Do It Yourself Lessons Roundup
May 10, 2011
How did you spend your Mother’s Day weekend? Our’s was consumed by putting together our kid’s new playset. We spent all day Saturday and Sunday putting it up and then I had to take a day off work on Monday to get it finished.
We had considered hiring someone to assemble the playset for us but decided to go the “do it yourself” route – here are a few lessons I learned.
1) Buy in Bulk
The playset has a big sandbox so I called around Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart to price sandbox sand. Lowe’s was the cheapest but they were out and Wal-Mart was the most expensive. We needed almost 1000 lbs of sand, which would have cost us about $100 after tax at Home Depot. Instead we picked it up ourselves from a local landscaping company for only $18.83.
2) Shop Around Online
My wife did the research and found a highly rated Gorilla swingset that seemed to best fit what we were looking for. Then she shopped around online and found a website selling it for a few hundred dollars lower than anywhere else – no sales tax and free shipping. Just make sure it’s a legitimate site before giving up your credit card.
3) Read Reviews
We knew from reading reviews on various sites online that the two biggest complaints about this playset were that it was difficult to assemble and that not all the parts were shipped with the playset.
Based on this we had it delivered three weeks before installing it, leaving enough time for me to go through all the parts and make sure everything was there. Fortunately we weren’t missing any parts but if we had been we allowed enough time to call the manufacturer and have them shipped out before the installation weekend. We didn’t want to get 2/3 of the way into the project and find out we were missing a critical part.
We also knew from the reviews that aligning the four main posts and setting up the t-nuts were the biggest challenges – ones that could cause a lot of re-work once we were deep into installation if we didn’t get them right up front.
4) Plan Out Your Steps
The installation instructions were pretty good but it’s tough to communicate everything you need to be aware of for a step in a one page diagram. It pays to go over the diagram twice, once to understand it, and twice to make sure you interpreted it correctly.
It takes a little longer but if you plan out each step and think it through it can save you alot of re-work and frustration.
5) Don’t Always Do It Yourself
I was lucky enough to have my father-in-law helping me the entire time. I’m not a great handyman so if I’d have done it myself it would have taken weeks and I’m sure it wouldn’t be put together quite right. It was certainly a team effort, my mother-in-law helped watch the kids and my parents stopped by for a while to help – and it still took us 3 days.
As I mentioned earlier, we had considered hiring a local contractor to install it for us – and without the help of my father-in-law I imagine I would have. A quick search on Angies List for swingset installation brought up a list of 8 companies that install playsets. I probably would have gotten bids from the 3 highest rated companies and gone with one of them.
If you are thinking of a DIY project, just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into and think about who you can ask for help that might have the experience and/or tools you’ll need.
After spending the extended weekend offline, I’m getting caught up on some of the personal finance articles I’d missed over the last week. Check some of these out.
- Play the Invest Lazy Man’s Money Game @ Lazy Man & Money
- Employee Stock Purchase Plans @ The Wealth Artisan
- How Expense Ratios Impact Your Investment Performance @ Moolanomy
- Index Funds Work in Bull and Bear Markets @ The Oblivious Investor
- Big Banks Are Eliminating Free Checking Accounts @ Suns Financial Diary
- Parenting Moments @ Brip Blap
- Financial Strategies for the New Stay at Home Parent @ Million Dollar Journey
- Emergency Fund Planning: Don’t Assume Expenses Will Go Down @ Frugal Dad
- Applying the Golden Rule to Tough Personal Finance Situations @ The Simple Dollar
- Are You Letting Fear Cloud Your Financial Judgment? @ Cash Money Life
- Small Financial Sacrifices For Big Achievements @ My Two Dollars
- Purchasing When You Can Afford It @ Sweating The Big Stuff
- Get Paid to Do What You Love @ Generation X Finance
- The Best and Worst States to Make a Living @ Free Money Finance
- Questioning the Value of a College Degree @ My Money Blog
- Quitting a New Job for a Better Offer @ The Money Crashers
- 7 Rules for Successful Pre-Buying @ My Dollar Plan
- The Truth about Haggling @ PT Money
- Restaurant Menu Tricks to Get More of Your Money @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
- Getting Rid of Old Appliances for Money @ Frugal Confessions
- Stop Worrying About How You Got Into Debt @ The Digerati Life
- Crippled by Student Debt @ Money Ning
- Should You Build an Emergency Fund or Pay Off Debt First? @ Money Crush
Thanks to the following site for including Money Smart Life posts in the carnival of personal finance:
- How to Use a Mortgage Calculator to Compare Home Loans @ Live Real Now
- 5 Ways to Pay Off Your House Early @ Yes I Am Cheap
All posts by Ben Edwards