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


The Stress of a Deadline

It has been a case of all hands to the deck this week to get all of my work finished before we head off on our holiday on Friday afternoon. Considering that “all hands” means “my hands”, it will be a close thing to get it all done. I have to admit that I don't deal with the stress of a deadline like this too well.

There is nothing worse than feeling like you are doing things in a half-arsed way, just because you don't have the time to do them properly. On my list of things still to do I have electrical testing and certificate issue, skirting boards, silicon sealing, building and attaching a bathroom cupboard and all the extras like toilet roll holders, heated radiator (plumbing has been done already) and light fittings.

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The Tenants From Hell Get Worse

You would think that with the weather being so nice that all would be rosy in Marty's world. But once again this week has been less than great and one particular incident really just topped it off.

Remember the family from hell who want their (rental) house decorated to their somewhat tacky tastes? Well, this week they really stepped it up. Katy and I arrived at work on Monday morning as usual. The woman of the house sent the older kids off to school as normal and then started getting herself sorted to go out. Nothing unusual in that, you might say.

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Tiling is one of those jobs where everything can go wrong

I am nearly recovered from my horrible cold so no moaning about that this week. Apparently I have been going on about it too much and the whole family has been getting a bit sick of it. I have been told that if I am sick I should be in bed and that if I insist on going into work then I get what I deserve. Whatever happened to “in sickness and in health” I wonder? I guess Claire never agreed to “and when I moan incessantly...”

So I have made good progress this week on the top flat. The bathroom was delivered and thankfully the delivery bloke took one look at me and asked if I needed a hand getting it up the stairs. I must have looked like I needed the help. Once the bath was in the house it was a real squeeze to get it down the hall way and into the bathroom. It was one of those really tight right hand corners. I don't know quite how I got the old one out, but I struggled on my own for about half an hour and ended up having to remove the bathroom door, so there's another job to do.

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Time for me to teach the age old art of plastering

Snow expected....those two words say it all! Why oh why am I trying to work outdoors when the weather is freezing? Because if I don't I will be in the doghouse for the rest of my marriage....

So yes, the blimmin gazebo is doing my head in. The angles are all too complicated and getting the wood lengths correct is an art in itself. It is close to being done now though and I just have to top it off with a fancy finial and build the seating area. I am actually thankful that I dug out the footings while it was pouring down with rain because I couldn't have done it this week. The ground is frozen solid and likely to get worse.

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Too Late Mate - The Bathrooms Out

Sometimes it is best to keep your nose right out of other people's business and this is a lesson I have learned this week.

As you will remember, I was doing a bathroom for a friend of Claire who has just split with her husband. Sounds simple enough – aah no, not really. I should have put two and two together when I did the quote, because the bathroom they already had was almost new. She just said she didn't like it and I figured it was a case of more money than sense.

Turns out he chose the bathroom and she hated it, so the minute he was out the door she set about changing it. I tried to convince her that the main white suite could be reused and that she shouldn't be wasting her money. There was nothing wrong with the bath, basin and wc – but she is adamant that nothing in her whole house should remain as it was.

Fair enough. So I start ripping it out. The next thing that happens is her ex coming back to the house. The neighbour (who is a mate of his) had called him to let him know his precious brand new bathroom was being ripped out.

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Top Notch Flat

I really hate to say “I told you so”, but what I expected has come to pass. I should charge for my advice, because in this case I was so right. Eva's new neighbours are exactly what I thought they would be. In fact if it is possible, they are turning out to be even worse!

They moved in on Saturday morning and according to Eva they spent the day having deliveries from furniture stores and appliance manufacturers. (Thanks to Mum and Dad, no doubt...) She wasn't too bothered about the noise because getting furniture into bedrooms is a noisy business. But at about 7pm their friends started arriving. Just a few at first, but then it turned out to be the house-warming party from hell.

