DIY disasters spark tradies warning
Leaky homes, rotting decks, and roofs flying off in storms - tradesmen called in to fix costly renovation botch-ups are warning the DIY dream can turn into a nightmare.
Consumer spending at hardware supplies stores is hitting new highs as the popularity of do-it-yourself home improvement continues to grow.
But tradies are wary of the influence of home television shows that promote picking up tools, as DIY gone wrong can bring costly repairs.
Fix-It Wellington building consultant Rudy van Vlerken said he was frustrated by the DIY disasters he was called in to clean up.
Mr van Vlerken had tackled rotting timber decks, retaining walls that collapsed on to the properties beneath, and roofs and fences that flew away with the wind.
He had dealt with two instances of shoddy DIY workmanship in recent weeks, costing his customers about $1500 and $12,000. His most expensive fix was for a botched roofing job that put a customer $50,000 out of pocket.
The worst culprits were DIY-ers who launched into additions without building consents, passing on the problem to the next buyer, he said.
His advice was for buyers to check renovated homes carefully, and for DIY-ers to seek professional advice for big jobs.
"We're strong in New Zealand on DIY, and I wouldn't want to stop it. There's something special about the pride someone might take in himself and the pride his family and friends have for him when he does it himself.
"But not when it comes back to bite you on the bum and you have to pay for doing that project down the track."
Stewart & Rogers Electrical co-owner Simon Rogers said television shows such as The Block led people to underestimate renovation costs, which could explain why they attempted wiring.
"On these shows they see them doing all these things apparently cheaply. But these homeowners, once their budget blows out they panic and think they can do it."
As of July, homeowners could face problems insuring or selling properties if they do not obtain safety and compliance certification for electrical work, the Electrical Contractors Association has warned.
Chief executive Neville Simpson said wiring work was best left to the professionals.
"It's just the old Kiwi mentality, ‘Oh, I can do it - it's simple. I can string a few lengths of wire together' - but then they switch on the TV and the toaster goes off. We come across it all the time, every man and his dog thinks they know what they are doing."
Statistics NZ figures show a strong appetite for DIY supplies.
In the first three months of this year, consumers spent $1.35 billion on hardware, building and garden supplies, compared with $1.18b in the same period last year.
Hardware stores also enjoyed the highest growth in average spending among goods retailers, recording an increase of almost 13 per cent in the year to July.
QUAKE CLAIMS EXPOSE DODGY WORK
Homeowners making quake- damage claims have been hit with the cost of repairing DIY botch-ups as insurance companies find shoddy workmanship is actually to blame.
IAG spokesman Craig Dowling said there were anecdotal reports of insurers declining payouts for repairs in quake-hit Christchurch, when poor construction was found to have contributed to the damage.
Policies can exclude loss or damage caused by existing defects. Mr Dowling said.
"DIY botch-ups can be problematic for homeowners as inherited problems are unlikely to be covered by their insurance, and are more either a civil, or 'buyer beware' matter."
IAG advised homeowners to check their policies as insurers might not pay for damage arising from faulty workmanship in certain scenarios.
However, owners might find they could successfully claim for damage arising from a poorly built extension falling down or a faulty pipe bursting - but not the fixing of the fault itself, Mr Dowling said.
"In such situations, homeowners would either have to go back to who was responsible for the fault, or accept that they are responsible for having purchased the home, accepting it in that condition, and face remediation costs themselves."
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment advised home buyers that if they discovered building work that did not comply with consents, the DIY-er was liable for the cost of fixing it and could face prosecution.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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