Send in your handyman
hints. Click >>>
Make sure that you only DIY within your capabilities! I am
an industrial electrician, mother, strict budgeter and
long-timer oily-ragger, however, I get nervous when I see
people cutting corners, risking their future financial
stability and well-being to save a few bob in the short
term! I've seen some lethal situations waiting to happen.
The house we moved into had had a number of 'basic repairs'
done by the home owner - metal light fittings not earthed,
terminals not tightened properly, a ceiling waiting to catch
on fire from absent heat shielding. There's a reason it
costs good money to hire an electrician - it takes years to
become one and they assume a lot of legal liability. Do it
wrong, and you can void your home's insurance, face
prosecution or at worst it can be fatal.
The best bet is to save your tradesperson time, and if not
urgent (or dangerous), have the small jobs saved up:
Clear the way to the switchboard, under the house, the attic
or the appliance being serviced and know where your access
hatches are. They may need room to open a ladder and there's
no point paying a specialist an hourly rate to do your spring
Make sure any fittings you have in mind can be fitted first.
There's no point ordering fancy light fittings from China and
hiring a tradesperson only to find out that you don't have
existing earths or that the gear is unsuitable or
non-compliant. A good tradesperson would rather advise you
first than waste their time - and your money - later on.
If the work will involve going indoors and out a lot (such as
to an inside switchboard) consider throwing down old towels or
drop-sheets in the work area to save time taking boots on and
Record details of any faults and under what circumstances they
happen, as complex appliances with intermittent faults may be
time-consuming to fix.
Consider travel time - it's probably worth getting someone
Ask to see your electrician's practising licence - don't pay a
premium rate for a cowboy.
Make sure you get a copy of your Certificate of Compliance
and/or Electrical Safety Certificate within 20 working days
and store these in a safe place - it is your assurance that
the work was completed safely and legally and it will help to
have these if something should go wrong. - A.M., Wairarapa.
If your seal has
started to go on your fridge simply change the direction the
door opens. Most of them are able to be adjusted to the
other side for left or right handed opening. Our fridge seal
needed replaced at the cost of $120.I asked hubby to try
this idea first and it worked. Door has excellent suction
and closes fine. - S.J., Dunedin.
was buying some nails at Bunnings the other day. I needed
2000 (it was a big handyman job!) so I bought 2 boxes of
1000 each. The friendly chap at the counter asked if I had
looked at the price of buying 3000 instead. I hadn’t so he
went to the isle to check the price and returned with a box
of 3000. The costs was about 10% less than the two 1000
boxes. Not only did it cost 10% less, but I ended up with
50% more nails! I was very grateful for the excellent
service. - Happy Harry, Whangarei.
Thanks to my resourceful husband, I have just saved up to
$60 on the cost of a new cutlery basket for my dishwasher.
My old cutlery basket was badly damaged, with large holes
mostly caused by sharp knives. I was shocked to discover
that a replacement basket was not only difficult to source,
but could cost up to $60! When I told my husband, his
thrifty side appeared and he suggested we use some mesh type
plastic to replace the worn sections on the old basket. We
went to the local supermarket and bought a cutlery drainer -
the type you use on the sink, ours is made by Starmaid –
for $2.99. It has a lattice type plastic on four sides and
the bottom; hubby cut the plastic lattice with a Stanley
knife to fit and used plastic cable ties to secure the new
plastic pieces into the six bottom sections of the damaged
basket. The holes in the plastic are large enough to let
water flow but small enough to not let cutlery slip through.
It's also strong enough to withstand the heat from the
bottom section of the dishwasher. - B.T.
Youtube has literally
thousands of "DIY" uploaded videos on how to fix
any house/car problem-plumbing, electrical, mechanical etc
etc. The great thing about this is you get to watch a
guy/woman show you step by step. Just use the search term
& your bound to find what you want! I used it to show me
how to change a washing machine hose. Which before Youtube I
would have just rung the plumber! - Rene,
drilling on a slippery surface, place on a strip of tape,
such as masking tape, on the surface to prevent the bit from
of masking tape along the cut line will prevent plywood from
tip of screws and nails into a bar of soap. They go in
easier, prevent splitting and makes screws easier to remove
should you need to.
stubs make good plugs for plaster walls. The lead makes it
easy to screw into.
A bit of
Talcum powder stops squeaky floorboards and stair treads.
your paint brush has dried hard, try boiling it in vinegar.
buying a stove check out the classified ads. Good used
stoves can be bought for a fraction of the new price.
floors look good, they are hard wearing, and can be
decorated with rugs to add a dash of vibrant colour.
rot in timber can be treated by bruising with petrol. Hint:
don’t do this while smoking!
will not jam so often if you rub both sides of the blade
with candle wax.
