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Hang up your DIY hammer and save yourself a fortune

Web chats tv

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You could be saving yourself a fortune according to TV designers Justin Ryan and Colin McAllister by avoiding bodged DIY jobs which can force homeowners to drop the price of the homes when they come to put them on the market. Justin and Colin joined us to share the secrets they have learned in making these programmes.

The Transcript

bob wants to know: "My wife would like me to renovate the bathroom as it hasn't been done in 10 years. I am not very handy when it comes to DIY but we can't really afford it right now. Any simple ideas that we could do just to make it look a little better?" 

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:


Colin: Hopefully you'll be starting off with a white bathroom suite. Justin: And if you are it's actually the easiest colour to decorate around. Think of terms of changing flooring and tiles and possibly adding a new blind or curtains. Finally, lighting can make all the difference and finally, finally...give it a good clean because a clean out of date bathroom can look better than a dirty bathroom, so stick your rubber gloves on and get going...don't leave it to the wife.


Dale Skipper wants to know:

  "our house has been on the market for 3 months now. lt's a great house which has just been filmed for the BBC programe To Buy or Not to Buy. Why is it taking so long to sell, we have only had about 6 viewings? Has the market died? We live just outside Fakeham Norfolk in a Victorian farm workers cottage help." 

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:


Colin: You have to look at the competition and decide if your house is competitively priced. Justin: Very often your expectation and market value can be entirely different things. Colin: Also look at other properties on with your estate agent, are they selling? If not, it could be there is problem with your agent. Ashley: The market has not died but it is definitely slowing down. Think carefully about whether now is the right time to move. You may get a better price for your property after Christmas or when the market picks up again.


Andy wants to know:

  "What's the worst DIY disaster you have seen?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: Without a shadow of a doubt, a house in Romford on our last series of How Not to Decorate on Channel 5. The owners had completely clad the front of the building with fake stone work and it looked like the Ok Corral. All very well in Texas, but lousy in Essex!


Neil wants to know:

  "You guys have a no nonsense approach on your show, do you always get what you want?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: No we don't unfortunately, we do try and push our builders as much as possible but at the same time we are quietly realistic and know that they can only do so much in a limited time...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

...Justin: People ask us why we scare and we say because we care!! Ashley: I'm speechless!


Barry wants to know:

  "I have to work to a budget and would rather spend my money on good quality paint and do the job myself rather than pay someone. Is this really going to reduce the value of my house?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: Not if you are up to the task. If Barry is an excellent painter and decorator then he should do the job himself. If on the other hand, he is a well intentioned amateur his money would be better spent employing a decorator...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

...Ashley: Remember, think carefully about how much money you have to spend on this project. You could find if you do this yourself and you muck it up, you'll have to spend the same again and employ a professional to rectify. It's often worth investing money in getting a professional to do the job for you because you can be assured of a quality finish.


Julian wants to know:

  "What is the male obsession with DIY?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: I find that there is general obsession with home improvement that is not gender specific. As far as I'm concerned this can only be good news because our homes are, after all are the biggest investment we are likely to make. With this in mind we should never cease to stop nesting and to continue investing...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

...Colin: All the boys I know, are absolutely obsessed with tools!


Gemma wants to know:

  "If you have no savings available to spend what ways are there of funding any improvements to the value of the property?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Ashley: If you have a mortgage, with flexible features such as cash reserve, you may be able to draw down the equity in your property to help fund your home improvement project. This is often an economical way of borrowing money and can be at lower rates than your average high street loan. Think of your mortgage as your friend - as a financial planning tool!


Jimmy wants to know:

  "Why were you late? I've only got my lunch hour...honestly celebs, never think of anyone else!!" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: We have been doing radio interviews all day and they ran a little late. Also our flight down here was a little late, so both things conspired to delaying our arrival. But now we are here, we are delighted to help!

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

...Colin: The truth is, Justin spent way too long in make up...


Barry wants to know:

  "What is the most common DIY disaster that people make?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: Theming rooms and badly installed kitchens and bathrooms, oh and badly installing budget laminated floors...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Ashley: Taking on a large DIY job can often result in disaster - this can be a false economy. Plan your project carefully and consider investing in employing professional people to do a good job that will add value to your home...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

..Colin: Tiling is best left to professionals...


Jill M wants to know:

  "What sort of loans can I get which will help with renovation costs?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Ashley: Consider using your flexible mortgage to help with your renovation costs. More than 60% of our Freestyle mortgage customers are doing just that by drawing down available equity from their property. You can pay this off over a term that suits you and borrow at low mortgage rates.


Alison wants to know:

  "With a small bathroom, is it better to include a big shower or a small bath?" and Peter wants to know: "I'm thinking of putting in a wetroom type shower. Any particular tips?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: If you are selling your family house it will always be better to include a bath. Our top tip is to know your market. Speak to your neighbors and local estate agents to address area specific needs. Armitage Shanks do fantastic showers which we consider the best on the market, give them a call...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

...Colin: Installing a wet room requires proper drainage. It can be difficult to achieve the angle required to drain water away. So consider a step up into your shower enclosure and this will make the job easier.


Shannon wants to know:

  "What are your views on the property market at the moment?" and Holly Brookes wants to know: "My partner and I are considering selling our flat. Should we wait now until after Christmas?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: The property market at the moment appears to have slowed down a little but this could also be due to the fact that Christmas is only several weeks away - a traditionally quiet time. To get the best price, hold back if you can afford to until the beginning of the year...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

... Ashley: Normally, we would expect to see the market pick up from February onwards. If you can hold off from selling until then you may be able to get a better price for your house... it is dependant though on what's happening in the market at that time.


