Author Topic: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?  (Read 2066 times)

Paper Chaser

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What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« on: June 01, 2020, 07:04:31 AM »
Our home has a crawlspace (cinder block walls ~3ft high, dirt/sand/gravel floor). We'd like to encapsulate the crawl for a few reasons. I've gotten a couple of quotes that ranged from $13,500 to 18,000. I've priced very similar materials online (identical specs without a fancy "name brand") and found that I could DIY for about $3k. I mentioned that to the guys quoting the job and they kind of nodded that those costs seemed reasonable and then acknowledged that I'd basically be paying them a really hefty premium to save time and labor, as well as the benefit of having a warranty (come on, it's plastic and tape in a part of the house that sits empty except for once or twice a year. How much value does a warranty add?).

Through previous construction jobs I've had done, I've become ok with paying roughly equal amounts in materials and labor, but I'm having trouble swallowing over $10k in labor for a relatively low skilled job like this with $2500-3k in materials. I'm a reasonably handy and capable person. I've been reading about the process for months. I'm fairly confident that I could do this job and get near professional level results, but it would take up at least a month's worth of weekends and time is at a premium with regular family/homeowner stuff.

I was wondering what some other Mustachians think about jobs like this (or anything else) that involves outsourcing labor to save time. When does it make more sense to just suck it up and "pay The Man" a pile of money to do a job you're capable of? It seems like two aspects of Mustachianism that are conflicting (Independent/frugal/DIY attitudes vs valuing your free time/family obligations). I've drawn the line at around equal prices for material and labor in the past. Is that reasonable to you? Where would you draw the line? What's your thought process for a Pay vs DIY decision?



ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2020, 07:21:28 AM »
I am going through a similar analysis in my basement thread -- https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/help-me-finish-my-unfinished-basement/

My situation is somewhat difficult in that I have two jobs -- one as an attorney for city government, and my own private practice. It's always lurking the back of my mind that, "Oh, you could be at the office billing and making money to pay for this." I think that every time I cut the grass, which takes me an hour.  It would cost $30-40/week, and theoretically, that's .3 billable hours, or a phone call at work.

For me it's three-fold as to why I am erring strongly on the side of DIY.

First, it's money saved. There's no other way around it. My budget for my basement is about $5,000 - 6,000 and the only thing I'm paying for is help with the drywall. I am doing the painting, flooring, etc. all myself. If I had to pay for labor, the budget would be around $10,000. That's just more than I want to spend.

Second, it's a skill learned. I've really started to try and sort stuff out myself over the last 3-4 years and I'm surprised at how knowledge kind of builds. You figure out how to use the dampers on your HVAC and now you know a bunch else. Or your water heater breaks, you fix it yourself, and now you learn that you should be doing maintenance every 6 months. The knowledge builds and builds, and it creates skills that make your stuff last longer.

Third, it's good exercise for me. I find DIY to kill two birds with one stone -- I get something I want done AND doing DIY-type labor is extremely good exercise. I try to work out and do cardio during the week, but weekend DIY stuff is the best exercise I get.

***

All this to say, you probably want to read Your Money or Your Life. You can quantify your own hourly time and then weigh everything. I opt for DIY even though I could make more money doing something else for the reasons above. Others might disagree with that analysis but that is fine, personal finance is personal.

WSUCoug1994

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2020, 08:57:33 AM »
If I was no longer working, I would do every project myself.  There are certain things that I don't like doing - drywall and large-scale painting projects - where I feel the finished product (drywall) actually does require a real skill to make a good looking finished project.  I simply hate painting - so I will almost always outsource it even through I know I could do it.  I guess what I am saying is that it depends.  I have a demanding job and a young family (kids are 4 and 2) that I love spending time with so my projects have really slowed down over the last 4 years.  Now that they are a little bit older, I am able to get 2-3 hours a weekend to work on smaller projects but if something pretty major came up right now I would need to defer to later (time restrictions) or simply pay for it.  For example we are having a generator installed (power blackouts in my area) and I would normally do all of the work myself but with fire season coming up I simply can't get it done on my own in time.  After writing this I don't feel I am being helpful but I guess you aren't alone. 

Blue Skies

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2020, 10:04:12 AM »
For me it is a combination of personal interest, time, and cost.  If it doesn't take too long I'll usually try to DIY.  If it is difficult/too time consuming and I would prefer not to do it, and it doesn't cost much to pay someone else to do it I'll pay them.  If I don't want to do it, but it costs a lot to have someone else do it then it comes down to whether I really want it done or not and how strongly I don't want to do it myself. 
I cut my own grass because I enjoy it.  I do my own painting because I can do a decent job and don't hate it.  I pay someone to seal my driveway because it isn't that much labor cost and is not a job I would like to do.

Crawling around under my house for a job that would consume all my weekend time for more than a month - I would pay someone else.  I am not willing to give up that much of my free time, and the job itself would not be fun.

affordablehousing

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2020, 10:19:35 AM »
The discussion on RSM's basement thread is good as it went into the same discussion. I think it really depends on the labor cost. You've already put in a lot of hours (researching) that are a sunk cost if you just hire a fancy firm with a fancy truck to put something in and give you a warranty. I agree, a plastic vapor barrier is a low tech item and requires low tech labor. I also think they are bunk but that's another discussion. I've seen so many to improve upon what just a sump pit that daylights to the street and proper grading can accomplish.

But if it were me, I would look to hire basic labor (young skinny guys and girls) to do the work and you can supervise. Pay them no more than $30 an hour, and if you thought it would take 8 person days of someone well prepared, plan for 10 person days of general labor including lunches and goofing off. That's about $2500, which gets back to your equation, materials + labor equals 50/50 total cost. That's what I would do.

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2020, 10:50:54 AM »
For me it is a combination of personal interest, time, and cost.  If it doesn't take too long I'll usually try to DIY.  If it is difficult/too time consuming and I would prefer not to do it, and it doesn't cost much to pay someone else to do it I'll pay them.  If I don't want to do it, but it costs a lot to have someone else do it then it comes down to whether I really want it done or not and how strongly I don't want to do it myself. 
I cut my own grass because I enjoy it.  I do my own painting because I can do a decent job and don't hate it.  I pay someone to seal my driveway because it isn't that much labor cost and is not a job I would like to do.

