Outsourcing Vs. DIY: Why Learning the Hard Way Isn’t a Bad Thing

I am a new homeowner. As such, I find myself muddling through a few things. For the first time, I find myself trying to figure out landscaping plans, warm versus cool paint hues and the proper drapery length for windows. Things like where to mount the toilet paper holder or should I use a curved shower rod take up most of my trouble-shooting mental facilities each day.

On the other side of the fence, I have neighbors who have also just purchased their home and moved in. From the conversations I have had over the pickets to the numerous trucks with side panel logos that have arrived, I have gathered that their new homeownership days are filled with consultants about how to landscape their yard or repaving their driveway.

It seems that the two of us have chosen opposite ways of tackling home improvement projects: DIY and outsourcing. I make no judgements over which method is best for it comes down to three key resources: money, time and energy. In every project, you can only have two of three.

Outsourcing
Outsourcing your projects uses your time and energy wisely. It is not what you know but who you know. It is seeking those whose strengths are outside of your personal knowledge and using them to fulfill your projects. Since you are relying on someone’s expertise to finish the job, it does take a bit more green or, depending on the project, more than you anticipated. Usually improvements are done in a timely fashion without a whole lot of exertion.

While sometimes we outsource due to lack of interest in gaining knowledge or engaging in a particular project (like a dislike for painting), often times it is because we are afraid of failure. What if I pick the wrong color? I don’t know anything about rock placements? There are how many different types of roses? The truth of it is, failure is a learning process. Be willing to scrap an idea, start over or go back to the drawing board. It is how anyone gets started doing anything from cooking, to painting to gardening.

DIY
This is a tricky one. Doing it yourself takes time, energy and can soak up more funds than you initially think. Where the benefit is for DIY is that it is a learning/growth process. As you muddle through learning what is a weed and what can grow in your garden, that becomes a foundation for other landscaping ideas or developments. Since you aren’t paying for someone else’s time and knowledge, it can be slightly cheaper (until you hit an issue and have to repaint the entire room). It is the mistakes that help you learn and grow.

The margin for error in this route occurs when we think something is easier than it is or fail to read the directions (learn about the process, etc). By reading up, studying a bit or even taking proper measurements prior to purchasing resources, money and time can be saved which will help in the energy department.

The Happy Middle
Perhaps what is best is the place I call the happy middle. This is where you ask someone to share their knowledge about gardening, painting, etc, and put their knowledge to work for you. Talk to a landscaper about the best methods to plant on a hill, but take the time to execute.  You are calling in knowledge but learning as you go. I guess it is like reading the directions, but opening yourself up to the potential for failure.

Learning the hard way is the easiest way to success.

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