And Holly Brookes now wants to know:

  "If we do wait until after Christmas should we arrange an agent now?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: Perhaps it is a better idea when your house is at its tidiest and all the relatives have gone home. When the tree is down and the decorations are all back up in the loft your house will look more market appropriate. Happy Christmas and good luck for next year...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: Just as you are looking forward to winding down at the end of the year, so too is your estate agent. So it makes sense to hold off on selling until the New Year. That includes taking estate agents pictures.


Darren wants to know:

  "What is the worst/stupidest thing in your home you could attempt to do yourself?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: Anything that is potentially dangerous such as electrical issues, plumbing, plastering, building or roofing. You really should value your personal safety and value your property enough to do the right thing and employ a professional.

Justin, Colin and Ashley  

 ...Ashley: I'm sure you would rather be spending your money by employing professionals to improve your home than paying the price if you have an accident when attempting something like fitting new roof tiles.




Clare wants to know:

  "Is it better to spend money renovating your kitchen or your bathroom in order to add value to your property?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: Both of these rooms are rooms that buyers inherit fully furnished. As such what they see is what they get! And the better the vision the better the price. If anything the kitchen might have the financial edge.

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

...Ashley: We're seeing more and more of our Freestyle mortgage customers investing in their kitchen, bathroom or both. Kitchens are becoming increasingly popular with families as a space that can be called the hub of the home. Eating in is now the new going out. And for those that want to relax investing in a quality bathroom is becoming very popular - a spa sanctuary to enjoy after a long day.


Pete wants to know:

  "What colours are in season for decorating the lounge area?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: Good to know Pete that your using the words "in season". Seasonal adjustment is a buzz area for us at the moment. The way forward for decorating is to create a clean canvas that you can change the moods and temperature of by changing simple accessories. A cream lounge with cream furniture will look boring until it is injected with colour to seasonalise it. The autumn colours we are using are berry shades, plums, chocolates and raspberries. And these should be used on cushions, throws, soft furnishings and artworks.


Bert wants to know:

  "Why are Solicitors constantly out of touch when you need them the most? Would I be better off getting a law degree and doing the conveyancing myself?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: When you pay for what is called conveyancing you are paying for the full battery of attentive service. As such , it is your legal right to demand exactly how much attention you need and when you need it. Have the confidence to call your lawyer should he or she be difficult to reach and explain while they might be dealing with many properties your sale is your prime interest and as such you must be kept fully informed at all times. Remember you are paying them.


Gill wants to know:

  "I have a 70s retro kitchen - and not in a good way! What is the best way to update cheaply without having to fully refit?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Ashley: If the cabinets are sound think in terms of new doors and work tops. If not it could be a false economy and a complete refit might be what's needed. This might not cost as much as you think, speak to friends and neighbours who have had quality jobs done in their own homes for a personal recommendation on which professional you can hire for the job.


Leo wants to know:

  "How long have you guys been an item?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: 86 years....



  Leo wants to know: "How long have you guys been an item?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: It will be twenty years in April.


Ben Sheppard wants to know:

  "I reserved a new house back in September. I have quite a long chain, 6 buyers, but it was described as 'solid'. I was pleased when all agreed an Exchange of 1st November and completion of 19th November, as I had these dates imposed on me by the builder. Firstly, we have still not exchanged. Now at the 11th hour, the first time buyer/muppet at the bottom of the chain (cause of all the problems), has decided that he does not want to complete until the 17th December as he has just realised he will be doubling up on rent and mortgage! I have offered to pay the rent if he completes on the 19th Nov as planned, for which he is grateful. However they will not exchange or give any indication of completion until the 19th Nov.....the day we are supposed to move. Do you know of a good hit man who can track down this guy for me if he does not complete. Or alternatively is there anything else I can do? 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: Blimey! Are you the Ben Sheppard from GMTV? Chains are a horrible scourge of the English property market and they are very easy to break, a good property lawyer can answer this question more than we can. We would recommend Sarah Rees Jones in Seven Oaks Kent. Having worked our way up the property ladder we know how difficult these things can be, but take heart - fingers crossed you'll be laughing at this in three months. Good Luck!


Fred wants to know:

  "Can recommend a good decorator?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: Where are you?


Alf wants to know:

  "I am considering buying a flat in Stockwell. It will be my first property and while the thought of owning my own place is pretty cool it is also daunting. Also while i can afford it, i would like some mortgage advise - what are repayment, interest only, or part and part mortgages? Help! " 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Ashley: Congratulations, this will be the first step on the property ladder for you - I hope all goes well. The right type of mortgage very much depends on your own individual circumstances. Why don't you log on to and check out the different options open to you? Our Freestyle mortgages are certainly worth looking at and this means if you do decide to take the plunge and buy your first home it could be more affordable than you might think...

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Colin: Stockwell is an area that is on the up at the moment. So at least you know your property hot spots!


Frank wants to know:

  "The carpet on the stairs and in one of the bedrooms in my house is definitely in need of a change. Would it be worth my while getting it changed before selling my house or just presume the buyer will replace it themselves?" 
Justin, Colin and Ashley said:  

Justin: We generally recommend showing the best face of your house at all times. When you go out on a first date you make an effort to "scrubb up" so treat your potential sale as a similarly important event. Carpet needn't cost the earth our favourite retailer is Allied so give them a call. You might be pleasantly surprised at the low cost.


Fred wants to know:

  "I am in London. Any ideas?" 

Justin, Colin and Ashley said:


Justin: the Confederation of Master Decorators. This way you can ensure a quality job by a decorator in your area.


Justin, Colin and Ashley said:


Thanks everybody for fantastic support and interest. Best of luck for all your property endeavours and home improvements.




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