I generally agree, and your specific examples are the exact same responses that I'd give (grass, painting, asphalt coating). The individual balance of skills, time, money and willingness are the crux of the decision making process for any project. I get all that.

Crawling around under my house for a job that would consume all my weekend time for more than a month - I would pay someone else.  I am not willing to give up that much of my free time, and the job itself would not be fun.

Would you pay them any amount though? What's a reasonable price for a handful of weekends and what's exorbitant? I'm not exactly looking forward to a bunch of time spent in my crawlspace, and would gladly pay somebody roughly twice the cost of materials (in this case I'd quickly sign papers if an estimate was in the 6-7k range, and likely even 8k-ish) to do the job. My weekends are precious to me as yours are to you, but I'm not going to pay whatever it takes to get a couple of weekends back if that means no family vacation, or not maxing out our IRAs or something with the difference. What I'm most curious about is how other mustachian's determine when the cost of having something done becomes "too much" and that "I'll just DIY it instead" mindset takes over.

Do you have a mental ratio of cost of DIY vs cost of having it done, and once it crosses a certain point the price becomes too high to swallow? Do you break it down into hourly figures and compare to hourly income to determine if it makes more sense to go to work and pay somebody else to do it? Does it matter how quickly the coffers can be refilled? Some other approach?

Blue Skies

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2020, 02:19:44 PM »
Crawling around under my house for a job that would consume all my weekend time for more than a month - I would pay someone else.  I am not willing to give up that much of my free time, and the job itself would not be fun.

Would you pay them any amount though? What's a reasonable price for a handful of weekends and what's exorbitant? I'm not exactly looking forward to a bunch of time spent in my crawlspace, and would gladly pay somebody roughly twice the cost of materials (in this case I'd quickly sign papers if an estimate was in the 6-7k range, and likely even 8k-ish) to do the job. My weekends are precious to me as yours are to you, but I'm not going to pay whatever it takes to get a couple of weekends back if that means no family vacation, or not maxing out our IRAs or something with the difference. What I'm most curious about is how other mustachian's determine when the cost of having something done becomes "too much" and that "I'll just DIY it instead" mindset takes over.

Do you have a mental ratio of cost of DIY vs cost of having it done, and once it crosses a certain point the price becomes too high to swallow? Do you break it down into hourly figures and compare to hourly income to determine if it makes more sense to go to work and pay somebody else to do it? Does it matter how quickly the coffers can be refilled? Some other approach?

Would I pay ANY amount - no.  But you said you have several quotes.  If there are enough companies offering this so that you have several options to choose from, and they are all around the same price, then that is what it costs.  I don't imagine they all just agreed to overcharge people on labor for this specific type of job.  Maybe some of them don't like to do it, and charge more to try to limit how many they do.  But in that case someone would step in to fill the void and take up the jobs at a lower cost.  Maybe you are lowballing the time estimate? 

For me, I would not DIY that at any price due to the time it would take and my unwillingness to crawl under my house for that long.  I am not familiar with encapsulating a crawl space (we have a basement), so I'm not really sure why you would want to do that.  If I had thoroughly researched it and decided it HAD to be done for whatever reason, I would pay what the going rate was.  Or I would decide that the benefits of doing it do not outweigh the cost of having it done and scrap the idea. 

use2betrix

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2020, 02:59:14 PM »
My overtime rate at work, which is $135/hr.

Iíd really put it higher than that, though. Depending on the project, Iíd have to work less to have time for that project (typically work 55-60 hrs/wk).

Iíd rather sit at home on a Saturday working and getting paid OT, than doing some crappy manual labor job I have no interest in doing, forfeiting my income on top of it.

Fortunately, my wife doesnít work, so she handles basically every ďchore/taskĒ that she is capable, so I am able to work more.

Edit*
Over the winter I did a big project I was happy to do. I got a quote for a project on my camping trailer which came in at around $12k. I paid to have $6k of the work done I didnít feel comfortable with, then did the other $6k worth of work myself. It cost me around $2000 in materials and maybe 100 hours worth of time. In this case, cost wise it would have maybe still been better to have them finish, however I like the design I came up with and quality of work I did even more. There was also a huge sense in pride in the accomplishment and I also enjoy all the compliments that I receive that much more.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 07:05:59 PM by use2betrix »

bacchi

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2020, 06:48:35 PM »
I installed a crawl space vapor barrier. It didn't take as long as expected -- the sheeting I used was 14' wide and the house is only 35x30. I don't mind crawling around the crawl space, though, and I'm ER so time is less of an issue.

$10k for labor for rolling out sheeting, taping it, and making cuts in the corners is pretty damned excessive. Are they also putting rigid foam on the sides? Insulating the floor joists with rigid foam?

clarkfan1979

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2020, 12:50:10 AM »
Personal interest, my current available time, cost and skill level of the job.

I think I am pretty good on knowing my limits. If it needs to look good, I pay the professional, even if I have the time. When they are working on the job, I might hang around and try to learn from them.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2020, 02:04:20 AM »
There are some jobs I find so unpleasant I'll always pay. I will never again plaster a ceiling. If I can't afford to hire it out I'll live without. It is a literal pain in the neck and I'd rather pay a professional (with the gear) to do it than pay a physio to mend my body. I don't mind dirty jobs like plumbing or digging.

The crawl space sounds like a moderately unpleasant task. If I was quoting for it then my labour price would be higher because an hour working in a crawl space is more unpleasant than an hour working outside or standing up.

If it were me, I'd start doing it, mostly because I'm still locked-down so a weekend is worth less to me than it would be another year. And I'd buy really good knee pads. I'd stop if I felt it was damaging my back.

