How to decide if you should tackle that house renovation yourself

With reality television shows like House RulesThe Block and Renovation Rumble invading your television screens you might think taking a home renovation into your own hands is a good idea, but just how realistic is it?

One of the big questions home owners ask themselves when it comes to renovating is ‘How much can I do myself?’ You mightn’t have a problem with getting your hands dirty, but the chances are what you what to achieve might take a little bit more work than what you had anticipated.

There are some simple ways in which you can decide if that reno is really DIY or if you need to bring in a professional.

Make yourself a plan

Before you start busting through walls, take a look at everything you want to do and estimate how much time and what potential costs lie in front of you. If you think logically about the project and figure out the exact scope of the work and how it will be phased in, you’ll have a much better sense of whether it’s more beneficial to bring someone in to do it for you. Large-scale renos often need inspectors, architects and contractors who should provide you with a plan that fits within your budget.

Ad. Article continues below.

Where to go DIY

You mightn’t have the skills or the inclination to do a large-scale renovation, but you can help out by getting the materials, equipment and appliances. Consider you are redoing your bathroom for example, you might have the plumber and the contractor lined up, but to ensure you get exactly what you want at a price you can afford you head out and by the tiles, the shower screen and the tap fittings to help get the job done.

A common mistake most home owners make is not ordering enough of something, so be sure to check with your measurements twice or thrice to be sure — especially if you’re doing the job yourself. If you’re working with a professional, get them to provide you with exact measurements and quantities.

When to get the professionals in

If you are messing with the overall structure of the house, and you don’t have any building, architectural or engineering experience, get a professional. This is particularly important if your home is of a good age, as the wear and tear of an older property can present a few surprises.

Ad. Article continues below.

Other areas you want a professional to help is for any major gas, plumbing or electrical work. The reasons for this should be obvious, but such contractors should also carry the right permits to do the job at hand, which means they are bound by the laws and regulations for doing the type of work you are asking of them.

What about light demolition?

Taking down things like unwanted cabinets, removing fixtures, lifting tiles, tearing off wallpaper and lifting carpet are all jobs you should feel comfortable doing yourself.

However, if you come across asbestos in your home you must call in a professional to attend to it. Finding asbestos is a nasty surprise in any renovation job. Until it is dealt with your renovation is on-hold. Do not attempt removing asbestos on your own.

You only want to do cosmetic work

Most DIY home owners are happy to stick with the cosmetic work that doesn’t require a permit approval or special licence. There are plenty of free workshops that can assist you in this area at your local hardware store as well as online video tutorials for things like removing paint, applying plasterwork and laying tiles. If you do it right, your aesthetic touches could not only make your place look like the pros have done it, but it could add considerable value to your home.

Have you ever tackled a home renovation project — what was it? What tips do you have for anyone wanting to DIY?