Published on November 6th, 2017
Don’t try this at home: The five renovation jobs you should never tackle
It’s only natural to try to save money wherever you can, especially when it comes to renovating that overpriced dump in Sydney or Melbourne, where rising damp is the best feature.
Who among us hasn’t done the sums and figured out that for the price of a plumber to move a pipe, we could buy that new Lexus we always wanted, or a case of Barry O’Farrell Grange?
However, as any experienced renovator will tell you, there are some jobs that are best left to the experts, if you want to avoid a world of pain, death, and a possible messy divorce.
Here are five of those jobs:
Nearly everyone thinks they can save money by painting, because, let’s face it, how hard can it be? And the truth is: the skill itself isn’t rocket science and you’ll probably pick it up from a YouTube video. But it’s what painting does to your head that makes it, hands down, the worst job any renovator can attempt.
When people go to TAFE to become master painters, they spend just one, 90-minute lesson on how to use a roller and a brush. The rest of the year is devoted to coping with the sheer mental torture of the job. Ever wondered why professional painters wear white overalls? It’s the uniform of the lunatic asylum and goes nicely with the padded cell.
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Simply choosing the paint is an exercise in anguish.
Me: “I want to buy a tin of white paint.”
Dulux person: “What colour white?”
Did you know Dulux has more than 1100 shades of white in its catalogue? That’s as many stars as are in the Milky Way, which, by the way is actually a fetching shade of Dulux Whisper White. And do you want flat, low sheen, satin, low-gloss, gloss, glossy-gloss or glossier-gloss?
Then there’s the preparation; filling all the gaps, sanding, scraping, wiping down, taping, filling the bits you missed the first time, sanding again… Putting a man on the moon required less groundwork.
Three months later, you’re ready to actually paint. You start by doing this thing called cutting in; trying to paint along a dead straight ceiling line with a brush that has a mind of its own.
On to the rolling, with a device that sprays paint across the room like a garden sprinkler as it crinkles across the wall. If you’re wearing glasses you’ll spend the next year thinking the world is covered in tiny specks.
Then you have to do all of this THREE TIMES. Finished? Not so fast. Then there’s the woodwork… and the doors. Just shoot me.
This is much, much harder than you might think. In fact, doing the job properly takes the dexterity of Eddie O’Beid’s ethics teacher. Good wallpaper hangers know exactly where to start on the wall, guided by the pattern. They adjust their adhesive according to the ambient humidity. And they line each sheet up perfectly.
You won’t do any of these things. You’ll just start at one end and work your way towards the other, creating something resembling a year 10 art project.
Insulating the ceiling
How hard can it be? Cutting those fibreglass batts with a Stanley knife and placing them between the ceiling rafters. Sure, that bit is kind of easy. The hard part is spending the next three days scratching like a heroin addict.
It’s easy to see why anyone might be tempted to try plumbing to save some dosh. Plumbers are like some airport cafes, in that they make up the price as they go along. However, unlike making a dry, tasteless $24 focaccia, plumbing really is a skill that takes years to master. You don’t have that much time.
However, If you are still tempted to give it a go, you should be aware that apart from replacing a washer, it is illegal to do your own plumbing work. And would you really want to? Most plumbing involves playing about in poo and wee. Plus, if you’re working with old-school copper pipes, you’ll need to learn how to solder, while the newer plastic pipes require special crimping tools to join them.
Put this one in the too-hard basket, pay the plumber, and forget that trip to Venice.
Electricity is invisible and it can kill you. Don’t. Just don’t, OK?