Construction Ructions – DIY Disasters

Construction Ructions – DIY Disasters

15th January 2019

When it comes to getting jobs done around the house, it can be difficult knowing what to do and who will be able to help.   It barely seems worth hiring somebody to do the smaller, fiddly jobs, but if you don’t have the know-how to do it yourself, many homeowners just learn to live with inconvenient little problems.

Whilst there is an army of amateur painter/decorators in the UK, deciding to repaper the living room yourself will often lead to the discovery of small jobs that need doing at the same time, which you don’t necessarily have the skills to complete.  However, painting and decorating involve going all the way up to the ceiling, so work at height of some sort or another cannot be avoided.  The work at height legislation doesn’t apply when you’re carrying out repairs and refurbishment work in your own home, but the rules are there to protect people working at height, so familiarising yourself with the recommended guidelines so that you know how to keep yourself safe is essential.

Nowadays there is stringent legislation governing several types of work, such as electrical wiring and gas fitting, so deciding to do the work yourself is a definite “no no”.  A professional tradesperson will be needed to carry out a small wiring job that would once have been done by an uncle or cousin who “knows a bit about electrics”, sometimes resulting in a few sparks at a certain outlet, or a fizzy little shock every time you switched a certain light on.  And, rightly so – that quality of workmanship presents an ongoing risk to everybody in the house.  A worrying 27% of tradespeople say that they occasionally are called upon to fix a job where the budding DIYer has caused a dangerous situation.

So many people who do odd jobs and repairs around the home have come a cropper, even when the job doesn’t entail the use of a ladder and work at height. Today we’re going to take a look at some stories of people who, in retrospect, must be wishing they’d left well alone and hired a professional to do the work for them.

Our first story is about an enthusiastic DIYer who was still doing little jobs around the house when he was 80.  Orthopaedic surgeon, Geoffrey Newton built a boat, fitted a new kitchen and bathroom in his home, which he had converted himself from an old school building.  At one point more than 30 years ago, Mr. Newton had removed an old central heating boiler which contained white asbestos.  At that time, although people were aware of the dangers of brown and blue asbestos, it was assumed that the dust from white asbestos was harmless.  This was not the case and Mr. Newton died aged 81 as a result of the mesothelioma he contracted when exposed to the toxic fibres so many years ago.

One DIYer set a ladder at an incorrect angle, leaving it not steep enough to stay upright when used.  The ladder slipped and the hapless user ended up in hospital with 10 broken bones in both feet, spending six weeks with his feet in plaster and unable to work at the day job! 

One homeowner stood on a radiator to check a damp patch on the ceiling.  The radiator collapsed and it cost £250 to repair the damage done (that was without sorting out any potential damp patch on the ceiling).

Do you have any DIY disaster stories you’d like to share with us?  If so, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch by email, or via our Facebook or Twitter pages.  You never know, if it’s funny enough, you may see it published as one of our regular articles and may even start a new series of Readers’ DIY Disasters.