What jobs you should leave to the professionals

Unoccupied properties can be profitable assets when made habitable as a private or commercial residence. However, to get your unoccupied property to the point where it can be sold or rented as a home or business, may require a lot of time, work, and money, depending on the condition of the property.

To help get your vacant property up to scratch and to save on money, you may be tempted to take on some projects yourself. However, it may not always be in your best interest, let alone safe if you decide to do so. Below are just some of the larger and more complicated tasks that property owners should consider leaving to the professionals, instead of attempting to do themselves.

Gas and electrics

Depending on the state of your unoccupied property, the electrics and gas (if the property has gas) may or may not be turned on or even installed. Before any major work is undertaken on the property, have a qualified electrician come to inspect the quality of the electrics to make sure they are safe to turn on. There could be hidden damage to wires, which could cause outages or even worse, electrical fires.

If the property needs electrical work undertaken, such as new sockets or re-wiring, then unless you are a qualified electrician, it is advisable to not attempt this yourself. Pay for a qualified and registered electrician to install or repair any electrics.

The same will apply to any gas repairs or if you want to install gas appliances or heating into your property. You will need to hire a registered gas engineer for any gas work, as electricians or plumbers will not usually be qualified to carry out any gas related maintenance or instalments, unless they have the additional gas qualifications.

Electric and gas work is extremely dangerous and unpredictable, and the work itself must be carried out in a safe and legal manner for the property to be deemed safe to live in. Any rogue electric or gas work could potentially put lives at risk and could also delay your property from becoming legally habitable.

Water and plumbing

Turning on or off your stopcock is simple enough and can be done by anyone, but when it comes to solving a blockage in your pipes, installing radiators or a new bathroom suite, then things can become a little more complicated.

Repairing or installing new plumbing is far less risky than electrics and gas, but that does not necessarily mean it is easy to do. If you are having any doubts about how to fix a leaky sink or installing a new toilet, then send in a professional plumber. This way, you should avoid any potential leaks or breakages that could end up costing you more in the long run. Plumbers like any tradespeople, should be fully qualified and registered, so check you are hiring a professional, before they start to work on your property, by looking over their credentials and reviews.

Roof

Injuries or fatalities caused by falls from roofs, building structures or scaffolding are sadly not an uncommon occurrence. Such accidents can occur on construction sites and private residential properties, affecting professionals and the public alike.

If you find that your unoccupied property needs roof repairs, whether that is in the loft or up on the roof, consider paying a professional to do the work. It may be tempting to fix that leaky hole or replace that cracked tile yourself, but the risks far outweigh the potential outcome. For large roofing projects such as replacing batons, roof membrane or tiles, professionals are likely to install scaffolding around the property, which helps with transporting and fitting, while also helps prevent roofers from falling.

Even if you need to clean your guttering and soffits, and plan on doing it yourself, make sure you have a sturdy ladder and another person to either hold the ladder for you, or to at least watch your back!

Asbestos

Given its unforgiving nature, it is no surprise that Asbestos can strike fear into any homeowner and builder, if it is found within a property.

Asbestos was first developed on a mass industrial scale during the mid-19th century, using natural crystallised fibres that are mined from the ground and then structured into shape, to create clothing, building materials and insulation, just to name a few. 

Many homes across the UK and worldwide will have used Asbestos based materials such as roofing panels, insulation and Artex ceilings, which is why it is not surprising to still come across Asbestos in older homes.

The natural fine fibres that make up Asbestos, can be easily inhaled or swallowed when the material is broken up or has been disturbed. This can lead to significant health complications such as the development of Asbestosis and an increased risk of cancer, in particular Mesothelioma.

Because of the long lasting and deadly side effects of Asbestos, in 1999 the importation, supply and use of Asbestos was banned in the United Kingdom, with the amphibole type having been banned since 1985.

If you find Asbestos in and around your unoccupied property, do NOT attempt to remove it yourself. If the Asbestos is in good condition and is not broken or damaged, it is less harmful to humans. However, if you plan on removing Asbestos or your find broken or damaged Asbestos in your unoccupied property, you should have it removed by licensed professionals, who will then legally dispose of it as hazardous waste. This is certainly a project nobody unqualified should consider taking on, so if you are unsure of what the building materials are in your property, have a professional check it out for you to confirm.

Building or structural work

With any major home renovation, building or structural work, you will most likely have to contact your local authority to apply for planning permission. 

If you are granted planning permission from the appropriate authorities, hiring professional builders to undertake the work required is a sensible move. Unless you are a qualified builder or are confident in the work you are carrying out, do not attempt to undertake such large projects yourself.

You could cause more damage to your property than intended, especially if you knock down supporting walls, try to replace any structural parts of the property, or simply try to build an extension.

If you decide to take on a major project at your unoccupied property, and it isn’t up the national building regulations, you could be required by the local authorities to tear it down and pay a professional to start again.

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