Sometimes it's just better to pay someone

By glblguy

Photo by: skuds

This is more of a story than a financial lesson, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it. It does come to a personal finance topic at the end, so hang in there.

Our house is about 15 years old now. Things are beginning to fail, the roof is getting old, and it seems like there is something constantly requiring repair. This is particularly true of the siding and trim, since our house doesn’t have vinyl siding. Replacing the rotten or bowed wood is a constant battle but one I generally don’t mind doing. I’m fairly good with my hands and enjoy the labor and satisfaction of doing the repairs myself.

The weekend fiasco with the rotten trim

While walking out to my car last week, I looked up and noticed that a corner trim piece was bowed and had pull loose from house. I sighed realizing I now had another weekend project. We visited Lowe’s on Saturday morning and picked up the necessary wood and caulk and headed home to begin the work.

Now, the particular piece that required repair started at the roof and came down the corner of the house to our front porch. This of course required me to use the ladder and climb up about 15 – 20 feet. Before I continue, let me make you aware of something. I am not afraid of much but I am afraid of heights, when I can’t see (adult way of saying I’m afraid of the dark), and one more I’ll get into in a minute. Other than that, I generally have no fears. So you see where I am going with this right? Trim piece, ladder, 20 foot up…not a good combination.

Being frugal though, I was determined to do this repair myself. I climbed up the ladder, tool belt around my waist, hammer and pry bar nestled in the appropriate tool belt holders and began to pry the board off the house. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. As I got to the top, I realized the board went up behind some various trim pieces. Ok, minor complication, but I can handle this. I pulled out my hammer and began tapping away at the trim pieces to remove them to get to the underlying board. About that time, 5 rather large wasps decided they didn’t like me wrapping loudly with a hammer on their little home and thought they would let me know about it. Enter fear #3…bees.

I HATE bees. I’m not really sure why, but I have this incredible fear of bees, and in particular wasps. They just creep me out. So here I am 20 foot up on a ladder already somewhat freaked by the fact I’m 20 foot up and now I’m presented with probably my worst fear times 5, wasps.

Well, needless to say my reaction wasn’t a calm, slow and steady progression down the ladder. As I matter of fact, I would suspect you probably haven’t ever seen someone come down a ladder as fast I did. Honestly, it was more of a controlled fall. I didn’t get hurt other than scrapping my knee and stomach a little bit. As opposed to getting stung 5 or more times I thought this was a pretty decent trade-off. It would seem in the process, I must have let out of a few yells or screams as I came down. I say this as most of my neighbors that were outside were all notably staring at me as I looked up. What? Normal men don’t generally scream as they perform a controlled fall down a ladder?

My wife also heard me and of course came outside to see what was going on. I very quickly explained that while I was up the ladder at about 100-200 feet, 50 3 foot long killer wasps attacked me. I killed them all of course and only the babies survived, which are now the one’s flying around the corner of the house. The screams? Oh, that was the killer wasps dieing their horrible death. She along with my neighbors and kids all cheered at my heroics…

Some things are just worth paying for

Ok, ok…back to reality. My wife of course didn’t believe me, and assumed her normal role of being the official bee killer. She climbed the ladder and killed the ones remaining. Myself and the kids all cheered! I climbed back up the ladder to resume the wood removal. While climbing up, I looked over at my wife and said “You know when I sometimes say some things are just worth paying for? Well, I think this just might be one of those times.” At this point, I should have climbed down, called someone and be done with it, but I didn’t.

To make a long story short, I did finally get the wood removed, but the whole time the wasps that got away continued to try and get back to their little home. Needless to say, they weren’t very happy with me being up there. As a result, the next hour or so was me working for a few minutes, seeing a wasp, and fleeing down the ladder. I probably looked pretty silly with my tool belt container a hammer, pry bar, screw driver, and two cans of wasp spray.

To be honest, I am really surprised I didn’t fall and get hurt. Like I said, I freak when I see a bee, especially when it’s 4 inches from my face and dead intent on stinging me. As I type this, I have goose bumps and chills. Later than evening I thought through the impact of be getting hurt on my income. It would have kept me from working and from writing here on Gather Little by Little for most likely weeks. My full time job would have been fine as we have short term disability but not being able to write here would have had an impact. Also factor in the health care costs had I broken my arm, leg, ribs, or worse. That in and of itself with co-pays would have been in the hundreds alone.

Weighing that against the couple hundred I probably would have been charged to fix the wood, it was really rather stupid of me to try to do myself.

I haven’t put the new replacement wood back up yet and frankly I probably won’t. I’m just going to call someone. To be real honest, I’m afraid to death to go back up there and that alone is reason enough for me.

There you have it, I’m afraid of bees, heights, and the dark.

What are you afraid of? Have you ever had to balance your fears against your frugality? Ever been in a situation like this? How do you weigh the cost of paying someone to do something vs. doing it yourself?

20 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Sometimes it's just better to pay someone”

  1. Laura Says:

    I got two fears in common with you: heights and the dark.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Sometimes it’s better to call the experts, especially with plumbing problems. We’ve spent almost a week trying to get the sink fixed. Just by asking a professional, we go it solved.

