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What to DIY Vs Leave to a Professional When Renovating

Renovating Aug 1, 2018

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional

Hey guys! A little while ago I did a Q&A on Instagram all about our renovation, and got soooooo many great questions! If you want to see the results, I’ve listed them in the Q&A highlight on my profile.

One that came up a bit was the question of ‘What should I DIY, and what should I leave to the professionals?’. Which is SUCH a good question. When you’re renovating, there’s so much fun and excitement in getting stuck in with DIYs and projects of your own. But at the same time, you want to make sure that updates to your house are done properly, in a way that will increase the value and functionality of your space… And not have to be redone!

Working with Ben on our renovation, it’s been quite interesting to get an expert opinion on what can and should be DIYed in a renovation, and what should be left to someone who does it day in and day out and will do it the right way. Yes, there’s youtube videos for just about everything, but while it is *possible* to do everything yourself, unless you’re seriously talented it’s not always advisable. Obviously, the fact that we aren’t living on site and have been travelling to and from Hong Kong during this renovation has meant for a lot of the house we have worked with builders and contractors to get all the big things done, but that said, if you have more time on site there are lots of things that you can DIY, and also some that you *definitely* shouldn’t. Read on for Ben’s expert opinion!

We created an illustration so you can bookmark this for your home Reno!

What to DIY vs Leave to a Professional When Renovating

You Can Totally DIY

Selecting Materials & Appliances – This is definitely something that you can tackle yourself, and it’s actually a really fun part of the process, so long as you can avoid getting overwhelmed by choice! That said, consult your builder if you’re unsure on a certain material.

Minor Demolition – Removing smaller items from your house like cabinets and shelving is something you can do yourself, but for major demolition such as walls make sure you speak to a professional as accidentally removing a load bearing beam can be a disaster.

Painting Interiors & Furniture – Painting is much much harder than it looks, from choosing the right paints for the area, prepping the surface to painting multiple coats. Painting a room well is no easy task! That said, anyone who has renovated will have painted an indoor wall or room, you can definitely do it! We’ll be sharing a few DIYs for this down the track so stay tuned.

Installing a Flat pack kitchen – So long as you’re handy with a drill and good at reading instructions you’ll generally  be able to put together a flat pack kitchen like the ones they sell at IKEA or Kaboodle. They’re designed to be easy! That said, if you want some customisations you might need to speak to a professional.

Landscaping – The most difficult part of landscaping (other than the design) is prepping the site – creating garden beds with soil that will actually grow  and putting in watering systems, so perhaps consider using someone to help you do this. But once that is done, planting trees is something that you can definitely do yourself!

Simple tiling – Ok so this is where Ben and I diverge in opinion. He feels that any sort of tiling should be done by a professional so it looks 100%. However, in the past I have helped my mum tile and grout a bathroom, using simple tiles that come in sheets. The outcome wasn’t too bad and is an option if you’re tight on budget. Even doing the grouting can be an option, if you want to get a tiler to lay the tiles.

Decor Updates – Anything to do with the smaller, decor elements of a renovation can be done yourself like installing new doorknobs, making curtains, updating nightshades, painting doors, hanging mirrors, putting together furniture.

For the pros

Designing the plans for your house – Unless you are an architect or a designer, it’s best to get someone to help you with the plans for your new house/update. That said, if it’s a small update you can often just do that with your builder and skip having plans, but know that the details will be down to what the builder decides on the fly.

Painting exteriors – Painting exteriors is much more complicated than your average bedroom, due to the paint and prep required. It’s also the outside of your house which is pretty hard to cover up if it doesn’t look crash hot. So I would make sure you’re across it completely before embarking on an exterior paint job, or better yet opt for a professional if you can afford it, it’s money well spent.

Structural Updates – Anything structural to the house should involve atleast a conversation with a professional.

Complicated tiling – Remember that post I put about about our tile layout? Well most of the ones I suggested there would be quite difficult to install, and not something a novice tiler should be trying out. Herringbone is best left for the professionals!

Plumbing – Depending on where you live, not only is it advisable to have a professional do your plumbing work, it’s actually the law!

Lighting and electricals – In the same vein as the plumbing work, you should get a professional to help you with anything to do with installing electricals, although once you get lights put in, you can always update the light shades.

Obviously when it comes to what you should DIY it’s about your skill and experience level, as well as how much time you have to sink into learning and experimenting on the job – if you live in your renovation you’ll probably be more open to experimentation. Those of you with more skills will be able to do more complicated projects. But if in doubt, consult a professional, and at least cost it up before you decide. And consider what it would cost to have to do it twice!

Stay tuned for more renovation ideas and guides!

Going through a renovation yourself? Here’s a process of how our renovation came along from choosing our Tile Patterns to Material and Colour Palettes. You can find the inside scoop to behind the scenes at our renovation here as well!


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