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Ultimate DIY tips for your renovation

9 November 2018

Dion South

Builder, HOMEmade

On the hunt for some practical advice for your own home DIY project? We asked HOMEmade builder, Dion South, for a few tips to help ‘build’ your knowledge and make the process as stress-free as possible.

What advice would you give to first time home renovators?

Although it sounds boring, I think my best piece of advice would be to stick to your budget and as your project progresses, work hard to stick to it. To do this, make sure you consult the various contractors you’re hiring and be open about your budget and your restrictions. With builders, minimum charge out sometimes applies even if it’s just a small job, so it’s equally important to get the most bang for your buck. Communicate with your builder and suppliers so the budget stays on track and is managed well.

What essential DIY skills should people learn?

I think the best thing that anyone could learn is how to use a battery drill. The battery drill is used for just about everything when it comes to renovations, from really simple tasks to the more complicated. It’s a versatile tool that can also can come with extra attachments that will increase your skills and your ability to do even more.

What tips do you have for people trying to utilise space in small homes?

There are things you can do to best utilise space, like using cavity slider doors so that you don’t have doors opening in or out of rooms. For storage, things like built in bench seating is a good way to add some extra space that’s relatively hidden. For longer term storage, you could try to use the space available in roof spaces or attics if you have easy access. If you want to create the illusion of having a larger space, mirrors work well at creating this effect.

What’s a quick DIY project that can be done over a long weekend?

Electrical timber cable drums are great and easy to create loads of new things with. Often you can get the drums really cheap or even for free from electricians, as they often throw them out. These drums make for nice coffee tables or outdoor bars, plus you can whip something up in a short amount of time. Apart from making a nice coffee table, you could even cut the middle out of the cable drum and create a wine rack or extra shelving for around the house.

What’s something you’ve recycled and turned into something new?

My old house never had a bath, it just had a big walk in rectangular shower. We were renting so we couldn’t make any permanent changes that easily. So I purchased a plastic horse trough that fitted the measurements of the shower. I then put a nice timber frame around it, added some candle holders in the framing, put a plug in the bottom, sat it along the bottom of the shower and essentially created a shower bath. When we were moving to a new house, I removed it from the shower and sold it on Trade Me.

About the expert

Builder and renovation specialist Dion South is known for his eye for detail, and with over twenty years’ experience as a builder there’s not much he hasn’t built. He’s the perfect DIY guy to compliment Melissa’s flair for style and design, and Dan’s expertise in the garden.


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