There are a multitude of home renovation television shows in Australia that focus on homeowners undertaking their own projects. However, working on your home can be a costly and time-consuming business, and you need to be prepared for the realities of what is involved when you don’t have a film crew on hand to help you! This TradiesSA article suggests a number of factors you really need to think carefully about before embarking on a significant DIY project.
Deciding whether to hire a professional tradesman to undertake maintenance or decoration work in your home, or undertaking the job yourself, is one that many people wrestle with, and it’s important that you weigh up the pros and cons of each course of action before you make a decision. The choice may not be as clear-cut as it first appears.
The first thing to be said is that there are some repair and maintenance jobs around the home that simply must be preformed by a qualified, accredited professional:
- gas fitting
In South Australia, anyone performing these trades will be registered and licensed by the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs. This is because this is specialist skilled work, and requires training, experience and an understanding of building regulations. It is also important to remember that as accredited tradesmen in these fields have the appropriate building insurance, should any work carried out lead to problems later down the road, you will have access to redress. On the other hand, should you attempt, for instance, to carry out electrical wiring work in your home, which later causes a fire or other damage to your home, this may well have repercussions for your home and contents insurance.
However, there are of course any number of jobs around the home where questions of safety or causing serious damage are not an issue, and you may feel that you can tackle with confidence. Therefore, what are the benefits and drawbacks of taking on a job yourself, or getting in a professional tradie to do it for you?
In tough financial times, there is a natural tendency to try and save money wherever possible, and many homeowners see DIY as a chance to economise. Inspired by the plethora of makeover and home renovation shows on TV, along with the advent of the DIY superstore, many have been led to believe that it is easy to save money by taking on work themselves.
However, this view needs to be tempered with some caution. You really do need to ask yourself how much your time is worth. Are weekends or evenings after you get home from a day at work entirely given over to working on your home really worth the money you might save? It may be that in terms of the time and energy you invest in what may otherwise may be a small project ultimately is not worth it, as all of your free time is consumed.
There are also tools and materials to consider. If you have a well-stocked garage at hand, or have undertaken some DIY projects previously, you may well have all the tools you need and so no additional outlay is required. On the other hand, if you are a novice or infrequent home decorator, there might be some significant purchases required to get the right tools for the job.
A professional tradie will also have a range of industry contacts with regards to building and decorating materials and supplies, and will no doubt be able to purchase these at a trade, rather than retail, price. You will almost certainly end up paying more for materials than a professional, so it may be that what you save on a tradie’s labour costs, you lose when you purchase what you need to do the job.
It is undoubtedly the case that a fresh coat of paint can really reinvigorate the look and feel of your home and, if you are in the process of selling, can even add some value to it. In which case, you might be tempted to have a go at this yourself, with the view that it’s a straightforward job that anyone with a can of paint and a brush can do.
However, ‘finish trades’, such as painting and decorating, are the areas that will have the most significant impact on how your home looks - for better or worse. For instance, your house’s paint job is very much the first thing people see, and so it really has to look right. This is not easy to achieve - anyone who has attempted a job like painting their home’s interior or exterior will have an understanding of how difficult it can be, in particular the more intricate parts of the job, such as where walls and ceilings join, or when dealing with cracks in the surface. Materials will also come into play here, as a professional tradie will have a greater understanding of paint types and colours, and which ones will suit your furniture and features and produce the best finish in your home.
Therefore, if you are considering doing any ‘finish’ work as a means of revitalising your home’s look, it probably makes sense to consider hiring a professional who can produce the professional finish you’re looking for.
Anyone who has ever tried to live in a house while it is being renovated will be aware of the sheer inconvenience and problems it can create. The same can be said of taking on DIY projects that you don’t have the time to complete straight away. There is always a good deal of disruption - not to mention a fair degree of associated stress - with interior decoration jobs of any size, and so you need to be prepared for this. It can be done, of course, but some careful planning is required so that the job gets done at the optimum time - i.e. a time when the inconvenience will cause you the fewest headaches. To achieve this, you will need to be prepared to devote a significant amount of time to the job so that you can complete it as quickly as possible.
Employing the services of a professional, however, should mean that you can reduce this time to the bare minimum. Whether it’s new shelving in the kitchen, wardrobes in the bedroom, or new tiles in the bathroom, a good tradie should be able to get the job done in a fraction of the time it would take you if you were doing it yourself, and with a good deal less inconvenience and disruption.
As above with regards to tools, do you have the right equipment to make sure that you can tackle a job that won’t cause damage to your home - or more importantly, to you? Tradies are, for instance, experienced at working up ladders or on scaffolding safely, and so getting a professional in to undertake any jobs that involve working at heights means that you can eliminate the risk of your DIY work costing you more than the cost of some brushes and paint.
There’s no doubt that successfully tackling a DIY renovation on your home can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It can be achieved, and most sorts of DIY jobs are within the scope of anyone with some degree of skill and experience, and the right equipment and tools. However, as suggested above, there are some other things to consider beyond the immediate scope of the task at hand. Before you embark on any DIY project, you should ensure that you have factored in all of the costs and considerations so that you’re not left with an incomplete, unsafe or unattractive renovation, and asking yourself why on earth you ever thought you could do it in the first place.
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