Wendy Harris of WAG Associates was asked to take part in this feature blog from Aviva. Wendy shared her story of a DIY gone wrong, turning into an expensive mistake and lots of downtime in her office!


The Original article is inked here on the Aviva website. By Shilpa Ganatra


Three DIY disasters that’ll make you think twice before doing it yourself

Many of us had the same bright idea when we suddenly had to spend more time at home: make the best of a bad situation, it was time to get those niggly DIY projects done. Our collective to-do lists included painting the walls, fitting new cabinets or even refitting the bathroom. What could possibly go wrong, right?


While the optimism was admirable, a new survey 1 by Aviva revealed almost half of those who undertook home improvement projects were unhappy with the result. The most common problems related to painting and wallpapering rooms (one in four regretful DIYers say this was the cause of their issues), home maintenance efforts like fixing loose floorboards (14%) and upcycling projects (13%).

That’s no real surprise. After all, a lot of us are well-intentioned first-timers, and even with seemingly straightforward jobs, it takes experience to pre-empt the pitfalls. But has that stopped us from attempting DIY again, and how irreversible are our mishaps? We spoke to three people to find out more about their DIY disasters.


‘We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time’

No stranger to DIY, Wendy Harris and her husband felt confident when it came to sprucing up their garden room in Burton-on-Trent. The only obstacle in the way of a fresh lick of paint? A mystery phone socket in the wall, whose wires trailed outside to who-knows-where.

“It didn’t look like we used it, so we took it off the wall. Then when I went to work in my outhouse in the back garden, I found there was no broadband. My heart sank — I realised what had happened and thought, ‘oh no, we didn’t think this through’.”

image of inside of plug socket box - DIY disaster

It transpired that when they first built the outhouse 11 years ago, Wendy asked for a work phone extension in the main house, in case she had to take calls during lunch. Once mobile phones took over, the phone box seemed redundant, but actually, it carried the broadband to her home office.

“I do have home insurance — I even have insurance for working at home — but because I work in telecoms, I knew an engineer who fixed it as a favour. So I didn’t need to check it,” she said.

Ditching the office

Still, it wasn’t a straightforward fix: the wires were of different types and colour coded incorrectly. But after a three-week wait that involved ditching her three-screen office set-up for a laptop in the house — not aided by sharing the family internet with her kids who were homeschooling — she was back in her office.

“We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time,” she says. “I don’t think I’ll be doing any DIY for a while!”

image of phone socket on wall - DIY disaster


Thinking about your next DIY project?

These stories are a stark reminder that things don’t always turn out the way we plan despite our creative vision, experience or aptitude. Still, undertaking DIY is a neat way to spend your time, learn new skills, and avoid calling in a tradesperson. If you’re considering it, a little extra preparation can save a lot of money.

“In many cases, what started out as an exciting idea seems to have turned into a bit of a burden, particularly if people need to find the cash to put things right,” says Gareth Hemming, MD of Personal Lines. “We’ve certainly seen our fair share of claims for paint spilled on carpets, shattered windows and nails put through pipes.

“So if people are thinking of starting renovations this weekend, we’d encourage them to do the necessary preparations and take their time. And if they aren’t sure about a particular project, maybe sleep on their decision before making a start!”


When accidental damage cover helps

If you have accidental damage cover, some DIY mishaps are covered so that you won’t have to foot the bill.


Aviva press release “Home renovators spent £5 billion on “regretted” pandemic projects’, 2021

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