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?

No.

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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39 Comments

  1. Pat Kennedy says:

    Hi Serena!
    I read our blog and many thoughts came to mind. But before I do, we were a Active Duty Military Family. When we were first married, Steve moved into “my” house. I had spent lots of blood sweat and tears on it. Next house, we bought together. But both places were different towns then where we were stationed. We pondered, but the thought of the blood sweat and tears made me decide I could not stand thinking of what could happen to those homes. We always sold, and started fresh. We did not always make money, particularly, in 1983 when the interest was 13.5%. No kidding. But, well, you have to live somewhere. So, my thoughts…

    1) does the $2000 inclund paint? I don’t remember if you said it did or not? Considering the price of good quality paint, and a whole town house….not bad. Plus you have that lethal looking stairwell….now Serena, speaking as an older person and the broken ankle story, I wonder if you have considered the price of your recovery time IF heaven forbid, you slip and fall and break some body part…..hmmmm. Think of the hospital bolls, and the recooperating time. And, the travel time, gas, wear and tear onthe car, family, your body…. and, most painting contractors are covered should anything happen to them. 2) will the painters wipe off the crud(which you don’ want to think about what that might be….that those little people left on the wall.
    A fresh coat of paint on the front door will be easier, but it looks like a metal doos, and depending on the time of day, my front door faces west. I personally fried paint drips on the door, I could not smooth it out before it dried. If you remove the door and do it flat on a floor, it goes faster and easier. That is an easy fix, a few hours. Lightly sand to rough up, then, I wipe down with TSP. Viola. New door. Maybe you can match the front light with a sanding and match it to the door color? Just thinking.

    A nice thought is the clean bathrooms and clean kitchen cabinets. Curb appeal. Put a potted plant out and that is good. But all the elbow grease takes its toll. Plus, aren’t the expenses of rentals deductible? Giveyourself a break. I have come up with the mantra, life is too short to be miserable. You have bigger fish to fry. New projects. Ones that you will really enjoy doing.

    Good wishes coming your way!
    Pat

  2. Sue Harrison says:

    Serena
    I live in Australia and any general maintenance such as painting etc is tax deductible from the rental received, so in theory it doesn’t really cost as much. If that is the same in the US it makes sense to contract the work out.
    Sue

  3. Home projects are so stressful for me. If it were up to me, I’d hire someone for every project but my husband always thinks he can diy everything. The problem with that is my husband is no diy-er. So, either things never get done or they take months to complete. Something else always comes up & the projects get put on the back burner. We’ve been in the middle of painting inside and redoing our floors for over 3 months now. He’s finally agreed to hire someone to do the flooring. We got as far as ripping up the carpet. I guess it’s a male ego thing that he doesn’t want to hire someone. I’m not that proud. I know my limitations.

  4. Patricia B says:

    Hey Serena, I never struggle with this question…..HA I don’t have the means to hire someone. Therefore, if I can’t do it, it ain’t getting done!! lol I do agree that your time is valuable, why stress when someone else can take care of any problems!!
    Love ya’

  5. I have had 2 jobs around the house that I just couldn’t do one was the roof. I had helped my dad replace the shingles when I was a teen but my roof had a leak it needed a few rafters and some sheeting replaced as well as new shingles so that I had to hire out. I had to take a second out on the house for that so it is costing me a small fortune. The other was a concrete patio slab. I probably could have but I didn’t want to try. And of course car mechanic kind of stuff always gets done by the pro’s. Hopefully you are making enough off that rental to pay off the mortgage so one day you can sell it for a profit. Or if necessary it can be a home for one or both of your sons. if you can up the rent a little and put that in a savings account to hopefully cover the cost of cleaning etc the next time it’s empty

  6. This was really a well written article you wrote Serena! I know it helped many do some thinking about their time vs the cost! I’ve struggled some with the painting thing! I know I can do it and don’t have anything really high, don’t want to climb much! I’ve painted some rooms, front door, trim, and smaller projects and do pretty good work. What I struggle with is that I would get started then other things in life need attention, I put it down, get back to it, often get tired of it before finishing and just want it done! I’m talking about jobs that don’t have a deadline like yours! Frustrating! I’ve recently decided there’s more painting in my home now that needs to be done and FINISHED, so I’m going to hire it now! I know you won’t be sorry if you hire this since you don’t want to do it anymore and it is a huge job! Just think of all the money you HAVE saved in the past with all your other DIY projects! Best of luck with this and I always enjoy your blogs!

