The dos and dont’s of DIY according to an expert

Even the most enthusiastic DIY’er needs to know when to get the professionals in. Here are builder Gary Rimmer’s dos and don’ts…



DO plan
Before going ahead and ripping walls out or spending half your budget on the wrong paint colour. Put pen to paper and write down some important points about the project. Take inspiration from homes that you love and do some rough drawings of what you want the final outcome to look like. You want all the areas to tie in with one another, rather than looking like bits of this and that. Set goals, have a clear vision in mind and stay on track.

DO strip wallpaper
Removing wallpaper is a good place to start when renovating a room and can be great training for other DIY projects – it can be a tedious job so it will teach you to stick at it! The end result is only as good as the amount of effort you have put into it. Use a steamer or water sprayer to soak the wallpaper before you start. You can hire a steamer from most hire centres.

DO take the time to prep
Prepping and sanding are as important as the brush and roller work when painting – they should actually take about as much time as each other. Although it’s tempting to just get stuck in, taking the time to prepare your surface will result in a far more polished end result. The impatient DIY’ers among us will know that this can be easier said than done.

DO minor landscaping
Adding planter boxes alongside the house or driveway can add street appeal and is an affordable option which makes a lot of impact – handy if the budget is tight. It’s satisfying to be able to see the product of your hard work every time you pull up in the car – you’re also bound to get heaps of compliments, which is good for your DIY ego. Consider plants such as buxus, liriope and corokia for low-maintenance, stylish hedging, all of which look great all year round.

DO invest in quality window treatments
Try to buy quality rails and curtains. Although it can be tempting to cut costs by buying more affordable options, I know first hand how frustrating it can be when cheap versions break easily. You will usually end up replacing them not long after installation, so it’s best to choose good quality in the first place.


Gary Rimmer from Stockade Builders.


DON’T attempt any electrical or gas work
No matter how minor you think it may be. Electrical work needs to be carried out by a licensed electrician, gas work by a licensed  gasfitter. Something as seemingly small as changing a light bulb must be handled with care, as they can blow. If you’re unsure where to start or feeling overwhelmed with the task of choosing a tradesperson, lets you view tradie ratings to help you choose one that fits your DIY style.

DON’T remove any walls 
Check if you need council approval before removing a wall, even if it’s non-structural. Work needs to be carried out by a licensed building practitioner. Any non-approved work will show up on the LIM report if you try to sell, so stay safe and smart when it comes to major changes like this.

DON’T dismiss your partner’s ideas on colour and design
If your partner is the one with the ‘creative flair’ sometimes it’s best to let them run with it (in my case, anyway). However, it’s good to discuss design decisions together as you may open up each other’s minds to new ideas.

DON’T get sucked in by DIY shows on TV
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. It may look easy on TV, but in real life it is usually more difficult, and takes much longer, than you think. Remember that you will have to commit to seeing the job through to the end, no matter what (although you might be able to live with that half-painted feature wall or unfinished bathroom, I can almost guarantee your partner won’t see things the same way).

We found Gary Rimmer from Stockade Builders via, an online marketplace where homeowners can post jobs and builders and tradespeople can chase jobs, provide quotes and win work.

Words by: Kristina Rapley. Photography by: Toby Scott/ Portrait by: Bauer Media Group Studio.

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