Man skills

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  • Man skills
  • Premier Icon bearnecessities

    I’m currently subduing the fizzing excitement of buying first house, which is in need of total renovation.

    Everything needs doing (non-structural).

    I’m not ham-fisted but then I’m starting late in life for home ownership and have no well-practiced man/home-skills other than painting & minor repairs (which is pretty emasculating seeing some of the posts on here!).

    Any experience to share of what I should learn how to do myself, versus getting someone in to do it? First job is bathroom, it needs ripping out and replacing asap, then everything else I will do at my own pace once moved in (including relaying a borked, very cracked, concrete driveway).

    Just random experience please! (and if you know a good plumber, tiler and plasterer in Leeds area that would also be helpful)

    Ta 😀


    Steer clear of attempting amateur gas and electrics. Everything else is willingness to have a go and the right tools. Although I have some jealousy admiration for people that can plaster properly.


    Dont touch gas

    Dont touch electrics if you havnt a clue .

    Everything else – youll learn.

    Start plastering in a spare room and see if you have the knack or not…. Some folk are just inept but most folk can get it from practice


    As above. I’d be happy doing any job apart from gas. I’d be OK doing electrics but I’d rather not. Plumbing is dead easy. Tiling is amazingly therapeutic. Read up on everything first, watch videos on the internet then give it a try.



    get stuck in, if nothing else its an excuse to buy loads of tools! i know a couple of good people, one guy i’ve recommended on here before with good results. i’m a joiner by trade but work in brewery full time these days, but can recommend a v.good plasterer, and a builder/roofer. tiling is easy, if you can do fuzzy felt, you can tile…all it is is cutting and sticking….good luck, where abouts, in leeds itself?


    Make sure you tell your insurance company that you are doing a renovation as standard insurance will not cover you if attempting things yourself and they go wrong! We’re now on our 6th renovation and just about to start a renovation business. I don’t do work for other people apart from what I’m trained in( gas/oil/plumbing) but I do all plumbing, tiling, structural (via structural engineer) bathrooms, kitchen, groundwork, plaster boarding (plastering to a good standard is a back art!) and most other stuff. I have a great team of people I call on for other stuff. Once finished, we sell and buy another. Sometimes we live in them for a few months after until on convince e wife to go again!!

    The more you do, the more confident you’ll get. Try everything apart for gas/ electrics like everybody else says

    Oh, and…..

    Premier Icon bearnecessities

    Samuri, thanks for recommendation of Driver: SF by the way on another thread; lost many hours on that already!

    I do want to get stuck in, I really do & have a fair few tools already (any excuse usually), I guess I’m looking for experience of if you had your time again on certain tasks, would you get a professional in?!


    Replacing interior door posts/frames is a job i never want to do again. – that was last weekends work.

    As i found last week roof tilings a piece of piss. – certainly patching up where neighbours chimney caps smashed tpem down.

    Do more before you move in. its amazing/appalling what youll put up with!


    SF by the way on another thread; lost many hours on that already!

    Good game. Best drifting experience of any game I ever played.


    When you say Leeds area – where are you? Tradesmen won’t travel too far…


    Ten years ago I moved from London to Pembrokeshire and bought a somewhat rundown stone house in a small village. I was competent at DIY but hadn’t done a major building project.
    The renovation has involved walls back to the stone and rerendered (traditional lime mortar); ceilings down, floors up, blockwork, plumbing, electrics (I’m now an electrician by trade),carpentry – just about everything.

    What have I learnt?

    1. Don’t buy a stone house in Pembrokeshire (or anywhere).
    2. Get a good DIY book. The Collins complete DIY manual has been a good reference.
    3. The internet is great but there’s a lot of bad advice out there.
    4. Plan your work so that you don’t end up having to undo stuff you’ve already done. (Electrics and plumbing in before the ceilings go up).
    5. Invest in good tools.
    a. Spirit level
    b. Cordless drill/impact driver, No.2 Pozi and Philips bits.
    c. SDS bits – 6mm/8mm
    d. Sharp Saw
    e. Workmate
    f. Tape measure

    6. Don’t be afraid to use a tradesman in some situations. – for me a good plasterer for ceilings saved hours of grief – yes I probably could have done it myself but it wasn’t worth the aggro.
    7. Jewsons are expensive – don’t buy at the front counter, go round the back and haggle.
    8. Screwfix goldscrews are great
    9. “sticks like sh*t” , gripfill and decorators caulk are your friends
    10. Push fit and solvent weld waste pipe and fittings are different even though they say they are the same size
    11. You’ll make mistakes, but at least they’re yours, not ones that you’ve paid someone to make on your behalf.
    12. Don’t let it consume your life so much that you neglect yourself and family – there should always be enough time to ride the bike, read a bedtime story etc.
    13. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.
    14. Keep your Building Control Officer sweet. Keep them in the loop (if they are required) and they’ll bend over backwards to help you.

