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Homeowner question - to buy or pay

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by dh500, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. dh500

    dh500 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 58

    Homeowner question - to buy a machine or pay a contractor?

    There must be many homeowners who have confronted this question. Some attempt to answer it by comparing the contractor’s annual charge over say 10 years with the purchase price of a mower plus an allowance for running costs.

    The truth is of course more complicated as inflation has to be taken into account along with the loss of interest on funds "invested" in a mowing machine. There will also be a range of opinions as to what value the homeowner should attach to his own time, also the inconvenience of being responsible for storage and maintenance.

    As an exercise and to satisfy my own curiosity, I have created a simple program which accepts a number of parameters relating to the purchase and running of a machine and does a projection over a selected number of years of the state of the finances of a homeowner who elects to purchase a machine (called the "buyer"). A similar projection is done for a "payer" who uses a contractor, enabling some interesting comparisons to be made.

    Attached to this message are a couple of screenshots, one showing the input parameters available and the other a table of results. Included in the program but not shown on the screen shots is an explanation of the various parameters and how they are used.

    If other members are interested in trying out the program, I would be prepared to make it available but to avoid possible embarrassment I would prefer to first send a "review" copy to one or two people prepared to act as "referees" and see if they can find any errors.

    If you are interested, please post a reply including an email address able to receive a ZIP file of about 300K. This will have to be unzipped to extract the EXE file. As executable files can be a virus risk, it is strongly suggested that recipients scan it prior to execution. I know that I have not built in anything "malicious", but it is still advisable to be careful.

    I should also point out that the program should not be regarded as a serious financial planning tool. It is just something that was created as an exercise on my part and to provide a starting point in the discussion of "buying" as against "paying"

    Also bear in mind that I am talking in terms of Australian dollars which in many cases are around double the US dollar amount for the same equipment. The program will of course work equally well in US dollars. Fuel and oil are measured in litres.

    I am sure that in many cases, the decision whether or not to buy is based more on "emotional" than financial considerations. If you are like me and just like machines, no doubt you will come up with good reasons for buying the whatever machine appeals to you.


  2. Advance The Man

    Advance The Man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 154

    Great work! There is a the 'homeowner variable' that can't be included in an equation. This is the homeowner that simply wants to do the lawn themselves. Or the homeowner who likes to own gadgets (i.e. me).

    I am curious to see the results, so please email to floridaeminentdomain at yahoo.com
  3. vtx1300

    vtx1300 LawnSite Member
    from OKC,OK
    Posts: 36

    DH .. wow! You have too much time man! But, I'd have to say this is something I'd try to do or my dad would too... since he's more of a real programmer than I.

    Nice job...

    Like AdMan -- I'd say I like to own the toys ... uh, I mean machines! Plus, I think I will have fun doing it myself. Maintaining my small yard wasn't so fun - more of a chore but having my new house/new yard/large yard + neat ZTR = a lot of stress relief + fun!

    Or I hope...
  4. bobcat175

    bobcat175 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 377

    Here's how I see it. I take great pride in maintaining my own lawn. I live on a main road and get alot of visibility. I like when landscapers drive by and see me mowing then look in the driveway to see who's truck/trailer is there and find nothing - homeowner maintained. I hate to pay for something/service that I am willing/capable of doing myself. That's just the way I am. If I had tons of extra cash then I might be swayed to pay someone as it would mean a little extra time with the fam.
  5. bigz1001

    bigz1001 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 128

    I would have just made a spreadsheet in Excel, but that is just me.
  6. Advance The Man

    Advance The Man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 154

    That's why I'm glad he put it together and you and I didn't! :)

    His looks very user friendly for the folks that don't use excel often.
  7. bigz1001

    bigz1001 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 128

    But I also have to wonder, is this the proper question to ask? In my situation there is no doubt that I am money ahead to mow my own personal lawn at 3 acres. With a $7,000.00 ZTR vs. paying someone at least $125.00 a week I will recover my investment including maintenance in roughly 3 years. The subject I was torn on, and still am is if I was better off purchasing the Craftsman lawn tractors every 3 years at $2,500.00. I purchased a Dixie Chopper FlatLander, will I come out ahead, I should baring major mechanical problems which shouldn't even be a concern until I reach 1,000 hours, so I should be able to use this mower for 22 years if you are very optimistic (1000hrs./44hours of use per year).
  8. bobcat175

    bobcat175 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 377

    bigz1001 - But think of the quality of cut and the fun of operating a commercial product. Taking turns on my WB hydro with the velke is half the fun of mowing!!
  9. bigz1001

    bigz1001 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 128

    I can't say that I share your enthusiasm. Yes, mowing the lawn on the Chopper is more pleasant that riding a garden tractor (quicker), but still nothing that I look forward to. Since I graduated college I have worked a min of 50 hours a week, typically 60+ and my time to me is important, as is the money that I earn. These hours spent on weekends could be better spent with friends and family, riding an ATV, or riding the Motorcycle I am looking to purchase. This was the deciding factor for me to choose a ZTR, given the larger deck and increased mowing rate, I am saving roughly 2.5 hours per week that I can better spend elsewhere while still coming out ahead financially.
  10. vtx1300

    vtx1300 LawnSite Member
    from OKC,OK
    Posts: 36

    so, have you gone shopping yet for your ride?
    did the other thread help you find what you think you are wanting?
    give an update what you plan to get...

    fun stuff

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