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When To DIY & When To Hire Out — How Do You Decide?

I was looking at my list of 2017 home goals (which you can see here) to see just how much progress I’ve made so far this year, and just how much more I have to do if I want to stay on task. I came to the realization that I probably won’t get all the way through my list this year.

There’s just too much left, and too many big projects still on the list: make seven more drapery panels, reupholster the sofa, reupholster four chairs, build hallway cabinets, build the pantry cabinets, refinish the piano, etc. Those big, time-consuming projects, mixed with about 30 smaller projects left on the list, would require more than three-and-a-half months to finish. I’m quite certain of that.

I’m okay with that. The purpose of my list was just to give me clarity and focus for the year, and it has definitely done that. I’ve felt more focus this year than I have in a very long time. But the purpose of the list wasn’t to serve as a set-in-stone list that absolutely had to get done or I’d beat myself up over it.

And even though some of that list will be carried over to next year, it doesn’t overwhelm me or make me anxious. Everything on that list is completely doable. I just recognize that I’ll need more time.

But now, in addition to my original list, I’ve added so much more work for myself with the studio. Progress on the studio, mudroom, and half bathroom has come to a complete stop, and it still looks just like it did when the crew packed up their tools and left…

studio progress as of 8-1-2017

That room needs electrical wiring, insulation, drywall, trim and flooring installed before I can even think of getting to the fun/decorative projects.

The thing about all of these projects is that there’s not a single one of them that I absolutely need to hire out because I’m incapable of doing it myself. I’ve done my own electrical wiring in the pantry, breakfast room, hallway bathroom, and hallway. I’ve done drywall by myself in the hallway bathroom, and then with help in some other rooms. I’ve installed hardwood flooring in the kitchen, pantry, and breakfast room, and I’ve installed tile in the bathroom. I’ve installed every bit of trim (with the exception of the crown moulding in the breakfast room) in this house all myself. And installing batt insulation is incredibly easy. (Spray foam is probably best left to the pros, though.)

And then there’s the exterior, which has brand new siding, but still hasn’t been caulked or painted. While I’ve never painted the exterior of a house before, I can’t imagine that it’s particularly difficult.

So of all the things listed above — my original 2017 to do list, the studio projects, and the exterior — the only one I know for sure that I’ll hire out is the drywall. I am completely capable of installing drywall and doing the taping and mudding myself. Heck, I even bought a drywall lift a couple of years ago, so I’m even capable of doing ceilings all by myself.

But I got over my guilt of hiring out drywall over a year ago. I decided that I’ve paid my dues when it comes to installing drywall, and any drywall from here on out will be hired out, even if I am fully capable and equipped to do it myself. I hired out the drywall in the breakfast room and pantry…

breakfast-room-and-pantry-drywall-finally-being-installed-breakfast-room-ceiling

…and they had it installed, taped, mudded and sanded in two or three days. It would have taken me about a month to do that by myself.

But other than drywall, there’s not anything else on the list that I had planned to hire out. And I’m still okay with that, but the scope of the studio project has started to make me feel just a bit overwhelmed lately. I think that’s probably because I’m putting unnecessary pressure on myself to get it done ASAP just because I’d like to start using it. I know I could get it all done myself if I just put my blinders on, and focus on one project at a time. Or I could think about hiring out some of these things to get it done faster.

I always feel guilty hiring out projects that I’m capable of doing myself. It seems like such a waste of money, and any extra money that I put towards these projects will only delay other projects I want to get done (like our big master bedroom/family room/laundry room addition). Plus, I write a DIY blog, so shouldn’t I actually be DIYing this stuff myself?

In addition to the wasted money issue, there’s also the control issue. I’m a control freak. There, I said. 🙂 I don’t like handing over control of things to other people. Plus, I just really enjoy DIYing, and there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that I get when a job is finished and I can look back on it and say, “I did that! I sewed that! I built that from scratch! I painted that! I installed that myself! I refinished that!” I now we’re all motivated by different things, but that sense of accomplishment is an incredibly powerful motivator for me, and makes me want to hoard allllllll of the projects for myself.

But I’ve come to the realization that it might be time for me to turn some of these things over to some trusted pros. Then the challenge is deciding which one(s).

Painting? I just can’t wrap my head around hiring someone to do something so basic as painting, even if it is a house exterior, and especially since I live in a one-story house. If I lived in a two-story house, I would probably feel differently.

