What you may have forgotten about DIY….


DIY is hugely popular in the UK, and it is easy to see why. With our TV channels filled with property programs, many of which show ideas way beyond most people’s budgets, it is hugely tempting to nip down to the shops for a tin of paint and some power tools. Indeed, it can be a great way to add value and/or personality to your home, and to make it feel like somewhere you can be really happy. I’ve done a lot of DIY myself, and if you’re careful it can be immensely rewarding.

So I’m not here to put you off getting stuck into your own projects – far from it – but there are a few other issues that DIY enthusiasts can overlook while they are filled with dreams of what is to come. So here are a few extra tips to make sure your project goes smoothly!

Check if you need Planning Permission

As a rough guide, if you are altering or extending the existing footprint of your home you need to check whether planning permission is required. Side extensions, which fill up pathways leading to the garden, have become particularly popular, but no matter how small you could land up in big trouble if permission is not in place. In extreme cases, councils can insist that you tear down all you hard work, wasting thousands of pounds. Whilst a rule called Permitted Development can simplify the process, if a previous owner has already applied that rule then you may not be able to.

Get your Building Control certificates sorted

It is possible that you may need to get your local building control department to sign off on your planned works. This can affect you even for relatively small jobs, such as:

  • replacing fuse boxes and connected electrics
  • installing a bathroom that will involve plumbing
  • changing electrics near a bath or shower
  • putting in a fixed air-conditioning system
  • replacing windows and doors
  • replacing roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs
  • installing or replace a heating system
  • adding extra radiators to a heating system

I’d advise checking before you do the work, saving yourself hassle later on if it has not been done correctly!

Set a budget – then stick to it

DIY stores, magazines and friends are always full of good ideas about what you could or should do to your home. But have you ever noticed that when one room or area is finished, the bit next to it suddenly looks a bit shabby by comparison? It is so easy to slip from your original, modest goals and end up way over budget, so make a plan and stick to it. If you know that your home will need a lot of work, why not plan a calendar of when you will be able to afford to do each part?

Are your really insured for this?

Home insurance comes in two main flavours if you are the owner and occupier: buildings and contents. The first covers damage to the building itself (fire, flood etc.) whilst the second covers your possessions within it (clothes, laptops, priceless Mr Blobby collectables). However, not many people realise that damaged caused by your sloppy DIY is often excluded from either type of policy, unless you have arranged it especially. Imagine what you would feel like if, while hanging that simple shelf in the bathroom, you punctured a water pipe and flooded the living room below? Without proper cover, you’ll be paying for new carpets, TV and sofa, not to mention plumbers, plasterers and chocolates to appease the kids who just lost their square best friend… So call your insurance company – ahead of time. It won’t cost much (possibly nothing at all) but you’ll feel better if it is needed. This is doubly true is you are actually paying a firm to come in and do work more substantial than mere DIY. What would you do if tat firm went bust halfway through your job and left a gaping hole in the side of your house? There is insurance for that as well, and it pays to consider it now.

As I said at the start, I’ve done a lot of DIY over the years, and I thoroughly enjoy both the work and the rewards at the end, so I’m not here to put you off. But with a little forward thinking, you can reduce both the cost and the risk of problems, leaving you to enjoy the results with peace of mind.

Now, where did I leave my sledgehammer?

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