DIY : Why I’d rather DIY than go to work… – Jason Quenga – Medium

My Uncle commented on a facebook post of mine regarding DIY that sparked this post. While I’m a fan of DIY, I’m not for the reason most assume. Sure, I like to know that I built the thing you’re looking at or I fixed the leaking thing all by myself, but that’s not truly why I DIY.

In most cases, I DIY because I am too poor or stubborn to pay someone else more money per hour than I make to do something I can do myself.

I’m not criticizing people for hiring professionals. I do from time to time when I can’t DIY, don’t have the time or think it’s too important to trust YouTube alone. For instance, I hired a plumber to solder on a new whole house water shut-off valve. Afterwards, I replaced all the shut-off valves inside the house myself. If my sink leaks, so be it, but if the water to my house fails… well, I’m in deep water… heh…

Speaking of, a plumber charged me $50 per shut-off valve and I have 8 in my house (3 sinks, 2 toilets). That’s $400. I priced the parts at Lowe’s, it came under $20 each and took 10 minutes per valve to do it myself. In an hour I saved $150. This is why I DIY.

As mentioned, I make an outstanding wage of $20/hr, currently. With taxes, it would take 9 hours for me to earn $150 in cash. Roughly. OK, I did the actual calculation based on the taxes I pay, and it’s 9.09 hours. I can’t help myself. Did I really need to figure out the point zero nine? No, but I did, because that’s just what I do. Bah.

Now, most people automatically go to argument of why they don’t DIY of “I don’t want to spend my weekends fixing things when I could be doing __________” .

I don’t want to give up my free time either. With a 1 year old at home, I love hanging out with this kid. I love watching him learn, grow, experiment, and be amazed by the dumbest shi… simple things in life. I can afford to pay a lot of people do work for me. I’d love to pay someone to clean my house, change my oil, mow my lawn, do my dishes, paint my walls and make money for me, of course. But, whenever I need to spend money, I don’t think about the money I need to earn, I think about the time I already spend away from my family, and if it’s even worth it.

Let me take you through my thought process on replacing a garage door.

I called two garage companies over the span of a year and got two quotes to remove my old, single panel door, and replace it with a modern sliding, folding, roll up door. Whatever you call it. It’s time, my house is 34 years old and that door, opener and the gaps between the walls letting out my a/c … OK, I dealt with all of it, but the door finally broke into two sections (it ripped apart in the middle…which sounds way more dramatic than what really happened).

First quote came in at $1100 for a basic door plus installation and reusing my old opener. The second quote was 3 quotes. It was $1400 for the same basic door, $1750 for an insulated door and something over $2000 if I added a new opener. Naw……… I work at a wood shop, not an Accounting Firm.

I did my research, as an good DIY’er would and found that the companies were selling me the same garage doors you can get at Home Depot. The basic door only costs $500, an insulated door is $1000, and a new opener is anywhere from $200-$400. Which, btw, the second company told me they would sell the opener to me at “their cost”. $400 for the cheapest opener out there. Thanks for the steal of a deal…

I also found out that the insulating door that adds $600 to the door, only provides a 6–8 R-value. You can achieve at 5 R-value with a $200 kit designed to insulate garage doors. You literally insert pre-cut foam panels into the garage door and tape them in. Not sure this would take you more than 20–30 minutes?

Overall, I can get the same door, insulate it myself and upgrade to a really cool garage door opener for $1100 at most, or pay some company $2200 to do it for me. That’s double the price, or a $1100 difference. Most door companies can do this in about 3–4 hours, if not faster. That’s just the time I was given by one company, I didn’t ask the other.

At 4 hours, that’s $275/hr. Remember, I make $20/hr. To get $1100 in cash (if you use a credit card, you’re worse off) would take me 66.67 hours, or 8.3 days of work.

On the other hand, I can totally try to do this myself and if I took off a full week of work to figure it out (5 days), I’d still save 3.3 days, or $435.60.

In other words, I can go to work where I’ll already be and eventually save $1100 (good luck, I’m not very good at keeping cash in the bank). Or, I can take 8.3 days off work, unpaid, and do it myself, and I’d still break even!

But, it won’t take me that long. I think it’ll take me a good day to do it with the help of my brother. I can chop down the old door and dispose of it, or pay someone $100 to take it (someone on Craigslist will take that deal).

So, that’s how I look at DIY and that’s why I DIY. I don’t go to work because of some calling. I’m a purchaser at a woodworking shop. I buy things the company needs to make stuff. If I died today, they’d replace me with a $25 Craigslist ad and a couple interviews. I go to work to fulfill the 40 hours per week we all think we should to pay my mortgage and other bills.

But, I don’t go to work to pay someone else a lot more money than I earn to do something I’m capable of doing myself. Why would I work for 8 days to get someone to do something that takes them 1/2 a day to do at most?

My dentist, my doctor, my lawyer, my accountant (I have neither of the last two)… they all deserve that effort. I am not filling my own cavities or doing my own root canals. But, putting up a garage door?

Look, I’m not bashing garage door installers. They probably earn more money than I do. What I’m saying is, I can install a garage door, I can’t perform gallbladder surgery. I also don’t work because I love what I do. I work because I haven’t won the lottery and people don’t seem to want to give me everything in life for free. Until one of those things happen, I’ll continue to DIY.

But, let’s be real, I ain’t taking off work and I’m doing this on my weekends because I only make $20/hr and houses, cars, and pizza aren’t getting any cheaper.


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