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LC1

DOSBODS DIY bodger thread

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Inspired by the great wood burner thread...

Probably about to buy a 1930s semi that needs a lot of basic renovation. We've been a long time in rental, but I do have a box full of tools and can turn my hand to the odd bit of DIY with fair success.

Past achievements include boxing in a load of heating pipes, making bespoke shelving units to fit into an alcove, putting down paving blocks to make a patio area, laying a few bricks to repair a garden wall, resizing/hanging reclaimed internal doors, digging out and replacing a rotten jamb on external door, laying an engineered wood floor and installing a cast iron fireplace plus surround and slate hearth (purely decorative).

All of these were to a fairly good standard, no bodges, and I like to think I am pretty good at screwing/affixing/joinery kinds of jobs that are not overly technical and just require common sense.

My question is about kitchens and bathrooms, of which I have no real experience...

How confident should I be to be thinking about ripping out and replacing the old 3 piece suite in the bathroom? Can I do 90% of the work and just pay the plumber to plumb in the services and sign it off, or can you not really install and plumb separately?

As for the kitchen, should I feel confident installing the units myself, or is it quite a skilled job to get it all looking top notch? I'm all for saving money but don't want to end up with a wonky looking kitchen!

Any tips or shared experiences welcome!

Happy for this to become the general DOSBODS DIY thread, as always looking to learn new bodger skills :)

Edited by LC1
Smelling

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Just do it but if you do need assistance I would suspect it might be better to approach a tradesperson with a tale that another tradesperson you got in has gone off and left it unfinished rather than you.

I would give my standard advice to all practical stuff you might DIY that you just have to be realistic with self-assessing your own ability. The problem is you will always get people who'll say 'oh it's a piece of piss can't believe anyone pays for someone else to do it' and the alternative view that there'll be automatic dire consequences if you don't get properly trained people to do it. Neither are true.

I've done loads of shopfitting and fitting kitchenettes and toilets etc. over the years the main trick of the trade is knowing how to cover things up to get a pro-looking finish. It's mainly about using things like trim. You then start the job in a way that if you get to the end and if it has gone a bit wrong you can just put a bit of trim in. Basically it's the finish of the sealant job and the shiny metal edging round the tiling where the magic lies. It can also be better sometimes to sacrifice a bit of space in return for a straight run of cabinets, that type of thing.

 

 

Edited by SNACR

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Use the right tools, they say a bad tradesman blames his tools but a tenon saw does not put a nice finish on a laminate worktop no matter how bloody good you are. Working to square / parallel / perpendicular / level surfaces is key to making things easy or easier. 

Ripping out the plumbing - pick accessible single points of entry for hot/cold into the bathroom/kitchen that you can easily isolate, may have to drain down tanks first or just wing it and use speed fit stop ends, all the tools you need are a kopex (or similar) pipe cutter and some abrasive cloth to clean the pipe before cutting and you are done. I would leave all the other plumbing to a plumber - they will be far quicker, but plan all the routes and the final locations you want the plumbing and  have them first fit accordingly. Same with electrics. You could go the plastic route and come off where you isolated the old system and you would be reasonably quick at this but even then a plumber would still be way faster.

Woodworking / other work - would be tempted to concentrate on this - more bang for buck with time/money invested in tooling - , kitchen / bathroom fit out, flooring, skirting, coving,  shelving, storage and alike. Fork out say a grand for a decent  drill driver, sliding compound mitre saw and ideally a track saw for sheet materials and a space laid out to work with those efficiently - garage with large work table, will pay dividends. A router and jig required for worktop mason's tire joint - that one a bit of an acquired skill - may want to leave that to a chippy, track saw would do diagonal joint if happy with that.  

