Some dos and don’ts for DIY
For most of my adult life I’ve lived in houses that have needed to be ‘done up’. This means that I have to be able to carry out certain practical duties in order to improve the run down, leaky, damp, badly decorated, ill maintained hovel that Lady Barton St Mary has chosen as her main residence.
I am fortunate enough to have good DIY skills, being a qualified carpenter/joiner, but would never classify myself as a DIY ‘enthusiast’. I think this term is usually used by individuals who are either too skint or too stingy to pay somebody else to do it. When it comes to a choice between Pro Evolution Soccer on the X Box and stripping wallpaper, I’m afraid an afternoon of Master League action would win every time. But I’m middle aged. I have a large country pile that’s trying desperately to fall down and it’s my job to stop it.
So, here are a few dos and don’ts I’ve learned over the years.
DO TAKE NOTICE OF YOUR PARTNER
Lady Barton St Mary usually decides which project is next. It may be difficult, tiring and require long hours, but don’t worry. She’s convinced you can do it. Remember, your partner’s interest in such projects tends to wane during the process of completion, since they have already moved on to the next project. Do not fear. Any mistakes, redesigns, missed areas of painting or general snagging details will be noted so as to help you to perfect your DIY project.
DO KEEP A FIRST AID KIT NEARBY
If carrying out DIY jobs, be aware that however small and seemingly straightforward a task may seem, there is a chance that at any moment you could be stabbed, cut, gouged, pinched, burned, electrocuted, bruised, battered, maimed or killed. A first aid kit will help. Your partner will not, having turned all their attention to the next project.
DON’T EXPECT HELP WITH FLAT PACK INSTRUCTIONS OR DESIGNS
Remember. Most flat pack items are designed by people who don’t use flat pack items. These people are known as innovative designers, but most DIY victims called them ‘pencil necked doe eyed f***wits at some point during the construction of one of their creations. Flat pack materials have a tendency to vary in quality, so you may find some products made from aluminium with the resistant qualities of chewing gum wrapper or, worse still, stale marshmallow. The diagrams and instructions can also be rather hard to follow. You may be trying to construct a shaker style magazine rack, but it will be depicted in the instructions sketch as something reminiscent of a hang glider for a fruit bat, with the accompanying command to ‘locate the screw indicator to the large flange, swivelling watch-like.’
Flat packs like to lie dormant and seemingly compliant before suddenly leaping out and causing injury. See section on first aid.
DO BE AWARE WHEN DRILLING HOLES IN WALLS
Generally, there are two types of wall.
I don’t know what the most impenetrable stone-like material on the planet is (I could Google I suppose) but some of the walls in my house are made of it. This melts all drill bits or holds them tightly whilst the electric drill whips your wrist in a circular motion, so that all the ligaments in your arm are the wrong way round.
Then at other times you introduce the drill bit to a section of mortar that appears to be made of Victoria sponge. The 6mm mortar bit rather disappointingly makes a 50mm hole, removing all the plaster in a 75mm radius from the epicentre. Over the years, DIY people learn to use different combinations of mortar, wire wool, filler and expanding foam, depending on the resultant damage. With care, the correct size hole can be drilled and coat hangers, for example, can be fixed to the wall, but only until something is hung on them. Miss Katherine’s lacy pants, for example.
In both instances, be careful not to drill through the 3mm grey mains electric wiring hidden in the plaster that hasn’t been protected in a conduit, leading to the drill operative being thrown 3 ft across the room in a shaking heap. Don’t ask how I know.
DON’T PLAY WITH WATER
Upon investigating errant water pipes in rooms you are decorating, be aware that some knobhead may have bent it by hand, thus causing cracks and a fracturing of the pipe which is under mains pressure. This may lead to an hour of screaming help and the foulest, inappropriate swear words whilst your neighbour’s dining room below is completely flooded and makes their ceiling fall down. This results in having to pay several hundred pounds towards repairs and the outside chance that your neighbour will punch you (see section on first aid kit).
a) Buy a maintenance free new house
b) Find some way of making heaps of money so that some other fool has to do it.
These are only basic guidelines to DIY, of course. If you want more detail, ask somebody else. I have to go. I can hear dripping water somewhere, can’t you?…