Kirsty McLuckie: anyone can become a DIY hero thanks to online how-to clips

Image: Adobe StockImage: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock
With two bank holidays this month, the tills of DIY emporiums will be ringing as the nation takes up one of its most popular pastimes – botching home maintenance tasks over a three-day weekend.

At our house, if the weather is dry, we’ll be found swearing in the garden over a tricky tree pruning. Otherwise we’ll be indoors, starting a painting project which will no doubt remain half done till next May.

With the rise of online how-to videos, it seems there is no limit to what have-a-go DIY hero with big ambition but absolutely no skills can attempt.

A study last year found that more than three quarters of British households will attempt to do their own DIY in the home as opposed to using a professional. And that is in spite of 60 per cent of respondents ranking their DIY skills as “average” at best.

As a result, many will have had to rely on a tradesperson to come and sort out a botched job. However, when a professional has been called in to rectify a DIY project that has gone wrong, almost a quarter of us have ended up with a bill in excess of £1,000 – some unfortunates have had to cough up over £25,000.

There are some jobs that many Brits just won't even attempt. A recent study by Markel Direct found that the top-three tasks we leave to professionals are roof repairs, asbestos removal, and boiler maintenance – all areas where anyone with any sense will leave to the experts.

But nearly a third of the survey’s respondents cited painting and decorating as a job to swerve, and a fifth of homeowners said they don’t feel comfortable tackling any home improvements or repairs at all, either through fear of making the issue worse, or the terror of injuring themselves.

And while I am quite capable of getting into a fine fankle with a spot of DIY, what I hadn’t realised is the possible consequences.

For a start, if you don’t call in the experts for jobs involving electricity or gas, you could be breaking the law.

Some tasks are designated as notifiable, meaning that you need to employ a registered tradesperson to carry them out.

These instances include external electrical work, such as fitting fixed lighting, air conditioning units, photovoltaic panels, or pond pumps. Working with electricity in bathrooms is also notifiable, meaning you could be fined if you attempt it yourself.

But even if you aren’t acting illegally, you could invalidate your home insurance. A standard policy won’t cover a DIY approach to rewiring or anything to do with a flame, such as gas hob or boiler fixes.

And even if you are just attempting some light decoration, you may fall foul of your insurers, as a policy may not cover you if your shaky skills cause problems.

Accidental damage cover is required for a pay out if you cackhandedly spill paint or accidently drive a screw through a water pipe.

Any job requiring scaffolding may fall foul of an insurer’s view of your home security, and even installing a cat flap should be reported on your policy, as these small portals can be seen as hugely compromising by insurance firms.

The advice is: if in doubt, hire a professional. Online insurer states: “Your accidental damage policy may not pay out if you cause damage while doing a job you’re not qualified to do. Unfortunately, watching ten YouTube tutorials on unblocking a drain doesn’t make you a plumber.”

The firm advises homeowners to “hire a tradesperson with liability insurance to help you with the job if you don’t think you can do it”.