Stuck and need to get help with your DIY project?
Undertaking DIY tasks yourself instead of hiring a tradesman can save a lot of money and leave you with a feeling of real accomplishment. Though knowing when to tackle them yourself and when to hire a professional can be tricky. Well, worry no more, with our HOMYZE guide to deciding when to get help with your DIY project.
When it comes to your home’s plumbing, hiring a professional plumber is often the safest option with most jobs as water damage can be an expensive accident. A plumber will undertake jobs such as conducting a survey to establish any problems with your water system, as well as repairing and maintaining these. While it’s always recommended to hire a plumber for the above jobs, there are a few simple tasks you can do yourself:
- The first step when finding any fault with your home’s water system is to immediately turn off both your water and power. You can find your electricity supply within your home’s fuse box, while each home’s water valve is often located in different spots. Locating these when you first move in will help you to avoid a mad panic when something does go wrong.
- Frozen pipes are a common occurrence during the cold winter months, and if done correctly fixing the issue can be fairly straightforward undertaking. The first thing to do is switch off your stopcock and leave it to defrost by itself, though this can be hurried up by going over the pipes with a hairdryer or draping warm towels over. Never attempt this with an open flame as doing so can lead to a burst pipe. With many of these problems, prevention is better than cure. Insulate any exposed pipes especially those in parts of your home where temperatures can be low, such as in your garage or basement before the cold hits. Regularly put your heating on, or if away set your boiler to come on at various periods.
- Often caused by air trapped in the pipes, airlock can leave your taps spluttering or without any water at all, but fixing the problem can be a fairly easy task. First off, connect one end of a garden hose to the affected tap and the other to a tap on the in your home that is working fine. Let both taps run for a few minutes to fix the troublesome tap.
- When you discover a burst pipe, you know you need to get help with your DIY project. Stopping the leak should be done immediately, but creating a temporary fix while you wait for a plumber is relatively straightforward. To start, place a pipe repair clamp over the damaged part ensuring the rubber sealing is fully covering the aforementioned area. Then fit the screws, tightening to keep the clamp in place while you await the plumber.
We cannot express enough the importance of always hiring a qualified electrician to undertake the vast majority of electrical tasks around the home. Though do remember that whenever carrying out any work, that it is done so in accordance with building regulations and that the main power supply is off before starting. While we strongly recommend you don’t carry out any electrical work around your home unless you’re qualified to do so and advice that electrical works should not be a considered “a fun DIY task”, there are a number of things you can do to help avoid future problems without the need for a professional.
- Identify where all the cables in your home’s walls run, this can be easily done with a decent cable detector. Locating where these cables lie will help avoid accidental drilling or nailing through concealed wires, a common DIY mishap around the home.
- If you haven’t already, install a Residual Current Device (RCD), a life-saving device designed to cut the power whenever something touches a live wire.
- Building up a basic understanding of your home’s electrical system can help if you do have an issue and need to explain to an electrician.
- This can never be said enough whenever dealing with your home’s electricity, but always remember to switch off your power supply. Always double check by plugging in a home appliance and switching it on to see whether the power is completely off.
Hiring a gardener for your green space is more often down to not having the time than it is actual ability. So for lengthy tasks such as a complete garden overhaul, tree surgery or building a pond it’s usually worth hiring a helping green-fingered hand. Though that shouldn’t stop you from giving a few of the tasks listed below a go.
- Planting a tree in your garden can be a daunting prospect but in actual fact, it’s a fairly straightforward project if you don’t mind a bit of hard work and some DIY skills. When starting, always consider the eventual size of your tree in the area you are planting in. It’s worth noting that garden trees come in a variety of sizes, with maiden and whip trees generally reaching around 3ft tall. While a half-standard tree can grow up to 5ft excluding branches and a standard tree will reach around 6 1/2 ft before branches. When it comes to times for planting in the UK, generally between mid-November to late March are considered the best for growing. Once ready to plant, dig out the ground to make a hole slightly deeper and wider than your tree’s roots. Place the tree into the hole, making sure where the tree originally began growing above ground aligns with the top of the soil, before replacing the soil around the tree. Placing a guard around the tree to protect from pests is also advised to keep it alive and healthy.
- Creating a garden path can be a great way of adding structure to your garden and for avoiding those sad looking trampled patches. Once you’ve settled on a location and whether you’re using paving stones, bricks, gravel, or a mixture, it’s time to get down to work. Marking out your pathway with rope and sticks can help you calculate the number of materials you’ll need, as well as helping you avoid wandering off track. Slightly dig out the path area by a couple of inches before filling with your chosen material; it’s here that gravel works best as it can easily fill areas without having to be cut to size. Adding bricks along the edges will also help create a more clear-cut border between your path’s gravel and the greenery of your garden.
- Keeping all tools well maintained is invaluable for extending their lifespan and ensuring you get full working use out of them. It sounds simple, but making sure they are properly stored away and used in the correct manner will keep them functioning for many years.
- The average householder’s garden is often ripe for various unskilled tasks, whether that’s mowing the lawn, watering plants or sweeping up leaves. These types of jobs are simple, straightforward and have been carried out by everyone in their lives at some point. Hiring a gardener to undertake these sorts of tasks is often down to a lack of time than it is uncertainty.
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Much like with your home’s electrics, when it comes to your heating it’s usually best to hire a professional. A heating engineer will fix or repair any work your boiler or heating system may need, undertake a survey to identify any problems, or just offer advice if you plan on upgrading. While it’s always best to hire a heating engineer if you do have a problem with your boiler or heating system, there are a number of jobs you can do yourself.
