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DIY or time to call an expert?

Sometimes we seem like a nation divided. There are those who love nothing more than a bit of DIY, while others would rather stick pins in their eyes than nails in the wall. If you fall into the latter camp, DIY lover and Channel 4’s Make Do and Mend presenter Jo Behari says maybe you need a rethink, and that by tackling some jobs ourselves, rather than calling in an expert, we can save a small fortune.

So, which DIY jobs should we roll up our sleeves for?

“A common problem people can tackle is a blocked sink, normally due to a build-up of grease in the pipework,” says Jo. “The best thing is to prevent build-up by regularly putting a solution of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar down the drain to keep it clear.

“If you have a blockage, you can dismantle the U-bend under the sink really easily, then pull out any gunge. Most pipes under sinks are plastic and are hand tightened so you don’t need any tools – it’s not pleasant but it’s not a job that requires a plumber and a bill for £100 or so.”

Another task we should take on, says Jo, is resealing around a bath. “When the sealant gets a bit mouldy a lot of people don’t fix it quickly enough,” she says. “When you start to see the black it’s time to take out all the sealant – which you can do easily with a Stanley knife. You can buy silicon sealant and a cartridge gun from a DIY shop and just reseal the bath.”

The mould you see on the surface “is just the tip of the iceberg – you can guarantee there’s a lot more underneath”. So the longer mouldy sealant is left, the worse it will get, and over time it can cause problems with tiles and the wall.

“Decorating is also one of those jobs people should have a go at,” says Jo “with the caveat that there’s a reason people train to be a decorator.” She adds: “If you want to do a basic spruce-up of a room and you’re budget limited, there’s no reason you can’t do that yourself but you will always get a longer lasting and better finish if you use a professional decorator. Decorating is not just about slapping paint on the walls, so remember to spend time on the prep work – filling, sanding, filling, sanding – to get a good result.”

What not to do

“Avoid gas-related or big electrical jobs as they can be life threatening, and illegal,” says Jo. If you’re fairly confident at DIY one small electrical job you may be able to tackle, she says, is changing switch plates – for example from plastic to chrome. “But you must do your research and turn off your electricity first,” she emphasises.

The right temperament

“Patience is key to doing DIY,” Jo says. “Do the preparation properly, don’t rush and do some research beforehand so you understand what can go wrong.

There’s so much information on the internet that you can learn how to pre-empt problems, and what to do if they come up.”

And if you do find yourself in a fix, Jo is one of around 150 experts who provide DIY knowhow and advice via ‘video visits’ at the new DAD home repair app.

Emergency assistance

Did you know that Benenden Home Insurance customers enjoy 24-hour home emergency assistance (optional)? For an emergency such as a broken boiler or burst pipes, Benenden Home Insurance can help by quickly organising repairs by expert tradesmen. This includes securing your home after it’s been broken into. Remember, Benenden members get up to £50 on an M&S gift card when buying Benenden Home Insurance.

Photograph by Annabel Vere.

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