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2020, 04:05:03 AM »

Would I pay ANY amount - no.  But you said you have several quotes.  If there are enough companies offering this so that you have several options to choose from, and they are all around the same price, then that is what it costs.  I don't imagine they all just agreed to overcharge people on labor for this specific type of job.  Maybe some of them don't like to do it, and charge more to try to limit how many they do.  But in that case someone would step in to fill the void and take up the jobs at a lower cost.  Maybe you are lowballing the time estimate?

I think they're charging whatever the market will bear. That's their right. But I think we've become a culture where all labor is seen as skilled labor and paid for accordingly, and I'm not sure I agree with that. I'll pay a premium for skilled labor to people with knowledge, skills, and/or tools that I don't possess. I had a guy quote $900 to spread mulch a year ago, and I live in the semi-rural Midwest, not someplace where costs are crazy high. That's just nuts for something that would've taken half a day and requires no special skills. It seems like they're just putting a huge premium on the fact that many people are unwilling to do that work, and the crawlspace stuff seems to be mostly the same. It feels like I'm being taken advantage of or preyed upon more than paying a reasonable amount for a service. We'd balk at predatory interest rates or super high prices that people pay for convenience, and I'm not sure that this is much different.

For me, I would not DIY that at any price due to the time it would take and my unwillingness to crawl under my house for that long.  I am not familiar with encapsulating a crawl space (we have a basement), so I'm not really sure why you would want to do that.  If I had thoroughly researched it and decided it HAD to be done for whatever reason, I would pay what the going rate was.  Or I would decide that the benefits of doing it do not outweigh the cost of having it done and scrap the idea.

I had to spend time getting some things in the crawlspace in order when we bought this place. It's not my favorite thing to do, but I don't dread it or fear it. Crawlspace encapsulation has a few minor benefits that when combined, can have a noticeable impact on overall quality of life. There's some energy savings, increased comfort, reduced dust/allergens, reduced pest intrusion, reduced wear/tear on components in the crawlspace and reduced soil gas intrusion into living space. It also makes the place much cleaner and nicer to work in the event you'd need to access it for mechanical work like plumbing/electrical/HVAC, etc. It's a bit of a luxury good in some sense, but it's also something that can pay for itself in energy savings and reduced wear/tear on mechanicals if the buy in is kept low enough. This will likely be our home for the next 20 years, so I'm fine with paying a little bit to make it a nicer place for us to spend the next couple of decades, even if it doesn't pay for itself in future savings. But I'm not sure the math works out the same when the price jumps into 5 figures. I can obviously pay it, but that's "real money" to me that seems like it could be used for better things.

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2020, 04:12:35 AM »
My overtime rate at work, which is $135/hr.

Iíd really put it higher than that, though. Depending on the project, Iíd have to work less to have time for that project (typically work 55-60 hrs/wk).

Iíd rather sit at home on a Saturday working and getting paid OT, than doing some crappy manual labor job I have no interest in doing, forfeiting my income on top of it.

Fortunately, my wife doesnít work, so she handles basically every ďchore/taskĒ that she is capable, so I am able to work more.

Edit*
Over the winter I did a big project I was happy to do. I got a quote for a project on my camping trailer which came in at around $12k. I paid to have $6k of the work done I didnít feel comfortable with, then did the other $6k worth of work myself. It cost me around $2000 in materials and maybe 100 hours worth of time. In this case, cost wise it would have maybe still been better to have them finish, however I like the design I came up with and quality of work I did even more. There was also a huge sense in pride in the accomplishment and I also enjoy all the compliments that I receive that much more.

First of all, good for you on the overtime rate! Your situation makes the math pretty easy. My overtime rate is more like $50/hr, and It's currently unavailable.
On one hand, with a lower income, I'm not really missing out on huge earnings to DIY something like this. And it will take me longer to replenish the funds spent as well which incentivizes keeping the costs as low as possible.
On the other hand, it's always a trade off between time and money, and I currently have more money available than free time. With the wife devoting 55-60hr/s week to work and school, I spend a lot of my non-working time child rearing/cooking/doing yard work/etc, so I'd have to fit the crawlspace stuff in around normal life things that your wife might be doing in your home. I could wait until the winter and more or less replace the time spent on yard work with time spent on the crawlspace I guess, but it might be nice to have less to do for a change.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 04:18:02 AM by Paper Chaser »

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2020, 04:20:43 AM »
I installed a crawl space vapor barrier. It didn't take as long as expected -- the sheeting I used was 14' wide and the house is only 35x30. I don't mind crawling around the crawl space, though, and I'm ER so time is less of an issue.

$10k for labor for rolling out sheeting, taping it, and making cuts in the corners is pretty damned excessive. Are they also putting rigid foam on the sides? Insulating the floor joists with rigid foam?

The cheapest quote that I've gotten included a perimeter drain, two new sumps (with pumps) for the perimeter drains, the vapor barrier/encapsulation, and spray foam along the rim joist.

BikeFanatic

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2020, 05:04:28 AM »
It is a big chunk of change, but also a ton of work that it deems you do not have time for.  If you were FI and retired then DIY, but in your situation I would have it done professionally . While pricey it beats a month of weekend in the crawl space in the heat of summer. JMHO.

Papa bear

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2020, 05:51:11 AM »
What forum are we on??? 13-18k to encapsulate a crawl space? That adds almost 0 saleable value to your house?  Thatís 100% a no brainer DIY, even if you space it out over 3-4 months.

For 13-18k you can remodel an entire kitchen FFS.  Especially in the rural Midwest.

This is a hard facepunch if you donít DIY.   


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OtherJen

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2020, 06:21:57 AM »
It depends on the levels of inconvenience and skill (and available funds).

We only have one bathroom, so we paid someone to gut and remodel that (necessary due to shitty work done by the previous owners). Yes, we could have done all the work ourselves but we both work full time and would have had to learn as we went. A contractor was able to do the work much quickly, and we only had to stay with relatives for one night when our house was toilet-less. We also paid for professional roofing last year. Could we have done it? Technically, yes. Should we have, especially during rainy season? Probably not. The pros finished the roof in one day and we were protected from heavy spring rains later that week.

