Please note that this blog has a backstory and is therefore longer than a typical post.
For all of you out there that are like myself and enjoy DIY (Do It Yourself) projects, I thought I would share a story. I recently had my dishwasher start leaking. At first, it was slow and then got worse and worse. I could only put a towel under the dishwasher so many times before my fiancée finally suggested, in no uncertain terms, that I go about fixing the issue.
Here is the thing – I don’t know anything about fixing dishwashers but:
- I don’t like paying for things I think I can do on my own (I mean, it’s a dishwasher, how hard can it be?) and
- I like to learn new skills (You never know when you might need to re-use some of those new skills)
So, I flirted with the idea of buying a new appliance, but that proved to be too expensive. Plus, I would then have to figure out what to do with the old appliance. It seemed like too much of a hassle (now we all laugh at “Past Kyle’s” definition of hassle)
Total investment: 1 hour (online browsing, classified ads, etc.)
So I proceeded to work through troubleshooting my appliance, with the help of Google and YouTube!
Total investment: 3 hours $0 (Looking at how to videos and reading articles)
I tried removing and cleaning the sprayer arm. Didn’t work.
Total investment: 3.5 hours $0
I tried removing and cleaning the water drain (in case it was clogged). Didn’t work.
Total investment: 4 hours $0
I thought it must be the gasket seal on the door. Since I had already put in hours of my time, I figured that I should get something for my time (not realizing sunk costs = big mistake). So I ended up purchasing the gasket off of a repair website. This was a huge pain, as apparently my model was not really cheap or very easy to find. It was a specific Canadian model, which had different parts than the standard model. I had to call both the manufacturer and the parts sites to find the gasket. Still didn’t work.
Total investment 2 weeks (waiting for shipping) $100 for the gasket and shipping
By this time I knew I was in deep (Sunk costs! Sunk costs!). I tried removing and reattaching the interior of the door. Didn’t work. I did make it so that the door didn’t quite close properly and during one of my…more forceful tests (Read: slams), I accidentally had the interior piece push the face plate off the front of the door. Now both sides of the door had come apart. Back to Google.
Total investment: TOO MUCH TIME TO DIVULGE $100
After re-cleaning and fixing the door again… SUCCESS! I don’t know what I did… but it’s working now and the dishwasher hasn’t leaked since.
All in all, I probably spent about 6-8 hours of browsing, learning, troubleshooting and pulling the various pieces off of the dishwasher. I also spent $100 and burned two weeks waiting on a gasket that I didn’t need. My thought now is – what else could I have done with my time? Did I actually save anything by electing to fix my dishwasher on my own? The answer is an obvious “NO”. I like to DIY and try new things, but I should really realize when I am out of my depth.
In light of my experience, I thought I would highlight some of the benefits of DIY, as well as the benefits of hiring a professional, in order to help you evaluate your own challenges in the future.
Benefits of DIY
- Less upfront costs ($$$) - Typically, doing a project yourself will cost less money, provided you don’t have to eventually hire someone to come in to fix what you started
- Learn something new and develop a deep understanding of the inner workings of what you are doing - Part of the appeal of doing things yourself is being able to learn and develop new skills. In the end, you will know the thing you are DIYing better than anyone else (except likely a professional). I now have a pretty good idea of the inner workings of my dishwasher – and how to do simple fixes
- Can help meet new people by applying your newfound skills
- You'll gain a lot of respect from others for completing a DIY project, which instills a sense of pride
- Potential for a monetary gain, as you could assist others with their projects
- Greater appreciation for the things you have and the design that went into them
- You'll build up your confidence for larger projects
Benefits of Hiring a Pro
- I think my dishwasher story outlines some of the benefits of hiring a pro, but to sum it up, with a pro you:Most often have a better outcome - A professional will likely be able to deliver a better outcome than you could if you just did it yourself
- Experience faster deliverability - Sure, you might be able to do most things yourself, but it will take much less time for a professional to complete the task. Even diagnosing a problem is faster with professionals. That’s the luxury of experience
- Get coaching expertise - I’ve met many people that are proud of their self taught status, but how much faster could they have improved if they hired a pro to show them the ropes? You might be able to learn to throw a curveball on your own, but having a coach help you out would get you there that much faster
- Can accomplish more - With a variety of projects under their belt, a professional might be able to accomplish more than you even knew was possible! Pros will know different techniques that will improve on your current process
- Potentially have a lower overall cost - All in all, if we include opportunity costs into the equation, then my dishwasher repair likely ate up $300-$500
- Receive the luxury of a full cleanup (there are no leftovers)
- Will actually get the project done - How many projects do you have on the go currently? Have you EVER quit a half finished project with the promise to return… someday?
- Can expect safety - Would you try to replace the brakes on your car on your own?
- Get technical abilities that are not limited - a pro is always out honing their trade through daily work and professional development - you've likely just learned how to complete a single project, whereas a pro knows all the "ins and outs"
Finally, DIY isn’t always about saving money, some people just really enjoy the process. The key is understanding and being honest about your capabilities - remember that oftentimes, you won't be saving any money.
I would also recommend you hire a professional when:
- There is a very small margin for error (ex. brakes on your car, wedding photography)
- You're investing in a growing your business
- You need to free up your time for things more valuable or even for things you enjoy doing
- You have mission critical items and things that are public facing
Understand that $500 to change the brakes on your car (or perhaps to fix your dishwasher) is worth it if you are not qualified, if you want to save time and if the job needs to be done right - the first time!
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