You’ve watched hours and hours of DIY YouTube tutorials. You’ve been glued to the Home Channel throughout lockdown. You’re pretty sure you’re one new drill bit away from being Nate Berkus…  

Stop! Slowly put down the power tool. Look, we all certainly love a good ol’ renovation project. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of having built, improved or repaired a part of your home with your own two hands – not to mention how good it feels to save a little money these days. But before you get carried away, please remember that there are some jobs best left to the pros. 

Replacing tiles

This one is not exactly very dangerous, but it’s still on our ‘nope’ list since amateur jobs can easily look sloppy and are expensive to redo. Removing the original grout, tiles and adhesive calls for a whole lot of scraping, breaking and chiselling (a huge and messy mission), and laying the new set requires patience and lots of precision. You’ll also need to hire a grinder to cut some of the tiles to fit the area, or to negotiate any oddly shaped corners. Give it your best DIY bash and you could very well spend every evening from now on the way I do: cringing as I step into the shower over a hodge-podge of wall and floor tiles that are all just a few centimetres out of line with one another. (It all can be extremely triggering.)

Almost anything electric

There are certain things in life that you should know better than to touch: your wife’s last block of chocolate, Bruiser’s chew to, and live wires. Thinking about installing a new chandelier yourself, or running an outlet to your bathroom counter so you can shave in there? It’s all fun and games until there’s an electrical fire. 

Changing your insulation

This winter was a c-c-c-cold one, and you may be thinking about ripping out your home’s original insulation and keenly replacing it with something that’ll keep you nice and toasty next year. Before you get all trigger happy with the box cutter, consult an insulation expert. Why? Because up until the 1980s, most of the ceiling insulation installed in South African homes was still made of asbestos – you know, that building material we all aloofly thought was so handy and versatile until we realised it was slowly killing us. Exposure to asbestos fibres can cause serious illness, including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. It’s also almost impossible for a lay person to identify asbestos unless you cut into it and expose its fibres, at which point you’re likely already breathing it in. Don’t mess about with this one.

The plumbing in your bathroom renovation

Sure, you know how to fix a leak but you’re still no more a real plumber than Mario or Luigi. One wrong move with a wrench and you’ll be ankle deep in water before you can say ‘Babe! Grab some towels!’ Water lines and electrics also tend to run quite close to each other in bathroom walls, adding a fun electrocution risk to your amateur water sports.  

 Swapping your electric stove for a gas stove

We all want to channel our inner chef and cook on a five-burner gas range. When you are budgeting for the stove of your dreams, remember to add in a little bit extra for installation. You’re one sloppy DIY connection away from a gas leak, which has the double-whammy danger of being poisonous and flammable.

Other times not to DIY

• When a project requires hazardous chemicals of which you have no experience. 

• When you do not have the correct tools or safety gear required for a project. (Protective goggles are only dorky until you  lose your vision to flying debris or sparks.)

• When even a slight mess-up would mean an expensive fix for your ‘fix’.


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