Renovating: Hidden Risks DIY Renovation

If you’ve ever renovated your own home or investment properties, even on a small scale, then you know how satisfying it can be to breathe new life into a space when transforming old to new.

A common mistake and problem you face as an investor is that you become emotionally attached and often renovate to your own personal tastes. But there are plenty of other risks involved when renovating, especially when you decide to try and do the job yourself. These can include:

Risk 1: Thinking you’re more qualified than you are

Doing your own renovations allows you to save money, but obviously, you should only take on jobs you’re qualified to do. Attempting to build your own retaining wall or install your own tiles when you have no experience or qualifications could mean you end up with an unprofessional finish.

Risk 2: Spending more than you’ll save to fix your mistakes

DIY renovators often end up spending even more in the long run, when they have to pay an expert to come in and fix their mistakes! This happened to one investor I know when she attempted to DIY her roof gutter renovation. She paid a professional to transform the terracotta-coloured roof into a modern slate grey, but when he quoted an additional $500 to paint the gutters, she decided to do it herself – and the result was so sloppy (with so much overpaint onto the house) that she had to pay a professional painter to fix the work, at a cost of $900. Lesson learnt!

Risk 3: Assuming costs, rather than pricing them

As a renovator, you can’t simply assume what the costs will be – you need to actually price and quote the components of each renovation via multiple sources. Most renovators will spend a minimum of 10% more than they budgeted (and sometimes much more) so make sure you crunch the numbers well before you get started on your project.

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Risk 4: Banking on an unrealistic end value

Generally, property renovators tend to be an optimistic bunch. They’ll often enter a renovation project with an unrealistic idea of what the property will be worth post-renovation. I recommend that you turn to a number of sources – including real estate agent appraisals, viewing comparable recent sales and even engaging a private valuer if you can spare the cash – to paint a realistic picture of what the property will be worth post-reno. Ending up with a property that is worth less than you anticipated is one of the biggest risks renovators face and it can really stall your investment strategy.

Risk 5: Renovations that turn ugly

I once knew an investor who decided to re-tile his property’s bathroom himself. It was only after ripping up all the tiles that he discovered a mould and rendering issue behind the wall, which required him to demolish the walls and re-plaster them before attaching the new tiles. It ended up costing him another $3,500, not to mention the extra time it added to the project. What’s the moral of the story? Don’t attempt renovating anything unless you’re prepared to deal with what lurks beneath!

If you have the skills, then doing a DIY job may pay dividends. But for first-timers, remember that an unprofessional finish or sloppy paint job can actually look worse than it did before – and in the eyes of potential buyers, poorly completed renovations can simply represent more work for them to do. They’ll take this into account when coming up with their offer.

My advice? Do your research: make sure you know exactly how much every component will cost before you tackle it, and don’t be afraid to get it priced by a professional. Their fees may even be tax deductible and if engaging an expert saves you time, stress and energy, they may be well worth their fee in the long run.

Helen Collier-Kogtevs
Helen Collier-Kogtevs

Helen Collier-Kogtevs is the Founder of Real Wealth Australia, an education company based in Briar Hill, Victoria. Helen is a self-made millionaire who built her wealth with her property investment expertise. Over the years, Helen has pioneered mentoring programs dedicated to helping Australians create property portfolios. She is the author of books including 59 Biggest Mistakes Made by Property Investors and How to Avoid Them, and How to Start Creating Wealth Through Real Estate.