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Home improvement

DIY in the home: When should you leave it to the professionals?

To find out what you can do around your own home, spoke to expert Gerry Fallon.

WHILE THE IDEA of taking on a bit of DIY sounds like a good idea, knowing where to get started can be a bit bewildering.

While some people will call in a plumber or electrician at the first sign of trouble, others will stubbornly persevere on their own.

To find out a bit more about what you should be attempting, and what should be left to professional, spoke to Gerry Fallon from Expert Hardware to find out more.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but DIY is for middle aged men who like spending time in sheds. How does someone not in this demographic get involved? 

The first thing to do would be to look around the home and see the sort of jobs that you can do. Whether it be small or big, if it is a big job people might tend to sort of tear into it – which they shouldn’t really do.

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The second thing to do is to make sure that you have the right tools for the job. You can gradually build up a very comprehensive tool box over a period of time, which will probably then do for 99% of the jobs around the house.

Tradesmen can be pretty expensive. Do you think people can be a bit hasty to call out reinforcements? 

I do, people often rush to hire plumbers and electricians. Plumbers probably more so. A lot of plumbing jobs can be done at home. They are quite simple, but people are afraid to tackle them. A call out for a plumber can range from €100 to €120 – and that is just for a call out.

So is there anything that people definitely shouldn’t do at home? 

Anything electrical. Wiring a plug isn’t a problem, but if you are tampering with the system itself, the workings of the electricals in the house, I would certainly leave to the experts.

shutterstock_195619202 Wiring around the home should probably be left to the professionals. Shutterstock / Halfpoint Shutterstock / Halfpoint / Halfpoint

So besides avoiding electrocution, DIY sounds pretty easy. Would fitting a kitchen would be easy enough as long as you followed the instructions? 

It is possible, but you’d want to be very, very keen at DIY to attempt that. There are so many trades involved in it. The majority of people could find themselves quite handy at painting, but they might not be so good at plumbing or carpentery. Everybody sort of excels at different aspects of DIY.

Going back to tools, how much could a person expect to pay out? 

Depends on how professional you want to be. You can get a very good range of toolboxes with a basic range of tools that would do around 80% to 90% of jobs in the house for less than €50.

We had a toolbox about two years ago and it was around the fifty to sixty mark. You will get cheaper ones – but if you’re going to the bother than it it better to really get quality tools.

And what sorts of things do the have-a-go handy men and women of Ireland get wrong? 

I think they get into jobs before they realise how big they are. It is like taking a sledgehammer to a job that a hammer will do. You just have to stand back and look at it and know that you can do it before taking it on.

There is nothing worse than starting a job and then having to get in a professional to finish it off.

What are a few examples of the things that people can do around the home themselves? 

Fixing a leaky tap. It’s not a big job but again it is quite daunting. People are afraid of water leaking around the house. It is a very, very simiple job to do. There is so many videos online that do help people do these things.

shutterstock_227581678 Fixing a leaking tap isn't too hard Shutterstock / SpeedKingz Shutterstock / SpeedKingz / SpeedKingz

Insulating an attic. It sounds like a very big job, but it is very simple. All you are doing is rolling out insulation to cover the whole area.

Fixing a faulty lock. Calling out a locksmith, and again you’re paying call out charges, where changing a lock is a very, very simple process.

To get down to it, how dangerous is DIY? 

Getting back to what I said – anything electrical is dangerous. People sometimes might also try and go up the side of a two storey house on a ladder. They might be cleaning a gutter or doing some painting. If you are not used to it, it can be very, very dangerous. Working from height can be dangerous.

You have to realise really your capabilities. Start small, work your way up, if you’re a first time DIYer.

Any clever things people can do now we’re getting into the summer? 

Things like cleaning a deck, that is something that people are starting to do now. To clean it down and paint it up again for the summer.

Gerry Fallon’s top tips for getting started in DIY

  • Start small and identify jobs around the home that need to be done. 
  • Hire in a professional to deal with the majority of electrical jobs.
  • Expect to get a decent tool box for around €50. 
  • Jobs like fixing a tap, insulating an attic or fixing a faulty lock do not require a professional. 
  • Avoid rushing into big jobs, as this can lead to having to call out a professional at a later stage. 

Read: Some Japanese hoteliers with an unusual staff policy have bought Charlie Haughey’s mansion

Also: More than 7,300 properties have had their property tax increased

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