Written by Gary Foreman

From his column Life Stewardship

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 NIV).

When Jesus shared this teaching, He was warning that following Him included a cost followers needed to consider in advance. Starting and going only part of the way never achieves the goal. The lesson is true in many areas of life.

Certainly, it applies to our finances. Take home repair projects. Suppose we have water on the basement floor. Do we hire a plumber? Do we do it ourselves? Perhaps we’ve done simple repairs and home improvement projects in the past, but is this job beyond our do-it-yourself (DIY) skills?

It’s an important question. We know we’re to be good stewards of the resources God entrusts to us, so is it wise to tackle a repair, or would it be better to pay a professional? Today, let’s explore steps that might help when we face such dilemmas.

The first step is to consider the size and difficulty of the problem. For many who are not involved in trades like plumbing, heating, or construction, certain tasks are beyond our skill set. But some seem too small to call in a pro.

Step two is to do our research. Even avid DIYers can benefit from learning more before starting a job. Online articles and videos on YouTube can walk us through many DIY projects. The variety of content is endless. No matter what job we may be considering, we’re almost sure to find someone who has done it and posted helpful how-to instructions.

Online articles and videos on YouTube can walk us through many DIY projects.

Talking with friends and neighbors who have DIY experience can be very beneficial. Generally they’re willing to share knowledge because others have helped them. They may even be willing to assist us.

Armed with additional information, we’re able to approach our project with new understanding of what is actually involved.

Step three is to consider the difficulty factors. How tough is the fix? Have we done anything similar? Do we have the necessary tools? If we run into trouble is there a knowledgeable/willing friend who can bail us out? It’s always smart to expect the unexpected. Most jobs contain at least one surprise.

What about accessibility? Can we get to the repair easily, and do we have the time, knowledge, and patience to handle perhaps a lot of disassembly and reassembly? Many a DIYer has taken apart three things to get to the one item that needs replacing!

We also need to beware of physical dangers. Electrocution or scalding should not be part of a home repair! Applying caulk around an exterior window might seem simple, but falling from a ladder can be life changing.

This is a good time to consider what circumstances would cause us to give up mid-project and call a professional.

Step four is the matter of “parts.” Most repairs require them, and most professionals have them or access to them. But almost any part available to a pro may be found online. In larger communities, they may also be available through local specialty stores. Having the part before we begin the job is important. We don’t want to shut off the water or disconnect the power only to find a replacement part won’t be available for a week.

Most of us have acquired a few tools along the way, and many home repairs, like replacing light switches or the inner workings of toilets, require common tools we may already have. Basic tool kits are available at home centers.

If we face a job that requires specialty tools, we might want to rethink tackling a repair ourselves. Special purpose tools can be expensive. Before purchasing a widget we may use only once, we should check to see if we can rent or borrow one. Most auto parts stores offer kits for a variety of repairs, and some hardware stores feature tool rentals. One other thing we need to remember, however, is that specialty tools may be a sign of difficulty ahead.

It may be after following these steps we decide the job is beyond our ability, or we simply don’t have time. This is okay. If we’ve done our homework we will at least be knowledgeable about the repair and less likely to be ripped off. BTW, don’t forget to ask for a rough estimate of the cost of a repair before requesting a service call.

When it comes to appliance repair, there’s one more question to answer: Is it worth fixing? If the cost is more than 50% of the price of an appliance that’s more than 6 or 7 years old, it might be better to replace it. Of course, this is a generality. When in doubt, we should consider our need as well as financial situation.

One other thing: Seek the Lord’s guidance. He knows things we don’t.

Can we do the job ourselves? Clearly it depends on our skill level, available time, and difficulty of the task, but, just like the tower builder, it’s wise to estimate the cost before we start.

Gary Foreman is an assistant pastor, author, former financial planner, and founder of and