In today’s post we look at how to set Planning priorities, and let you know which DIY jobs you should be doing first.
As with most jobs around the home you can save money by doing as much of the work as possible yourself, this way you can avoid paying for labour costs of a professional tradesperson, you will know the quality of the work being carried out and you will gain a sense of satisfaction when you complete the work.
The downside to this is how much time you can spend on the project.
In order to benefit fully and make the most of your time, prioritising and planning a job should always be the first thing you do.
Careful forward planning will save you loads of time in the long run, and help avoid any pitfalls.
So no matter how big or small your next DIY project, spend a little time planning the work and you will avoid wasting time or having to do things twice.
Look out for more great information on other DIY topics in our regular
Setting DIY Priorities
No two homes are the same and circumstances will be different for everyone, for example, a family moving into a new home with children will not be able to spend every day working to fix or renovate the property in one go, whereas a property developer who earns a living renovating homes will be able to devote their time to complete an entire property, and the following is a guide to help you make the most of your time.
When you buy a new property and you should always have a full survey carried out by a qualified professional they will complete a report of the general condition of the building and highlight any major areas of concern, these should always be your first priority.
Once the items listed in the surveyor’s report are dealt with it’s a good idea to sort out any problems that can cause deterioration of the property.
Starting with the exterior fixing any major issues and then work on the interior.
Damp & Dry Rot
Some of the issues that should be dealt with at this stage include Dry rot, rising damp, penetrating damp.
These are caused by fungal spores which multiply in damp conditions and can seriously damage wooden structures and masonry, leaving it too long and repairs can become involved and costly.
Loose or cracked masonry
Not only is loose masonry hazard if it falls, but it can also be a sign of more serious issues, problems with foundations can lead to walls collapsing and need to be investigated and repaired immediately.
Much like damp can cause severe damage to timbers and woodwork. The term describes all kinds of wood-boring insects, weevils, furniture beetles amongst others which lay eggs in wood and the larvae then chew its way out leaving tiny holes in the timber.
There are several treatments to destroy the eggs and depending on the size of the problem it can be treated by yourself or a specialist contractor.
Including downpipes and drains, can cause all sorts of issues inside and outside your home, making good any leaks will ensure that further damage is avoided.
Make sure that any drains are in good condition and check with local authorities before you undertake any work that may compromise or alter the drainage or clean water supply.
Can make life miserable in a modern home, we use electrical equipment every day and unstable or unsafe wiring can be very hazardous and even lethal and should be repaired as quickly as possible.
Always remember to work safely and if you are unsure seek professional advice.
Are not only unsightly but can be a major problem both for safety and security.
Walls that need to be repaired should be supported properly whilst being worked on.
It is a good idea to seek advice for areas that are complicated or required loads to be supported, as this can require specialized tools and techniques and whilst you may save some money, however, you can waste your time if the work is not done correctly.
Leaky roofs can be easy to fix if the problem is a small one, repairing damaged flashing or ripped roofing felt are relatively small jobs, however, where structural damage is occurring in timbers, etc it’s best to seek professional advice, check with your local authority building inspector.
Once you have tackled all the urgent repairs and made sure that no further damage will occur to the structure of the building you can move on to improve things.
Making sure your home is secure from intruders is always a priority and adding locks to all vulnerable doors and windows should be high on the list of DIY jobs.
Changing a lock is not a difficult job so long as you have the keys to both the old and the new lock.
Check out my post on Upgrading your home security to find out more about changing door locks
When you purchase a new property the first thing you will be given, once all monies have exchanged, are the keys, and the first thing you should Change are the locks to the front and rear doors, you can never know who may have a spare copy of the old set.
This happened in my current house, several months after we had moved in, a gardening contractor knocked on the door to hand over an old set of keys that the previous owner had given them, had I not changed the locks this person if so inclined could have entered without anyone knowing.
Alarms and CCTV
Make your home security truly formidable when combined with good locks and can deter most criminals.
If you are spending time away from the property they are a very good idea and with modern WI-FI technology are not as expensive or difficult to fit as they used to be.
Health and Safety
Smoke & Gas detectors
These are a great idea if you are spending time in the property and can save your life in the event of a fire, they are relatively cheap and easy to install.
Fire extinguishers and fire blankets
Are always a good idea to have around as it can mean the difference between a local bit of smoke damage and the total destruction of your home.
Please make sure that in the event of a fire you always get out of the property and call the fire brigade, and don’t try to tackle a blazing house yourself.
Regulations and Approval
If you are undertaking any building work, either by yourself or through a contractor its a good idea to check your local authorities planning and build regs, and where needed apply for the required permits and approvals before committing to making changes, the last thing you need is to have approval refused as ultimately the work will need to be undone.
Now that your home is waterproof, you can look at other roofing repairs, for example, any damaged or missing tiles/slates/shingles can be replaced.
Repairs to faulty flashing can be made to help maintain the life of your property
Small repairs to faulty or damaged roofing or sarking felt can be carried out on dry days.
