DIY You Thought You Could Do... But Can’t!

As Spring draws closer we can hear the sound of shed doors opening and tool boxes creaking back into life... but alongside DIY comes the inevitable difficulties and horror stories.

At MyBuilder we've come across a lot of botched DIY over the years and in every case it was clear the job could have been made easier and safer with the intervention of an expert. We present to you MyBuilder’s DIY You Thought You Could Do... But Can’t!


Tiling seems quite straightforward. It’s the familiarity that does it - all that time spent staring at the tiles while in the bath or by the wash basin. How hard could it be? After all, it’s just sticking some tiles to the wall, right? The first challenge is that the surface needs to be perfect. A wavy or bumpy wall looks much worse when tiles are covering it. Secondly, laying tiles is not easy - it takes a lot of practice to get it right. Lastly, once you make a pig’s ear of the tiling, the professional tiler will likely break the tiles trying to get them off. Buying the tiles twice won’t be a nice end to your DIY experiment.

Carpet Fitting Carpet laying can’t be that hard, right? Just roll it out, measure around the fireplace and.. uh oh, it’s too short! Remember, once you’ve cut the carpet too short there’s no attractive way to fix it and replacing the whole thing is an unnecessary cost. A skilled fitter has the experience of measuring and cutting awkward shapes; they are also much more likely to have all their fingers left after using the troublesome stanley knife!

Building Garden Walls Everybody knows that bricklaying is a proper building trade. But when it comes to garden and boundary walls, somehow it changes in our mind from building to tinkering in the garden. What gives? It might not seem too important because it’s just in the garden, but white mortar smeared all over the faces of your crooked bricks won’t impress the other half, or your guests. It will also (hopefully) annoy you for the rest of your life and remind you of the value of a professional job. If that doesn’t convince you, think about the time spent. A good bricklayer can lay 1,000 bricks a day to perfection whereas a good DIYer will be lucky to lay 100!

Hanging Doors Hanging a door is a lot trickier than it sounds. If you screw the hinges into the door frame and it’s slightly off, it’s practically impossible to adjust it. In addition, planing the door is a difficult business; too long and you’re dragging it across the carpet, too short and you’ve got a draught. Getting it wrong will remind you every time you walk through that door why you should have got an expert in. Your hopes of a quality doorway all hinge on a seasoned carpenter.

Tree Surgery Chopping down trees is lots of fun. It might seem tempting to buy your own toy, errr - chainsaw for the price you’d pay a tree surgeon, but you might regret that decision once you cut your leg off. Chainsaws are seriously dangerous and even trained professionals use protective clothing and special helmets. Even if you’re just pruning a tree with a hand saw, you might do more harm than good to your tree. Knowing where and when to prune is the key - which is why tree surgeons go to college to learn their trade!

Wallpapering Redecorating is an often underestimated task, taking a lot longer than most of us anticipate. One of the trickiest tasks is wallpapering, especially if you want the patterns to look seamless. In a way, wallpapering is an art form, after all it will be adorning your walls for years to come. The last thing you want is a drunk-looking floral pattern or scruffy ends - have a painter and decorator help you with your fancy feature wall.

Cleaning Gutters Sunday morning in the rain, with a ladder on a rooftop - something tells us this isn’t going to end well! Heights can be dangerous and any kind of roof work should be left to experienced roofers if at all possible. Yes, it may ‘just be a few leaves’, but is it really worth a tumble from a ladder? We don’t think so!

Laying Turf You stand there with rolls of turf and a vision of Wembley stadium’s pitch in your back garden, but the outcome looks more like a field after a festival. If turf is not laid correctly you risk uneven surfaces, yellow grass or even bald patches - not a good look for impending summer barbecues. Let a professional take care of the planning, preparation and laying - then you won’t be looking at your neighbour’s lawn ‘green’ with envy.

Demolition Demolition is not just ‘fun with sledgehammers’. Well, it might mostly be fun with sledgehammers, but dangers lurk in every corner. From broken glass to electricity to smashed fingers, it’s definitely a skill to know which tools to use, when to get people to stand clear, and how to dismantle something. Let the tradesmen have some fun for once!

Architecture OK, this one might seem a bit unlikely. It would seem that there aren’t many DIY architects. But architecture isn’t just designing a new building. Any changes to the layout of your home is by definition architecture. Many people don’t think of consulting an architect for en-suites, loft conversions or even extensions. Even a badly planned en-suite bathroom can ruin a bedroom by creating dead space and an awkward layout. Builders are usually more than happy to build whatever you ask them to, but you’re going to be the victim of your own bad decisions. A good architect need not be too expensive and what’s the good of having that new extension if you hate living in it?

Do you have anything to add to our list? We’d love to hear your stories.

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  1. An additional piece of important advice is to ensure that if you require an architect you make sure they are registered with the Architects Registration Board. The website,, has a directory of all architects in your area and nationally.
    All architects MUST be suitably qualified and registered with ARB. Many are also members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) or the regional equivalent in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
    Any unregistered designer of buildings calling themselves an architect who is not registered is committing a criminal offence. The law is there to protect you, the public, from unqualified 'cowboys'.

  2. With regards your piece on bricklaying, as a bricklayer of 35 yrs, you will be hard pushed to find one who can lay 1000 bricks per day " To perfection", so lets not kid those out there who are not trained in this skill.

  3. I once spent eight hours trying to hang two cupboard doors. I failed.

  4. I have tried hard for the past 13 years since my husband became paralysed and Ive done a lot of stuff, Im admitting to being lousy with a decorating brush! The only reason I try to do stuff is money! Saving it,.... because there isnt much option on a pension, and the council charges us as much in rent as we would be paying private rental. Ive had to stop doing it now. Ive had a fall myself and injured my spine. (broke five wrist bones too).So now Im searching for a decent honest handyman to cut back a tree trunk and remove the waste thats cut off. Also to paper the hallway. Its yet again all down to the prices. I might yet have to get s new step ladders and get busy a bit at a time! I like this site, it sounds like they know what they are doing.

  5. Interesting, thought provoking article. You may want to include plumbing and electricity; both favourite jobs for DIYers.

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