Doing it yourself is a popular Kiwi approach to tackling renovation projects but how do you know when it's time to engage a professional?

It's almost a rite of passage as homeowners to pick up some tools and attempt a DIY project.

While it may seem straightforward to take this route throughout your home, there can be hidden costs, not least the value of your time — and your personal safety — so think hard before deciding how to proceed.

Good planning is essential, so sit down and type up the pros and cons of each approach before you do anything else.



Practically anybody can paint a house. It's hard work preparing and repairing surfaces, sanding and priming until you apply the top coat. However, it is very time intensive and if you can't work at it full-time, you could find yourself in the situation of completing one side of the house each summer, by which time the work you did earlier may need fixing up already.

So, the options are to hire a professional painter who will do the job quickly and efficiently or roping in family members to help you.

Around this time of year, students are looking for work so Student Job Search may be your best port of call.


The rules around deck-building have changed quite significantly over the past few years.Adeck standing below 1.5 metres tall no longer requires council approval — although it's unwise to assume anything and still pays to check things thoroughly with the local authorities.

If you've never built a deck before, find some relevant YouTube videos or sign up for classes at your local hardware store. It's not hard to build a good-looking, safe and secure deck but if you hire a tradesperson, you may be pleasantly surprised by the low cost and high standard. You'll also save lots of time and trouble — plus the effort and expense of buying or hiring tools.


A lay person can't undertake plumbing work, which requires certification but you can certainly do the demolition; getting the area ready and the basics in place for your tradies to work with. Doing the tiling yourself is possible, but not as easy as you might imagine, and expensive mistakes can take the gloss off the experience. If you've never done it before be very careful, take your time and remember there are loads of online tips and tutorials available. Accuracy and careful measuring are crucial to your success. When it comes to finishing touches such as painting, most of us are able to manage a spot of DIY. Just be sure to discuss the surfaces involved with paint shop staff to ensure that you are choosing appropriate hardworking, long-lasting products that will repel mould and other nasties.


Once again you'll need the big guns for plumbing and electrical work but if you're doing a relatively simple project, such as installing store bought joinery and benchtops you may well be able to tackle this project.

Bear in mind it will inevitably take a reasonable length of time, especially if you only have weekends to work with, so figure out if you can handle the mess and disruption before starting.

Accuracy and keen attention to detail is vital here because you can't afford to have anything that's crooked or uneven. If you're a first timer, actually working with the tradesperson as their apprentice will equip you for further projects and hopefully save on labour costs.

Simple flooring materials such as lino tiles and boards can conceivably be installed by a savvy novice, but do seek professional advice first.


Keeping windows in good order is vital for the ongoing maintenance of your home. Cleaning the glass and the frames is essential and if the glass needs replaced for any reason, it is possible to do it yourself. Be very careful, especially if broken glass is involved and always wear gloves.

Removing the putty can be onerous but it's important to start from scratch with a clean surface.

Some people are able to hang wallpaper like a pro, but if you're not one of them you're in danger of wasting a great deal of money with many modern papers costing hundreds of dollars a roll.

Hanging it straight, matching a pattern and ensuring that you have no air bubbles is surprisingly tricky so don't rush in, and if you don't feel confident, calling in a professional may be money well spent. Ask if you can observe the process and in doing so, you'll pick up useful tips and tricks.


Every year, ACC receives around 35,000 claims relating to DIY projects in the home. That's a lot of people with bad backs, eye injuries or sore digits thanks to an out-of-control hammer. If you have any reason to believe that a job you're planning has the potential to hurt or even kill you, then just don't do it. Find somebody who has the skills and experience instead.

Now that the renovation is over, you can take pride in the things you achieved yourself, having learnt new skills in the process and you can also feel pleased that the work you've had done by professional tradespeople is up-to-scratch and will last for many years.