March 7, 2010

I Like DIY A Little Too Much

I tend to have a negative emotional reaction to hiring work done around the house in most situations.   Its not that I want to do the work in fact I'm rather lazy to be honest. But I feel that I "ought to" do the work myself or that paying someone to do it is somehow not right.  Plus I always want to try and save money by doing work myself whenever I can.

Every time something needs fixing around the house my first inclination is to do the work myself.   I think theres at least a couple reasons for this reaction.   One of the thoughts that crosses my mind is "I can do that."   Another thought that I'll have is that "it would be expensive to hire someone".   These are my primary reasons for wanting to do work myself. 

DIY work can often save you money.   There is no doubt about that.  I've saved a lot of money by mowing my own lawn and painting my home among other things.   So some DIY is certainly a good idea from a cost saving perspective.  

The problem with my desire to do DIY is that its not always rational.  Sometimes I end up doing DIY work that I probably shouldn't.   Generally when I'm considering DIY I don't much consider whether or not I really want to do the work, if I have time to do the work, if I'd rather do something else, if I could make/save more money doing something else with my time or if I'd do a decent job doing the work.    These are all very good reasons to hire someone else to do something.   They may very well outweigh the benefits of cost savings.   But I seem to automatically choose to do DIY without a lot of consideration of the pros and cons.

Sometimes this inclination of mine to handle work around the house can backfire.   When I first got my house I signed up for satellite TV.   I decided that I would install the dish myself and save some money.   So I climbed up on my roof, installed the dish and then spent several hours failing to find a signal.   I eventually gave up and hired someone for $80 or so and they came out and had it running within minutes.   Then weeks or months later I started having occasional reception problems with my signal.   I first thought it was just outages from the service itself, but eventually my signal failed entirely.   I ended up on the roof again checking my dish and I figured out that I'd done a poor job of sealing a cable connection and water had leaked into the joint and ruined a cable.  All together my DIY efforts ended up causing me to waste many frustrating hours on my roof fiddling with the satellite dish and I didn't save any money.

 The fact that I feel I can do work myself is a big reason that I consider DIY at all.   If I know that I can't do the work then I don't even think of trying it.  For example I didn't attempt to fix my main water pipe when it broke and I didn't try to remove an overgrown 25' pine tree from my property.  I knew I didn't have the skill or equipment to do those things so I didn't think of doing it myself.  But if work is something I think is within my capabilities then my automatic reaction is to do it myself.  It think part of that may be a feeling that I should be doing things for myself.  I'm not sure if its an egotistical reaction that I would feel less manly if I hired a plumber to fix my sink or what.  But I seem to feel that if I can do something then I should do it.

Why is this a problem?    Well I already gave one example where installing my own satellite dish ended up wasting me a lot of time and effort.   So sometimes my efforts at DIY fail and I waste time and effort.   But another big reason why being to inclined towards DIY is a problem is that it causes me to be biased towards DIY.   I assume I'll save more time and money then I really do.   It makes my evaluation of whether or not I should do DIY out of whack and I make the wrong choices.   It is important to recognized your own biases or they will lead you astray.

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