DIY-Toilet Repair an Early Retirement Extreme Like Analysis
Many of the blogs that I read on a regular basis are DIY kind of guys and girls. Mr. Money Mustache takes a vacation and works on fixing his grandmother’s roof, Early Retirement Extreme describes himself as — a combination of simple living, anti-consumerism, DIY ethics, self-reliance, and applied capitalism and the reason for the breakdown of this post as I’m currently reading his book, 1500 Days does kitchen remodels and used to flip houses in his spare time. Then there is Even Steven Money. What does he do when things go wrong or need to be fixed? I DIY of course………Let the Story and Analysis Begin
As we began to go about the process of renewing our renter’s lease, they brought up a couple concerns that needed some attention. Like any good landlord, I came and looked at it that same day. They have not asked for anything in 2 years of renting, they are good honest people and I was more than happy to take a look. First a confession, I don’t know $*** about anything that needs to be fixed, but I wanted to check everything out and see if I could solve the issue, you know Do It Yourself.
First off the toilet, who doesn’t love getting their hands in the back of a toilet on a Monday night?!?! Monday night football, no thank you, toilet repair is for me. The renter explained the issue and I went through the steps to see the problem, there was a lack of water flow coming into the toilet which caused it to take an hour or more to fill up. I was already a little nervous coming to check things out since I don’t know $*** about fixing stuff in general, so I looked at our toilet and searched Google for a few things to see if that would help. I opened it up and shortly after I realized we would have to replace the whole system inside, it looked like it was from about 1984, which is a great year for the A-Team and Barbie Dream Store but not a great year to to still have the same toilet fill valve. At this point I had 2 options:
- Go to Homedepot, buy a toilet repair kit and fix it myself
- Call my contractor/plumber to come in and fix it
OK all you frugal money saving DIY junkies what would you do?
While I made it sound really simple, we(because we are now in this together) need to weigh our choices. With both choices it is going to come down to 3 things:
- Knowledge and Enjoyment
Choice #1 or DIY
The cost assuming it is just replacing the parts would cost about $25 for the Toilet Repair kit and probably another $5 for the Toilet Supply Connector, I should have any screw drivers and wrenches needed since I have most of that from my Dad giving me his duplicate tools. The great news is in choice #1 or DIY, the labor is free, because it is me doing all the work while the lovely Mrs. Even Steven Money watches YouTube clips on how to replace and install the item, all while the renters sit in the living room and watch TV, if we are lucky they will watch us the whole time because they realize we don’t know what we are doing.
Total Cost #1-$30
Choice #2 or Call a Guy
Call my contractor and/or plumber and make sure I get the best price with a simple phone call. My contractor was busy this week so we needed to branch out. We are big fans of Yelp when it comes to ratings and reviews, I have heard of Angie’s List, but I have never used this paid subscription service. Has anyone else used Angie’s List, please tell me in the comments your opinion? We decided to call someone with the best reviews and that was local to us, we also looked for any reviews that mentioned specific cost and of course reasonable. I called the plumber but they were out of the office and the message said they would call me back when the workday was over to my surprise working with contractors they did which was great as this can actually be the most difficult part. The estimate after I told them what was wrong with the toilet was $135 for a service call and he figured $20-30 for parts if it was what I explained, he said to send a picture for confirmation, but I felt pretty confident this is what needed to be done.
Total Cost #2-$155
DIY Option #1 by $125. I know everyone wants to stop right there. It costs $125 more, save money DIY, suck it up and figure it out. Let’s analyze some other factors before the fat lady starts singing.
Choice #1 or DIY
In both choices we evaluated the situation which would be an equal amount of time for each choice so I will leave this out for both. First stop at the Home Depot. I live in Chicago so the closest HD to me is about 3 or 4 miles away which in Chicago time is about 20-30 minutes each way. Ok we are now on HD property let’s buy some Man Stuff or a Toilet Repair kit, whatever. In this case I would probably talk with the HD guy/gal and ask a few questions just to see if they have any tips or anything else that I might need for the installation. Let’s call it another 20-30 minutes in the store. Alright back to the house and we are ready to start the Toilet Project. Right now we are 60-90 minutes into the process, but we are ready to begin?!
Quick glance at this amazing thing called the internet, they have all sorts of handy tutorials and video’s to show you how to do anything from replace a toilet to the common toilet repairs. I chose to look at Pretty Handy Girl’s description because it had tons of pictures and since I can’t fix $***, pictures work best. Everything I read said it would take 20-30 minutes, which based on my expertise is probably being kind, so I am going to double the time and call it 40-60 minutes. Our final time count is 100-150 minutes, so a little less than 2 hours or a touch over 2 hours, let’s just call it 2 hours.
