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Home Services: Which to Spend Money on, Which to Add to Your DIY List

Posted in Beyond Finances on December 27, 2019

The problem with chores in and around the house is they’re never-ending!  Who among us hasn’t wished we could have everything done for us — from mopping to mowing. So the question arises: How much should we do ourselves and how much should we farm out to the pros? The answer depends on your skill set, your circumstances and your bank account. Working couples must balance jobs and time with kids against all the must-do chores. Retired couples may have to factor in physical limitations.  Of course, everyone has to think about the cost of hiring home services vs. DIY.

Here are some things to consider:

Housecleaning

Rates vary depending on the size of your home, the extent of cleaning, and whether you hire an individual or a professional service. Professional franchises such as Merry Maids or Molly Maids typically send two workers to do basic cleaning for two hours. The bill? Between $150 and $200 for an average three-bedroom house. If you hire them on a weekly basis, that means an annual outlay of $7,800 to $10,400. Finding an individual housekeeper is usually cheaper, averaging between $25 and $50 per hour. Some services offer deep cleaning, which is much more detailed and thorough than the standard vacuuming, mopping, and dusting. Expect to pay $200 to $400 for a single deep cleaning, depending on the size of your house.

Think about which household chores you can do — or are willing to do — and which you cannot or don’t have time to do. Maybe you can take on vacuuming and mopping, but prefer to leave other chores like scrubbing the oven and refrigerator to someone else. Most services will work with you on your specific needs and frequency of visits. Work out a plan that divides tasks and doesn’t break your budget.

Yardwork

The cost of lawn care varies, depending on where you live, how large your property is, and what you want done. As a general rule of thumb, landscaping maintenance companies charge $100 to $200 per month. LawnStarter charges about $45 per visit for the average lawn in Atlanta. Fertilizing and pest control may run up to $750 a year, depending on the level of service.  Much of your yard work can be DIY, depending on your health, time, and willingness. But one task that’s better left to the pros is tree trimming and pruning. They have the equipment and expertise to get at tall limbs and branches.  Expect to pay professional tree trimmers between $80 and $300 per tree. Extra-large trees can set you back up to $1,000.

Household Repairs

Home repairs are an area where it’s wise to be honest about your handyperson skills. Maybe you can fix a leaking faucet and replace a light switch, but are you skilled enough to tackle a major water leak or replace a circuit box? Trying to DIY when you don’t have the skills could end up costing you more in the long run. Rates vary by location, but here’s an idea of what you can expect to pay, not including parts:

  • Plumbers: The average national rate is $130-$150 per hour.
  • Electricians: The average hourly cost is $50-$100 plus a “call-out” fee. Rates vary depending on the kind of work you need done.
  • Carpenters: The typical rate is $20-$30 per hour, depending on the complexity of the project.
  • Painters: The national average is about $50 per hour, but painters often charge by the project with a single room going for $400 or more.
  • Appliance Repair: In addition to a service charge, expect to pay $45-$120 per hour.

Emergency calls on weekends and at night will cost you more.

The best advice? Weigh the cost of professionals against your DIY skills and the value of your time, then find a happy medium.

David Phillips is a retired financial adviser and an avid do-it-yourselfer. He enjoys building furniture and remodeling projects around his house. He recently built a new gazebo for the backyard.

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