In contrast, we gutted and remodeled our kitchen ourselves because we could still keep the appliances plugged in and washed dishes in the laundry tub. It wasnít as imperative to get the work done as quickly as possible. We also sided our own house and do all of our own painting, flooring, and landscaping.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2020, 06:34:27 AM »
What forum are we on??? 13-18k to encapsulate a crawl space? That adds almost 0 saleable value to your house?  Thatís 100% a no brainer DIY, even if you space it out over 3-4 months.

For 13-18k you can remodel an entire kitchen FFS.  Especially in the rural Midwest.

This is a hard facepunch if you donít DIY.   


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I think I agree with both aspects of this post -- it's a no-brainer to DIY this big of an expense (your hourly rate in doing so would be huge), but also, this particular project is probably unnecessary.

My house was built in 1976 and it has a huge crawl space. The basement has been fine for almost 50 years now -- so much so that I am in the process of finishing it.

From my understanding, the concept of "encapsulation" is a modern product almost made out of thin air. It is a classic "this might happen, so you need this product" type of thing. There are other less expensive solutions you might want to consider.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2020, 06:42:06 AM »

Would I pay ANY amount - no.  But you said you have several quotes.  If there are enough companies offering this so that you have several options to choose from, and they are all around the same price, then that is what it costs.  I don't imagine they all just agreed to overcharge people on labor for this specific type of job.  Maybe some of them don't like to do it, and charge more to try to limit how many they do.  But in that case someone would step in to fill the void and take up the jobs at a lower cost.  Maybe you are lowballing the time estimate?

I think they're charging whatever the market will bear. That's their right. But I think we've become a culture where all labor is seen as skilled labor and paid for accordingly, and I'm not sure I agree with that. I'll pay a premium for skilled labor to people with knowledge, skills, and/or tools that I don't possess. I had a guy quote $900 to spread mulch a year ago, and I live in the semi-rural Midwest, not someplace where costs are crazy high. That's just nuts for something that would've taken half a day and requires no special skills. It seems like they're just putting a huge premium on the fact that many people are unwilling to do that work, and the crawlspace stuff seems to be mostly the same. It feels like I'm being taken advantage of or preyed upon more than paying a reasonable amount for a service. We'd balk at predatory interest rates or super high prices that people pay for convenience, and I'm not sure that this is much different.

Would it change how you felt if you considered that willingness to do unpleasant work is a specialised skill?

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2020, 07:29:55 AM »
What forum are we on??? 13-18k to encapsulate a crawl space? That adds almost 0 saleable value to your house?  Thatís 100% a no brainer DIY, even if you space it out over 3-4 months.

For 13-18k you can remodel an entire kitchen FFS.  Especially in the rural Midwest.

This is a hard facepunch if you donít DIY.   


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It's definitely the direction that I'm leaning provided I can get my SO on board. I just don't think I can stomach the labor prices these guys want.

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2020, 07:46:52 AM »

I think I agree with both aspects of this post -- it's a no-brainer to DIY this big of an expense (your hourly rate in doing so would be huge), but also, this particular project is probably unnecessary.

My house was built in 1976 and it has a huge crawl space. The basement has been fine for almost 50 years now -- so much so that I am in the process of finishing it.

From my understanding, the concept of "encapsulation" is a modern product almost made out of thin air. It is a classic "this might happen, so you need this product" type of thing. There are other less expensive solutions you might want to consider.

It's based on building science changes. In the past, a crawlspace would be vented through openings in the foundation walls in an attempt to moderate the temperature and humidity. What they've found now is that venting really just lets a bunch of moisture into the crawl that breeds mold. At least in a climate that sees heat/humidity pretty frequently. So if you can't vent a crawlspace, and it has to be closed, the best option is to seal everything up and attempt to condition the space to a point that mold can't grow by either reducing moisture with a dehumidifier, or in new construction they'll include the crawlspace in the home's HVAC envelope.

In my location, new homes cannot have vented crawlspaces by code. I've seen them built and I've seen the code enforcement people make homeowners seal them up.

I could opt for the cheaper route and skip the vapor barrier I guess (blocking off existing vents, insulating and installing a dehumidifier) but if I'm going that far, I'd rather just get the vapor barrier down too for some peace of mind and improvement in QoL while we're here.


Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2020, 07:51:55 AM »

Would I pay ANY amount - no.  But you said you have several quotes.  If there are enough companies offering this so that you have several options to choose from, and they are all around the same price, then that is what it costs.  I don't imagine they all just agreed to overcharge people on labor for this specific type of job.  Maybe some of them don't like to do it, and charge more to try to limit how many they do.  But in that case someone would step in to fill the void and take up the jobs at a lower cost.  Maybe you are lowballing the time estimate?

I think they're charging whatever the market will bear. That's their right. But I think we've become a culture where all labor is seen as skilled labor and paid for accordingly, and I'm not sure I agree with that. I'll pay a premium for skilled labor to people with knowledge, skills, and/or tools that I don't possess. I had a guy quote $900 to spread mulch a year ago, and I live in the semi-rural Midwest, not someplace where costs are crazy high. That's just nuts for something that would've taken half a day and requires no special skills. It seems like they're just putting a huge premium on the fact that many people are unwilling to do that work, and the crawlspace stuff seems to be mostly the same. It feels like I'm being taken advantage of or preyed upon more than paying a reasonable amount for a service. We'd balk at predatory interest rates or super high prices that people pay for convenience, and I'm not sure that this is much different.

Would it change how you felt if you considered that willingness to do unpleasant work is a specialised skill?

Not really because "willingness to do unpleasant work" is a skill that I already possess. I'm fine with paying what I consider reasonable rates for basic labor to do jobs that I don't want to do (asphalt sealing was suggested up thread and is a perfect example. It costs me just $100 more to have it done than it would to do it myself which is a no brainer). I'm also fine with paying higher rates for skilled labor involving tons of education, special equipment, and/or knowledge that I don't possess. But I haven't come around to the idea of paying skilled labor wages for unskilled labor.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 08:07:31 AM by Paper Chaser »

Cranky

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2020, 08:00:24 AM »
My conclusion is that dh and I are unskilled labor, and we confine ourselves to small, non skilled projects. Painting is fine. Plumbing, not so much.

