This is the big question most homeowners handy with a drill and a blockbuster ask themselves when they consider doing a much needed-renovation on what could be their most valuable asset. But how much can you actually do on your own? If you have no problem getting your hands dirty, the answer might be quite a bit more than you think. So, what is a realistic DIY project and when should you call in the builder and the other tradies?
Step One? Draw up a Plan
Be methodical, and before you start ripping out walls and writing a ‘to do’ list willy nilly, take a good hard look at what’s ahead of you, particularly the time frame and the costs. If you can, spend the money and hire a builder to do the strategic thinking about the whole project. What has to be figured out is how big a project it is, and then break it down into phases. Some things have to be done first before another can be achieved, so it’s important to know where to begin. If yours will be an extensive renovation, an inspector will have to go through your home, checking the systems and a reputable designer or architect should draw up a plan. These professionals can advise you on anything that urgently needs repair, or can be done later on.
What About Materials?
Buying your own materials, appliances, equipment and fixture is the easy part, and it’s no small thing in cutting costs. You can pick up kitchen and bathroom fixtures, cabinetry, tiles, timber and doors at bargain sales or salvage yards, antique shops, garage sales or op shops. However, make sure you have checked with the builder or contractor so you buy the amount you need, and in the right sizes, also at the right time.
Repairs to the Structures
You should expect an older house to need some structural repairs at some time that should be done by a licenced builder or structural engineer so you might as well get it done while you’re renovating. Always be prepared for surprises if you’re working on an older house, you can never be sure what you’ll find behind the walls.
Light demolition can be done on your own, but never attempt to take a chainsaw or blockbuster to a wall by yourself. Light demolition is moving out appliances, taking out cupboards you don’t want, taking out fixtures and tiles, mouldings, carpets and floorboards. So don’t take on any structural things; leave that for a contractor, but you can invite friends and family over to help with the light stuff and to help with the cleaning afterwards.
Asbestos is a No-Go Area
Nobody wants to come across asbestos when they’re renovating, but especially in older houses, it’s likely to be there somewhere. If you or one of the tradies or structural engineers finds asbestos, you’ll have to stop work immediately and call in the professionals, not just any old ‘expert Joe’ to remove it. The asbestos will need to be tested and then removed by a licensed professional asbestos removal company. The Department of Health has a handy checklist about asbestos that’s worth reading(1).
Electricity, Gas, Plumbing
If you have any major electric, gas or plumbing work to do on your project, you will definitely need a licensed tradie on the job. It’s illegal in Australia to do your own electrical work and/or electrical wiring in your home because it is highly dangerous. This is why you will need to call a licenced electrician. If you’re renovating or building a bathroom or kitchen, it’s essential that you hire a plumber because there are ‘wet area’ rules and regulation here as well. As for the gas, plumbers and gas plumbers (fitters) are a different breed. A general plumber will work with water flow, (kitchen sinks, bathrooms etc.) and gasfitters, while they are plumbers, work with gas flow (gas stoves, water heaters, etc.).
Now For the Cosmetics
For things such as plastering, paving, ceiling moulds and other cosmetic jobs including tiles you can always find a DIY channel on Youtube to show you how it’s done. An online search can help you find out how to remove peeling paint quickly or to use baking soda for cleaning stainless steel. However, you should always follow the golden rule on renovating: ‘first, do no harm’ to your house or to yourself.
Don’t forget the outside! Why not let Salt Metal Art inspire your outdoor space with some metal wall art, decorative panels or a privacy screen? The garden art is fabulous – cockatoos, roosters and metal roses, custom metal windmill property signs and more. Browse through the website and order online for pickup or delivery Australia wide. Call or email Salt Metal Art on 0431243734, or send an email using the handy online form and we’ll call you.
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as The Wood Tech Group, Cosh Living and Me Bank to help them reach their business goals.