There are loads of running jokes in our family as you are probably beginning to realise. One that doesn’t fall on me this time but on my husband happens whenever we go to home wares shops, garden centres and the like and look at things for the house, furniture, gadgets, outdoor decorations etc. When I find something that I like (invariably with a hefty price tag), he usually says “I can make that!”. After which we have a laugh, because we know that whilst he probably could make it, he most likely wont get around to it. And although its admirable to be that crafty and willing to have a go I tend to think that our house is more of a lesson in D.I. DONT, rather than D.I.Y. Now before you think that I am casting aspersions on my husband’s abilities, I am in fact referring to the couple of previous owner geniuses and their dodgy jobs around the place.
Our friend Mike the electrician can attest to some serious scary wiring acts that have been performed around the house by one previous owner. Using lighting cable to carry power, double dipping on the cabling to run multiple appliances etc. Which of course have since been or will be rectified to code as we uncover them. Also each of our sinks in bathroom and kitchen are leaking due to “do it yourself” plumbers and drainers. In our laundry, which is another blog in itself, the plumbing there is so flung together that we cant even buy taps to fit the outlets and so have resorted to using a shifting spanner to turn the taps on and off!
There are home made shelves that bow in the centre, home instal jobs on wall mounted air conditioners, the outdoor spa is actually an “indoor” spa set into a deck with the motor underneath the deck to supposedly protect it. He even set it into the deck so crooked that seriously every time you look at it makes you cringe.
But I think by far the best of the worst D.I.Y jobs is the ceiling insulation. Talk about cringe worthy! It is constructed of hundreds of styrofoam squares that are all through the bedrooms, hall and lounge room, all of them stuck with liquid nails directly to the gyprock. They also lined our closet until we decided to remove the cat scratched panels, homemade shelves, bent rails and replace it all in a DIY job with a Bunnings modular shelving kit. One of the jobs I am pleased to say that we had a bit of success with!
In the office from where I operate the business one previous owner used the previous kitchen cupboards and drawers for storage, and benches as a desk. Thankfully they employed experts to do the kitchen reno and didn’t do it themselves, as it is quite neat and tidy and well made, even if not entirely up to date. The walls in the office are another home made job made entirely I feel out of recycled bits and pieces that he must have collected along the way, and when he ran out of bits… well, he just left gaps. Cornice on three sides only, no skirting boards and a big hole in the wall (which I covered with a large whiteboard) where I figure he ran out of wall paneling.
We on the other hand have had some great successes with some of our do it yourself projects which ultimately give us a lot of satisfaction as well. They never work out as smoothly as you would hope however and most of that is attributable to the things that are uncovered (caused by previous owners) once you start the demolition, and sometimes our lack of prior preparation and planning as we tend to jump in headfirst and fix the issues as we trip up on them.
When it came to the pool fencing for example, we paid a guy to come and do the timber fence running the entire length of the pool because we really didn’t know much about concreting in the posts and with such a big expanse we couldn’t afford to get it wrong. A couple of thousand dollars later we have a lovely neat pool fence on one side. As our aim now that the palm trees were gone was to be able to see the pool from the back yard, it seemed like the best most aesthetic option that gave us the desired effect was glass pool fencing and stainless steel bollards. There was already a strip of concrete at the edge of the pool so we didn’t need to have that concreting skill nailed yet, so we figured we could do this bit ourselves. Another trip to Bunnings and a couple of thousand dollars or so later and we had the materials needed for the project. What we didn’t anticipate is the depth of the concrete being minuscule and therefor the bolts not getting a great amount of purchase. But it is now in place and looking beautiful. The pool itself is not glamorous but the view from the backyard is exactly what we were after. So now when families come to play at our place while the parents are having drinks on the deck they can keep a lazy eye on the kids in the pool.
I think that what we have learnt over the past three years of renovating is that you need to know with every project that you are thinking of attempting, what you think you are capable of doing and what it will cost someone who knows what the heck they are actually doing to do it for you. Then weight up what it will cost you to fix your efforts if they go very very wrong. You do the math! Also, get some quotes so you can plan in advance and save for the projects that you want to see done. Sometimes the experts aren’t as expensive as you may have first thought.