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How to avoid a DIY disaster

28 September 2017 | 10 minute read
disaster construction

The rise of property reality television shows is inspiring investors and landlords on do-it-yourself renovations, but one insurance provider warns that such renos could put tenants at risk.

Carolyn Parrella, Terri Scheer Insurance's executive manager, said that impressionable landlords decide to try their hand at "quick fix" repairs to save cash and face with tenants, instead of calling a qualified tradesperson.

“Many landlords forget there are teams of professional builders and tradesmen that work behind the scenes on reality programs to ensure the contestants’ work looks good, but is safe and legal too.

“The reality for landlords is that do-it-yourself renovations and repairs often take longer and cost more. If not completed to industry standard, their negligence could impose serious legal liabilities.

“Landlords should consider whether they have the skills or qualifications to complete the work before getting out their toolbox.”

According to Terri Scheer Insurance, up to 25 per cent of all work completed by Jim’s Group building maintenance is fixing issues created by DIY renovations or repairs.

In order to avoid having a DIY disaster on their hands, Ms Parrella gives the following her tips for landlords:



With a supply of electrical upgrades and advice available at hardware stores, landlords may be allured into purchasing goods and fittings. However, as Ms Parrella pointed out, only those who are licensed should be installing this hardware.

“The biggest risk with poorly completed electrical work is electrocution and fire. An appliance may work one day and zap you the next, while faulty wiring could spark a fire and quickly spread around the property,” Ms Parrella said.

“Landlords should always do a licence check to verify a tradesperson’s license number and that the licence is also current. More information can be found on the licensing authority website in your state.”

Water and gas

Much like trying to DIY anything electrical, Ms Parrella also said that landlords should not attempt to DIY anything involving water or gas plumbing.

“Most Australian states and territories require property owners to source a compliance certificate from tradespeople for any plumbing work carried out. This also applies to other trades and services."

The only work she suggests a non-professional attempt is tap washer or shower head replacement. If a DIY plumbing goes wrong, the results could be disastrous.

“Leaking taps may seem like a minor issue; however, if gone unnoticed, [it] can cause costly water damage, [and] resulting mould can pose a risk to tenants’ health,” Ms Parrella said.

“Natural gas also has minimal odour and is highly flammable. Any naked flame, such as candles, lighters or stove tops can cause explosions.”

Pool fencing

A pool can be a great lifestyle addition to a property that can also raise its price, but without proper fencing, the landlord could be making a “death trap”, Ms Parrella said.

“Landlords can install a pool fence with the best intentions of keeping children safe from drowning. However, there are a number of potential oversights.

“According to regulation, gates need to be self-closing and self-latching. Fencing also needs to be 1200mm or higher. Over time, ground levels or garden beds can rise, making any work not to code.

“Qualified tradespeople and licensed businesses can help ensure that high-quality fencing panels are used and that only industry-standard installation procedures are followed."

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