 

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I’ve reasonable DIY skills but nothing special and fitted three kitchens and two bathrooms in different houses. Agree with SNACR about being realistic concerning your own abilities and onlyme's comments about where to use tradesmen and where to focus your own energies. To above advice I would add:

·      completely clear the room(s), strip old wall coverings and get major electrical, plastering, plumbing works done first (yourself or tradesmen) so you start with well-prepared spaces in which to work

·      be really fussy about socket placement, fall in waste pipes, properly supported supply pipes, isolation valves where you will be able to reach them etc

·      ensure floors – particularly in bathrooms – are sound as previous poor pipe runs and lazy electrical routing may have resulted in weak boards and joists that will flex, creak and destroy tiled floors 

·      actual installation of baths, toilets, worktops, units etc. is straightforward but the finish will make or break the job

·      it took me three days to build and install kitchen cabinets and fitted appliances but more than that to fit worktops to out-of-square walls, adjust doors and properly fit trim at the end of runs

·      Your skills may be better than mine but a decent tradesman will work at five or six times my pace so if you cannot do without the kitchen or bathroom for more than a day or two, best not to start as it WILL take longer than expected

 

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Great replies, all of them, thanks.

At work, so just the quickest of replies for now...

I would describe my DIY skills as reasonable, certainty nothing more than basic competence and knowing how to saw, drill, hammer etc and perhaps slightly better than average eye for detail and logical attitude to simple jobs (all the jobs I listed above I've done once only, so very limited experience, but I was pretty good in CDT at school, haha!).

As I see it now, will probably aim to do all the ripping out, as much making good of the bare rooms as possible (bar any plastering, electrics etc) and then as much of the refit as I feel I can get away with without doing a shoddy job.

Good excuse to get some better tools, but I don't want to spend a fortune, and may look second hand... 

I think plumbing is where I'm wondering most about my competence. And wall units for the kitchen. I think I've already decided to leave the worktop to a professional fitter. Ideally we want a quick turnaround on the kitchen as we will likely be moved in at that point. The bathroom probably before we move in.

So much to do, argh :)

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Kitchen:  Understand the need for quick turnaround but definitely worth doing the maths to see cost of kitchen fitter against the inconvenience of “camping out” plus a few days off work.

Unless you want granite, worktops can be ordered online complete with mitre joints or a local chippy will do this for you.

If you go for flatpack kitchen units, the first might take you an hour to put together but after that they’re quick to assemble. Wall units are straightforward to put up but you will probably need a helper if they’re fairly big and possibly a wooden batten if the wall is uneven or not sound.

Seems obvious to say but lots of graph paper, accurate measuring and detailed planning is your friend!

Plumbing:  So long as you know exactly where you want sink(s), basins, toilet etc. (mark the walls where you need them) a plumber could sort out wastes then run hot and cold supply to isolators leaving you just to make final connections.

Tools:  If you’re not cutting worktop mitres or doing anything more than simple plumbing connections then other than a couple of spirit levels, you shouldn’t need any special tools. A good cordless drill and screwdriver will be essential (not one unit that can do both….you’ll go mad swapping over bits) plus quality masonry and wood bits and enough rawlplugs and screws of various sizes. The repeat trips to get additional screws, blades and other bits and pieces really eats into your time.  

 

 

If you do decide to go the route of paying tradesmen to do the full installation you might like to check their prices for ripping out the old fittings. Builders took less than a morning to completely remove a neighbour’s kitchen and bathroom and at less than the cost of hiring a skip and doing it himself.

 

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44 minutes ago, Duck said:

If you do decide to go the route of paying tradesmen to do the full installation you might like to check their prices for ripping out the old fittings. Builders took less than a morning to completely remove a neighbour’s kitchen and bathroom and at less than the cost of hiring a skip and doing it himself.

Well that's an interesting curve ball to my thinking!

Some great tips there, thanks Duck. (No Midlands)

Also, not sure what it might entail exactly, but my wife has a Polish friend who suggested yesterday that she knows some builders (with little English, apparently!) who might do mates rates after hours, or something, so that might be something worth exploring further?!

Actually, thinking about it, maybe I won't do any of it myself?! :D

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5 hours ago, LC1 said:

Well that's an interesting curve ball to my thinking!

