Some DIY jobs are easy – but some require the help of a professional. Here are six tasks you should never undertake by yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
With sprawling DIY centres across the country and inspiring Do-It-Yourself gurus on TV, it may appear to some landlords that almost any job can be done without professional help. After all, what task could require more than a bag of spanners and Black & Decker?
But the truth is that some tasks are simply too tricky, too risky and in some cases just plain illegal for most unqualified people to undertake; especially if you're biggest DIY achievement to date is replacing that wonky toilet seat.
Don't be fooled by the prospect of the significant cost-savings by avoiding hiring a professional. If your repairs go wrong it could end up costing you more in the long run. Not only would a qualified professional have to make good your 'repair', but possibly additional repairs will be required and you may even lose rent if your tenants have to move out or tenants are delayed moving in.
As innocuous as it may seem, water can cause serious damage to your property if it escapes from your pipes. And the risk of leakage increases greatly when repairs or renovations are underway. Replacing a shower head or a tap is probably within the ability of a moderately experienced DIY-er, but if you're undertaking bigger jobs such as hot water pipe extensions or re-routing sewage pipes - then you should consider calling in a pro. Modifying the copper pipes used in your hot water system may well demand some serious welding, while sewer pipe failures can kick up a serious and long-lasting stink.
Any DIY task related to your electricity system demands extreme caution. The crucial safety measure is of course to make double sure the mains supply is turned off. In 2005 the government amended the Building Regulations for England and Wales to include Part P, which covers electrical safety in dwellings. As a result of this introduction most electrical installation work within the home must comply with Part P of the Building Regulations. However in 2013 changes were made to reduce the restrictions. For help and advice visit http://www.planningportal.gov.uk. For the full text of the regulations see www.legislation.gov.uk.
So as you can see not only is it safer for your tenants and yourself that you employ a qualified electrician it will also ensure that the job is done properly and that you comply with current regulations. It's not worth taking short cuts as faulty electrical repairs can cause serious injuries or fire.
Just like water, if gas can find a way out, it will. The only difference being that gas leaks can be far more dangerous than water leaks, so even moving gas appliances – let alone repairing them – can be extremely dangerous if you are not qualified to do so. Not only is there the immediate danger of explosion but a faulty repair can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. For gas repairs or when gas appliances are affected by renovation work always hire a qualified and registered professional (http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/). The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 stipulates it is the landlords' duty to ensure gas appliances, fittings, pipes and flues are safe. Don't forget that as a landlord you are legally required to have an annual gas safety inspection carried out by a Gas Safety Registered engineer within 12 months of the installation of a new appliance or flue and then annually thereafter. You must keep a record of all safety checks for 2 years and provide a copy for your tenants within 28 days of inspection. (http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqlandlord.htm)
Although not yet compulsory, the HSE strongly recommends the use of carbon monoxide detectors.
While replacing a section of guttering or carrying out a little tile repair work may seem like straightforward tasks in themselves, they are complicated by one simple problem: height. Balancing on ladders and roofs while carrying tools and doing repairs carries a significant risk at height. Even if you own a bungalow, you would be well advised to hire a professional to do your roof repairs. Faulty or inadequate repairs can lead to water ingress or further damage over time which may cost more in the long run.
The major diseases that have been attributed to asbestos are well documented but this infamous material can still be found in some buildings, for instance in wall or door linings, garage roofs, some storage heaters and even bath panels. Always seek professional advice and on no account disturb it or attempted to remove it as this must only be done by a licensed contractor - your local council will be able to provide advice on this. Handling it yourself simply isn't worth the risk.
You may wish to undertake simple repairs or redecoration work to keep your property in good order either before you rent your property or even between tenants. But if you are planning more extensive work for instance removing internal walls then it is highly recommended you seek an experts advice as to whether they are load bearing or not. Depending on the extent of the works, you may need to get planning permission and comply with building regulations and a professional will be able to help with this. Whatever renovation work you undertake always ensure that as a landlord you comply with all the necessary legal requirements including fire and health and safety (https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/your-landlords-safety-responsibilities) and also check your landlord property insurance cover as renovating your property, by adding an extension for instance, may not be covered and could invalidate your policy. For significant structural work you may need specialist insurance cover, something we can also help with, simply contact us for a copy of our information guide to Residential Development Insurance.
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