December 4, 2020

DIY or Hire a Pro? All the Things You Need to Know

It seems like every day there’s a new do it yourself project popping up on our screens. DIY is more popular than ever in 2020, especially under the guides of social distancing and COVID-19. Now more than ever, people are turning to crafts and DIY projects to make the time pass and save a few bucks. From custom jewelry to custom coffee tables if you can think it, you can DIY it.

COVID-19 aside, if you are one of the many frugal home or business owners in this country you already know that taking on DIY projects can save you a tremendous amount of money. You also probably know how easy it is to get in over your head when diving into a DIY project.

Whether you are planning a business remodel, a major home improvement project, or completing basic repairs around your home or business, if you are smart about choosing which DIY projects to make the effort on you can save thousands of dollars. Remodeling and repair jobs are so expensive because of professional labor costs, if you are willing to out in the effort than you can avoid paying for labor and simply cover the cost of supplies.

No matter what your financial situation might be, saving money is always a good thing. But it’s important to understand when hiring a professional is the safest and best option. Below is a guide on DIY projects to make your life easier, and cheaper. This guide will outline some tips to avoid overly difficult, costly, or dangerous DIY projects, as well as how to know when a project is worth taking on alone.

A Basic Guide

Knowing when to DIY or call in the professionals

Depending on your level of DIY experience this can be the most difficult part of any project. If you’re dedicated to saving money, you will likely be more willing to take on more serious DIY ventures. Whereas if you are simply trying to save money when it’s easy and convenient, you will find yourself going to a professional more often.

No matter your situation, it’s important to understand when it’s time to hire a professional.

Safety above everything

Should you do your home’s fire protection sprinkler system installation on your own? Probably not. Some jobs are simply too dangerous to do by yourself. You don’t want to find yourself taking on DIY projects to make your life more dangerous or leave you seeking medical treatment.

When a job is potentially dangerous, or even life-threatening, that’s a good indicator that it’s time to call in a professional. This might sound obvious, however, there are far too many people each year who take on difficult jobs like high-dusting or tree trimming that should only be handled by a commercial contractor.

Being smart about potential property damage

If a project might pose serious property damage to your home or business they should be taken on by a professional. If a professional job is taken on by an amateur it very well could cost you more than it would have to hire a professional.

Major plumbing projects or repairs, pest control, and asbestos abatement all fall into the category or too risky. If you take on pest control or asbestos abatement you very well could damage your property past the point of return. And a leaky pipe due to an amateur plumbing repair might lead to water damage that will haunt your checkbook for years to come.

Know when things get too complicated

Some jobs require you to navigate legal channels, appeal to zoning boards, or deal with permitting issues. If this is the case for a project you have it usually means that you would be better off hiring a professional.

Professional contractors must be well versed in state and local safety or zoning requirements. If you are an amateur trying to save a few pennies, chances are you these requirements will come back to bite you in the end costing more money than it would have to get the job done right in the first place.

Do the research upfront

Doing ample research is the most important thing to do before taking on any DIY projects to make your life easier. If you’re not sure that you should take on a project, get online, and look at forums and blogs from people who have done the job that you are thinking about. Not doing the proper research will lead to you getting in far over your head on DIY jobs.

Know the costs

Time is money, spend both wisely. Taking on DIY projects to make your overhead costs less can save you money over time, however, it’s important to understand and evaluate the costs of such projects before you start.

Get a professional estimate on supply costs and labor totals. Once you have a professional estimate you can evaluate the price you would be able to get supplies for and make a general estimate of how long it would take you to complete the job.

Labor costs are typically the most expensive element of any contract work. If you are an amateur it will likely take you longer to complete the job, so you need to value your time and weigh the costs.

As a business owner you may find yourself dealing with razor-thin margins, especially if your business is still trying to get off the ground. Taking some of these manageable DIY projects on might be the difference between making money and losing money.

Recognizing which witch DIY projects to make a priority and which ones to avoid will save you money and heartache.

Business Owner DIY Projects to Make Life Easier

Basic cosmetic maintenance

Little cosmetic things around the building are the bread and butter or a savvy DIYer. Things like sheetrock repair, deep cleaning, and painting can all be taken on by amateurs.

Saving money manageable routine maintenance will result in big savings in the long run.

Minor appliance repairs and basic installation projects

While some appliance repairs require in-depth knowledge about the product, others require little to no knowledge to complete. Basic installations like cold-tables and small ovens for food preparations can be done by restaurant owners, minor and routine maintenance can also be done on these appliances. Simple office setup tasks like a desk and cubical installation can be a manageable DIY projects to make business owners more profitable.