Some great tips there, thanks Duck. (No Midlands)

Also, not sure what it might entail exactly, but my wife has a Polish friend who suggested yesterday that she knows some builders (with little English, apparently!) who might do mates rates after hours, or something, so that might be something worth exploring further?!

Actually, thinking about it, maybe I won't do any of it myself?! :D

Lot to be said for that as long as the work is good and up to spec, remember you really do need sign off of various parts of the installation work - most electrics, gas as well as anything else that falls under building control.

Nothing wrong with second hand tools (good makes), nearly all of mine were acquired over a long period second hand, pretty much every one still working still.

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6 hours ago, onlyme said:

Lot to be said for that as long as the work is good and up to spec, remember you really do need sign off of various parts of the installation work - most electrics, gas as well as anything else that falls under building control.

Nothing wrong with second hand tools (good makes), nearly all of mine were acquired over a long period second hand, pretty much every one still working still.

Judging by the amount of sockets, pattress boxes, trunking, switches and the like I sell I would guess there's plenty of unsigned off electrical work going on. Think we used to have signs saying to contact your local council but don't think we do anymore. Wouldn't be surprised if councils didn'r get sick of people phoning up to tell them they were rewiring a plug top.

TBH almost every time I get someone in to do a job I invariably wish I'd done it myself. Had a hydraulic leak on a high level order picking machine that looked like it might be the hose swaged ferrules, was going to just get them from Pirtek myself, or get a hose guy in a van in, but thought haven't got the time will get the engineer in, he'll have done the job a thousand times so at least that'll be it sorted. Well, he went off to Pirtek and got the hoses fitted them and declared it fixed.

I noticed his Halfords brand spanners, which didn't inspire me, and was right. Two hours after he left the leak was back, now at both hose ends, and so bad it put the machine out of action. Dismantled the joint myself and immediately spotted the o-rings were fucked so off to Pirtek for £1.70 worth of o-rings to use on unnecessary new hoses, that with travel time and labour, set me back £600 more than their cost price.

Get stuck in, I say, you might surprise yourself - although the one other thing to assess, other than ability, is probably propensity to start projects and either let them drag on or never finish them.

 

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On 11/08/2017 at 12:29, SNACR said:

I've done loads of shopfitting

Is it only me that always reads that as 'shoplifting'?

Whenever I see a van with 'shopfitters' written on the side I think 'well that's fucking brazen!'

 

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49 minutes ago, Cunning Plan said:

Is it only me that always reads that as 'shoplifting'?

Whenever I see a van with 'shopfitters' written on the side I think 'well that's fucking brazen!'

 

There used to be a builders firm in north London, their name, emblazoned on the side of the van was "Bodgit & Creepaway" 

xD

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We've just heard back from the electrician who has done a survey on the wiring that there are a few bodge jobs not done properly and some earthing missing and generally very old wiring and consumer unit so currently dangerous and he recommends a full rewire.

Am I right in thinking that we need to do all the knocking down of walls and changing room layouts that we were planning on doing later on before we get the rewire done?

And does it make sense to get the same electrician to put in a hardwired burglar alarm system while he's at it?!

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33 minutes ago, LC1 said:

We've just heard back from the electrician who has done a survey on the wiring that there are a few bodge jobs not done properly and some earthing missing and generally very old wiring and consumer unit so currently dangerous and he recommends a full rewire.

Am I right in thinking that we need to do all the knocking down of walls and changing room layouts that we were planning on doing later on before we get the rewire done?

And does it make sense to get the same electrician to put in a hardwired burglar alarm system while he's at it?!

You want to get all the first fix rewiring done when you are knocking the place about with floorboards up, only sensible time to do the majority of the rewiring work, think of it as an opportunity to put switchgear and socket out in the right place and of the right quantity for your needs, something that would cost £150/£200 later on would cost about £30 in extra parts and labour at this point.

