They say that if you want the job done right, do it yourself. But what if you don't think you have the time? What if the job in question is home improvement, which routinely puts civilians at the mercy of Men With Tools?
Well, at least one Web site has taken on the chore of offering guidance on this topic. The ever-useful HouseNet site's "Do It Yourself or Not?" section offers time-and-materials estimates for 26 household projects, from painting a room to installing a flagstone walk. Each report gives a plain-English heads-up about what you might be getting yourself into; for instance, the screen on "Installing a Ceiling Fan" notes that if you already have an overhead light fixture, you can save quite a few bucks: "An electrician will charge $210 for the job, but you can do it for $150, the cost of the fan and bracket that secures it to the ceiling. The job will take a couple hours and you'll need basic electrical tools."
What, no ceiling light? "Hire an electrician to do the job."
HouseNet also includes the date each article was put online; with that, you can get a sense of how much your own costs are likely to exceed its estimates. I look forward to somebody doing this kind of thing for computer hardware and system-software upgrades.
Rob Pegoraro can be reached at rob(at)twp.com