Buy vs. DIY | Live Pretty on a Penny

Buy vs. DIY

Making the decision to buy or DIY a project or craft item can be left up to the person who has to do it. Many people are curious as to how I am able to tackle some of the projects that I do, yet some bigger projects I choose to contract out, and crafty ones I stay away from period. The answer is simple...I know my limits.

I would classify myself as more of a person who likes to build, rather than do cutesy, crafty things even though I love seeing it. I blame it on the fact that I have small fat fingers, so cute and crafty stuff does not work well for me. However, I love to tackle larger projects that I get to use tools and can imagine a big picture. While some projects I get exhausted thinking about doing, and just decide to buy. So the question is just because it can be DIY'd, how to make the decision of Buy vs. DIY:

1) Time=Money

I like to weigh my options when trying to decide a buy vs. DIY. If I determine that building or staining, or painting a project will take over a week, and I am working on it everyday, that is too long...for me. Even if it takes a week to complete and needs to dry or cure for longer, as long as it is done, then I feel okay.  You may feel differently. I don't like living in chaos so working on something for over a week makes my head spin. I would probably rather buy or contract it out. Of course there are different situations, but this is in general. 

2) Know Your Limits

I definitely have my struggles with this one. But I have learned to embrace my limits. Its okay that just because I like to do things myself, that sometimes I just can't. Let's take my fireplace for example.

When I first moved in , my family room fireplace looked like this. Boo! We DIY'd the fireplace, because after planning and researching this project, we knew we could do it in a weekend because it  required minimal work, just the use of a new tool, tile, grout, mortar and sealant. Plus it was much cheaper than contracting someone to do it. We are over three years in and the tile is holding up wonderfully. Totally worth the man hours:)

The floors were a different story. If you look at the old image of my family room, you can see the old oak laminate which stretched along my entire first floor.  We wanted it to look professional and based on our level of expertise, and the time that we knew we could commit, we knew it would probably look a little bootleg. So we hired a friend, and he did a phenomenal job.

Then there were these chairs that I bought from the Goodwill which I just knew I would tackle.

Ha! I did one, saw how much work it was and gave up. I ended up donating them back to Goodwill:/ See how I wasted that money buying the chairs and supplies to do the chairs AND the time? Don't do it to yourself. Lol.

They were supposed to be for my dining room, but I ended up going a totally different route, and I am happy that I did.

By sticking to what you can handle, you are able to save more money in the long run. Have you ever watch some of the HGTV DIY Network shows? People have attempted projects which they totally screwed up, which costs money, then they have to bring someone in to fix the job, which costs even more. Just stick to what you know will work for you:) Just because it is a DIY, doesn't mean that it has to look like it:)

These two tips are all of my opinion and in no way am I an expert. I just wanted to put these things out there to think about. I think about them each time I decide on a project.

Also, buying does not have to be expensive when it comes to furnishings, or other décor. I swear by Goodwill, Facebook Online Yard Sales, or Salvation Army and Craigslist. I check all of those before trying retail. It pains me to pay retail.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time!


  1. Great points Erin. Time really is money in some instances. I don't mind painting, but when it requires me or the hubby getting on a ladder more than 10 feet, it ain't gonna happen. Not worth the injury risk. We did our hardwood floors upstairs, but we were able to take our time. Now, the downstairs need to be refinished and we are hiring out. Prefinished we can do, strip, sand, stain, poly...not gonna happen.

  2. Love your home Erin! Yes, My thoughts exactly! Needless to say, I have quite a few DIY projects that turned out to be BUY LOL. After careful consideration and a few bucks is spent, I tend to think about my sanity and will I sustain another hour completing this task. Its the passion inside of you that burns to create. Trust me I know... All too well :-)

  3. This is really great advice. I do enjoy certain crafts, but even still, I would find myself making things for others and purchasing handmade items from other people for myself. Sounds weird, right? Sometimes the assumption is that if you are crafty, then you can or want to make every.single.thing and that's not true nor is it always feasible. I'm finishing up a bathroom renovation project (which I paid someone else to do - minus the painting) and I'm glad I did too. Now as for the guest bedroom next door, I think I can handle that on my own. :-)

  4. Great advice. I've also learned the hard way that sometimes it's just best to buy. Some of my DIY projects have turned out pretty good and were inexpensive to re-create. Then there were others where I realized I was in way over my head, too. I have to say, I do love the new look of your fireplace and even though those dining room chairs turned out to be more work than you were anticipating, I really liked how that one chair turned out... :)

  5. Good post. I also agree with the time=$ thing. If it's something straightforward that I'm confident that I can knock out with minimum time commitment, then I'll go the DIY route.

    But, if it's something that will take me a long time or that would just be better quality if done by a professional, then I'm all for hiring out.

    I work full-time and have two little ones running around, so that also factors in when I'm trying to figure out how disruptive an ongoing project will be.

  6. p.s. I LOVE your dining room! That print is everything! And it looks really nice with the chairs that you ended up with.


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