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When to DIY and when not to DIY


I’m a home renovator from way back and 80% of the time it’s on a petty budget so I’m all on board with doing what you can yourself to improve your home without breaking the bank.

That said, there are just some aspects of home improvement that should be left to the pros.

Michael Duffy is a renovator but knows what to leave to the professional tradies. Picture: Nat McCommas

What you should not DIY

1. Tiling

I’ve seen a lot of DIY tiling jobs and I’m yet to see a good one. I’m speaking from experience because Michael has tiled multiple wet areas in our homes in the past and whilst the result is usually passable, it’s far from the ultimate outcome.

There’s so much more to this trade than meets the eye. He’d never try it now and I make sure I choose tiles that are complex to lay so that he’s not tempted to try.

Read more: 6 ways to mix and match tiles

Tiling is a tricky job and one best to leave to the professionals. Picture: Mindi Cooke

2. Electrical & plumbing

Tiling isn’t the only job that should be left to the pros. The fact that a tradesperson has spent four years learning their craft is probably a good indicator that you shouldn’t go there. You don’t know what you don’t know.

My dad recently spent three weekends trying to fix his brother’s split-system air conditioner. Three weekends for what a professional could have done in a couple of hours for $350 including parts – and I bet you can predict how this ended. Yep, he had to call in a pro anyway.

Read more: 6 ways to reduce electricity bills

Don’t attempt any of your own plumbing if you want that dreamy kitchen to work. Picture: Nat McCommas

3. Design

Engaging the right design professional can be one of the best investments you can make in your home.

Where you might spend weeks or months agonising over the ultimate combination of materials, fixtures and colours, a design professional can make these calls in 1/16 of that time, backed by industry knowledge and with zero stress to you. Do yourself a favour.

Engaging the right design professional is a worthy investment. Picture: Mindi Cooke

What you should try DIY

1. Painting

No one likes painting but as long as you have the patience, the right tools (including good music), and are willing to do the prep work, you can generally get a good result tackling this job yourself.

Michael and Carlene painted their caravan reno, including the stencil lettering. Picture: Mindi Cooke

2. Curtains

We’re in the process of DIYing our sheer curtains. I sourced my fabric, curtain tape, hooks, brackets and rings, engaged a local sewer and had Michael cut the rods (still to be powder coated).

It’s cost us half the price of engaging a curtain maker/supplier and this way I got exactly what I wanted.

Save on curtains by making your own rods and fabric panels, or find a local maker who can. Picture: Nat McCommas

3. Laying flooring

Like painting, laying floorboards really requires the right equipment and maybe a willing mate for extra labour.

I suggest doing a bit of research (there’s a good chance your local large hardware store is running a workshop on the matter) and making sure you have a clean run of it.

Note: You’ll want the furniture and family out of the house for this task.

Read more: 5 wooden flooring options for your home that won’t blow your budget

Laying floorboards is possible to DIY with the right equipment. Picture: Mindi Cooke

This article was originally published as When to DIY and when not to DIY by and is written by Carlene Duffy.

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