Ask LH: Should I Bust My Mate For Doing Illegal DIY?

Dear Lifehacker, I need advice about a friend who likes to do dangerous DIY work around his house. He recently did major plumbing work without having a licence (the main water line from the street to his house). He’s now installing an electric stove in his kitchen also without a licence. Should I dob him in? I’m afraid that something terrible may happen in the future from a botched job. Thanks, Future Firefighter

Dear FF,

That’s certainly a pickle. On the one hand, doing nothing could lead to a catastrophic mishap that you’ll always know you could have prevented. On the other hand, dobbing him in could potentially ruin your friendship.

In Australia, any electrical appliance that requires hard wiring needs to be connected by a licensed electrical contractor. Attempting to do it yourself isn’t only dangerous but highly illegal. The same goes for installing plumbing systems.

In addition to receiving tens of thousands of dollars in fines, unlicenced plumbing and electrical jobs will also void your house insurance in the event of an electrical fire, flooded bathroom or other related mishap. In short, the risk just isn’t worth it.

A lot of people reading this probably think you should just mind your own business. But I do appreciate your predicament — imagine how you would feel if his house burned to the ground with his entire family inside? While it would be his own fool fault, you’d still feel partially culpable.

Before you get the authorities involved, try talking to your friend first. Explain why you have serious concerns about his penchant for household DIY. Namely, he’ll face stiff fines if found out, it will void his house’s warranty and it puts people’s lives in danger. When all those cons are laid out on the table, saving a few bucks won’t seem quite so attractive.

If he refuses to see reason, the easiest course of action is to contact your local police station who will forward the tip to the relevant safety regulator in your state. He’ll totally know it was you, but will only have himself to blame.


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