There’s no doubt we’re getting more ambitious with DIY. But the phrase ‘bitten off more than you can chew’ can sometimes feel very relevant when doing certain home improvements jobs.
The key to successful DIY is to know your limits – and to call in the professionals when they’re required.
This is not to put you off trying some DIY. There are some clear benefits from getting on the tools, such as saving money, learning a new skill and filling some spare time.
Pandemic DIY boom
In 2020, ‘thanks’ to the pandemic, many of us had lots of time to fill, prompting millions of Brits to dabble in a bit of home improvement.
More than half took on DIY projects during lockdown, completing an average of four jobs. Two in five felt "satisfied" as a result of doing DIY and almost one-fifth felt "relaxed".
But there’s often a heavy price to pay should you get DIY wrong. Some Brits have been left with bills of £75,000 to sort their DIY errors, though the average repair bill is £2,000. More than half of trades professionals said they often spend one-third of their day sorting out botched DIY.
Selco Builders Warehouse, which carried out the survey into DIY disasters, had the following advice for handy homeowners: “While smaller and less complicated projects can be quite easy and even satisfying to complete, our study has shown Brits often have to call out the professionals to fix home renovations or repairs they have tried but not succeeded at.”
What home improvements should you leave to the professionals?
To avoid any hefty DIY repair bills, leave the big jobs to the professionals.
Here are five home improvements you might be tempted to carry out yourself – perhaps to keep costs down – but really should leave well be:
1. Installing a new boiler
Energy efficiency is a big thing this winter, with high energy prices meaning no one wants to use more gas and electricity than they have to.
Over time, older gas boilers become less efficient and can struggle to heat your property, resulting in higher home heating bills. Replacing an old gas boiler with a more efficient model makes a lot of sense, but it’s not a cheap job.
Some people might be tempted to try and cut out a lot of the cost by sourcing their own boiler and bypassing the professional installer completely.
It's not technically illegal to carry out DIY gas work in your own home, but you must be considered as 'competent' to do so. What constitutes competency is open to interpretation, but if you’ve never worked with gas before, clearly, you don’t meet the criteria.
Working with gas is a complex and dangerous task that requires extensive training, knowledge and experience. You can’t simply follow the instructions. In fact, boiler instructions never give details on things like how to install the gas service pipe, how to calculate the size it needs to be, or how to test it for leaks after installation.
Most boiler manufacturers include a clause in their warranty that insists your boiler is installed by a qualified engineer. So, if anything was to go wrong with your boiler and you have no proof it has been certified by a registered gas engineer, the manufacturer can dismiss your complaints outright.
Find the right boiler for your home with QuoteSearch.
2. Replacing tired windows
Windows play a bigger role than simply providing a view to the outside world from inside your home. They keep your family and your belongings safe from things like weather and intruders. They keep out any drafts and leaks which could cause costly damage and harm. Also, a good set of windows will add to the kerb appeal of your property.
Therefore, any decision to replace your windows with a double-glazed or even triple-glazed set should not be taken lightly.
Window replacement projects are an investment. If you’re thinking of saving a little cash by going down the DIY route, think again. As much as anything else, if you own a multi-level home, there is a very real risk of you falling and/or seriously injuring yourself.
Improper installation can undo all the benefits of new windows. You might leave an air gap, for example, allowing heat to escape, which will have an impact on your energy bills.
So, while it may cost a little more up front to hire a qualified installer, the money you could save down the road makes it worth it.
Find the perfect windows for you with QuoteSearch.
3. Setting up a solar system
It’s important to note that it is possible to install solar panels on your own. In fact, there are solar systems designed specifically for DIYers.
However, many DIY solar panels are not designed to hook up to the traditional energy grid. They are intended more for off-grid purposes, like powering motorhomes or other spaces that are not typically served by a standard utility.
If you’re looking to power your home with solar power, you’ll need to install a full solar PV system, which will require you to be a dab hand with electrics – and we don’t just mean being able to change a plug.
You will likely have to work in relatively dangerous settings, including doing work on your roof and with buried wires. The stakes are high for a mishap; crossed wires can result in malfunction and even electrical fires.
If you’re intent on bringing the cost of your solar energy system down, source the panels for the best possible price with QuoteSearch.
4. Rewiring your house
We don’t think even seasoned DIYers would take a house rewiring project on – but even tampering with a small section of the electrical system should be guarded against unless you’re a qualified sparky.
There are plenty of benefits from replacing faulty wiring, which could be impacting your electricity bills. Problematic wiring is known for “leaking” electricity, which means that more power than you need is being forced out of the outlet.
In other words, you pay for the power that you have not necessarily used.
Meanwhile, the value of your home can be significantly increased if it has been signed off by an inspector, making it more appealing to potential buyers.
If it’s not done properly, however, it can have serious consequences, including fires and electrocution.
Not only could this put lives in danger, but insurance companies may not pay out in the event of a fire, due to the fact that the wiring was poorly and incorrectly done by an amateur.
So, get a professional on the job. And while you’re at it, get a good deal on your electricity.
5. Putting a TV on the wall
The trend of putting a flat-screen TV on the wall is not going anywhere anytime soon. It makes a lot of practical sense; saving living space and putting the screen out of reach of little hands. It can also maximise the viewing experience.
But it’s often not as easy a job as the finished product might look, particularly if you’re trying to mount a TV in a new home where the walls are usually on the flimsy side.
You have to be very careful when putting a TV on a plasterboard wall – if you don’t use the right mounting, there’s a real risk of it falling off at some point. Not only would this likely see your TV crash and burn, there’s an obvious health hazard as well.
It usually doesn’t cost a lot of money to find someone experienced in mounting TVs – it’s well worth the peace of mind, if you ask us. You’ll be able to put your feet up in front of your favourite show knowing that you’re not going to have your viewing cruelly interrupted!