create a DIY disaster
24 February 2005
In the second of her new monthly
columns, interior design consultant Jayne Webb, whose company
Southover Design is based in Horley, warns about the dangers of
biting off more than you can chew.
The abundance of room makeover and DIY
programmes on TV are a reflection of the nation's current obsession
with home improvements. Busy estate agents and packed auction rooms
confirm the amount of people desperate to find a run-down property
that they can turn into their dream home.
But it isn't quite so straightforward in real
life. It is all too easy to view an old and unmodernised property
and do an estimate for the cost of the decorating, curtains and
carpets and completely overlook the essentials. Don't forget the new
damp proof course, the plumbing, the rewiring, the windows and even
the cost of skips to take all the debris away.
Once you have found your dream property, always
make a detailed calculation of exactly how much it is going to cost
to put right before you are the proud owner of a new set of front
door keys. Contact reputable builders, plumbers, electricians,
carpenters, damp proof experts, decorators and plasterers, and get a
good surveyor to tell you exactly what you are letting yourself in
for, not only in terms of cost, but also time.
If the property is uninhabitable, build the
cost of alternative accommodation into your budget and remember that
by moving into the property while extensive building work is going
on, you may slow down the project, which could ultimately cost you
If you are going to manage the renovations
yourself, do not book the various trades people with too little time
in between. Remember that the electrician can't start until the
building work has been done and that the plastering has to be done
after the electrics. It all sounds very elementary, but if one trade
overruns, you may have to postpone another and this can lead to
lengthy delays and lots of Tippex on the timing plan.
If you decide to go it alone and do the
majority of the work yourself whilst holding down a day job, think
VERY carefully. Are you really going to feel like knuckling down to
a good four hours a night stripping woodwork after a hard day in the
office and will your family cope with your absence every weekend for
months on end?
Also, consider sourcing your materials. Have
you got a very understanding boss who will overlook endless phone
calls to the builders' merchants during work hours and can your
family car double up as a pick-up truck easily?
If despite all of these hurdles you are still
determined to brave it, good luck and enjoy it!