DIYers coming unstuck

THOUSANDS of wannabe home renovators are ending up in hospital with injuries ranging from concussions to amputated fingers thanks to attempts at DIY.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed 3318 Australians were hospitalised as a result of an injury from a DIY job in a single year.

The most common causes of injuries were ladder-related falls (38 per cent) followed by powered hand tools and household machinery (29 per cent) and falls from buildings or structures (13 per cent).

Men accounted for 81 per cent of the wounded.

Digging further into the gory details, 11 per cent of powered saw related injuries were partial or complete amputation of a finger and 17 per cent of powered nail gun injuries resulted in an open palm wound.

DIYer and professional builder Chris Campbell, of Blue Built, said he had heard of plenty of amateurs coming off second best when attempting projects around the house.

"You often hear horror stories about chainsaws - people trying to cut back trees and the chainsaw kicks back into their face. I've also heard about grinder blades exploding and lots of people falling off ladders," the tradie said.

"Ladder injuries are probably the most common. A lot of older blokes push themselves too far and their balance isn't what it used to be."

Ladder-falls are the most common DIY injury. Photo: Thinkstock
Ladder-falls are the most common DIY injury. Photo: Thinkstock

Mr Campbell said another big risk for DIYers in Queensland was asbestos.

"Most people don't realise what's asbestos. Things like the glue under vinyl tiles, silicones used back in the day, the rope used in old ovens, downpipes and water pipes can all contain asbestos," he said.

"People will go smash a wall out not knowing its asbestos and they've gone and exposed their whole family to it.

"Get a professional in at the start to point out where (the asbestos) is, even if you don't want to remove it, just so you know where it is."

Being a qualified asbestos remover, Mr Campbell said he had seen plenty of DIY fails involving the material.

"I had one (homeowner) cut through asbestos. It got into the aircon and went through the house," he said.

"There were fibres on everything so every single personal possession including photos, couches and the TV had to be thrown out."

Handyman business, Hire A Hubby, surveyed Australians and found injuries weren't the only downside of amateur renovations.

Nearly one third had tried to fix something themselves only to make it worse, and close to 60 per cent had to call in an expert to fix the problem.

Brendan Green, Hire A Hubby executive officer, said people should stop and think before dabbling in DIY.

"Always look at your options before DIY - if you're confident, make sure you have the right tools and consider safety as a priority," he said.

"If the job is too much, call your local handyman and we'll come over do it for you."

Mr Campbell and his wife Tiffany have recently renovated their 1940 California bungalow in North Ipswich and even they found some things were beyond their expertise.

"The hardest thing was getting a good finish on the exterior paint," Ms Campbell said.

"We hired professional tools to try do it ourselves but it was a costly exercise.

"It looks easy but it's not when you've got 100-year-old paint and casement windows.

"In the end it was much easier to get professionals in."

Ms Campbell said as a non-professional there were still plenty of tasks she was comfortable tackling herself.

"Hanging curtains, sanding floors, puttying - it's all quite easy to do," she said.

"And give the internal painting a go. You can't fail at painting inside."

Mr Campbell said structural, wet area and electrical jobs should be left to qualified tradesmen.

"Legally you can't touch electrical and when it comes to structural jobs like decks, a lot of people build things that aren't to code because they don't know the right fixings or materials to use," he said.

"Don't attempt bathrooms unless you're a professional - they need to be waterproofed and they need to have falls a certain way.

"I had one bloke where we'd prepped the bathroom and he jumped the gun and tiled the floor himself.

"I turned the shower on and the water missed the drain and went out the door."


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