Botched jobs: Aussies fork out $1.8b to fix dodgy renos


Australians are abandoning their failed do-it-yourself home improvements in droves and spending an estimated $1.8 billion a year fixing botched and unfinished jobs.

COVID-19's renovations boom has resulted in many people shunning tradies, only to later discover it's all too hard, new research by Kennards Hire has found.

However, finding good help is easy if you follow some simple steps.

Kennards general manager of product Tony Symons says DIY jobs may sound appealing but often take longer than planned.

"There's a lot of personal pride in doing things themselves and a bit of brag value among friends and family," he says.

"I think a lot of people start with the best intentions but realise the job gets bigger or more complex than they thought it was going to be."

The research found 44 per cent of Australians had abandoned a DIY home improvement project in the past, and one in four had abandoned multiple projects.

Time, difficulty and lack of skills were the key reasons for people stopping, and the most common jobs quit were indoor painting and landscaping, it found.

More than two-thirds would prefer DIY ahead of hiring a tradesman, largely to save money and gain a sense of gratification.

Benjamin Lourey and Filippa Jarnmarker are renovating their home. Picture: Richard Dobson
Benjamin Lourey and Filippa Jarnmarker are renovating their home. Picture: Richard Dobson

Symons says the best ways to find a good tradesman include contacting relevant industry associations, seeking recommendation from family and friends, and asking a trusted tradesman you know for their suggestions.

For larger jobs, a project manager can help organise the trades and the work, but will cost extra.

Benjamin Lourey, 40, and Filippa Jarnmarker, 31, bought their Manly home in August and have big renovation plans.

"We have previously renovated past homes and love DIY so have now been slowly working through smaller jobs like painting and tiling while we start planning for our larger renovations," Lourey says.

"Filippa is keen to hire a demo hammer and saw to start making some holes in the wall and open up the apartment."

Lourey says how-to videos can help renovators learn DIY tricks, but some jobs should be left to professionals.

"We've got family down in Melbourne and Perth who are carpenters and electricians so when the borders open they'll come over to give us a hand with the trickier jobs where more experience and precision is needed," he says.

"I think my tradie brothers would have a field day if we tried to do any of the difficult carpentry or electrical by ourselves … and there's no way we'd try any plumbing element solo."

Consumer group Choice says other jobs that should be left to experts include installing airconditioning, rangehoods and gas cooktops, sanding floors and fixing garage doors.

Choice spokeswoman Alice Richard says people should check a tradie is insured, as some hired through websites may not be.

"Check that the tradie you're thinking about using is licensed - you can easily do this online," she says.

"If you're doing any residential building work worth over $5000, or any electrical wiring, plumbing, airconditioning, refrigeration, drainage or gasfitting jobs, you need to use a licensed tradesperson."

Richard also suggests getting written quotes and asking if they are negotiable.

"Make sure that all their costs are disclosed upfront, so you don't have to deal with any unexpected costs later on," she says.


• Ask around for tradesman recommendations - using friends, family, industry groups and other tradies.

• Meet multiple tradies and get multiple quotes, as prices can vary dramatically.

• Be specific about what you want to ensure accuracy of quotes.

• Be wary of some tradies providing higher quotes for women than men - the so-called "lady tax".

• Consider a project manager for larger jobs - they generally add an extra 10-20 per cent to the cost but can save a lot of headaches.

Originally published as Botched jobs: Aussies fork out $1.8b to fix dodgy renos

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