You're destroying the value of your home!
Many of us are making this daft mistake, and wrecking the value of our homes!
Truth be told I’m not much of a Do-It-Yourself kind of guy. While I bonded with my father-in-law as we laid new flooring in my house a couple of years ago, I managed to injure myself in the process, to the point that I am still getting physio.
Even fairly simple tasks like cutting the grass are apparently beyond me – my first go with our new lawnmower, and I managed to run over the cable, coming perilously close to doing myself some serious harm.
All in all, if a job needs doing, get somebody other than me to do it.
I’m not alone in being useless!
Clearly it’s not just me though. Many of us like to indulge in a spot of DIY – however, we seem to do an awful lot more harm than good!
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Research from home insurer LV= has revealed that many Brits have opted to take on complicated DIY jobs themselves, in no small part due to the recession, in an attempt to improve the value of their home.
The insurer reckons that over the last few years more than four million homeowners have attempted electrical jobs themselves, more than three million homeowners have tried to perform their own plumbing work, while well over one million of us have had a go at structural work such as removing walls.
A frankly terrifying 450,000 of us have had a go at performing potentially dangerous gas work ourselves.
However, for many of us, rather than improving the value of our home, it actually causes that value to fall.
Wave goodbye to 5%
The insurer conducted a survey of estate agents – who after all are the ones who try to work out just how much a property is worth – to review just how effective these home improvements tend to be. 69% of agents said they had seen decorating carried out that had made no difference at all to the asking price, with a similar number reporting landscape gardening that had had no effect.
Nearly a quarter noted that they’d seen cases where even a new kitchen had made no difference.
However, what comes across clearly from the study is that getting DIY jobs wrong can do far more damage than good when it comes to the value of your home. Indeed, the estate agents suggested that by doing these home improvement jobs poorly, homeowners may actually be damaging the property’s value by as much as 5%.
On the average property in the UK, that's about an £8,500 loss - one hell of a drop, just as a result of cutting a few corners rather than bringing in someone who knows what they are doing.
Bringing in the experts
Related how-to guide
Find out how to make valuable home improvements to your home without spending a fortune.See the guide
So we’ve established that doing it yourself can end up doing more harm than good. So if you do want to get some work done on your property, how do you go about picking the right tradesman? After all, we all know someone who has been caught out by a cowboy.
There are plenty of nifty websites that you can use to find a tradesman in your area. One clever little website is Find a Tradesman. All you have to do is go onto the site, and leave a description of the job you need doing. The various tradesmen who are members of the site will then provide a free quote, and you can pick who you want to go with. Similar sites include ratedpeople.com and myhammer.co.uk, as well as mybuilder.com, a favourite with lovemoney.com editor Donna Werbner.
Another nice tool comes from email4property.co.uk. Simply enter your postcode on the homepage, and you will then have the option of searching for local tradesmen in your area.
In truth there are lots of different ways to find a tradesman, but that’s only the start of it. You also have to ensure they are the right tradesman for you.
Be clear, and do your homework
Before you go ahead with any deal, do a bit of homework on the tradesman. Ask them for some references, and actually check them out. It would also be useful to see whether they are members of a trade association (as they will then likely be bound by certain codes of conduct), while you should also check out any VAT number they provide you with.
You should then be absolutely clear about the exact job that you want the tradesman to perform. Ask them to provide a written specification and estimate – this will be useful to fall back on should things not go according to plan.
If the payment is going to be in stages, or all at the end, it also helps to have that clearly outlined from the beginning.
There are plenty of other steps that will make life a lot easier along the way. Be sure to have a read of The rip-off that will wreck your home.
Finally, don't forget to inform your home insurer if you are having building work done to the property and find out whether any exclusions apply to the work under your policy. You may wish to take out extra or separate insurance to cover the work.
Overall, DIY is not something to be undertaken lightly. Make sure you know what you are doing, and if you don't, make sure you bring in someone that does!
This is a lovemoney.com classic article, originally published in May 2010 and updated.