DIY, that classic British pastime. There’s nothing better than working hard on something in your home on a nice relaxing Sunday, then being able to smile proudly the fruits of your hard labour.
Sometimes, though, it is worth getting an expert in to offer a helping hand. Courtesy of the internet and other people’s home disasters, we’ve been able to find a few snaps of eager DIYers who might have benefitted from a little outside assistance…
We can’t help but wonder what might happen if you’d been caught in the rain… If you’re not so keen on a shock to welcome you home, perhaps you’d be better off looking for a local electrician.
The Elastic Bands Enthusiast
Let’s face it, if there’s any way of putting that ball of elastic bands sitting on your desk to good use, this isn’t it. If you value being able to turn on your taps, find a plumber here.
Note to self, gingerbread houses are not fit for real life purpose. Or is it processed cheese? Either way, find a roofer here.
The Scouts/ Brownies Graduate
You spent hours learning how to master the Sheepshank and the Clove Hitch, so damn it, you’re going to find a way to use it! Or, accept that neon blue doesn’t quite match rock red and find yourself a bricklayer.
DIYers, we salute your valiant efforts, but there is no shame in defeat. Some things are simply better left to the professionals.
Let’s be honest: We all fancy ourselves as a bit of DIY genius. No job is too complex or great. When it comes to doing it yourself, any danger of causing serious injury or seriously botching up a job goes out the window; it’s all about ego and proving that not every job requires calling ‘The Man’.
In the real world, however, there is only so much the common homeowner can achieve when deciding to do a touch of handy work around a property. More often than not, it pays to get the expert in. Here’s a list of some household tasks that shouldn’t be too difficult to handle, and those that most definitely require a professional. If you’re one of those who thinks you’re a DIY jack-of-all-trades, look away now…
Don’t Get Wired On Electrics
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Anything electrical in your home that requires attention is best left untouched. Not only do you skirt with the obvious risk of electrocuting yourself, meddling with the wires behind that dodgy plug socket could wreak havoc on your home’s entire wiring. The appeal of deciding to fix a light fitting without the costly expense of calling in a professional may seem alluring, but just think about the potential spiralling costs in the event you botch it up and need to find a professional electrician to rewire your whole home. Bottom line: Don’t fiddle with electrics.
Moving on to something a little safer, there’s nothing wrong with attempting painting inside your home. Obviously there’s more to it than simply taking a pot of paint to your walls, but it’s certainly one of the more ‘doable’ DIY projects. As Interior specialist Gemma Cheney writes in the Guardian, there are tricks to adding a professional touch to your painting: “preparation is everything”. For ease and for covering a larger area, a roller is probably best, but for the more intricate jobs, a paintbrush is more ideal. The beauty of it all is that even if you do somehow manage to make a hash of it, you can always hire a painter and decorator to save the day.
Avoid the Waterworks
When it comes to plumbing, there are a handful of simple jobs that do not require a plumbing service: a leaky tap, installing a new shower head or unclogging a drain are all perfect and scalable jobs to keep you occupied at the weekends. However, the more complex tasks will require a professional plumber. Much like trying to fix a problematic wire, fiddling with your home’s plumbing could have disastrous consequences that could leave you more out of pocket to fix than if you called the plumber in the first place. Moving away from the job at hand, hiring a plumber has other benefits. He or she will help you stay within your planned budget and will likely get the job done within your envisioned timeline.
Take it Outside
Of course, DIY isn’t just contained to your home; the garden represents a wide range of DIY jobs you can do yourself, from mowing the lawn and painting the fence, to the more difficult bricklaying or pond installation. You may laugh, but there is a method to mowing the perfect lawn, but it’s probably not worth calling in the man. However, installing that nice, new water feature or building a new shed is probably better left to the professional – Bark can help you find local Bricklayers if you need them. Regardless of perfecting the bricklaying when building a new shed, there are also legal complication such as obtaining planning permission that a professional will know inside out and offer guidance. On top of all that, there’s the slight issue of landscaping. We’d all love a garden that wouldn’t look out of place at the Chelsea Flower Show, but left to your own devices you could just as likely end up with the garden from hell. Again, probably best to hire a landscaper for that major redesign.
