We love DIY. Ever since we bought our home (5 years ago now!) doing DIY has turned more into a way of life than just a necessity.
When we first started looking at buying a house, we quickly realised that we would have to compromise in order to get a home in the area we wanted to be in. Both location and size were important for us, so inevitably we had to compromise on the finish and overall condition of our house. We soon realised that for us, DIY would be an inevitable part of home ownership.
As you know, we try to tackle as many restoration, home improvement and general DIY jobs as we can ourselves, but some jobs are better left to the professionals. Although we’ve learned that they often don’t do a better job (actually often it’s the complete opposite), sometimes it’s inevitable that you’ll have to get in outside help.
DIY isn’t just about saving money (although you can save lots). It’s about getting the home you want, learning new skills and the sense of achievement that comes with completing a job is unbelievably rewarding.
The big question however is how to know when to tackle a home improvement project yourself and how to know when to get in professional help.
For some jobs, you need certificates or approvals and whilst you can sometime still do the work and get the necessary approvals yourself, it sometimes just isn’t worth the effort.
Here’s what we think.
For us this is one of the easiest jobs and by far the easiest way to save money. It usually just involves a lot of hard work and dirt. Just remember to take the necessary safety precautions.
Garage Roof: Whilst we ended up doing the whole project ourselves, the original plan had been to do the demolition and pay to have the roof installed. All companies that gave us quotes were happy for us to the demolition part which would have saved us about £600.
Garden Wall: We paid to have our garden wall rebuilt, but we tackled taking it down and cleaning the bricks ourselves. It wasn’t difficult (just a bit boring after the first 300 bricks), but saved us about £600.
Painting & Decorating.
This is another job that really isn’t difficult as long as you use the right tools and materials it’s easy to achieve professional results.
I admit that when we first moved into our home, I would never have thought that plastering would make it to the list of “can-do” projects, but I’m so proud of what we managed to achieve in our fourth bedroom and we’ll definitely be tackling the rest of the rooms in our home. I couldn’t have done it without doing the plastering course at the DIY School first though!
We’ve just finished plastering our fourth bedroom which cost us about £60 for materials. The quote we had for the same room was £350 which means we’ve saved £290 on just one room.
Floors, doors, skirting, frames, … you name it, you can sand it. Floor sanding is hard work, but an easy thing to do.
Floor Sanding: When we first moved into our home we paid to have our living room floor sanded, which cost us about £250. About a year later when we realised that it was a job that we could totally do ourselves, we paid about £220 to sand two rooms and two hallways.
Whilst fitting a window in general is an easy job, you need building regulations approval (and potentially planning permission depending on where you live) when you install new windows or doors, so (for us) it really didn’t seem worth the effort of doing it ourselves.
Fireplaces & Wood Burning Stoves.
As with windows, you need a certificate (this time from HETAS) when you have a fireplace or stove installed. You can apply for one yourself, but like with the windows it’s probably not worth the effort.
Electrics & Anything Gas.
It’s just not worth the risk and, as you’d expect, there are certificates and approvals that you need for that kind of work, too. Of course we change light fittings and update socket covers ourselves, but anything more advanced is better left to the professionals.
Anything where you need a warranty. Anything structural. Anything you feel uneasy and unsure about.
Use common sense! It’s okay to give yourself a push and tackle new things, but know your limits and always take the necessary safety precautions.
Probably one of the most important factors for us though (besides saving money of course) is that you tend to take more care in your home than any trades people do (at least pretty much everyone that we’ve experienced), you are probably more bothered about the finish than they are and you get exactly what you want.
This is obviously all based upon our own personal experiences and it’s definitely a case of the more you do the more you learn. It really all comes down to knowing your own personal limits and knowing what jobs you’re allowed to do. We’ve learned so much and have tackled projects that we never would have thought possible. We still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but for us that’s part of the fun of home ownership!
Where does DIY start and stop for you? Have you ever had a DIY disaster? What’s your biggest DIY achievement?