Home DIY Disasters

Many families are looking for ways to save a little money and when it comes to doing those jobs or projects around the house, over a third of Brits (38%) say they're going to have a go themselves this year.

But DIY efforts often go horribly wrong, according to research from AA Home Insurance. And what sets out as being a way of saving money may cost an extra £100 or more as things turn into a disaster.

Covering tracks

If that all sounds familiar then you're not alone. It seems that on average, more than one out of every 10 amateur DIY projects go wrong, wasting money, time and temper.

Simon Douglas of AA Insurance comments: "We always see an increase in claims for DIY disasters after bank holiday weekends and during holidays. But fewer than half of home contents policyholders are covered for accidental damage, which means that any claims for things going awry wouldn't be met."

Douglas adds that budding DIY-ers should check their cover before getting the tool boxes out. It's also worth checking if your home insurance has accidental damage cover. If not, it may be prudent to add before it's too late.

In fact, according to AA statistics, accidental damage is the largest single category of home insurance claims with 'escape of water' named as one of the worst culprits.

What a tool

"Plumbing accidents such as drilling through a hidden pipe or damaging a tap and flooding the home seem to be common. But other frequent claims include new shelves falling off the wall; flat-pack furniture collapsing; paint or plaster dropped on carpets, smashed glass or the electrics being fused because a wire has been inadvertently cut through.

"And with 38% of people saying they will attempt to fix their accidental damage themselves rather than call for professional help, this is certainly worth thinking about," says Douglas.

The research also found that women are the keenest new DIY-ers, with 42% saying that DIY jobs such as decorating and gardening fill their time, compared to 29% of men.

DIY dos and don'ts

Here's some AA advice for anyone considering DIY projects:

  • Get advice before you start.

    Most DIY centres offer helpful leaflets on common projects.

  • Get expert help if you're planning changes to wiring or plumbing.

    It's illegal for an unqualified person to undertake work on electrical wiring or gas installations.

  • Check for hidden pipe or wire runs behind walls.

    DIY shops sell inexpensive detectors to identify where they are.

  • Check and re-check your measurements before committing yourself with a saw or drill.
  • If you're fitting shelves or other items to walls, ensure that the fixing is suitable.

    Use the proper screw plugs if it's plasterboard: conventional screw plugs will come out as soon as weight is put on them.

  • Follow instructions carefully if you're assembling flat-pack furniture.

    Check you have all the components and have a 'dry run' first.

  • Make sure that tools such as drills, chisels and saws are in good condition and sharp.

    Keep them away from children and pets.

  • Play safe: avoid breathing in dust or damaging your eyes

    Wear a mask and goggles.

  • Ensure you move or cover furniture and carpets when painting

    Ensure there is good ventilation.

  • Don't put yourself at risk of accidents.

    Make sure your stepladder is firm!

  • Keep a first-aid kit readily available.
  • Check your home insurance and get an accidental damage extension if necessary.

Last updated: 25 June 2009