    Hindsight is wonderful. If I knew at the start what I know now it would have been much easier, but if you’ve got a basic competency you’ll do fine. It’s just a matter of confidence.

    Good luck!


    Premier Icon bearnecessities

    Top stuff Rich, thank you! (and everyone else)

    go round the back and haggle

    I’d rather just pay cash 😉


    Going thorough a similar experience. Have had house fully rewired and walls skimmed, new boiler to go in in January. Everything else will be done by me. To do list is decorate all rooms, tile kitchen, rip bathroom out and out new in. Doesn’t sound like much but it seems like every time I do something it takes 3 times longer than expected.

    Mary Hinge

    I’ve done a fair bit.

    Built huge garage from scratch including making roof trusses on site. Moved interior and exterior doors. Upstairs floors out, moved stairs, new floor in. All electrics. Don’t touch gas! Removed lounge window and opened up and fitted French doors including new lintel etc.

    Mostly done single handed, with occasional help from my dad and my wife (she mixed 6 tons of concrete for the conservatory base one Saturday morning!)

    All in the days before Internet so no online tutorials.

    Mostly it’s just looking and sussing stuff out. Use the Internet. Ask for advice. Push fit plumbing is real easy, copper isn’t that hard to do.

    If you are reasonably handy you’ll be fine.

    Take photos of your projects and post on here.

    And use a sharp saw. A blunt saw just wont cut straight.


    Having been there and done that, if you can afford to, get someone else to do it.

    But if you insist…

    You’ll need at least 3 drills.. a corded SDS Hammer drill, a cordless hammer drill and a lightweight cordless drill / driver.
    Expensive driver bits are worth it, as are drill bits.
    Be doubly accurate with a spirit level, going that extra bit to get it spot on will help. A set square is useful too.
    Take the effort to do it properly, saving a minute here / there could result in big problems down the line.
    Plumbing is easy but can have disastrous consequences if you get it wrong.
    Get and stay organised, tidy up as you go along.
    Get a ‘disposable’ hoover.
    Goggles and dust masks are worth it.
    Learn how to mix concrete.
    Re-pointing is not vital.

    Premier Icon kayak23

    Learn to feather the trigger on your cordless drill to vary the speed and get the torque just right. There is nothing in this world more painful than watching folks spin screwdriver bits in screw heads…..nothing.


    found this far superior to normal masks and goggles. oh and get a henry

    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    DOuble post

    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    Buy good tools. Applies equally to power and hand tools.

    The tradesmen on here can no doubt recommend far better than I can. I tend to get advice from a mate who is in the small scale electrical engineering sector and my Dad who was a chippy in his early working life and spent 30+ years around the construction trade. If you know people like this it really helps.

    Silly things like phoning one someone when you don’t knew if it’s hard finish or multi finish plaster you want or have forgotten the right ballast cement mix for a fence post hole etc.


    Planning is vital – it’s a lot easier to fix cables & pipes before you’ve plastered; and it’s a lot easier to know what pipes and cables to put where if you and your partner have agreed where appliances will go. Really “childish” stuff like making a plan on the kitchen floor of where appliances, cupboards, etc will go is essential unless you can all clearly visualize how you will use the kitchen to cook/entertain as a family. Defo say it’s worth living with detailed layouts/plans for a few days before you start work; as this lets you ask questions, like where will the cat go, will the dog be alright there, can I get the bikes through there, etc, etc. It’s also worth looking at more modern products to see how they compare with old-fashioned labour-intensive methods that your grandad might have used. Worth looking through the Tool Hire catalogue to see what kit they can hire out too; as half-a day with a specialist electrical tool can save you days of effort using the wrong one. Finally, wear safety goggles – I’ve seen far too many people with drills, planers, routers and even angle grinders taking stupid risks with their eyes.


    All just IMO (as a DIYist who had to learn all of his own lessons):

    +1 for “get a Henry”.