    1. Yes!! That’s a great point! Hiring things out means you get it done FASTER! 🙂 So glad that you enjoyed this post! I appreciate the support and letting me know that it’s okay to hire a professional!! Thanks, Celia!!

  7. Christine Haney says:

    I just hired out for painting my 2 story entry way ceiling & walls. No way I could do this one myself. At 60 my legs turn to jelly after a certain point on the ladder. Those days are over! The entry way ceiling goes right into the upstairs great room, no break. At first I thought “I could do the ceiling in the great room myself” But I figured they could get it done a lot faster and probably wouldn’t be much more $ to just do the whole thing. My neck is thankful!!!!! I had just done the ceiling in a small bedroom & decided I just didn’t want to do another ceiling especially in a room that big. Smart to hire it out!

    1. Ooh, the entry way is the worse! It’s usually so tall and there’s no ladder that is safely that tall for people to climb on who aren’t professionals! Good call hiring that out! And ceilings are THE WORSE! lol I remember being 9 months pregnant painting the ceiling in our computer room. HA! I must have been crazy! I know the feeling!

  8. Serena I believe unanimously we all kinda agree making decisions to hire out is profitable at this time. A good idea for you is do the door, plant a few flowers and power wash thereafter, I believe you won’t feel you should because you can. And remembering how I use to tuck point, paint after work. Now I older and cannot do these enjoyable projects. There is a time in life when decisions are difficult. But, this one to hire out is smart.

    I’m looking for a good handy person any ideas or recommendations? I need curtain rods installed, room painted, light fixture, door installed.

    I hope these recommendations help in your decisions for they are to ease the guilt and enjoy time with your family & friends and your blog.

    1. Hey there, Lindia! You should definitely check out Thumbtack.com! I had never used it, but I just went to the site, entered my zipcode and what services I was interested in (painting) and within 2 minutes or less, I had two companies contacting me! They both agreed to come over 30 minutes later! I had never had such a quick response like that. I ended up hiring one of the paint companies to do the painting starting next week. So if I were you and needed a handyman to come and do those things, I would check thumbtack and enter your info and get quotes super fast!

      And thanks for the advice! You are right–it’s more profitable for me to work on my blog stuff than to work on this townhouse. I do like the idea of painting the door myself, which is super easy, and just clean up the exterior. That’s simple. I can do that in no time!

  9. Mary stewart says:

    As I get older my time is more valuable.hire people to do that work.i still paint small projects
    But,this week I had an epiphany I’m not willing to spend all my time on projects so I took back about $50.00 worth of stuff back to Lowe’s.i had an upper respiratory infection and was sick for 6 weeks my yard,the deck,and the house suffered while I was sick.after I felt better
    Tried to play catchup.relasped now on daily melds.is it worth it hell no? Get help

    1. Mary, didn’t you have a whole rack of projects sitting on your porch at one time…? LOL!! I know what you mean, though. I think we have to be realistic about what we can do and be honest about whether we even WANT to do them. Sometimes going out to buy it new is the right solution instead of DIYing something! And sometimes paying someone is also the right answer! Sorry to hear you were so sick. Get better, girlfriend!

  10. The housing market in our area is hot right now and there is a shortage of homes. You need to ask yourself how long do you want to keep managing everything and is it worth the time and effort. My friend had moved to Vegas but kept her condo here in the East because of the same reasons you had. Bought when the prices were high and the bubble burst. She was managing it long distance and it got to be a pain. I had to go twice to place eviction notices due to the last tenet being late with rent. I finally convinced her that the time was ripe to sell and hooked her up with a good realtor. She came back East, cleaned it and put it up for sale. It sold in two weeks! She’s elated and it’s one less thing to stress over. If it were me I’d rip out all that carpet, put in a good laminate flooring, upgrade any dated looking fixtures like faucets and lighting (Those aren’t that hard to DIY) then hire a painter to put a fresh coat of neutral color paint in all the rooms and put that baby on the market. Like you said, how valuable is your time and do you need the stress of worrying about repairs and tenants when you’re building your “brand” and business.

    1. Best advice EVER, Linda! If I ask myself that question as you recommended, “How long do I want to keep managing the property?” the answer is “No more!” I don’t like the idea of people living in my stuff and not treating it like I would and then being expected to pay thousands of dollars to clean it up after moving.

      Hubby is also ready to get rid of it. I think it will be worth talking to an agent and seeing how much we could sell for and how much we’d potentially have to bring to the table to get out of it. YIKES!

      Thank you for the great advice, Linda!

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