Installing hardwood flooring? It’s just so easy (and actually pretty fun and relaxing) that I can’t imagine not doing it myself.

Electrical? Electricians are so dang expensive that I can’t even bear the thought of hiring that out (and spending all of that extra money) on something I’m fully capable of doing myself.

The one thing on the list I could easily hand over with zero guilt is insulation. No problem. Done.

So if you’re a DIYer, whether by necessity because of finances, or by choice because you love it, or a combination of both, how do you go about deciding what projects you’re going to do yourself, and which ones you’re going to hire out? Do you base it strictly on ability? Do you do anything and everything you’re capable of doing, and hire out the rest? Do you base it on what you enjoy doing, and only hire out those things you absolutely dread? Do you base it on a time limit, and take on only what you can get done by a deadline and hire out the rest?

Give me some insight into your process!



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54 Comments

  • Reply
    Judy J
    September 14, 2017 at 10:40 am

    About 3 years ago, I hired out someone to paint my home exterior. Best decision ever! They (2 men) took the time to cover the windows and any other openings, they caulked and even made wood repairs to things I didn’t know needed repairing! And… they did it all within a week – in July – in Houston! It would have taken me so much longer to just get motivated to do it myself! LOL!

    As they say: work smarter, not harder. Hiring this job out was the smart thing to do.

    • Reply
      CathyR
      September 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm

      Painters are coming to do my LR,DR,HALLS,KITCHEN, CEILINGS,TRIM, and it’ll take 2 days. Boom! Done! At this time in my life, (66 yrs young)climbing a ladder results in leg cramps, calling off work, etc. Kristi, you are your own boss and IMHO I think you should take some pressure off yourself. What would you say to a boss/client who laid these expectations on you? Why such a strict time table? THe things you accomplish are amazing and gorgeous. Be proud, be happy of these things, but relax some of the pressure. I can’t speak for your other fans/followers, but I don’t care if it takes you 1,2 or 3 years to complete.

      • Reply
        Deanna
        September 15, 2017 at 4:19 am

        I agree CathyR!!

    • Reply
      Lacey
      September 20, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      Personally, I would also hire out painting the exterior (and intend to so with my house once I find the money ;-)). In addition to all the reasons Judy covered (speed, repairing wood, caulking), the fact that the exterior siding is protecting the inside of my house from the rain/snow would make me prioritize getting done ASAP and since it would take me months to do myself (2 young kids, lack of motivation ;-))…

      When it comes to how I decide what to hire out, cost is definitely near the top for me and since I’m cheap and broke, I’ve yet to hire out home renovations and we’ve done a lot! I agree with you on drywall through -that is one I will never do again. I’m too much of a perfectionist and getting those seams perfect takes too much time and causes too much agony ;-).

  • Reply
    Micki Carter
    September 14, 2017 at 10:41 am

    I know how you feel about hiring out when you can do it yourself. We need to paint the exterior of our house and my hubby wants to call the painter. We are retired and have the time – energy, not so much. In the past, we have a painted one side at a time. Starting with the largest side, that is when we have all the energy. But since we just had Hurricane Irma come through, and the clean up, not sure we can tackle the painting. Cooler weather is coming, we can decide at that time.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      September 15, 2017 at 9:29 am

      My grandpa painted their house every year until he was in his 80s. One side per year. And it was white. Talk about efficiency!

  • Reply
    Marianne in Mo.
    September 14, 2017 at 10:42 am

    While we were raising our family, we HAD to DIY so we could still eat and clothe our family. Didn’t know the first thing about anything when we started, but learned from books, friends who knew and the guys at the home stores. We learned that we needed to hire out drywall/taping, plumbing and carpet laying, but most everything else we could do ourselves. We just are not good or too slow with these jobs.Our first home was newly built, and we did sweat equity there. Painted the ENTIRE house, inside and out, in two weekends!!! With only help from family! NEVER AGAIN! We figured out how much paint to buy ( with advice from the builder ) and ended up running out on the outside. Problem was, hubs had “found a great price” for the paint, at a place 40 miles away from the build! Two hours plus sitting around waiting in June heat while he went to get more. UGH! So my advice – while yes, painting is easy, I would hire that job for the outside to a pro. They will get it done in no time, and the tedious caulking will also be done. AND they can be doing that while you are inside doing something else on the list. Thankfully now, we have a son in law who is a painter, and he won’t allow us to paint anymore!

