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When to call in the experts
wobbly voices singing along to the latest tunes.
It will be DIY-ers such as the Carmans doing just that this weekend. When the Adelaide family bought a 1930s character home a few years ago, the footprint was what their family of six required space wise, and it was in a reasonable state, if a little dated. It had been in the same family for 30-40 years and while the internal dimensions were good, the closedin floorplan didn’t suit what they needed for the next stage of life.
With four young daughters to look after, plus the cost of school fees, children’s activities and life in general, commissioning a major renovation however, wasn’t in the budget in the immediate future.
Matt, a plumber by trade, has a builder father to keep him on track, so he knew there were DIY projects he could easily handle.
But like many people with fulltime jobs, he only has weekends to get stuck in — and that’s what he’s been doing for the past couple of years, slowly fixing, changing and updating small, and sometimes notso-small, jobs around their home.
Things like digging holes to fix stormwater issues, taking the squeak out of old floorboards and installing garden irrigation are just some of the things that have kept him busy. He has screened off an outdoor utility area, painted fences and a shed, bricked up a doorway and knocked out another, Gyprocked walls, installed a television outside and remodelled the existing alfresco, piece by piece.
Currently, he’s half-way along in a new bathroom and laundry area, which were moved from the existing spots to make the internal layout flow better.
“I suggest you live in a house for a couple of years before you do anything as well,” says Matt.
“The first thing I did was to take the stormwater away, it used to run around all over and under the footings and as soon as you take that away the house needs to settle and that can take a couple of years.”
It’s sage advice. Having time to live in a home to see how the natural light affects it throughout the year, and importantly, where it needs more of it, was integral to future proofing their home, too.
PLAN IT OUT
Soon after moving into their home, wife Marita set about drawing floorplans with their home wishlist.
This centred around creating more usable space for the family – and most were tasks Matt could DIY himself. There are plans for a homework zone for the kids, a home office, and moving a few walls to make the living area more open. A pool is also on the wishlist, so the washing line and a few trees have been moved to create space.
DO IT IN STAGES
Weekend DIY takes time and for those who like instantaneous results, it may not be the best path to go down. Matt says patience is a necessity and living in a constant stage of renovation is a reality.
Barry says the best way to tackle a DIY project is with proper planning – preferably ahead of the weekend and not starting on Saturday morning with a little idea where to start as you wander down the hardware store aisles.
WHAT TO TACKLE
Matt called in his builder father to help with larger tasks, such as installing a lintel to support the roofline. Down the track, the family plans to pull out the existing kitchen and knock down a nonload bearing wall to create a new kitchen in what will be the open plan zone. Matt is realistic when it comes to tasks he shouldn’t attempt and knows when to call in the experts, leaving jobs such as the electrical, concrete and tiling to licensed professionals.