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Discussion Starter #1
Just throwing these ideas out there for you folks to dissect...i realize they may not be for everyone or they have to be at the right place and right time but nonetheless...

1. Buy/sell your own home. Save on realtors' commissions. I think there are enough resources out there to make this a go for most folks.

2. Move-it-yourself (rent a truck if necessary). Great exercise and you are in control of your own stuff.

3. Prepare your own taxes. Software and online tools have never made this any easier.

4. Cleaning services. Another good exercise and an opportunity to get the kids involved.

5. Various small home projects i.e. painting, landscaping etc

There are certain things that I would not attempt to DIY just to save a few bucks. Car services, dry cleaning your suits, bigger home projects etc come to mind.

What are your thoughts ? Anything you can DIY in place of the *professionals* ?
 

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The vast majority of vehicle repairs and maintenance can be accomplished with basic tools and a simple manual (or the internet). Generally, unless it requires a lift or an engine hoist, I'll do it myself.

The same goes for home repairs and renovations- there's not much "magic" to most tasks. fF you're even mildly handy and can pay attention to details, you can do a "professional" job for a LOT less than hiring a pro, and probably get it completed quicker and with more care.

Finally, there's a lot of kitchen and cooking tasks that you can easily DIY- cutting your own meat, growing your own herbs, making your own stocks, etc. The savings on these aren't nearly as great as on the other tasks I've mentioned, but it's nice to know how to butcher a chicken. :)
 

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A lot of DIY home improvement tasks require the right tools. Some of those tools are not cheap. However, if you plan on using them a lot, over the long run they will pay for themselves. (And some can be rented.)

Home selling is harder if you do not have access to MLS.

Moving is better on your own, but you need help from friends (especially those with muscles).
 

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I'm looking at doing a combination of professional & DIY for my landscaping this summer. Obviously grading and topsoil (final grade) should be done by someone who knows what they're doing and will warranty final grade. What do you think of the following:
1) Planning - I pretty much know what I want, but should I pay $350+ to have a landscape architect develop a professional plan?
2) Sod - I've helped my parents install theirs, but it was very hard work
3) Irrigation - again, I've helped my parents but some hard labour is required even if I rent a trencher. Professional installation could easily cost thousands more than DIY.
4) Trees - only 1 large tree, the rest are small. I figure I can get whoever does the final grade to dig the hole for me. Probably doesn't cost much though.
5) Shrubs - one landscaping company revealed that $17 of their shrub price is for installation & delivery. I could probably pick them up from a greenhouse and plant them myself, but do you think it's worth $17/shrub to save this hassle?
6) Rock - probably need over a ton. Very heavy, but all I'd have to do is spread it around. Not sure what the cost difference would be.
 

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I'm looking at doing a combination of professional & DIY for my landscaping this summer. Obviously grading and topsoil (final grade) should be done by someone who knows what they're doing and will warranty final grade. What do you think of the following:
1) Planning - I pretty much know what I want, but should I pay $350+ to have a landscape architect develop a professional plan?
2) Sod - I've helped my parents install theirs, but it was very hard work
3) Irrigation - again, I've helped my parents but some hard labour is required even if I rent a trencher. Professional installation could easily cost thousands more than DIY.
4) Trees - only 1 large tree, the rest are small. I figure I can get whoever does the final grade to dig the hole for me. Probably doesn't cost much though.
5) Shrubs - one landscaping company revealed that $17 of their shrub price is for installation & delivery. I could probably pick them up from a greenhouse and plant them myself, but do you think it's worth $17/shrub to save this hassle?
6) Rock - probably need over a ton. Very heavy, but all I'd have to do is spread it around. Not sure what the cost difference would be.
1 - I had a landscape architect help me out - I think it ended up costing me closer to $1500, rather than your frugal $350!
2 - no idea
3 - no idea
4 - depends on what you get. One of mine cost over $350
5 - how many shrubs are you getting? 10 will save you $170, 20 will save you $340 etc
6 - you'll need help here, on many fronts, inc delivery to your house and placing the rocks. If you give your neighbours beer (lots of it!), they may help you move the rocks. I had 1 1/2 tons of top soil delivered to the front of my place that I moved via wheelbarrow and 3 neighbours to the back. It's hard work!
 

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Interior painting is the ultimate DIY task. Anyone can do a professional job and the tools you need are really inexpensive. We had to paint the entire inside of our house this fall and winter and though it was a lot of work the difference it makes is unbelieveable.

However, if I had my time back I would have paid for a colour consultant or at least recruited a friend with a good eye to help pick out matching colours. Picking colours was a bit stressful to say the least.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A lot of DIY home improvement tasks require the right tools. Some of those tools are not cheap. However, if you plan on using them a lot, over the long run they will pay for themselves. (And some can be rented.)

Home selling is harder if you do not have access to MLS.

Moving is better on your own, but you need help from friends (especially those with muscles).
lb71, i believe you can list your home on MLS for a flat fee or you can bypass it altogether and list your home on private, for-sale-by-owner sites. Granted, you may not get as much traffic compared to MLS listing but people do have options available.