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2020, 08:07:44 AM »
I do the DIY home repairs that I have the skills and tools to do well and safely. That's not a wide scope so I would usually hire someone to do anything ambitious. That said if I could spend $3K and get a job well done in 8 days myself or pay $13K for someone else to do it I'd be highly motivated to do it myself. I'd want to be sure $3K was my actual cost and that I wasn't overlooking something and I would want a high degree of confidence that I would be able to do a job that was of sufficient quality to be comparable to the professional work.

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2020, 08:11:20 AM »
I think about what the worst consequences would be if I did the project myself.  If it's painting, the worst consequence is a poor paint job.  With plumbing, the pipe is still leaking.  I lost someone I loved very much because he hooked up his own hot water heater and didn't know what he was doing.  He was found dead in the shower from carbon monoxide poisoning.  So when my furnace needed a repair, I hired a professional.  I wasn't taking the risk of dying to save money.  I feel the same way about electrical work that could start a fire if done wrong.

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2020, 08:51:02 AM »
Super interesting discussion. Posting mostly to follow.

We, like many homebound-for-the-foreseeable-future Americans, have begun tackling a long-time coming backyard reno. Priced out materials and rentals to do a lot of leveling, drainage remediation, removal of an old concrete shed slab, install hardscaping, etc. Had 4 different people (from GC's to "guy with truck" level) price out what it would take to do some of the more laborious parts of the job. Split the project into "parts we're willing to do without sacrificing our marriage" and "parts we're gonna pay to outsource".  Yesterday a crew of three guys jackhammered for EIGHT HOURS to begin breaking up the old concrete slab, and brought a bobcat to level and begin digging for french drain trenches.  At the end of yesterday, all my spouse and I could talk about was how many months of weekends it would have taken for us to get to the same point the crew is at now (while parenting, working, etc.).

In contrast, we recently put up a new fence ourselves, and felt we could accomplish the task in a reasonable period of time. We also frequently discuss the types of projects and skills we want to learn and DIY more in ER.

I'd also push against this idea that some forms of [backbreaking] labor are somehow "lower" or "unskilled" and thereby don't merit high cost. If you watch an experienced crew at work, its deeply humbling. Those guys have mastered applying strength, pacing persistence and efficiency that the average DIYer can't touch.  I would literally die operating a jackhammer for eight plus hours, and I am a slim/healthy/exercised human who works out daily. I have utmost appreciation for how hard someone like that is working, and a very real understanding of how their efforts are 10x more efficient than mine would be, even with the same tools.  I'm 100% ok with paying a fair price on projects that are heavy labor dependent. 

alsoknownasDean

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #26 on: June 02, 2020, 10:13:07 AM »
If the professionals can do it in a fraction of the time, it's worthwhile.

I recently moved house, and decided to pay for the old apartment to be professionally cleaned, after moving all my stuff out. They did in two and a half hours what would have taken me more than a day (and I would have had to take extra time off work to do it). I was required to have the carpets steam cleaned upon vacating the place anyway (condition of the lease), so while they were there...

I don't regret it.

affordablehousing

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #27 on: June 02, 2020, 10:49:09 AM »
How on earth does a building department justify spending time driving around looking for foundation vents? I don't get it that you would spend $13K on a whole crawlspace venting system..... or just knock a few holes in the cripple walls and put in some vents. If your neighbors are really so crazy as to turn you in for that I would just plant some bushes, then put the vents in. You could accomplish putting in 5 vents for $30 and a half day, and actually solve the problem versus spending a lot of time trying to rectify something with untested modern solutions.

I always remind myself that in my area, the 100 year old houses have stood up well because they are uninsulated and used old growth dense wood. That combination, in general is much more foolproof than modern building methods of tight envelopes, crappy wood protected with chemicals and lots of spaceage flashing, and easily misapplied vapor barriers.

This is one of those cases of just stupid codes and if you want to listen to common sense or not. If your neighbors had big concerns, I'd hope they could understand the good sense of just relying on air flow. There may be something I'm missing, like Radon or something else but it just seems infinitely easier to knock some holes and insulate the floor joists.

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #28 on: June 02, 2020, 11:48:58 AM »
How on earth does a building department justify spending time driving around looking for foundation vents? I don't get it that you would spend $13K on a whole crawlspace venting system..... or just knock a few holes in the cripple walls and put in some vents. If your neighbors are really so crazy as to turn you in for that I would just plant some bushes, then put the vents in. You could accomplish putting in 5 vents for $30 and a half day, and actually solve the problem versus spending a lot of time trying to rectify something with untested modern solutions.

I always remind myself that in my area, the 100 year old houses have stood up well because they are uninsulated and used old growth dense wood. That combination, in general is much more foolproof than modern building methods of tight envelopes, crappy wood protected with chemicals and lots of spaceage flashing, and easily misapplied vapor barriers.

This is one of those cases of just stupid codes and if you want to listen to common sense or not. If your neighbors had big concerns, I'd hope they could understand the good sense of just relying on air flow. There may be something I'm missing, like Radon or something else but it just seems infinitely easier to knock some holes and insulate the floor joists.

The vent thing only applies to new construction and has nothing to do with government overreach. They're generally pretty relaxed about things in my area. My house is more than 50 years old. My crawlspace has vents. That's all grandfathered in. Nobody is making me change anything about it.
But, that's not ideal according to most new building techniques. My point in bringing up the codes for new homes in my area is that generally speaking crawlspace vents are no longer seen as a good thing, and that including a crawlspace in the conditioned envelope of a home is now normal. I can't cheaply/easily do that because my home is already built, but I can get close by encapsulating, insulating, and installing a dehumidifier.

Most of the ductwork and plumbing in my house runs through the crawlspace, so knocking more holes in the walls just hurts my utility bills and shortens the usable life of those mechanicals. Encapsulation should help in both of those areas.

We're in the country, right next door to 35 acres of wetlands and across the street from 130 acres of farm fields (not to mention the thousands of other acres within a mile radius), so we've got critters of all types around. One of the benefits is that encapsulating should make it harder for those critters to share our living space.