  • Reply
    Theresa P
    September 14, 2017 at 10:45 am

    You do have a lot of projects out there! I have zero advice, since between my job and kids I don’t DIY anything. Sad, I know. I say ask Matt. He seems to have pretty reasonable suggestions, especially as it relates to your cash flow/budget. Also, maybe keep in mind your shoulder. Even though you’re feeling better, best not aggravate right now. Insulation and drywall seem like good places to start! And, I know you can paint your house, but it doesn’t strike me as nearly as creative as all of your millwork and sewing. Maybe also keep in mind what will keep your creative juices flowing! Good luck! Those are tough decisions!

    • Reply
      CathyR
      September 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      I think raising kids is a pretty big DIY, and not the least bit sad.

  • Reply
    Sarah
    September 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

    We are in the midst of a whole house remodel and this is a big question for us too! Because we are living in the remodel, we are trying to hire out the things that will help us go faster and get us to the “fun stuff” more quickly. Technically we could do it all, it would just take forever! Definitely balancing cost in there as well- we are doing our own electrical and almost all plumbing for that reason, but skim coating takes us so long and it’s very reasonable to hire a pro.

  • Reply
    denise
    September 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I think you have already answered your own questions. My only advice to you would be to Throw Away The Timelines/Constraints you have put upon yourself. You are a steady worker–sometimes getting a little off course–but consistent. Lists are essential, mine are almost always done in order, but NEVER with the pressure of ‘this HAS to be done by tomorrow…’ Good luck!

  • Reply
    janpartist
    September 14, 2017 at 10:57 am

    The older I got, the more I placed value on my own time. When a project was going to take me 3 or 4 times as long to accomplish as a professional, or if I knew it would eventually lead to me requiring some serious re-hab down time (I’ve dealt with my own back issues), then it’s made sense to me to hire out and get it checked off the list. (from one control freak to another) Now, at my age, I hire it all out. And, I screen my contractors for those that work according to my standards. You can’t get your health back, and you need to appreciate your physical well being and your mental.

  • Reply
    Kate
    September 14, 2017 at 10:59 am

    If finances allow I would hire out some of the bull work and keep the finesse jobs for yourself. But that’s because I am selfish and want to see your completed decorated house! Love your updates and photos. You have amazing skills and vision!

    • Reply
      Carswell
      September 15, 2017 at 8:36 am

      I agree with this. Just because you know how to do something and you can do something doesn’t mean that you have to. You have nothing to prove.

      Hire out the grunt work – the wiring, the drywall, the flooring, painting the exterior – the stuff that will allow you to get to the more creative jobs you really enjoy and where your talents really shine.

      Hiring out all that stuff in your studio will get you to the point of having a serious workspace so much sooner – and that in turn will make progress in your other areas so much easier and faster. It will have the added bonus of freeing you and Matt up from living in the midst of a pile of equipment that gets moved from pillar to post all the time.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Smith-Bell
    September 14, 2017 at 11:01 am

    LOL! All of the above, but I have no extra income, so it’s me and all I can afford each month. I am making progress, but very slowly.
    You are a great DIY inspiration to us all who follow you, but if it was me, I’d get all the stuff you dread, hired out, and get on with the rest. You will never run out of projects, so don’t worry about us following you.
    Get your wiring done ASAP, and hire the insulation and drywall done, then you can do floors and painting, then cabnets and all through the fall and winter months.
    You have good spray guns for outside spray painting, but if you need that done before bad weather, it might be something you’d hire out, IF you know of a good crew. Just MHO. You go girl!, and love your hall build, too!

  • Reply
    Casey
    September 14, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I am a control freak also. But, I have learned over the years, that sometimes it’s better to hire a job out for my sanity and my own quality time than to take the time to DIY. I weigh out the cost versus my time, and keep in mind the other projects I could knock out with that extra time. Great lesson learned a few months ago: my husband, who is 62 and in very good physical shape for his age, did a truck repair. He had to pull the transmission and other stuff to do the repair. It took him eight days to do it in our driveway. He even took 3 days of vacation time from work. He is very knowledgeable about auto repair and just insisted to do it himself. After it was all done, I decided to call our auto repair shop and ask how much that repair would cost and how long would it take them. It would have cost $400 and had the truck back in two days! Now my husband realizes we should call and get estimates for any big jobs before we just decide to jump in. In those eight days, he missed several of our grandchildren’s ball games, a family outing to the movies and on top of that, he was exhausted and grouchy. So, I will always weigh the project with its time and cost to the rest of my life. To me $400 would have been a very small price to pay for my husband to have been able to join in on those family times and not been sore and achy. Even though both of us have capabilities and enjoy projects, we need it to balance with living life with those we love. It is truly a personal choice that only each person can decide. I do love seeing your house transform into the home you love. Do what projects you want and hire out those that will take too much time away from your life.

