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


Not Content With Stealing My Tools

Well, I had a lovely weekend. Claire really pampered me for the whole two days. I had my favourite dinners, beer on tap, as much rubbish TV as I could handle and two kids on the sofa with me for hours on end. There is nothing like a bit of quality family time. Simply being able to sleep in without waking up feeling stressed before I even get up, felt great.

So I stepped into this week feeling ready to go. Pity about that, because life has a way of dealing out rubbish once in a while. Although with me it seems to be more often than that. I finished the kitchen I was working on last week and had planned on breaking the back of the little house over the course of this week.

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Not Sure We Work Well Together

Well she didn't get the job. Claire that is. You might be wondering why I have jumped right in with that piece of information when this is a builder’s blog. Well, I love my wife to bits, but I like my lifestyle as well. If she got a job then that would mean that the way I run my business would have to change and as sexist as that might sound, I don't want that sort of change.

The problem is that she is pretty much devastated and upset. She feels as though no one takes her seriously and that she is just a boring stay at home Mum. It doesn't matter what I say or do to show her how appreciated she is, she says that I don't count...Nice!

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Now I can Do It How I Like

I am a free man!! No more keeping within a ridiculous budget, submitting my receipts to someone else, agreeing the way forward with a project and no more having to do things how other people like them done. Now I can finally put my stamp on something and do it how I like!

Mind you it hasn't been an easy week to get away from Chris and his business head. That bloke really only sees pound signs. I suppose that is how he has become so successful, but he was certainly willing to stiff me for whatever he could. Thankfully I am not stupid either and I had got everything in writing from him. I had an email where he agreed to the whole list of extras for the flat and where he said he wanted it to be high spec and not to skimp on materials.

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Of Course It's Over Budget

Well it has been a busy week – as usual. I had the pleasure of going to two quotes this week and I actually got quite excited about it. They were previous clients from a couple of years ago, but it was almost as if they had been waiting for me to return. One of them had had a couple of tradesmen round for quotes and said they didn't trust either of them. It just goes to show what giving a good service can do for your business. I might not make a fortune, but at least I can hold my head up high.

Claire and I went to view a property this week – a potential development project. It is just around the corner and is one of the few houses on our estate which hasn't been done up already. I think it was lived in by an old couple because it still has everything from the 1970's, just like it was when it was built. Looking around, all I could see was the dreaded phrase “added value”. This place was crying out for a little love and attention.

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Plumbing, Electrics, Plastering and a Few Sleepless Nights

Katy and I have started on the Victorian house this week and I think that it is going to be an interesting, if lengthy job. Houses may have been built to last 100 years ago, but they didn't care too much about straight-lines and right angles. Everything is wonky and curvy and falling apart.

It looks as though we will have to completely gut most of it and re-plaster all of the walls. Add to that the electrics, which need redoing and the plumbing which needs extending from the one small bathroom on the ground floor to two more bathrooms on the upper floors. It is a big job.

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Pretty Chaotic

Talk about an Indian Summer! We certainly cannot complain about the weather over this last few days – but we have every right to complain about the pretty dismal summer. But hey – we live in Britain, what do we expect?

Good weather does put me in a good mood and I have needed that this week. I am still working on the really expensive kitchen. You will remember that a couple of week ago the lady of the house was a bit annoyed about the fact her kitchen was in disarray when she had a party planned. It turned out that she went to a restaurant instead.

So that was fine – but the issue I am now having is that progress is still too slow. The thing is that they are having every electrical gadget imaginable in this kitchen as well as a central island which is both plumbed and has electrical points.

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Profiting from Property

Phew! I feel really full. Today I have had numerous cups of tea and about three slices of the most delicious cake. All courtesy of the upstairs tenant, Eva. She has been a star and has been visiting regularly - always with something to make my day a little easier. She never gets in the way or interrupts, just puts the cake and the tea down on my workbench gives me a wave and off she goes. Brilliant!

I did have a bit of a chat with her the other day and it seems she doesn't work. I guess she might be retired so having someone around to look after really makes her day. It makes mine too. I am definitely not complaining! I am trying to make it clear to Chris that he needs to consider her needs when he gets tenants for this place. He says it is first come first served...Hmmm.

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Questionable Cover Image on Trade Magazine

Been making lots of extra trips to the DIY store this week. Had to sort out the downstairs toilet for the missus. This meant some family trips to peruse the tile and flooring options which was kind of stressful. I am used to heading to the right aisle, getting what I want and getting out as soon as possible. Can't do this with a wife and kids in tow.

Our local DIY store is piled to the rafters with Christmas trees and decorations which was just a little distracting for the children. Chloe was pretty much besotted by the twinkling lights and we came away with much more than we bargained for – of course. I can't resist it when the kids pipe up with statements like “But daddy, the blue lights match your eyes...” I would be sick if it was anyone else's kids.

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Recapturing My Youth – Not !

Well I am officially working out of town. I haven't had to do that since I gave up the 9 to 5 and decided to work for myself. But my brother was desperate to get someone he could trust for his kitchen, and well, I couldn't think of anyone better. I will be here until the end of the week and then go home to the family on the weekend. I miss them more than I thought I would.

I figured it would be nights on the town and plenty of trips to the pub to recapture my youth – but it turns out that my brother has grown up considerably in my absence and hardly leaves the house, other than to go to work. I thought free and single blokes are supposed to kick up their heels. Turns out the responsibility of a mortgage and a good job are about all he can handle at the moment.

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Renovation Sickness Strikes Again

It is that time of the year again. Cast your minds back to this time last year when Claire suddenly got it into her head that our house needed sprucing up before Christmas. Well the renovation sickness has started again.

This time she is in a panic about our Christmas Eve party. She has sent out a million and one invitations and is now worried we won't have enough space for them all. Trying to tell her that she should have thought of that before she “Facebooked” the invites, is like talking to a brick wall.

Anyway I have explained that an extension is out of the question and we have settled on a garden party arrangement. Yes it will be freezing, but apparently I have to construct some sort of gazebo (we always wanted one anyway – so I am told) in the garden, into which we can put lights and patio heaters. Claire has even drawn the design she wants and will position it close to our French doors, so our guest won't have to get too chilly.

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Run Ragged This Week

So, that is the end of bank holidays and I am glad to get back into a normal routine. If you can call working seven days a week, 14 hours a day, “normal”. I have been run ragged this week.

The kitchen is going OK. Loads of haggling and running backwards and forwards to the supplier to get the bits I need has meant I am running overtime. But this isn't unusual and I have been wise enough to leave myself quite a bit of space before my next job. Of course that is supposed to be for the little house. But hey.

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Rusty Hamster Cage Anyone ?

What a weekend! I can't remember such hot weather during May for years. Not since the days of my childhood, when, lets face it, every day seemed hot and endless. It was good to have very little to worry about workwise and to just get on with getting sunburnt and pretending to potter about in the garden. We even got the barby out, blackened some sausages and drank too much beer. Perfect!

There is nothing like sitting in the sun watching the kids playing nicely together and realising that all your hard work has got us to this point. Its not perfect, but it is better than what some people have to endure and we ought to be thankful for what we have.

However, just as the warm weather has now disappeared, my easy week has taken a bit of a turn too. Monday morning I get a call from Chris. His ex-tenants (the ones who left the house in a shocking state and have been living elsewhere for the last month) rang him to ask why all their stuff had been chucked away....

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G L Smith and Sons