We might be a nation of have-a-go heroes in the UK when it comes to home improvements, but there’s often a hefty price tag attached. At any time, a typical British household is stuck with up to 16 botched or abandoned DIY projects in dire need of professional attention.

It’s taking a toll, too. When it comes to DIY, the UK’s spirit is willing, but its flesh is all too often cut, abraded or hit with a hammer. Over 60,000 of us are admitted to hospital in an average year as a direct result of a DIY foul-up. That’s before we even consider the financial damage. Collectively, we’re blowing through £30 billion a year on DIY projects, with an average botch on our own property costing £200 to fix. For many jobs, the cost of repairing the DIY damage actually ends up far higher than getting a professional in from the start. Here are just a few examples, with the names changed to save some blushes:

DIY disaster stories

  • Andrew, a software engineer, started out by trying to clean his kitchen grout. He cracked a tile, then broke the stove top trying to fix the damage. Undaunted, he had a go at replacing the stove top, but in doing so he brought the ventilation hood down. Climbing a ladder to mend that, he dropped a hammer through his kitchen sink, smashed his entire counter top and then broke the oven door as a grand finale!

  • Dan, an enterprise analyst, was replacing a wall clock when he drilled straight into the water mains. By the time he’d found the valve to shut off the flow (inside a cupboard in another room) his kitchen was flooded, his toolbox full of water and his flooring was wrecked. On top of all that, repairing the ruptured pipe meant smashing through a wall and about a foot of plaster.

  • Estate agent Derek took on the challenge of replacing his family’s bath. He got the old one out with no major problems and things were looking good. The trouble was, the new bath couldn’t be rotated into position in the small bathroom. Derek ended up taking out an entire wall to set the bath in place – a bath he promptly broke by setting up a ladder inside it to paint the new wall.

In every case, these DIY nightmares could have been avoided by getting professional help – and yes, this is where we start talking about tax refunds.

When you’re going toe-to-toe with HMRC, you’ve got to know exactly where you stand. Claiming too little – or worse, too much – can be a serious hazard. You probably won’t land yourself in a hospital bed by fumbling a tax refund claim, but the cost of getting it wrong can be every bit as painful. A weak or wonky claim can land you with only a partial refund at best – and serious taxman trouble at worst.

Every year, RIFT helps people out of the “dodgy DIY” holes they’ve dug themselves into with their tax refund claims. Here’s the difference an expert can make:

  • RIFT turns £2,000 of fines into a £12,000 refund

    When builder David came to us, he was looking at a £2,000 fine for unpaid Corporation Tax. His accountant wasn't a construction specialist, and didn't have the expertise to get the job done right.

    The first thing we noticed was that David's salary as Director hadn't been correctly allocated, meaning his company profits were calculated far too high. In fact, he shouldn't have had to pay any tax at all.

    On top of this, the accountant hadn't reported any of the taxes David had been paying throughout the year, and had never tried to get the overpaid amounts refunded. When the dust settled, David was overjoyed to not only have his £2,000 fine wiped out, but to receive a £12,000 refund from HMRC as well.

  • RIFT reclaims £8,416 refund instead of a £700 fine

    William, another construction worker, was wrongly hit with a mixed bag of fines and penalties totalling £700. When he called RIFT for help, we contacted HMRC and set about get the issues ironed out.

    We calculated the CIS tax William had already paid and made sure all his tax and VAT liabilities were cleared. At the end of the day, William walked away with the penalties cancelled – plus an £8,416 refund for the overpaid CIS tax his DIY had lumbered him with.

  • RIFT turns a £10,000 debt into a £6,000 refund

    Paul found out the hard way that the building trade has some extremely complicated rules and regulations. Landed with a £10,000 debt to HMRC, he immediately knew he was out of his depth and called RIFT.

    Paul’s debt resulted from some heavy fines from the taxman, and meant he needed to file Self Assessment returns for the last 3 tax years. When we took on Paul’s case, it quickly became clear that HMRC hadn't stuck to its own rules.

    Our customer care team fought Paul's corner for 4 months, keeping the pressure on until our efforts paid off. By the end of our appeal, Paul's debt and penalties were completely cleared. HMRC dropped its case against him and released the £6,000 refund he was owed.

The moral of all these stories is simple: always use the right tool for the job. With home improvements, that means getting a professional to handle anything you’re not equipped for. When you’re tackling HMRC, it means calling in the UK’s leading tax experts. Whatever your tax situation, you’re always better off with RIFT.