Hire a professional or do-it-yourself?

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By Kevin Eichenberger

Do you handle it yourself or contract it out to a professional? Depends on the work, and you.

So you’ve bought a house, gone through it with a magnifying glass, moved in, and lived in it. At some point, perhaps after the defect liability period has lapsed, you might come across some things you would want to change (or fix).

Whether it is a little more shade from the sun that you need, some landscaping, or repairs to a vintage property, the question of doing it yourself or hiring a professional largely comes down to three factors:-

1. What it is you intend to do,

2. How much you know about the task at hand, and

3. What you can afford in terms of money, time, and effort

Research

The bottom-line in doing anything, especially work on your home, is definitely putting in some time to do the research. Whether you intend to do it yourself or hire a professional, you absolutely need to know what the work entails.

Fortunately, the internet provides. Begin by equipping yourself with some information on what you want to do, what materials are required, and what procedures to follow – and then, decide if you could handle it all on your own.

Simple Tasks

Relatively simple work such as drilling holes in the wall for curtain railings should be something you can approach on your own – albeit with some careful measurement and the right tools.

Even simple tasks like drilling a hole in the wall can be a little more strenuous and complex than you would initially imagine, especially if you’ve never even seen it being done before.

Imagine holding a kilogram of weight between your chin and your chest, and pressing that vibrating weight against the wall while perched on a ladder – it’s like a deleted scene from one of the “Final Destination” movies.

Pro tip: if you’re looking to buy a cordless drill, you should know that the battery pack makes it a little heavier. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

Pro tip: if you’re looking to buy a cordless drill, you should know that the battery pack makes it a little heavier. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

If you’re doing it for the first time, you’re in for some surprises. But if you manage to pull it off by yourself, it’ll be a learning experience that will have you beaming with pride.

Complex Tasks

There are some potentially dangerous tasks, such as having a jaunt on the roof or messing with electricity, for which you should seriously consider hiring a professional.

Seriously, we don’t want to see any obituaries because you’ve decided that you’re half mountain goat or that you could handle reconfiguring your fusebox with a fork and a pair of socks for gloves.

Legal: please include a disclaimer at the end of this article! Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Legal: please include a disclaimer at the end of this article! Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Accounting

If you know something about what you intend to do, having put in some time to do the research and seen some how-tos, your next point of consideration would be the costs in terms of money, time, and effort.

For large-scale work, you could grade the tasks you need to be done, according to the skill required, in order to figure out how much you would be paying someone else to do it.

Unskilled labour (work that doesn’t require any professional training) can cost you around RM50 per head for an eight-hour workday. You would have to double, triple, or even quadruple, that figure for tasks that require more professional training.

And then multiply that by the pairs of hands needed. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

And then multiply that by the pairs of hands needed. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash.

Don’t be surprised if an electrician charges you a few hundred ringgit for a few hours’ work.

All that safety gear isn’t exactly a fashion choice. Photo by Anton Dmitriev on Unsplash.

All that safety gear isn’t exactly a fashion choice. Photo by Anton Dmitriev on Unsplash.

You’ll find that some of the work can be exhaustingly menial and back-breaking – ever tried mixing cement?

It doesn’t get all smooth and pretty from hopes and wishes. Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash.

It doesn’t get all smooth and pretty from hopes and wishes. Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash.

If you are planning on working with a lot of it, you could invest in a stirrer attachment for an electric drill to save some time and energy – but you should probably ask yourself: how often will you be using that potentially expensive attachment?

A rust-proof and high-strength stirrer attachment could be costly and is more likely found in a professional’s toolkit than in your home workshop.

Pictured: Not your average home workshop. Photo by Carlos Irineu da Costa on Unsplash.

Pictured: Not your average home workshop. Photo by Carlos Irineu da Costa on Unsplash.

If you’re mixing a low-viscosity substance such as concrete with aggregate (little rocks) in it, working without a flexible coupling could turn your beloved drill into an expensive paperweight.

Ancillary Costs

Aside from the costs of the necessary skills, tools, and materials, one thing that can’t quite be quantified is the experience of a professional – which will more often than not result in a project being completed quicker and with greater attention paid to detail than what you may be able to achieve by yourself.

That cat-like agility takes years of practice standing on a ladder. Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash.

That cat-like agility takes years of practice standing on a ladder. Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash.

Whether you intend to hire a professional or do it yourself, keep in mind the unwavering Iron Triangle.

Behold, the crux of any project.

Behold, the crux of any project.

If you want something done right, you should know that there is no such thing as “better, cheaper, and faster”. Whether you’re hiring a professional or putting on a hardhat yourself, you only get to choose two out of those three options.

Read on for some home repair tasks you can do yourself, or about how to get inspiration for your interior design and how to balance the costs.


Disclaimer

This article is intended to convey general information only. It does not constitute advice for your specific needs. This article cannot disclose all of the risks and other factors necessary to evaluate a particular situation.

Any interested party should study each situation carefully. You should seek and obtain independent professional advice for your specific needs and situation.


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