Spring is almost here! There’s just one month left until the official start of the season when it will flood our homes with sunshine, holding a spotlight to long forgotten nooks and crannies and exposing a multitude of DIY jobs you’ve been putting off all winter. There’s no more ignoring it: It’s time to hunt down the tool box and get the place straightened up. But wait! Before you start hammering away, are you sure you know what’s lurking behind those walls and ceilings? If – like me – your answer is no then you need to read through Slater & Gordon Solicitors handy guide to the dangers of home improvement below this post.
I’m in the fortunate position of being a new tenant in a freshly redecorated flat, meaning I wont be doing any major home improvements in the near future. These plain while walls however could do with a splash of colour: A few pieces of framed art here and there and new light fixtures wouldn’t go amiss, and I’m in desperate need some new pieces of furniture.
Sounds fairly safe and risk free, right? Well, not quite. Drilling into unknown territory can uncover some nasty surprises. So, what kinds of DIY dangers should we be looking out for? Two of the most common long term health concerns are:
Do you know what year your home was built? The age of your property matters when decided whether or not to drill in to it’s walls. If your home was built between 1930 and 1980 then there’s a chance that asbestos could be lurking somewhere, and if that’s the case then drilling is a big no-no. Asbestos is the major cause of mesothelioma; a type of cancer that lives in the lining of the bodies organs. Simply breathing in asbestos is what causes mesothelioma. Asbestos sheds in to microscopic needle-like fibres that, when inhaled, enter the lungs and over time bury themselves in to their lining. Read more about the symptoms and why it’s important to be safe over on the NHS Choices website. Tenants would be wise to ask their landlord if they’ve had an asbestos survey done on the property.
Most of us only encounter MDF when buying flat-pack furniture where it comes pre-made, cut to size and problem free (jk; I’d rather keep my belongings in cardboard boxes than have to erect a flat pack bedroom suite again). It’s not until you start sawing the stuff that it becomes dangerous. MDF contains a carcinogen called formaldehyde. You don’t want to be breathing thisF in, so if you plan to try an IKEA hack or some up-cycling, be sure to wear a mask and if possible do the cutting outside.
Read on for information on other high-risk DIY practices and please be make sure you are fully aware of the DIY dangers in your home before the big-spring clean.