Check out my top DIY tips, updated every week.


Is your drain a pain..

Does it seem like you’re constantly calling your plumber because of tree roots blocking your drains?  

Well guess what? If all they do is cut the roots out from inside the drain with an eel or a jet blaster, your problem is never going to be solved.

There are two better solutions. 

One is to dig around the pipe where the blockage is and pull all the roots out from around the pipe including underneath. You can now seal the joint, pour concrete in the hole then fill it back up with dirt.

Option two.  Replace all your old clay pipes that have been affected by tree roots with PVC piping. It’s going to be a permanent solution as tree roots can’t get into the PVC joints. This job must always be done by a licensed plumber but if you want to save yourself a few bucks, you can do the digging yourself.


An ounce of prevention...

If you’re one of those people who grab a bucket every time it rains, you’re not alone!  You’ll be surprised how many of us leave roof leaks for way too long- forgetting all about them until the next storm. 

The truth is, by the time water actually starts dripping from your lounge room ceiling, the problem may have already caused hundreds even thousands of dollars in damage.  Chances are also good that there were early warning signs that went either undetected or simply ignored.

Not only are regular inspections and preventative maintenance essential to keeping your home in tip top shape- but can alert you to potential, more serious problems.  Catch them early and you just might save loads of money in repairs later on. 

A good rule of thumb is every 6 months- as well as after any severe storm- head on outside to have a good look around from ground level and then, if possible, up on the roof.  


Faulty and outdated electrical wiring = danger!

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, faulty and outdated electrical wiring are some of the main contributors to house fires. 

Here are a few red flags that could be an indication of more serious issues but always use your own good judgement.  If you have any concerns what so ever, get in a professional PRONTO!!

Power points and light switch plates should be cool to the touch.  Scorch marks are definitely a problem.

Having to frequently reset your circuit breakers is another warning sign that something may not be up to scratch. Breakers are a safety device designed to protect appliances, wiring AND your home.. take it seriously.

To make trouble-shooting easier, clearly mark your breaker box, showing what circuits go where.

If your lights dim when you turn on a major appliance, it may mean your wiring is carrying too big a load and needs to be upgraded.

Safety inspections by your electrician should be done on a regular basis.   


Less messy renovating! If there is such a thing :)

Renovations are messy, there is absolutely no getting around that one. I don’t think people realise how much dust is actually created with any sort of building work. 

If you plan on living in your home while you’re renovating, here are a few things that will help eliminate or at least lessen the effects on your home and family.

To contain the spread of dust seal off the entry points by taping a plastic sheet around the doors.

Remove as much as possible from the building area into another room. I’m talking about furniture, wall hangings, curtains and knick- knacks. Cover everything else up with either plastic or material drop sheets.

There are several power tools available with vacuum extractors to collect up the dust as you work, as much as 90 percent! But that’s power tools, like saws and sanders..  you can’t attach a vacuum to a sledgehammer!

Either way, you might want to invest in a good broom!


Decking choices

One of my favourite places to be is out on the deck, cooking a barbie. There are so many choices when it comes to decking, treated pine, a range of hardwood and now even composite decking.

Also there’s a wide range of fastening systems available.  Galvanised and stainless steel nails and decking screws and quite a few hidden fastening systems. Choosing the right products to use can be quite daunting.

Here are some things to think about. Will it be in the full sun?  Are there overhanging trees that leave stains? Do you live near the ocean?  Even the amount of wear and tear from foot traffic needs to be considered.

Before you make a decision, it’s very important to do a lot of research.  It can be a big expense especially if you get it wrong.

And don’t forget, there’s still the upkeep and maintenance to consider.


Asbestos awareness

In light of the recent news regarding Mr Fluffy and the asbestos scare, I’d like to again provide some information about asbestos and its safety concerns.

It’s estimated that 1 in 3 homes in Australia will have asbestos of some form in it, and in places you wouldn’t expect like behind bathroom tiles, vinyl flooring, carpet underlay and meter boards.

