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Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
DIY: A job for the professionals?

Makeover programmes, such as Changing Rooms and Better Homes, make DIY look too easy, government ministers say.

They say that DIY enthusiasts are being injured and even killed after being led into over-ambitious projects by television makeover programmes.

So what DIY projects have you taken on after being inspired by the experts on TV?

What was the outcome? Did it have disastrous consequences? Should it always be left to the professionals? E-mail us with your experiences.

Your reaction:

I say three hearty cheers for Changing Rooms. If the BBC hadn't thought up this wonderful half-hour of entertainment, my husband would still be sitting on his backside surrounded by the awful dingy seventies paper that used to cover the walls in the flat we rent. He's no DIY expert, but with a little common sense anyone can makeover a room.
Lucy Georges, UK in France

I think that the programmes are good to give people ideas and it is up to them if they take on something that they can't manage. I think that the government should have better things to worry about!
Charlotte, UK

There's nothing wrong with DIY and no need for new legislation. The problem is the cult of DIY that societies like the UK or the US practice, and the false perception this creates that DIY should be within the capabilities of every ordinary person and that resorting to professionals for home repairs or improvements should be stigmatised. It shouldn't.
Jurgen Olisv, UK

What sort of project would you suggest? Unlike the USA our DIY shows are trivial snatches of information, would anyone really lower themselves to entertain such projects. Give us programmes that contain some fit for purpose ideas please.
Bill Bell, England

DIY is an abbreviation for Do It Yourself, so surely it's not 'doing it yourself' if a professional does it, unless, of course, you yourself are a professional.
Rose, England



Should we stop people using knives in the kitchen, or servicing their own car?

John Tappin, United Kingdom
Should we stop people using knives in the kitchen, or servicing their own car? No, I don't think so. Government cannot legislate to prevent people from being over-ambitious. The main problem is that when big DIY projects are started no thought has gone into what tools or skills are required to complete it, let alone how much time it will take. DIY programmes usually have four or five experienced tradesmen and it still takes them well into the night over several days. Maybe some time could be better spent by providing education on some basic building skills at school?
John Tappin, United Kingdom

It's hard to believe that TV can be blamed for accidents. However, if programmes give viewers ideas without safety tips i.e. how tools should be used and what precautions should be taken. Then they leave themselves open to criticism
Gareth, UK

I was shocked on how many people were injured in the U.S. from common garden tools. If you can't hoe weeds without cutting off your foot, then DIY isn't for you. I think DIY programs can give somebody ideas and in some cases can help you see if a contractor is doing something correctly.
Gregory Dittman, USA

Of course the government should intervene - and high time too! Never mind the 70 who die each year - the fewer DIYers the better - instead spare a thought for all the long-suffering partners. A casual glance in an antique shop has DIY man scoffing that anything Chippendale could do, he could do better. Months of sawdust and foul language are then followed by years of tripping over yet another embarrassing eyesore. Legislate! Now!
Sarah Leighton, Argentina

What the hell has this got to do with the government? If people do or do not want to do DIY that is their private business and nothing to do with politicians or bureaucrats. That this interfering nanny government is poking its nose in to peoples personal affairs in this way is intolerable but all too predictable.
The government should stay out of peoples private affairs. And if it is looking for things to do it might try attending to dreadful state of public transport or the NHS or inner city decay and crime - but maybe that is all too much like hard work.
Alan Tyne, UK



Oh come on, lets get real here - people have always found ways to hurt themselves and DIY is just another way to achieve this.

James Jeffrey, USA, but English
Oh come on, lets get real here - people have always found ways to hurt themselves and DIY is just another way to achieve this. Do It Yourself is not rocket science, there are leaflets all over B&Q and Homebase etc to give you all the information you need to complete a project. If someone gets hurt it's not the fault of a TV programme, but their own negligence. In the last 10 years there has been an explosion of people wanting to carry out their own house repairs etc and the majority finish safely.
James Jeffrey, USA, but English

I have to agree, they do make it look very easy and the programmes have given me a lot of ideas. However, what I think is worse is the state some of these people live in. On "DIY SOS", there are people who have stripped their walls back to the bricks and their homes look quite simply derelict. Others are living in darkness or in homes which literally look like bombs have hit them. It's unbelievable!
Suzey, UK

I have to agree with the comments wondering if government does not have more important things to worry about. Anyone who proceeds with a DIY project without caution, or not knowing what they're doing deserve what they get. It's Darwinian!
Malcolm Saunders, Cayman Islands

Just watch Changing Rooms on BBC America. Would you want a room looking like any one of their creations? It's enough to sober up the most hearty DIY wannabe! UK ministers can sleep safe at night knowing that Changing Rooms will show millions how bad it can look even when a bunch of "experts" have a go!
K Jackson, USA

It always amuses me that the DIY shows on TV over here show our intrepid host armed with about $1m worth of equipment in "workshops" as big as my house. Even I would find building a fine piece of furniture easy with a set-up like that! Nevertheless, I did design and build a shed the other year, having found nothing that appealed from local vendors. It was an interesting project and it taught me that nothing is impossible if one is determined and applies oneself. I'm not sure that the DIY shows had much influence on my decision to build the thing though... more a desire to get the gas powered tools out of the garage before one of my four boys "experiments" and blows the house up!
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

For Gods sake! Even the safety paranoid USA hasn't gone this far. What's next a government statement that we should all stay indoors for fear that the world will hurt us?
Carl Hensman, UK/USA

Let's face it, some people are all thumbs, no matter how many instructions they get.
Collin, Canada



I would not tackle anything as potentially dangerous as woodworking or electrical wiring.

Carol Bellantoni, New Jersey, USA
I repainted a bedroom and a bathroom (ceiling, walls, and woodwork and windows) three months ago. I did some minor re-plastering and sanding of damaged walls in both rooms. I exercised caution using a ladder and making sure rooms were well ventilated while painting. I had only one minor mishap when I tripped over the corner of a bookcase that I had moved away from a wall, but only managed to bruise myself. Both DIY projects looked quite good once I completed them. I would not tackle anything as potentially dangerous as woodworking or electrical wiring.
Carol Bellantoni, New Jersey, USA

I enjoy DIY, and I'm quite proficient at it. However, it always takes far longer than I expect to finish the job. When you hear of many peoples' difficulty with flat-packed furniture, it is no surprise that basic DIY is beyond them. If you can't assemble a pre-packed bookcase without trouble, you're not going to be able to redesign your own living room!
Andrew Wilson, Scotland

The UK government has a nerve poking its nose into citizens' private lives and telling them they should not undertake DIY projects: After all, their efforts at running the country seem so amateur sometimes (e.g. the London Mayor contest) that the public could be forgiven for thinking that they rule Britain with a DIY manual left for them by John Major.
David, Luxembourg

I think that these programmes should point out to viewers that many of the materials have been well prepared in advance. I have noted this especially with carpentry, where everything just fits nicely in place! There is always a place for installation on a wall etc, all drilling is easy, and levelling no problem.
A simple 'caveat' before and after the show would inform viewers that their project will require more effort than that shown, but the techniques are basically the same.
Geof Jones, USA

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21 Apr 00 | UK Politics
DIY disasters 'blamed' on TV stars
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