    • Reply
      Kristi
      September 14, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Excellent perspective. So glad you shared that!

      • Reply
        kddomingue
        September 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm

        What Casey said! I’m almost 58 and the hubs is almost 60 (when did we get so not young anymore?). We’ve done it all ourselves for decades because, most of the time, that was the only way we could afford to do the whatever. We’ve roofed, we’ve put siding on, we’ve laid floors, we’ve drywalled ceilings as well as walls, we’ve done plumbing and electrical, we’ve moved walls, built cabinets, bookcases, a fireplace, we’ve gutted a bathroom, moved windows……lol! Not much we haven’t tackled! We wanted to tear down our old back porch​, pour a cement patio the length of the house, add a patio cover and rebuild a screened in porch, build a BBQ pit and pizza oven and do some landscaping. Once we got the porch dismantled, we looked at each other and started laughing……and we went in the house and started making some phone calls. There’s more life behind us than ahead of us and we decided that we didn’t want to spend a year or more of it doing it all ourselves. Especially since the reason that we wanted to do it the first place was to have a nice outdoor space to enjoy with our family and friends in the evenings and on weekends. So, twelve thousand dollars later, the yard was leveled, drainage dug, cement poured, patio cover erected, gutters installed…..and the house was reroofed with the same standing seam metal roofing that we used for the patio cover. It took a week. One week. Took us three days to build the elevated deck for the porch! My point being that we traded money for time….. we’ve used the patio all summer. We’ll finish the screened porch ourselves and also the BBQ pit and pizza oven. We’ll do the actual landscaping and water feature. And we’ll do the outside wiring for lights and fans. But the hard, backbreaking stuff is done and we can enjoy it with our family and friends even though it’s not completely done. We spent money but gained time. I think it was an equitable trade off.

    • Reply
      Eileen
      September 15, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Very well said! My husband and I are in our 70’s, wow, I can’t believe that. Anyhoo, we have many projects around the house(which he built almost by himself) and with my hubby being a contractor all his life and amazingly creative, he has wanted to do everything. We have started to change our attitude toward doing Everything ourselves. We’ve started to hire out lawn mowing, certain repairs, etc. It leaves him with energy to do the creative things and not have such a Superman mentality. We also work more slowly which is certainly not your issue, now that you are rested and organized. Just focus on your health first, know your own body and don’t overextend yourself. Recognize how truly amazing you are.

  • Reply
    Val
    September 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I DIY based on ability and building control requirements. Anything related to gas – boiler, kitchen gas appliances, gas fireplaces, is illegal to DIY in UK. Same with some of the electrical installation (although there is a way around this, which is exactly what I do).

    Apart of that, I hire a plasterer to skim the ceilings (drylined by me and my partner) and the walls (solid masonry) – it is just too physical and too boring job. Ah, and I was going to paint the exterior of my 2-story house, but my partner persuaded me that if I fall from the ladder, the consequences could be dear.

    Unfortunately, the progress of my DIY projects is quite slow, as I have a full-time job. Starting my own blog, so I can dedicate my time to DIY is out of question, as I hate writing 🙂 My only hope is to win the lottery :)))

    And Kristi, reading your blog, which is my absolute favourite , gave me ideas about more DIY projects, which I hadn’t considered before. So I need this lottery win even more 😉

  • Reply
    Andrea
    September 14, 2017 at 11:20 am

    If it is something that I keep putting off but know that it needs done, it is usually because I’m dreading it and then I pretty much know that I should just hire it out. We had a fence go down in the hurricane and I was thinking that we could just replace it ourselves. But then the thought of removing all the old fence, digging up the old posts that have been concreted, digging any additional holes and putting up the new fence in the hot Florida sun and that made me realize that it wouldn’t happen. Especially since it needs to be done pretty soon. So I will definitely have someone do that. But I would totally paint my own house when I can just wait for nicer weather. I don’t mind that job.

