13:19 31 March 2013
DIY stores, garden centres and Accident and Emergency departments up and down the country will be bracing themselves as we approach the Easter weekend, which is one of the most popular time for making home improvements.
Properly done, many DIY projects can add value to your home, increase levels of comfort and convenience and make it more attractive to potential buyers. However, there are some jobs that are best avoided - either because they'll devalue your home, trigger a home insurance claim or worse, earn you a trip to hospital.
Here's a list of five DIY projects to avoid this spring.
You might have some grand designs in mind for your home, and that's fine, but being over-ambitious and diving in without really knowing what you're doing is one of the biggest causes of DIY accidents, says the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
RoSPA estimates that more than 200,000 people go to A&E each year after injuring themselves while doing some DIY, maintenance to their homes or gardening.
Sheila Merrill, RoSPA's public safety adviser, said: "Tackling a job that is too difficult could not only result in an injury, but could also mean you have to pay a tradesperson to rectify an unsuccessful attempt - turning your efforts to save money into an expensive - and perhaps painful - mistake."
You shouldn't start a project unless you're confident of your technical abilities and strength, and you must have the right tools for the job. If you have to ask whether it's safe to do something yourself, it's probably time to call in the professionals.
Of course, changing a fuse in a plug is fine, but anything involving rewiring or circuitry needs to be carried out by a professional.
Not only is this for your own safety, but it'll save headaches later on if you come to sell your home because all the work will be up to Building Regulations standard.
According to the Gas Safe scheme, it's fine to carry out any tasks set out in an appliance's user manual (replacing a control knob, for example), but you should never do anything that involves disturbing the gas-carrying components, such as the gas supply pipe, or that could affect the combustion process, such as removing an appliance's combustion case.
What's trendy and fashionable today might well look awful in the years to come. Remember those awful, coloured bathroom suites?
Avocado baths and basins might be an extreme example, but they illustrate the point that anything too contemporary can age badly and put off potential buyers. Plain white suites and more neutral colours on your walls and upholstery will age more gracefully.
On the other hand, there are other semi-permanent interior design choices which probably aren't in line with modern tastes - such as Artex ceilings, or textured walls. These should also be avoided.
It seems like the stuff of TV sitcoms, but accidentally drilling through pipes and cables while putting up shelves or cabinets is quite common.
Research conducted by home insurance provider Churchill last year found that claims for accidental damage in the first half of the year peaked in March, as they had in the previous two years, suggesting DIY could be to blame.
It also says the average cost of repairing a drilled-through pipe or cable is more than £1,600.
If you have accidental damage cover on your home insurance policy, you'll be protected against these kinds of mishaps, but you'll lose your no claims discount and potentially face higher premiums come renewal time - so it's best to avoid it all together (especially when you factor in the disruption associated with repairs and clean-ups).
You can use a wall scanner, which you can pick up for between £30 and £50, to detect the presence of any cables, pipes or studs, and save you making a costly mistake. Owning such an item will also make you massively popular with friends and neighbours embarking on their own DIY enterprises.
If you're replacing any built-in appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators etc. you'd be mad not to install an energy efficient model. The same goes for your boiler.
Your boiler accounts for 60% of your energy bills each year, according to the Energy Saving Trust, which says you could save as much as £300 a year by upgrading from an older G-rated boiler to a modern, energy-efficient A-rated model.
A new boiler and installation can set you back by as much as £2,000, so it'll take a few years to pay itself off - but some people can get help to meet the costs, as I explained in my article Slash energy bills as cold snap bites.
Energy-efficient appliances, doors and windows will save you money on your energy bills, with the savings covering the initial outlay over time.
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