When should you hire a professional

June 17, 2016

With all of the reality television shows based on renovations these days, it is no wonder people are keen to roll up their sleeves and get hands on with fixing up their own house. Sometimes though, the job is too big or too unsafe for just anyone to complete it.

Chris Gray, investment property expert and CEO of Empire, says that doing the renovations yourself gives you the benefit of control over the project, costs and timing. However, if you don’t have the time, knowledge or right skills it can end up costing you more in the long run.

Chris shares this advice to work out whether to hire professionals, or do a DIY renovation:

“My tip is to double your expected cost and double the time frame, and then work out if you’re still going to make a profit. Most of the time, it works out more efficient from a time, cost and stress perspective to outsource the renovation to the experts.”

We take a look at some of the other reasons why you might want to hire a professional:


Tearing down some walls doesn’t sound like too much effort, but it can actually be a lot harder than simply hiring some skip bins and taking a sledge hammer to the place.

If your job requires excavation, or the complete demolition of a house, it is much better to leave it to the experts. It will be safer and they have all the right equipment to make it a faster job. If it’s only a matter of knocking down some walls, you may still need to call in the professionals if you have asbestos in your home. Asbestos removal needs to be taken very seriously and exposed of in the correct way.


Paying for tradies means not only outlaying material costs, but also labour. This is something you can definitely save on if you are able to DIY. But if you don’t have the skills to do it properly then the money you spend on a professional tradesperson can actually be an investment in itself. Getting the job done right, with a great finished product is worth the additional spend.

With some areas of renovation, hiring a professional is a matter of safety. You should not undertake electrical work without a license and even plumbing should only be done if you are experienced.

Remember to always add about 5-10% buffer to the quote any tradesperson gives you, as there will usually be unexpected costs that come up.

Interior designer:

An interior designer is different to an interior decorator. A decorator will give you advice on what colours to use and help you choose furniture. An interior designer will help you plan out major changes to the inside of your home. They are skilled at spacial planning, getting the most natural light from a design and they often understand building codes and permits. An interior designer is not usually cheap to hire, so many people undergo this part of the process themselves. Which can work out well for them, after all they are the ones living in the house and know where they’d like the kitchen to be.

However, using the services of a professional will mean that you will end up with a plan for your house that ticks all of the boxes you are trying to achieve from a home, while also maximising natural light and making the best use of the space you have. You might be surprised with some of the fresh new ideas a designer can come up with that you had never thought of.

Project manager:

If your renovation is big and you’ve decided to use professionals, you will fast realise that you are in charge of co-ordinating a lot of people. There are bricklayers, carpenters, tilers, plumbers, electricians, roofers … the list goes on. Instead of dealing with it all yourself, it can end up being a really great idea to hire a project manager to oversee the entire renovation. A project manager will cost between 10-20% of the overall renovation cost, so is only something to consider if the budget allows. But if it does allow, it can take a lot of stress off your shoulders and save you time on the entire project.

A good project manager will be responsible for all of the different tradies, from getting them to start and finish the project on time, to co-ordinating who needs to be on site when (for example there is no point having the bathroom tiler turn up if the waterproofer hasn’t been yet). And if you are unhappy with the end result you only need to tell the project manager and they will sort it out with the tradesperson directly.

You can hire a project manager at any stage of the renovations, from as early as having the plans drawn up and submitted to council for approval, or wait until the day the first skip bins arrive and get them on site from there.