Total Time #1-100-150 minutes or estimated 2 hours
Choice #2 or Call a Guy
This is an easy one to keep track of, my total talk time was 2 minutes 49 seconds. I then texted the renter, estimated time to make it easy 11 seconds.
Total Time #2-3 minutes
Call a Guy by a landslide in the time category, what would have taken me an estimated 2 hours I can get done in 3 minutes, that’s as large as the cost factor. What do all the rich guys say in the movies, “Time is Money”.
Knowledge and Enjoyment-Early Retirement Extreme Sidetrack
While we make a lot of decisions and especially in the PF blogging world on cost and time spent, I think one thing we fail to interpret is the “feelings” behind our decision. I know Even Steven doesn’t have feelings or what are you going to cry writing about toilets and money give me a break. It is talked about infrequently because it’s such a hard if not impossible area to assign a number or simple yes/no decision, yet is the third part of the equation. I put together a simple equation to show my thought process.
Cost X Time=Financial Decision
Cost X Time + Knowledge and Enjoyment=Financial and Emotional Decision
When the third factor is used, this is when decisions become more difficult because our emotions and individual thoughts and feelings are involved. Similar to why you will hear Paying off a Mortgage early and paying off debt versus investing argued over and over because emotion is a factor in each decision. While the equation would figure differently, the emotional decision is still a factor.
(Investment Rate of Return + Outstanding Mortgage) or (Paid of Mortgage Rate of Return + Emotion of Paid off Home)=Financial Decision and Emotional Decision
Knowledge and Enjoyment-The Real Breakdown
Knowledge and Enjoyment-Option #1 DIY
So you can’t accurately measure that I received X worth of knowledge or Y worth of enjoyment from fixing or not fixing our renter’s toilet and if you can you are a better person than I. Let’s stick with what I know, how I interpret each scenario
In this case I would have learned how to fix a toilet, this would come in handy the next time a toilet was broken or had a similar problem. I would have the confidence and wherewithal to complete the task. This knowledge could in turn save me money over the long term since to my knowledge toilets need fixing more than once in someone’s lifetime and since I have multiple toilet’s the factor would go up. If the parts are the only cost, this could be measured as we would figure out the number of times this cost would occur and then figure out the cost savings multiple over time. Enjoyment for me is going to be pretty low, I’m not an engineer I don’t love taking things apart and putting them back together instead it’s usually me taking things apart and then realizing I broke something only to buy a new one or ask someone more handy to fix what I took apart, realistically this might have happened if I did the DIY Toilet fix, but I was being optimistic. Let’s say I did fix the toilet on my own, then a factor of pride and accomplishment does factor into the enjoyment portion. I’m not sure I’m telling my friends I can fix a toilet or posting it on Facebook and Twitter for the masses, but the imaginary pat on the back is smacking away with the that a boys and congratulations from the imaginary crowd.
Knowledge and Enjoyment-Call a Guy #2
Despite not receiving any knowledge of how to DIY for fixing a toilet, I learned a few things in other areas from this option. I learned a quality plumber in the area I can trust at a good rate and reliable service. This is especially important in my future plans of early retirement, because our travels and living arrangements will take us frequently out of Chicago and into Miami if the plan stays to course. I certainly wouldn’t fly back to Chicago to fix a toilet, I would
Call a Guy Call My Guy to come and fix the issue. Enjoyment for this category is not in making the actual phone call, but rather the 2 hours I received in return for skipping the DIY Toilet Project. Since this would have taken place after work, I most likely would have skipped 1 of 3 things, 1) Walking my Siberian Husky 2) Cooking for my wife 3) Spending quality time with my wife. Since I enjoy all 3 of these things my enjoyment would have been very high. Even if it were spent watching TV, working on eBay, or writing on this blog, I enjoy every one of those and it would have been taken away.
Knowledge and Enjoyment Winner:
Looking at this one I’m going to call this a draw, #1 DIY can save you future costs, but I’m not sure if that same enjoyment comes with fixing the toilet for the 5th time, I think if it did I probably would be a plumber. #2 Call a Guy I was able to take away some knowledge for part of my long term goals, but in the next 6 years before early retirement this cost could be exceptionally high if this is a reoccurring issue. The enjoyment of spending time with my wife, dog, or spending time on other activities is higher on my enjoyment list. It’s tough you know what I’m still calling this a draw.