5 jobs to try yourself and 5 to leave to an expert

5 jobs to try yourself and 5 to leave to an expert

5 jobs to try yourself and 5 to leave to an expert


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Planning some DIY? We reveal five jobs it’s ok to tackle and five that should absolutely be left to a professional. And we mean, just don’t go there.

You can save thousands of pounds by taking on some home improvement jobs yourself, while others are definitely best left to an expert.

We take a look at the ones that are safe to have a go at - and the ones that should be left to the professionals.

The renovations it's ok to try yourself...

1. Painting

If it's a straightforward job, and your walls are decent, you should try painting your walls yourself. And you could save yourself a few hundred quid in the process too.

Make sure you prepare the walls first by filling in any holes or cracks with suitable filler. Then, when it's dry, sand it down and cover with primer before applying two coats of your chosen paint (pick up colour sample pots from local hardware stores).

A woman painting the skirting boards white in a pastel blue room

2. Putting up shelves

It might seem daunting but, as long as you enlist a reliable helper, putting up shelves is a manageable task.  

Firstly, use a multi-purpose digital (or 'stud') detector to ensure the parts of wall you intend to drill are not concealing cables or pipes. 

Hold the shelf on the wall and mark with a pencil where you want to bottom to go, and the brackets. Then check with a spirit level to make sure it's straight.

Drill into the wall and screw brackets into place, using wall plugs if you need to. Take the shelf down and drill small 'pilot' holes into the bottom, replace and screw together.

3. Putting up curtains or blinds

Whether you've made curtains yourself, or have bought ready-made or made-to-measure, it's easy to put up curtain rails.

Use a tape measure to ensure you leave equal lengths of curtain rail at each end. And make sure there's enough room for each curtain to hang without covering any of the window when they are open.

Remember to measure the curtain drop from where the rail will go, not from the top of the window and always use a spirit level before drilling holes in the wall.

Finally, if you have small children, make sure cords and chains are not hanging down in a loop as a safety risk.

4. Staining wood

Staining wood is a really simple task to carry out yourself. Prepare by sanding down the surface of the furniture until it's completely smooth. Next, clean the wood with white spirit and apply the wood stain with a brush. Finally, apply a finish protector.  

5. Changing taps or washers

With call-out fees for a plumber starting in the region of £70 an hour, changing a tap or washer is a simple job to do yourself. You can find plenty of online step-by-step guides for every kind of tap. 

Don't forget to turn your water off at the mains before you start, though. And have some towels on standby in case you need to mop up any excess water.

The renovations that are best left to the professionals

1. Plastering

Plastering is one of the most difficult and messy jobs short of a major renovation.

The plaster starts to dry out as soon as it's mixed so you really need to know what you're doing. And if you do mess it up, you'll be left with unsightly bumps on your walls which can be difficult to undo.

To be on the safe side, leave it to a professional, experienced plasterer. It's a good idea to get recommendations as achieving a smooth, level finish is a tricky business .

2. Electrics

Electrics is another job to leave to a professional. Not only is a badly-wired property potentially dangerous, it may also be illegal.

'Part P' of the building regulations in England and Wales state that any electrical work must be carried out by a 'competent person', namely someone with qualifications relating to electrical installations.

If you do not comply with these rules you could devalue your property and have to spend hundreds of pounds paying a professional to put the work right. Worse still, you could cause great harm or even death with your unskilled work. After the work has been completed, ask for an Electrical Installation Certificate. 

3. Plumbing

While changing a tap may be within the scope of the average DIY enthusiast, it is best not to tackle more complex plumbing jobs yourself.

Get it wrong, and you could have a major leak on your hands that could cause significant damage to your home and its contents.

Even jobs that are relatively simple for professional plumbers require a full toolbox and a good sense of a property’s entire plumbing system.

A recently renovated bathroom

4. Roof work

Roofing is complex and if you don't know what you're doing, it is very easy to cause thousands of pounds worth of damage – not to mention run the risk of injuring yourself.

If the job's not done properly, you could end up with a home that's not watertight or properly insulated. Furthermore, some insurance companies will reject claims for leaking roofs unless you can show the work was carried out by a qualified professional.

5. Carpet fitting

Laying a carpet is a very difficult job for a novice. For starters, you have to ensure the carpet is cut to exactly the right size for the room.

You'll also need specialist tools – and knowledge of how to use them. A carpet needs to be stretched and secured using glue and tack strips, while padding should be laid dead flat to avoid any wrinkles or bumps. 

Paying a reputable carpet fitter will be money well spent.