Australia is a nation of DIY’ers and we love nothing more than tackling our own improvements and minor repairs, but are we actually costing ourselves more money by taking on jobs that we shouldn’t?
Get The Job Dunning
No, that’s not a typo, the Dunning-Kruger effect is a psychological principle which holds that people often over-estimate their ability and skill. Laughably, more than 50% of participants in the study believed themselves to be above average.
What this means for the DIY home owner is that you should really put some thought into what jobs you do yourself and which ones you should get professional assistance with. It’s definitely worth watching how-to videos, and you should also view them as a means of assessing whether it is in your skill-set or not.
Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss
Trades marketplace hipages produced a report in August 2022 showing that more than 18% of homeowners are sitting on a repair that requires trades attention because the issue is not deemed to be urgent. A large percentage of these jobs are repairs that might cost more than $5,000.
The worst part, according to some trades people, is that these festering issues end up costing more because they are causing damage to other parts of the property while we are busy putting the repairs off.
The True Cost
Its one thing to say that you saved money by doing it yourself, but of course we generally don’t count the 16 additional trips to bunnings, the tools that will only be used on this one job and the wasted materials that are not useable on any other projects.
The cost might be even more significant if you get injured or if you inadvertently repair something that legally requires a qualified professional like electrical or structural repairs.
Some of the most common mistakes made by Australian DIY’ers are:
- Using the wrong paint for the job
- Not getting a permit when required
- Buying ‘cheap’ tools
- Improperly storing materials
- Measuring incorrectly
Of course, many of the jobs required around the house can be done simply and cost effectively with only a small amount of effort; and if you are a bit handy then you can take on mor advanced projects and build some sweat equity in the property (for more on this, see our post on building equity). All the while, you want to avoid costly mistakes or doing something that ultimately devalues the property or is illegal, so here’s our DIY decision making checklist* to help you.
|Issue||DIY||Use a Pro|
|Warranty or insurance claim||Never||Always|
|Plumbing simple under-sink, no welding||Maybe||Yes|
|Plumbing interior wall cavity, no welding||If you have successfully done it before||Yes|
|All other plumbing||Never||Always|
|Structural or if you are unsure)||Never||Always|
|Painting (below 2m height||Yes||Yes|
|Painting above 2m height||If you know how to use proper safety equipment||Always|
|Concreting, paving and tiling||If you have successfully done it before||Always|
|Want the comfort of a warranty or guarantee||Never||Always|
|Work on a tenanted investment property||Never||Always|
*bliss conveyancing is not licenced to perform any repairs or modifications to buildings, you should consult a licenced professional prior to attempting any of the activities referred to above, this checklist is for informational purposes only.
It’s great to save some money on repairs and maintenance, but you wont know for sure until you get a quote from a professional. Take care to be true with yourself about your skill level and whether or not you have the time and skill to do the job correctly.