Home truths: Know your DIY limits

CASSY SMALL
Last updated 14:40 27/05/2014
DIY

CAN YOU FIX IT? A minor makeover for your kitchen or bathroom is possible even for those with the most basic DIY skills.

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Thanks to home renovations shows like The Block, it's never been trendier to spend your Saturdays at Bunnings searching for DIY inspiration.

Professional renovator Cherie Barber began renovating properties at the age of 21 and has now personally renovated over 40 properties, averaging a massive $300,000 to $600,000 profit on every job.

She says that many cosmetic reno jobs are within the capabilities of most people. "Renovating isn't hard, but there are a lot of steps in the process," she says.

Barber stresses the importance of sticking to budget, so for most of us getting our hands dirty is unavoidable.

"You should only spend 10 per cent of your property value on a cosmetic renovation. Every dollar you spend over comes out of your profit margin," she says.

These days savvy buyers will ask for a building and pest inspection, and any bad workmanship will be shown up here.

"While you may save money on your reno, it can come back and bite you on the resale price," warns Barber.

"I'm always an advocate for outsourcing work whenever possible, I've seen too many bad DIY jobs to know that a qualified tradie is sometimes the best investment," Barber says.

Here's where she thinks it's best to spend some money to get the professionals in:

- For safety alone, you should never do your own electrical or plumbing work.

- Hire a pro to do you floor sanding. "First impressions say a lot, and there's no way you can get a professional finish if you DIY," says Barber.

- Flat-pack kitchens may seem like a weekend job, but Barber says it's more complicated than you think.

"You might like to assemble it yourself, but don't install it. If you don't get your levels right this has a flow-on effect for tiling, splashbacks, and can leave gaps under the cabinetry."

- Despite a number of "Tiling for Dummies"-style workshops, Barber advises it's not something you do yourself, this is especially so in areas such as the bathroom and laundry.

- Any structural changes, such as installing beams, will require a qualified licensed builder. Construction work of this level also requires a certificate of home warranty insurance, an often overlooked detail.

"If you sell a property within six years of renovation you will require this certificate. If not a disclaimer will be noted on your contract and could put off potential buyers."

If budget is a big factor, there's still plenty you can do yourself:

- Doing your own internal painting is an incredible way to save money, and Barber says it's the simplest way to add value to a renovation.

- A minor makeover for your kitchen or bathroom is possible even for those with the most basic DIY skills.

"Laminate paint, tile paint and benchtop resurfacing are great for refreshing a room and perfect for getting rid of dated tile work," says Barber.

- Save time for your tradies, and save money in the process by doing minor demolition work yourself. This includes things like removing floor coverings, peeling off wallpaper and removing old tiles.

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"Be mindful of asbestos," warns Barber. "Houses built before 1987 are likely to contain asbestos of some sort and this should be left to the experts."

- Outdoors there are a number of small jobs that can be done to add big value. Gurney and a fresh coat of paint for the driveway will offer an instant facelift, and building garden beds or laying turf are all simple jobs.

- Changing the flooring of your property can make a room appear bigger, and thanks to DIY products such as Gerflor's self-adhesive vinyl floor planks it's possible to knock this job over yourself in a day.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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