It's a dilemma faced by every homeowner with a long list of jobs that need doing. You either DIY and live with the consequences or you fork out your hard earned and GSI – Get Someone In. Deciding exactly when to have a go yourself and when you're better off calling an expert is a tricky call. How much time will it take? Do you have the requisite skillset? On a scale of one to 10, what's the risk of death if you cock it up? Still confused? Here's what to take on and what to farm out...
1. Leave anything you get a utility bill for to the experts If it involves electricity, gas or water... then there's a chance of electrocution, drowning, flooding, or blowing the whole damn street up. So you don't need us to tell you it ain't worth the risk. Even if you think you know how to rewire a plug, or changing a flex sounds like chicken feed, it isn't.
Our verdict: leave it to the experts
2. With the exception of toilets and taps
Changing a ball cock? Surprisingly easy. Ditto replacing a tap. Here, WikiHow is your best friend. The only thing you will need to know is where to locate your stop cock. And hopefully it's hasn't seized up over the years. Make sure you've switched the supply off before you start loosening any washers.
Our verdict: Have you seen the rates plumbers charge these days? Worth giving a go.
3. Sanding a floor
On the plus side, those giant sanding units – a cross between a giant hoover and an indoor lawn mower – are easily hired for the weekend. But even if you check every exposed nail beforehand, unless your floor is already in pristine condition, be prepared for lots of torn sandpaper and endless splinters. And the machine won't get into tight corners, expect to do the bits it misses by hand. The machines also have a remarkable tendency to run away with themselves, so a steady grip is required. And my, that dust can get into the most inaccessible places! Still, taking it on yourself will save you taking a day off work to let someone else do it. Plus, there's the added bonus that you get to fulfil all those blue-overall-and-protective-goggle fantasies (or is that just us?).
Our verdict: Give it a go.
I know, it looks like hours of fun. Like icing a cake but on a larger scale. But there's a reason why apprentice plasterers take years to learn their trade. It's because plastering is messy. And hard. If the dust doesn't beat you, the search for pancake-flat finish will. Unless you want your internal walls to look like the external walls of a mud hut, this is not one for amateurs.
Our verdict: Best left to the experts.
5. Hanging a picture
Nail, hammer and a bit of brute strength. What can possibly go wrong? Quite a lot actually. However, if you familiarise yourself with your walls – plasterboard, brick, loadbearing – and speak to your local DIY centre about what fixings you need, it should be within your capabilities. Most wall hanging disasters are down to the wrong fixings. Rawl plugs, you'll need them. Along with a spirit level to keep things straight. Get those right, and you just can't go wrong. In theory...
Our verdict: What's the worst that can happen? A wonky picture. Nobody died. Give it a go...
6. Painting and decorating
Touching up the gloss? Eggshelling the hallway? This is starter level DIY, and should be within the capabilites of all but hamfisted dunderheads. You will need: a clean and ordered disposition, lots of old newspaper and plenty of old rags. Not to mention industrial quantities of white spirit, to wipe any emergencies away. When painting a room, it's best done in pairs. Let the careful, tidy one take on the woodwork, leaving the bish-bash-bosher to go wild with the roller on walls and ceilings.
Our verdict: Go for it. You may end up with a headful of Molesbreath highlights, but we hear they're very on trend...
7. Tuning the video
Our verdict: Get Someone In.
Click here to find a qualified tradesperson for your job, in your area.
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Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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