Many people are tightening their belts in these uncertain economic times. One of the first places we often look to save money is finding projects around the home that we can do ourselves rather than calling the professionals. All do-it yourself projects are not created equal, though, and there are times when you are better off calling in the professionals rather than potentially causing more problems by doing it on your own.
Economists refer to “opportunity cost” in situations like these. Simply put, opportunity cost is “The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.” Before you decide to tackle a project yourself, it’s a good idea to consider what the real cost of doing it yourself is. For example, what will it cost you as opposed to calling a professional? If the professional won’t cost that much more, it may be worth it to allow him to do it. What will it cost you if you mess something up or if something goes wrong later? If you need to call a professional in to fix a botched job it will probably end up costing more than if you had called the pros in the first place. Additionally, there is no warranty on the work you did, so if something goes wrong later you will be footing the bill, whereas many professionals will guarantee their work for a certain amount of
With those things in mind, let’s look at some projects that may be better left to the professionals:
Moving: Not only is the economy uncertain, but many of us are looking for new jobs whether due to downsizing or company closings. Often it is easier to find a job in another area so relocation may be necessary. Skip the headache of doing it yourself for the move and find yourself a good mover who will load you up and move your belongings. When making this decision it is important to consider all of the costs involved, including finding help on both ends of the move (if you don’t know anyone in your new city, you will probably need to hire movers to unload you). Other costs to consider are truck rental, fuel for the rental truck, the logistics of moving other vehicles, and travel costs such as food and lodging. It may take you twice as long to make the trip in a truck, meaning more meals and hotel stays than if you just paid professionals to make the move. Time is also a factor you will need to consider if your moving for a new job.
Garage Door Maitenance: If you’ve ever had a garage door opener stop working you realize how much we have come to rely on this relatively simple piece of equipment. While this may seem like an easy job to do on your own, there are many things that can go wrong which makes this an ideal candidate for making the call to the professionals. Keep in mind that one of the main pieces of your garage door assembly is tightly-wound high-tension wire that can be very dangerous if not handled properly. Calling a professional who replaces or installs openers on a regular basis is a good idea in this case.
Laying Sod: There’s nothing nicer than a well-maintained and nice-looking yard with healthy green grass. One of the easiest ways to get that lawn in the first place is to buy sod. Laying sod is hard work that will leave you wishing you had hired the pros to do it for you. This is a project which is also time-sensitive, so unless you have lots of time to burn, you are better off skipping the DIY and having it done for you. If you don’t get the sod laid quickly it will dry out and you will lose a chunk of your investment. Professionals will take care of the prep work for you – digging up the old lawn, getting rid of rocks and debris, and leveling the ground – as well as laying the new grass. Leave it to the pros and enjoy your nice new grass.
Kitchen Cabinets: When it’s time to remodel your kitchen, leave the cabinets to a professional. The upper cabinets, in particular, can be a nightmare, especially if they are not done correctly in the first place. Potential problems with this project include cabinets which are not level or even with one another and cabinets which don’t fit flush against the wall or corners. Cabinets are also heavy and can be unwieldy to deal with. Pros have the know-how to get the job done quickly and correctly and, if something isn’t correct, most good installers will have a guarantee and take care of any problems that may arise.
Installing a Skylight: Skylights are great for lowering your electric bill, if they are installed properly. There’s nothing better for your bill than to be able to keep an extra light off during the day, and being able to see the stars twinkling in the sky from the comfort of your home at night is a great treat. But there is nothing worse than an improperly installed skylight that has poor insulation thus increasing your heating and cooling bills or, worse, one that leaks. Call the professionals and let them do all of the measuring, cutting, and installing and save yourself many headaches later.
It is great when we can complete projects around the house on our own and save money while experiencing that feeling of accomplishment, but there are clearly jobs that are better left to those who have the knowledge, experience, and tools to get the job done quickly and correctly.
*** Isabella York is a mother dedicated to living prudently but not giving up her life in the process. Along with raising her son, she works for Balsam Hill, a purveyor of Artificial Christmas Trees.