Between 1945-1980 asbestos was widely used in the construction industry mainly because it was versatile and inexpensive. It’s not been used in building materials since the 1980’s but it wasn’t until December 2003 that asbestos and all products containing asbestos were banned throughout Australia.  Therefore, it’s thought that if your home was built or renovated before 1990,  it’s likely that it will contain some asbestos product, most likely cement sheeting.

You can’t tell if something is asbestos just by looking at it.  The only way to be 100% sure is to have it tested, which means having it analysed in a laboratory. Have a look at NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) for an accredited lab in your area.  Their website is   Or you can use a licensed Asbestos Testing and Removal Specialist, be sure and ask to see their license or contact WorkSafe to verify that they are properly licensed for asbestos removal.

Tips for renovators:

Check on the age of your house, that’s a good indicator.

If unsure, assume there is asbestos in the material.

Undisturbed asbestos products are considered to be safe, it’s when the fibres are released into the air that they pose a health risk. If the material containing asbestos is in good condition, sometimes it’s best to leave it.  There might be alternatives like sealing, painting or covering with a non-asbestos product.

Do not disturb!  Don’t saw, drill, cut, sand, scrub, scrape, waterblast.  Nothing!  Leave it alone!

General asbestos issues – contact your local council.

Good site for info:


Check your deck

We all love entertaining out on the deck, but is there an accident waiting to happen? Every year balconies collapse and cause a number of injuries, but most collapses can be prevented through regular inspection and maintenance.  No matter what material your balcony or deck is made from it’s important to inspect it regularly and thoroughly.  If you find ANY problems, get onto them straight away.

Here are a few things to look for: 

Signs of rot and decay, corrosion, rust, termites or any other problems. Don’t just look on top, get underneath and have a look around.

Check for loose nuts or bolts and whatever you do, don’t forget to check the railings!  

If you’re not sure, get a licensed builder in! A bit of preventative maintenance can save you lots of money, but more importantly, save you from serious injury!


General painting tips

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen paintwork fail after 6 months.  Follow these simple tips to make your paint job last for years, not months.

Preparation is 80% of the work so don’t cut corners, it’s the most important part!  Clean all surfaces really well.  Remove any loose and flaking paint.  Run your finger across the surface.  Is it chalky?  If so, use a suitable primer or sealer because a chalky surface is one of the worst things to paint over.

It’s important to know what you’re painting over. Not all products are compatible with each other or the surface that you’re painting.  A simple test to find out whether paint is water-based is to dip a rag in methylated spirits and rub it on the surface.  If it becomes tacky or comes off, it’s water-based paint.

The most important tip I can give you is to read and follow all instructions on the products.. BEFORE you use them, not after!


Hanging a picture on a gyprock wall

Hanging a picture on a gyprock wall?  Here’s an easy way to do it without destroying the place or making your wall look like a dart board.

Weigh your picture on a bathroom scale.  Buy a hook that will handle the weight and go into gyprock or plasterboard. There are even hooks these days that will hold up to 40 kilos in gyprock without the use of a stud.

Have someone hold the picture in place, step back and see if it’s where you want it. Put a piece of bluetack above the frame. Hang the picture off the end of a tape measure. This will give you the distance from the bluetack to where your hook goes. Always double check your measurements before you start banging holes in your walls!

If you’re hanging a few in a row, a cheap laser light might be the go.


Tips on hiring a tradie

If you’re looking for a tradie word-of-mouth recommendation is best but not always possible.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Get more than one quote, three is great. Make sure they’re detailed including what materials will be used.  It’s important to know how many coats of paint you’ll get, what brand, and what preparation will be done.  What kind of timber will they use to build your deck and will they use stainless steel or galvanised nails and screws.

This way you’ll know what you’re getting for your hard-earned money AND be able to compare apples with apples.

Check their trade licences and insurances. Make sure they’re up to date and valid. Get everything in writing and NEVER pay for work up front.

