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Avoid A DIY Disaster

18 June 2019

Love it or hate it, we’ve all had a go at DIY at least a few times in our lives. Often this is in the name of saving money - after all why pay someone to do a job you could easily do yourself? – but many do it simply because they enjoy getting crafty.

Unfortunately, having a go at doing it yourself also means there’s nobody else to blame when things go wrong – and they often do, with spectacular results. 

In fact, research shows that nearly one in six people who’ve had a stab at their own DIY projects have had to call in professional help to rescue them from a pickle! That’s not meant to dissuade anyone from trying their hand but here’s some things to keep in mind so it doesn’t end up costing you more in the long run:

Be Realistic About Your Expectations And Abilities

Home improvement shows can be a fantastic source of inspiration, but thanks to the magic of TV editing they can also make complex renovations look easier than they are in reality.

Completely transforming a house or garden might seem like no hassle to the likes of Kirstie and Phil, but what you usually miss out on is the months of planning that goes into these jobs and the massive crew of professionals that make them happen.

As a result, it’s important to be realistic about your own abilities and your expectations, particularly if you’re dabbling in DIY for the very first time. Start small and then build your way up. Pun intended..?

Make Sure You Have The Right Equipment For The Job

In the same way you should never cut anything with a blunt knife, you should always make sure that the tools you’re using for your DIY projects are good quality, in decent working condition and – above all – correct for the job.

That might sound like a fairly obvious thing to do before you start, but you’d be surprised how many people will attempt to take on serious DIY projects with only the barest of essentials. Often, this is because they either want to avoid spending money on tools they think they’ll never use again.

If you’re in need of specialist tools you think you’ll need only the once, instead of buying them you can instead rent them from tool hire companies. This will save you money and will also ensure you have access to properly maintained tools and machinery that will make the job much easier and also minimise the risk of you causing harm to yourself or others.

Be Careful Before Drilling Into Your Walls

On a related note, it’s also important to have a good knowledge of the structure of your home. Putting up a shelf or curtain pole surely ranks up there with the most common DIY jobs that people do, but a great many serious accidents have been caused by people unwittingly drilling into fibre optic cables, water piping or – worst of all – live electrics.

If you’re planning on drilling into any walls, make sure you know exactly what’s behind them before you start. You can pick up wall detectors relatively inexpensively from any good hardware store that’ll be able to sense pipes and wires, or again you can rent them if you think it’ll be a one-off job.

The same thing goes for stud walls: you can buy stud detectors that’ll tell you exactly where the studs are in your wall so you can know you’re drilling into something solid and not right through the wall itself!

DIY Doesn’t Just Apply To Your Home Or Garden

It used to be that if your car was running a bit funny you could just grab a basic socket set and a Haynes manual and you’d be good to go, but the increasing complexity of modern vehicles means that it’s getting harder for people without expert knowledge to do DIY fixes on their vehicles.

There is still plenty of stuff you can do, however, like oil changes, brake jobs, suspension alterations or minor work on the engine, intake and exhaust systems. As always, make sure that you know what you’re doing and that you have the right tools for the job to avoid doing more harm to your vehicle than good.

Even something as seemingly simple as changing a wheel can go spectacularly wrong if you’re not sure you know what you’re doing. If your wheel nuts aren’t tightened correctly with a good quality torque wrench, you could end up stripping the thread which will often require professional help to fix. Worse still, if they aren’t torqued down tightly enough your wheel could even come loose while you’re driving!

Know When Too Much Is Too Much

While fixing and improving your home or vehicle by yourself can be immensely enjoyable, it’s always important to know when a job’s just too much for the home hobbyist to handle by themselves.

Generally speaking, you should never attempt any jobs which require specific professional expertise or that have a high chance of causing damage either to your home, your vehicle or yourself unless you’re a qualified and trained expert yourself.

This includes the likes of plumbing, any work involving gas pipes or electrics, the removal of hazardous materials like asbestos and anything which would require you to be on the roof or to work at height. If you’re in any doubt, call in the professionals – it’s always worth it in order to avoid harm to yourself or others, and also to make sure the job is done correctly.

Make Sure You’ve Got The Right DIY Insurance Cover

Even if you’re a seasoned expert, things can always go wrong. Before you embark on any DIY project you should always make sure that you have adequate insurance cover to protect you in the event that worst comes to worst.

For example, did you know that the average cost of repairing a burst pipe in your home is approximately £7,000 due to the extensive damage it can cause and all the work involved with locating, repairing and cleaning up leaks? Especially if you’re trying a spot of DIY to save money, a £7,000 repair bill isn’t something you’ll want to end up with.

The first thing you should do before any DIY project is call your insurance provider to check exactly what you’re covered for in the event of DIY going wrong. Most home insurance policies will cover things like water and fire damage, but if the damage was caused by your own hand the chances are your policy could be considered void and your claim could be rejected.

You can combat this by adding accidental damage cover on to your home insurance policy, which normally only adds a relatively small extra charge on to your premium but which will be invaluable if you’re doing DIY and accidentally mess something up.

For larger projects, insurers can also offer self-build and renovation insurance, which can include cover for things like liability in the event a workman is injured or killed, cover for materials and insurance for plant equipment, tools, temporary buildings and more.

Your insurance premiums may increase by a little bit if you add on these extra types of cover, but at the end of the day it’s a small price to pay for being covered in case anything goes wrong. 

Read More: Escape of Water and Burst Pipes - All You Need To Know