    I’m glad you’re ok and the bees, wasps, and trips down the ladder did not hurt you.

  2. Momma Says:

    This got a chuckle and a nod from Wes as he read over my shoulder this morning. I think that when the rest of your readers see this, they’ll be chuckling and nodding too. Not because it’s so funny (which it is) but because we’ve all been in that exact spot at one time or another.

    Way To Go Mrs. GLBL The Bee Slayer!

  3. Damsel Says:

    I like to watch those home-flip shows, and one of the things that comes up repeatedly on them is that it almost always pays to hire an expert. For small repairs around the house, that may not always be true (I happen to have married a *very* handy man), but for the things that are unfamiliar or larger jobs, it does seem to be true for us!

  4. "Mo" Money Says:

    Enjoyed your post. I just finished a project in the back yard that I should have had someone else do. It took me over a year to finish. I did finish this week in 110 degree heat and I look at it with pride, but will learn from this and try to not procrastinate so long on the next project.

  5. castocreations (hzk) Says:

    *giggle* I had to laugh at this. I am terrified of bees and especially wasps. Oh, and big hairy spiders.

    I’m not afraid of heights but hubby is. Our Christmas lights are still up and I have a feeling I know why. :)

    It’s definitely better to just pay someone for some things. Maybe it’s time to replace your siding. It’d be an investment. :)

  6. That One Caveman Says:

    I’m not worried too much about the dark, but I’m right with you with the other two. Unfortunately, it’s not wasps that cause me problems at my house – it’s spiders. *shudder*

    If there’s a job that requires me to work through a huge spider web or something like that, I will pay almost anything to not have to do it.

  7. Lynnae Says:

    Ok, I’m laughing, but only because it reminds me of something my husband and I went through several years ago. A wind storm tore a shingle off our roof (we were fortunate it was just one). My husband got the supplies we needed to repair it, climbed up the latter, turned green, and climbed back down. He’s afraid of heights.

    So am I, but being the stubborn and frugal one, I climbed the ladder, held my breath, climbed onto the roof, and fixed the shingle. But then I sat on the roof for a half an hour trying to figure out how I was going to get down without killing myself! LOL

  8. glblguy Says:

    Well, glad I’m not the only one! Glad you enjoyed it. It is funny now, but sure wasn’t then!

  9. Tami Says:

    You better leave it to the professionals – My husband was stung last year by a wasp – found out he was allergic and literally almost killed him! One night and day in the hospital – oh, and the small price of $20,000! Yep – no joke. Thankfully we had insurance. BTW, I really enjoy your blog!

  10. Kyle @ Rather-Be-Shopping Says:

    Heights! I get sweaty palms just thinking of putting up Christmas lights on the roof! Sounds like you made the right call, unless of course you could conjole one of those staring neighbors to help you out….

    Funny story, thanks for sharing.

  11. Make Friends, Earn Money Says:

    I’m not a fan of ladders, the thought of climbing a ladder to sort out a bee problem fills me with dread. I think I would have opted for paying someone to do it, but hey you don’t know unless you try!

  12. MITBeta @ Don't Feed The Alligators Says:

    I’m not afraid of heights, I’m afraid of falling.

    Anyway, I hope you also have long term disability insurance. A guy at my wife’s former job fell off his roof doing this kind of job and broke his back. He is now paralyzed, but at least can still do his previous job. The company really stepped up and helped out, but it was the long term disability that saved his life.

  13. SingleGuyMoney Says:

    Now that I am done laughing, I can make a comment. I only laugh because I can totally relate. I hate wasps, heights and snakes! I have to hand it to you for trying because I would have just hired someone from the beginning.

  14. Funny about Money Says:

    That was very…ahem…manly to take on those F-16-sized wasps up there in the stratosphere. And now that’s proven and no longer has to be demonstrated, maybe it would be best to get a bee expert and a roofer to take on future exploits along those lines?

    Our tile guy–the Tile Dude from Heaven–climbed up on the roof of one of his rental properties to perform what he thought would be a minor fix on the air conditioning. Slipped, fell off. Miraculously, he landed on his feet–shattering a foot and ankle–and not on his head. He’s ambulatory now, though the docs say he will probably never walk normally again. Meanwhile, one of the tradesmen he works with told him about a guy who fell four feet (count ’em, four) onto his head and died from the resulting injuries. The home is the main venue for accidents, and climbing on ladders is the main way people get hurt.

    There are some things that are always worth hiring a craftsman to perform: anything having to do with electricity and anything on the roof! Better poorer than deader.

  15. Jason Says:

    A great post! I like your site a lot. The best personal finance advice always seems to be consistent with a set of larger values, which is one reason I keep coming back here.

    I can relate to the way some home repairs seems to ramify into 15 new items on a to-do list. Yep, some stuff is best left to professionals.

    One minor quibble: bees are not wasps, and wasps are not bees. I grew up around honeybees and enjoyed the fruits of their labors (and my Dad’s). I’m not sure I’ve ever enjoyed anything that wasps and hornets and such have done, other than perhaps their predations on other insects.

    I suppose it doesn’t matter much *what* stings you, on some level, but it’s a non-trivial distinction in other ways.

    Thanks for your hard work on this blog!