I have never seen any PVC cable beyond use (unless overheated) so even if you have PVC that is old wiring code (red and black) don't just presume it is duff, although a lot of lighting cable was put in without earthing with pvc and that should be replaced. Any fixed wiring rubber insulated get rid 100%.

If he's routing the cables then yes probably cheaper to get electrician to route the alarm cables too - he will know the easy locations to feed cabling from the wiring install work he's doing and plan to do the routing at the same time the boards are up or when he's in the loft.

Might as well get him to fit fixed (wired in) fire alarm sensors at the same time too as that will just require tee offs from the existing mains cabling. Never any faff with batteries then and the type that communicate via the mains cable (linked)  will set off all alarms in the house should one trip.

 

Edited by onlyme

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On 8/11/2017 at 17:22, LC1 said:

Well that's an interesting curve ball to my thinking!

Some great tips there, thanks Duck. (No Midlands)

Also, not sure what it might entail exactly, but my wife has a Polish friend who suggested yesterday that she knows some builders (with little English, apparently!) who might do mates rates after hours, or something, so that might be something worth exploring further?!

Actually, thinking about it, maybe I won't do any of it myself?! :D

Just remember that if you don't get on with your neighbours and live in a built up area there are regulations and red tape! If the builders don't stop dead on 1pm on a Saturday the neighbours will be onto the council no doubt. And apparently some neighbours don't realise these regulations do not apply in rural areas... :PissedOff:

 

Stupid bitch! :oB|

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You should be able to do 70% of the kitchen yourself if you are fairly good - majority of rip out/demo, sink plumbing is easy to cap off, washing machine should have valves to isolate. Sparky/plumber to disconect oven/hob if its gas. You can build all the cabinets - get a sparky to do all your socket layout. Get in someone to router & fit your your bench tops. Loads you can do if you in the know. Tiling a splash back is fairly straight froward on a flat level wall.

Everything duck said

Edited by mattydread
dint read thread init

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2 hours ago, mattydread said:

You should be able to do 70% of the kitchen yourself if you are fairly good - majority of rip out/demo, sink plumbing is easy to cap off, washing machine should have valves to isolate. Sparky/plumber to disconect oven/hob if its gas. You can build all the cabinets - get a sparky to do all your socket layout. Get in someone to router & fit your your bench tops. Loads you can do if you in the know. Tiling a splash back is fairly straight froward on a flat level wall.

Everything duck said

I would add, do all the sockets yourself and get sparky to sign it off (only if needed for future reference). Wiring isn't rocket science but needs to follow rules 

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On 01/09/2017 at 14:48, onlyme said:

You want to get all the first fix rewiring done when you are knocking the place about.

Makes perfect sense. Useful advice, thanks!

On 02/09/2017 at 05:33, mattydread said:

You should be able to do 70% of the kitchen yourself if you are fairly good.

Yeah, I suspect you're right. The only thing holding me back is that I know I'll take twice as long, and with two small kids being without a functioning kitchen is a PITA! Plus coordinating to get the trades round on time when I need them to finish off bits and pieces. We'll see...

On 02/09/2017 at 12:04, Green Devil said:

Easy peasy, just fuckin Do it!

Oh, OK then.

:)

Edited by LC1

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On 01/09/2017 at 14:48, onlyme said:

I have never seen any PVC cable beyond use (unless overheated) so even if you have PVC that is old wiring code (red and black) don't just presume it is duff, although a lot of lighting cable was put in without earthing with pvc and that should be replaced. Any fixed wiring rubber insulated get rid 100%.

What's the definition of "first fix" in this context? 

Seen the full report now. He estimates age of the wiring to be 40 years, with some additions 15 years ago, all listed as type A. The bits I saw were red and black inside thickish grey sheathing (flattened profile), though I have no idea whether it was the newer or older stuff. 

One C1, which was wrong fuse wire used in the fuse box and plenty of C2s.

He has quoted £3k for the rewire if house is empty and no carpets. He did initially say that remedial work short of a full rewire could be an option, but the cost of a full rewire wasn't too much more (well, he would say that, wouldn't he!), So that's what he's recommended.