Inspired to Do It Yourself? Consider calling in a local professional first. Bark.com has a wide range of house and home services to help spruce up your property.
In our first of a series of guest blogs from experts across Bark.com, Charlie Mullins, Founder and Managing Director of London-based Pimlico Plumbers, the capital’s biggest independent plumbing company, shares his top tips for healthy waterworks.
Whether you’re boiling your kettle, doing the laundry, having a soak in the bath or warming the house on a cold, crisp evening, we do use a lot of water simply going from day to day, with our plumbing quietly working away in the background to transport it from A to B.
But making sure we get the most from our pipes is not always that simple – if you’re working with existing networks, they aren’t always as flexible or adaptable as we’d like them to be, and if you’re starting from scratch, there are a number of building regulations to consider. So if you’re thinking of doing any tinkering, here are a few top tips to help you ask the right questions, get the right solutions and perhaps most importantly, the right quotes for your plumbing.
1. Where’s my water going? – Out of all the rooms in the home, the kitchen and bathroom – in other words, the rooms that involve the most plumbing work – are the most commonly renovated. So before you read up on your feng shui and start rearranging layouts, think where you’re going to put all your water items (by that, I mean sinks, bath, washing machine, loo, dishwasher etc.) as their position may well be determined by where existing waste and soil pipes are. It is often extremely pricey to move them even a few inches, so make sure you factor in their exact locations when discussing your design. If you’re not sure what’s possible and you’re looking for a tradesman to do the job, why not ask your local bathroom or kitchen fitter for advice before buying? It could save you a lot of hassle further down the line
2. I don’t understand my water pressure – We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a bad shower, whether that’s the embarrassing trickle that drips from the showerhead or the vicious spikes and drops in temperature when someone turns a tap on elsewhere. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you carefully consider where your water tank is positioned and match the shower to suit it. Generally, your supply will come from one of three places – a header tank in the attic, with a hot water cylinder in an airing cupboard; a pressurised system using the pressure from your mains water supply in the road; or a combi boiler system heating water on demand. Again, it’s worth consulting a specialist shower installation professional before you get too attached to the idea of a ceiling mounted rain shower head – beautiful in theory, but not always practical.
3. How do I get the most from my boiler? – Boilers can take up a lot of precious space in a crowded kitchen or bathroom, so many people opt to move them somewhere more secluded in the home. If you’re thinking of doing the same, there are a few things to consider – firstly, how readily accessible will your boiler be? Unless you have a converted loft, bunging a boiler in the attic will only give you and your (CORGI registered) boiler engineer headaches when it needs to be serviced, so aim for somewhere on the ground floor like a shoe cupboard or utility room. Then, think about how far any heated water needs to travel – the shorter the distance, the quicker you’ll be able to run your bath. Finally, don’t forget about the flue (the vent for the boiler) – there are several building regulations that can limit where it can be positioned, and therefore where your boiler can be installed.
4. And my radiators? – If you haven’t replaced your radiators in a while, you’ll probably find them situated under windows or on external walls – and there is some logic to this as before double glazing came into play, this helped cancel out cold draughts entering the room. Nowadays though, radiator positions don’t need to be so prescriptive, so feel free to play around with locations (perhaps with the help of a handy heating professional). Just watch out for blocking them with furniture or hiding them behind long curtains as that will trap the heat.
5. What about the pipes themselves? – Going underground seems to be a growing trend with all manner of piping to keep rooms looking clean and clutter-free. And that’s fine – but make sure you find yourself a plumber you trust because the move will be delicate. Any drilling or notching to floor joists needs to be done with care to ensure they can still support weight, any pipes buried in concrete floors need to be protected from potential chemical reactions with tape or plastic casing, and pipes shouldn’t be randomly placed anywhere – otherwise, tradesmen further down the line could easily hammer a nail in to your network or make an incision accidentally.