Making improvements to the fabric of your home is a great way to add to its value, and the easy availability of DIY equipment and materials encourages many people to dispense with professional help and set about transforming their homes on their own behalf.
Not only will this save you a great deal of money, but there’s also an undeniable satisfaction to be had from stepping back at the end of doing something like fitting a new set of kitchen cupboards and realising that it genuinely is all your own work.
There is, however, a risk of overconfidence, says North London estate and letting agent Paramount Properties. High street DIY outlets stock everything you’d need to replace a boiler, for example, and it’s easy to spend a few minutes online and download instructions and even videos detailing exactly how to go about rewiring a house or fitting a shower.
But just because you can do something is not always a reason why you should do it. While the likes of painting, wallpapering, hanging doors and putting up shelves are all well within the reach of the gifted amateur, there are some home improvement tasks which should be left strictly in the hands of the professionals.
Getting these more complex tasks wrong can not only end up costing a great deal of money, it can also be extremely dangerous, warns property management specialist Denhan Guaranteed Rent. It’s bad enough causing genuine long term damage to the fabric of your house but even worse would be to attempt an overly ambitious DIY project which puts the lives and wellbeing of you and your family in danger.
Tightening a joint in a leaky pipe or replacing the washer in a tap is all well and good, but anything involving the boiler or hot water tank should be avoided. Remember, it doesn’t need a spectacular torrent of water to cause damage. Water as little as an inch deep in the wrong place could wreak havoc with carpets, wooden floors and, most seriously, your electrical system.
All of the electrics in your house are part of one circuit. This means that if you make a mistake in one part of the house, you run the risk of knocking out the electrics throughout the house, not to mention the much bigger risk of electrocuting yourself. By all means rewire a plug, change a fuse and even replace a light socket. For anything more complex, turn to professional help.
How tricky can it be to replace a couple of loose tiles on the roof? Very tricky. Put a foot wrong when you’re painting a bedroom and you might just end up with a shoe full of vinyl emulsion. Put a foot wrong when you’re trying to mend a leak in the roof and you could end up going through the roof or slipping and plunging thirty feet or so.
Professional roofing engineers wouldn’t dream of working without safely installed scaffolding and there’s a very good reason for that; without a stable platform to work on, you’re risking standing on the very structure that’s in such poor condition that you’re having to repair it, which doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
Landlords are obliged to ensure annual gas safety inspections are carried out by a Gas Safe-registered engineer, says central London estate and letting agent Plaza Estates.
There’s really no such thing as a minor gas repair. Even fitting a gas oven is something which should only be attempted by a qualified engineer. Gas could kill without you even noticing it happening – filling the room silently and invisibly, being breathed in without anyone noticing it. On top of this there is the risk that even a small gas leak, if subjected to a spark, could cause a fire or even an explosion.
Other tasks to be avoided include anything involving structural changes and the cutting down of trees. This last is particularly dangerous as it’s especially tempting, since chopping branches off a tree looks like quite a lot of fun, as well as being easy. Chop in the wrong manner, however, and you could send a huge weight of tree toppling over into yours or an adjoining property, whereas high branches and sharp cutting equipment are a combination which simply shouldn’t be attempted.