  • Reply
    Lori
    September 14, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Of course you CAN do all these projects yourself. But remember that you are just one person and it will take one person, no matter how skilled, exponentially longer to complete any of them than it will a professional crew. How much longer are you really going to be happy living in a construction zone with no usable living room furniture, a pantry that serves no purpose without shelves or cabinets, and the exterior of your house unpainted. Too many projects started and left unfinished. For me, that alone would push me over the edge. My advice is, hire someone to do as much of it as you can possibly afford. And I would also go out and buy some decent moderately priced NEW living room furniture that doesn’t need to be refinished in any way shape or form. I know you like color and pattern on your fabrics but color and pattern can be added with pillows, throws, etc. and save you a TON of work. Take it from me, life is short. Get some enjoyment out of your home. 🙂

    • Reply
      janpartist
      September 15, 2017 at 11:09 am

      I am SO with you! (except I like old furniture, I would have to buy old and have upholstered)

  • Reply
    Carol
    September 14, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I learned a saying–Biblical, I think–a while ago that helps me get over this same urge to keep all the projects for myself: Don’t glean the fields. It was explained that landlords used to harvest their fields but not too closely, and would not go back and make sure they got every little piece, because the peasants and animals would rely on what was left behind. That really struck me. There are people whose livelihoods depend on those little jobs we could do, so maybe we should let them. It’s a win-win. I’m still really unashamedly frugal and love that sense of accomplishment, but “Don’t glean the field” helps me let go and let others–at least more than I used to.
    Thanks for tackling these subjects–they are just a valid for most of us, I think, as cabinet building! I look forward to all your posts!

    • Reply
      Kathy from Tennessee
      September 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      LOVE THIS ADVICE…Didn’t Boaz make sure the workers left enough for Ruth to pick up for her and her mother-in-law? Seems like I remember that story. Will have to look that up…

      • Reply
        Carol
        September 14, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        Now that you say that, I think that was the basis for discussion…this was on some radio show or another, many years ago, but it really resonated with me, since I used to pride myself on doing everything myself and never “leaving anything on the table,” if you know what I mean…

  • Reply
    Sandra
    September 14, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Kristi, just in case you weren’t aware, Hardiplank siding must be painted within 180 days of installation. Otherwise the primer they use on it will no longer be effective and it will need to be re-primed. Doing that project sooner rather than later will save you time/money in the long run.

  • Reply
    Rhonda
    September 14, 2017 at 11:51 am

    When my to-do lists (regarding anything) are overwhelming, I begin to focus on finishing. Anything. It’s the sheer amount of loose ends that drives me batty. It’s hard for me to concentrate on what needs to be done or what I want to do because there’s just so much.
    So, if my brain was in your situation, I would definitely hire out all the exterior (and that is less “creative” as someone mentioned) because the list is short (although that doesn’t mean it won’t take much time) and the pros can completely FINISH it without much oversight from you. I would also hire out the next many steps of the studio (electrical, insulation, drywall, floor). The pros can make a lot of progress on time-consuming projects.
    The biggest reason my brain would do it this way, is because the exterior and studio are “outside” my realm of current work. I would keep my head down working in my area (hallway, pantry) and when I stopped to look up after a couple weeks I would feel accomplishment AND when I looked around me my overwhelming life would be less overwhelming. Two other big projects would be “finished” and I would feel motivated to continue – not discouraged. I could cross off whole areas (and their relevant steps) on my to-do list.

  • Reply
    Lisa Johnson
    September 14, 2017 at 11:55 am

    I only hire out work done on my roof (I have a great fear of heights, and it’s 3 stories up) or when it’s something so heavy I can’t lift it myself. When I have hired workers to do things in my house they never seem to turn out the way I want them to. I have had problems with workers who don’t speak English, and even when I draw out what I want done (like tile work, I like tiles to be evenly laid out) they have ignored my drawings and done what’s easiest for them. So, I’ve just learned I’d much rather do it myself, and have what I want done right the first time, even if it takes longer.

    • Reply
      Val
      September 14, 2017 at 2:47 pm

      Yes, I second this. Neither me, nor my partner, who is a retired civil engineer and has a vast experience dealing with all sorts of building trades, could remember a single project, where everything was 100% right. We had this discussion after the roofers he hired messed up with a very simple thing, which unfortunately can not be rectified in a reasonable way.