I think a big reason people do not consider selling homes on their own is the *extra* work associated with the job i.e. staging the home, finding the sitters when you have an open house, advertising, so on and so forth. Some people also don't want to get into the bargaining game against typically aggressive realtors.

You are doing somebody else's job and if you want to succeed (and save money) I believe you have to put in certain amounts of effort, just like anything else.
 

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I'm looking at doing a combination of professional & DIY for my landscaping this summer. Obviously grading and topsoil (final grade) should be done by someone who knows what they're doing and will warranty final grade. What do you think of the following:
1) Planning - I pretty much know what I want, but should I pay $350+ to have a landscape architect develop a professional plan?
2) Sod - I've helped my parents install theirs, but it was very hard work
3) Irrigation - again, I've helped my parents but some hard labour is required even if I rent a trencher. Professional installation could easily cost thousands more than DIY.
4) Trees - only 1 large tree, the rest are small. I figure I can get whoever does the final grade to dig the hole for me. Probably doesn't cost much though.
5) Shrubs - one landscaping company revealed that $17 of their shrub price is for installation & delivery. I could probably pick them up from a greenhouse and plant them myself, but do you think it's worth $17/shrub to save this hassle?
6) Rock - probably need over a ton. Very heavy, but all I'd have to do is spread it around. Not sure what the cost difference would be.
Good post!!!!! I agree with your point of view. Thank you for sharing, good luck to you!
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Interior painting is the ultimate DIY task. Anyone can do a professional job and the tools you need are really inexpensive. We had to paint the entire inside of our house this fall and winter and though it was a lot of work the difference it makes is unbelieveable.

However, if I had my time back I would have paid for a colour consultant or at least recruited a friend with a good eye to help pick out matching colours. Picking colours was a bit stressful to say the least.
I would also add exterior painting - especially if it's only ground-level.

I saved at least a couple of grand repainting my house' exterior as well as staining my fence. This obviously means sacrificing a bit of weekend time for a few weekends.
 

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Wow, way to bring this one up from the dead since 2009! First time poster, too.

On topic: my wife cuts my hair to save money. I do my own oil changes.
 

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I do our portfolio management. DW and I handle the patio of our penthouse (building planters, staining and plant maintenance). She handles most cooking.

Used to do electrical, plumbing, drywall and taping, painting, yard maintenance. Now it is outsourced along with window washing, and house cleaning.
 

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I wouldn't hire a professional unless I couldn't do something myself, or there was a circumstance in which I needed something done immediately and couldn't tend to it.

Things I will do include basic car repair/maintenance, some plumbing, basic electrical, carpentry, painting, computer upgrades, yard work, hair cuts, and more.

The only thing I've paid to have done to my car in the last three years was two flat tire repairs.
 

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Someone else mentioned basic car maintenance, and I can't agree enough.

Considering the only tool you need to change your oil is a cheap crescent wrench and maybe a $30 Haynes manual for your vehicle, there's little investment needed. I built a small set of ramps from scrap construction lumber to help me get under the vehicles. When I do mine, I call a few friends and they all come over and kick in a few bucks to cover my new oil and filter, and I do all our vehicles, give the engines a good once over with them (check fluids, replace spark plugs and air filters when necessary, check belts etc). I get mine done for free, they get theirs done for cheap, and it's a good excuse to get your friends together once in a while. I have never taken a vehicle in a for a "regular service" so the savings have been substantial, and the vehicles I've sold all passed pre-purchase inspections with no hang ups, so I guess I did something right!
 

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My 2 cents here...

I am always amazed at what is available at the local library to help with home maintenance and other potentially costly tasks. They have many DVD's, books, and access to information to with research and planning....and all you need is a (free) library card! Libaraies have DVD's on portfolio management, home selling, caring for people, pets, ..remarkably diverse.

I also use Craigslist to access "professionals" -some of these folks work for companies, and make a few dollars "freelancing" on the side. Recently I replaced my overhead garage door opener. I got into trouble because it was more complex than LEGO, so I called a guy who advertised under professional services on Craigslist (who worked for a garage door company during the day) & he came over after hours to do it for me - paid him $70.
 

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My 2 cents here...

I also use Craigslist to access "professionals" -some of these folks work for companies, and make a few dollars "freelancing" on the side. Recently I replaced my overhead garage door opener. I got into trouble because it was more complex than LEGO, so I called a guy who advertised under professional services on Craigslist (who worked for a garage door company during the day) & he came over after hours to do it for me - paid him $70.
i installed this when we moved into our new home a few years ago. although enjoyable, this turned out to be a dainty task. the roof on our garage is over 19' high and i did not have a stable ladder/setup to reach so high. considering the installation cost of under 70, i would never do it again myself (unless roof is easily accessible). on the other hand, there were a few times i had to tweak the sensor alignment and re adjust the range of motion etc. which i would never have known how to do if i hadnt installed it myself.

now we are in the process of painting our house. we can manage the rooms and living areas. but i am having second thoughts about doing the washrooms and staircase areas ourselves...
 

