Time vs. Money – Should you DIY or Hire a Professional?

How do you decide on what to spend on home improvement projects?

In making that decision, do you consider what your time is worth? How do you even calculate what that time is worth? Today, I’d like to discuss the benefits of DIY and hiring a professional as is relates to the total cost of your project (materials and time).

First of all, we all need to understand exactly what our time is worth. To determine this amount, you need to consider the amount of time you spend to earn money and the amount of money you earn during that time. Your daily commute to work, time dropping the kids at daycare, not to mention the actual time at work should all be taken into consideration. If you are having a difficult time calculating your time, you can use 2,500 hours per year. That is for a 50 hour work week for 50 weeks a year.

Now let’s calculate your take-home pay. Take a look at your pay stub, tax return, and consider income from your side job. If you do not have taxes deducted from your paycheck, make sure to account for that number.

Finally, divide your total money earned by your total time spent. For example, if you make $50,000 per year, your time is worth $20 per hour. While there are other ways to calculate this number, I find this one the simplest to understand.

Now let’s discuss whether you will complete a simple home project yourself, or is it worth it to hire a professional.

Take interior painting for example, because that is a project that many homeowners take on themselves. Calculate the cost of your materials. This includes paint, rollers, brushes, pans, drop clothes, ladder, rubber gloves, masks, and the cost of any materials to prepare or repair the walls (washing supplies, sandpaper, spackle, putty, caulk, knives, etc.) Now consider clean up (vacuum, solvents, wash buckets, mop, wash rags). How many hours will this project take you (refer back to your hourly rate)? Will your paint skills compare to a professional’s?

As you can see, it is very often beneficial to hire a professional even for tasks that you may be able to do yourselves. Next time you are planning a DIY project, take some time to consider the costs and the value of your time.

DIY project blog post image