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Our biggest DIY cock-ups (so far)

Most posts on this blog paint the picture of a fairly serene and error-free refurb experience. Sadly, this is far from the the truth and I just can’t lie anymore. This is the first time we’ve done a house up so there’s no shortage of mistakes/injuries to tell you about. Here are some key learnings from our experience to date.


#1 | Don’t use a heat gun on your body

One Thursday evening, I set about stripping the grimy paint from our landing skirting with a heat gun. I’d stripped my fair share of skirting by this point so I was waving this fire-breathing device around like a toddler with a water pistol. Inevitably, at one point my free hand wandered in front of the heat gun and it hurt, a lot.

Moral of the story: don’t get cocky with a heat gun.

#2 | Don’t do DIY too late

I really enjoyed building our fitted wardrobe which meant that I spent every spare minute working on it. I often lost track of time and rather than using a clock to indicate when I should stop I’d wait until I started doing stupid stuff.

A classic example was putting up the shelf supports. I was making impressive progress which was largely because I kept forgetting to check levels which led to the below result. Time for bed.

#3 | Don’t crack on until you’ve finished planning

It’s incredibly tempting to start a job before having thought it through properly. We’ve done this plenty of times before and, realistically, will do it many more times. If you’ve got the discipline to plan properly then you’re a far superior human to me.

My most idiotic example so far is that a few days after moving in, I started breaking up the concrete on the drive in preparation for the gravel driveway that we’re going to put in. A pretty sensible thing to do, until I realised that the driveway project was going to have to wait until after the extension has been built. So rather than having a relatively ugly concrete drive, we now have a relatively ugly concrete drive which a very ugly hole in it and it’ll be that way for months. What a dick.

#4 | Don’t forget to wear safety gear

We’ve got safety gear for every occasion but we don’t always use it. This is baffling as we’d have avoided a lot of pain had we’d put the proper equipment on.

For example, when a can of expanding foam semi-exploded, Haz would have been fine if she’d been wear gloves. Instead, she had foam stuck to her hands which she had to soak in olive oil (didn’t have any cheaper oil, gutted) for a good half an hour before it could be scraped off.

Other classic examples include stepping onto carpet grips in bare feet, forgetting to wear face masks for wood stripping (#leadpoisoning) and not wearing gloves for sanding which leads to horrendously chewed up hands.

#5 | Don’t forget to properly seal a room off before sanding

If you speak to anyone about sanding a floor they’ll tell you to prepare for the mess. Having now sanded 4 floors, I can confirm that it is not possible to prepare yourself for said mess.

We thought we’d properly sealed off every nook and cranny but the wood that sanding throws up is so fine that it will make its way around your house. My advice would be to stick up as many dust sheets as you can buy from Wilkos and be prepared for a mega cleaning session post-sand. Godspeed.


So there you have it, approximately 4% of the stuff we’ve done wrong so far. Stay tuned for more cock-ups soon.

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