Hiring a Contractor: Should You DIY It or Hire a Professional Instead?

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Today I had to ask myself a hard question: “Should I DIY this project or should I hire a professional contractor?” (The second question is “How do you hire a contractor?”).

Let me explain.

You see, my husband and I have owned a townhouse rental property for the past 12 years. We bought it at the height of the market when everyone and their brother was flipping properties and making thousands of dollars.


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Questions to ask yourself. - Thrift Diving


The young, naive Serena at the fresh age of 27, sans kids or major responsibilities, decided that she and hubby should jump on the “real estate bandwagon” and own a property and “make a killing” just like everyone else.

Ummm….did you catch that it was 2005??

The biggest real estate crash (ever??) was about to happen.

To spare you the details, let’s just say that if I knew then what I know now, I would have run faster than wildfire! LOL. We’ve held on to this property for much longer than we ever expected to simply because we’ve had to.

And while it hasn’t been lucrative, I have at least been thankful that we’ve had decent tenants who haven’t totally trashed the place (although this current tenant left the place much nastier than it should have been).

While we’ve waited for the market to recover, things have gotten pretty worn out over the years, like the front door, which needs a pretty paint job, and the light, etc.


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? You can do things such as paint your front door. - Thrift Diving


Our current tenant of three years is now moving out, which means I’ve got to turn this property around and find new tenants.

That’s right–I’ve got to find new tenants.

You’re looking at the Property Manager right here. Oh, and let’s not forget that I’m also the handywoman. Ooh, ooh–and the cleaning crew! (Insert a smidgen of sarcasm here…LOL).

This is the time that I most dread: when a tenant moves out and I’m left questioning how I should address the wear and tear and how best to find good tenants fast.

There have been times when I’ve literally had a 1-day turn-around and the carpets were damp from shampooing as the new tenants were pulling up with their moving truck.

(….Now that was enough to cause heart palpitations…).

Back then, my mindset was that if I could do it myself, I would do it myself.

I found tenants on my own.

I’ve done the final cleanings on my own.

I’ve painted the entire townhouse interior on my own.

I’ve gotten on my hands and knees and cleaned nasty grout on my own.

And I’ve handled the on-going property management on my own.

But something snapped in me today as I walked through the townhouse: I don’t want to do this anymore. 

Just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

And that, my dear readers, is where the big question began festering in my mind today:

When should people simply scrap the DIY superhero mentality and pay a professional to get it done? 


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Can you do your own painting or pay someone? - Thrift Diving

What’s More Valuable: Your Time or Your Money?

It’s not just about rental properties that people ponder the question of DIY’ing it or hiring professionals. In our own home, we ask ourselves this question all the time, right?

The struggle happens when you know you could do it.

You can’t fathom paying someone to do something that which you could totally knock out yourself.

That’s money saved, plus the pride of a job well done.

But what’s the breaking point?

At what point do you say to yourself, “You know…I value my time over my money and I’m just going to hire someone to do this for me”?


5 Reasons When You Should Hire Professionals

I think there are five moments when you should definitely consider hiring professionals:

  • When you’re just too busy. What other projects or activities would you be giving up in order to DIY this project? Sometimes you just don’t have time.
  • When you dread doing it. If you really hate the thought of spending time doing a DIY project, despite having the skill to do it, it’s time to hire someone else.
  • Your time is equal the amount it would cost to pay someone else. This is huge. Think about it: if your time is worth, say, $50 an hour and it would take you 5 hours to DIY something, doesn’t it make sense to pay someone that $250 and spend your time doing something else more productive or enjoyable?
  • It’s dangerous. Yep, there are times when some jobs just are too dangerous for the everyday DIYer. For me, that includes certain electrical work. But even simple things such as climbing a ladder to clean the gutters or paint shutters–I’d rather not risk a fall. Those things I leave to professionals!
  • You have no idea what you’re doing. ‘Nuff said. If even YouTube can’t help you, leave it to the professionals. 🙂


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Can you do your own DIY projects? - Thrift Diving

 5 Easy Repairs You Can Do Yourself

Here are several projects that you can easily do yourself:

Should I Pay $2,000 for Painting the Entire Townhouse?

That’s the question I struggled with this evening as I drove home after getting a quote from professional painters (I contacted them through Thumbtack.com).

Is $2,000 worth me saving 4-5 days of time, including saving hours of commuting time?  

