Home' Outdoors : WAs Best Outdoors and Gardens 2009 Contents 64 WA's Best Outdoors & Gardens 2010
THE FIRST ONE
Our first experience wielding power tools instead
of drawing equipment came over 10 years ago
when the renovation of a waterside property
seemed like a great idea over a glass of red. My
partner found a run-down timber-framed brick
property in Broadbeach Waters on the Gold
Coast; a magnificent Poinciana tree ¬-- in blossom
and gracefully hanging over the water's edge --
clinching the deal.
Keen for a "challenge" we were happily heading
into the unknown, working through planning and
design options and settling on completely changed
internal and external layouts. Intending to live in
it while renovating for a year then moving over to
Perth, we were clear that it was a "project" to be
tackled in a methodical way to minimise costs
and maximise marketability.
Labour is often a substantial cost in building
works, so we were adamant that we would do it
ourselves. Besides, the experience would be good
After two years (in twice the time and twice the
original budget), the house looked like new and
sold immediately. However, we were left feeling as
battered, tired and neglected as the original house.
BUT IT LOOKS SO EASY ON TV
Without doubt, the media has had a huge influence
on the growth of DIY in Australia. Over time
there has been a transition from general interest
shows to makeover shows, and a change in the
relationship with the television audience.
e viewers have been identified as consumers
via product placement, hardware store
advertisements and TV "experts" all providing
encouragement for us to have a go, to feel inspired,
to buy tools and materials, and ultimately
transform our lives.
Significant in all of this is our obsessive search
for a perfect life (and an ideal home), which seems
to be an integral part of the way we now live.
Fast-paced television programmes, glossy
magazine features, attractive billboard
images, slick adverts, and glamorous celebrity
endorsements make perfection seem achievable
-- even inexpensive. So, how feasible is our
So many DIY projects never seem to get finished,
and some never even start.
Some are completed by contractors and others
cut short in compromise (DIY divorce), usually
accompanied by the pledge "never again".
Most of us have unrealistic expectations of
ourselves -- of the time, skill and energy required,
of how many weekends we're willing to throw
away, and of how long we can sustain motivation
for an outcome that isn't always clearly defined.
While the TV talking heads make it seem too
easy, it's the finer details that are likely to catch
you off guard. Tools might be modified for the
domestic market, but they still require experience
and safety training to operate them effectively
(and without stapling your hand to the wall).
THINK ABOUT IT
• If you've got a partner in crime, discuss how
much time you really have, and then double
it. Consider your strengths (physically or
otherwise) and be brutally honest.
• Decide what you should get contractors to do.
It can be false economy attempting to learn
a new skill when you don't have much time,
and without experience, you probably won't
get the finish you desire.
• Machinery can save your back -- a man with a
bobcat is worth many days of wheelbarrowing,
painkillers and expensive therapy.
• Make safety your first priority (careful
preparation), your second (good working
practices) ... and your last (clear up the mess).
• If in doubt, ask for help -- trial and error is an
expensive game to play. Better to pay for a
plumber or electrician to pop round for an hour
at an agreed cost to advise you on the best way
to prepare for the services to your water feature.
It really hurts after hours of laying and levelling
brick paving, mortaring limestone walls and
setting that Spanish fountain in place, only to hear
"sorry mate, that'll all have to come out to get the
conduits in underneath, or I can drill some holes
in the ceramic and run some pipes up and over the
capping, guess you won't notice it ... much".
Nicola Smith is a design professional researching
the DIY experience, and currently looking for
people to share thoughts on their past or current
DIY projects. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
It's OK, you're not alone. Scoop chats with design professional Nicola Smith who is
studying DIY as the basis of her PhD, and has su ered at her own hands on a few occasions.
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