Here's a list of projects that I will do (basic) and need to hire (advanced). For some of the basic items, the first time usually takes longer due to learning how to do it. However, the cost saved and the future reduction of effort is worth it.
Type of Project
|Lawn||Mow, edge, fertilize, seed||Resodding|
|Sprinkler||Adjustment||Add new sprinkler head|
|Landscaping||Design, planting, trimming, mulching||Remove tree|
|Painting||Touch up, minor trim, single room||Entire house exterior or several rooms|
|Plumbing||Drip leaks, caulking, new sink or toilet||Requires soldering|
|Gas||Piping and fittings in open area||Piping behind walls|
|Car||Oil change, light change, flat tire||Tune up, brakes, body work|
|Electric||Change fixture or switch||Rewire|
|Masonry||Minor patching of mortar or concrete||Relaying brick or pouring concrete|
For reference, the blue items I used to do myself. However, I now have others do it since the cost has become very reasonable. For example, changing oil at the dealer is about $25, only $2 more than the materials (oil filter and oil) I would need to purchase. Also, for some reason, grass cutting prices are very competitive in my area, $35 for 1/2 acre, including edging. Normally, this would be a three to four hour job for me, with a push mower.
To note, many of the basic do-it-yourself projects require additional tools. Since I previously owned a 80 year old house, I have every tool imaginable :-)
With projects that I do infrequently, I like to have a "how to"reference to use. Here are several that I like to use:
Instruction manuals. Often, the manual for cars and appliances can be found on the Internet. About 80% of the time, it will have the information I need, including diagrams, part numbers, specific tools and troubleshooting guide. The other 20% of the time, it gives about half the needed information, requiring further search.
Do It Yourself or other reference websites. There are a number of websites that give generic instructions, guidance and tips. One that I have used is How Stuff Works.
Lowe's. The staff at Lowe's is typically knowledgeable on most do-it-yourself projects. Often they will have a plumber, carpenter or other craftsman on staff. They can usually help me with about half to three quarters of the projects without an instruction manual.
Local repair or manufacturer customer service. My final resource is a local repair shop or the manufacturer. About 90% of the time, someone is able to talk me through the repair steps or explain the additional parts needed.
Recent projects have included fixing a toilet leak and a car A/C condensate leak. I estimate these projects saved me about $150 to $200, which was a pretty good return on my time.
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Photo Credit: morgueFile.com, Michael Connors
This is not financial or home maintenance advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
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