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  • Writer's pictureAlli Beck

The hidden costs of DIY

The hidden costs of DIY

I remember when I saw our house on Zillow the first time, I was enchanted by the large decks on all sides of the house.

They looked so luxurious. I could imagine our family lounging on patio chairs in the summer drinking wine under patio lights.

What I didn’t consider was that these large decks (THREE OF THEM), had not had any maintenance for years, possibly decades.

So a year after we tackled the inside of our fixer-upper, we took on refinishing the decks.

I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

We spent four weeks on our hands and knees sanding with headlights in the dark because after bedtime was the only toddler-free time we had.

Then we started staining. It was a little bit of a shock when we realized the brown stain we had purchased five gallons of was actually orange.

Don’t even get me started on the process of sanding and staining the 100 plus railing pickets.

By the time we replaced all the rotted boards on the deck, it was the end of the summer.

We are still working on the back deck. And we haven’t even started on the third deck off our master bedroom.

When I add up the financial cost, the time we spent and the myriad of mistakes we made, I wonder, should we have just hired someone to do it?

Sometimes when we do something ourselves, we don’t often realize the full cost.

Don’t get me wrong, I think DIY has a place. I am a big fan of learning to do something yourself before you hire it out. In the early stages of business, it is sometimes the only option.

But it’s good to factor in the full costs when we are considering which path to take on a project.

Here are the hidden costs of DIY:

1. Time.

This is number one. Doing something yourself means you will spend time on it. Sometimes it isn't a huge investment. Others, it takes vastly longer than hiring someone.

I’ve started to see my time in new ways. My time is valuable and it isn’t a renewable resource.

When you decide to DIY, try taking the hourly amount you charge and multiply it by the number of hours you think the project will take. (You will probably need to double the amount of hours you think it will take).

Now as you look at the final number, can you live with that cost? Is it vastly less than hiring it out? Do you have that amount of time to devote to it?

2. Real financial costs.

Even when you are DIYing, there are usually some sort of financial costs associated with a project. In the case of the deck, it was stain, sanding paper, sanders, replacement boards, and a huge list of other things.

Just because you are doing it yourself doesn’t mean these things go away.

Recently my husband and I were considering a landscaping project involving building a retaining wall on our property. When we got the bid from the excavator, we balked a bit. It was a lot higher than we expected.

But we sat down and calculated out the hard costs of doing it ourselves with landscaping block instead of large rocks. In the end, it was almost as much to do it ourselves as it was to hire someone to do it. AND that didn’t even include the time we would have spent doing it. That made the decision to hire someone much easier.

The project was done in four days instead of three months.

3. The mistakes you will probably make.

Every time I do something myself, I inevitably mess up somewhere along the way. That’s part of learning. Sometimes it is worth it to learn because it is a skill I will need in the future. Others, it is a huge list of headaches that I wish I just had handed off to someone else.

Making mistakes is not a bad thing. It is part of the process. But we are fooling ourselves if we think it won’t happen.

There are times when it is wise to skip the learning curve and hire someone who has already gone through that curve and will avoid making those mistakes. Not only will it save you a headache, it also saves time and money.

Refinishing our deck was a project I never want to have to do again. But I have to say, now that the bulk of the project is done, I did get to realize my dream of lounging on patio chairs with wine under lights.

It just cost a lot more blood, sweat, tears, money and time than I expected.

Do you tend to DIY or do you usually hire projects out?

P.S. I’ve been working behind the scenes with some pretty incredible business leaders to bring you something that’s going to blow your mind and help you CRUSH your biz goals. I cannot wait to share with you soon… stay tuned!


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