Business Owner DIY Projects to Avoid

Advertising needs

Some things need to be handled by professionals. Advertising is one of those things.

Proper advertising can make or break a business. If you aren’t a trained marketing or advertisement professional then you simply won’t be able to match what a professional can provide. Don’t hesitate to hire a digital marketing agency to handle your advertising needs, in the long run, it will make you more money than it costs you.

Signage and graphic design

Designing your logo is one thing you can turn into a DIY project. However, putting that logo on a business cards, websites, email tags, menus, and brochures is something that should be done by a professional graphic designer or web design service. The appearance of your website and all business-related stationery is important, and getting it right is easier when you involve a professional.

Large scale commercial graphics and signage such as road or building signs are projects that should also be handled by a professional. Having poorly designed signage will detract customers, or worse, make it hard for them to find your business.

Heavy machinery

As a business owner, you will likely find yourself dealing with some heavy machinery at one point or another. You might have to drive a large box truck, a skid-steer, or even just a tow behind trailer. While you will have to know how to operate these things, maintaining them should be left to the pros. Things like fixing trailer sway or engine maintenance on heavy machinery are skilled tasks that will likely result in more repairs down the line if attempted on your own.

Whether you’re a homeowner who loves to save money or just like to keep busy, there is an endless list of DIY projects around the house that you might want to consider taking on.

Homeowner DIY Projects to Make Life Easier

Seasonal yard and home maintenance

This is where a true DIYer lives. Doing your own basic yard and home maintenance will save you a tremendous amount of money over the course of owning your home.

Hiring a landscaping company to keep up your yard is very costly, and typically unnecessary. Mowing your own lawn is easy and rewarding. If you’re concerned with the price of a lawnmower fear not! The used market for lawn maintenance equipment is booming, you can get a lawnmower that fits any budget.

Other lawn and outdoor maintenance tasks include gutter cleaning, which should be done at least twice a year. If your gutters aren’t too high up, i.e. if they can be accessed with a standard latter, then you should, by all means, try to clean them yourself.

Pool maintenance dos and don’ts

Most pool maintenance projects are relatively accessible to the homeowner looking for DIY projects to make life more affordable. Things like cleaning out leaves and maintaining chemical levels are all straightforward enough for any novice to understand.

However, difficult tasks like pool opening and closings should be handled by a pool maintenance specialist. These tasks are more involved than regular maintenance and must be done properly in order to ensure the longevity of your pool’s life.

Home décor

Achieving the home décor that you’ve wanted your whole life can be very difficult. And if you opt to hire an interior designer or professional decorator it can get very costly very fast.

If you worry about being able to afford fancy decorations for your home keep in mind the wonders of DIY crafting. You don’t have to be an arts camp superstar to create fabulous decorations for your home (though you might want to sign up for a class this summer). From colored pencil coasters to homemade frames and candles, the options are endless.

Homeowner DIY Projects to Avoid

Plumbing needs

As mentioned above, pluming jobs should be handled by professionals. The potential risks to your home are simply too vast to risk doing yourself. A leaky or poorly installed pipe could flood your entire foundation, leaving your home essentially totaled.

This is not to say that you can’t fix the flusher handle on your toilet, some small cosmetics repairs may be reasonable to take on yourself. But when it comes to the big stuff, it’s best you stay safe and call a professional.

Electrical needs

Be wary when you’re looking at electrical projects and maintenance around the home. Electrical projects might seem easy, but they can prove to be very dangerous and even life-threatening if not done by a professional. It’s far too easy for an amateur to leave a circuit on or miss a loose wire, a mistake which could potentially lead to a fire in your home, or an injury to yourself.

Roofing and elevated repairs

As a good rule of thumb, all roofing needs and repairs that require you to be suspended off the ground should be outsourced to professionals.

Whether you need your roof patched or your 4th story windows cleaned, there are professionals that are highly trained to handle high-risk tasks such as these. The potential for a fall from your roof is simply too high. Especially if you’ve never been trained to work at elevation.

For jobs like these, prioritize safety over saving money. When in doubt, hire a professional.

Final thoughts

Deciding projects you want to do yourself goes way further than saving money. DIY projects can be frustrating, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous, they can also be a lot of fun, and very rewarding. Balancing the pros and cons of taking on DIY projects is the most important thing.

Understanding that you can’t do everything yourself will save you a lot of stress and headache. On the other hand, realizing your ability and taking on DIY tasks that are in your comfort zone can save you a lot of money.

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