    Have some dedicated “work clothes” including trainers, otherwise you’ll end up ruining ALL your clothes. Personally, I would go for overalls.

    Get a corded SDS drill, and a cordless impact driver.

    Don’t expect to cut a straight line with a jigsaw (I’m sure someone will be along in a minute to tell me that you can…. but I found it impossible). If you want straight lines, get a circular saw.

    If you are hanging doors, an electric plane is invaluable.

    Plastering is and extremely useful skill to have. It literally covers a multitude of sins.

    Buy some decent paint brushes, and wash them out properly.



    I did it earlier this year… 10 weeks from start to finish.

    had to have trades in for some stuff, but was mostly mates.


    Bear, this thread will need photos.

    Premier Icon bearnecessities

    Thanks, some top tips and advance warning of shopping lists.

    I would like interior done in 6 months ideally; only a few grand left to spend (plus disposable income), so want to do as much as feasible, and yes there will be a thread to share pain/get help, but I think pictures of the bathroom would possibly qualify as NSFW…it’s beyond bad!


    When we moved in to our new house ALL the taps in the property had been wound with rags and then siliconed. there was no underlay anywhere the guy had used newspaper instead, the kitchen was a mish mash of bits from over a few years I reckon, some of the cupboards had improvised curtains instead of doors, all the wall paper was hanging off and absolutely no lining paper was used anywhere. The garden is 7 meters by 10 and all that was not overgrown was a small 2×2 patch in the middle of the lawn…. Don’t fancy doing it again.


    but I think pictures of the bathroom would possibly qualify as NSFW…it’s beyond bad!

    Few beers last night eh? Late night curry?

    My bathroom can empathise.

    Premier Icon bearnecessities

    Ha! Not completed yet, hence the subdued bit, but just planning now as it shouldn’t be long..

    Imagine a colour so nuclear and gopping, that is makes avacado look bang on trend. Then add the cruel mistress of time, a lovely, but 89 year old owner…then imagine it’s even worse!

    Premier Icon pictonroad

    Electrics are easy, plastering is essentially black magic and should be left to the practitioners of said arts.

    Buy ten 99p tape measures, you’ll lose one every day.


    6 months – either its small , you have no job , are using tradies or it just needing decorated.

    We are now nearly 2 years in , but we have gone back to plaster/bare concrete in most rooms as the old man was a heavy heavy smoker and rewired , fully replumbed replasted , all new woodwork, tiled and laid oak flooring, sorted the roof , insulated , sorted out the rot in the windows , painted the exterior. So many things you notice when you live there .

    Still havnt touched the kitchen or bathroom…..

    Second the live with it and see how you usethe space.

    Our plans have changed couple of times for the better.

    Our first plan was to move the bathroom and lose a bedroom into a dining room – to gain the bedroom back upstairs over the garage.

    Now we are leaving the bathroom where it is and knocking down the utility room, coal cellar and the drying room and sticking a 5mx4 extension on the back for dining room. Keeping our bedrooms.

    Do not make the mistake my mates made of redecorating and finding out he still has 1950s rubber wiring.

    Oh and dont get a henry , get a wet dry vac with power take off – cheaper than a henry and will hoover up rubble , dust , water , ash. And you can stick it on your circ saw,sander , raggler and it will come on auto with the tool. One of the best tools ive bought for our works – really cuts down on the mess

    Premier Icon sandwicheater

    Congrats on the purchase, tis never too late.

    Me and the misses were in the exact same position 6 years ago and had a blast.

    Dirt/dust/paint will get everywhere so don’t get super nice stuff until you are finished. We did it room by room, top to bottom and if we had to do it again would probably do the whole house in one go. No matter how hard we tried filth got everywhere.

    Have a list of what you want to accomplish in each room. Don’t just launch at it ham fisted.

    It all looks daunting but slow and patient will win through. Remember installing our shower with no plumbing skills, oh the fun! Having no floor boards in the bathroom for a month so the Mrs could see me dropping the kids off while down stairs (we are much closer now).

    Take loads of before/after photos. You’ll look back on this period with very fond memories.

    Learn to plaster. Will save you a fortune!

    Drink beer and eat biscuits.


    Ring building control!


    If you can afford it get a tradesman in to do everything, they’ve done it before a hundred times and they’ll do it much better than you will in a tenth of the time.

