When it comes to home remodelling, going it alone can be risky. You can make mistakes.
At the same time, paying a professional can also lead to trouble. Prices are high, and you might not get exactly what you want.
Therefore, weighing up whether you should DIY or not is a challenge. You need to wrap your mind around all the pros and cons before coming to a final decision.
Fortunately, this article is here to help. We look at some factors you’ll want to consider when weighing professional versus DIY home improvements. Read on to learn more.
The Pros And Cons Of DIY Home Improvements
Let’s start by setting out the pros and cons of the DIY approach to home improvement projects. Below is a table showing all the advantages and disadvantages you’ll want to consider before starting.
Pros and cons of DIY home improvements
A fun hobby that can improve your mood
Longer completion time
Lower overall cost
Difficulty staying on schedule
Lets you spend more time with family
Requires personal effort
Makes you active and can keep you fit
May not save money
Ability to create something unique
Lower quality of work
You can learn new skills
Challenges finding subcontractors
Gives a sense of personal satisfaction
Lack of safety for some tasks
As you can see, the DIY approach isn’t perfect. It does come with some significant downsides. However, it is very much what you make of it. Home improvement projects you undertake yourself can be wildly successful if you enjoy the process and generate high-quality results.
Where do I start when renovating my house?
You’ll also want to consider where you’ll start when renovating your house. It’s not always obvious with home improvement DIY.
Professionals follow a set order of work when remodelling. That’s because it makes practical sense to follow a particular sequence of tasks.
Here’s what to do:
- Plan and design what your rooms will look like (and get the clearance of a qualified professional if you are considering any form of DIY construction work).
- Remove old fittings, furnishings, tiles, wallpaper, and cabinets you no longer want or will interfere with the renovation process.
- Conduct structural work if necessary, including levelling floors, fixing ceilings, plastering walls, addressing foundation issues, and installing beams.
- Fix or install plumbing, electrics and gas lines (you will need to hire professionals for most of these tasks).
- Fit out the room with units if applicable (such as installing cabinets in the kitchen or sinks in the bathroom).
- Decorate, including painting, laying the carpet or flooring material, and reinstalling fittings and fixtures, preferably in that order.
- Refit appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers and ovens.
If you are buying a new house to renovate it, ensure you conduct a thorough survey. Surveyors will tell you if there are any structural issues you need to address before beginning regular renovation work.
You can also hire structural engineers as an insurance policy before you begin renovating a house you already own. They can tell you whether there are any building issues to fix, helping you avoid wasting money.
If your entire house is decrepit, most experts recommend renovating your bathrooms or kitchen first. That’s because these rooms generate the most equity for your home. Starting with the living room or bedrooms probably won’t yield as high returns.
Budget v No Budget
DIY is usually the better option for people on a budget, but not always. Costs can rise if you make mistakes.
You will need to budget for the following:
- Planning permission. DIY projects requiring planning permission will need to budget for planning fees and changes planning officials may require. These vary according to the type of project you undertake.
- Materials. Next, you will need to consider your materials – paint, wallpaper, tiles, aggregate, and kitchen units. When you DIY, these comprise most of your expenses. Remember to include all materials you will use for a given task. For instance, tiles also require grout, sealer and mastic for proper installation.
- Tools and equipment. If you have all the tools you need already, that’s great. Usually, though, you’ll need to buy more. And that’s where things can get expensive. For instance, tile cutters for bathroom renovations can cost hundreds of pounds.
- Surprises. Lastly, you’ll want to budget for surprises. Granted, it’s hard to do because you never know what will come up, but building an extra 10 per cent into your budget can be helpful.
If you don’t DIY, you’ll need to pay a professional. They break their fees down into two groups: materials and labour costs. Most contractors will charge £200 per day to cover their costs.
What DIY jobs can you do yourself?
Paying professionals high fees to do work you can do yourself doesn’t make much sense. But what tasks in your home improvement project should you take on yourself?
Cracks along your walls and around your doors and windows are unsightly and can worsen over time. However, you can fix them yourself by filling them with cheap caulk.
You can also try making a bookshelf for your study or installing shelving in bedrooms. Just make sure you don’t drill into the electrics behind the walls.
Hanging pictures hardly requires any tools. Again, you need to make a hole in the wall and insert a fitting. That’s it.
Another DIY task you can do yourself is bath resealing. All you need is a caulk cartridge gun and a Stanley knife to remove the old sealant.
Leaky Tap Fixing
Broken or fatigued O-rings are the main cause of leaky taps. However, fixing them is easy and something you can do safely at home.
Wall And Furniture Repainting
Repainting walls can make a tremendous difference in how your home appears. You can also use paint to restore old furniture you would otherwise throw away.
You might also want to try your hand at tiling. It’s not dangerous per se, but it can easily go wrong if you use an incorrect technique.
Demolition is another task most homeowners can perform safely. Ripping up old carpets, smashing up cabinets, and pulling wallpaper off the walls can be therapeutic.
Moulding And Panelling
Lastly, people with modest DIY skills can also attempt moulding and panelling. All you need is some adhesive, a spirit level, a tape measure, a hammer and nails.
When to call in professionals
Of course, there are some DIY home renovations you should never attempt yourself. If discovered, you could invalidate your home insurance and receive fines and penalties.
Electrical jobs often require sign-off by local authority building control officers. You should not replace fuse boxes or install new circuits yourself. Only registered electricians can do work like this, even if you own your home outright.
Any electrician you hire must comply with part-P regulations. If you don’t hire an electrician, you must tell building control first, pay an inspection fee, and then wait for them to approve the work before you proceed. It can be a long process.
You should never perform any gas-related work yourself. Only use Gas Safe-registered engineers to avoid putting yourself and other people at risk.
Plumbing is not as dangerous as gas and electrical work. However, getting it wrong can still cause injuries and property damage. Therefore, you are usually better off leaving it to professionals.
Many homeowners attempt basic plumbing and electrical work themselves to save money. Popular jobs include changing sockets and switches, replacing light fittings, fixing blocked toilets, and installing new taps. However, most have to call out professionals anyway because their DIY attempts fail.
Why is DIY stressful?
DIY can be stressful because of how long it takes to complete jobs. There’s also a higher chance of something going seriously wrong if you don’t know how to proceed professionally.
Is DIY hard?
Most DIY jobs are not difficult. However, they do require you to follow a standard process. Deviating too much or taking a cowboy approach can lead to property damage and wasted budgets.
What should you not DIY?
There are various tasks you should never DIY, including replacing electrical panelling, demolishing electrical components, repairing drywall, fitting roof shingles, installing new light fixtures, and removing your old boiler.
Is DIY always cheaper?
Hiring a professional is often better value than DIY because they can do work faster with fewer mistakes. If you do it yourself, you may make errors, costing you more long-term.
Is DIY becoming more popular?
DIY is becoming more popular because people enjoy it. Many DIYers get immense satisfaction from improving their homes themselves instead of getting a professional to do it for them.
What is the most popular DIY project?
The most popular DIY projects are installing tile backsplashes, wallpapering, composting, building raised beds, painting the front door, and reupholstering used furniture.