- Double to the life-span of paintwork
on weatherboards by washing it once a year. Washing takes away the
grime that degrades the paintwork. – O.R.
After partially using a pale of paint, paint a stripe on the
outside of the pale. That will show you how much paint in
left in the tin, and also the colour! - Handy Fred, Blenheim.
Many service manuals are available free online.
I recently diagnosed and repaired my very geriatric F and P
smartdrive washing machine by finding the service manual and
engaging in a bit of problem solving and DIY. The Service
Manual is different to the User Manual that you get given
when you buy a machine.
The Service Manual is what the manufacturer produces
for the repair technicians to use. It can take a bit of
puzzling out to work out exactly what its all trying to tell
you, but well worth it to save a technician call-out fee.
And even if you can't repair it yourself, you're in a
much better position to tell the tech what they need to know
and save them some valuable time, too. - Stacey,
- Learn how
to do basic repairs. First step – read the manual! It is
amazing how much money the do-it-yourself-dunce wastes by
not knowing how to do some of the basic stuff. Jobs like
repairing a broken window, fixing a toilet cistern,
replacing a light fitting, and so on. If you still find you
are just not up to even the task, scout about for a friend
competent enough do have a quick look at the problem for
- When using paint in spray can, do
not turn the can over to clear the nozzle. This wastes the paint
that is in the tube and uses the pressure to do so. Take the spray
nozzles off and keep it in a small jar with turps. Re-attach when
needed again. I use a lot of cans for small touch-ups and I find
this method saves quite a lot. – G.B.
extra storage space under a bed base that is too low by placing 5cm blocks
of wood under the legs. This enabled me to fit 3 plastic under-the-bed
storage boxes beneath a single bed. Boxes measure 800mm by 400mm by 170mm
deep and there is 20mm clearance gap with that under my bed. The blocks
used were from a decking job. Don't go too high with the blocks - remember
someone still has to climb in and out of bed! - Thrifty, Hamilton.
can’t be, it must be a mistake, they must have overcharged
– I thought as a raced out the door of my local hardware
store. “They stuff I just bought was on special. They’ve
charged me the full quid!”
it’s not a mistake”
the store attendant said. “We always show the retail price
on the packaging slip. The invoice you get in the mail will show
how much you actually pay”.
that?, I wondered. A
bloke in the trade explained it to me like this. Sometimes
tradesmen charge stuff for jobs to their own personal account,
and then claim the “cost” back from their clients (showing
labour and materials seperately). If a client asks to look at
the paperwork about the materials they are shown the packing
slip showing the retail price, not the actual cost.
it’s a scam then?”, I asked,.
“Well… um… er….no… um…yea”,
seems that this practice is fraught with the potential for
people to get ripped off. No problem if a tradesman makes it
clear to a client that they will be charged full retail price
for the materials used on the job, as evidenced by the packing
slips, and makes it known that they will make a margin on those
materials because they get a trade discount.
problem is where the benefit of “everyday specials” are not
passed onto clients and where tradesman claim they are using
packing slips as "evidence" of their "cost”
(after all, it takes a good couple of weeks for the invoice to
arrive in the mail - and by then the job is probably all
need to be aware that the packing slip price is a normal retail
price, which excludes everyday specials and excludes tradesman
also need to know that they can usually go and negotiate their
own discount from the merchant (10% “cash” discount for
payment on the spot is no problem) and that they will miss out
on any specials deals that any member of the public could
may be a better off getting list of materials required by the
tradesman and buying the goods themselves.
need to share with your readers my experience with a tradesman
(plumber). I had some work done on remodeling a bathroom. The
cost included 5.5 hours of labour at $39.50 an hour (which was
fair enough I thought), but what I had not expected was the
$653.06 charged for materials. When I queried the account they
advised I was charged for material at the retail price. Problem
was, I personally could go down to a plumbing supplies company
and buy the goods at substantially less than retail by simply
asking for a discount. For example, I could buy one of the items
for $176.89 but was charged $277.13 for the very same item by
the plumber. There
are a couple of lessons to learn from this experience.
First, don’t be fooled into thinking all a tradesman is making
on your job is their hourly rate. In my case, I estimate the
plumber a profit of $236 on the materials (or another $42.90 per
hour charged). In other words, they made as much on the
materials as they did the their labour. They REAL cost of my
plumber was therefore $82.40.
The second lesson is you can save a heck of a lot of money if
you buy the materials yourself, rather than have your tradesman
do it and charge you. - A.P.