  • Reply
    chiflipper
    September 14, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Excellent questions. I was the “Gee, she’s strong for a girl”, and I loved doing the projects and maintenance. Now I’m retired and my doctor tells me I “beat myself up” when I was younger which led to present-day issues. I still do the physically easy stuff but, I hire out the heavy work.
    Carol made a great point…there are many in my small rural community that depend on “odd jobs” to keep their families fed…and I’m grateful they are available for jobs I can no longer do without great effort.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    September 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Yes you are more than capable and a DIY blog, but I don’t come to your blog for how to’s on construction. Give yourself some grace and hire some of it out. Your neck/shoulder will be screaming at you again if you don’t probably.

  • Reply
    Trina
    September 14, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    I definitely wouldn’t let a timeline dictate to me what my decision would be unless it were due to needing to sell a property or some other external cause forcing the timeline. As for money of course that enters into my decision but again sometimes hiring it done correctly is less expensive than if I were to mess it up and have to redo something using more materials etc. My criteria is based on physicality. I’m 61 and a single female and there are simply some projects that are too physically challenging that I don’t attempt to do them even if I know that I could do them in another time of life. Also if I simply don’t like doing it I would rather hire someone to do it than to dread it so much that I get grumpy, ie bookkeeping and accounting. ARGH!!! I DIY because I enjoy it. I like the pride from something finished that is incredible and I enjoy the compliments from others amazed at my accomplishment.

  • Reply
    Eileen
    September 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I understand your thoughts on “it costing so much money” mentality but you need to remember your time is valuable as well. I’ll bet they come close to zero-ing out and if not, your project still was completed sooner!

  • Reply
    Barbara Harvill
    September 14, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    IMO Here is a bit of a different perspective. You mentioned your blog but didn’t seem to place it into your decision. Content is important to any successful blogger and yours is key for your readers and driving traffic to your blog. I would suggest asking yourself the following about each job to see if it can add clarity to your list.

    Your time is valuable and as I read this post it seems like you are not placing a very high value on your time and what is the best thing you could be doing with it.

    Fun for me jobs – easy to pick out the fun for me projects that you want to do. These are also the source of interesting blog posts!
    Financially driven jobs – eg: doing electric yourself is a significant savings – and until money grows on trees – it makes sense to put those on DIY list. (let me know if you find those trees!)
    DIY interest jobs – projects that will add to your blog portfolio – particularly ones that you have not blogged about.
    Time intensive jobs – ask yourself are the time intensive projects (eg painting exterior perhaps) of more value than other jobs? Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you should do it yourself. If these jobs are not significant cost savings perhaps you should hire out. (see above reference to valuing your time)

    Thanks for what you do and sharing with all of us.

    • Reply
      Julie S
      September 15, 2017 at 11:10 am

      I agree with this evaluation criteria. I have been skipping a lot of posts lately because they are long drawn out construction projects, not that pretty to look at and not the kind of things I want to learn to do myself (hubs takes care of these for me). We are in the middle of DIY renovation ourselves so I know how important getting this sort of thing done is, but it’s the finishing touches that are really interesting to read about!

  • Reply
    Teresa
    September 14, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    My husband and I are DIYers. We do everything possible ourselves. He had surgery on his foot in January. We needed a retaining wall built. We hired it done. BAD mistake. It looks awful! Never again.

  • Reply
    Rene' Marie
    September 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    I try to do as much as I can, but with age comes wisdom and having an excellent memory I can
    recall which DIY projects take longer for my body to recover. Hanging drywall is the toughest on
    my neck, shoulders, arms, back, hips, knees and legs so I will always hire that out or I will be out of
    commission for weeks. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sewducky
    September 14, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    It depends on the size, skill level, and energy required. Knowing if the amount of markup does affect my energy level, for a project. Also understanding the quality of your contractor is more invaluable. I typically want to hire out plumbing, roofing, Extensive drywall, and extensive electrical work (like a new panel, or running wires in difficult to access places). I’d consider exterior siding and windows because there’s so many details, but I’m so nervous, I’d really like to watch a crew of theirs on another site for a day first vs talk with your sales dude, and at my place have the crew expect to slow down explain a little if I got a question.

    One company we hired was horrible, they clearly gave up trying to be good after the initial visit. We told them we had unique materials they’ll have to replace and we’ll pay extra to match, It’s on quote, but they never ordered it to have on hand till after the demo…So many later squeezed in visits. Multiple times without saying they’d be there, we’d come home and find something was done. The roofer before that was awesome, I knew when materials would come where they’d place them without asking, and the actual work was completed in a day.