Remember that when working at a height never work alone and always follow health and safety guidelines, if you are unsure then seek advice from a specialist.
Remember SAFETY FIRST.
Repairing or replacing faulty timbers can be a large scale job and needs to be planned carefully, what tools are required? Will scaffolding be needed? Planning a DIY project properly will mean smooth running and a good job done in the quickest time.
Insulation and Ventilation
Once the roof has been repaired and is structurally sound, insulation can be upgraded.
Using good quality insulation that meets current regulations will mean your home stays cooler in the summer and warmer in winter saving energy and money.
Be sure to check that roof spaces are properly ventilated, as this will also help reduce your energy bills and avoid build-up of moisture which can cause more damage.
At this stage repointing chimneys can be carried out, however, if you require other areas of brickwork that need this kind of work it may be better to combine the work, this can save you costs on scaffolding and tool hire as you only have to pay once.
Whilst access is available to these areas any other remedial work should be completed such as repairing damaged flaunching and securing loose chimney pots.
Not every property will need all of this work, I would certainly hope not.
But once these exterior jobs are complete you can look at DIY jobs inside the property.
Now that the exterior of your property has been fully renovated, it’s time to set to work on the interior, this can be where the DIY enthusiast can really come into their own, as internal jobs tend to be on a smaller scale and are more manageable than some of the projects we have already discussed.
The first thing to consider when planning interior jobs are alterations, its best to make major interior alterations and structural changes before doing anything else, as this avoids potential issues of repeating work, damaging completed rooms and clearing up the unavoidable mess.
Kitchen and bathroom
Installations are part of this stage of planning, as they include considerations for locating plumbing for taps and drains, Electrical outlets for appliances amongst other things
Remove or build dividing walls
First, make sure that anything you want to remove is not structural or load-bearing, this should be checked by a qualified Engineer prior to any work being carried out.
Other major and messy jobs should be tackled before the smaller details, open up or close off doors and hatches and make good again,
Make sure that things are checked by a qualified Engineer before removing brickwork.
Can be knocked out or replaced with something more your style, if you intend to open up the fireplace and fit a Woodburner for example, then ensure the building work is sound and checked by a qualified Engineer and any gas or electrical connections made good by a competent person.
Installing a new burner and chimney flue can also be done at this stage. Following local codes and health and safety regulations is very important
All of the above jobs should be carried out in line with local authority codes and regulations and may need to be inspected so it’s a good idea to include this in your conversations with your local building inspector.
The last thing anyone wants is expensive or dangerous structural issues to sort out.
Once all the major building alterations are complete the task of supplying services to the required areas is next, in reality, consideration for piping and cabling runs should be allowed when planning any alterations, this will enable obstacles and difficult areas to be highlighted and avoided if possible making things easier and quicker for the jobs to follow.
Includes installing or modifying heating and plumbing systems, fitting pipework to outlets for taps in kitchens and showers in bathrooms and the required drainage to remove any wastewater.
This is an area of DIY that many people can and do for themselves, tooling is not prohibitively expensive and skills learned here can be applied to other areas of DIY.
Its something I tend to do for myself and have used my skills to refit bathrooms and kitchens saving me money and means that timing doesn’t rely on others or their schedules.
Gas plumbing tends to be highly regulated in today’s environment and is probably best left to specialist qualified contractors.
Is something the regular DIY enthusiast can undertake, from rewiring plugs and updating old sockets to moving light fittings, however, simple rules should be followed to work safely and avoid any issues.
Ensure that any wiring you intend to work on is properly disconnected to any power supply and always check the cable is ‘Dead’ before you start.
There are areas that need to be completed by qualified electricians particularly near wet areas such as the bathroom and kitchen.
If you are unsure then always seek specialist advice and always check local regulations before starting any work.
Insulation & Ventilation
A properly insulated home can save you a great deal in heating and cooling costs and with today’s ever-increasing electricity and fuel prices making sure your floors, loft spaces and walls are well-insulated pays dividends.
In addition. fitting updated AAA-rated double glazing windows and doors will reduce wasted energy and also make your home more secure.
At this stage, it helps to ensure your home is also properly ventilated keeping damp and condensation at bay.
Repairs and Renovations
Now that the alterations and building work are covered and your property is looking less like a bomb site, you can begin to plan and tackle the repairs and renovations to create a well finished and high-quality home.
Anywhere that damage from wear and tear has occurred will need a little bit of TLC, in particular items that are in constant use.
Doors and windows
May need to be revitalised, repairing dents, or cracks and painting can breathe new life into existing parts.
If you are looking to update the feel of your interior space replacing doors can be very effective.
Prior to painting and decorating the interior, walls may need to be repaired or have damaged plaster replaced.
Plastering is an art form and can be learned however, it does take practice and patience to get right.
I have never got the hang of plastering. I can happily work on small areas but I would personally look for help when large areas or complete walls need rework.
Once walls are smooth and looking good, it is the woodworks turn to be treated, consider fitting or repairing skirtings, door architraves and other decorative finishes around openings
Spending time preparing these areas makes for a high-quality finish.