Eva thought that there must have been 50 people squeezed into that flat and that didn't include the ones who were hanging out in the stairwell. Needless to say Eva's tranquil new home now doesn't seem to be quite what she was hoping.

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Tough Decisions on the Work Front

This weather is just crazy! I am back in my long trousers, hat and gloves today. The wind is whipping around and lucky old me is working outside for the next couple of days. I am doing some outside security lights and digging a trench for the lights for a shed.

I was really looking forward to a few days of cool but sunny weather and what do I get? Freezing puddles, mud, sideways rain and flakes of snow! It is supposed to be spring for goodness sake. I don't know what is going on with our weather.

I had the talk of all talks with the wife over the weekend. We sat down and discussed our future and what we want from our lives in the long term. Obviously this new job offer has brought up some big issues. I had to weigh up whether I left my well paid, but stressful job being self employed, only to walk into a possibly more stressful situation.

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Up Go the Insurance Premiums

Well every now and then life turns round and bites you on the bum and I have to say I have been well and truly chewed up and spat out this week. They say these things come in 3's and in my case it seems to be 4's.

I started my week feeling good. I was back on track with my diet and managed a pound and a half at my weigh in. Couldn't ask for better than that really. Who knows if it was my excitement at getting closer to my goal or just stupidity (probably the latter!) but I completely misjudged the length of my van and wallop – straight into a parked car. And who did it turn out to be? The woman who wants her decking done.... The van came off lightly compared to her Mercedes – yes, the most expensive car in the car park and little old me had to hit it. She was OK about it and says she still wants the decking done, but I felt like a right idiot! Up go the insurance premiums....

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We Don't Know How Lucky We Are

You will have all worked out by now that I am not really the sentimental type and bleeding hearts are for other people – not me. But I have to admit that all the news reports about the earthquake in Haiti have really affected me.

I know they are purposely designed to affect me and make me reach into my pocket, but I genuinely feel that we are so privileged in this country and we just don't realise it. A million people without homes, on one small island with no infrastructure, no electricity, no proper government or police and children running around with no parents. It is beyond the comprehension of most of us.

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What a Bodger

I have to say that I have surpassed even my own expectations with my last kitchen. I managed to get it done in just 10 days. I worked late (ish) nights, early mornings and one and a half days over the weekend, but I completed it. To be fair it was just a basic off the shelf kitchen, vinyl floors and normal sized tiles. But it has to be some sort of record for me!

Why – you may ask, have I felt the need to get this one done so quick? Well, Claire has booked us a break away for the end of the school holidays. One which I was in the dark about until she sprang it on me. Of course, I hadn't really considered having time off during the school holidays, so I have had to juggle my time and move things forward a bit.

This week I have started a bathroom which should take me more or less up to the time we head off. However, if things carry on like they have started, I may need to work a few more weekends!

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What a Great Feeling

We are tenanted and all paid up! What a great feeling that is. To get a cheque for two months rent plus another month for the security deposit was fantastic. Especially after waiting for the last few weeks before we could start making money from our investment.

We eventually settled for the professional couple and at a rate of £700 a month – plus we agreed to look after the garden. Well, actually Claire will be doing that, but she doesn't know it yet. Their names are Samantha and Ben and they seem to be a nice couple. Chances are they will never be there as they are both solicitors and work all hours. Still, as long as they pay the rent, I am happy.

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Whatever Happened to Choice?

Chloe's party was a success, if it is possible to describe it as that. In my opinion it was two hours of pure hell, but she was beside herself with excitement and got a million and one plastic presents to entertain her for months.

The make-up artists arrived and all the girls lined up to have their nails painted and adorned with sparkly stuff and stars. Even the boy had been catered for and found himself with black nails and a fake tattoo. Some of the girls wanted the tattoos too. Then they sat down to a massive feast of sweets, cakes, sandwiches and a sprinkling of healthy stuff which wasn't touched. I enjoyed the food bit and still am as the leftovers never made it to the bin – too much waste!

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G L Smith and Sons