We have a few projects pending on our house and we’re debating whether to DIY them or hire them out. Sometimes, it comes down to cost, and sometimes it comes down to effort. Where do you draw the line?

Curtains
As I’ve mentioned before, I have access to cheap fabric. When we moved into our house, I calculated the cost of making or buying curtains for a very large entrance/window where blinds or other coverings simply won’t work. I did some research and determined that buying curtains would cost over $1000. I could get fabric at $8-10 a yard and make them myself, which would bring the cost closer to $330, including lining and supplies. I decided to make the curtains myself. I’ll keep them simple – just cut and sew straight seams and use clip-on rings. It will take me a couple weekends to make the curtains, but it’s worth it to save $670, at least.

I also bought some gorgeous sheer fabric for another room. This fabric was about the same cost as ready-made panels, but it was gorgeous, so in the end this one is a break-even.

Backyard Steps
We have a hill in our backyard that has three steps at the bottom and one step at the top. In between, there are no steps. From the view, it’s pretty clear that there were steps at one point and they were ripped out. It’s possible the old brick steps had crumbled, but it’s not clear why they weren’t replaced. Especially since our primary storage – the shed – is at the top of that hill.

We priced out the cost of railroad ties and rebar at Home Depot and the materials themselves are fairly affordable. However, the effort would be huge. Home Depot would probably cut the ties for us, but we’d have to rent a truck to get the lumber home, and then we’d have to lug heavy railroad ties to the backyard, drill holes in them, grade the hillside, and hammer the rebar into the ties once they were in place. Since my husband recently had surgery, this job would largely fall to me and my best friend. We’re not wimps, but I think the effort far outweighs the cost of hiring landscapers to build the steps for us, even if the cost is $500.

Sod
Again, we’d have to spend money for a sod roller and spend a great deal of time prepping the lawn to make way for the new sod. Instead, we can hire our landscapers to lay the sod for us. If we buy the sod and have it delivered, that should reduce some of the cost, but it’s possible our landscapers could get a better deal. We also want to install grass plugs at the top of the hill in the back, but that’s a small enough space that we (meaning I) could tackle it.

In the end, it comes down to cost vs. effort and experience. I’ll do a high-effort task that will save me a lot of money if I have the necessary skills. If it’s a high-effort task that I don’t know how to do, and may not save me that much money, then I’d rather hire professionals to do the job. What would you do in these situations?

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