When you say the pvc wire is likely ok (and I agree that I can't really see what could go wrong with it unless overheated or otherwise damaged) what would be the problem in just getting the dangerous bits fixed and new sockets/spurs where needed, if it makes sense cost-wise? I assume no safety issue particularly?

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14 minutes ago, LC1 said:

What's the definition of "first fix" in this context? 

Seen the full report now. He estimates age of the wiring to be 40 years, with some additions 15 years ago, all listed as type A. The bits I saw were red and black inside thickish grey sheathing (flattened profile), though I have no idea whether it was the newer or older stuff. 

One C1, which was wrong fuse wire used in the fuse box and plenty of C2s.

He has quoted £3k for the rewire if house is empty and no carpets. He did initially say that remedial work short of a full rewire could be an option, but the cost of a full rewire wasn't too much more (well, he would say that, wouldn't he!), So that's what he's recommended.

When you say the pvc wire is likely ok (and I agree that I can't really see what could go wrong with it unless overheated or otherwise damaged) what would be the problem in just getting the dangerous bits fixed and new sockets/spurs where needed, if it makes sense cost-wise? I assume no safety issue particularly?

Get another electrician, the cable you have to look out  for is black sheated rubber, I've have not seen one piece of twin and earth (oval type with pvc insulation that has gone bad). OK if there is not earth as this was common for a while for lighting circuits not to have the embedded earth - replace that. Should be no safety issue at all with just replacing non-earthed cabling alone on like for like. Only other cable that might be affected is high current supplies to showers for example where you need to meet minimum earth resistance and current carrying capacity so often thicker cabling is required especially as the trend in showers has been for higher power output. Earth bonding requirements have been upped over the years so would expect to have to upgrade that but that is not big deal, including supplementary bonding to exposed piecework and metal.

First fix - basically when the walls are being knocked about and boards up for structural woodwork and flooring repairs and prior to plastering and making good of the fabric of the house - you chase in all the new/replacement wiring and then let the plasterer get to work to smooth everyone over. First fix gets all the wiring in place with just the socket patresses in place and fixed in prior to walls being finished, second fix the socket/switch plates are all installed.

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Thanks onlyme, very useful!

Building report done yesterday, not seen the report yet but summary gist in an email said property basically sound, but some high damp readings downstairs. Oh, and garage doors need replacing. This is beginning to look like more of a time-consuming money pit than we first thought... 

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31 minutes ago, LC1 said:

Thanks onlyme, very useful!

Building report done yesterday, not seen the report yet but summary gist in an email said property basically sound, but some high damp readings downstairs. Oh, and garage doors need replacing. This is beginning to look like more of a time-consuming money pit than we first thought... 

Most situations building reports / surveys = arse covering exercise to shake off liability in case of any legal comeback as they don't want to have to claim on their own liability insurance should they miss something, anything and everything gets lobbed in.  Taking a builder mate round is good - they can tell you what is an issue and how much to fix, we lobbed a structural surveyor half a ton to give us his personal verbal view, we were pretty much committed by then anyway, I just wanted to be sure on some heave mainly. Don't think I even bothered reading the homebuyers report that the mortgage company insisted on.

Mind you the reports are sometimes useful for hacking down the price a bit more.

 

 

Edited by onlyme

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47 minutes ago, onlyme said:

Most situations building reports / surveys = arse covering exercise 

.

Mind you the reports are sometimes useful for hacking down the price a bit more.

Yeah, we were of two minds whether to just get the lender's valuation, or go full building survey. Homebuyer is a total waste of time, as far as I can see. 

We're hoping to renegotiate the price a bit based on the report.

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3 hours ago, OurDayWillCome said:

Turned my hand to a bit of bricklaying - bit slow at it but the result was worth it 😊IMG_3091.thumb.JPG.0bc9947b5ecf4a85f91561dc987665d1.JPG

That's a very neat job, I'm impressed. Nice one.

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