The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.


Aaaargh! I Don't Know How I Do It

Aaaargh! I don't know how I do it – I really don't! This week has been like an episode of Eastenders. I keep expecting the doof doofs and the spinning map of London. Needless to say I have been on the receiving end of some horrendous arguments and strange conversations in the divorcing household this week. Thank goodness I should be finished by the end of the week.

I arrived last Friday at just after 8am to the sound of breaking glass. I'm serious... I just sort of hovered at the door wondering if it was a good idea to go in. I was thinking “maybe someone is hurt”, but at the same time I was thinking “just walk away and leave them to it”. In the end I decided it was best to try and break things up, as I seemed to be the only person in that house seeing sense.

What a scene of destruction! The contents of the kitchen cupboards seemed to be all over the floor and three doors (the news ones which she didn't want) had holes kicked right through. I knew they were cheap, but it must have taken some welly to get her size 7's through them! All I could think of was the time I spent chiselling the holes for the hinges and how many times the bottoms needed planing.

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Another Rant

Well, having finished my recent energy efficiency makeover, I have worked this week on a floor tiling job and yet another of my bugbears has turned up once again.

So, you are busily laying down tiles on the floor. You have made loads of cuts, carefully worked out the angles and generally made a pretty good job. You come to the last box of tiles and you discover they are completely different to the ones you have already laid.

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Apprentice Katy Comes Up Trumps

What a great week! Yes I know this is not my usual blog material, in fact if I can have a moan about something I will certainly make the most of it. But this week has just been a breath of fresh air – for once.

I finished the house from hell and to be fair it turned out pretty well. Even better I got paid for it, plus a bonus for coming in both on budget and on time. I hadn't expected that, but Chris noted the extra effort I went to and rewarded me for it. Funny how it doesn't take much to feel appreciated. It makes me want to achieve the same results next time. So I guess he knows what he is doing.

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At My Age I Should Know Better

Well, the job at my brothers did run over just a little bit and much to Claire's annoyance I didn't get back until Sunday afternoon. I told her it was down to trouble getting hold of the tiles, which was true, but it could also have had some something to do with the REALLY big night out on the Saturday.

I just don't do this sort of thing that often any more and so I was expecting I would go out for a couple of hours and leave it at that. But it turns out my brother had been keen to get out as well and the excuse of his friend's birthday was too much to turn down. So we headed to a pub which we used to frequent when I lived at home, where I ran into some old friends. I was surprised they still went to the same place, and it turns out their lives haven't changed that much. They have just added wives, girlfriends and kids to the mix. They still do the same jobs and live in the same area. Thinking about it later, this felt a bit sad, as they didn't seem overly happy with the situation and seemed really interested in my self-employed life in the village.

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Back to Working for Myself

Oh dear, I have done it now...after a bit of a barney with Chris about the blokes upstairs and his lack of care regarding his tenants, he and I have agreed to part ways. I have to admit that the drive from Chris' office to my house was one of the longest I have ever had. I just didn't know what I was going to tell Claire.

She took one look at my face and knew something serious had happened. I have to say that my wonderful wife is pretty much every man's dream because she totally supported my decision and pointed out that it just hadn't worked out like we wanted. It was too much like having a boss and that was never the point of being self employed.

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Bit of a Nightmare Job – But What’s New

Well, the run up to Christmas has well and truly started and for the first time in a long time I am looking forward to it. There are a few reasons for that. Number one is the fact that we can afford it this year. The bigger jobs I did recently have left us with a little bit extra and number two: we are staying home.

Yes, we are having a Christmas at home with just us and the kids. No one is visiting, the in-laws aren't staying and I can be a complete slob if I feel like it. We have decided to have a Christmas Eve party for our friends and neighbours, but otherwise it is going to be a nice relaxing time.

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Budget Analysis from an Average Builder

It is budget day today and what a waste of time that has been! It looks like small businesses might get some money for training and developing new skills. Whoop-de-do. Not much help for those of us who don't have any employees and can't take time out for training of any kind. But there will be a fund for new business loans from the banks we own, but no mention of what the interest rates might be or the criteria. No point in getting a loan you might not be able to pay back!

Then there is the tax on the sale of homes worth more than £1m. I know this sounds like a fortune, but actually the average 4 bed in London is pretty close to that and then add to that the 5% stamp duty on buying a more expensive home. Something tells me, people just won't bother moving making the whole upper end of the market stagnant. Not good for us builders who rely on people wanting to change their new home or get the old one up to scratch.

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Communities Rally to Offer Trade and DIY Skills

Well, I certainly can't let the biggest news of the week pass me by. The riots...what can I say? Lots of things spring to mind, but they aren't repeatable here. Needless to say, I have been pretty disappointed by these so-called young men and women (although it has to be pointed out that it appears to be mostly men). What has this world come to?

So lets look at all the arguments. Kids in this country have been left to kick around doing nothing for too long. They are bored out of their brains, they have no one to tell them what to do because their parents don't seem to care and they have no money and little prospect of a job. Can hardly blame them for taking the belongings of other hard working people - do you catch my sarcastic tone?

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Customer Takes a Tumble

Had a pretty busy week as per usual! Been flat out with the house for Chris which is actually going really well. It looks so far that I haven't made too many cock-ups when it comes to pricing. Nothing has taken longer than expected and I haven't yet experienced any major hiccups. But time will tell. I still have at least three weeks on this job then I will be moving on to some of his other properties.

I have contacted the local college regarding getting an apprentice and they have put me in touch with some local schemes. So I will be meeting a couple of youngsters next week for a chat. Interestingly, they are sending me an 18 year old girl...I really don't know about that. But I am all for change and we shall see. Who knows she might just win me over. Stranger things have happened.

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Don’t Talk To Me About Painting

Phew! What a week. I am just doing the finishing touches on the house and it is looking pretty good. I have had to do painting this week and this is one of the jobs I think I will get someone in for in the future. I hate painting!

I don't know if I just have a bad technique or the wrong materials, but when I paint it always needs extra coats to make it look good and I get more on myself than anywhere else. I have to be extra careful to cover everything and put masking tape everywhere. Because if I don't then you can be pretty sure that I will cause some sort of disaster.

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Done It Again !

Well, we have done it again! Claire and I have jumped right in at the deep end and bought ourselves a little doer-upper. A small and imperfectly formed two bed house with more problems than anyone else was willing to deal with. But what can I say – I love a challenge!

Going to a house auction has to be the most nerve wrecking thing I have aver encountered. It was worse than any job interview. Not only do you have to be so prepared that it feels like you are sitting an exam, but in our case we had to sit it out right until the end of the afternoon.

We made sure we had read the legal pack, visited the house three times (once with a surveyor), we had our deposit cheque already made out with the value we hoped we would get it for and we sat on our hands until our lot came up. Claire had visions of the bloke at the front misreading my nose scratching and us buying something we didn't want or need (or afford).

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Electrical Testing Course Was Certainly Testing

I can't believe it is December already. It really makes me wonder where the year has gone. It only seems like a few weeks ago that I was complaining it was too hot and now the snow has really set in and it looks like it is going to be a long winter.

Still at least when the weather is rotten you don't mind being stuck indoors having to work. That is unless you have to get up at 5am to trek half way across the country to attend a stupid training course....

This week as part of my electricians accreditation, I had to do a compulsory training day and exam. Every year or two they tell you that in order to keep using the approved tradesman logo you need to have shown that you have completed this or that training course. This one was about electrical testing and “testing”, it certainly was.

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G L Smith and Sons