Challenges

Do It Yourself 自己的事自己動手做

Since I had published my last post on replacing my road bike tyres, some of my friends living aboard mentioned that DIY is the way to go to save money and possible lead time. I absolutely agreed with them and do believe that mastering DIY skills is another objective to achieve in UK.

Taking our new apartment as an example, there are numerous works that could serve as good candidate to practise DIY.

Don’t have any experience?

It doesn’t really matter as there are sea of instructive videos made by Gurus that could be easily found in YouTube. Practice makes perfect!

On the other hand, beware that there are some works that must comply with building regulations and should only be carried out by qualified professionals.

Last but not least, if you lived in apartment, do consult your management office and make appropriate application in advance.

居於外地的朋友們對我上一篇自行更換單車軚的網誌,都不約而同提出日常維修工作如果找店家或 Handy man 做,除了費用高外,往往亦要等很久,因此學習自己做 (DIY) 是必然的事。這個我完全同意,亦是移居英國後其中一個學習目標。

就剛遷入的新居為例,很多的小維修、配置其實都是 DIY 學習的好機會。

沒有實際經驗不太重要,網上有很多高人的分享文章,亦有數之不盡的 YouTube Videos,第一次攪得不好,嘗試多幾次定能改善,學習的路永遠沒有終點。

不過要留意有些水電安裝或維修工作是需要有牌照的認可技師去做,否則隨時會違反法例,保險公司亦可能不負責。

如果住所是 apartment 的話,建議先與管理公司溝通及申請,避免事後不必要的爭議。


The easiest DIY task would definitely be those furniture assembly works. No in-depth knowledges and skills were required. Simply followed the provided instructions and work done.

For my new LED TV, I originally planned to mount it onto the wall. However, by considering the difficulties in securely mounting the heavy TV onto the flimsy Plasterboard and the associated £200+ material/labour cost, I ended up dropping the idea and got a TV Stand instead for its flexibility in placement as well as the saving of £60+.

No hard work required and just like assembly of Ikea furnitures.

Similarly, I had also replaced the locks of the main door. Another saving of £150+.

最簡單的 DIY 工作當然就是一般傢俬和器材的組裝,技術要求不大,只需跟著附上的組裝説明即可。

家中的 LED TV 原本要掛於牆上,但考慮到要在單薄的 Plasterboard 上安裝掛架的難度,加上差不多二佰多鎊的掛架及安裝費用,我最後還是選擇了 TV Stand,除了放置上較具彈性外,亦省了六十多鎊。

難度不高,與 Ikea 傢俬組裝相約。

同樣,收樓後我替大門換了鎖膽,又省了一佰五十多鎊。

My second attempt was the repainting of bathroom ceiling and wall.

The bathrooms of our apartment were slightly out-dated and some costly renovation by those home improvement retailers deemed necessary. With several rounds of discussion with the professional installers, I was strongly advised to pick up the painting work myself. I was further convinced that these were simple tasks where I could save another £300+ labour cost.

By the way, typical household refurbishment works required purchase of materials and tools. Personally, I would get what I needed from the following home improvement retailers:

  • Screwfix
  • Tool Station
  • Wickes
  • B&Q

In terms of product prices, the first two are usually lower whereas B&Q is the most expensive one. However, as both Screwfix and Tool Station are more targeted toward builders and professional installers, they don’t come with product display in their retail stores and non professional DIYers will definitely find it hard to view and compare the products before actual purchase. On the other hand, beginning DIYers will feel at ease shopping in B&Q retail stores as they normally have large display areas along with the warehouse.

My favourite store is Wickes that came in between. Reasonable pricing along with relatively smaller display area in their stores.

If you needed you make some household improvement works but don’t have access to any good installers, I would suggest to have your first project with retailers like Wickes or B&Q. You can then directly contact the relevant installers subsequently.

第二類要學習的是牆壁髹油。

新居的浴室有點舊,於是找來家居裝修零售商作翻新,費用當然非常高。一輪磋商後,專業的 Installer 極力建議我自行為天花板及牆身翻新髹油,難度不高之餘更可省回三佰多鎊的人工。

話説一般家居裝修 DIY 都要購置物料及工具,我會選用以下家居裝修零售商:

  • Screwfix
  • Tool Station
  • Wickes
  • B&Q

以售買價格來説, 前兩者最實惠,B&Q 最貴;但由於 Screwfix、Tool Station 主要售買對像是專業 Builders、Installers,它們都不提供貨品陳列,對非專業的 DIYers 較不便,相反 B&Q 附有大型陳列室,適合一般人仕作商品比較及選用。Wickes 則處於中間位置,貨品價格只比 Screwfix / Tool Station 稍貴一點點,但在大型貨倉外亦設置小量的陳列貨架。

經過這數月的體驗,我主要會使用 Wickes。

另外值得一提的是如果你新居需要裝修,但沒有相熟可信賴的 installers,我會建議去找 Wickes 或 B&Q 等的家居裝修零售商承包工程,往後便可直接聯絡相關的 installer。

For more challenging tasks, there came lighting replacement works.

