The renovation jobs you can do yourself – and those you shouldn't
When it’s time to renovate, everyone wants to save money. It’s fine to be hands-on for some tasks, but there are a few projects that are definitely not DIY friendly. Here’s a guide to what you may want to do yourself and what you should leave to the professionals.
What to do yourself
A fresh coat of paint can give you a strong return on your renovation dollar. Painting is a job almost anyone can take on themselves, although it can be messier and more time-consuming than you might imagine.
The key to a successful paint finish lies in the preparation. Take the time to clean, sand and tape as necessary. Also, choose the right paint for the job and invest in good-quality equipment. Don't skimp on brushes and rollers – a professional job looks professional because they use the right tools.
Handy hint: a water-based paint can help make the clean-up more bearable.
You can lift the appearance of your home’s outdoor areas with new paving. Laying bricks or square pavers is a simple task, although you do need to set aside enough time to complete each step properly.
Paving is a multi-step process, from preparing the pathway and cement through to laying the pavers. Try consulting one of the numerous online paving tutorials, or visit your local hardware store for advice.
If your home has wooden flooring, you can bring it to life with a sand and polish. Hardware and equipment-hire stores rent out machines for home use. However, achieving a perfect finish is trickier than it looks. If you’re not confident on the tools, another DIY approach is to lay your own floating floor, or even stick down self-adhesive vinyl floor planks or tiles.
What to leave to the experts
Electrical and plumbing
Undertaking electrical or plumbing works can be illegal and potentially life-threatening if you’re not a qualified tradesperson. If electrical and plumbing works aren’t done by a professional, you’re risking personal harm, and exposing your home and family to the risk of fire or flood damage. Leave this to the experts.
Prior to 1987, asbestos was commonly used in Australian home construction. If your home was built or renovated before this date, there’s a strong chance it could contain asbestos.
Even minor home maintenance tasks such as drilling a hole into a wall or installing a light fitting can create a health risk by causing asbestos fibres to become airborne. Always engage a licensed asbestos assessor and remover to handle any asbestos concerns at your property.
Many a DIY renovator has regretted the decision to try to repair their own roof. Falls from ladders are a common cause of injury. During 2011–12, 1,294 men (78%) and 374 women (22%) were hospitalised in Australia as a result of a fall on or from a ladder, and 62 per cent of these injuries happened in or around the home.
A DIY approach can be friendly on the wallet, but there are some jobs simply not worth tackling – your safety is far more important. If you’re considering home renovations, contact your mortgage broker first to find out how much you can borrow.