Do you DIY?

Do You DIY?

Author: Lauren Coleman

As life starts to get back to normal after the Christmas break, my thoughts have once again turned back to the house and our next bout of home improvements, which has inspired a week on ‘Do-It-Yourself’ here on RMS.
James and I both have dads who are fond of a bit of DIY who have actively encouraged us to get our screwdrivers and paint brushes out. When we got the keys to our very first tiny two-bed house we redecorated it from scratch in about two months using nothing but our own fair hands. With a bit of guidance from our parents and a lot of YouTube tutorials James taught himself to tile, to lay wooden floors, to deck the garden and to recarpet too with me by his side as his not so glamorous assistant.

While the house would never have made it on to Rock My Style we made that place into a home we were proud of, all the more so because we did it all ourselves on an absolutely tiny budget.
The next house was already extensively renovated but once again James upped his skills; crafting concrete worktops, replacing radiators and fitting custom cupboards and shelves. We worked together to take our spare bedroom back to brick and put up plasterboard and redecorated the place from top to bottom.

As many of you know we’ve spent the last year up to eyes in wood and paint, DIYing our way round much of our newest house. We’ve left certain electrical jobs to the experts but the majority of it we’ve tackled ourselves. As our confidence has increased, over the years we improved our technique too; taking time to mask, using quality screws and good paint brushes as well as tried and tested paints and primers. We now have an impressive selection of rather random tools. Anyone for a G clamp?!

Some of it we’ve enjoyed, other times it’s been nothing but a pain in the bum. (Do you remember the gone-off paint incident?) There has been an unbelievable amount of blood, sweat and tears to get to the half finished stage we are at now and on multiple occasions I’ve questioned why we haven’t just paid to get someone in. As project lengths have spanned from weeks in to months I’ve regularly wondered what it would be like to walk through the door after a days work and find that someone else has painted a room or built a cupboard. However there’s a certain amount of pride that comes with a DIY job especially when others can’t believe it was achieved by a bit of your own graft. Obviously more often than not it’s a cheaper alternative too and there are some rogue traders out there who aren’t fussed about a great finish or will leave you hanging midway through a job.
I’m well aware our projects are small-fry, some of my friends are self-managing and DIYing huge renovation projects restoring homes to their former glory and I take my hat off to them. Between us we work around a hundred hours a week and are very lucky to have an amazing group of friends ensuring we have a very active social life. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day and the house can end up in disarray for weeks on end. For that reason we’re considering taking a bit of a backseat to DIY from craftyclub in 2017 and have decided to hand over our upcoming bathroom project to the professionals (or at least part of it). I don’t feel it’s a cop out, just a way to get some of my sanity back and an extra couple of hours of sleep. I’ll keep you posted on the bathroom but the lovely Lolly will be resurrecting last year’s Rock my Room series very soon with her own bathroom project.

What are your views on DIY? Is do-it-yourself a must do in your pad or do you hire in the professionals?

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24 thoughts on “Do You DIY?

  1. Happy new year beauty!

    I often wish we had half the DIY skills you and James have. Lee and I will always have a go, but the results are often less than perfect.

    If there’s one DIY skill I’d LOVE to have, it’s plastering. I’m always amazed when I see a good plasterer at work.

    For several reasons, this house has taken us a lot longer to finish than we originally hoped, but we cracked on and it gives us a real sense of pride to have transformed the place.

    When little E arrived, we had every room complete apart from our bedroom so got a friends Dad in to finish the job. Something that would have taken us a week (and several arguments) was done, dusted and perfectly finished in a day and a half. It really did make me wonder if we should have just left the whole house to the professionals.

    As it stands, I’m using the snatched moments I get in the afternoons to squeeze in slowly re-painting the kitchen units. I can’t quite give up the DIY, even if it’s destined to end up as a botched job!!xx

    1. I don’t believe you’d be capable of a botched job – your house always looks lovely!

      Good luck with the kitchen -it’ll be worth it in the end. Promise x

  2. DIY is a very one sided affair in our house, especially after the arrival of S. My husband works in the construction industry and is incredibly pragmatic, knowledgeable and hands on. I’m a total novice who can just about be trusted with a paint brush or to follow along doing grout while he tiles. We did our lovely little 2 up 2 down almost all ourselves except electrics and plumbing, but it dragged on and on and on as his time was limited and he is such a perfectionist!

    With the barn I am fighting tooth and nail to get the pros in. You have to ask yourself what your hourly rate is and whether it’s still great value for money having you work your guts out on site and be tired for real work and your family. Sometimes the satisfaction isn’t worth it, but when it is…. oh it really is.

    1. Lucy I think the hourly rate point is such a good one, and how much it impacts the other the things in your life. Sometimes it really doesn’t feel like it’s worth it. I’d also like to turn up to a meeting and someone not comment on the paint in my hair 😉

  3. My husband has the patience of a saint which is very handy when it comes to a) doing DIY and b) putting up with me and my pinterest inspired plans c) putting up with me generally. The flat that we’re in now didn’t need much work but we’ve still got the ‘bug’ and are currently looking for our next house which will definitely be a project. If we get the one we want then it’s going to be a knocking down walls etc job. We’ll get the kitchen extension done by professionals, but I think we’ll do everything else ourselves including removing some other walls, and completely re-doing the rest of the house. Fingers crossed….