A deposit is fine, usually between 5 to 10 percent and progress payments as work advances.  When it comes time for final payment, make sure the work is complete and you’re satisfied.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  A good tradesperson will be more than happy to help!


Peeling paint in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry

Are the walls and ceilings in your kitchen, bathroom or laundry constantly getting mouldy?  Is the paint peeling?

First thing I’d look at is ventilation. Do you have an exhaust fan? Does it work or do you just forget to put it on!  If you don’t have one, get one!  They cost as little as 30 dollars to buy.  If you’ve got one, use it! 

Next we’re going to fix up your paintwork.. you’ll be happy to know there’s a simple solution!  Re-paint with a Kitchen and Bathroom paint. Most paint companies make one that’s specially designed for these areas so they can handle moisture and resist mould.

The most important thing to do before applying Kitchen and Bathroom paint is to wash all surfaces thoroughly with sugar soap to remove the grease.  You’ll also need to treat any mould.  Problem solved!

Always follow the instructions for the products you’re going to use and put on your safety gear. 


Ladder safety

You can never be too careful when it comes to using a ladder.  I’ve been a tradie for over 30 years and I can’t stress enough how important safety is!  The thing is, you can be hurt just as badly falling from a step ladder as you can from a 6-footer.  You don’t have to fall far to be seriously injured. 

Before anything else, check out your ladder.  If you see any damage or wear, don’t use it. Have it repaired or replace it with a new one.

Here are a few more important things to remember: 

Always have someone else around and never climb a ladder when you’re alone.

Position your ladder on stable, non-slippery ground. Make sure it’s secure and all the feet firmly on the ground. Remember to never stand on the top two rungs either.

Move the ladder rather than reaching out and always use the right ladder for the job.

Be aware of what’s going on above you, like power lines. Stay right away from them.

Most importantly, if you don’t feel comfortable climbing a ladder, don’t do it!

Simple steps can help to avoid dangerous mistakes.


Using a pressure washer

Just imagine how dirty your car would get if you didn’t wash it for a year.  What about your house?  Personally I think there should be a pressure washer in every home.

You can clean almost anything outdoors quickly and with awesome results! Washing the exterior of your home not only cleans it up by getting rid of dirt, mould and grime but also extends the life of your paintwork.

One tip is to stay back about 2 feet from the surface when you start, that way you don’t damage the surface.

You might not think so but a pressure washer uses heaps less water than a garden hose.  They come in all sizes, petrol, electric for whatever your needs are and you can get different attachments too.  

You’ll find so many reasons to use it – cleaning slippery paths or driveways, even washing the 4 Wheel Drive.  Best of all, you can pick one up for as little as $100!


Prime your exterior timber

Priming the exterior of timber before painting is the most important thing to remember when having new timber installed around your home.

For example, if you’re using pre-primed timber for a fascia board or a handrail, all bare areas including end grains need to be fully primed with a suitable primer/sealer.  This is BEFORE the timber is assembled, not after.

After installation fill gaps with a flexible, paintable filler and nail holes with an exterior grade filler.  When everything dries and the weather is looking good, continue on with your final painting.

I can’t stress enough how important this is! Moisture in timber is what causes rot, decay and can even be an entry point for termites.

Follow these simple tips and it will last for many years!


Read the instructions

I’ve been a tradie for over 30 years and one thing that amazes me most is how many people don’t take time to read the instructions fully or not at all before using a product!

Then, when everything goes wrong, it’s time to read the instructions!

Let’s start with paint.  Most paints can’t be applied below 10 degrees or above 35 degrees.  Dry times and re-coat times vary dramatically from brand to brand even from product to product.

What about compatibility with the surface or even the previous coatings? What about safety precautions?

All these things are usually found on the product label or on their website and if all else fails, most companies have a help line.

Spend 10 to 15 minutes reading the instructions and save yourself a whole lot of time and money. 

Like I always say, do it once, do it right!


Replacing flyscreen

If your dog, cat or even the kids keep tearing holes in your flyscreen doors, try a pet proof flyscreen!

Best part is that you can do it yourself!