    Premier Icon bearnecessities

    This is gold, some great tips thanks! Funnily enough it was the thought of doing a plastering course versus getting someone in, that prompted the original question.

    Main jobs are:

    All rooms, remove wallpaper & repaint + new carpets.
    New Glazing, exterior doors & interior doors (and add a window)
    Replace all skirting & possibly door frames.
    Get rid of the toxic ceiling tiles that are in there!
    Replace bathroom.
    Turn main bedroom into an en-suite (there’s a toilet in the next room already.
    “Improve” kichen & refloor with dining room.
    Hopefully (although will leave to experts) get gas fire removed & replaced with something else..(wood burning stove would be lovely, but that’s right down the list)

    Luckily the house has had a full re-wire & new boiler fitted recently.

    Outside/garage can then wait until nicer weather!

    Premier Icon sandwicheater

    Get a steamer. Best purchase we ever got. Removing wall paper is then less of a ball ache breeze


    So from that list get the paper stripped

    exterior doors and windows first

    Door frames ( turd of a job to retrofit new to existing brick walls that are invariable not square. – that was my last weekend – managed 4 doors- framing and fitting brand new doors)

    Replace bathroom

    Improve kitchen

    En suite in



    Skirtings and achritrave

    Flooring.( if its not carpets then fit skirtings after flooring)

    Premier Icon althepal

    Bought my first flat.. wiring condemned as it still had canvas insulation, bakelite switches and cast iron fuseboxes, couldnt open the kitchen door all the way because of the coal bunker behind it, and lathe and plaster ceilings would collapse randomly…did the rewire myself but got a qualified spark in to fit the consumer unit and tie in the mains.. patched and plastered various walls and ceilings, fitted a kitchen from scratch, removed fireplaces and generally rennovated the place. Was reasonably handy and learned a lot of stuff as I went along. Took me a year all in, living and working in there. Was pretty soul destroying at the time and looking back I would maybe just pay someone qualified to do it all next time. I’m proud of what I did but was very lucky having friends who were just as keen as I was..


    We did this last year, bought on the 23rd November and wanted to be in for Christmas. Needed EVERYTHING (non structural) doing. As others have said we called in a few favours for the gas and electrics (missus’ grandad was meant to do gas but passed away unexpectedly a week after we got it, thankfully people rallied round and we got it done probably quicker) everything else we did ourselves. I was useless at DIY until this point but learnt a lot in doing it all and looking round the house now is a real source of pride! We got in for Christmas but didn’t realistically finish properly til mid January. A lot of late nights and stress but well worth it in the end.

    Good luck!!


    Been in 11 years now. Still not finished…


    Bought a brand new house that was thrown up…

    In hindsight I should have bought a circular saw for all the flooring.

    Tiling is easy, take your time, make sure your bottom baton is level and don’t be afraid to rip it down and start again. A circular disc cutter is worth the cash, bit slower but more accurate and you can use it to nibble to get curves for bogs etc.

    If I get the chance I’m never laying porcelain tiles again, ceramic “stick” so much easier. Oh and make sure the floor is level when you start and find your 2 lines of symmetry before you start.

    hefty corded hammer drill did me for everything.

    Doors are a pain to get right (all 17 in a new house were rehung).

    Get a good heavy duty saw, a general purpose, a tenon and a hack saw. When they start to cut wonky replace I like Bahl stuff (replaceable blades with v comfy handles.

    When drilling really big holes hire a proper drill for a half day and double check you are not going through power/water etc.

    Fit an external tap first if you are doing loads with cement etc, stops having to run in and out and open windows etc.

    If sanding wooden floors hire a float sander and use a sponge to check for raised nails and use a nail punch to get them down and stuff before using the sander. Seal yourself into the room with tape, open windows and use a decent dusk mask, not a 99p job. Oh, seal the hoover in with you too.

    cling film rollers for the next days use.

    planning kids? hard floors downstairs and in their rooms, don’t have light colours carpets in high travel places (like the stairs/hallway).

    different brands of magnolia are very different colours.

    buy a load of quality rawlplugs for masonry and plasterboard, use the right ones.

    Tell the wife to bugger off if she suggests floating shelves at any point. Same goes for fitting a shower tray that isn’t the right size because it looks nice so you have to tile some funky tiling to make up the difference and fill a hole of doom neatly.

    mosaic tiles are ace for small areas of trickiness btw.

    swop out taps before you tile the pedestal in.

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