Does anyone have the phone number for DIY SOS?


Painting. In the hands of a creative genius, I daresay the process is enjoyable and the result a delight. In the hands of an impatient incompetent, it’s a different story.

So, I have a new house which needs work, and three days to paint three rooms – and with the third day now drawing to a close, on reflection I’m thinking this may have been an optimistic target.

I like the idea of painting, it’s just the practicalities that get in the way. Here’s how shit went down this week:

Preparation – lose the will to live as you apply masking tape to get smooth lines everywhere and then realise that the corners aren’t proper corners and the ceiling isn’t at a true 90 degree angle with the wall. Attempt to fling to the floor the (many) bits of masking tape that have curled in on themselves and now seem to be sticker than No More Sodding Nails. With the room now doused in masking tape move on to step two…

Application – find something to open the paint tin with. Realise that you no longer own a toolbox and the house is empty so ask a loved one if they have a suitable implement. Repeat the process several times for; something to stir the paint with, something to protect the floor with and (my particular favourite) something to get paint off the 0.01% of the room that isn’t covered in masking tape and you don’t actually know how paint even got there maybe it’s because Professional Widow by Tori Amos came on the radio and you were flailing your arms about pretending to be 18 again. This process is now referred to as ‘irritating the crap out of your nearest and dearest due to thinking that preparation is just putting masking tape around a room’. Moving on…

Application, part two – get started with a roller. Or debate the merits of paint rollers with your dad who is a BRUSH PUREST and will then spend the next four hours telling you why as you both paint the walls using your preferred method. Get paint in hair, on socks, on the floor (because you didn’t realise it was on your socks…) and start to wonder if you could get away with just doing the one coat.

Admire your work – survey your handiwork while drinking a nice cup of tea. Casually attempt to take off some of the masking tape, and forgetting its earlier No More Nails show of strength, wonder why it has taken half the wall away with it.

Now I get why there are unfinished DIY projects in homes across the land. The initial enthusiasm dies off as the reality of rectifying mistakes and the realisation sets in that it’s unlikely the project will be completed by the time Corrie’s on (‘Yep,’ says Bob – the builder, obvs – as he surveys another DIY bodge job: ‘Trouble is, that wall you’ve just tried to take out is an RSJ…’).

My vision was for different colours, a dado rail (which, the Brush Purest insists is not a true dado rail as it’s not protecting furniture… what should I call it then? Wall feature?!!!), one wall of wallpaper and some clouds on the ceiling of the boy’s room. What I have actually achieved is two half done rooms. How has this taken three days? I worked ALL day! I can’t even look at the third room now without breaking out into a sweat.

So I’m now making this shameless plea to DIY SOS. I’ll finish off the two half painted rooms, if you take on the third. Aaaaaaaaaand… the back garden needs some turf and the smallest bathroom in the world needs replacing. Oh, and it needs to be done by next week. Sounds good, yeah?!




Are houses just money pits?

I remember loving the film ‘The Money Pit’ – with Tom Hanks and Goldie Hawn as a young, enthusiastic couple gradually worn down by the realities of owning a home that they would ‘do up’. If you haven’t seen in then it’s a good way to waste a rainy Sunday afternoon – if you don’t have children, obvs, otherwise you’ll be watching something like Cars 2… Anyway, the gist is that the pair are met by a succession of mini house disasters which culminate in a giant hole in the middle of their home. Despite my depressing synopsis, it is actually funny. (Of course it is, Tom Hanks AND Goldie Hawn are in it!)

Why am I reminiscing about an 80s film that I haven’t seen for about ten years? Well, two weeks ago I finally got the keys to the new home I have bought for me and the boy and the dog. It’s not the first time my name has been on a mortgage… but it is the first time my name has appeared alone. I should be excited, but I’ve never felt so out of my depth. Actually, that’s a lie, the last time I felt this out of my depth was shortly after the birth of my son. But that’s another blog post.

Woah, that got serious quite quickly… where was I?!

Ah yes, since ‘the family home’ sold last summer, me and the boy and the dog have been residing with my parents. (My mother is not known for her patience and so to have put up with us all for eight months deserves a medal.) Following much daily lamentation about the lack of suitably affordable properties, a ‘for sale’ sign appeared in the house across the road. After a short debate about whether I should buy a house so close to my parents, who also take on a big chunk of the baby/dog sitting, I put in an offer and it was accepted (after the usual ridiculousness of each side – yes, I know I’m one half of this –  bartering until they feel they have a ‘bargain’).

And so the house is mine. It is not the ‘new build that will require no work whatsoever’ that I had envisaged eight months ago. The house needs a little bit of work – a new bathroom, replacement windows and doors, turfing of the back garden and a LOT of paint. To a seasoned DIYer, it wouldn’t look like much of a project at all. But, I’m no DIYer. I’m a procrastinator. Not a great combination. And as I’m living out of my parents’ spare bedroom while I sort the house, procrastination is not good.

In the past, DIY projects would invariably involve compromising with my ex over colour, price and style. Now it’s just me. And my son, who when asked what colour he would like his bedroom to be painted, replied; ‘Red, blue, green and yellow’. With a brown carpet thrown in for good measure. (I’m sure the more creative readers of this blog have already come up with a great idea for such a colour scheme…).

With very limited finance available, I’m stuck when it comes to making any kind of decision. Yup, ‘first world problems’ springs to mind. I’ve given more consideration to paint colours than I did when it came to choosing A Levels. More time deciding on the smallest, one-up-from-least-expensive bath than reading through the mortgage paperwork.

And, so far, every decision has been met with further expense. Either rectifying previous DIY endeavours by the former owners, or wanting something slightly different than what was there before. The latest being replacing laminate flooring with carpet… which apparently, isn’t quite as easy as laying a carpet over the wood…

Added to this has been the insurance – not just home insurance, but one for in case your water pipes leak, another in case you die before paying off the mortgage, and what if that fridge freezer you bought five minutes ago breaks? Or the sofa falls apart? Yup, you definitely need insurance for that too. (While I was actually offer insurance for the last two, I didn’t take up the offer…)

I thought it would be exciting to make decisions on my own, after more than a decade of living with someone else. But actually, it’s unsettling. I don’t regret the divorce. Just the ending of sharing a life with someone (as in another adult, not the boy!). Guess it’s time to put on the big girl pants and get on with it.