Garden Pond Construction

There is nothing like a pond to add sparkle and movement to a garden, and it need not occupy a great deal of space — the minimum satisfactory surface area is 3.5sq m (m2). The optimum depth to aim for is 600mm. Even the largest garden-pond need be no more than 750mm deep while 400mm … Read more

Building Screen-block Walls

A screen-block wall should not span more than 3m without intermediate pillar supports. You cannot cut screen blocks nor the pilasters, so check the exact dimensions when planning. Blocks normally measure 300 x 300 x 90mm thick, and pilasters 195 X 195 x 200mm high including joints. Foundations For a low wall, foundations should consist … Read more

How Lay Paving Slabs

Choose your paving according to type of construction, colour, surface finish, shape, and size. Hydraulically pressed slabs are about 37mm thick and are strong enough to support the weight of a car provided that they are laid properly. Cast concrete slabs are about 50mm thick and are heavier but their method of construction makes them … Read more

Concreting Skills Explained

Concrete is made by mixing together aggregates (sand, and gravel or stones) and cement with water. For most DIY jobs you can use all-in aggregates, or ballast. There are different types of cement available but for most DIY jobs ordinary Portland cement will do. This is light grey in colour and is normally supplied in … Read more

Guttering Repair Tips

One of the most useful improvements in house construction in recent years has been the widespread use of plastic gutters and downpipes, which need virtually no maintenance or decoration and which are easy to install and remove. Their predecessors, mainly cast iron, can corrode away, and once cracked or broken can be difficult to repair. … Read more

How To Do Roofing Repairs

As with repairs to chimney stacks, only the competent and confident handyman should attempt roof repairs. Safety is even more important in this case, since you will be working on the roof slope without even a friendly chimney stack to hold on to. Roof ladders are essential unless the repair needed is within easy reach … Read more

Ceiling Décor Tips

Polystyrene tiles both decorate and insulate. Although they can be used in any room they are especially suited to kitchens and bathrooms where they combat condensation. They are an ideal covering for a poor, though stable ceiling. Sizes are normally 300mm and 600mm square. A clean, dry, sound surface is needed so any paper or … Read more

Floor And Stair Repairs

An uneven wooden floor is best levelled with a floor-sanding machine, which can be hired. Ask your hire-shop for clear instructions as to how to use this. Walking about and observing the noise of bare boards will show if there are any gaps between boards and joists. Warped boards may be pulled down by driving … Read more

Gutter Repairs

Gutters are intended to collect water from a roof and take it to downpipes. These may meet at funnel-shaped containers, called hoppers, and from here the water flows down to a drain. A surprising amount of other debris is washed down with the water and hoppers may become choked with nests and growing plants. Before … Read more

Pointing Repairs

The mortar between bricks may break away and become uneven. The visible edge is called pointing and keeps a wall both weather-resistant and attractive. If pointing is necessary, use a narrow cold chisel to chop out the old pointing to a depth of about 10 mm (2/5 in). Be careful not to damage the bricks … Read more

Entertaining With Food

DINNER PARTIES Skilful hosts will choose a menu which has been tried out before, successfully. For preference, choose a main course which can be prepared in advance. Balance flavours, colours and textures, using fresh fruit and vegetables in season. Where possible, offer a choice of dishes. A simple. Cold starter is best served before an … Read more

Pathway Materials

GRAVEL This is the commonest form of utility path, as it is comparatively cheap and, if kept in good condition, long lived. A thorough preparation of the foundation is essential and it should be rolled periodically. It has the disadvantage of becoming weedy, unless it is continually treated with weed killer, and is inclined to … Read more

Building A Brick Wall

To bond bricks together, spread the mortar over the foundation with a bricklayer’s trowel, and lay a brick on top, the frog (hollowed-out part) uppermost. Many amateurs and, indeed, some tradesmen prefer to lay with the frog downwards because, they say, the mortar will squeeze into the hollow part and obviate the risk of tilting. … Read more

Installing Timber Stud Partitions

If you own an older property, it is quite possible some rooms may be too large for present day needs — and very expensive to heat. One answer is to install a simple timber stud partition, which consists of a sturdy timber framework covered on each side with wallboards. Tapered edge plasterboard is normally used … Read more

Suspended Illuminated Ceilings

Suspended illuminated ceilings are available in various kit forms, all of which use more or less the same components and installation procedures. Although more traditionally associated with kitchens and bathrooms, illuminated ceilings are equally suited to other rooms in the house. Besides creating improved lighting economically by giving a maximum amount of soft, shadow-free illumination, … Read more

Repositioning a staircase

Repositioning the main staircase may both free wasted space in the house and result in a safer design. Many staircases in pre-1940 properties were badly designed with an uneven pitch, unequal treads and narrow and steep winders. As such they have caused innumerable accidents. A repositioned staircase must comply with building regulations. These require: 1 … Read more