- Low water pressure is a common problem with boilers and can often be easily resolved. If your boiler’s pressure level is not reading between 1 and 1.5, simply start by switching your boiler off and opening the valves, either by the tap handles or with a flat headed screwdriver. Opening these valves will allow cold water into the system, which in turn restores the pressure to normal. Always remember to close both valves before switching the boiler back on.
- Much like with the water pressure, your boiler’s pilot light can be another root cause when something goes wrong with your heating system. The pilot lights on most new models rarely go out, and if they do it’s always best to consult a heating engineer. Older models are more prone to failing pilot lights and your boiler’s manual should explain the correct way of relighting it, though most follow the same method. To relight, you must first turn your gas valve off and wait for around 10 minutes for any remaining gas to disappear. Locate the pilot light, then hold a flame to the pilot light tube and turn the gas control knob to pilot. Press the reset switch to light the pilot light tube and continue holding the switch for around a minute once the flame has been ignited. This should restore your pilot light, but if you continue to struggle it’s always best to consult a professional.
Painting and Decorating
Hiring a painter and decorator is more often a question of time and how confident you feel undertaking the work than it is anything else. If you’d rather hire a professional painter, they’ll happily take on any task no matter how big or small it is, and will commonly carry out any jobs that involve painting, wallpapering or smoothing walls and ceilings.
- Preparing your surfaces for a paint job can be the difference between beautiful new walls and a colour you’ll soon start to associate with regret. Always make sure to flatten your walls by filling holes and sanding away any roughness to help create a smoother finish. Washing the walls of any dirt or grease is strongly recommended to create a finished paint job that really stands out. Most unsightly marks can be easily removed with sugar soaps, which should be worked into the wall’s surface and then left for around 5 minutes before being rinsed away with clean water.
- Stripping wallpaper is another straightforward task that can help lighten the workload of the tougher parts of the job later on. Scoring the old wallpaper before soaking in warm water before removing is one of the best ways of getting your walls clean.
- Picking out the right paints and brushes will help make painting easier and improve the quality of the finished job. Good quality interior wall and ceiling paint may cost more but will take fewer coats and less time to apply.
Photo courtesy of Pinterest
The same with brushes, it’s always worth choosing a couple of good quality paint brushes for the type of job you’re carrying out, rather than many different varieties. When it comes to deciding the type of brush you need, there’s a number of different sizes and bristle types to choose from:
- Synthetic Bristle: Best used for water-based paints, synthetic bristle brushes are hard wearing and don’t swell, making them perfect for working on tight spots and achieving a fine finish.
- Natural Bristle: Perfect for solvent-based paints, natural bristle brushes absorb and hold paint within the brush making them perfect for producing a fine finish with few brush strokes.
- Alternatively, it’s possible to buy mixed brushes of both synthetic and natural, which create a great finish with all paints.
- When it comes to brush size, it’s fairly straightforward what width works best for each part of the room. A smaller size brush of 25mm to 50mm width is ideal for tight areas such as skirting boards, panel doors and window frames. While bigger brushes with widths measuring 100mm plus are best suited for larger areas such as walls and ceilings.
Most homes have a mountain of DIY tasks that never seem to get finished, whether that’s due to time, money or simply a lack of knowledge. Hiring a handyman is an effective way to tackle a variety of jobs that don’t require a trained professional such as putting up shelves, building tricky flat pack furniture and laying flooring or tiling. Though most handymen are not restricted to the home, with many willing to undertake gardening too including mowing the lawn, painting fences and carrying out any digging or planting you may require.
While a handyman’s list of jobs are typically those you can also do yourself but lack the chance to get done, there are some that require both very little effort and time, such as:
- Creaks and squeaks around the home are a common sound problem that we often just learn to live with rather than fixing. Doors are often the biggest culprit when it comes to these annoying sounds, but often just need a quick spray of WD-40 or petroleum jelly rubbed onto the hinges. Once you’ve applied the lubricant the doors just need a quick back and forth to resolve the squeaky sound issues. Creaking floorboards are another noise issue that takes a little more work to resolve but is still worth the extra effort. Once you’ve located the creaky board and removed any carpet or furniture covering the area, simply go over the nails of the offending board with talcum powder. This reduces the creaking by weakening the friction between the board and the nails. If this solution doesn’t work, it may simply be a case that the floorboard has come loose from its supporting joints. You can fix this easily by inserting new screws next to the existing ones to help strengthen the board to the joints. We’d recommend using 50mm – 60mm screws, and to remember to always check for cables or piping before drilling.
- We all have a mess of tangled extension cords somewhere in our home, and unravelling them all is simply a matter of taking the time to do so. Once you’ve untangled your cords, avoid any repeats by neatly coiling them and storing away in a bucket.
Holes and marks on walls are all a part of day-to-day living and are to be expected in any well lived-in house. Fixing these unsightly marks can be fairly straightforward but require the right tools and time. Though nail and screw holes are by far the quickest and easiest to fix. To start, clean the damaged area of any debris before using filler putty to close the hole. Once done, smooth the rough areas with sandpaper to have your wall looking as good as new.
These are our tips and tricks on how and when to get help with your DIY project. Need some help? We’ve got you covered.
From mowing the lawn to a complete redesign, you can always rely on one (or more) of our trusted tradesmen to solve the problem. Simply visit HOMYZE online to be connected with a network of London’s most reliable fully-licensed tradesmen.
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