Craftsmen share top tips amid the coronavirus construction boom

Armed with shiny new tool kits and plywood boards, crowds of people in Norwich tried to renovate their homes during the lockdown.

But before a winter that may be fraught with further orders to stay, experts have warned that there are some jobs that amateurs really shouldn’t try for themselves.

Some attempts could end in a bad job, they say, but some could end in real disaster.


Roger Gidney, General Manager of Property 1st (Maintenance) Ltd
– Photo credit: Roger Gidney

Roger Gidney, Managing Director of Property 1st (Maintenance), based in Sprowston, which started in 1989, said, “This is the busiest time we have ever had. Last year we were flooded. Business is up 30 percent.”

He has hired additional staff but believed the increase in requests for non-emergency work would slow given rising gas and electricity bills.


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He shared his top home improvement tips and said there were online video tutorials on most of the jobs that can be done in the home.

The 68-year-old carpenter and joiner said people should try jobs in terms of their practical skills and confidence.

He also advised people to look for products amid supply bottlenecks and product price increases.

Said all “challenging” jobs in plumbing, electricity, roofing and gas are best left to professionals, Mr Gidney added, “If you work on electrics and it bites, believe me, it hurts. When something goes wrong things can get nasty. “

Carpenter Andy Walker-Hall, 39, who lives on Aylsham Road, has been running Handy Andy for ten years.

He said, “I get inquiries every day.”

He gave home improvement tips: “Make sure you have the right materials, enough materials, and the right tools.

“Do your research – there are plenty of videos on YouTube.

“When you drill holes in a wall, make sure there are no cables or pipes.

“Read the assembly instructions. Follow them correctly. All parts are there for a reason.

“And find out about the building regulations.”

Independent store defies delivery problems

A historic shop on Norwich Lanes supplies customers despite the challenges posed by rising prices.


Thorns director Miriam Devlin has been in talks with the council to extend the times for her life

Director of Dornen, Miriam Devlin
– Photo credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Miriam Devlin, director of Thorns DIY on Exchange Street, which has been in business since 1835, said, “It was a challenge to get supplies, but we have over 100 sources.”

She believed that instead of bringing in artisans, the upswing would stop with people refurbishing their homes inside and out.

Ms. Devlin said the store’s painting and gardening supplies are in high demand and the trade has steadily improved over the past six months.

The director gave the following advice to the promoters:

  • When painting a product, make sure that the surface is properly prepared;
  • When using gardening tools, make sure you are wearing appropriate safety equipment;
  • At this time of year, check the house for damp spots on the walls and treat them accordingly.
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