diy, renovating, building

Why doing it yourself might not save you money

If you’re looking to do a renovation or building project, at some stage in the process I bet you’ll think to yourself, “Hmmm, where can I save some money?” You might read a few magazines, watch a few renovating shows on TV and then think, “I know! I’ll do some of the work myself!”


Well, you will save some cash but it might be something of a hollow victory. Builders know what they’re doing and they do it every day for at least eight hours a day. A renovation will generally start with demolition of some kind and while yes, theoretically you could do some of that yourself (with of course the help of some friends who are just dying to spend their weekends knee deep in your rubble) the truth is, the builder’s team will be able to do it quicker and far more efficiently.


Game-fit 23-year-olds are much better at pulling apart houses than office-fit homeowners (yes, even if you do go to Crossfit) and they can do it for 8 hours in a row, stopping only for a 30-minute smoko. They know how to sort rubbish so that the tip will accept it in the most cost-efficient manner and they know how to stack rubbish in the skip or truck to get the most rubbish in there in a safe manner.


I don’t doubt your enthusiasm but most people cannot do hard physical labour for 8 hours at a stretch, five days a week. You might find that your demolition takes 4 weekends, instead of being done in 4 days. That’s 4 extra weeks that you’re living in a construction demolition zone and paying interest on your construction loan.


Same goes for painting. If you really love painting and time’s not an issue then by all means, go ahead. However, if you’re doing it just to save money, it might be a false economy – a friend at work had her kitchen renovated and they decided to do the painting themselves. I kid you not it took them 4 weeks to paint the kitchen and we heard about it Every. Single. Day. And she was going to the chiropractor twice a week as well because the painting was messing with her back. Her thoughts once it was finally over? Pay a painter.


In another example of DIWhy?, 18 months ago, JD and the 5to50 crew did a small renovation on a customer’s investment property – a lovely 2 bedroom flat. The customer decided that he would install the Ikea kitchen himself. JD offered to get the crew onto it and get the job finished, but this guy was adamant that he would do it himself. A year later he rang JD and asked if he could send someone over to install the kitchen, that was sitting in a half assembled state in his unfinished kitchen. Obviously the apartment was unable to be rented without a kitchen, so his decision to do it himself had cost him around $40,000 in lost rent.


And plenty of other builders have horror stories about DIY disasters they’ve had to fix up after the fact – everything from poor quality gyprocking to potentially lethal electrics (don’t do it!) to decks that are structurally unsound and very dangerous to painting that’s been done with no surface preparation.


If you really want to do something yourself because you know you will enjoy it or you want to be involved with your project in a hands-on way then go for it. If however, you are only doing it to save money, think carefully, because the chances are you will pay for it down the track in either time or quality.


Are you keen to DIY some or all of your renovation? Have you experienced a DIY disaster? What would you serve the builders at smoko?




  • Nicole @ The Builder's Wife

    I’m laughing so hard at the kitchen, we had the exact same call not so long ago from a past client in the same position. We’ve also done many a bathroom reno on bathrooms completed by home owners, where waterproofing was obviously not thought about 🙁


      Oh yes, waterproofing! As you would know, insurance companies are not fans of people who do their own waterproofing. Cos it’s usually not, you know, waterproof!

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