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The vast majority of vehicle repairs and maintenance can be accomplished with basic tools and a simple manual (or the internet). Generally, unless it requires a lift or an engine hoist, I'll do it myself.
Modern vehicles these days have engine/body management computers that are linked together through a data bus and a myriad of sensors reporting on
every engine/transmission and vehicle performance issue.
I have those even in my old 1998 Dodge truck, which has it's problems from time to time.

IMO, If you are going to do repairs on your driveway, you need
more diagnostic capability these days..
OBDII code reader (to read the codes for the "check engine" light",
a Haynes manual with specific information on codes and repair procedures
on your vehicle,
a reasonable electrical understanding of vehicle wiring diagrams,
to determine how sensors (which are located all over the vehicle),
interface with the computers,
and what the symptoms are when the sensors malfunction.

I miss those vehicles of the 70s (or earlier) that you could do most repairs
with simple tools. No sensors and no computers. These days, unless
you possess some diagnostic knowlege of engines and vehicles, you
are at the mercy of the stealerships..they will charge you to read the
check engine code and they will charge you a lot more to fix it.

Recently I had an ABS brake light issue. Couldn't read the ABS codes because
they did not appear on the OBDII plug in diagnostic connector. The ABS controller
(an aftermarket computer ABS system that the OEM Chrysler used) has it's own set of
codes. In order to read those you need a special code reader that is more
or less a dealer item, and costs $2500 to buy on the aftermarket..Ebay.
So you have to join a vehicle forum to discuss what needs to be done and what
needs to be replaced.

So yes, you can still do some basic repairs yourself, like brakes, replace
belts, change plugs, coolant, but it's the computer management of the
vehicle that often times causes issues.
 

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I can do my own plumbing and electrical but decided to hire in those guys when I ripped my walls down to put in a suite. I figure I need something between me and those items incase something goes wrong in the suite and I can show the insurance the receipts and also can show them to buyers if I were to list the house.
 

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For us, we actually 'outsource' or hire people do alot of things for us that we could technically do ourselves.

We view it as cost (time also) vs benefit, and risk. When we were not working, we found we had a lot more time, and there wasn't as much of an opportunity cost for our time. For us, we actually 'outsource' or hire people do alot of things for us that we could technically do ourselves.

We view it as cost (time also) vs benefit, and risk. When we were not working, we found we had a lot more time, and there wasn't as much of an opportunity cost for our time. Now with both us working more than full time, plus with the kids on the go, our time right now is much more of a constraint that money.

We look at risk of what happens if we really muck up the job. We just paid $400 to install our toilets, it took them ½ a day, it would have taken us a whole day. Plus, since we didn’t have the tools, or know how, there potentially was a lot more that could go wrong. Same thing with installing brakes, my husband could probably do it, but doesn’t ever want to take the risk that it’s wrong. We do most of our electrical as hubby has a training in it, so the risk is just he gets a few shocks ;)

We did do our own install for a garage door opener, the install would have been over $250, but it took hubby almost 3 weeks (part time to do it). If we had to do it now, we would probably hire someone. Same thing for a lot of things that will take us over a day to do. However, where we do try to do our own things are where the time commitments are relatively small (under an hour), we can do it small chunks (like when the kids are in bed), and can still save us money.

Things that we try and do ourselves – most of our meal preparation and cooking. Eating out is expensive. We’ve taken it to the next level of even cutting down the costs of things that you pay the store for. We buy whole chicken or legs in bulk on sale and will cut it, butcher it, skin it and freeze it separately. Savings is about 50% in the cost of having the store do it. We buy beef in large roast formats and trim our own steaks – about a 30% savings. The big on is cheese, we found out that grating cheese is about an $85 /hour job if you calculate the cost /gram for brick cheese vs pre grated. I have found things that are in individual packages are up to double the price of the large bag. I will buy the large bag, and portion it out at home myself. These things don’t seem like a lot, but we found when we were really diligent, we’re able to save 20-50% on our overall grocery bills just by making changes such as this. It’s not a one time savings of a few hundred dollars but it does work over a few thousand dollars a year.

I find with the longer jobs that require us to take what little time we have from our kids, it is no longer worth it. If I was a stay at home parent, I would reconsider.
Now with
 

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Good points PA.

One problem with doing DIY jobs is that if you aren't experienced, you often don't know how much time will be needed to do the job and it's too late before you realize that hiring someone would have been a better choice.

But that's how you get experience I guess. :)
 

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We have learned that first hand about spending more than we needed after we mucked it up. First time I painted cabinets, I accidently painted them shut on the hinges. I redid it, removing all the doors, only to find out that the cabinets were so old that the doors didn't fit right. Had to hire someone to realign, plane them down, and repaint. I cost me more than if I would have paid someone to paint them in the first place, and I still had to do the work.

I learned that sometimes certain things are just better to call someone.

I have been trying to send my husband to friends houses when they are doing their own diy projects. Generally, the friends know what their doing, so hubby can learn it, and if they don't know what's going on, it's better that it's on their house than ours. :D
 
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