Your guide to DIY

DIY has become a national pastime as more of us are reaching for the tool box in an effort to save money and improve our homes. With some careful planning it is possible to tackle most jobs around the home. Of course, things don't always go to plan and mistakes can be costly to your pocket and your health. So here is some helpful advice on how to save money and stay safe...

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Plan carefully and do a checklist. Preparation is the key to success and having the right equipment will pay dividends in the end. It's great to be keen but try to avoid being impulsive; it could lead to a rush job. It's much better to take some time and achieve something lasting that you can be proud of.

Take care when working on electrical appliances, switch off the mains power and remove the plug from the socket before beginning. However, there are some jobs that are best left to the professionals. Attempting electrical or gas related work is a bad idea and can be against the law too. Use the Yellow Pages and get someone qualified.

Having the right clothing is important, particularly footwear. Don't attempt to work with heavy equipment or power tools in trainers. Certain jobs require goggles, particularly when using power tools or hedge trimming. Always cut away from you and use circuit breakers with power tools.

When you are not using your tools put them away, especially if you have children.

Before you plan that job on the roof or attempt to paint the eaves make sure you have a decent ladder. Is it long enough? Overreaching can easily cause an accident. Get someone to hold the ladder for you and keep it from wobbling.

If you are painting, varnishing or using any kind of substance that gives off fumes open a window. Don't smoke near painted surfaces or when you are sanding floors. The dust is highly flammable and it is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher handy.

Any kind of poisonous liquid should be kept in its original container so you know what it is. Putting it into empty drinks bottles may be too much of a temptation for children.

Even removing artex from a wall can be hazardous. Some of these materials contain asbestos so follow safety precautions. If you have any doubts contact the local environmental health department for more advice.