Whilst you are getting the hang of trimming woodwork and your DIY skills are improving, consider planning for any built-in cupboards or storage that will make your home easy to maintain and keep clean and tidy
It’s a problem we all have collecting stuff, and built-in cupboards make great additions and allow you to hide the mess (if you have any!!)
Now that the construction work is complete and you have the blank canvas to work on you can look at decorating your property, there are as many different styles and techniques as there are people on the planet, and each will make their own choices based on various options.
As with most things the ‘Devil is in the detail’ and when it comes to getting a good high-quality finish to your property, spending time preparing surfaces for finishing is where the majority of your time will be going.
Filling and sanding and cleaning
Can be hard and grubby work but it is worth the effort and as a DIY expert by now you will know how important preparation is.
It can be the difference between getting a good finish and a GREAT finish.
Is key now that all the dirty work is done spending a little time cleaning up and removing any dust or dirt will make this easier in the final decorating stages,
Painting and Wallpaper
Now it’s time to apply the final finish to your interior, whether you paint or hang wallpaper, start with the ceilings first.
Make sure that you apply paint to the ceiling and walls up to the final coat
Paint the woodwork, using good quality brushes and undercoat, this will help get a great finish
These last few tasks are the ones where you see the benefits of your preparation as the finish will be much better so now you can apply the final coat on woodwork & then finish by ‘Cutting-in’
If you have chosen not to paint your walls, now is the time to hang wallpaper.
This can be an overwhelming task, the sheer size of rooms and the nature of flooring is not easy to handle and always get a good finish.
I favour using a contractor for laying carpets or linoleum, however, wooden flooring or tiling is a DIY job I enjoy doing and can be very satisfying to complete.
Fit curtains and blinds
It may seem slightly destructive having to drill holes in the fresh new walls you have just finished but putting up curtain poles and blinds for soft furnishings is the last job for interior decorations
Well done, great job!
the interior of your property should be finished and something you can be proud of… now onto the outside!!
Once the inside of your property is complete and ready to use, your attention and DIY skills can be turned to improving the outside areas.
Repair outside walls
replacing any damaged, cracked or spalled bricks, these should be the ones that do not pose a structural issue for large cracks or damaged areas, treat these as urgent and fix them sooner, to avoid further issues.
Patch damaged rendering
I am not a fan of rendering as it requires regular maintenance to be kept in the best condition I would recommend where possible to remove it and clean up the brickwork below,.
However if you prefer to have this finish or where removing it is not possible, repair the damaged areas and treat them with a good quality masonry finish, look for products with at least a 10 year protection period.
Remove any old or damaged mortar and repoint the area to give a solid and weatherproof finish.
Garages and Outhouses
Exterior Outbuildings need to be dry and secure as well and windows, doors, and gates can be repaired and renovated.
By applying the painting skills and techniques that you have gained, you can give them a new lease of life and ensure they last for a lot longer and look great.
Refit locks and latches
These can often be cleaned oiled and replaced, it is also a good idea to upgrade or add additional security to outbuildings or external access to improve your home security.
Wood and Metal
Clean repair faulty wood and metalwork, any external surfaces will become worn over time and removing any rust or damaged areas a repairing them will mean that they last a lot longer.
Paint/varnish, treating the repair areas to a good hard-wearing surface finish will keep them looking fresh and protect them from the elements for many years.
The last area to set as a priority is the garden. There can be some big projects here if you want to remodel your outdoor living spaces, the only limitation is your imagination and possibly your wallet.
Using these projects can be a great way to learn new DIY skills and practice and improve the skills you already have.
Repair Walls and replacing fences
Maintains your property boundary and can make a garden look complete, especially when high wind and rough weather can make fences look tattered and worn.
Laying paving and build steps
Making access to your garden easy, allows visitors to follow the path you have chosen, and enhances the look and feel of the space.
When planning your garden layout, ensure you have wide enough paths to use for maintenance access as well.
Ponds, water gardens and water features
If you are lucky enough to have room for a pond or water garden they can turn your garden into a fabulous place to spend time, for smaller areas a well-chosen water feature can add a relaxing feel to more compact spaces.
Rockery and Raised Beds
Building a rockery is a great way to add variation to your garden if you are planning to create a rockery, always plan to do so before planting takes place and choose plants that will enhance the area.
Conservatories and Gazebos
Planning and building a conservatory can be a big project and should be considered carefully if the design or requirements mean interaction with other areas of the property then consider having the building work done at the same time as other construction jobs to avoid unnecessary disruption.
If the building is to be standalone then it can be left until other work is completed.
Grass lawns are a complete subject in themselves and we discuss options in other great posts follow the links to find out more
Once you have your garden layout and the construction complete you can lay the beds and plant your shrubs, flowers, and trees.
Then sit back a wait of the glorious colours and fragrances to fill the air whilst you relax and admire your work
All to do again on the next property.
Other links you might like
Check out other great tips on our weekly Podcast
Get access to great DIY Tips and Tricks and join our friendly community