A quick internet search on the term “DIY” will bring up countless results ranging from making your own gifts, to customising shop-bought products, to traditional home-improvement jobs. These last are often the source of comedy gold (think of the programme Home Improvement), but they can have serious consequences if they go wrong. Here are five points to consider before you decide whether or not to go down the DIY route or call in the professionals.
Is it legal/OK with your insurer?
There are certain jobs, typically anything involving electric, which must be undertaken by a qualified professional in order to be in compliance with the law. Even if it is legal for you to undertake a job, your insurer may require it to be completed by a professional in order for your to be covered.
What is the potential risk?
All jobs carry some element of risk, for example, even something as basic as painting could result in a tin of paint being overturned on a floor or path and if you are working with ladders there is even more risk. Jobs which involve power tools can result in a lot of damage if they go wrong and if your task relates to anything structural, then you could literally bring the house down (or at least a part of it).
Do I have adequate insurance cover?
You probably have home contents insurance, but accident-related damage often requires extra cover, either as an add-on to an existing home-contents policy or as a stand-alone purchase. Even if you are an experienced DIYer, jobs can go wrong, in fact, even if you are a professional, jobs can go wrong, which is why reputable professionals tend to have insurance. It would be a bit ironic if you opted, for example, to save money by painting a room yourself, only to have to replace an expensive carpet on which you had spilled paint.
Do I realistically have the skills and tools to do this job?
As a rough rule of thumb, one effective way to get a ballpark feel for this is to look at the list of tools and materials required for the job and ask yourself whether you have them (or at least have easy access to them) and, if so, whether you really feel comfortable using them. If the answers to these questions are yes and yes, then have a look at the instruction and, again, ask yourself realistically, how you feel about following them. When considering this question, look carefully to see if the instructions apply to all situations, for example, assembling a piece of flat-pack furniture, or if there are parts in which you need to apply your own judgement, such as compensating for an uneven floor or wall. Also check any assumptions, such as that plumbing is already in place and double-check for yourself that they actually apply in your, personal, situation.
What do I value more, my time or my money?
If you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re capable of doing the job, then the final question is whether or not doing the job is really worth your, personal time. If you think you’d enjoy it, then that’s a clear sign to do it yourself. If, however, you’re simply prepared to do the job because you think it would save you money, then it’s time to think carefully about how much money you could realistically expect to save and what that would mean in practical terms. To reiterate one of the previous points, your figures should take into account the cost of taking out appropriate accident cover, unless you already have it.