diy disaster

5 common DIY disasters and how to put them right

Homeowners in the UK love a spot of DIY, but inexperience and using the wrong tools can cost you more than any money you think you will save doing it yourself!

And you can forget anything you see on TV property shows too!

It’s been proven that many well meaning DIY jobs end at best in poor results, or at worse hospitalisation and a sheepish call to a local tradesman to put it right, so how can you be sure that your next DIY project will go without a hitch?

Well, the internet is chock-full of advice for the budding “do it yourselfer”, including many how-to videos on youtube, but the people often make it seem so easy and let’s be honest, if you don’t have experience but are keen to learn, you have to start somewhere, right?

We have put together our five most common DIY disasters that customers have told us about, and maybe, we hope anyway, that this quick and handy guide will help you avoid making your own DIY disaster!

Five DIY mistakes to avoid and how to fix them.

Here is how to avoid a DIY fail.

1.Oops, butterfingers! Dropping things you probably shouldn’t be holding anyway.

Lifting and carrying things around with you whilst tackling work on the home maybe seem blindingly obvious to not drop them.

If it’s something you are not familiar with, like a power tool, or you are up a ladder, or your hands are slippery with paint on them, it can take only ONE second of distraction to either see you tumbling off and hurting yourself, or at least making a mess or breaking something.

The solution is to be well prepared, familiarise yourself with the look and feel of an unfamiliar item such as a power drill or a saw, and if you are unsure about using them, ask a friend, family member or a neighbour with some DIY knowledge to help you.

TOP TIP: If you are using a tool for a certain job and think that it could be a waste of money buying it to use only once then why not hire it instead?

The added bonus is that most hire shops have skilled people on hand who are more than happy to provide FREE training on the use of their tools. This could mean you SAVE money and also DO NOT have an accident!

There are other tools and gadgets available to help you NOT drop things, like head mounted torches (from only £8 at, or something simple like a paint hook from which will only set you back £2 but will stop you dropping your tin of paint”

2. Drilling into a water pipe by accident! Doh!

Oh dear. If this happens then the FIRST thing you should do is switch off the water supply to the house, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself where that is before you start your DIY project.

It will be a large brass coloured tap, and it is often either out in the street under a little metal hatch in the pavement (you may need a special tool to do this) or it could be under the kitchen sink, or even in the loft, so make sure you know where it is as a burst pipe can cause £1000’s of pounds worth of damage if the water isn’t shut off.

Then call a plumber to fix it and don’t attempt this sort of work again until you know what you are doing!

TOP TIP: Most DIY and hardware stores sell little devices that you place against the wall and they show where a wire or pipe is hidden underneath and at around £14.99 from Maplins (code YP30H) that’s a small price to pay for your own peace of mind.

3. Trying to paint Pebbledash with a brush. Don’t bother. Seriously.


We have covered the topic of painting pebbledash in great detail before but for those of you don’t know, you should never try and paint pebbledash with a brush, it will take forever, seriously, and you will use gallons and gallons of paint, and the end result will look truly terrible!

The best way to paint pebbledash, tyrolean, textured stucco or any highly textured wall covering is to SPRAY the paint as it is a highly textured surface and will soak up loads of paint but this type of surface requires extensive preparation.

TOP TIP: In addition, if you use a spray, you also need to mask up the windows and put dust sheets down everywhere or you will spend a further week cleaning a spray mist off your windows, your external pipes, your path, your yard, your neighbours windows, and most of the cars in your street too.

4. Poorly assembled flat-pack furniture collapsing!

OK, hands up who hasn’t bought what looked like a great deal in IKEA or some other flat-packed discount furniture shop, got it home, unpacked it with great eagerness only to find out that the assembly details are only suitable for those with a civil engineering degree from Oxford university?

Even the best DIY-er often has problems assembling this sort of furniture and the end results can be far from satisfying.

painting items of furniture

On larger items and/or items containing glass, badly assembled units can be lethal and are prone to collapse, so to solve this, did you know that there are companies who will erect flat pack furniture at your house?

It is often best to call one of those companies than do it yourself and you would be amazed how cheap they are to hire.

TOP TIP: Smaller and basic flat pack items are often quite easy to assemble but don’t attempt larger items, call someone in, and all you need to do is to go to google and type in …….. “flat pack furniture assembly service” …….to find hundreds of cheap and reliable people who will do this for you! (Add your city or town name at the end of the search string for a more local result).

5. Being influenced by TV decorating and makeover shows. It’s all a lie.

These shows are for entertainment only, do NOT be fooled into their silly ideas!

As someone who has experience in being on one of these shows I speak with authority!

The wife and I appeared on many shows: (Gutted! on UKTV home, 2008, see photo below), worked on a project for one (Grand Designs 2002).

I lived in a house totally ballsed-up by one (BBC changing rooms 2006) and having been asked (and telling them no thank you) to be on several TV shows (“location, location, location”, A place in the Sun, Come Dine with Me and Property Ladder), experience should steer you away from ever being on one of these shows.


mark-durden-smith from Gutted TV show UKTV Home
mark-durden-smith and me, taken in Exeter whilst filming

There are stories online about TV shows that have totally messed up peoples homes, in fact I would write one about my experience on Gutted but they tied us up in a contract to shut us up, so as I fear TwoFour TV’s lawyers, I mustn’t and can’t tell you what happened!

These people promise you fame but you should politely refuse it (believe me, you do NOT want the stares we had in the supermarket or total strangers (and some nutters too) coming up to you as if they are your best friend and following you home as they want to see the “famous house”. (*shudders)

You will get 15 mins. of fame and that is IT!

The TV shows make it look very easy but the TV stars hardly do anything and there are tens of tradespeople and TV runners behind the scenes who actually do all the work.

The TV shows run on a tight schedule and all they want is the show “in the can” and will make a big fuss of you whilst filming and twist you around their finger but they just want good TV and that is it, they will drop you like a stone when they are done.

TV property shows Gutted UK home uk style

TOP TIP: If you feel like you want some radical changes in your home, forget what you see on TV and think long term and dont decorate your bedroom like a tart’s boudoir if you plan on selling it to a vicar. Any reputable builder or professional decorator can offer free advice and home designers are available online, just search for them!

The moral is…..

The moral of this story is that DIY can be challenging and fun but it is often much harder than it looks and should be approached with preparation and common sense. If something is beyond your grasp, call a tradesmen in to do the work instead.

Please note the editor was NOT paid or co-erced by any of the companies mentioned here and we included them as product reviews only and do not endorse or guarantee them and none of them have contacted us either.

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