1. What are the risks?
Physical injuries are no joke, no matter how many prank videos you see on the internet. Even seemingly simple projects like paint jobs or cleaning out gutters can quickly take a dive if, be it falling off a ladder or having a ladder fall on you. Home projects that require chemicals can also pose serious health risks so make sure you read up on the products you’ll be using. Certain chemicals should not be mixed as they can result in toxic gases, and it would be best to ensure good ventilation whenever dealing with fumes of any sort. Don’t skimp on protective equipment like gloves or safety goggles either!
Of course, there’s also the risk of damaging your property. Renovations that involve plumbing or electrical work are typically better suited for an experienced contractor. After all, you don’t want to run the risk of flooding your house, ending up without water, being electrocuted, or fires now do you?
2. What's your skill level?
3. How complicated is the project?
Be skeptical of those home improvement videos you’ve been watching as they can make projects seem easier than they actually are. Days (even weeks) of footage is compressed into less than half an hour, not to mention all the professional help they are actually getting behind the scenes.
Some projects might be oversimplified because the nitty gritty details can get messy/boring in media which is supposed to entertain. Make sure you research a project thoroughly to get different perspectives for a fuller understanding of the scope. Don’t be afraid to ask for input from those more experienced from you, even on DIY forums, as more fresh eyes on the project might be able to catch something which you’ve missed. Even if you end up deciding that the project might be too complicated to handle yourself, you will be better able to discuss your needs and wants with your selected contractor.
4. Are you familiar with local renovation guidelines?
When it comes to renovations, it doesn’t matter if you’re thinking of knocking down walls, extending floor space, or even add a small inconspicuous half floor room, you should follow due process. It’s very important that you get proper approval from your local council and ensure their guidelines are adhered to because the authorities can issue fines, stop-work orders, or even demolitions (AND charge the cost of demolition to you) if you are found guilty. Can you imagine a large chunk of your house being smashed in and exposing your belongings to the elements and scrambling to get it fixed?
Before anything else, make sure that you get your neighbors to sign a consent letter if your renovation might affect them. Then, you need a chartered engineer (if concrete structures are involved), architect or registered draughstman to prepare and submit your renovation application. Your proposed renovation needs to comply with the Building Guidelines and Standards, so unless you’re crystal clear on all the criteria, it’s best you get a professional who knows the way.