Lifestyle - 6 Aug, 2019

Tradey VS DIY home maintenance: When to call in the expert?

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Looking down the business end of a home repair job and not sure if it’s time to call in an expert or tackle it yourself? Here’s how to decide.


When it comes to weighing up whether to DIY a repair around the home or to hire a tradey, it’s important to ask yourself two very important questions; (1) Is it legal? and (2) If time is money, is the job more effort than it’s worth?

Is your repair legal?

If the repair involves plumbing, electrical or drainage systems, co-founder of Service.com.au Jacob Banks says you need to ensure your DIY repair isn’t illegal. Completing unsolicited trade work around the house could potentially net you a whopping fine.

To make matters worse, by completing the work you are putting yourself at risk of injury or death, and if something was to go wrong in the future (house fire, electrical shock, etc.), you would not be covered by insurance and could be held legally liable.

Is the repair worth your time?

If the DIY is going to cost you much more time (and trouble) than it’s worth, you might be falling victim to the ‘false economy’. Even if you know that you can do it yourself, if it’s going to take you a considerable amount of time to do – especially if it’s time you don’t have – or worse, if you are going to spend an exuberant amount of money on the tools to get it done, you might be better off calling in a professional. It’s cases like this where the old mantra rings true; ‘time is money’ so sometimes you are better off leaving it to the experts.

Electrical repairs

What can I do myself?

While it pays to check the laws of your state or territory, Banks says that generally if the repair involves anything tricker than plugging and adaptor into a powerpoint, the law requires a licensed electrician to do it. This means that if you need to install any fixed appliances, wires, fittings, metres, apparatus or electrical equipment you’ll most likely need to get a licensed tradey in to complete it.

when-to-hire-a-tradey

How to find an electrician

To find a licensed electrician, websites such as service.com.au can be used; it even allows you to search by location and will list the specific licenses held by the tradesperson. Depending on where you live, electricians might have a class attached to their license which defines what type of work they are legally qualified to undertake.

More specific information on tradespeople for your state/territory can be found here:

Plumbing maintenance

What plumbing work can do myself?

According to the Queensland Government (and is indicative of Australian law), the only plumbing work that can be DIY-ed includes:

  • changing a showerhead,
  • replacing a drop valve washer, float valve washer or suction cup rubber in a toilet cistern,
  • cleaning or maintaining ground-level grates to traps on sanitary drains,
  • replacing a jumper valve or washer in a tap,
  • replacing caps to ground-level inspection openings on sanitary drains, and
  • maintaining an above or below ground irrigation system to dispose of effluent from an onsite sewerage facility.
when-to-hire-a-tradey

What plumbing jobs require a licensed professional?

All jobs other than those listed above which involve your water, drainage or waste require a licensed plumber. According to Banks, some jobs also require appropriate certificates to be filed once the job is complete. For example, if you were to have a hot water service installed, by law the licensed plumper would need to provide a certificate to show who it was installed by, when, and whether it was done to Australian safety standards.

For advice specific to where you live, check out:

Unblocking drains

It’s fine to attempt to unblock your toilet, sink or shower yourself by using a plunger, pulling out debris in reach with a tool, or by using drain unblocking products. If you are using drain unblocking products, remember to check they are safe to use on your type of drain (for example, some products designed for sinks and showers can’t be used in toilets).

If these drain unblocking methods prove unsuccessful, Banks says it’s best to call in a licensed professional to finish the job. By continuing yourself and employing more advanced methods, besides risking an expensive accident you may inadvertently break the law.

If that’s not incentive enough to call in a professional, plumbers that specialise in drain clearing also have all kinds of near gadgets that can pinpoint the cause of the blockage and treat it effectively.

Other DIY maintenance jobs

Carpet/tile repairs

There are plenty of online tutorials that can take you through fixing runs in the carpet or replacing chipped tiles, but unless you are confident in your skills, this can be delicate work. Cutting tiles is ticky, not to mention laying them straight, so if you’re uncertain it might well be worth a call to a professional to take it on! While it might be more money, bringing on a professional can help you avoid any accidents or unsightly screw-ups!

Air conditioner maintenance

When it comes to keeping your air conditioner clean and maintained, it’s always best to follow your manufacturer’s instructions on how to do this. While the manual will list which areas you should regularly dust and what filters you should be cleaning, Banks says that any repairs should be done by a professional. Search for an air conditioning mechanic for the most efficient job.

Tops tips to make sure your tradie is up to the job!

If you’ve decided to hire a tradesman, here are Banks’ top tips for getting the right person for the job:

  • Before engaging a tradie, always ask (and sight paperwork to check):
    • Are you licensed to do this work?
    • Is your license current?
    • Are you insured?
    • Do you have references?
  • Read customer testimonials and have a look for online reviews. The odd bad review is not necessarily a bad sign but look for tradies with plenty of positive reviews.
  • Ensure you feel comfortable around them. For example, do they answer your questions? Will they let you know if the job becomes more expensive before comencing?

Words by Melanie Hearse

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