When I started this post the original title was “Hiring Out Your Pool Maintenance? Why DIY is definitely a Smarter Decision!” If you read the title carefully – you’ll see that I’ve changed my mind a bit on this now! And this change of heart has only happened because I am consciously trying to be careful to recognize my biases. And although this example is about pools, it can be transferred to other DIY projects too!
I have always been around people who are pretty self-sufficient. My parents had rental properties from the time I was very young and up until the last few years, they always managed the units and performed the majority of the maintenance. Even though the DIY “label” was not around back then, clearly the role models I had were hard working parents who figured out what they didn’t know how to do – without the help of the Internet or YouTube.
I’m sure most of their DIY efforts were to save money, but they also learned a tremendous amount along the way. My siblings and I also own rental properties and with a few exceptions, we have followed in their path by completing much of the property upkeep and maintenance on our own. (My husband gets the HUGE majority of credit on the upkeep of our properties though!)
But in an effort to try to always keep learning and to look at decision-making in a broader sense, I have identified my own clear bias toward DIY. And as I started outlining the original post, my bias became evident when I didn’t even have prices of hiring out pool maintenance to back up the title!
But the cost of hiring someone to maintain your pool must be incredibly high – right? Pool companies need to make money while they can, especially in an area where the season is so short. I didn’t think there was any way that a pool company could be less expensive than DIY pool maintenance. And I was right – but I still changed the title of the post. Let’s look into this a little more…
We have gone to a local pool company a few times to get supplies or parts when we don’t have time to order them. The owners are great to work with and based on conversations with others and reviews online, the company has a very good reputation. I called them and asked questions about the costs related to opening/closing and maintaining an in-ground pool for our typical season (Memorial Day-Labor Day).
The numbers were “ballpark” figures – but that was all I needed to make some comparisons to our DIY pool maintenance costs. Here is the breakdown of costs if we would hire out the maintenance:
1) Opening/Closing (includes chemicals and sand for filter) – $500 *this is specific to our winter safety pool cover (the one on ads that holds up an elephant – it’s pretty amazing!)
2) Weekly pool vacuuming & addition of chemicals/balancing of chemicals – $60/week + cost of chemicals. We estimate about 15 weeks of use. 15 x $60 = $900 and the pool store owner estimated the cost of chemicals to be approximately $500 for the season.
With tax and some rounding up (always round up!) – we can estimate a minimum of $2000 for pool maintenance for the season (or about $133/week…)
This does not include any problems with the pool – (such as pump or pool liner issues), and it doesn’t include water or electricity costs either. This is just the basic pool maintenance. (In an upcoming post, I will detail more of the costs related to our pool to give you a better sense of total actual costs.)
So how much does it cost us for our DIY pool maintenance? We estimate the cost of the chemicals, chemical testing kit, and sand for the filter for the year to be between $550-600 (and we always estimate high!) We don’t have any costs for opening and closing – other than the time it takes us to do the work involved. And it takes about 12-14 hours of work total to open and close the pool (including the initial vacuuming/skimming and setting up/taking apart the filter). We should also include the time it takes my husband to vacuum each week and for me to do the chemical testing. This would be about 1 hour a week or 15 total hours.
But my husband is retired (other than taking care of our rental properties) and I only work part-time for the most part now. Does that affect what our time is worth?
Let’s just use a value of $25/hour for this example. With 29 total hours of pool maintenance x $25/hour= $725 “labor cost” to DIY pool maintenance.
So the total cost for DIY pool maintenance if we round up (and include our “labor” costs) would be about $1,325. This is a $675 savings per season over hiring the job out. And without considering the value of our time, the maintenance costs would be about $600. This would result in an annual savings of about $1400.
What do you think? Is it worth saving $45-90 per week ($600-$1400 total depending on how you look at it) to have to do all the work yourself?
Only you could decide that answer!
Some people would hate spending that much extra money each week for a job they think they could do (or learn to do) themselves.
But since I’ve been back working a temporary full-time job this week (for first time in 4 years) and my husband is busy getting apartments ready (not a passive investment at this point), we were more like a “typical” dual income family this week.
And when we thought about things like getting groceries, cooking, going to kids’ games, running errands, mowing the lawn, and trying to get in some exercise ourselves – the thought of vacuuming and maintaining the pool this week became just one more thing to fit in a busy schedule.
What we decided was that if we were working full-time all summer – it might be totally worth the money to pay someone to open, maintain, and close our pool!
And that’s when I decided to change the name of the post.
It’s also really important to point out that if you don’t really know what you are doing with a pool in terms of the chemicals and keeping it clean, you may even SAVE MONEY by hiring the job out. Pools that are not very carefully maintained can easily turn into green swamps for many reasons! (Just think about those green pools you saw in Rio during the Olympics…)
And if you have a really busy schedule, you might just end up running back and forth to the pool store to get water tested and to purchase chemicals – and all the money you “saved” from DIY might be lost (and more…) along with a lot of your precious time off!
So here are the key points and questions from this post that you should consider in terms of DIY or hiring jobs out:
- Know your biases and be open to other options. And make some calls to cost out your options before dismissing them as “too expensive”.
- Can you do the project safely and efficiently? (We don’t DIY most electric issues or maintenance/repair of any roof.)
- Have clear goals. If your extremely important (EI) goal is to minimize spending, then DIY projects might make more sense. If spending time with your family is most important, then you might choose to hire jobs out.
- Consider the time needed to learn about the job or project BEFORE you start doing it.
- Remember that “learning as you go” can cost you both time and money!
Are you a DIY’er or do you hire a lot of jobs out? Do you use any kind of criteria to decide? Have you done DIY projects or jobs that really weren’t worth your time and effort? Would you put a dollar value on your time if you were retired? How much would your time be worth?
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