Malaysians aren’t traditionally big into DIY, but with easy access to home improvement resources and videos on the Internet, anyone can learn about tools, building materials and how to fix something from start to finish.

Ang Kok Gei, who manages ATKC Hardware Trading, a family business established almost 20 years ago, says he has witnessed the popularity of DIYers rise over the past decade. The high cost of hiring contractors for home improvements is a reason for the increased interest, particularly for small projects.

“Wages are high now and people may not be able to afford the costs of hiring a contractor for everything,” says Ang, who launched ATKC’s online portal four years ago. “Also, with social media platforms and YouTube showing you how to build anything, people are encouraged to try their own projects. People are fast learners and can pick up knowledge and tips just by watching online videos.”

“Traditional business operate from eight in the morning to five in the evening, but this is the time most people, especially urbanites, are at work,” he adds. “An online shop makes more sense as they can browse the portal when they are free and email us their enquiries.”

DIY

Homemaker Winnie Thye built concrete countertops for her kitchen after watching many, many video tutorials. Photo: Winnie Thye

Though instructional videos make great reference material, Ang has a few handy tips for DIY enthusiasts:

1. Think local

Not every tool in a video is available in Malaysia, and not every project you see is viable for your home. Talk to a hardware shop staff, explain exactly what you’re planning and what you think you need, then take what they say into consideration.

2. If you can’t afford to buy, rent! 

Power tools are expensive, and if you’re not sure how often you’ll use them, buying may not be the smartest thing. Look for outlets or services that will rent them – ATKC has tools for under RM2 a day.

3. Half and half

To reduce the cost of a big project, you can buy the material yourself – seek expert advice first – then hire workers to help build it. So you’re still working on your own home but with support.

4. Research and ask

Have a clear picture of what you want and what you need for material, techniques and tools. Do it before you start, because cleaning up mistakes can be painful. If you’re new to DIY, choosing the right material for a job can be confusing. Example, what kind of PVC pipes should you get? Again, ask a hardware store staff or search online for information.

5. Start small 

If you want to know if you have what it takes to do it yourself, start with furniture that come in flat-packs, like IKEA, and go from there.