  • Reply
    LindaK
    September 14, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    As someone who is a DIY blogger I wonder if some of your considerations might be- “is this something I’ve already show my audience?” “Is it is something that others will be able to DIY if shown how and given explicit instructions?” “Is it something that is interesting and reproducible?”
    If you wouldn’t want to show us and give us instructions and guidance on how we could do it too, then maybe your time would be better spent on other projects. I don’t expect that even with step by step instructions I could or would do electrical. To me that is not a DIY project (and I thought it had to be licensed in my state, but I could be wrong.) But how to create drapes or design a space or your countertops- perfect for instructional blogging.
    Just one perspective.

  • Reply
    Kristin
    September 14, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Hey, Kristi…I think we are a lot alike. BUT I think I’m a bit older, and I have to say it becomes easier to hire things out as you age. Time is a big issue for me, and time is something you cannot go out and buy. So…I usually weigh the extra cost of hiring out (which we don’t do very often, BTW) against the speed that a crew can get something done, thereby saving us so much time. Often the extra cost is well worth the money because, in a sense, I am buying time–time that I can spend elsewhere. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sherre
    September 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    I typically decide based on the number and types of tools needed. I’ve got a pretty limited set of tools, and I’m not really ready to drop hundreds of dollars on tools I might only use once or twice. But I also make decisions on time. I work 45-60 hours a week- sometimes I just don’t have it in me to come home and work on a big project, which means I only work on the weekends and that drags the projects out. Extended construction zones in my home stress me out 🙂 But it’s a different story when DIY-ing is your profession!
    I also agree with others- you shouldn’t feel bad about hiring work out. We know you can install drywall and do electric and all the hard and heavy stuff, but I think most people come here to see how you create the spaces and bring them all together cohesively in the end!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    September 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing! It’s a real struggle for many of us. I just feel like I can make it look better than some of the professionals in my area, which is always an incentive to do it myself. My husband and I have done most of the work, in our fixer upper, over the years on our own. I will hire someone when I get to the point of feeling overwhelmed. I also find it helpful to ask myself, “Is this really worth my time and energy?” For some projects, it’s better for me to support a local business. If I can do it better or in the same amount of time, you better believe I’m doing it. We tend to hire people when it comes to drywall or exterior changes. Neither are worth messing with.

  • Reply
    Krista Weber
    September 14, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    When I was reading your post, the first thing I thought was “Hire out the drywall”. I was happy to see that is on your list! I think that is the messiest job and it’s one that the pros can just finish in no time! The other thing I’d hire out if you can is exterior painting and caulking. It’s not that you can’t do it, but I personally think once you have really nailed down the colors it’s not a great use of your talents. And I’ve found it’s relatively in expensive. Plus the ladders, bugs, etc. make it a tough job.

  • Reply
    Judy
    September 14, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Hi, Kristi! It sounds like you are feeling overwhelmed. I know I would be. Perhaps if you made a list, prioritizing the most time-consuming projects, (since time seems to be a major issue here), and then whittling the list down until you’ve exhausted the budget. I’m visualizing you happily sewing the curtains and reupholstering the sofa and the chairs, while the painters are painting the exteriors and the electrician and drywall guys are finishing up the studio. You know; the dull and boring jobs.

    To be totally honest, and I say this with great appreciation and awe at the amount and variety of talent you posess, it seems to me that you are really great at starting projects, but not so great at finishing them. It takes a brilliant mind to do the level of work that you do. But it also is the brilliant mind that quickly becomes bored with a task and enamoured of the ‘next great idea’. That’s definitely my problem. Not the ‘brilliant mind’ part, but the excitement of starting a project and then becoming bored with the tedious parts. I like to sew clothing, but I have a drawer full of 2-toddler items that are waiting for the hand sewn hemming parts, which I don’t like to do, so they sit in the drawer while my great-niece is now a size 3.

    Maybe a list of Too Tedious Jobs would be better. Or perhaps a month devoted to finishing some projects before starting any new ones. It’s up to you, but there’s so much on your plate right now, you’re going to have to either give up your time constraints or call in the troops and get some stuff finished.

    But whatever you do, please don’t neglect the blog. I look forward to reading it every day. You’ve taught me so much and inspire me to do more, learn more, and care more. Keep up the good work, Kristi. We all adore you!

