What is the 10% Worth?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

Around the house, I like to do things myself, where possible.  Since my wife and I moved into our home, we have laid laminate flooring on all 3 floors, painted the whole house, installed baseboard everywhere as well as a bunch of more minor projects.

What we have found in completing these jobs is that our finished product is good, but probably about 10%  “good” than a professional would have done (assuming they did a good job).  There are minor gaps in the between the floor and the wall due to measurement errors (or in some cases the house being out of square) – in essence, the completed job is just not perfect.

Prior to installing carpet on the stairs, my wife and I had a discussion about whether we should hire someone to do the job, or if I was up for doing it myself.  She would have preferred to have it professionally done, while I wanted to do it myself.  Here were my arguments:


Before I installed carpet on the stairs, we asked around for quotes to do the job – the average cost was somewhere around $200-$250.  I was able to rent tools and do the job myself for around $60.  I don’t really factor in my time because if I wasn’t doing the job, I would probably just be playing video games or reading a book.  The money saved on this job is enough to pay for materials on the other set of stairs we are going to carpet in the future, so we are basically doing 2 sets of stairs for the price of 1 (done professionally).

I like to do the work:

I sit at a desk all day and analyze numbers.  The odd time there is something to do around the house, I look forward to it as I can learn something new and get to use a different part of my brain (it seems anyways).  I like the feeling at the end of the job that I have actually done something tangible, as much of my work done during the week is definitely not.

I will not do electrical work – due to my lack of any training and the fact that once the wiring is complete, it’s closed up in a wall, waiting to set my house on fire (if I have done it improperly).  I will attempt to do any other project though, even if it is only 90% as good as a professional would do.

Are you a Do-It-Yourselfer?  If so, why do you do it?  If you’re not, why not?

Bonus content #1: I had to pass on this terrific post written by Mr. Money Moustache last week – are you a complainypants?  Terrific post that I wish I could have thought up.

Bonus Content #2:  I had the best turkey ever for Thanksgiving – I would highly encourage everyone to try smoking a turkey on a barbeque, it makes a roasted bird pale in comparison.  Smoking can be done on a gas or charcoal barbeque, with the added benefit of freeing up your oven at Thanksgiving / Christmas for other tasty foods, as well as reducing the need to open up windows in the kitchen because it’s 500 degrees in the house.

8 thoughts on “What is the 10% Worth?”

  1. I wish I was a DIYer. I have found that many of the people my landlord (Mom) has paid to do work have not done a “good” job. So very few of these “trained professionals” are doing a 100% good job.

    She is a perfectionist. I think if she had the time and would watch a few videos she could outclass these “professionals”.

  2. WEll….hubby does electrical (self trained and very good), we have built entire homes but refuse to even try drywalling….well, a bit of a lie as we did drywall our basement–it looks good but we almost killed each other during the process. WE never do plumbing..except to replace a tap or something like that. Floors have been tiled or done with laminate, walls painted, baseboards cut and installed….landscaping by us….
    It has saved a ton of money and let us do complete home renovations.

  3. I am going to build a recreational cottage in a few years. I would love to do most of the work myself (I have built sheds and decks)… but another part of me admits that a structure with any architectural flair will probably require a professional. I can already visualize the $ flying out of my wallet. 🙁

  4. My SO is a talented DIY-er… we have saved tons of money this way. And when we have paid for someone else to do work, they have not done a 100% satisfactory job. When you pay someone to do the work, you are not paying for perfection, you are paying for the pleasure of not doing it yourself, that’s all. None of the «professional» jobs we’ve had done were any better than what my SO does himself.

  5. I recently had a house built by a builder( I had no other choice really) and from what I’ve seen, I could have done a better job myself. Just because people are “Professionals” does not mean they do a better job.

    If it takes a real skill like tile work, electrical or cabinet work, then you might want to hire someone with a good rep. If it’s mindless like painting or building a fence then go hard. If you lack skills to do manual work then you must make enough money being “Smart” and should hire someone who can.

    I do all my own work unless it requires a true skill but there’s not many tasks that are that tough and I save a ton of money.

  6. My father brought me up to believe that most “professionals” make the finish look perfect, but skimp on the important stuff (like not putting enough sealant foam in when installing windows). As a result, I have a good idea of what a good god entails. If something is outside my skill set, I will hire someone to do it, but I’ll watch their every move, lol.
    Most jobs I will do myself, in fact, I think I’m going to be asking my father to teach me how to install new bath taps soon…

  7. By all means, if you enjoy DYI, have the skill set, the proper tools, and the knowledge and experience why wouldn’t you do your own work. But be aware that modifications to your electrical, plumbing, and home structure can cause serious and expensive issues to your home if the work is done incorrectly, the proper work permits have not been completed, or if any of the work causes problems down the line and are found at fault your home owners insurance may not cover you for damages. Certianly most homeowners can deal with basic maintenance issues and things like painting or in some cases the lipstick and mascara issues. Even general contractors like me will sub contract to journeyman trades for things like electrical, HVAC, plumbing, concrete foundation work, structural engineering, and so forth. I’d rather have a certified professional do the job right, than have to do it while I’m learning and potentially cause damage to my family or my home. In the mean time, I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been called in to repair a botched up DYI project gone wrong, and the funny thing is, it usually costs almost twice as much as if they’d hired me to do the job in the first place. First I have to tear out all the bad tile, or the bad drywall, or the bad plumbing or whatever the case maybe, and then start over again. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your own safety and the safety of your home.

  8. Hi John,

    Thanks for your comments. I generally agree with you around electrical, HVAC, plumbing, concrete foundation work and structural engineering – I live in a condo townhouse, so most of the stuff I am looking at ever doing is basically on top of the important stuff. I noted that I will not do electrical work – right now I have an exhaust fan that is hard-wired and would like to install a plug-in for a microwave range combo – I’m not confident that I can do that at all, so I will hire someone to do it.

    I am cognizant around the risk of screwing up and wasting all the materials I’ve purchased and messing up the house and the reward of saving money.

    I appreciate your comments, thanks for sharing your thoughts from “the professional” side!

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