The general consensus for many when it comes to DIY and saving money is that it simply isn’t worth the hassle to do the job yourself. The time and effort, let alone the frustration associated with DIY tasks are enough to drive even the most patient person crazy sometimes. Ultimately, saving money on DIY tasks boils down to weighing up the difficulty of the project against the cost of hiring a professional.
Within this article we are going to look at the highest paid trades in Australia and the DIY projects that have the lowest barriers to entry. Basically we are going to show you the easiest DIY tasks to complete if you have no DIY experience, as well as how much money you're likely to save by doing these tasks yourself.
First of all, to give some perspective, let's look at the cost of each tradie per hour based on market rates found online. Below is a table laying out these average costs.
|Painter||$30 – 60 per hour|
|Handyman||$25 – 150 per hour|
|Carpenter||$50 – 100 per hour|
|Flooring||$5 – 15 per square foot|
|Car Maintenance||$80 – 120 per hour|
|Car Repair||$80 – 120 per hour|
|Plumber||$75 – 150 per hour|
A savvy shopper may certainly find more affordable rates than the ones above, but these prices have been selected to represent the cots someone might pay who simply says “Just get the guy here to fix it, I haven’t got the time to sort it myself.”
DIY Tasks on a Scale from Easiest to Hardest:
The following tasks are relatively simple to complete, which I’ve listed in order of easiest to hardest.
Frankly anyone can paint a room, wall, house etc. and it’s more a matter of patience rather than skill. Many people say that 75% of painting is preparation and as long as you tape up all the corners and ensure that you have all of the right tools before you begin, you should be able to steam through the work. Painting a small room could cost as little as $60 including materials, paint and equipment. The only other ingredient is your time which I'm sure many would agree is worth doing on your own to avoid potentially doubling the costs (or more) to hire a professional painter.
Unclogging your drain in the grand scheme of things isn’t as hard as it sounds. To pay someone $75 per hour to potentially just plunge the drain for half an hour means that person is earning $1,200 per day at that rate. Also remember that plumbers aren’t only the most expensive tradesmen per hour, they also tend to have minimum service charges, e.g. they will charge a minimum of 1 hour even if the job only takes them 10 minutes to correct. Forget the expensive drain liquids and dissolving solutions and buy yourself a simple plunger or plumbing snake to solve your blocked drain issues.
3. Car Maintenance
Mechanics can charge anywhere from $80+ per hour and that price is usually for repairs. However, if you’re only going in for an oil change or standard service, the mechanics generally like to add on little fees to plump up their payment. For example, you may need a new air filter, however you won’t actually know the truth unless you check yourself, but, the mechanic is probably going to charge you $30 for a new filter anyway. That new filter might actually cost him $3-6. Changing an air filter takes roughly 15-30 seconds for a mechanic with no tools required, so effectively you are paying the equivalent of $720 per hour for those 15 seconds (or at least that's another way to look at it).
4. Basic DIY
This applies to basic snags around the house e.g. a hole in the dry wall, loose railing or a faulty tap. There are thousands of videos online showing how these little snags can be repaired by yourself and will save you around $50-100 per snag, depending on the handyman you might choose to complete the task.
If you plan on putting down new flooring somewhere in your house, the most basic form of flooring is laminate or wood that snaps together. These types of flooring require no glue and literally float on top of the below surface. Certain jobs may require power tools, but the value for money of owning power tools for any future repairs saves much more in the long run compared to paying a handyman to do a one time job like this. Plus, those power tools can be re-sold in the future when you no longer have a need for them.
6. Car Repair
Car repair is slightly more difficult as it requires troubleshooting skills. The key to saving money with repairs is being able to recognise a problem before it causes you delays or damages your car further. It’s always advisable to have some basic skills in repairing vehicles because it allows you to recognise when, for example, the brakes are wearing down or the engine is not pulling correctly. On top of knowing when a car requires maintenance you will also be able to better gauge when a mechanic is ripping you off, based on your growing understanding of what is required.
Brakes, suspension, cooling systems, spark plugs, sensors and oil are all things that can easily be changed or repaired with little skill. This would save you a minimum of $80 (as per the hourly rate mentioned in the table above), but is more likely to run into the hundreds very quickly.
To summarise, based on the costs associated with hiring the necessary service men to fix something, the following are the most essential skills you should learn to save buckets of money each year:
1) Basic Plumbing (e.g. clogged drains, leaking toilets)
2) Car Maintenance (e.g. fluids, filters and wipers)
3) Basic home repair (e.g. flooring, loose fixtures and fittings)
4) Car Repair (e.g. spark plugs, adding oil, changing brake pads)
5) Painting (e.g. painting a wall, ceiling or door)
6) Flooring (e.g. laying a new laminate floor)
Considerations for Hiring Various Types of Tradies:
Painting has one of the smaller price fluctuations and generally finding a painter online or locally can deliver relatively good standards of work. Painting in general doesn’t require as much skill as other DIY jobs and people will tend to feel more comfortable trying it themselves.
There is a huge fluctuation in prices for handymen per hour and, quite frankly, the fluctuation in the quality of job that you will get also tends to fluctuate substantially. Certain handymen may be excellent and charge a low rate whereas the complete opposite is also very possible. Be careful when choosing a handyman.
Carpentry is generally a more specialised trade and that’s why you'll get offered a higher starting price per hour. Whether its framing a wall or replacing a wooden leg of your table, the average skill level must be higher.
The process of applying new flooring isn’t particularly difficult. Generally it’s the type of flooring (materials per square foot) that you wish to lay that increases the cost for this trade.
Car Maintenance and Car Repair
These two have been separated because they differ in the skill levels required. Some repairs may only require minor alterations whilst others require a fully trained mechanic to complete the task. Car repairs tend to require more expensive parts and longer periods of labour to fix than general car maintenance related issues.