure, the Flowbee was crazy popular for really cheap people to give themselves haircuts back in the day.

But seriously, what do you do when it goes wrong?

What happens when a lady tries to dye her own hair but screws up leaving it green?

Or worse yet having the chemicals cause patches of hair to fall out?

Asian woman giving herself a DIY haircut at home.
Is it really worth saving a few bucks to attempt cutting your own hair? One slip or leaving the coloring in too long can lead to catastrophe.

Legal & Financial Consequences Of DIY

Online websites and programs are produced to convince you that they can do many tasks.

Things like preparing your own income tax return.

Or draw up your own legal documents (or use legal templates from a source other than a lawyer).

What these sites (and their operators) do not explicitly disclose to you is that these products are not foolproof.

In more complicated scenarios, they can leave the individual very much exposed.

But, what if your situation is more complicated than you realize?

Or if you simply don’t know that you are omitting something like when you DIY taxes?

Even though the site/program owners profess to save you time and money with their “accurate and simple” solutions, you may end up screwing up big time.

Forgetting to report something or not knowing the rules for reporting certain claims on an income tax return can lead to penalties, interest, and/or backup withholding.

Not knowing to include a particular clause in a legal document can leave you open to a lawsuit or worse yet, without recourse for a perceived negative action against you.

No program or app can replace a qualified attorney, online payroll company, or a tax preparer.

Black female judge presiding over a civil case due to DIY legal contracts.
You are always going to run the risk of doing something wrong when you choose DIY instead of paying a qualified professional!

DIY Medical (AKA Self-Diagnosis)

I won’t even dignify the stupidity of self-diagnosis and self-medication/operation just to avoid paying for it by saying any more on this subject.

Wrapping Up

I don’t expect everyone to agree with all of these points or my views on DIY.

Some people will stubbornly claim that there is never a reason to pay someone to do what you can learn to do yourself.

Some people will refuse to acknowledge these situations out of pure stinginess and refuse to part with any money unless there is no possible alternative.

I’m cool with that; you’re entitled to your own views.

You have to at least consider the possibility there are times when it makes more sense to pay someone else.

You just need to ask yourself if DIY is really worth the:

  • time
  • effort
  • embarrassment
  • cost
  • and/or risk

All things that come with any given do-it-yourself project you attempt.

Your Turn

Are you one of those people that would never consider having something done if you couldn’t do it on your own?  Have you ever foregone hiring a professional only to end up needing to bring one in to fix something you screwed up doing yourself?  Have you ever done something only to realize that the more efficient and economical choice would have been to pay someone rather than do it on your own?

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Rachel
Rachel
9 years ago

I like to do things myself, but I am well aware of my limitations. My time is valuable and there are tons of things that are better left to a professional. Some things I can teach myself, like dying my hair and html (hopefully), but other things (pretty much anything mechanical) are never going to be my forte. Knowing what your capabilities and skills are is key to making do-it-yourself decisions.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

I hear you! ¬†I’ve taught¬†myself¬†enough HTML to make little changes here and there that are needed, and a few things around the house I do (replacing toilets & garbage disposal) but when I am pressed for time, or just don’t know enough I go right to the phone.

seedebtrun
9 years ago

I am terrible at DIY projects.. just terrible. And it stinks, because my wife is always watching HGTV.

I always agree to take on projects that don’t require an artful eye at all. I can replace a toilet, hang a light, do demolition, or put something together. But any drywall or molding, or something like that.. It will surely look terrible if it is done by me.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  seedebtrun

I’m the same way. ¬†I don’t have many creative bones in my body! ¬†Some basic mechanical stuff, sure I can do, but anything big is much better served by calling in a pro. ¬†Worst thing you can do is think too much of¬†yourself¬†and screw something up big time

Evan @ Smartwealth
Evan @ Smartwealth
9 years ago

I completely agree, I’m a do-it-yourself type of person except for when time is of the essence, or if it is electrical or plumbing

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago

Plumbing I’ve done. A little electrical but not anything big, and I have a pretty big one at home that I’ve been putting off¬†because¬†I don’t want to try it (I need to run a line up into the ceiling for a¬†receptacle)

Kevin Yu
9 years ago

I actually love DIY projects. ¬†At the end, sometimes it might’ve been worth it to hire a professional, but I love learning new things!¬†

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Yu

I love learning too, but there comes a time when the benefits don’t outweigh the drawbacks. ¬†Especially if it’s something I don’t see needing again in the future (or at least very a very rare need). ¬†Plus, if I can get more done on other tasks in the same time that a pro can get what I need done, I’m all over that trade-off.