    • Reply
      Kristi
      September 14, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      Hmmm…I personally think I’ve gotten much better at finishing projects. 🙂 Of the 54 items on my 2017 house projects to do list, I’ve finished 30 of them so far (and in the process, finished two rooms), and will finish one more small project (not the hallway cabinets) today. I think that’s a pretty good track record so far this year for finishing things, especially compared to the awful year I had in 2016 where I had one false start after another.

      • Reply
        Kathleen
        September 15, 2017 at 10:57 am

        I also think you are killing it with the number of finished projects and your biggest unfinished project (the studio) is not as far off as it seems. I am always impressed with how much work you do and how quickly you do it.

        I agree with lots of the comments to hire out the drywall. Those guys did great work and you don’t want to hurt your shoulder. Moreover, once the drywall is up, you will be excited by the project and zip right through it.

        I think you get jazzed to accomplish things you haven’t done before, like the exterior painting. You could probably do it in a few days if you sprayed it and it would be a new challenge for you to check off and share with us.

  • Reply
    Cindy
    September 14, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Here are some things my husband and I consider around the question, “To DIY or not to DIY?”

    * Size and duration of the construction phase: How long will our house become a construction zone? How big is the area that will be under construction? Most importantly, how much disruption will it cause to our daily living, either because things have to be moved around, a living area becomes unlivable, or the mess just drives us crazy? How much can we handle in a particular season of life? If time becomes a serious issue, even for our own mental sanity, we hire it out.

    * Finances: do we have the money to hire out the work to a reputable team? Will it save that much money in the end if we do hire it out, especially if we have to buy the right tools?

    * Time it takes to find a team vs. time it takes to get it done ourselves: Like you, we’ve become very particular about who does work on our house. We’ve found that if don’t already have someone in mind, sometimes it takes just as long to find someone as if we just do it ourselves already.

    * Quality of the work: Apparently neither of us were born with the gene that allows us to skim coat and/or create subtle texture. When I applied drywall mud myself years ago, the result was intense texture. We didn’t make that mistake three times (although we did make it twice — ha!). Drywall and texture teams are worth their weight in gold.

    We have learned the hard way that, in general, the question, “Could we do it ourselves?” is not very helpful. Of COURSE we could do it ourselves — if we had endless time, patience, and energy. But sometimes we just don’t, and when we don’t, insisting on DIY is more a burden than a joy. Every season is different.

  • Reply
    Alma
    September 14, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Have you ever done a post on electrical wiring? Or the kind of work you have done. I moved to a small town and no one here shows up when hired!

    • Reply
      Kristi
      September 14, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      I haven’t, and to be honest, I probably won’t, because of liability issues that it could lead to, not to mention all of the various building/permit requirements throughout the country.
       
      I will say that there are some really helpful websites out there with amazing diagrams that will teach you just about anything you want to know about wiring. When I wanted to wire my three-way switch in the breakfast room (i.e., one light that switches on an off with two separate switches located on opposite sides of the room), I had no idea how to do that. So I searched online, found a very clear diagram (and verified that it was correct/meets local code with a local retired electrician who works at the local Home Depot, and from whom I often seek advice on electrical issues) and kept it in hand while wiring those switches. It worked perfectly!
       
      So now when in doubt, I just Google and find a great diagram.
       
      With that said, there are some very basic things regarding wiring that I might feel comfortable sharing. I’ll take pictures as I do the wiring in the study and then give it some thought. Perhaps just a very basic “electrical wiring 101” blog post is something I could do.

  • Reply
    Alma
    September 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks, Kristi. Sounds super reasonable.

  • Reply
    SheilaG- PlumDoodles
    September 14, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    With your pinched nerve issue, I would certainly not feel guilty about hiring out anything that could cause you more pain. Ya gotta’ factor in the medical costs, too! And sometimes just getting it done quickly is a sanity saver, too. I need all the help I can get in saving my sanity, so maybe I’m just projecting. 😀

  • Reply
    Mark Tisdale
    September 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    On one hand, I totally understand the cheaper to DIY and the control freak tendency. On the other some of these tasks I can see aggravating that pinched nerve again – particularly caulking and painting the exterior. Even though you can do something, don’t sacrifice your health!

    Take care!

    Mark

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 14, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    I am very impressed by the projects you finished this year. I so enjoy following your blog. Please continue to rescue old pieces of furniture because I love seeing how you transform them. I think you should save your efforts (and your neck) for the projects where your creativity shines through. Don’t hurt your neck on drywall or painting the exterior of your house – save your neck and your time for the projects that really inspire you! As the budget allows, of course…

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