Money Matters Team

When should you do it yourself?

By Money Matters Team 20/05/2013

When to file under 'lots more difficult than it looks'

Ever tried to tile or fix the plumbing? Sometimes you can roll up your sleeves and sometimes you should just put your feet up.

Try it yourself

1. Lick of paint
Paying someone to decorate is expensive, so this is definitely worth doing yourself. ‘Decorating is 70% preparation – so remember to prep and prime,’ says Michael Holmes, spokesperson for The National Homebuilding and Renovating Show.

2. On the tiles
Tiling takes a little time to learn but there’s no reason why it can’t be mastered. Experiment first. ‘You’ll waste a few, so if you’ve got expensive tiles, practice with
cheaper ones first,’ cautions Michael.

3. Down the drain
Squeamish? Well, the thought of saving a call-out charge for unblocking sinks and toilets should spur you on. ‘Labour is the most expensive thing,’ says Kate Faulkner of property project advice service Free Property Checklists. ‘Always think about the relative value of the labour compared with the cost of your own time.’

4. Turn the key
Most people can bleed a radiator, all you need is a radiator key. And make sure you keep the boiler pressure topped up – consult the manual or ask a DIY-friendly friend to show you how to do this safely.

5. Fixer upper
‘Regularly clear out gutters and check rainwater pipes for blockages and leaks,’ says Roger Hunt, author of the Old House Eco Handbook (Frances Lincoln). ‘If you can, insulate the loft. But take care. Don’t work at height. Don’t put your foot through the ceiling and don’t block the gap around the eaves, because it’s vital for ventilation.’

Leave it to the experts

1. One for the pros
Don’t attempt to mend gas installations or boilers. ‘It is illegal for anyone to attempt to repair or install a boiler unless they are on the Gas Safe Register [or OFTEC registered for oil boilers],’ says Martyn Bridges, director of technical support at Worcester, Bosch Group. ‘It is essential to bring in the experts
when it comes to your heating system.’

2. Plaster task
‘Plastering is not an amateur task, it’s very difficult to get a good surface without lots of training,’ says Michael Holmes. File under ‘lots more difficult than it looks’.

3. Get in the sparky
Changing a light fitting is a relatively simple job that a competent DIY-er should be able to do, but leave more complicated jobs for qualified professionals. Electrics have to be ‘signed off’ by a Part P electrician in Wales and England. (In Scotland just a competent electrician is required.)

4. Fitted up
Give your knees a break and get the pros in to fit carpets. ‘Fitting is a skill,’ says Rupert Anton, spokesperson for The Carpet Foundation, the UK carpet industry’s trade body. ‘And carpet should be fitted in accordance with British Standard BS5325 to ensure it’s done properly and safely.’

5. Plumb jobs
Don’t try to relocate services such as soil pipes as that is: ‘The remit of the professional,’ says Jennifer Whittaker, spokesperson for Better Bathrooms. ‘Even the smallest of mishaps can cause a wealth of expensive long-term damage to your home.’

How to find a good tradesman

1. Ask family, friends and neighbours for recommendations.

2. Steer clear of companies or tradespeople who have earned negative feedback or who give vague, undetailed verbal quotes.

3. Check consumer websites such as or

For more information have a look at our post, how to find good tradesmen.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.