There is some radon in the area. I haven't had our air quality tested. However, it's becoming more of a concern for people buying in this area as I've known a few people buy homes contingent on sellers having a mitigation system installed before close. For that reason, I see encapsulation as something that's likely to increase in popularity in my area in the coming years, so if it's going to help sell the place in the future, or be an expectation of a sale, I'd rather do it now and enjoy lower costs and a couple of decades of a nicer home than have to do it when I'm 20 years older and prices have gone up just so that the next buyer can enjoy the benefits.

So anyway, that's some of the reasoning for us wanting to encapsulate in the first place vs just leaving it as-is, or knocking more holes in the foundation.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 11:54:12 AM by Paper Chaser »

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #29 on: June 02, 2020, 12:05:45 PM »
I'd also push against this idea that some forms of [backbreaking] labor are somehow "lower" or "unskilled" and thereby don't merit high cost. If you watch an experienced crew at work, its deeply humbling. Those guys have mastered applying strength, pacing persistence and efficiency that the average DIYer can't touch.  I would literally die operating a jackhammer for eight plus hours, and I am a slim/healthy/exercised human who works out daily. I have utmost appreciation for how hard someone like that is working, and a very real understanding of how their efforts are 10x more efficient than mine would be, even with the same tools.  I'm 100% ok with paying a fair price on projects that are heavy labor dependent.

Sounds like you've got a big project on your hands! I want to be clear that I'm not trying to look down on low skilled labor. I've been the low skilled labor at many times in my life, and often continue to be that around my own property (recently finished shoveling about 45 tons of landscape rock into beds around my house). But working shitty jobs because I didn't have the skills for better paying gigs helped motivate me to improve my own life. Not having skills is common. Having skills, specific knowledge, and/or expensive equipment is rare. Supply and demand takes over from there. I'm willing to pay a premium for those rare assets. I'm not willing to pay the same premium to avoid sweating or getting dirty.

I was raised in a blue collar home with a mindset that we never paid anybody to do things that we could do for ourselves. That's still very much a part of me even though I'm better off than many people in my old neighborhood. I've relaxed enough on those ideals to at least consider whether it's better to pay somebody else to do a job or not, but I'm not afraid of grunt work if the value proposition for having somebody else do a job isn't there.

That independence, and willingness to DIY is a big part of Mustachianism for me. Perhaps even to a fault. We all DIY our finances, and our cooking, and our exercise routines, etc for the same reason.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 12:14:15 PM by Paper Chaser »

GoCubsGo

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2020, 02:47:31 PM »
I had a rental house that had a dirt crawlspace with no vents.  The renter complained about dirt allergies and it actually would get wet down there.  I had a company come out and concrete it and sink a sump pump.  They did it in a day and it was like $3k (multiple companies were willing to do it between $3-$4k).  You could then just cover the vents, run a cheap dehumidifier down there that drains into the sump and throw up some rigid foam board insulation all around the perimeter.  Minimal work for you and way cheaper than than your quote.. Could that work?

socaso

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #31 on: June 02, 2020, 03:18:21 PM »
I wanted the gross carpet out of my basement, it was on the stairs and all through the lower level. After a lot of research I decided to take the carpet off the stairs and refinish them myself to see how I felt about the job. The stairs took me two weekends and only cost $40 for paint. In the process of doing it I realized I really didn't want to do the whole basement because moving the furniture out would be a pain plus it would take me at least 4 weekends.

We wouldn't have been able to use the basement at all during this and we use the basement constantly. So I opted to pay the pros to do that one because they could do the whole thing in one day. Because I did the stairs myself and decided to leave the carpet in the bedroom down there I saved a bunch of money. In addition to the stairs I replaced a chunk of drywall that the cat peed on. I did not get a quote for that work but I have been told drywall is expensive. I didn't find it difficult.

The flooring company originally quoted me $7000 for the job and I ended up paying $3200. So that's how I gauge home projects now. It's a combination of time it will take and level of inconvenience I am willing to live with. In this case I felt ok spending the money because I saved more than half on the front end by doing some work myself. Also the contractors did an amazing job and not only removed the carpet but a linoleum floor underneath the carpet that we didn't even know was there.

All in all it was pretty satisfying because I learned two new skills and still didn't have to struggle with the part I had been dreading.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #32 on: June 02, 2020, 04:06:28 PM »
My tipping point is probably along the lines of "what are the consequences here if I screw it up??". Things like electrical jobs have costly consequences if screwed up. Painting, not so much - it would just take my time and some more paint to fix. Screwed up tiling would be getting into costly consequences - tiles are expensive and difficult to remove.

Crawling around under the house would be a testing one, though. I do NOT want to crawl around under the house. I also do NOT want to spend that amount of money for someone else to do it.

starbuck

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #33 on: June 02, 2020, 04:09:01 PM »
More often than not, we DIY. Three houses ago when we bought our first fixer upper, we outsourced all electrical work, just about all plumbing work (beyond installing a toilet or sink) and granite countertop installation. We cut our teeth on everything else - tiling several floors, drywalling, painting every part of the house including the outside, and residing and re-shingling a lot of square footage of the exterior. That experience made us A LOT of money when we sold, and set us up to be much more experienced renovators for our current house, which is in much worse shape and much bigger than anything we've tackled.

I'd be happy to outsource some projects but where we live labor is VERY expensive, and we're competing with much bigger and more lucrative renovation projects. Not many contractors want our smaller scale projects since we cashflow our work and don't have full scale $200k renos, so we do most of the work ourselves out of sheer frustration. The only things we've outsourced so far are the asbestos abatement, replacing all of the gutters, and a new roof on our rental property. We are not just renovating, we're restoring our 200 year old house and that kind of work doesn't come cheap. I even convinced my spouse to have a bunch of our original windows sent out for restoration instead of doing it ourselves, and then we got bumped by the guy's more lucrative client. So at this point, we've got several thousand dollars worth of professional equipment and a lot of know how (the building dept knows my spouse by first name), and a lot more money. SO much more money. I am still hoping to outsource some work when we can (refinishing the floors, moving the plumbing in the bathroom around, restoring the original shutters), because we have two kids and one on the way, and there is no shortage of stuff to work on.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #34 on: June 02, 2020, 07:47:44 PM »
Looks like you collected good answers.  I ask myself: is it worth my hourly rate (a fake rate I use to value my time to make questions like this easier)?  Does it require a special skill?  What will it cost if I have to redo it anyway?  Will I learn a useful skill?  Do I like/hate doing it?  (Some things you just want to outsource.)  Can I find a cheaper quote/solution that's adequate, or does this have to be done to a particular/high standard? 