  4. I love a bit of DIY. Well, maybe not love but it was always a case of getting on and doing things rather than spending much needed cash paying someone else. My mum always painted the house herself so I guess I just followed the same thought. Edds dad is amazing at everything and so anything we need doing we can always call on him. I am more than happy to give things a go whereas Edd likes to take his time and read up on things properly. I just dive straight in and even managed to tile our old bathroom all by myself which I was rather proud of. I must admit to having changed slightly now and tend to get people in. It’ mainly down to time as Edd is never here and with the girls it’s really difficult. I’ll still paint myself although we did pay a decorator once to do our cellar and it was a godsend. A whole room and ceiling of bare plaster did not appeal and it was money well spent. I think it’s about choosing the jobs you can do, or are happy to have a go at, and leaving the rest to the pros. xx

  5. Al and I don’t mind a bit of DIY and will give things a go if we think we can do them to a good enough standard. I’m a perfectionist (read: totally anal) so would rather pay a bit more to have a pro do something than have to look at something botched every day! I “had a go” at cutting tiles and tiling our hearth in our bedroom when we decorated, in fact we did everything in there with the exception of fitting new sockets/light fittings. Luckily it was all only aesthetic though, we’re about to start our lounge and will have the builders in next week to take out our old fireplace, open up the recess and re-plaster ready for our much wished for woodburner!

  6. We DIY everything. Yes its a pain and huge time commitment but the bottom line is no professional, however skilled, cares as much as you do about getting it exactly how you want. We had a loft conversion done and even though the company where consummate professionals and the quality of the work was excellent overall certain little things were just not how we would have done them. Same with some dressers we had made.

    We took almost a year to do our bathroom (ugh) but we came up with fixes and tricks that meant we could do things we were told weren’t possible

      1. Nothing fun or glamourous but I wanted the loo in an exact spot and due to positioning of pipes hubby had to custom make a waste pipe to fit the space (previous the loo had hovered 6 inches from the wall!!) We had to extend the legs on our reclaimed freestanding bath using to fit a modern pop up waste under it and did lots of jiggery-pokery with drains so I could have a low level shower tray.

        We did our room in 2 halves (only one bathroom) so we had either the shower or bath in use while the rest was being done.

  7. We’re six weeks into a Victorian school cottage renovation which we’ve totally gutted and taken mostly back to bare brick everywhere – not what we actually intended to do but some walls were so damp that the plaster just fell off! We’ve had pros in to do the rewire (had it done in one day by a team of five electricians which was brilliant!) and fit the boiler and central heating pipework but the rest we’ve done ourselves so far – my hubby’s in the construction industry and his dad’s a builder though so they know what they’re doing. It does impact a lot on family time though – we’ve got a two-year-old and we hardly saw daddy over Christmas – so you’ve got to weigh everything up. I made hubby promise we’d get people in to help as and when needed as the last project we did in our old house was a reroof and renovation of our bathroom which took all of his spare time for the best part of five months and ended up with me grouting floor tiles and being without a toilet for a week at seven months pregnant!

  8. I’m the designated DIYer in our house! With a more… Arty… Husband it just falls to me to get the drill out!

    Love all your diy Lauren, maybe some more how to’s? Especially if anyn is painting kitchen cupboards. I’m so tempted to go sexy dark blue for the lower ones and leave the top white. We’re in a new build and trying to order that off the menu was just too complicated for the middle aged men in the sales office!

    1. Lolly and I were talking about more DIYs just the other day Jo.
      Love the two tone effect on units. Having just painted our kitchen cupboards I’ve got lots of info to share. Charlotte is going to share her kitchen makeover very soon too x

  9. I’ll DIY most things, including plastering and tiling, but I draw the line at plumbing (for now, I intend to do a course at some point), major structural repairs, and electricity beyond basic light/switch/plug rewiring.

  10. When I read posts like this I realise how rubbish both the hubby and I are DIY! I love a bit of painting but that’s about as far as it goes. My Dad is pretty handy so he helps out quite a bit but we have always paid for anything more major than painting (and sometimes even for painting – shameful I know!) I wish, wish, wish we were both a bit handier – could save so much money and would be so nice to feel like you’ve built/plastered/fitted something yourself! xx

  11. Honestly, I used to be a DIYer, partly because in your first little house it’s so exciting and you want that pride of saying you did it, but mostly because funds dictated it. I/we have DIYed three houses. This one, we’ve got people in to do just about anything that isn’t quick or safe for us to do, and as long as you get good people in who earn their crust well, there is absolutely nothing like coming home from work to a freshly papered and painted room, new curtains, radiators, whatever, with carpet where it should be, everything put back and all mess tidied and hoovered away. You soon get over the guilt ?

  12. Me and my husband are both terrible DIYers. We moved into our house in March 2016 and I am afraid to say we have paid professionals to do everything (even painting as our walls were in such a state). It is so lovely to come home from work to find everything packed away and finished although I do wish we were more handy and able to do a bit more ourselves to save on cost! Everything still takes us an age to do because of being limited to how much we can do each month funds permitting. I have loved following your decorating journey – I don’t blame you for having a bit of a rest in 2017 xx

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