The five biggest DIY mistakes that could end up costing you £50,000 if you fix them

The cost of living crisis means households across the country are feeling the pinch, with more people than ever considering fixing up their homes without paying a professional.

But undertaking home renovations on your own without understanding the risks you’re exposed to could easily backfire.

Millions of Brits are picking up tools this summerCredit: Getty

If you are considering taking on certain jobs yourself, you could even end up with a criminal record if you ignore planning rules.

Similarly, knocking down walls, tackling your own foundation work, building an extension and removing health hazards such as asbestos all require careful consideration.

Beth Boulton, Marketing Director at Eurocell, a leading home improvement company, explained: “While undertaking home renovations and improvements can be incredibly rewarding and profitable, it is important to be aware of the risks involved.

“While some home improvements can be easily tackled with a hammer and drill, it’s often not the equipment that lets DIYers down, but the knowledge that manual workers take years to learn and develop.

“Having professional expertise ensures that projects are completed safely and can ultimately save you a lot of money in the long run.”

These are the five DIY mistakes you should avoid, according to experts.

Breaking down walls

Many Brits have become fans of open-plan living, as these provide plenty of natural light, which has been shown to be beneficial for our mental and physical health.

It can be tempting to want to knock down walls to create a larger space.

This typically costs £2500, or less if you are adding a smaller door.

However, it is a risky undertaking because not all walls can be torn down, at least not without proper structural considerations and support.

I live in a council house but you never know thanks to my DIY tricks – a £6.99 B&M purchase was a lifesaver in my kitchen.

Removing a load-bearing wall can cause dangerous roof collapses and render a home completely uninhabitable.

Repairing this damage can be extremely expensive and renovations can cost £10,000 or more.

A DIY extension

Extensions are popular and building your own can seem like a good way to save on builder fees.

But this requires a thorough understanding of construction, building regulations, and electrical and plumbing systems to ensure that it is a safe space.

Typically this requires several different professionals with different specialties.

Failure to create a safe, insulated space with sound structural integrity can be costly, and you may be faced with the prospect of demolishing the extension and calling in experts to completely rebuild it.

Depending on the size of your extension, this could cost between £20,000 and £50,000 and make your home completely uninhabitable until the work is completed.

A more affordable option is to try adding more usable space to the house, including a replacement greenhouse, which involves replacing your existing greenhouse with something like a modern house extension.

Tackling your own groundwork

DIY enthusiasts often underestimate the work required to complete a proper foundation, which can lead to costly repairs down the road.

Laying the foundation and ensuring proper drainage is incredibly important to ensure the structural integrity and longevity of any garden additions or improvements.

If proper grading and drainage are not ensured, foundations can fill with water and crack, costing thousands of pounds to repair.

In the worst cases, it can cause foundations to collapse, which can cost upwards of £20,000 to repair, plus months of surveys and visits from structural engineers.

Ignoring planning rules

Ignoring planning rules can get you into trouble.

While not all DIY projects require planning permission, it is advisable to check this before starting the project rather than after.

If you continue without planning permission and later discover it is not needed, you can apply for retrospective approval.

The planning officer may ask you to change your plans, even if you have already started construction.

If retrospective planning permission is refused, you will be faced with the problem of having to demolish the entire project.

Obviously, this can be costly. However, failure to comply with an enforcement order is a criminal offence and in the most extreme cases you may face prosecution in a magistrates’ court or Crown court.

The maximum fine in a justice of the peace court is £20,000, but there is no limit to the maximum fine a Crown Court could impose.

Eliminating health risks

Homes built before the 1980s were sometimes built with dangerous materials, even though they were considered safe at the time.

The best known of these is asbestos, which releases small fibres into the air when disturbed. Inhaling these fibres can cause several serious diseases, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer.

If you need to remove asbestos, it should always be done by a professional. If you don’t, you risk developing the serious health conditions mentioned above.

The first step is to hire an asbestos inspector, who can identify where the asbestos is in your home and also how much there is.

In this case, it is necessary to hire an asbestos removal expert to safely remove it from the house. This can cost between £1,500 and £5,000.

DIY tips to improve your home with ease

If you are interested in starting some DIY projects, here are some simple tips to improve your home.

Cabinet recycling

Breathe new life into your kitchen with the use of paint or varnish. Apply a coat of primer before painting for a professional finish.

Grouting tiles

To save time and effort, apply new grout over the old for instant renovation results. Make sure to leave at least 2mm of old grout using a grout removal tool, to ensure the new layer sits comfortably between the tiles.

Raised Planters

Make your garden shine with DIY raised beds or planters that you can then use to grow fruits and vegetables, flowers and shrubs. Simply use some wooden boxes or pallets, cut them to size, line them with old compost bags and fill them.

Attractive on the shelves

Putting up shelves is a common DIY task. Try it yourself with a drill and brackets to add storage space, depth and interest without needing to hire a professional. Just be sure to use a spirit level to check they’re straight.

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