Hire a Contractor vs Do it Yourself

June 1, 2010

At two different barbecues last weekend, the conversation turned to hiring a contractor vs doing big projects yourself.  One of our friends had decided that rather than spend all Memorial weekend working on installing a fence he would hire someone to install the fence for him.

All of us had been through several major do it yourself projects because just a few years ago we preferred taking on big house projects ourselves.  We pretty much came to the conclusion that although we did get a sense of pride and accomplishment when finishing a project like installing a patio, putting up a fence, or drywalling a basement; that for us hiring someone was the best way to go.

Why We Hire Contractors

At our second cook-out, some of the dads were talking about how we’d shifted more towards hiring than doing projects ourselves and our host asked why that was. 

Available Time
I think a lot of it has to do with a lack of time.  When you have two little kids running around, it’s hard to get your daily household tasks taken care of, let alone a major project that requires planning and big blocks of uninterrupted time.

Quality & Speed
We also agreed that when you hire the right person, not only is the work done much faster, but they also do a better job than we would since they’re professionals and we’re just guys with “how to build a deck” books.  Especially when it comes to things like wiring where the repercussions of error could be electrocution or a fire, we felt safer using an electrical contractor.

Not only that, many times contractors will offer a warranty period during which they’ll come back and fix any problems that pop up for a 6 months or a year.

Cost of Mistakes
The last main reason was that some of us had at least one project where we did a project ourselves to save money but then ended up having to hire someone to fix it. It would have been cheaper to just hire them in the first place.

Hiring a Good Contractor

Of course the important part of the paragraph above is “when you hire the right person”. You can run into a lot of headache and hassles if you don’t find a good company or contractor to do the work.  One good way is to get a referral from a friend; our friend putting in the fence had a great home builder and asked his recommendation on who to hire for the fence.

Another option that we’ve had a great experience with over the last two years is a company named Angies List.  They use the same recommendation type approach but instead of getting feedback from just one or two of your buddies, you hear from dozen or hundreds of people in your town that have worked with a contractor and what their experience was.

What about you?  Do you usually hire a contractor or would you prefer to do it yourself?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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8 Responses to Hire a Contractor vs Do it Yourself

  • William

    Thanks for the article!

    To add to your list, we also highly recommend contractors that use a proper dust containment system, especially with the EPA’s RRP rules. We find that contractors who use a well-designed dust containment system typically take greater pride in their work.

  • Money Obedience

    I have had my share of being too ambitious just to make a mistake in the end. Then I had to hire somebody to correct my mistake after hours of sweating over the project. On the other hand, I have found that the guy who cuts my grass is useless for most other garden projects including fall and spring cleanup, planting shrubs, etc. Besides, I enjoy this kind of work and it gives me great pride when it is done. So, some things I outsource right away, some things I take back.

  • Dave

    Hire a Contractor vs Do it Yourself is a gr8 topic to discuss .From my point of view both of them depends on situations .We can hire contractor when the work gets overloaded .So we should get aware of when to hire a contractor and when to not


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