Your 8 biggest DIY blunders

...because no matter how big your gaffe there's always someone who has done worse!

You have the best intentions. It looks like a simple job; anyone can do it. So you dig out your tool box from the shed and get cracking…but unfortunately things don’t always go to plan.

According to a survey by Scruffs Workwear, our biggest DIY fails are joinery, building work and home wiring. Unfortunately, the survey also reveals that half of our DIY disasters cost us in excess of £100 to repair. Here we reveal your real-life horror stories and when it would’ve been better to call in the experts!

A quick paint job?

An advisor from Everyday Loans tell us: “We once had a couple take out a loan after they tried to decorate their kitchen and it all went disastrously wrong – to the point they didn’t have funds to rectify the problem.

“Their kitchen had initially been luminous green alongside black tiles which they detested. After using a tin of white paint which had gone off, the mixture separated to form blobs. It needed sanding down and restarting from scratch. They also tried to remove the tiles but hadn’t realised how delicate the plasterboard underneath was – and needed to get a plasterer out.

“A job they budgeted a few hundred pounds for soon became a much bigger job than they had anticipated with a price tag to match.”

Left hanging

A carpenter in the South West recounts being called out to a house with ceiling damage. How had it happened? An adult swing which had been improperly hung – racking up a repair bill of £120. Ouch.

Even I can do that…

A couple in Southampton were awash with regret after getting out their spanner. They say: “There was a little plastic valve in the cold tap which restricted the water pressure. It looked really simple to remove and we thought this was an excellent plan. But it kept leaking. Eventually we had to call the emergency plumber after water leaked through the kitchen through to the ceiling below – which now has an impressive water mark across it.”

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Lethal potential

An engineer from heating installers Swale Heating in Kent recounts: “The homeowners had used mastic sealant to repair a flue in the roof space which was leaking water – but it was actually leaking carbon monoxide and they could have been killed.

“CO poisoning kills around 40 people every year in the UK. The gas is colourless and odourless so people often don’t realise they are being poisoned until it’s too late. Always use a qualified engineer who is on the Gas Safe Register list to carry out any work on gas appliances.”

A load of hot air

A tradesman in Yorkshire was called out to a house when the homeowner had trouble with his hot water system, which he’d tried to plumb himself. Unfortunately, he’d managed to plumb the whole house’s hot water taps to the gas pipe – and needless to say it didn’t work. The bill to fix the job cost £140.

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All for the baby

A new dad in Worcestershire tells us: “Whilst decorating new baby’s bedroom, we decided to insulate the cold floor by overlaying hardboard over the old draughty floorboards. The boards were beautifully cut and nailed down. On the last board, I heard water running.

“Then I noticed a dark area on a board in the middle of the room – it was wet. A nail had hit a water pipe and removing it sent a jet of brown water up to the freshly painted ceiling. We had to fix the pipe, re-lay new floor boards and repaint – turning a two-hour job into a complete weekend.”

Bright sparks

A first-time buyer in South Wales says: “We bought a new washing machine in our rented house but the socket was above the kitchen counter and wouldn’t reach. My partner cut the wire, fed the cable through the back of the worktop and fit a new plug – which worked for four months. When we moved, the washing machine stopped working. Turns out our new safe electric box was cutting it off because it was an unsafe connection – he’d wired the plug wrong and put the earth to the live part. We were lucky not to have had a house fire.”

The moral of the story

“Each year have-a-go homeowners are paying a small fortune on corrective work that could have been avoided easily,” says Chris Mellor-Dolman, of Scruffs. “The difference between paying a professional to carry out the job and to correct the job can be startling. It can be tempting to try and tackle simple jobs by yourself, but more often than not there’s more to DIY than just having the correct tools. Professional know-how is key.”

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