It does help to have two people though especially if you’ve never done it before.

To replace it, remove the old screen and the rubber. If the rubber is worn and brittle, replace it.  Lay the frame on a flat level surface.

Place the screen on the frame nice and square. You’ll need at least 50mm excess of screen around the entire frame. Start at one corner, using a flyscreen roller and push the rubber in place.

Work your way around, taking your time.  Keep tension on the screen but not too tight!

Cut off the excess with a box knife and you’re done!


Roof leaks

There are several different reasons your roof might be leaking.  Some signs of a leak are blistering paint on eaves or ceilings, brown stains, mould in one area and the most obvious sign, water coming in.

Here’s what I’d look for first:

Broken roof tiles or pointing that might be loose or cracked. 

Tiles that may have moved or lifted from heavy winds or even from a possum or other animal.

Rust holes on the metal roof sheets and valleys.

One cause that’s often overlooked is debris that gets trapped in the valleys or between tiles.  This acts like a dam and pushes water into places it shouldn’t go.

When it comes getting on a roof, safety is most important and all safety precautions should be strictly followed.

Personally, I think it’s best left to the professionals.


Smoke detectors

When the smoke detector goes off at my house it usually means dinner’s done!  But seriously, while house fires are more common in winter when people are using fires and heaters, they can happen at any time. Leaving the stove unattended, lint built up in the clothes dryer and a burning candle left unattended are all common causes.

Having the right number of suitable smoke alarms in your home and testing them regularly can protect your property and save the lives of you and your family!  It’s not just enough to have them installed, you’ve got to keep them in good working order too.

Get in the habit of changing the batteries in your smoke alarm when you change your clocks in spring and autumn.  While you’re doing that, wipe off the cover to get rid of any dust that has collected.

In addition to smoke detectors, getting a fire extinguisher and fire blanket is a great idea.  You can find them at most major hardware stores or from shops that specialise in fire safety equipment.


Choose the right flooring

There are so many choices when it comes to floor coverings.  It can be a huge expense so it’s important to do your homework before making your selection.  What look are you after?  Do you have kids?  What about pets?  Is it durable and easy to clean?  All these things should be considered and no doubt cost is a big factor.

Solid timber floors are beautiful and very durable.  They handle high traffic well and can be sanded and re-coated down the track to keep them looking new for many, many years. They can be expensive though.

Floating laminate floors are less expensive and can look great as well.  They’re easy to install and maintain but you should be aware that if they get scratched they can’t be re-sanded.      

Bamboo is a popular choice for many reasons.  It’s not only environmentally friendly and fast growing but easy to keep clean and hard wearing too.       

Vinyl was all the rage in the 70’s, but it has come a long way since then.  It’s durable and low maintenance, plus laying vinyl tiles is a great DIY project you can knock out in no time. There’s a huge range of colours and patterns too which means you can create the look of timber or stone for a much smaller cost.  You don’t have to settle for burnt orange or mustard yellow any more.. unless that’s your thing!      

Your flooring should not only look good, it’s got to be practical too.


Filling your toolbox

If you’ve just bought a house or are new to DIY, you’re going to need a toolbox!  Here are a few tools that I think everyone should have in theirs.  Start off with a few basics and add to it over time.

A good hammer, commonly known by us tradies as The Persuader.

A screwdriver set with a full range of sizes, just in case the kitchen cupboard falls off or the door handle comes loose.

A cordless drill.  I would suggest getting one with a lithium-ion battery. They have a much longer life and they’re a lot lighter.  Look at the brands that sell the tools separately to the battery, this can save you hundreds of dollars later on when adding to your tool kit.

A set of general purpose drill bits for metal and timber.  For a bit more money you can get ones that drill almost anything, including masonry.

An easy to read tape measure, something with big numbers and around 8 metres long.

Remember, good tools are an investment so buy the best quality you can afford.  They’ll last a long time if you look after them properly.  

Always keep your tools and toolbox locked up securely to keep little children from hurting themselves!