Shaun @ Money Cactus
9 years ago

Funnily enough I just did a DIY article myself. ¬†I’ve never screwed anything up so bad I had to get someone in to fix it, but I agree that you need to be aware of your limitations and also be smart about what you take on. ¬†If you can DIY and make a difference, then go for it, if you time is better spent doing something else, then leave it to the experts!

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago

That last line is something that I think too many people don’t realize. ¬†I don’t know if it’s pride or cheapness, but sometimes it just makes sense to hire someone else.

Money Beagle
9 years ago

I also don’t do much with electrical or plumbing just because the damage can be severe either to property or self.¬† Stuff requiring a hammer and nails, I’m generally willing to give a go of.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Money Beagle

Real plumbing/electrical jobs scare the crap out of me. I won’t do anything with pipes or slicing/splitting wires, no way. ¬†One wrong move and it could be bye-bye home

Monica
Monica
9 years ago

I will do some DIY projects if I think I am able, but for anything involving electricity, plumbing, or serious home repairs, I will hire a professional. We did have to replace a toilet, and by the time we bought the materials (which required multiple trips to Home Depot) and spent a day doing it, we¬†would’ve¬†saved time, frustration, and money.

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Monica

That’s my point exactly, Monica. ¬†A lot of times, people don’t consider everything, and just focus on the cash savings. ¬†Sometimes you actually come out ahead by paying someone to do a job for you.

Andy Hough
9 years ago

I like to do stuff myself if it is something I know how to do.¬† There are exceptions though.¬† I don’t change my own oil even though I could because the auto shop can do it much faster for not much more than it would cost me.¬†

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Andy Hough

Yeah, that’s one I never do. ¬†I can bring my car in, pay $14-$15, and write a post or something in the time it takes them to do it. ¬†Anything that won’t save me a significant amount, or that I won’t enjoy doing, I’ll give to someone else to do for me.

Thad Puckett
Thad Puckett
9 years ago

Lots of good advice in this.  My BIL is an electrician.  He makes a great deal of money from people who tried to do the work on their own.  

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Thad Puckett

I wouldn’t doubt it. ¬†People don’t realize that if they aren’t proficient, it’s probably best to go with a pro. ¬†In most instances it costs a heck of a lot less to get the job done right the first time than it does to do it wrong and still have to pay someone to fix the mess THEN do it the right way.

Niki
9 years ago

I like doing DIYs but like others have said I know my limitations. While I have changed faucets and lighting fixtures I would never consider myself a plumbing or electrical expert. We also knew that we should hire a professional when we decided to completely redo the bathroom, although we did save money by doing the demo ourselves. 

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Niki

Yeah, some people can do the superficial changes pretty well then start thinking they can get into the nitty gritty and end up doing something foolish. ¬†I’ve had the same exact experiences as you, but know that it’s probably as far as I can go without burning down or flooding out my condo.

Maggie@SquarePennies
9 years ago

Yes, there are plenty of times when it’s wiser to hire a professional.¬† My husband is a big DIY-er, but even he didn’t consider putting a new roof on our house. Thanks goodness!
For the most part, sewing your own clothes no longer pays & you have a real possibility of it not fitting well. 
I still dye my own hair after a friend showed me how.¬† I figure if thousands of women can do it, so can I!¬† I’ve never had a problem with it, but I do look like an alien if anyone comes to the door. ¬†

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago

My mother dyes her own hair. ¬†Well, actually my father does it for her, and I will never go over there when that process is going on–the smell kills me. ¬†That probably won’t damage your head like putting in some kind of treatment and forgetting about it until your head is on fire ūüėČ

Dana
9 years ago

We’re big DIY’s here but we know where to draw the limit – electrical and plumbing issues top the list.¬† I’ve learned that some things are just better left to those who have experience in what they are doing…..

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  Dana

That seems to be the common line-in-the-sand. ¬†I think the lesson you learned is something that many others can benefit from. ¬†In my view, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t do it, or paying for a service that can be done better and more effectively. ¬†I certainly have no problem doing either, especially the prior.

tal2121
tal2121
9 years ago

I try to do some DIY projects…usually only if it is not going to cost me more in terms of opportunity cost.

Great post! ūüôā

Eric J. Nisall
Eric J. Nisall
9 years ago
Reply to  tal2121

Opportunity cost is a great term. ¬†I just wish more people know what it meant so I could use it more. ¬†I may have to do a “definition post” in the near future–unless you want to keep that one for yourself ūüėČ