My apartment didn’t come with ceiling lights in the living room as well as the dining room. Typical light installation work requires £50 to £60 per unit which couldn’t be easily justified. Since these ‘Like for like’ replacement works don’t required any qualified electrician, possibly another DIY for me!

Our apartment was built 20+ years ago but was considered as very new in accordance with UK standard where most of the nearby house or semi-detached were typically 70+ years old. Frankly speaking, those old houses were extremely solid and built with very good materials that typical new apartments couldn’t compare.

Upon removing the cover of the underlying wiring rose, I found that standard wiring convention was strictly followed which made replacement extremely easy. Recalled that those in my previous apartment in Hong Kong were quite messy!

再進階一點就是電燈相關的替換。

新居需要安裝 Ceiling lights,安裝費用每支約五、六十鎊,客、飯廳兩支便需佰多鎊,極不化算,還好的是這類 ‘Like for like’ 更換工作是不需具認可資格代工,又 DIY 吧!

新居已有二十多年樓齡,以英國的標準,仍算非常年輕,因附近很多 house、semi-detached 動不動都七、八十多年。坦白講,這些舊屋用料上乘,極之穩固,非一般新建 apartment 可比。

移除燈座後發覺內裡的 wiring rose 接線跟足標準,更換來得很容易。還記得當年在香港,舊居的接線安裝水平反而頗參差!

Old wiring rose for the ceiling light

Finally here came the most difficult and labour intensive one, carpet to laminated floor replacement.

In contrary to Hong Kong’s weather, UK is much colder and carpet is almost used in every bedrooms. The previous owner of our apartment even had carpets installed throughout the apartment which we found it hard to adapt to. In fact, we planned to replace with laminated flooring upon completion.

To our surprise, on the day we had our second property viewing before making offer, we were informed by the agent that the previous owner had just replaced the entire apartment with brand new carpets!

不過最困難,最複雜的要算是安裝地板。

因天氣寒冷,英國很多屋在睡房都鋪上地氈,我家新居的上手業主更為全屋鋪上地氈,對於我這個香港來客真的極不習慣,亦打算在收樓後為全屋更換地板。

而令我更驚訝是在 offer 前再度看樓,agent 通知我上手業主剛為全屋換上全新地氈!

Bedroom with carpet

After studying a large number of installation videos in YouTube, I kicked off my laminate flooring work.

Of course, before any work could be started, I had to estimate the amount and order materials like Laminated floor, Underlay, Trims and Threshold Bars required plus any relevant tools from those home improvement retailers.

在 YouTube 參考完大量 videos 後便展開我的鋪地板大工程。

先計算所需物料數量,再購置所需的 Laiminated floorUnderlayTrimsThreshold Bars 及相應工具,一切就緒後,正式開工。

First remove the ‘old’ carpet, underlay and carpet grippers. Vacuum cleaned the concrete flow to provide a clean and flat floor.

先移除⌜舊⌟地氈、underlay 及 carpet grippers,清理好混凝土地板。

As it required frequent knee down onto the floor, be sure to wear Knee Pads before starting the work. Followed the instruction video to lay the flooring.

由於經常要跪下安裝地板,切記要帶上 Knee Pads 保護膝蓋,隨後便可跟著 instruction video 的程序安裝地板。

It took me one day to finish the laminated floor installation for the smallest bedroom.

Take a look of my work!

第一次安裝 Laminated floor,用了差不多一天時間才能完成一個小睡房。

看看我的⌜處男⌟作!

Completed flooring for the bedroom

With what I had learnt from laying laminated floor for the small bedroom, I managed to complete the flooring replacement work for the living room, dining room and the two bedrooms within four days plus a saving of around £2000 in labour.

I once asked my professional installer how I performed with the flooring work?

He generously gave me 75 out of 100.

By the way, there is one more tool that I needed to mention, Multi Tool. Despite this is not mandatory, it definitely save you a lot of time.

憑著學習到的技巧及少少的經驗,全屋 living Room、dining Room 及 bedrooms 總共用了四天時間完成,亦省下約二千鎊的人工。

有一天厚著面皮問專業 installer 我鋪的地板值幾多分?

他非常厚道地説: 75 分!

還有一件我極力推介的工具,Multi Tool。雖然不是必須品,但有了它很多工作都可更輕易完成。

Another must have Power Tool

To be honest, I was bite off more than I can chew. Laying laminated floor was actually my first DIY work with my new apartment.

So far, I had achieved a total saving of around £2600 for the new apartment. Definitely something worthwhile!

其實今次我有點未學行先學走,鋪地板是我為新居的第一個就 DIY 工作!

就新居所做的 DIY 工作,粗略的估計已省回約二千六佰鎊,辛苦一點也絕對值得。


Well, my next attempt will be on Smart Home implementation. Starting from use of some basic smart devices and followed by integration with Home Automation platform. I will share with you in my later posts,

接著下來我又有另一新攪作,為新屋引入智能家居概念,先從基本裝置開始,再配合 Home Automation 系統,日後將會和大家分享。


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