The True Cost of DIY Disasters

The True Cost of DIY Disasters

Recent ONS data revealed that consumer spending on home and garden tools increased to more than £3bn between July and September 2017, but is DIY always the most cost-effective option? 

Hitachi Personal Finance - which itself saw a 5% increase in home improvement loan applications between 2015 and 2018 - has investigated the unforeseen costs that could come with trying to update your home, and getting it wrong.

Putting up shelves, mirrors or pictures

·Potential damage costs: £200

·Reduce the risk with a digital wall detector: £30

Whether you’re looking increase storage space or add some character to a room, putting up shelving or artwork can seem like a quick and easy solution. However, care needs to be taken when it comes to the location of pipes and cables that you can’t see.

Andy Porter, Multi-Trade Engineer said “I saw someone recently who put a nail straight through a cold feed when fitting a bathroom mirror and flooded three floors of flats!

“Try to trace where pipes and cables could be running. Most of the time they will run vertically from a socket or tap, but if unsure, buy a digital wall detector to check the wall beforehand. You can pick these up from around £30, whereas you’d be looking at least £200 or so to cut out the plasterboard and splice in a new section of pipe to fix a DIY mishap, which could be much more if there is significant damage.”

Repairing a squeaky floorboard

·Potential damage costs: £420

·Reduce the risk by getting a professional for a minimal cost: £15 - £100 depending on the space and whether the carpet needs removing and replacing

There’s nothing more irritating, but when it comes to a squeaky floorboard the risk of getting it wrong outweighs the potential savings made by taking the task on yourself.

DIY vlogger, Georgina Burnett, documents her latest DIY projects on TheHomeGenie.com, working with her builder, Doug Reynolds from DJ Reynolds Ltd. Her advice is “If you’re ever tempted to bang a nail in to fix a squeaky floorboard, think again - particularly if it’s in a bathroom. Not only will there be the cost to get a plumber out to repair it at about £120 for an emergency call out, but you may find yourself also having to repair and redecorate the ceiling and room below. A small patch repair is likely to be close to £100 and then just shy of £200 to paint the ceiling if it’s an average size, as a couple of visits are likely to be needed. Water can cause a lot of damage quickly so making good the room below could cost hundreds or even thousands. Get someone in to do it for you at an average cost of £15.”

Laying laminate flooring

·Potential damage costs: £200 + costs for replacement boards

·Reduce the risk by getting a professional: £30 - £150 (depending on the size of the space)

When it comes to laying flooring, the potential savings from DIY are well worth thinking about, but it’s not always as easy as it may seem. Georgina adds, “Laying laminate flooring is always worth a shot, but many DIYers rush in and don’t find out the best way to do it or have the right tools to hand, and find themselves floored! The end result? Ill-fitting, uneven boards that look amateurish. They’re relatively easy for an expert to fix but will charge from £20 for labour, plus the cost of replacement boards, if you don’t have any left.”


·Potential damage costs: £300

·Reduce the risk with proper prepping: £5 - £10

If there’s one DIY job that everyone thinks they can easily, quickly and cheaply do for themselves, it’s painting. And whilst it’s definitely possible, it takes careful preparation to make sure it’s done well and the end result is something you’re happy with. “Painting is a task that people often underestimate” Georgia explains, “If you don’t prepare the walls and scrimp by using cheap paint, or not enough coats, you may end up spending an additional £300 per day to get someone in to start from scratch.”

New internal doors

·Potential damage costs: £150

·Reduce the risk with a professional for less than you’d think: £50-£100

“Hanging new internal doors can seem like a simple task, but it actually takes some expertise and the expensive tools to do it correctly,” Georgina warns.

“At worst you will need a new door and a doorway made good, but certainly a professional to correct it at about £50. However, if they’re just coming to do that they may charge for a full day.” A full day’s labour can cost around £100.

Loft insulation

·Potential damage costs: £350

·Reduce the risk with a government grant

Loft insulation is a home improvement job that can easily contribute to big savings in the long run on your energy bills. Whilst some people may think they can tackle this job themselves, it comes with the risk of serious damp issues if not handled correctly, which can quickly burn a hole in your wallet.

Ricky Swann of Heat Insulation Ltd advises, “The vast majority of loft insulation jobs can be paid for by a government grant, but people who go down the DIY route will often purchase the material themselves, as they do not know the grant exists. In cases where someone has undertaken a DIY job and then got damp, all the loft insulation will more than likely need replacing.

“When it is replaced, it means that the property owner has unnecessarily wasted money. In some cases, they must also have damp removal in other areas of their property due over insulating their property. Overall, the average cost for re-installation would be a minimum of £300 - £350 depending on the extent of the damage.”

Vincent Reboul, Managing Director at Hitachi Personal Finance, said “There is no doubt that turning your hand to DIY for smaller jobs around the home can you some money, however without the proper research and preparation these jobs can soon become more costly than originally planned. If you have a few jobs that need doing, look into getting a professional in for the day, as it could save you money in the long run.”

Visit Hitachi Personal Finance’s blog for more money saving tips around the home: https://www.hitachipersonalfinance.co.uk/latest-posts/categories/home-improvements/