There are four primary options to get anything done around the home:
DIY – Do it Yourself
Call a friend
Hire a contractor
Hire a handyman – (Call me!)
Let’s briefly explore the benefits and pitfalls of each.
At the risk of losing some potential business, doing a project yourself can be the most fun and rewarding. After all, Mountain Home Handyman is here today because I have chosen over the years to do it myself! “On the other hand…” (to quote Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof), it can be the most frustrating and costly way to do a project without the proper tools or knowledge. So, what are the benefits and pitfalls?
- Reduced out of pocket cost – You should basically save the cost of labor, and maybe even a lttle material cost when you do it yourself. Of course, since your time is worth something, it’s really hard to quantify the real savings, so sometimes you have to look at the other benefits to see the true value.
- Learn new skills – Doing a home project gives you the opportunity in a “safe” environment to learn and practice new skills. With Youtube videos and blog posts galor on just about any subject, you can get great tips, and step by step instructions on how to do your project.
- Pride factor – Being able to tell your friends, or spouse, you completed the job by yourself, is a great feeling. Plus you can post it on facebook and let the whole world know what you did.
- Increased cost – “Wait, I thought you said it would cost me less.” I actually said it “should” cost you less. Looking back over the years, to be completely honest, there have been a couple of projects at home I did that in the long run cost me more than if I had just called a professional in the first place. Why? Because in the process of attempting the project, I ran into something I did not expect, or I accidentally damaged something without realizing it. It then had to be corrected before the project could be done correctly. It’s important to have a really good grasp of the scope of what needs to be done, and what the potential “unknowns” are, and how you might resolve them PRIOR to starting a project.
- Lack of tools – While some projects around the house can be done with a hammer, screwdriver and measuring tape, many require a few more specialized tools, and some projects cannot be properly done without very specific tools in your bag. If you are looking at a diy project, make sure you take the time to consider what tools you might need.
- Project takes longer than you thought – Of course this can be true, regardless of who performs the work, but if you either need it to be done by a certain time, or the work is disruptive enough that it needs to be completed as quickly as possible, the time can be a factor. Will you be doing this in the evenings, on the weekend, and do you have the time? For some, especially in Mammoth, you come up here to enjoy the incredible outdoor activities of the Eastern Sierras, and really, the last thing you want to do is to spend time working on the home. Can you afford to start the project, run in to issues, then not finish it until your next visit?
- Finished quality ends up lacking – Most of us take a great deal of pride in our properties, and we want everything visible in the home to show off that pride. Some projects, like painting, installing trim, repairing drywall, etc. if not done properly, will end up looking worse than before you started, simply because doing some jobs well, require a bit of skill and experience. If you are doing it yourself, just make sure you are confident that you can be satisfied with the end result.
Here’s my 1-2-3 for deciding on whether or not to do it yourself:
- Do I have a good handle on the scope of the project, and the skills required to complete it?
You may not have all the skills, but you do need to understand what you need to learn. Going into a project without any idea of what is involved, is like going off Cornice without looking down. Not recommended!
2. Do you have the time and tools to do it right?
Double or triple the amount of time you think it will take, that is probably closer to the actual. Be prepared to buy special tools, if you don’t already have a good inventory.
3. What is the real value of doing it yourself?
Reduce labor costs? Learn a new skill? Does the value exceed the risk and or cost?
Call a Friend
So maybe you’ve eliminated DIY for any number or reasons, another option is calling a friend. If you’re lucky, you have a friend you trust, who has the skills, tools and time to help. But, there are still some things to consider.
- Reduced out of pocket costs –
- Get to know your friend better –
- Strain your friendship –
- Project not to the quality you expected –
1-2-3 for choosing a friend.
- Am I confident they have a good handle on the scope of the project, and the skills required to complete it?
Hire a Contractor
Intro to hiring a contractor
- Have one person responsible for project, start to finish.
- Confidence that it will be built properly.
- Cost of the project will be the highest of all other options
1-2-3 for choosing a contractor
- Clear about the scope of the project (communication)
- Understand the costs
Hire a Handyman
Intro to hiring a handyman
- Professional work
- Wide range of skills
- Costs less than contractor
- Over promises
- Not insured
1-2-3 for choosing a handyman
- Business license and insurance
- Reliability & trust