Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why DIY is often better than Buying

Yesterday I spent 6 hours sewing with my Aunt.  My husband and I bought our first home this past spring, and while we really would like to have it completely decorated, we've made a firm commitment that all renovations, furniture and decor will be completely paid for in cash.

Because if we can't buy it outright, we can wait.

This is sometimes really really hard.  Our list of desired renovations, furniture, rugs, etc - well, it's lengthy.  

But we've made  a commitment, and we'll stick to it.  And that has meant that the living room has been curtain free since we moved in.  Thankfully, our nearest neighbor couldn't see in without binoculars.  Which we sort of hope she doesn't have.  

In December I found a really great deal on some really great fabric.  I got 20 yards of a high quality damask for $6.73 a yard.  So I hit up my Aunt, who is an amazing seamstress, for a day or two of her time, and off I drove up to her house yesterday.  We chose her 'festoon and jabot' pattern, which she bought about 20 years ago for $5, and has produced curtains for at least 5 houses that I know of.  

One of the curtains is done, we have about 3 more hours of sewing and putting together next Saturday, and I'll have my living room windows decorated with treatments that look like they cost thousands.  

If you factor in the gas, tolls and the small gift I brought her in thanks for her time, I'll have probably spent about $175.  

While I was up at her place, cutting and sewing, my husband was down in our basement, pulling down a ceiling.  We're rewiring the house, you see - and this ceiling is where the bulk of the wiring will run through.  He's back down there today.

We don't have a ton of free time, so I sometimes get questions about whether all our DIY projects (so far since we moved in we've refinished our kitchen cabinets, painted several rooms, my husband built gorgeous built-in bookcases in our living room, and put up crown molding) are really worth it.  I mean, time is money, isn't it?

Well yes....and no.  

In some cases, spending money is better.  Case in point is the snow blower we're going out to buy tomorrow - we have the money, but we've been reluctant to spend it.  However, after spending 9.5 hours in a single week clearing snow from our our unfortunately-lengthy driveway, we've realized that the investment in a snow blower is worth our money.  It will grant us time to do other things we value more.

But for other things - like the curtains, which will probably hang for 10 years, the time spent is worth it.  Similar window treatments run $400-$500 per window - I checked.  But it's not just about the cost.  It's also about the joy of being able to say "Yeah, I made that."

So while we will outsource some projects, or spend on things that save us some time, I think in the end that spending time on DIY projects is eminently worthwhile.  It not only helps us buy our long-term goal of financial freedom, but it gives us the satisfaction that we built it/fixed it/made it ourselves.

Which is worth every minute.

1 comment:

Skichik said...

Wow! Did I write this? Haha! We bought in August and we've been doing DIY projects ever since. Right now my husband is putting up trim in our master bathroom. I'm dying to start on drapes and curtains, but I'm saving up to go buy a ton of material for our living room and master bedroom. Today it was so bright from the sun that I was wearing sunglasses in the house and a hat. Those stupid $5 paper privacy shades from Lowes don't help much. February and March are curtain months. Good luck!

Kristin (Mrs. Ski)