Some homeowners are fully aware that DIY is hardly their strongest suit. Others stumble ahead regardless, bodging whatever job needs to be done, and invariably leaving the situation even worse than when they started.
That is the way that accidents happen – accidents that are likely to cause damage to your home, claims on your insurance, and increased home insurance costs in the future.
Indeed, insurers Aviva have estimated that the total cost of bodged attempts at DIY amounts to £7 billion every year, reported the financial pages of the Daily Mail recently.
So, the next time you are tempted into making your own DIY repairs at home, just ask yourself what could possibly go wrong.
What could go wrong
Unfortunately, there is a lot that can go horribly wrong, causing both physical injury (and even death) and extensive property damage – reports abound:
- a report by the BBC on the 7th of June 2020 described what happened when qualified tradespeople downed tools because of the coronavirus pandemic; enthusiastic DIY homeowners promptly picked them up;
- when a builder had to abandon a bathroom project, for example, the homeowner took over by knocking everything down – including a wall and all the water pipes;
- the wall collapsed onto the toilet, smashing it to pieces and the water escaping from the opened pipes flooded the entire house;
- other homeowners have turned their hands to DIY, says the same BBC report, after watching a video or two on YouTube and buying their cut-price materials on eBay;
- although some of these mishaps might bring a smile to our lips – so long as it’s not our own home – they come at quite a financial cost;
- the Scaffolding Magazine, in an article from June of last year, for example, cited figures estimating that the average British household spends £1,150.24 on DIY projects every year (a national total of more than £31 billion) – and that’s before the cost of remedial work and repairs is taken into account;
- at more than £1,000 a household, of course, that would pay for the work of many qualified, professional tradespeople;
- in a posting dated the 9th of April 2020, builders Chandlers also drew attention to the number of physical injuries caused when DIY projects go wrong;
- the article includes a list of ten suggestions for avoiding DIY accidents – from choosing the right tools for the job, wearing protective clothing when necessary, taking your time over jobs that might need to be done, but also knowing when it is time to call in the professionals;
- an article in Real Homes magazine revealed that 64% of householders had done some type of DIY in the past 12 months. Among that sample, one in six (17%) had sustained accidental injuries as a result;
- of those who had sustained injuries, 26% needed to attend the hospital’s emergency department for treatment, and 5% were so seriously injured that an ambulance had to be called;
- with the average cost of a visit to A&E amounting to £143 and the cost of calling out an ambulance at £259, that made the average cost to the NHS of each DIY accident in the home amounting to more than £400 – and a total annual bill for the NHS of more than £22 million;
- in terms of the number of people injured, the website Down to Earth Property and Garden estimates that around 220,000 DIY enthusiasts are admitted to hospital every year. 87,000 were injured by tools or machinery and a further 41,000 having injured themselves (or even died) after falling from ladders or stepladders.
The survey cited by Real Homes revealed the following five main sources of injury from DIY accidents:
- injuries from the use of a power tool – 23%;
- falls from ladders – 23%;
- use of tools other than power tools – 17%;
- electrocutions – 10%; and
- lawnmower accidents.
Home insurance for those bodged jobs
Damage resulting from DIY accidents that go wrong may be covered by any home insurance you arranged against accidental damage.
As complaints filed to the Financial Ombudsman make clear, however, some insurers may adopt a less than generous or straight forward definition of what is an “accident”. For example, in a series of case studies published by the Financial Ombudsman, they referred to an insurer who rejected a claim from a householder who was painting her home but tripped on the stepladder and spilt paint on the carpet.
The insurer argued that her accidental damage cover protected against damage arising from “sudden physical damage that was unforeseen”. The subject of the claim, however, involved damage that was both sudden and physical, but it was foreseeable, insisted the insurers, who rejected the claim on those grounds.