Owning your own home is an expensive business. Nice stuff, like improving the décor, and tedious stuff, like fixing the heating, can cost a fortune if you hire a professional.
Fortunately, you can save hundreds of pounds by doing certain jobs yourself, and if you need someone to help you can always phone a friend. Here's our guide to jobs you can do easily yourself, those that require a bit of moral support and those that sit firmly with the skilled tradesperson.
You’ve got this
With tools you can buy in a supermarket and a little light research, you should have no problem with these jobs.
As long as your pictures are smaller than a bus stop advert and don’t have solid gold frames, all you need is some cheap picture hooks and a hammer. The hardest part is not bending the picture hook’s pins. Gentle tapping required!
Flat pack assembly
A web search for "flat pack assembly" will turn up any number of companies willing to put your chest of drawers together for you - but think twice before you ring. There's plenty of help available on YouTube and usually on the manufacturers' own sites, from videos to step-by-step photos. Our top tip? Get a rubber mallet.
Washing machine fitting
It's worth saving the £25-plus on washing machine installation, as it's pretty easy to do yourself. Take out the transit bolts with a spanner, connect up the cold water and waste pipes, tightening by hand. Then plug the washer in and push it back under the counter. This works if you've had a washer there previously and have the right connections – otherwise you'll need a plumber.
If one of your radiators is cold at the top but warm at the bottom, you may have a build-up of air. All you need to fix this is an old towel and a 50p radiator key. Turn your heating off, then hold the towel under the valve at the top-right of the radiator and turn the radiator key carefully to let the air out. Tighten the screw again when the water runs smoothly (no bubbling).
Phone a friend
A bit of experience and somespecialised tools required – ask your DIY-savvy friend for help.
Painting a wall requires plenty of preparation, from stripping wallpaper and cleaning to filling holes and sanding. See if a friend will lend you vital kit such as ladders, sanding blocks and stripping knives, but most of all know when it's time to get paid help. If your walls are a state, getting a professional to skim plaster over the top before you start painting will save you hours of work. Also calculate carefully how much paint you need – that stuff is expensive.
Even if you have to buy the kit to put up your poles, you'll save money compared to hiring a handyman. First is a drill - it'll need to be mains-powered and hammer-action. You'll also need a masonry drill bit. You could use a long spirit level to get the brackets in a level line, but the pole could still be wonky if the window itself isn’t straight. You're better off getting a friend to help you hold the pole up, then having a third person check what looks level.
One for the pros
These jobs are highly skilled and could endanger you or your home if done badly. Time to call in the professionals.
Serious plumbing is skilled, difficult work, with the potential for drastic damage if things go wrong. Want to see what happens when a poorly-insulated pipe bursts in your loft? No, you don't. Get a professional in if you need anything doing.
Our attempts at DIY electrics ended the day we replaced a plug socket, flicked the circuit breaker back on, heard a sound like a gunshot and were plunged into darkness. Inside the socket was an enormous scorch mark. Electricity is terrifying stuff and should be left to the pros. Don’t even attempt it!
Fancy replacing that broken tile yourself? We wouldn't recommend it. Tiles are slippery and it's a long way down. If you're ever tempted to save money by climbing out of a bedroom window instead of calling a pro, just don't. It’s not worth the risk.