And the answer “YES!!” resounded in my gut.

That’s hard for me to admit, as a DIYer.

Because I know I could paint this house myself. Heck, I could even organize a “painting party” and invite a few people over and we all bite into it, piece by piece until we collapse in a heap on the floor.

But I don’t want to.

Spending all day there today ate into my work day, setting me further behind in projects I wanted to create for the blog.

Am I willing to sacrifice a whole week of work and projects that are due for the blog, in order to paint this rental that has provided no value for my family?


However, this townhouse must be painted before I can even show it to new prospective tenants.

And the thought of passing this daunting task off to someone else in exchange for money makes me sigh with relief. 


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Walls can be painted yourself unless there's a lot of surface area. - Thrift Diving


I just want to walk in and it’s done.

I keep fantasizing about just coming to the rental after it’s all done and seeing freshly painted walls, not walls where kids’ grubby hands had smeared them.


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Dirty walls in bedroom. - Thrift Diving


And not just the inside, including the carpets badly in need of a (likely) professional cleaning, but the outside needs some pressure washing.

I’ll likely do that part myself.

I find pressure washing oddly satisfying. 🙂

That job could easily be done in an hour or so.

I’ll likely get it done over the weekend as I wait for the A/C repair guy to come (that’s another story…).


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Hire professionals when it involves climbing or high-risk projects. - Thrift Diving



Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Pressure washing can be done yourself. - Thrift Diving


Feeling Okay With Your Decision

We have all heard the trite saying, “Time is money.”

It’s so true.

If you’re saving time, it will cost you money.

If you’re saving money, you’re losing a valuable resource called TIME that you can never get back.

I don’t DIY just to save money; I do it because it brings me joy and pride.

With this rental property, though, it has nothing to do with joy and pride. It has to do with valuing my time–time that I could be doing other more meaningful projects or activities.

In your home, you should feel okay with your decision to DIY or hire professionals if it means you’re focusing on what’s most important to you.

Every “DIY vs. professional” decision has consequences that will cost you either time or money.

It’s up to you to decide which is a greater commodity.

10 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring Contractors

Once you’ve made your decision to hire a contractor, I have to tell you: you must ask the right questions to vet a good contractor.

Be sure to ask these questions and read the blog post for more explanation about each.

Read: 10 Questions You MUST Ask Before Hiring a Contractor


10 questions to ask before hiring a contractor - Thrift Diving

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

Do you sometimes struggle with the question to DIY or to pay professionals? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it! What did you decide to do?


Should You DIY or Hire Professionals? Ask yourself these questions before starting a DIY project. - Thrift Diving



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  1. First of all, OMG, the tragedy!! D: The housing crash was awful (’twas when I grew up! The housing crash + lack of jobs + high gas prices helped instill a thrifty mentality in me :D), but at least the market seems to be getting better now. I’m sure you’ll get some new tenants in a jiffy, the place looks great (and will look much better with some fresh paint! You considering grey/greige? That might be neutral but trendy enough to draw people’s attention).
    Second, ah yes, time = money. It’s damn true. I do so love me some economics, almost as much as DIY, and it is absolutely true that thriftiness can go so far as to make you lose money. If you spend an hour a week washing ziploc bags to save yourself ten cents, you’re saying an hour of your life is only worth ten cents. If you’re devaluing yourself that much, you’re better off getting a second job, or doing freelancing online, like as a transcriptionist. There’s a point when you need to sit down and decide how efficiently you’re devoting your time to x and y. I don’t know how much you make from this blog, but I’d bet that you’d make that money back by devoting time to sponsored posts/an ebook/etc, and you’d be saving yourself from a miserable job.
    That being said, I am a complete cheapskate and would probably love the job of repainting a whole house, LOL. But I don’t blame you one bit for hiring out. You know where your priorities lie, and that’s admirable. 😀 Managing a townhouse is way too much responsibility for me! I don’t know how you do it, + a family + a blog + conferences, but you’re awesome! Hire out when you feel you should. Just try to squeeze some blog content out of it anyway. 😉

  2. We’re at the point where we pretty much have to DIY everything since we don’t have lots of money. Luckily, my man can figure out how to do lots of stuff and whatever he can’t do, my brother helps with. The only thing we’ve hired out was work on the furnace and we paid $90 and the guy saved us from having to but a new one. I like the process of most DIY things, but I dream of the day that I can hire out cleaning 🙂

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