Building crisis could lead to DIY boom as repairs and renovations stall for lack of tradies, materials

Gabriela Stilita and her husband do not own power tools but, with a crisis hitting Australia’s building sector, the couple is set for a DIY job to fix storm damage their Brisbane home sustained during the recent Queensland-NSW floods.

“One third of the [living room] ceiling needs to be ripped off,” Gabriela says. 

“And in [my husband’s] office, we will have to redo all the plaster and all the windows and everything.

So far, 170,000 claims worth a total of $2.4 billion have been lodged with insurers due to the natural disaster.

The majority of those claims concern property repairs. That’s expected to place extra pressure on tradespeople in the region, who already can’t keep up with soaring demand.

When the storms hit, Gabriela and her husband were already aware of issues with finding tradies. They’d failed to find anybody to upgrade their bathroom in January, despite safety concerns about their son negotiating their steep bathtub.

Insurers often organise work for people with approved claims. However, in Gabriela’s case, their insurer is giving them a cash payout and asking them to organise their own storm damage repairs. 

“We were talking to the tradies [who] came with the insurer to make the property safe,” Gabriela says.

a woman in a house looking up at a ceiling covered in building tarp
Gabriela Stilita and her partner had been in their first home for several months when it was damaged by flooding rains in Brisbane.(ABC News: Curtis Rodda)

The couple — a clinical psychologist and a computer programmer — only bought their first home five months ago, and they have never carried out a renovation. But, as suggested, they are now turning to YouTube.

“We want things back to normal as soon as possible. We’re accepting we’ll have to do the work ourselves,” Gabriela says.

“It has been three nights now that [my husband] doesn’t sleep while he’s thinking of details and how things are done.”

Disaster repairs add extra shock to industry

Demand for new homes and major renovations spiked during the pandemic, after the release of the federal government’s HomeBuilder stimulus program.

Posted , updated