If there’s one great myth in the renovation world, it’s that do-it-yourself (DIY) is the path to easy riches. The reality is often just the opposite. Apply your novice skills to the wrong job and it could actually devalue your property.
A lot depends on your skill level. A proficient DIYer may have years of handyman-type experience and a complete kit of tools. Someone else may have zero experience and none of the kit required, which means all tools and materials will have to be purchased for a job that might turn out to be a one-off.
Here are some things to weigh up if you’re thinking you might cut your teeth on one of these common renovation projects.
Okay, this is one I reckon most people can safely tackle, with the proviso you apply abundant patience, meticulously prepare the surfaces to be painted and read up on painting tips that will ensure you get a professional-looking finish. A paint job is liquid gold in terms of adding value to any property, but not if it looks as if you painted it with a blindfold. The websites of major paint companies, such as Dulux, Wattyl and Taubmans, all have useful tools and information for helping you to choose the right colour palette. See my video on how to Paint Like a Pro.
Assembling a flat-pack kitchen
If you’ve ever had experience with IKEA’s self-assembly brain teasers, then you’ll certainly be up to assembling a flat-pack kitchen. However, I would definitely not recommend installing the kitchen unless you’re highly experienced at such things. It takes a lot of skill to get all the levels exactly right and a professional finish. A kitchen that looks like it’s been caught in a landslide is not going to add value. And, it goes without saying, anything to do with electricals and plumbing must be done by those trades.
Installing a deck
First up, make sure you have the necessary planning approval – if it’s required. If you’re doing a traditional deck with footings and you don’t have a decent tool kit, that’s a significant cost to consider. Bunnings lists 10 tools you’ll need to buy for a deck project. Then you have the cost of the timber and other materials on top of this. This is before you’ve even decided if you have the skills (and hopefully helpful mates) to do the job. An easy option for DIYers is modular timber decking, which doesn’t require footings; you just lay it straight over any strong substrate. But it’s not cheap.
Cosmetically renovating a kitchen or bathroom
By this I mean, you’re not going to be touching any plumbing or electricals; you just spruce up and update. There are lots of products by companies like White Knight and Rust-Oleum designed specifically for this purpose: tile paint, cabinetry paint, benchtop resurfacing kits, bath and basin epoxy resurfacing, appliance paint, etc. If everything is in good structural condition, then just giving the whole lot a modern makeover can work miracles. This is a great DIY project, done with care and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Watch my video on How to Laminate Paint.
Whether it’s part of a kitchen, in a kid’s bedroom or a display feature in the living room, shelving can be a great addition to a place. It’s a job any handy person with an electric drill, spirit level and measuring tape should be able to pull off. Just make sure you’re not drilling into any electricals, gas or plumbing pipes. And have the right materials and know-how, depending upon whether it’s a stud, hollow or brick wall. Knowledge is power, when it comes to DIY.
While I’m certainly not advocating you attempt to tile an entire bathroom (and floor tiling requires a lot of skill and patience to ensure the levels are correct), a small tiling job can be safely tackled if you know how. I’m thinking a small kitchen splashback or some wall tile patching in a bathroom. Watch my detailed video on how to tile like a professional here.