When is DIY a Bad Idea?

In today’s culture, DIY (shorthand for “do it yourself”) is a mantra that more and more people are adopting. Not only does taking on projects yourself often save you money when compared to hiring someone to take care of them but also fills you with a sense of pride and independence once you complete the job. Additionally, with plenty of resources ranging from library books to YouTube, there’s plenty of info to be found on just about anything you want to learn.

The downside to all of this is that there are simply some jobs better left to the pros. In fact, sometimes trying to go DIY can backfire. So when is doing it yourself a bad idea?

When the buy-in is too big

Very rarely will you come across a DIY project that you already have all of the supplies to pull off. More often than not, you’ll first need to invest in purchasing the materials and tools you’ll need along the way. In some instances these costs can actually outweigh the benefits and savings you’re hoping to obtain by doing it yourself in the first place.

Granted these capital expenses can be justified over time if you’re making good use of them. Unfortunately it’s easy to get excited about a project off the bat only to lose interest after you learn how much effort is actually required or if you’re unhappy with the finished result. For these reasons, it’s best to avoid taking on projects or new hobbies that mandate a large investment.

When a botched job could mean big costs

Let’s face it: sometimes home improvement store commercials and reality TV shows make home renovations look easy. They’re not. Furthermore, if you do bite off more than you can chew with a remodeling project, the money it takes to have someone clean up your mess can be astronomical. That’s why you’ll always want to weigh the risk when considering taking on such a project yourself.

Of course it’s not just home improvement tasks that can go horribly wrong. For example making errors on your self-prepared taxes can be costly just as tinkering with your automobile or computer could cause major — albeit unintentional — damage. Again, these are things to keep in mind when debating if DIY is the right way to go.

When it needs to look professional

At the end of the day there’s no harm in wanting to learn new skills but, until you master them, it may be better to leave them to the professionals. Case in point: designing a logo for you own business might seem like a fairly simple task but choosing one that will attract customers and clients may be more difficult that you realize. Bottom line: if it needs to appear professional, you’re almost surely better off hiring one.


Having a DIY attitude is a great thing overall, but there are some exceptions. Before you get too gung-ho about taking on a new project, take the time to consider the upfront costs, the downside risks, and whether the finished product needs to be better than what you may be prepared to produce. Other than that, have a great time saving money and picking up new skills by learning to do it yourself.

Author

Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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