Renovations and Repairs

If you are thinking of doing some renovations, repairs or additions to your home or caravan you will need to make the decision to use a professional or should you do it yourself.

Do not make this decision without giving it a lot of thought as we have had to face that very choice with dire consequences.  We had just spent over $60,000 on our dream caravan and bought two new one hundred and twenty watt solar panels so we could camp out using our own solar power.  We bought them so we would not have to drag the noisy, smelly generator with us.

After speaking to the sales rep we were finally swayed into getting the service agent to fit the solar panels onto the caravan roof which was definitely a bad move in our case.

Then the Problems started

After paying for the professionals to fit the panels, we left on a four-month trip across Australia.  We were about 1000 k's from home when it started to rain. As it had turned colder I got a jumper out of the cupboard and it was wet. I could not believe it, within five minutes water started pouring in through the light fitting in the ceiling.  I caught a whole billy can of water from the leak. My husband jacked the front of the van up so the water would run off to limit the water leaking in.

We had to change our trip plans and headed straight to Adelaide which we had to drive another 1000 k's further on, then about 500 k's past our original destination. As heaps of other people were also trying to get warranty work done they informed us there was a three month wait.  We were horrified, and kept ringing around.  eventually getting the leak fixed in Adelaide. We then retraced 500 k's back to our original destination and enjoyed eight days of fishing and catching squid.

Second Drama

Then it poured with rain and suddenly the lounge chair opposite where I was sitting looked two different colors. You guessed it, the water was pouring down the walls and through the cupboards leaking from the other solar panel. We promptly returned the 500 k's back to Adelaide again and had to wait to have that one repaired. Luckily the original installer picked up the tab for those repairs.

At last we continued with our trip and returned home four months after leaving home.  We then returned the caravan back to the original repairers. Again all our problems and warranty repairs were finally fixed so we picked the van up five weeks later and went away for the weekend, and then it rained. Drops of water started to come down through the cable from the solar panels through the regulator.

We rang the repairers and he agreed to fix it again.

Decision Do I use a professional or DIY again

After all these continual patch up jobs we had had enough. My husband decided to do what he wanted to do in the beginning and install them himself.  Well just prizing the panels up off the roof itself took hours.  They had sealed and resealed every crack with selastic, that in
places it was about half and inch thick. Plus they had pop riveted the panel onto a piece of aluminium angle.

On inspection; you can see the original workmanship in the pictures above. We found the electrics were laying in a pool of water which could not drain out, because of the selastic. The Water was actually inside the wiring. It took more time to remove the selastic from the solar panel itself and a lot more exertion to get it of the roof.

Once that was done we had to Drive 100 k's to Perth to buy Aluminium to build up a higher frame to keep the electrics out of water, (which originally they had told us that they would put the panels on rails in the beginning). We had to renew and replace cables and all the electric switches as they were laying rusted in water. Even the metal inside the electric box was rusted.

Not only has the leaks stopped we have even gained more power from the solar panels by using the recommended electric heavier cables and rectifying the cables from laying in water.


If you are the handy type of person, then I suggest you think twice before allowing anyone to work on your brand new caravan or home if you can do the job yourself.  Keep in mind they actually charged us to install these panels in the first place. As that was not part of the warranty, as we bought them separate from the caravan. Although because they did the work the installation was covered under warranty.

Then we had not only all our extra traveling back and forth, inconvenience and fuel costs but weeks spent waiting for the panels to be installed and then repaired and again weeks waiting for the last repairs that failed once again.  It is so frustrating and can cause more internal problems with the van like mould as well.

Which in the end resulted in us having to spend about ten days in between the pouring rain repairing their stuff up. Also we are not in our prime but nearly seventy years old, and should not need to be up climbing ladders ten feet above the ground doing these repairs that we had paid supposed professionals to do.  It makes me wonder how many other people have had similar problems. 

How do these professional businesses continue to run if this is the type of work they produce?

Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual: Completely Revised and Updated
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