I also assume it'll take 2-4x as long as I think it will for things that I have never done before, because...learning. 

I do a lot of DIY but I tend to personally do more things that are more enjoyable/more exercise for me, all else equal, especially since I have a surfeit of projects right now.  I often outsource things like plumbing, because water is expensive if you screw it up. 

I tend to do almost all outdoorsy stuff as DIY (chopping down trees, mowing, and so on) because I like being out there, it gives me exercise, and I'm as efficient as anyone else at it.  While I lean against doing more specialized things.  And with small kids, you just don't have as much time, so I outsource more than I would like.  Were I retired, I would do almost everything myself because I could, I would learn, and I would keep my costs down, too. 

Laura33

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #35 on: June 03, 2020, 07:05:00 AM »
I agree with all of the various factors people have mentioned.  For me, it's kind of like pornography:  I know it when I see it.  Something like drywall I will never do again -- the guys who do it are *fast* and know what they're doing and generally do a much better job than I could in a much shorter time for a reasonable price.  Something like tree removal I postpone and dither about because it costs a mint, but you need skill and specialized equipment, and it's dangerous if you don't do it right, so in the end I suck it up and pay.  Same with anything else that involves major electrical or gas or roof, or that is physically pushing it.  DH once tried to install a patio and threw out his back after two hours of digging.  We hired out the rest of it the next day.

OTOH, the situations that really seem like paying a major premium to be lazy and avoid unpleasantness, I just can't do.  We had some guys quote us $750 to trim our front hedges.  Now, they're big and annoying, but seriously:  $750???  For a couple of hours of work?  For something that I'm going to need to repeat several times a year?  We went to Home Depot, dropped $50 on an electric hedge trimmer, and haven't looked back.

The one thing I do NOT do is compare the cost of the job to my billing rate.  I know it's a popular metric, and sure, it's useful for comparison, but really, that's a fair comparison only if I would actually be working instead of doing the project.  Usually, the reality is that I'm not taking off work to do the project myself -- I'm doing the project in time I would otherwise be sitting on my ass earning nothing.  Would it be economically more efficient if I used that time to grow my business and put in the work to bring in more money, while hiring out the project for a fraction of the price?  Absolutely.  But I'm not going to do that.  If I hire it out, I'm going to use the time I freed up sitting on my ass.  So in almost every case, doing the project myself is almost always a net benefit economically, because I'm converting unproductive time to productive time. 

But that doesn't mean I do everything myself.  Because the reality is the most precious thing I have right now is my downtime.  Precisely because it is so limited.  So I do often decide to hire things out, even though my labor is effectively free, because the cost to my time with my family and relaxing on my own is far too high.  You also need to consider other costs that may be associated with the project.  Sure, I can spend all day Sunday doing something on my own.  But Sunday is my day to get the grocery shopping and meal prep for the week done.  So if I save a couple hundred bucks DIYing something, but we then end up eating a bunch of takeout because I didn't have time/energy to get my normal food chores done, then it may not be a net win.

YMMV, of course.  Everyone's weighing of the various factors is going to be different.  I'm thinking sort of like the engineer's triangle, except with money, free time, and the project -- pick two.

coffeefueled

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #36 on: June 03, 2020, 07:35:38 AM »
I think about these types of questions a lot and it comes down to your comfort with time and quality vs cost. We paid someone to fence our acre lot because I knew that it would take DH and I forever and I didn't think a fence we built would be high quality or last as long. On the other hand, we did most of the reno on our kitchen, including installing all the cabinets. It's not perfect but we saved tens of thousands compared to what we were quoted for a kitchen half as nice.

We're also doing a DIY crawlspace encapsulation. Our crawlspace opens into a sunken utility room that allows moisture and mice into the house. It annoyed me to no end that my mother had her much larger crawlspace encapsulated for a 4th the price in a LCOL area. I was quoted in the $10-15k range. I couldn't bring myself to spend that much money on something that is an easy DIY. I ordered all the materials online. We laid the vapor barrier last summer. I plan to add XPS in the rim joists and seal the vapor barrier to the walls this summer. We don't feel a rush to complete the project all at once. For me it's worth crawling under the house to have that money invested instead.

Sun Hat

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #37 on: June 03, 2020, 03:48:17 PM »
My decision making is a lot like Readysetmillionaire's, with a couple of added factors:

I like learning new skills, but I don't let myself try if screwing up could set the house on fire or cause major damage. I allow myself the exception of replacing lighting and plumbing fixtures because they're easy (fingers crossed that I never get proven wrong. Essentially, this means that I don't touch my electrical panel, gas line, or the load-bearing structures of the house.

Related to the above is my gauge of "what's the harm in trying", where I factor the time and material cost of a DIY, my estimated chance of success, and whether my DIY failure would add to the cost of hiring a professional to redo my failed attempt.

For all else, I also consider how good is good enough. Landscaping, painting, weathersealing, paneling my basement - all areas where pretty good is fine. Taping and plastering drywall really does need to be done well, or else the eye is drawn to the flaws.

However, my decision making may not suit your situation. For you, I'd also consider the value of your time. If work offered you an additional 10K to work weekends for a month, would you take it?


habanero

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #38 on: June 03, 2020, 04:05:12 PM »
I don't have OT pay so cannot calculate hiring a professional vs extra pay at work.

