Selecting a Builder to Build a House

If a person who is thinking of building a house does not know the names of any architects or builders, it is a good plan to walk round the district he has chosen and inspect any houses that may be available. There is always the possibility when doing this that he will find something which … Read more


IT is becoming increasingly apparent that more and more people are not content to purchase the ready-made article, but desire to have their house built to their own special ideas. This is as it should be, for it still remains true that There is no place like home, especially if one feels that it contains … Read more

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

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

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

DIY Home Surveying

If you really are reluctant to do household repairs, it’s obvious that you should buy a house that doesn’t need them. The right house would be one that has recently been decorated to your taste, has all the built-in storage you require and all the plumbing, electrics and roofing in working order. This will then … 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

Self Build Tips – Drainage

The functional and planning requirements for soil- and waste-drainage are the same, whether the drainage is into the public sewer or into a private ‘cesspit or septic tank. Generally the requirements of a system are that it is: self-cleansing; accessible for cleaning by rodding at all branches and changes in direction; ventilated at the head … Read more

Self Build Structural factors

Not all building materials are able to resist compressive and tensional forces equally. Brickwork, concrete and masonry are very strong under compression but have little ability to resist tensional stress. This means that they are very useful at supporting dead loads, provided the line of action of the force does not pass outside the column … Read more

Heating and ventilation for Conservatories

Closely allied to glazing are heating and ventilation. These pose particular problems in a garden room or conservatory that is intended to be both an extension of the living room, giving scope for relaxation and leisure activities most of the year round, and a display room for, among other plants, exotics that cannot withstand outside … Read more