To DIY or not to DIY, that is the question.

To DIY or not to DIY, that is the question.

You’ll have seen it on reality shows such as The Block, perfectly ordinary people doing really clever stuff, such as plastering walls, tiling bathrooms and installing their own skylights. With the miracle of TV editing, these kings and queens of home reno make it look ridiculously easy, but there’s a reason why tradies get paid a decent hourly rate!

While the idea of doing it yourself and saving money can seem very attractive, when you factor in the cost of your time, the cost of the materials, and the cost of things going wrong because you have no experience, it can be cheaper to leave home renovations to the experts. Before embarking on your DIY journey, it pays to ask yourself, “Does this job simply involve strength and man hours? Or does it require specialist tools and skills that need to be learned?”

No need to hire muscle, just use your own!

Landscaping is an example of a job that requires manpower and time rather than expertise, and you could potentially save yourself thousands of dollars by rolling up your sleeves and getting on the end of a shovel. This includes laying your own pavers and edging, creating garden beds, planting, sewing lawns, and maintaining hedges.

An exception to this rule would be if you are wanting a fence built. Unless you’re a dab hand with a skill saw and measuring tape, it’s best to leave this one to the experts, although this certainly doesn’t mean you can’t save some cash by painting it yourself. Better yet, tell your kids to do it while you pour yourself a cold one and oversee the operation from your deckchair.

Tiling: it’s not as easy as it looks.

Inside the home there are a number of jobs that could be done by a layman (or woman), but which have the potential to leave you tearing your hair out, so make sure you do your research. Just because the bloke on the tiling tutorial on Google tells you its easy doesn’t mean it’s true, he’s just done it enough times that it’s become second nature.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible to do your own tiling, but it’s vital to remember the golden rule; “measure twice and cut once.” You’ll need a scrupulously clean surface to start with, a square, a level, tiling glue, snap cutter, trowel, grouting, spacers, and tile sealant. Accuracy is vital as crooked tiling will stand out like a sore thumb, and make sure you’ve ordered extra tiles to allow for mistakes. The surface you’re laying the tiles on needs to be even, and older houses may even need to have the floor levelled prior to tiling (note that floor levelling is definitely a job best left to the experts). If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is! You’ll need to weigh up just how much your time is worth, and if accurate measuring is not your thing then tiling is definitely not the DIY job for you.

The art of plastering.

Plastering is another job that looks deceptively easy but actually requires a huge amount of skill and practice, so it pays to start on a small area that isn’t highly visible, as nobody gets it right the first time. As with tiling, it’s important to prepare your surface correctly, and this will vary according to the material you’re plastering over. It takes A LOT of practice to learn how to correctly pick up the plaster with your trowel, and the same applies to the wall application. It’s also a remarkably messy job, so make sure you lay out groundsheets before you start, as you will generally end up with more plaster on the floor than the walls until you gain some proficiency.

It’s not just slapping paint on a wall you know.

Painting is probably the DIY activity that requires the least amount of technical expertise, but make no mistake, it can be hard graft, especially on fiddly areas that require a lot of ‘cutting in.’ If you’re slapdash by nature and inclined to cut corners, it might pay to hire a professional, as it’s important that your surface preparation is top-notch. This means stripping off old wallpaper, scrubbing the entire area with Sugar Soap (especially important in your kitchen and bathroom) and filling any holes.

Paint quality has come ahead in leaps and bounds over the last two decades, and if your walls are in good nick you will be able to get away without an undercoat, unless you’re painting a light colour over dark, or your surface is glossy. Be aware however that you will need at least two, sometimes three topcoats for a respectable finish.

Some jobs are best left to the experts.

Unless you excelled in woodwork at school and own all the necessary equipment, anything but the most basic carpentry project is probably a no-go for the average DIYer, and certainly any structural alterations should only be carried out by a qualified builder, especially if the job requires a resource consent.

In the interests of health and safety, any electrical work should be also left to the experts! This also applies to drain laying, gas fitting, and the majority of plumbing jobs.

What is your time worth?

In a nutshell, when weighing up the pros and cons of doing your own renovation, it pays to sit down and list the number of tools the job will require, the skills that you will need to learn to do the job properly, and most importantly, what your time is worth. A qualified tradie will always finish a project more quickly and efficiently than you, so if you work full time and have weekend commitments with kids’ sports, etc. then realistically you would be better to call in the experts, knowing that the job will be done right the first time. As an added bonus, you won’t be left with a garage full of specialist equipment that you know you’re never going to use again.

DCM Building pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop for both new builds and home renovations, and we enjoy the difficult jobs that other builders won’t touch. Whether you’re looking to build a new deck, knock out a wall, or install a skylight, take the stress out of your renovation and call Iain today at 027 445 5597 for a free quote and in-depth consultation.