The risks and rewards of DIY home repairs
Have you ever wanted to redo your kitchen, renovate the bathroom, or extend your entertaining area by adding on a new deck? If so, you’re probably faced with the dilemma of whether to do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional to do it for you.
ShedBlog contributor Andre Smith says the answer often depends on the following factors:
- Skills and experience
- Tutorials available
- Need for quality
- The risks you’re willing to take
Here, Andre has a closer look at the pros and cons of DIY repairs versus hiring a qualified tradesperson.
Skills and experience
Knowing how to use basic tools, working with different mechanical systems, and taking appropriate safety measures while doing the work, form an experiential foundation that in many cases can take years to acquire. If you don’t have the right skills and experience for major repairs, start with simple DIY projects like replacing a tap, fixing fly screens, or repairing faulty furniture.
Hiring a professional usually means they’ll do it right the first time. So if getting the job done sooner than later, and correctly, is paramount, then hiring a contractor might be your best bet. Also, many contractors offer warranties for a certain period of time after completing the project so if there is an issue, they’ll usually come back and fix the problem at no additional cost.
When it comes to electrical work, the message is pretty clear: It’s just not worth the risk. Aside from being illegal in Australia, unlicensed and DIY electrical work is dangerous for whoever does the work, and anyone else who comes into contact with unqualified electrical installations or equipment.
The Internet has facilitated DIY home repairs like nothing else. You can find dozens of tutorials on YouTube for simple fixes like repairing a hole in plaster to advanced DIY home repairs like replacing roof tiles. Many sites have step-by-step home repair guides with lists of tools and supplies needed.
Handyman.net.au is a great, reputable resource that has a number of easy-to-follow DIY tutorials, ranging from building a kid’s desk to constructing a split-level deck. You can also follow other DIYers who upload their projects along with their tricks and tips.
That said, beware of the false confidence that can come from watching online tutorials – especially if you don’t know the person’s qualifications – not to mention the prospect of it jeopardising your home and contents insurance policy. Insurance experts say that unless you call in the professionals to ensure gas, electrical, plumbing or structural work meets safety and building regulations, you run the risk of invalidating your home insurance policy if things go pear shaped.
Budget and schedule
Most people face the problem of having time or money, but rarely both. If you’ve got time but no spare money, you probably need to learn some skills, watch a few tutorials, and enlist an experienced friend to help at key stages during your DIY project.
If you’re working so much that you’ve got little spare time but do have extra cash, then hiring a professional to do the work makes the most sense.
Need for quality
A small repair to wall plaster or tile grout in an inconspicuous spot doesn’t have to look professional. However, you won’t be happy if the tile in the entire bathroom floor isn’t straight, and you won’t be safe if the new kitchen light fixture isn’t wired properly. The likely results of DIY home repair versus hiring a professional should be kept in mind when considering appearance, performance and, above all, safety.
Besides the safety and appearance risks mentioned, DIY house repairs also incur the risk of causing damage and being responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.
Common examples include dropping materials such as a window or stone countertop, not hooking up a water supply or drain properly, and having a flood and faulty wiring, a significant problem in many Australian homes, causing electrical shock or fire. What is your risk tolerance versus the rewards of saving money and having the satisfaction of doing the work yourself? It’s different for everyone.