Renovations: What you can DIY and what’s best left to the pros

Written by Caitlin Costello in Renovating on April 19, 2017

Renovations: What you can DIY and what’s best left to the pros

There’s no denying it: renovating can be a costly exercise. From materials to labour, the expenses can add up quickly and without a strict budget in action, projects can easily amount to much more than you had bargained for. With this in mind, it’s natural to wonder if you could just as easily saddle the tools for some DIY renovations. Save on the tradespeople and learn a new skill while you’re at it – makes perfect sense, right?

There’s a reason tradespeople cost a lot: they are skilled professionals, trained to do the task at hand. In most cases, you get what you pay for. But there are some parts of renovating that with a little research or advice, you may just be able to turn your own hand to. Here are some parts of home renos you can take on yourself.


You don’t need any particular skills to demolish cabinets or shelves. You can save half a day to a day’s worth of labour for a builder if you remove the existing structures first and leave them with a clean slate to start with. Make sure you ask someone to point out where the electrical cables and plumbing runs before you start with a sledgehammer – and then go for gold! With DIY renovations you can take out your frustrations on the plaster and timber while you’re at it.


While a professional could probably do it more quickly and efficiently – anyone with a bit of patience can paint a wall. You can save yourself hundreds, even thousands of dollars by DIYing the paint job. If your house has tall ceilings, you may want to ask a pro to help you out with the high bits, but if you can borrow some ladders and scaffolding from friends you can tackle this yourself too.

Explore how to paint walls, trims and more here


While larger scale landscaping jobs are probably best left to the professionals, you can make simple garden updates on your own without the need for a bobcat! Take a trip to your local nursery and pick up some pot plants, shrubs, fruit trees or herbs, pull out a spade and get digging. A bit of greenery around the garden adds instant vibrancy, giving your whole home a facelift. Not bad for an afternoon of hard yakka!

Flatpack kitchens

There’s a fine line with these ready-made kitchens from IKEA, Bunnings, Masters and the like. While they are relatively straightforward to put together, the real mastery is in installing them. Without the right tools and experience, you could find yourself with a wonky kitchen bench, which in turn leads to wonky tiles and can even mean gaps between fixtures – in short, a mess. Save yourself a few dollars by building the units yourself, but enlist the help of a builder or carpenter to install each piece. That way you know it will be level and correctly secured.


This one is a job for your inner perfectionist. Laying tiles is a lot like tetris: everything has its rightful place. But take care – uneven or mislaid tiles will stick out in a bathroom, and could ruin your overall look and feel, so be sure you are confident before you start grouting!

Watch this video for a step-by-step guide here

Update your handles

A quick and easy reno job that adds instant value is updating the knobs and handles on kitchen drawers, cupboards and doors. You can pick up new knobs and handles from an hardware store, and most are easy to install with a screwdriver.

DIY renovations: it ain’t glamorous

To save on builder’s time and money, take on the non glamorous jobs – we’re talking the hard labour: the clean up. With any DIY renovations, there’s no end to rubble, dust and mess. Leave your builder, carpenter, plumber and electrician to their jobs, and make yourself useful by cleaning up around them. Like with demolition, this can save the pros almost a day of labour, so get your hands dirty and prepare to sweat!

Pay the pros

There are some things that you are better off just paying for. We’re talking electrical work and plumbing for starters. Without the right tools and experience, you can make big mistakes in these areas that can be extremely costly to resolve. As they say, it’s better to do it once and do it right!

Find more tips and advice from realestateVIEW on Twitter