If the raging success of home improvement programs like The Block, superstores Bunnings and Masters and websites like Pinterest are anything to go by, DIY has far from done its dash in the average Aussie home. What was once viewed as a laborious necessity has made a rather sudden if not glamorous entrance into the mainstream: for the frugal and frivolous alike, it would appear that the only thing more seductive these days than the age-old ‘having it all’ is ‘having it now’, and, wherever possible, ‘doing it yourself’.
And so the question on many an Australian’s mind, as they survey their homes and the jobs that need doing therein, is ‘should I DIY?’ While the answer will of course depend on your own personal circumstances, it’s vital to assess exactly what’s involved in your home improvement project before deciding whether to tackle it yourself:
Assess your skills
It’s vital you have a good, hard look at your skillset before taking on any potentially dangerous works around the house. Whether you’ve carried out similar works before or not, it’s crucial you consider the risks that lie beneath the surface before you quite literally get stuck in!
While DIY jobs gone wrong may sound like a Youtube video compilation, it’s one of the major causes of accidents in the home, and not just to your body: it’s not uncommon for people to damage their electricity supply, compromise a supporting wall or pierce into plumbing as they’re hammering, sawing and sanding away.
Before you pick up your tools, ask yourself whether you know anyone in the trade that could offer a professional risk assessment, or even help you with the tricky stuff – for a couple of beers, of course.
Consider the costs
If you’re not shy to DIY, getting stuck in yourself can be a great way to scrimp on labour costs, with a potential saving 25 to 50%. However, a few of us would know from experience that while the initial outlay of any home improvement project appears promising for the penny-wise, more often than not people who think they can do it themselves simply can’t, and end up spending more money than they’d ever budgeted for just bailing themselves out of a hairy patch (or two).
Contractors come equipped not only with their own skills and experience, but their own tools, utes and industry connections, allowing them to source and transport materials at industry prices. Before taking on a contractor, it can’t hurt to ask around, request sample shots of their work and of course compare multiple quotes.
If dollars really are the deal-breaker, consider holding off on any large projects and start instead with surface level/cosmetic jobs. Remember to cap total renovations to 10% of your property’s value, the kitchen and bathroom being key areas to focus on for your long-term investment.
If you’re contemplating DIY, think beyond the bank account: think logistics for you and your family. Tripping over a toolbox on your way to the toaster is never ideal, particularly for those with young families (or one on the way). Depending on the scale and scope of the project at hand, it’s wise to allow for extra time and budget to complete the project, and map out a contingency plan should the often unexpectedly lengthy periods of living in the mess, clutter and chaos that makes up any building site take its toll.
Evaluate your options
Costs, risks, skillsets and circumstances: there’s a lot to weigh up before embarking on any large-scale home improvement project.
When you consider the research, shopping and physical labour that goes into planning and undertaking a home renovation, the time it would take to go at it alone certainly adds up. If you can devote, say, 6 hours per week to a 48-hour project, you can expect to spend up to 8 weeks living amongst it – assuming everything goes according to plan, that is!
On the other hand, hiring a contractor – and any subcontractors as required -means there’s someone on the job all day. With their industry connections and access to wholesale priced materials, you’re potentially looking at a significantly faster, if not cheaper, completion.
Building up your home builds up your confidence and self-sufficiency. Tackling renovation projects yourself and living at home while you do so gives you the freedom to change the goal posts mid-project, and helps to maintain the privacy and security of your home.
And then, there’s the bragging rights: there’s something rather wonderful about being able to relay, if not showcase, a successful DIY home renovation story, earning yourself a few pats on the back from family, friends and even a few (rather envious) neighbours.
At Infolio, we’re here to help you get the most out of your portfolio. For an obligation-free consultation with one of our professional property managers, contact us today. We’d love to help you get things moving this spring!