Ever since I got my first car I’ve been a do-it-yourselfer. The first time something went wrong that car I brought it in to a shop, and they charged me $350. Then I found out I could have bought the parts and the necessary tools for half that much. I’ve never brought a car into a shop again.
If you want it done right, do it yourself
This, for most of my life, has been my motto. The person you pay to do a thing for you, will never, never care as much about that thing as you do, right? Doing things yourself also brings skills you never would have had otherwise. Plumbing a bathroom, changing the clutch in a car and building my own split-board are skills I now possess.
A DIY mini-story
Our first house was a ‘fixer-upper.’ We gutted the thing, from the ceiling to the floors, even knocked out a wall or two. For nearly two years we lived in a constant state of remodel. When we got around to hanging the sheetrock back up, it felt like we were finally starting to get somewhere. It took me two weeks to hang it, on a nights and weekends basis. And then came time to apply the ‘mud.’ This is a skill I thought I most certainly would excel at, since it’s more art and finesse than brute force labor. Well not so fast there, partner. I actually really stink at it. When you watch a pro, it looks so easy and quick. I, on the other hand, found myself going over the same area again and again in failed attempts at getting it smooth. After two weeks trying, I gave up and called in the cavalry. A pro agreed to finish the job for $400 – and he had it done in two days, while I was at work.
If you want it done right, hire an expert
As I was paying the sheetrock pro, he said to me, “You should have called me sooner, I would have hung the sheetrock too for another $200.”
He did a better job, did it faster – and would have saved me even more time and heartache had I called him sooner. Here’s where you see a lightbulb pop up over my head. I had my first lesson in a motto I’ve come to call:
Let the experts do what the experts do.
I still do quite a bit of DIY stuff – I still haven’t taken my car into a shop – but these days I pick and choose what I can do myself, and what might be better left to an expert.
Things to consider in DIY vs the Expert
It’s usually pretty easy to decide which way to go when I consider these two things:
- How steep is the learning curve for the task
- Is my time better spent doing my real job
If the task is only going to take an afternoon to figure out, or if the ‘error’ portion of trial and error won’t cost too much time and effort, then I’ll tackle the task myself. This is usually the case, as I’m not afraid to fail at something, learn from the mistakes, and get it right the second time.
If, however, I can hire an expert, pay them say, half of my hourly rate, then it’s time to let the experts do what the experts do, every time. I save myself the trouble, the task is done right and probably in half the time.