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


I Would Rather be Decking in the Rain

December already and the Christmas countdown is well and truly under way. In fact, this week has been a week of shopping and spending and a little more shopping. Claire likes to do quite a bit on her own (all women love to shop - or so I am told) but I am often dragged along for the muscle power; someone has to carry the bags and push the buggy!

So we decided to search for gifts for the in-laws this weekend. Claire had a good idea what to get them. I won't say what it is as they might just be reading this – but we saw a good example of it in one store about ten minutes into our shopping trip. I was thrilled – “brilliant” I thought “we can buy this and I will still be home in time for an afternoon of Holmes on Homes on Shed TV.” But no....

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I'm Sitting On The Fence.

Things are back to normal in the Marty household this week. The Christmas rubbish is over, the weather has returned to the usual grey and dull and I am back doing a job I love most days and hate just some of the time.

This week was more interesting than fun though, I have to admit. I finished off the bathroom for the old couple. What lovely people they were. I know that it is a cliché to say that old people are kind, but they really were. They were just the sort of people I would be proud to have as grandparents for our kids. They just had something special. And a marriage which lasts more than 50 years is certainly something to be proud of.

My new job – well that is quite a different story. The household is in the throws of a divorce. If I had known this when I quoted I might have thought twice. I did sense a bit of frostiness in the air between them, but kind of figured it was just their way. But turns out they are getting the house ship shape before selling up and moving in to their own places.

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I’ve become high risk!

Today, I would like to talk about know those institutions which look after our money, use it to create wealth for themselves, pay themselves mega bonuses for being so clever and then charge us for giving them our money.

Got the hint. I am truly fed up with banks and their stupid attitude towards lending. It wasn't so long ago that they would chew your arm off to get you to borrow money off them. Ridiculously low interest rates, credit cards at zero percent and loans for all those things you never really needed. But now, even when interest rates are at record lows, the average mortgage rate seems to be higher than it used to be. All of a sudden we have all become high risk. I think it is the banks that took the risks and we are paying the price.

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If It Will Save Me Money, I’m All For It

As promised, we are back to normal this week. Work has been going along pretty well and nothing much to report there. At home I have been working hard over the last weekend and in the evenings to improve our home as far as energy usage is concerned.

Claire got a bit of a bee in her bonnet about it and started hassling me at the end of last winter. She pointed out that the bedrooms were always freezing and that there is a definite breeze coming from our front door. Add to that the fact that our double glazing has seen better days and it was becoming clear that something needed to be done.

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If Time Could Be Bottled

If time could be bottled and sold, I would be buying plenty more of it this week. I have less than one week left to get this flat into a habitable state for the tenant and it really looks like I am not going to get it done.

The list of jobs still left to do is about as long as my arm. The carpet was laid the day before yesterday, so my priority was getting the painting done in the bedrooms and living room. This meant all of the walls and the trims and the ceilings. It took me two full days to get that done and it was still drying when the carpet guys arrived. Don’t mention suede effect walls !

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In the Dog House

Ever had that feeling like getting up and going to work was the best thing ever invented? Yep, me too. This week has been welcome relief from the joys of a week off on holiday with two kids and a wife with an axe to grind...

Yes, I suppose I should have just enjoyed a week sitting by the pool and making the most of the organised activities for the kids. But relaxation was hardly the word for it. For one thing the weather was chilly to say the least and rain featured pretty heavily. The indoor pool was teaming with feral children and the smell of chlorine was enough to give you migraines.

So I spent much of my day sitting by the bar. This did not go down too well with the Missus who felt that holidays are family time and that I should be doing outings and watching them splash about in the pool. She put me in the doghouse for the whole week and it was torture.

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It Just Wouldn't Be Christmas

It has been a pretty crazy week. Not too much different to every Christmas which has ever been though. If it isn't hectic, time constrained and stressful and if you aren't left feeling overly stuffed, exhausted and ready to scream at someone, then it just wouldn't be Christmas – would it?

Our party on Christmas eve was a big success. Everyone was very impressed by the gazebo and I may have a couple of orders for the summer. It seems that it is just what the neighbours have been looking for, for their garden. Claire has also managed to pick up a client for landscaping. It seems that she is hoping to kick off with her self employment come the new year.

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It Never Rains, It Pours ...

This week has been mad. I have been so busy that I seriously don't know if I am coming or going. I go to bed thinking about what I have to do the next day and wake up thinking about what I didn't get done the day before.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was pleased that I just had a few small jobs to do. Well, this week those small jobs have all turned into a waterfall of “do this” and “do that”. Problem is that when you are in someone's house, they see an opportunity.

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It's Been More of the Same – Hasn't It?

Well it has been more of the same – hasn't it? Snow, snow and more snow. There does come a point where it stops being a novelty and just becomes a pain in the rear. The problem, from my point of view, is that people just don't do enough to help themselves.

Take this as an example. Last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday everything in my village ground to a halt. No milk or bread in the local shops, cars abandoned by the roadside for days on end and poor kids (or is it the parents) stuck at home because of the schools and nurseries being shut. Well, a bunch of us parents decided enough was enough and the call went out (on Facebook would you believe?) to all parents in the area to get their shovels and meet at the local school and nursery to help clear the paths. So within one hour we managed to get them open. Talk about the power of the people. Of course it goes without saying that the snow today has put paid to that.

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Keep Off My Patch

This week I have been thinking more and more about the credit crunch and how it seems to be affecting everyone but me. I really don't get it. How is it that I have managed to buy a house, do it up and rent it out, get as many clients as I can handle and have enough money to survive fairly comfortably?

Then there are other people who seem to be struggling every way they turn. They are under threat of redundancy, their pay is frozen, they are working longer hours for less pay, they are stressed out and can no longer make ends meet.

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Keeping The Peace is Not an Easy Job

By the time you are all reading this, it may well be all over bar the shouting – Christmas Day that is. As I sit here there is still one day to go and to be honest, I feel exhausted already. The shopping, the cooking, the cleaning, the visits to friends, the nights at the pub and the present wrapping have all taken it out of me. The thought of sitting down to a nice meal on Christmas Day and then having a sleep is really appealing at the moment.

But I doubt it will be the case – you see, the in-laws have arrived....cue the scary music. They have been here since the weekend and are already driving me mad. Sorry Tony and Sue, but it has to be said. To be fair Tony is alright. We have disappeared down to the pub on a couple of occasions and once he is away from his wife, he is a different man. But Claire's Mum is like something from a horror movie.

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Lady of the House Gets a Bit Shirty

Been working on the mega-expensive kitchen this week. Because of the money they are spending on it and the need for it to be perfect (not that my work isn't perfect anyway) I have been taking my time. I refuse to be hurried and if the clients want to get a good job done they need to accept that.

However, the lady of the house is getting a little shirty that I haven't achieved more. It has only been a week and a bit! I have ripped out the old kitchen and that was hard work. I have reorganized the plumbing and done all the lighting, sockets and switches. In my opinion that is pretty good going. This week I will be re-plastering the ceiling and starting to put the cabinets in.

I always make sure that I leave clients with running water and I install a little sink unit for them to use while I am gone over a weekend. But this isn't quite good enough for this lady. On Friday afternoon last week she tells me that they are having visitors over during the weekend and had hoped to have at least a minimum kitchen set-up to feed and water them!

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G L Smith and Sons