…So, we begin part two by presuming that you have not had to visit Accident and Emergency and that, flushed with shelf-hanging success, you may have decided that you wish to attempt door hanging. The main advice I can offer at this point is ‘For God’s sake, make sure it’s an internal one’. For a start, there are no awkward locks for you to fit back to front and it doesn’t matter quite so much if it doesn’t shut. The necessary equipment and the methodology are similar to shelf hanging except that it involves hinges that will initially be affixed to the wrong side of the door. In addition to your previously assembled toolkit you will also need a plane with which you will remove three inches from the top of the door and half an inch from the bottom, all at an angle of forty-five degrees. Do not even consider an electric plane unless you want to end up with something from which you can make the front of your bird box. A slight draught is one thing, but being able to walk between the newly fitted door and the frame without touching either is quite another. Never attempt to remove the bottom of a door with a saw; you will only end up having to nail it back on. Saws are seldom a good idea for the DIY enthusiast: you will never have the right one and you will always end up hacking bits off with a bread knife anyway.
Once you have hung your door, you may wish to paint it. Beware. However small you leave it, once painted it will always stick, even if it does not physically touch the frame. This is one of the great mysteries of our age, like why hats only ever suit somebody else. Now, there is, God forbid, just the outside chance that your experience of door painting might give you the taste for decorating in general. Please believe me when I tell you that shutting your tongue in the car boot will be less painful in the long run. If you must put stuff on the walls, at least stick to emulsion; that way you will only ruin the carpet and the furniture, the house itself will at least retain some value.
If, by some miracle, you emerge from the other side of painting a wall with your health and house intact, you may be determined to create a ‘feature wall’ by hanging wallpaper. If this is the case, I can say little except that you are obviously more daft than you look. If you cannot be dissuaded from such a course, then kindly allow me to offer some observations based solely upon my own bitter experience. I hope they help:
• All wallpaper is tapered. It might fit at the top, but never at the bottom.
• The pattern on wallpaper is never even. It might match at the top, but it will stray badly by the time you reach the gaps at the bottom.
• The ‘pattern repeat’ information on the label is merely a trap for the unwary.
• Wallpaper stretches – but never where you want it to.
• Wallpaper tears – but never until it’s nearly finished.
• Always cut the wallpaper around light switches and electric sockets whilst it is wet. Once it has dried you will never find them again.
• Scissors, even when new, are never sharp enough to cut wet wallpaper.
• Do not attempt to trim the wallpaper with a razor blade. Wet wallpaper is like blotting paper. A pint of blood will leach over an entire wall.
• Bubbles in drying wallpaper should be popped with a pin. Once popped, they should dry flat. They should, but they never do.
• If the bubbles make a shrieking noise when you pop them, you have probably papered over the cat.
• If you want to remove the wallpaper in six months time, you will require a flame-thrower.
• If you do not want to remove the wallpaper in six months time, it will fall off.
• The pattern is never upside down until after you have finished.
In the somewhat unlikely event that you might wish to attempt tiling, the one piece of advice I feel equipped to offer is not to worry too much about straight lines. Just be grateful if they stay on the wall.
For those of you with an even more adventurous DIY bent, there is always plumbing to be tackled. Much like binge drinking, it is only really a suitable pastime for the young and fit. Like binge drinking, it also tends to make an awful mess of the carpet. If you really must try your hand at plumbing, let me suggest something very simple at first. How about stopping the kitchen tap from dripping without ramming a huge lump of blu-tack up the end of it? Fitting a new washer to a tap is the simplest job in plumbing – which is why you can never find anybody to do it. If you feel as though you really want to attempt pipework, let me offer this solitary recommendation: always use compression joints in preference to the soldered variety. They will still leak, but at least you won’t burn the house down.
Which finally brings us to electrical works. In the UK it is now, thankfully, illegal for the amateur to carry out most electrical projects. DIY enthusiasts are largely restricted to changing socket fronts and light switches – although this still allows ample opportunity to fuse the rest of the neighbourhood. In the UK, the electrical wires are colour-coded; Live (brown), Neutral (blue) and Earth (yellow/green) with red and black thrown into lighting circuits. Improvisation is not encouraged: an incorrectly wired light switch may lead to a neighbourhood blackout, singed nasal hairs and fused dental work.
There are, of course, many other DIY tasks that you might consider taking on, from the most straightforward – drilling an outside wall in order to put up a hanging basket bracket – to the slightly more advanced task of rebuilding your house again afterwards. I may return to some of them at a later date – like a burglar returning to the scene of somebody else’s crime – not so much a harbinger of doom as the Prince of I-told-you-so. In the meantime, whatever you may choose to do, remember always why you are doing it: because you are too mean to pay somebody else to do it properly.