AdvicePhil Spencer

Phil Spencer’s Home DIY Dos & Don’ts

Do-it-yourself, it’s tempting. It saves money, you can do it in your own time and finishing a project is always satisfying. On the other hand, the riskier jobs should be left to the professionals. In my experience bad home DIY isn’t just unpleasant to live with, it puts buyers off. If they see an amateur paint job they will wonder whether the more substantial elements, such as plumbing and heating, have been a dodgy DIY job too.

A word of warning, beware of NERDs (Never-Ending-Renovation-Dramas). Half-finished home DIY projects affect at least 14 million UK households, they are something that I witness far too frequently and are responsible for arguments in over a quarter of British families! My advice: only take on projects you can realistically complete and if you’re living with a NERD, call in an expert.

home diy

Stick to what you’re good at!

I have seen hundreds of NERDS over the years, but the most common half finished home DIY jobs have been in family bathrooms. Poor tiling, bad grouting, plaster work not painted, ill fitting extractor fans and leaking shower cubicles are all far too common. Rated People found the top three causes of NERDs to be:

1. Lack of time (47%)

2. Financial situation changed (29%)

3. Lack of skills (22%)

One of the worst cases I have ever seen was a house in the North East where every single room displayed clear evidence of a NERD. A unfinished floor in one room, stripped wallpaper and un-painted walls in another, a half fitted kitchen, dangerous electric sockets throughout, missing bath panels, the list was endless. It was in a good area, but the house had been on the market for ages and prospective buyers viewed it as “undeveloped”. It meant they didn’t trust the quality of the work that had been completed, and because every room needed some kind of attention they all ran a mile.

If you are going to take on a home DIY project here are the do’s and don’ts you need to know to avoid NERDs.

The do’s

  • Choose elegant and timeless designs that are in keeping with the style of your house
  • Attention to detail is essential. If you’re going to do-it-yourself, make sure the result doesn’t look amateurish
  • Only do the things you’re good at
  • Use the best materials you can afford, never scrimp on things like door furniture

The don’ts

  • Undertake jobs you don’t have the skills to complete. It might cost more to get a professional to put right your mistake than it would have cost to employ them to do the job in the first place
  • Skimp on supplies. Buy extra tiles instead of using up any damaged ones or you won’t get the quality finish you’re after
  • Buy cheap paint, it won’t save you money. You will end up having to apply more, the finish won’t be as good and it will have a shorter life-time than good quality paint

diy home

Top tips

  1. Have a go at smaller tasks, many can be easily painted over if they don’t go to plan
  2. Shop around for prices of materials online to compare costs
  3. Use the right tools for the job. If you don’t have the right tools either invest in them or hire a professional
  4. Manage your budget, work out the figures before you start
  5. Always check whether you need planning permission and consult building regulations before you begin
  6. Be realistic: about how long it will take and don’t be tempted to over develop

I’ve often said that you need several hundred pounds worth of tools before you can even save yourself £100 on a tradesman, so unless you really enjoy home DIY as well as being confident in your ability both to finish it and do a decent job – then its often best to call in the specialists!



Looking for tradesmen you can trust? Post your job on Rated People and up to three tradesmen will get in touch to quote on your job. You’ll be able to view their individual profiles, complete with previous customer recommendations, to help you decide who to hire.

Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer doesn’t need much of an introduction, he’s TV’s most well-known property presenter, having co-presented Location, Location, Location and Relocation, Relocation for over 10 years. Phil'ls blog posts focus on adding value and advice/ tips for when you're buying or selling your house.

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