For me it's a trade-off between skill set learned if I do it myself / how much/little I enjoy doing the work and how much of my time it will eat up that I'd rater use for other purposes. I have also discovered I enjoy DIY more if there is some actual problem solving involved. I did fix my espresso machine earlier this year and felt like I king when I via google and use of a multimeter found out what the problem was, ordered the spare part cheaply on eBay and fixed it myself gave me real satisfaction of a problem well solved despite it taking quite some time to figure out so the hourly "pay" wasn't great but I did enjoy the ride. I also spent a lot of time on trying to fix my dishwasher but failed and had to buy a new one in the end. But it was still worth the effort. I came out a little more handy, had learnt a couple of things despite not being able to fix the actual problem.

On the house I do most stuff myself as long as it does not involve high voltage or water under pressure, that's partly due to regulations here as well, but if a project gets too big I outsource it. I have seen professionals at work and knowing well it would take me longer and the result probably worse I am willing to fork out the cash for it. Despite being an academic and all I have a lot of respect for people who actually know their trade and do a fine job in a for me impressively short amount of time and really know their trade.

I had a dude install the gate for my garage a few years ago, he said a significant part of his carpentry business was fixing errors of folks who did not know what they were doing and it would be much cheaper to hire someone like himself in the first place and get a job properly done with no fuss. On a sidenote I really apprechiated his concept of rounding when he installed worktop. He said "Here we can round up a bit to make it easier for the remaining work" and I countered by "What do you mean, rounding?" He said "to the closest millimeter".

Sun Hat

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #39 on: June 04, 2020, 01:33:25 PM »
On a sidenote I really apprechiated his concept of rounding when he installed worktop. He said "Here we can round up a bit to make it easier for the remaining work" and I countered by "What do you mean, rounding?" He said "to the closest millimeter".

Skilled tradesmen can charge a lot because they're good at what they do. Your carpenter's comment reminds me of my attempt to cut baseboards to size for my 100 year old house that is devoid of right angles. It seems like it should be an easy task, but I learned the hard way that it was not.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #40 on: June 04, 2020, 03:39:02 PM »
Really curious what you guys think about DIY drywall.

The opinions I see online are a bit curious in that it's not "do it" versus "hire a pro," but "it's not as bad as everyone says" versus "you will ruin your house."

I guess that's versions of the same thing but it seems considerably more debated than other DIY projects.

habanero

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #41 on: June 04, 2020, 03:48:03 PM »
If you are gonna do drywall you need some special tools to be efficient at it - both for putting it up in the first place and the sanding afterwards. All the pros have those for a reason and most amateurs don't and everything ends up taking waaaaay longer than what a pro would need.

For a clear example, try installing it in the roof with a drywall lift, then do it without. Then try putting in a gazillion screws with a dedicated drywall machine with auto-feeding of the screws, then try with your general-purpose cordless drill. Then try sanding an entire wall with a giraffe sander + a high-end-vacuum attached to it, then try without.

affordablehousing

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #42 on: June 04, 2020, 04:05:06 PM »
Drywall is a perfect example of what I was thinking was a good low cost thing to outsource. I've done plenty of drywall, and I have all the tools (you can easily get a drywall sander and hepa vac from Fein or Festool for $500 or so on Craigslist) and I still love hiring it out. It's even with containment and vacuum messy, it's easiest when you have an experienced helper, it's very physical, and it takes a very careful eye to go through every inch with a lamp to make sure it's all baby butt smooth. AND, it's cheap to hire someone. That's the thing. I could hang, tape and mud a room, or you can hire someone for $1500. To me it's a no brainer if you can find someone good and available. There's just so many other places to spend your time.

But if you have lots of time, the scope is confined, it's a perfect diy project. If you do a bad job you can just cut it out and start over. Materials cost nothing. I like doing patches, little skim jobs and the like.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #43 on: June 05, 2020, 05:59:42 AM »
Definitely agree about the tools. My friend is helping me with the more difficult stuff but he says because I'm a good painter I'm probably a good drywaller. Not sure if that means anything but that was his overall impression.

I guess my plan is to try it and if it looks shitty, I'll either tear it out and pay someone to re-do it or put up a chair rail along the horizontal seem.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2020, 07:49:18 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »

GoCubsGo

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #44 on: June 05, 2020, 05:31:39 PM »
So I have a drywall sander and vacuum attachment and haven't used it in years.  The reason being that after practice and watching pros I realized they put very thin coats on very quickly which leads to minimal sanding.  Once I learned that, I became quite good at drywall as sanding is the worst part in my opinion.  Put some liquid dish soap in the mud too, it makes it super smooth and easier to spread quickly.  Drywall screw gun helps to if you are doing a lot.  Don't overwork your tape lines and after a few boards you should get much better at it.

After saying all that, I had a ceiling cave in at a rental house last year and I... hired it out. Sometimes you just don't feel like beating your body up and taking 25% longer to do what it takes a true pro.   Definitely worth trying a couple times though.

BNgarden

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #45 on: June 06, 2020, 03:12:22 PM »
When I run into quotes that seem out of line, I think of them as 'go-away pricing'.  Literally they don't want the work but have quoted something that makes it worthwhile to them.

So, they either have plenty of work they would prefer to do, at an acceptable rate, or they see you as a 'mark', or...

As to how I calculate when to DIY vs hire someone, I don't hire someone where the price would make me angry.  I might also forego the work if I'm unsure whether the price is indicative of how much of a pain it is.  The formula for what is worth it to me to have someone else doing things has changed radically since I'm retired though.

Cranky

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #46 on: June 07, 2020, 11:44:17 AM »
Iím retired so my time is worth $0.

Paper Chaser

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Re: What's your tipping point for paying somebody else vs DIY?
« Reply #47 on: June 08, 2020, 08:33:58 AM »
Just wanted to chime back in and say thanks to those who've provided some thoughts and insight on the topic! It's obviously specific to each individual's situation, but I think overall our thinking seems to be fairly aligned for how we approach these situations.
I'm currently leaning towards DIY in the winter months when I can reallocate the time that I currently spend on yardwork every week toward completing this project. I'll probably get another quote or two just to see if anybody has a surprise low-ball, but that's not really expected.