Renovating a house, or even just engaging in a kitchen or bathroom renovation project, is a major job, and can cost a significant amount of money. So it is not surprising that some homeowners decide to try and make cost savings by doing their home renovations themselves.
But is this always a wise, or even cost-effective, decision? Here we look at the pros and cons of DIY compared to hiring an experienced contractor for home renovation, and when you should decide to leave a job to the professionals.
Before you even think about tackling a house renovation yourself, you need to be realistic about your levels of skill and experience. Some small jobs, such as painting and even tiling, are relatively easy to tackle, even for a DIY novice, and you might be able to save yourself some money by doing so.
However, if a project is larger and more difficult, you have to be honest about whether you feel comfortable doing the job. Do you have the tools you need, and do you know how to use them? If you have never picked up a power tool before in your life, now is not the time to practice, as there is too much at stake if something goes wrong. Even simple-looking jobs like demolition can be deceptively complicated – you have to be absolutely certain you won’t knock down a structural wall, or destroy any electrical wiring, as these can be extremely difficult and expensive to fix.
For a home renovation project to be effective, every little detail has to be right, from the design and the measurements through to achieving a professional-looking finish. Not only do you have to live in your home once the work is complete, but substandard work can also harm the value of your property if you ever decide to sell. It is important to determine whether you can complete the work to a high enough standard before going ahead.
If there are some jobs you feel comfortable with, you can save money by attempting these yourself. However, if you aren’t confident, it’s best to leave it all to the professionals.
No matter what the scale of the job you are tackling, it is essential that you can guarantee the safety of the project. What equipment will you have to use? Will you have to work at height? Do you have experience with these things?
Remember, it is not just your own safety you have to think about. You need to ensure that the working environment can be made safe for everyone in your home, and also complies with safety legislation in your state or territory.
Professional builders work on these kinds of jobs every day. They have a thorough understanding of health and safety legislation and the correct precautions that need to be taken. If you have any doubts at all regarding the safety of a job, it is better not to tackle it yourself.
Many home renovation projects, even relatively simple ones, require building permits. A professional house renovation contractor will take care of all this for you, as they work with local authorities regularly and know exactly what is required for each job. If you are doing your house renovations yourself, you will need to approach your local council to find out which permissions are required, and go through the process of applying for a permit yourself. Your application will then need to be approved before any building work can begin.
However, in some cases, it will not be legal for you to do the work yourself. Rules differ between different states and territories, but large jobs often have to be undertaken by professionals, by law. For example, in Victoria, if a building job costs over $10,000, it has to be completed by a licensed builder, and jobs costing over $16,000 have to be covered by a separate insurance policy.
Potentially dangerous jobs such as plumbing and electrical work must always be undertaken by a licensed and experienced professional, as there is too much potential danger involved if anything were to go wrong. If you are planning a DIY home renovation, you will still have to find reputable contractors for these specialised jobs, and you will have to do this yourself. Professional building firms usually have teams of trusted contractors who they use regularly, so they can bring these people into work on your job, making for easier communication and a quicker, smoother path to completion.
When planning your house renovations, you need to think about everything you will need to complete the job. This includes building materials, fixtures and fittings, as well as power tools to do the job successfully, and to a high standard.
Most people choose to DIY as a means of saving money, so it can be tempting to skimp on the quality of the materials, but this is often a false economy, as lower-quality materials will not last as long, and can even be dangerous in the long run. As an example, cheap kitchen cabinets are often made from flimsy materials which are not actually strong enough for their function. Over time, once they are filled with crockery or other heavy items, these cabinets can bow, or even detach themselves completely from the wall, which is extremely hazardous to you and to everyone in your home. Similarly, cheap worktops can chip or crack, which makes it easier for them to harbour germs, as well as ruining their appearance.
If you are determined to DIY, you need to make sure you can budget for quality materials. This is why it often makes sense to hire a professional contractor for home renovation, as they will have good relationships with a wide variety of suppliers, and can source high-quality materials at low prices which are not accessible to the public. They also cover their work with a warranty, so you are protected if anything goes wrong.
DIY is a hobby which many homeowners enjoy, but it can be extremely time-consuming. Don’t forget, you have other commitments, so you will only be able to work on your home reno in your spare time. This could put your kitchen, bathroom or other renovation project out of action for months on end if you are busy with work or other concerns. It also means you will have far less time to spend with your family, or on doing other things you enjoy.
A professional building firm will dedicate themselves to your job five or six days a week, so they will be able to complete it within a much shorter timeframe. They also have all the latest equipment, industry knowledge and years of experience at their disposal, so they can complete jobs far more quickly and easily.
This is in many ways the most crucial point when deciding whether or not to DIY. It is true that a large part of the cost for any building project is labour, so choosing to tackle some aspects of the renovation yourself could save you some money. But you also need to weigh up all the other factors.
Before you make a decision, you will need to work out a detailed budget for the job. Plan for all the materials you will need, plus a little extra to cover the cost of anything going wrong, and any costs involved in disposing of the debris safely once the building work is complete. You also need to factor in the cost of your time.
Once you have worked out the costs for a DIY house reno, contact some local building firms for quotes. You might find that the cost difference is far less than you expected, and it might not be worth your while to DIY when you could place the job in the safer hands of an experienced builder.
If you would like more information about what a professional house renovation contractor can offer, please contact us to discuss your plans. We are waiting to hear from you.