With the summer holidays behind us and the cooler weather creeping in, it’s the perfect time of year to think about enhancing our indoor spaces. But if you’ve been thinking of tackling a home makeover on your own to save money, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Research shows that poorly executed home improvements can end up lowering a home’s value by 11%, and more than half of buyers would be put off entirely. Even if you’re not planning to sell your home, though, a botched DIY job can be an eyesore and you’ll likely end up spending more money redoing it than you would have spent if you’d hired a professional from the start.
With this in mind, here are four important questions you should ask yourself before you get started, as well as a few insights shared by professional contractors themselves.
Do you Have the Know-how to do it Right?
Although projects like laying tiles or replacing worn pipes may appear simple at first glance, there are a lot of smaller steps, such as sealing, surface preparation, waterproofing and grouting, which can go wrong if you don’t have the necessary know-how or experience.
Wall and floor tiling expert Martin Stallard notes that DIYers often make basic mistakes such as choosing tiles that are difficult to work with, not properly preparing the surface, spending insufficient time on grouting or failing to ensure that the tiles are level.
“Many do-it-yourself weekend warriors think tiling is just laying one tile down after another,” he says. “Of course novice people can do a good job, but only if they spend a lot of time on preparation and buy good quality tiling tools.”
“I have seen a few half-finished bathrooms which I have been asked to finish off, but generally speaking no tradesman will continue someone else’s work. They will want it all pulled out to start again,” he says.
With this in mind, if you’re thinking of tackling a renovation project on your own, make sure you understand exactly what the job entails so you can make an informed decision.
Do you Have the Right Tools to Complete the Job?
Home renovation projects may require everything from ladders, nail guns and stud finders to drills, sanding machines and tile saws, all of which can quickly add up if you’re starting from scratch.
Of course, in some cases you might be able to rent some of the tools or machinery you need, but this is something you should look into beforehand so you don’t find yourself halfway into a job only to realize you don’t have access to the necessary equipment.
If you’re not sure whether you should rent or buy the renovation equipment you need, start by comparing prices to find out which option would end up being cheaper. You should also consider how often you’ll be using the equipment and whether you have the space to store it correctly.
Is the DIY Home Makeover Project Risky?
Some home improvement projects might be too risky to carry out alone, not to mention that tackling certain projects without a licensed professional could even invalidate your homeowners insurance.
Electrical work, for instance, carries the risk of electrical shocks and fires, and research shows that electrical hazards cause nearly one fatality every day.
Professional electrician Brad Rosen says DIYers often unwittingly put themselves in danger. “Working with electrical cabling is not the same as installing your own shelves or even fixing a broken pipe,” he says.
“One time we were called out because a client's lights were continually tripping. When we arrived at the property, we found that the DIYer had tried to install some lights in his newly established ‘man cave’ in the garage, and had inadvertently connected the wires the wrong way.”
Electrical work isn’t the only type of work that carries risks, though. Poorly executed plumbing jobs can lead to leaks, water damage and mould, and projects that involve working on scaffolding, such as roof repairs or painting the outside of your house, can also be risky.
So before taking on any DIY home improvement project you should always consider both your skill level and the risks involved.
Do you have enough time to commit to the project?
Even if you genuinely do have the expertise and tools required to successfully complete a DIY project, you still need to ask yourself if you’ll be able to complete the job within a reasonable amount of time.
A professional will be able to work on the project fulltime and depending on the scale of the job, would likely be able to complete it within just a couple of weeks. If you’re tackling the job yourself, you’ll have to plan the work around your other responsibilities, which means the project may end up dragging on for months or even years.
Professional contractor Sergio Deiana says the onset of reality TV renovation shows has given people a false perception of how long renovations take and they often fail to understand just how much work is involved in keeping a build on schedule, quality control in check and managing expenses.
“People mistakenly believe that just about anyone can tackle a DIY Home Makeover or extensive renovations or think that hiring the tradesmen alone and trying to manage the job will save them money,” he says. “Unfortunately, they often overestimate their ability without doing the necessary homework.”
So before you make the decision to manage a renovation on your own, ask yourself if the stress of living in a construction site and devoting all your spare time to a renovation project would really be worth the money you’d save by not hiring a contractor.