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25 Jul, 2010

DIY building – what is the difference? Professional or Do It Yourself? Large building jobs, timber, garden buildings

Posted by: Geoff Davis In: building|Building materials|Buildings|diy|DIY tips|do it yourself|garden|gardening|Gardens|Housing|refurbishment|renovation|roofing|Timber building|Tools

I get asked this – hire a builder for building jobs, or try do it yourself – DIY?

Some jobs are too big for DIY because

  • too skilled or large scale – needs many builders to do it
  • needs special equipment – diggers, scaffolding, etc
  • needs builders professional insurance or professional sign-off – safety is most important
Roofing diy building

Roofing diy building - job for a builder?

But most of these factors can be solved by specific hire of equipment or builders (or labourers) for jobs. If you lack skills, hire in those specific skills for the job, or carefully learn first.

Some home jobs are done even by people who don’t think of themselves as DIY people. This includes

  • painting, even quite large painting jobs are done by householders
  • repairs – changing a fuse is a job
  • interior design – where to put the new TV and sofa
  • gardening and garden design – you don’t often call in a landscaping expert

For instance, making a wall, even a low one, by bricklaying is skilled, but can be learnt if you are keen. Bricks can be delivered, and even carried through to where you need them.

Foundations – this is a big job but say for an extension or shed, or garden building, can be done with a do it yourself approach – hire a small digger, hire people to do the ‘muck away’ – clearing the soil and rubbish – and have hardcore (rocks etc) and concrete delivered.

Roofing – another skilled and dangerous job – but can be ‘do it yourself’ if you are determined, depending on type of roof, height, etc

Generally though, these big building jobs are too much hassle, with too many risks, for a do it yourself approach.

It will also take far longer to try and do it yourself – speed is important in building work.

You also want solid quality work, which even your best DIY might not achieve.

With electrical, plumbing, energy, insulation, sound proofing, and other specific skills, you will need professional safety sign-off. A lot of the simpler work can be DIY though. It is just a complex area, so will take up a lot of time and energy.

Also builders costs are lower these days.

So we would have to say – if it needs more than two people to do (ie yourself and a friend, or a hired hand) then use a professional builder. Some people have even built a house themselves – although of course by the end, they will know a lot and not really be typical DIY enthusiasts!

Garden jobs are suitable for DIY as if the garden shed falls down it won’t kill anyone (perhaps the cat).

So start with a brick border, raised bed, or a brick or stone barbecue, a driveway or walls.

Timber building and use of wood is easier than using metal for DIY – and you will get an attractive result even if you are not totally accurate. It is also lighter and easy to work. Start with garden structures like storage and sheds, or fencing, decking etc.

Wooden building for roof gable

Wooden building for roof gable - skilled large job

See our big sections on DIY building >

and Advice for Builders and Building process >

Build a brick barbecue >

Build a garage, plans and kits for garages >

Build a driveway >

Roof and Roofing >

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