Should You DIY or Hire A Pro?

Sometimes we face the question of whether to Do It Ourselves or cough up some cash and let a professional handle the particulars. Let’s say there’s a spectrum: make jam would be an easy DIY call. Perform brain surgery on your child would be an easy Hire The Pros call.

In between, things are less obvious. Should I attempt to fix my own dishwasher when it leaks all over my floor? Should I raise chickens for meat and slaughter them myself? Reroof my own house? Sharpen the blades on my push lawnmower? Hmmm….good cases can be made for both DIY or Pro, depending on the particulars.

What we need is a helpful flowchart to help us determine when we should do it ourselves and when we should hire that help:

I faced the DIY vs. Pro dilemma not too long ago. Last weekend, as my regular readers know, I migrated my site from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site. Unless you are also a blogger, the particulars don’t really matter, except to say that if this migration process isn’t done right, madness ensues and all the content I’ve built up over the past year becomes essentially unfindable through Google and my readers look around saying, “What the hell just happened?” Not good.

So, I opted to hire a pro (who also puts out the migration steps for free should you have the technical cajones to DIY this kind of thing) to handle the technical aspects of the move to WordPress and I’m so glad I did. If you use Blogger and are thinking of switching to a self-hosted WordPress platform, let me know if you have questions about how the transition went.

Thanks again to everyone for your kind words about the new site, and your patience as I worked through design issues and re-categorization of all the posts. My apologies to any subscribers who got pretty much the entire back-catalog of posts re-delivered as “Updated.” That’s all done now. As always, let me know if anything looks weird.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy those DIY projects, and don’t feel bad about the Hire A Guy ones either.


  1. says

    that flow chart is AWESOME!!!! i’m going to print it out. it is so righteous, i hope you put it in some extra findable place on this new rig.
    d’you mind if i steal a copy for my DIY vs BUY post?

  2. says

    In this house, we almost always end up in the DIY box: my husband is unafraid, even when perhaps he should be. ;)

    I agree with your decision to hire someone to move your blog. I wouldn’t have much of a clue and even less confidence if I had to try that myself.

    • says

      I get where your husband is coming from: I jump in with two feet sometimes when I should go for the “big toe water testing approach.” In our old house a “basement remodel” inspired by unrealistic 48-hour-TV-home-makeover-shows and a six-pack of Corona ended with a sawzall, sheetrock dust and an unusable space for a few years. I like to think I’ve (mostly) learned my lesson.

  3. Debbie M. says

    Nice flow chart! I find things move from the DYI to PRO depending on the weather and our age. If it’s winter and there’s water involved, I hire a pro but in the summer we don’t hesitate to do the job. On the other hand, some things are just worth paying for. We’re both in our 60’s and the consequences of falling off the farmhouse roof 40 miles from an emergency room are scarier so we paid to have two buildings re-roofed (although we might have taken that on 20 years ago.) I love to learn new things but draw the line with electrical. Everybody has their own line in the sand that they don’t cross at some point.

  4. says

    I love that the flow chart starts with such a cornerstone question: Are you a cheap bastard? HA!

    We are typically in the DIY camp. Mostly because I dream big, and the Husband is capable of all things. Well, I am convinced that he is. He draws the line at electricity and plumbing. For those two categories he insists on assistance and/or a professional. Someone who at least feels like they know what they are doing.

    We are such DIYers, that every time I do need to hire someone, I grumble and groan about it.

    Thanks for the words of wisdom on the WordPress migration. I am preparing for a similar process myself. Eek!

    • says

      Let me know if you have questions about the migration. I can’t help with the technical side (obviously) but I’ve learned tons about the site management side.

  5. says

    Unfortunately, we have a flaw in our flowchart. There are no options. It reads:
    Are you a cheap bastard? Yes.
    Are you skilled in the project area? Never done it before. (Thankfully no project generally needs to be done twice so everything is new!)
    Are you willing to learn? Sure.
    Would it be very bad to screw up the project? Probably.
    Is there a good chance you’ll screw up? Yup.

    On the rare occasion we actually know what we’re doing it runs:
    Do you have time to do the project? No.
    Do you actually finish what you start? Haven’t yet, probably won’t.

    That might explain the state of our home. ;-)

  6. says

    Erica… I so need a poster size copy of that flow chart. I am of the grain that believes hiring it out id for wimps and sissys. Even though I know that hiring it out means it will get done faster and better than I can do, there is a nagging little devils sitting on my shoulder saying “DIY ya woosie”, luckily for me I have learned sometimes to know my limitations and will hire things out. OF course that brings up contractor hell, a completely different sort of angst!

    • says

      If you click on the image a few times eventually you’ll zoom in to a HUGE version. Feel free to print it out for yourself if you want. :)

  7. Steve says

    I tend to view the decision much simpler. I ask the question can I do it better than someone else. This is what you must use with the alternative currency and barter systems floating around! Unfortunately we unconsciously forget that we still live in the dollar economy and having the backup of a spouse($$$$$) distorts the decision to where you need a flowchart!

    • says

      I love the idea of bartering, but of course the advantage of currency is that it saves time in relative ranking of skills, etc. Example: your excellent job for ABC project may have a certain value to you that it doesn’t carry for your friend, who really doesn’t care how well the project is done, so long as he doesn’t have to do it. And if he’s the only guy with non-moldy wheat this season, and you have to trade for wheat, then he’s going to be able to apply downward pressure on the “barter value” you can get for your job in a direct trade. Whereas if you don’t have to directly work for Wheat Dude to earn wheat, but instead can do an excellent job for Glass Blower Lady, who does value your quality work, and earn money and use that to buy your wheat…well, your risk is more distributed and it’s easier to coordinate mutually beneficial transactions. Ah, microeconomics. I love it. :) Of course if the entire economy collapses it’ll be all hands on deck for everything. ;)

  8. Steve says

    BTW, thanks for letting me post without having a facebook account!
    (and this comment has my correct email which I misstyped in the last comment)

    • says

      Facebook never required. Although we do get some rollicking good conversation going on the FB page occasionally, so if you ever opt to sign up, come look us up!

  9. brenda from ar says

    The flow chart is the best. I had to print it and share it with some folks. You might end up with new visitors.

    I’m on the cheap bastard side of the chart. Some things I know better than to attempt, but have to fail miserably at other things, maybe a couple of times, before I’ll fork over the dough to hire a professional.

    • says

      Thanks Brenda! Well I think the key is “consequences if this project gets all hosed up” – different people will have different tolerance for different levels of hosed-ness, if that makes sense. I don’t care at all if my garden beds are a bit out of level, or what have you, but I really didn’t want my blog to explode. :) So some thing I’ll just keep DIYing away, even a bit haphazardly, but others the risk is just too great. Also, if “failing miserably” doesn’t totally screw you over, it’s a great learning experience!

  10. Annie says

    That’s hilarious. However, maybe I’m one of those incurable control freaks, or maybe my standards are just too high, but every “professional” I’ve ever hired has disappointed me greatly with the quality of their work. So while I’d prefer to hire most things out, the end result is not, sometimes, that much better than you could do yourself, and at a much higher price. Admittedly, it’s less work for me.

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