10 home improvements that you should never DIY

Homeowners are going DIY crazy these days, but while it’s true that there is a sense of fulfilment in finishing your home reno project yourself, there are some things that should be left to the pros.

Attempting to DIY certain things can result in mistakes, wasted time, wasted money, a shotty and dangerous result and the worse still, injury.

Even when we encourage you to roll up your sleeves and save money by tackling your own DIY home improvements, there are specific tasks that we strongly advise against doing yourself, here are our top 10.

1. Disturbing old insulation

If you own a home built before the 1980s, the insulation could be contaminated with asbestos – a mineral that when disturbed can cause damage to the environment and long-term illnesses. If you think you’re dealing with insulation that contains the toxic material, it’s imperative that you contact an asbestos removal company as there are also laws about disposing of asbestos in Australia.

2. Removing walls

It’s the assumption of many home buyers that walls can be easily knocked down to create that desirable open plan living layout when purchasing an older property. However, depending on the way the house was built, those walls could be playing an integral role in the structural integrity of the home. Removing one or many walls could result in not enough support left for the roof. Structural damage such as collapsing of walls and the roof falling in, is not only a costly nightmare but could also result in serious injury. A professional should definitely be consulted when making any big structural changes to a home.

3. Repairing HVAC (heating, ventilation, & air conditioning) systems

Attempting to diagnose the problem in your HVAC system is dangerous. It may not only result in further damage but can also expose you to toxins from carbon monoxide and Freon leaks that can cause respiratory problems and even death. For this reason, it’s imperative to have gas heaters professionally serviced every one to two years. The only thing you can do with your HVAC system is to replace the filters every month.

4. Removing lead-based paint

Many Australian homes built before 1970 used paints containing high amounts of lead. Exposure to high levels of the mineral can cause muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and lots of other nasty symptoms. If you’re considering removing old paint, we suggest getting a professional to do the job. Not only will you keep your health safe and sound, but the hard work will be completed safely and the surface ready for you to pull out the roller and paint it to your heart’s desire.

5. Expelling wildlife

Wildlife including possums, bats, rats and mice can create extensive damage in your home as they settle down and make it their own. But before attempting to wrangle them yourself, be warned that these animals are prone to carry diseases and can be quite vicious. Risking injury or infection is not worth it. Also, there are certain licensing and regulations surrounding the capture and release of possums in Australia that only the pros will have a thorough understanding of. So it’s advisable to hire a pest control expert to safely remove the animals and secure your home instead of attempting to tackle the issue yourself.

6. Tinkering with the electrical system

No one should tinker with your electricity system except for an electrician. I don’t think electrocution is on anyone’s bucket list, so best to avoid it at all costs. Anything can happen when you try to have a go at it yourself from overloading power, short-circuiting to exploding outlets. That will not only put you at risk of electrocution but could lead to a devastating electrical fire as well.

7. Refinishing floor

You might think to refinish your timber floor merely takes a sanding machine and a little YouTube tutorial viewing. But no matter how many times you watch a video or read a step by step guide, you won’t be able to get the same polished finish as an experienced pro first time around. Get it wrong, and you could have an uneven floor, patchy areas and a ruined weekend.
Such a job requires a professional who does it day in and day out and knows how different how different timbers feel and respond to their machinery. Floorboards aren’t cheap or easy to match and replace if you mess up, so it’s best to leave it to the experts.

8. Tiling

Tiling takes a lot more than merely laying squares on the floor or wall. You’ll need to cut some tiles to fit around the edging and other irregular surfaces, apply the grout evenly, line up the tiles precisely and maybe even waterproof the wet area first. The problem is, it’s not that easy to do well, and can only lead to wasted money down the line. It’s why it pays to leave the trouble to the pro. They’ll do the job much quicker too which will mean you get to move in and start living in the newly tiled space sooner.

9. Roofing

As a rule of thumb, avoid any task that requires getting up high. Nearly 5000 Aussies are admitted to hospital every year as a result of a ladder fall. Stay safe and leave anything higher than a step stool to the experts.

10. Installing a privacy screen or fence

You wouldn’t think that privacy screens were something you couldn’t whip up yourself on the weekend, however, there are various regulations and codes that apply to construction like this. Hiring a professional will ensure it’s safe and follows Australian regulations. Privacy screens and fences are an easy way to keep your property from the watchful eyes of your neighbours, and hiring a professional to build and set them up offers not only convenience but also the guarantee that the installation follows the council regulations and codes.

No matter how fun, budget-friendly and fulfilling DIY projects can be, your safety must always come first. So it’s best to bring in professionals for these 10 jobs or any household task you’re not 100 per cent confident with.


by George Katsoudas