4 Times You Should Splurge and Hire a Pro


Having a DIY attitude is great for saving money.

Between Google and YouTube, you have a virtually endless resource of tutorials and guides on how to do anything. From installing a ceiling fan to mending a wall, you can figure out how to get the job done yourself. (See also: The Top 10 DIY Jobs Homeowners Should Avoid)

However, there are times that you can lose more than you save by risking to do the job yourself. Here are four scenarios in which is best to hire a pro.

1. Moving

Between 2012 and 2013, about 12% of Americans moved. Even though many people move every day, this doesn't make moving an everyday chore.

First, even the fittest of athletes can get seriously hurt by moving a heavy couch or a bulky box during a move. It is not worth it to risk an injury that could make you miss work for several days and unable to finish your move in the first place.

Second, a major benefit of using a professional mover is that you can insure your expensive items, such as antiques, electronics, and artworks. This is an extra cost to your move but a very necessary one to protect your valuables. If your items were to be damaged during your move, would you be able to afford replacing them on your own? When signing up for insurance go beyond the standard policy because that one covers only up to 60 cents per pound. Also, make sure to check that your mover is adequately insured to carry your valuables.

Third, if your move is at least 50 miles and related to your new job, you meet the distance test to deduct moving expenses from your federal taxes. By hiring a professional you leave the guesswork out of the estimate that you present to your employer for negotiating and reimbursing your moving expenses. Also, having an invoice from a pro mover helps you when it is time to file your taxes and prevents raising any red flags from the IRS.

2. Tax Preparation for Freelancers and Self-Employed

Small businesses using Schedule C are almost three times more likely than corporations to be audited. Back in 2009, the IRS audited 10 times as many Schedule C filers as corporations. (See also: 3 Reasons to Hire a Tax Professional Even If You Don't Mind the Work)

The main culprit is the freelancer him or herself. In keeping with the entrepreneurial attitude, the already busy-busy self-employed tries to wear the accountant hat and makes too many mistakes. Some of the most common mistakes are:

  • Not reporting all income (e.g. leaving some 1099's hidden);
  • Claiming too many suspicious deductions (e.g. $15,000 in deductions for $50,000 in revenue);
  • Making arithmetic mistakes on paper filings; and
  • Mixing personal with business expenses.

This is why about 60% of individuals use paid preparers to do their income tax returns. Still, the IRS urges you to do your due diligence when choosing a tax preparer. Specifically, you should:

  • Review the preparer's qualifications and certifications;
  • Check the preparer's background at the Better Business Bureau or other applicable institutions;
  • Avoid preparers that charge a percentage of your refund or make claims obtaining large tax refunds; and
  • Review your entire return before signing it.

3. Cleaning for a Move or Home Sale

There is no straightforward method to determine how clean is "ready-for-vacating- or sale-clean."

  • Many rentals and home purchase contracts require that your unit is in "broom clean condition." This generally means that you need to take away anything that doesn't belong to the original unit and leave the unit as you found it when you first moved in.
  • While most standard residential purchase or rental agreements have a clause about the requirements to present a unit when vacating, any landlord, buyer, or seller may add special requirements. Read contracts thoroughly before signing.
  • Remember that your landlord may properly deduct from your security deposit to make the rental unit as clean as it was when you first moved in. Depending on the length of your stay, this may also include replacing carpets and drapes, repainting walls, and fixing damages to property.
  • Real estate agents are in no legal obligation to pick up after your mess. Just because they receive a commission from a transaction doesn't mean that they will always cover cleaning costs.

To avoid headaches and stay in friendly terms with the other party, hire a professional cleaning service. Tell the other party about what company you're planning to use or, even better, present an estimate with line items. By providing an opportunity to the other party to review your plan of action, you most likely meet the common sense and good faith requirement in case of a dispute. If issues still arise, then you have invoices and receipts to back up that you acted in good faith.

4. Tree Trimming and Removal

Think twice before trimming or pulling out a tree on your own.

  • Tree trimming is a dangerous profession with about 2,000 injuries reported in 2009.
  • Branches hanging near or over power and telephone lines are a major safety hazard — not only to yourself but also to any people passing by.
  • Tree removal requires the use of dangerous tools, such as chainsaws, wood chippers, and axes.
  • Improper technique can result in serious harm to your body.
  • Some trees may host dangerous or poisonous animals, fungi, and insects.
  • Other trees may have become toxic from exposure to chemicals.
  • Depending on the age of tree, it may have rotting wood or deadwood. Either condition makes it hard to predict the trajectory of the tree when felled.
  • Some trees may require the crane to removed them and a big truck to haul them away.

You cannot afford the potential physical and legal consequences of a tree take-down that goes wrong. This is not a time to wear your DIY cap.

What are other times when you ought to just hire a pro? Please share in comments.

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Guest's picture

Pest Control would be another one.

Damian Davila's picture

That's a great one, Guest! Those termite fumigations requiring to fully cover a home can be very dangerous.