MORE and more television shows are advertising how to renovate or extend your home. I cringe when I see these types of programs that encourage home owners to undertake projects that are often too complex, dangerous and difficult for owner-builders to tackle.
On the flip side, there are some home owners who have completed training and research that equips them with enough skills to complete standard projects.
The programs that show how to totally gut and renovate an entire home have a raft of experts and tradespeople to assist in the re-development of the home.
Building a new home is complex enough, but to take on the refurbishment of an old home would have to be one of the most complicated and difficult projects one could attempt.
The complexities often start with settlement issues where floors are not level or walls not plumb and rooms not square. To fit a simple built-in robe or a set of kitchen cupboards can be very difficult to get an expert finish that will add value to your family home. Some owner-builders have spent many thousands of dollars and gained little or nothing at the sale.
Another point of concern is the safety aspect or dangers that exist when carrying out building work on older buildings, which often contain lead paints, rotten or termite-affected structural timber, and sometimes harmful asbestos.
Other issues usually not considered are working in confined spaces, falls from heights, mould, which can cause respiratory problems, and not being properly trained in using power tools. All of which can kill or seriously injure you or another family member.
In Canberra, most domestic buildings built before 1985 contain asbestos, and it can be in your homes in many different forms. The most common is sheeting which is located on ceilings and internal and external walls. External eaves also could be lined with asbestos sheeting.
Once broken, cut or drilled, the fibres can be very dangerous to you, your family or the next door neighbour, depending on the size of the job. If the asbestos is not disturbed it is generally pretty safe.
A recent study in NSW found that do-it-yourself home renovators are regularly exposing themselves and family members to asbestos. The study of 860 do-it-yourself renovators who recently completed renovations found that more than 60 per cent had been exposed to asbestos and 20 per cent said their children had been exposed to asbestos while renovations were being carried out.
The Housing Industry Association runs regular training courses that will give you the skills on how to identify asbestos in or around your home. The course runs for four hours. Call HIA on 62857300 for details.
Neil Evans is the Housing Industry Association ACT executive director.