Kip Tips


Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

Cameron Huddleston

Consider whether you're saving enough money by tackling home-improvement projects on your own to justify the time you're giving up.



I guess my husband and I are bucking the national trend. A report released recently by Bank of America shows that 70% of the mass affluent (consumers with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets) took on home-improvement projects in the past year that they normally would hire someone to do. Yet we recently hired people to do not one, but two projects that we could have tackled on our own.

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Why? Because the savings wouldn't have been substantial enough to justify the time it would have taken us (well, my husband) to complete the projects.

My husband is pretty frugal (i.e. cheap), so he usually attempts to tackle projects around the home on his own (luckily he's handy). However, he's been quite busy at work -- and at home because we recently had our third child. He would have given up days of his time (time that could be spent with the kids and staying on top of his workload) to rebuild a portion of our backyard fence that was old and falling down and removing the weed-infested grass in our small front yard and replacing it with seed or sod. Plus, he would need to invest in some tools for the fence project.

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So we got estimates for the fence and sod -- and they were less than we expected (especially for the sod). Considering we would have bought lumber for the fence and new tools to build it, we wouldn't have to pay a whole lot more to have someone else invest their time into the project. And my husband, who is a university professor, was able to use his time to do research, which will help him get pay raises down the road.

Before you embark on your next home-improvement project, get a few estimates from contractors. You might discover that you won't save much by doing the project on your own -- especially if you're giving up time that could be used to earn more money or improve your chances of getting paid more.

For tips on how to find someone to do a home-improvement project for you, see Hire a Contractor Who Measures Up.

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