Taking a do-it-yourself approach to property renovations has the potential to save on labour costs but there are also plenty of downsides.

Australians love to tackle DIY projects around the home – the growth of mega hardware stores is testimony to this, and DIY renovators often gain an enormous sense of achievement from their efforts.

But – and it’s a big but – DIY can be hard work. Here are some things to consider:

  • Know your limits

Putting in the elbow grease on a home improvement is tiring, time consuming and there is plenty of room for error. So it is essential to recognise the limits of your ability. Unless you’re a skilled home handyman, only take on those parts of the project that you can complete to a competent standard.

Seemingly simple jobs like laying floorboards or plastering walls can be a lot more difficult than many people realise, and calling in a tradesperson to pick up the pieces of a failed or unfinished DIY effort can be more costly than hiring a professional in the first place

  • Weigh up the cost savings

A DIY approach isn’t always as budget-friendly as home owners anticipate and it’s essential to weigh up the savings against the additional costs. You may need to purchase specialist tools to complete the job

  • Consider the time factor

It can also take far longer to complete a renovation when you do the bulk of the work yourself. If your leisure time is precious or you’d like the renovation to be finished within a particular timeframe, it can pay to hire professional tradespeople to complete the more challenging aspects of the job.

Bear in mind too, if the work isn’t completed to a very high standard the project could negatively impact your home’s value. No matter how keen you are on saving costs, there are some aspects of a renovation, like electrical wiring, that should only be completed by a licensed tradesperson

  • Owner builder requirements

If you’re considering taking the DIY route, you may be required to apply for an ‘owner builder’ permit. In New South Wales for example, you must hold a permit as an owner builder if the value of renovations exceeds $5,000. Check the provisions that apply to your area using the contact details in the following table:

State/territory Body to contact regarding owner builder permits Web address
QLD Queensland Building and Construction Board www.qbcb.qld.gov.au
NSW Office of Fair Trading www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au
ACT ACT Planning and Land Authority www.actpla.act.gov.au
VIC Victorian Building Authority www.vba.vic.gov.au
TAS Workplace Standards www.wst.tas.gov.au
SA Office of Consumer and Business Affairs www.ocba.sa.gov.au
WA Department of Commerce – Building Commission www.buildingcommission.wa.gov.au
NT Building Practitioners Board www.bpb.nt.gov.au

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