When I moved in to our own office 2015, I assembled all the Ikea furnitures, hung all the shelves and even screwed the light bulbs myself (only employee at that time). Fast forward 4 years, 5 team members and double the office area later, things have not changed. We still did it all ourselves. Not that we are passionate about furniture assembly, skilful in woodwork or love reading instruction manuals, but to save some labour cost of getting someone to do it.
Labour costs are relatively low in Malaysia which in-turn makes me question the value it presents to the receiver/ client. In other words, many don't find value in good old manual work or able to differentiate good and bad work. That is until the need to DIY arises, especially in home renovation or makeover.
For me, the two rule of thumb for DIY work are:
Acknowledging the fact that it is done for cost savings. That takes away the bitterness of doing extra but low value work; or
Doing it out of interests, enthusiasm, to learn or even to spend quality time with your team, family or love ones. That takes away the stress of making mistakes that professionals don't.
I have encountered both sets of home owners. Here are 8 tips to look out for when planning your own DIY or simply just to be involved in your home renovation or makeover.
1. Buying own tiles/ paint
Pros: Savings on the potential mark-up by contractors/ designer. Able to explore brands and products that are not within contractor/ designers range.
Beware of: Estimating the area or quantity required which might lead to either unused wastage (extra) or having to purchase another round due to shortage.
2. Buying own electrical appliance
Pros: Very personal purchase which is hard for anyone to assume your usage.
Beware of: Any provision that is required for each appliance and to make sure it is supplied on site according to requirement and location. (water supply for filter/ dispenser, sufficient electrical supply, some gas hob required 13A socket for the spark in lieu of battery)
3. Hanging wall shelves/ wall decor
Pros: Can be a fun and playful activity provided there are enough bicep strength.
Beware of: Levelling of shelves of decor before putting in the first screw or nail (any levelling gadget or the compass app on your phone will do). Wall plugs are a must to grip on to the screws.
4. Measuring for curtains/ wallpaper/ furniture
Pros: Ability to purchase online products (thus wider selection range), might cut costs due to savings in suppliers' transportation charges.
Beware of: Just like point (1), any mismatch in quantity and actual measurements on site will meaning another round of re-order and return. (suppliers, here, are not at fault for wrong estimation).
5. Using own 'trusted' plumber/ electrician
Pros: Vendors or consultants who knows your preference for planning, materials and even design, which can help minimise misunderstanding. Perhaps better price/ rates if you're a repeat customer or with multiple jobs to give away.
Beware of: As plumbing and electrical are concealed works (most of the time), are leakages or defects will affect wall finishes. Since these are 2 different scope by different vendors, any repair will incur more charges.
6. Coordinating sub-contractors
Pros: Basically doing the role of a main contractor, profit margin is saved here. Ability to select and monitor each scope's vendor is also beneficial.
Beware of: Misunderstanding among sub-contractors especially if they are not used to each other or their scope intersects (lighting & plaster ceiling, bathroom fittings and tiles). Sequence of work is also crucial.
Time is money. We just have to know which one is more important to keep here, especially something you want to be done once.