To DIY or Not to DIY?

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Go ahead and install a laminate floor. But complicated electrical work, pest extermination, and tree removal? It’s probably best to suck it up, hire a pro, and not do any damage to your home, or to the people living in it.

A WalletPop post on “8 Jobs You Should Leave to the Pros” recommends against DIYing oil changes, electrical work, tax prep, pricing heirlooms, representing yourself in court, tree removal, big printing jobs, and getting rid of bugs. In most cases, I agree, though with minor electrical jobs—very minor, like replacing a ceiling fan—and if it’s only a small tree—very small, like under 15 feet—there’s probably nothing wrong with saving the money and doing it yourself. As always, a handyman or handywoman has got to know his or her limitations.

Taxes? I’m not so sure. Of course, anyone remotely involved in the world of accountants recommends hiring a pro, but if your return is fairly simple that seems like a waste of money.

I used to regularly change my car’s oil back when I owned by beloved Saturn and it was an easy, straightforward job, but now I drive a Volkswagen and the oil filter is really difficult to get at. So out of some combination of laziness, convenience, and preemptive frustration avoidance, I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing it into a mechanic when the oil needs to be changed.

A Money Talks News post also deals with the DIY or not question, appropriately suggesting making use of the website (what else?)

The best feature on this site is a price and time comparison: You can look up hundreds of typical home improvement or maintenance projects and get a breakdown of how much time and money, on average, it would take for you to do the job or for a pro to handle it. There’s even a poll for each project that lets you know what other people usually decide.

A link to an home renovations page laminate floor install, toilet install, and drywall hanging among the projects approved for the DIY route, but I’m not so sure about the latter two. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m scared off by projects involving water because even minor mistakes can lead to major headaches. As for drywall, well, work done by amateurs often looks really amateurish, with visible bumps and crevices where walls don’t line up properly. Spackle only does so much. Ceilings are especially difficult if you don’t have special equipment or several sets of hands—and most amateurs have neither.

The Money Talks post offers a few good tips for things to consider before deciding to DIY or not. I especially recommend considering these two factors before putting on the tool belt:

Tools. Do you need a Phillips screwdriver and some needle-nose pliers, or do you need a tile saw? Specialized tools can be expensive, and if it’s a one-time project, you might not need them again. You could look for a used tool online, ask your buddy in construction, or find an equipment rental shop – but that means more time and potentially more expense…

Interest. Is this type of work you’d consider interesting and relaxing, or a chore? While everybody can take satisfaction from a job well done, the path to getting there can be enjoyable for some, a pain for others.

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