DIY – Do It Yourself!  It is part of the New Zealand psyche.  Some of us are great at DIY and others are firmly on the edge of frightened when it comes to taking the plunge and starting projects at home.  I have certainly been bought up with a DIY mentality but it has been quite some time since I launched into any full scale projects at home.  With this in mind, and a house that is crying out for some of our personality, I decided to bring you all on my DIY journey over the next few months and no doubt years!

There are many factors to consider when starting a project at home – whether it is the upgrade of an item of furniture, a full scale room or the entire house…so firstly, MAKE A PLAN.  Your plan needs to include the end goal – what are you trying to achieve with your DIY project?  Are you going to attempt a room or multiple rooms?  Does how you choose to decorate and style affect other rooms in the house?  Are you wanting a ‘quick-fix’ solution or an investment renovation?  Are you able to live with the mess of a renovation and stay sane or would it be more practical to undertake smaller tasks that you can complete and push out the project completion date?

It is really important to spend some time together with the members of your household looking at the room together.  You need to discuss what you want to change in the space and the goal or outcome you would like to see.  It is so important to get on the same page at the start so if you are about to start a large scale project don’t skip this part!

We moved into our house two years ago and we love it.  The house was owned by Edward’s parents and grandparents – in fact, his mother was born here.  Edward’s family used to farm this area and my mother’s family also grew up just down the road.  We loved the heritage of the area and the fact that the children would be the fifth generation to live on this little piece of land and were so excited to move here.  The house was an old double-bay villa back in the day with lath and plaster walls and all the joys that come with homes built of that era.  An early nineties conversion saw the house made warm and dry with better flow between rooms and all the modern amenities you would expect however all the old character villa elements were removed.

I like the potential the house has as it is a blank canvas but with the proportions typical of an old villa.  There is the opportunity to replicate and reinstate some of the villa elements and mix these with more modern styles.  We have plans to add on a kitchen, dining and living area so some of the DIY changes over the next few years are short to mid term solutions whereas other upgrades are for the long term.

It can be really helpful to make a mood board of all your ideas and ideal outcome of the project – especially if there are multiple people involved in process.  Often when you are describing the look you want others are processing that information through their own lens – their idea of grey walls and your idea of grey walls might be completely different!  If there are images to support your end-goal style it can help ensure that you are all on the same page.  Magazines and books are helpful but other on-line tools such as Pinterest can be super helpful to catalogue and sort ideas as well as inspiring you to thing beyond your initial horizons.

It is important to keep that Mood Board present as you get underway with the reno as sometimes we can get a little distracted and disillusioned – keep the goal posts visible!

Once you have agreed on the type and style of your renovation and have the buy-in of the family it is important to nail down the scope of the project.  What does your wish list for the space look like?  What is your DIY skill set?  Can you undertake all the tasks yourself and use the project to upskill or do you need experts for some areas?  I will delve into this a little more in a further post but some considerations as to when you might hand over some of the work to a contractor includes:

  • Time – we all lead busy lives and sometimes there isn’t time to tackle large scale projects
  • Budget – often it is enticing to save money by doing all the work yourself as labour is generally the most expensive part, however get a few quotes and then compare numbers against your time, tools and supplies
  • Skill level – some tasks should be left to professionals (especially if it requires authority sign-off) but sometimes a project can give you the opportunity to flex your DIY muscle.  Be realistic about what you can achieve to a standard you will be happy with.
  • Tools – what do you have, what can you beg, borrow or steal (thanks Dad!), what can you hire?  If you have a longer project consider building your ‘Tool Arsenal’ over time
  • Deadlines – similar to time but perhaps you are trying to meet a deadline to place your house on sale for example or completing works before another contractor – is your DIY goal realistic with your impending deadline?

Once you have decided on the scope of works it is important to look at the finances.  Many people start a renovation with an idea of how much they would like to spend and that quickly gets eaten by the dust and mess and ‘upgraded vision’!  It is really important to do your homework and prepare a budget if you are undertaking a large scale renovation as costs can escalate quickly if you find extra things necessary to fix along the way.  There are lots of tools that can help with budgeting and tracking the project but a simple Excel spreadsheet can be an achievable way to keep track of expenses.

Give yourself mini-wins along the way.  Often when embarking on renovations we have a rose-tinted, romantic view of how long, how much, and how disruptive the work will be.  Sometimes reality TV renovation programmes add to our expectations of ease and enjoyment – it will only take one weekend right??  However, I have not yet met a client or friend that does not experience ‘renovation-fatigue’ along the way!  It is real!  So, it is really important to give yourself some completed to-do tasks along the way so there is a sense of achievement and feeling like you are gaining on the jobs completed list.  This might include upgrading some furniture, taking a weekend mini-break away, celebrating completing the gibbing with a camp-out style picnic dinner in the room.  Whatever it might be, it is important to come up for air when renovating and try to enjoy the process as much as the end result.

Although going through a solid plan process can seem lengthy to those eager DIYers  it can save time, money and sanity down the track.  I am off to do some planning with some very large wish-lists in the children’s bedrooms (slightly unrealistic feats of genius when it comes to bedroom goals)!

I look forward to hearing from you about your DIY journey!

Katy XX

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