Selling guide

Renovating to sell: when to DIY and when to call a professional

Here are some key things to think about when renovating to sell.

6 December 2023

When renovating to sell your house, it can be tempting to do some DIY work rather than hire a professional. But while you might think this strategy will save you money ahead of a property sale, there’s a chance it will end up costing you more time and money depending on your current skill set and tool kit.

How might DIY renovations affect the sale of your property?

The first key thing to consider is the impact of DIY renovations or alterations on the property sale. Skipping compliance or undertaking poor-quality DIY work can be very expensive, and even result in legal ramifications or a sale falling over.

As you know, building inspections are usually a condition of sale for a buyer, as is getting property insurance, so making sure that the property is compliant and legal is a must. Plus, non-disclosure of issues relating to unconsented DIY repairs or maintenance, as well as historical issues, can result in legal action against you or your real estate agent. This brings us to the next point…

Do you need a building consent?

Generally speaking, a building consent is not required for small renovation jobs like painting the house or building a low deck (up to 1.5m high). However, there’s still a lot of work that does, and you may still need a resource consent depending on the job.

Not sure? Check with your local council before starting any work. If the job is done according to the consent, you’ll receive a code compliance certificate, which is crucial to have when it’s time to sell your property.

Do you need special licenses or training?

Besides complying with the New Zealand building code, many home improvement projects must be performed by registered tradespeople, who will provide the required code of compliance certificate. Once again, you will need this when selling the home (or for an insurance claim).

Specialty jobs that require training and/or certification to complete include most plumbing, roofing, electrical work, HVAC work, foundation repairs, framing and new construction, and more.

Do you have the necessary skills?

Even if the job doesn’t require a registered or licensed tradesperson, DIY may still not be the best course of action. Before starting a renovation project, it’s important to know what’s involved from start to finish. Video tutorials are a great place to start. However, depending on your skills and ability to tackle each step, they may not be enough.

If you’re not sure about your skillset, you may want to consider hiring a professional instead. Of course, it might cost you some money, but the peace of mind that the job has been completed to a high standard is priceless.

You may have the skills, but what about the tools?

While tackling a certain project may be within your skillset, having the correct equipment on hand is also essential. Keep in mind that buying a special tool (especially one that you won’t be using that often) may not be as cost-effective as hiring a professional.

Before hitting the home improvement store, it’s a good idea to compare the cost of the new tool with the cost of hiring a tradie. Unless the savings are significant, hiring a professional renovator might be a better option.

Is the renovation project safe to perform on your own?

Safety is pivotal when it comes to renovating. While there are simple jobs that are unlikely to cause any harm, without the right tools or expertise, even seemingly simple tasks can be unsafe to DIY – let alone bigger home improvement projects.

Before getting your hands on a hammer and nail, ask yourself: how dangerous does the project look? Is there any way I can protect myself and guarantee myself? As a handy rule of thumb, if you’re not 100% sure, calling a professional may be the best option.

Can the project potentially damage your property?

This is another key consideration when renovating to sell. Depending on the project you’re undertaking, getting your DIY work wrong can have significant consequences. While a bad paint job can always be done again (at a cost), other DIY works may result in damaging leaks or electrical circuits that blow a fuse, or even cause a fire that might not be covered by your property insurance.

If you think that a home improvement project could potentially damage your home, leaving it to the professionals is probably a good idea.

How much time do you have?

Doing a job yourself, as opposed to calling in a professional, is likely to require extra time and effort – including the time you need to spend learning how to complete the different steps, shopping for supply, and rectifying mistakes along the way.

If you’re renovating or repairing to sell your house, you may not have a lot of time on your hands, and hiring a specialist could make all the difference.

The good news is, you don’t have to fund the renovation costs out of your pocket...

Get help with List Now

Saving money is the main reason why most people choose to go solo. But even if you consider yourself a ‘DIY warrior’, there are still many good reasons to hire a professional. As we’ve seen, unexpected costs may offset the savings you plan to make. On the other hand, you might find that paying someone to do the job does actually save you money in the long run.

List Now is a privately owned and operated New Zealand company that specialises in simplifying the selling process. Their mission is to help Kiwi vendors make the most of their property opportunities with their smart finance tools. Learn more about how they could help you here.


Karen Jackson
Karen Jackson

When it comes to finance, there’s not a lot Karen can’t help you with. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, it’s fair to say that Karen knows how to make finance work for you. So, a few years ago, when talking to a friend who was selling her home, Karen realised she could create a finance package that could help Kiwi get the marketing they really wanted for the sale of their home, not just the marketing they could squeeze onto their credit card.

Not satisfied with simply providing an easy solution, Karen was determined to create a smarter financial outcome too. Finance that even those with cash in the bank would seriously consider. And so, List Now was born. Today, Karen’s idea has helped thousands to get finance to cover the marketing of their home & cover renovations. Best of all, it’s helped them to achieve a better price for the sale of their home.

When she’s not arranging great finance deals for her clients, you’re likely to find Karen running a marathon. Or training for the next one.