Be Sure of Your Skills before Touching Tools

The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia), July 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Be Sure of Your Skills before Touching Tools


SERIAL renovators are full of sound advice for the novice and the first rule is: don't delude yourself you're a natural.

Broken pipes, sagging ceilings and bruised egos are some of the lesser casualties of projects gone wrong and if you believe the stats, half of all DIY projects end in disaster.

Paying to fix a botched job Co and dealing with smug tradies Co will quickly wipe out any potential savings and brownie points. So question whether you really have the time, tools and ability to pull off a major DIY project before you reach for the hammer. And heed the following advice from those who have survived it.

1. Planning and managing

It's a fact: your planning and project management skills will make or break a renovation Co as well as a marriage. So quit now if you don't think you're up to it.

Research should be exhaustive and your plan as detailed as possible. Divide your wish list into three categories: essential, optional and desirable. Then get out the red pen.

Work out a timeline and budget, allowing for a 20 per cent contingency. Make sure you get any required planning approvals and owner-builder certificates. You'll have a better shot at domestic harmony if you divvy up the major tasks: one manages the budget, the other oversees the tradies and timeline. And both share the chores and daily clean up.

2. Renovate or detonate

You need to ask the question. There are fewer surprises when you build from scratch, so it doesn't always make sense to renovate. Determine if the structure is sound and consider the resale value of your endeavours.

Perhaps consult an architect, building designer or an experienced draughtsperson who can advise you on the merits of the project.

3. Keep it friendly

Build good relationships with neighbours and tradies; fall-outs invariably cost time and money. Alert neighbours well in advance to particularly intrusive phases of the reno.

Rely on recommendations, not the lowest quote, when choosing your team, as an alluring quote can quickly spiral when unforeseen problems surface. Always check credentials.

Proper co-ordination and liaison with your various tradies should avoid unnecessary repeat visits Co the idea is to get as much work done in one hit without creating a traffic jam. This is where your timeline is critical.

4. Keep a clean, safe work site

Topping the list of most common DIY accidents are falls from ladders and roofs and injuries from power saws. If you're knee-deep in rubble, you not only risk accidents, but you'll misplace tools and lose items.

Keep delivered materials in a safe place so your expensive new basin isn't smashed by a random swing of the hammer.

A cautionary word on asbestos. New figures show an alarming rise in cases of malignant mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during home maintenance and renovation, so educate yourself on what to look for and call in the professionals if you're in any doubt.

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