Avoid a DIY disaster this Bank Holiday

Esther Shaw / 24 August 2016 ( 11 April 2017 )

Planning on carrying out a bit of DIY over the Bank Holiday weekend? Here’s how to avoid being left out of pocket.



While you may hope to save money by strapping on your tool-set and doing tasks yourself, you need to proceed with care, as it’s all-too-easy for your home improvements or grand designs to turn into a DIY disaster.

If things do go wrong, you may then have to call in a specialist to fix your mistakes – and this could leave you seriously out of pocket.

In fact, you could find that the cost of repairing the damage amounts to more than the initial price of having the work carried out professionally.

Get the right cover in place

If you are set on carrying out jobs around the house yourself this weekend, it’s vital to have the right cover in place.

This includes accidental damage to cover against common mishaps such as knocking over a tin of paint and ruining your carpet, drilling through a pipe, or putting your foot through a ceiling.

Most insurance policies don’t automatically include cover for accidental damage unless you have specifically added it.

If you don’t have this cover, you could face costly bills to fix botched jobs and DIY disasters.

So, before reaching for the drill or climbing up a stepladder, dig out your buildings and contents policy, and check what cover you have.

The good news is, accidental cover can be added to most policies for an additional premium – and this shouldn’t cost the earth.

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Speak to your insurer before starting bigger home improvements

In addition, you should always consult your insurer before undertaking any major changes to your home, such as knocking through rooms or adding an en-suite bathroom.

That way, you can check whether any restrictions or special conditions apply – and ensure you don’t void your policy.

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Don’t attempt tasks beyond your skillset

While it’s fine to try your hand at simple jobs such as hanging pictures or painting walls, it’s essential to pay a professional for more specialist jobs involving gas, electrical or plumbing work.

By attempting more complex tasks yourself, you not only risk damaging your property with shoddy workmanship, you could also invalidate your home cover.

The key is to know your limits; there is no shame in hiring an expert to do a job for you.

Things to consider when making home improvements

How to find a tradesman you can trust

If you are looking to find a reliable workman, it can be hard to know where to turn, given the many stories of cowboy builders.

In the first instance, you could try asking friends, family and colleagues for personal recommendations.

It’s also worth checking out the TrustMark site, as all the traders listed here have to operate to Government-endorsed standards. This accreditation not only gives you the reassurance of quality, but also protection from rogue traders. Simply enter your postcode and select the trade you require at Trustmark.org.uk.

Other sites which you may find useful include Checkatrade.com, Trustatrader.com and Ratedpeople.com.

Saga have partnered with Rated People to help connect you with over 50,000 trusted tradespeople across the country. Find out more.

Get quotes and sign a contract

Do not go with the first tradesman you find. Where possible, try and get two or three detailed quotes before choosing one. Also ask for references from previous customers.

Agree a signed contract which sets out the work to be done, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.

Crucially, do not pay a workman all the fees upfront. Only hand over the final payment once you are happy that the work has been carried out to your satisfaction.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.