Big Brother winner turned celeb builder Craig Phillips offers Quids in! readers some tips and advice for home improvement on a budget…
From issue 12, Autumn 2011
Can you tell us about your latest TV shows?
“I’m filming If It’s Broke, Fix It and Celebrity DIY. In Celebrity DIY I go to celebs’houses and teach them some DIY skills in their own home. One show we did was with Frankie Dettori, and we got to see his home, meet his family and his horses! So not only do you get to see the celebrity’s lifestyle but also the look on their face when you put a cordless drill in their hand – they don’t look so confident all of a sudden!”
What sort of DIY skills were you teaching them?
“I put in some decking with Linda Robson, fitted some laminate floors with Sam Fox and did kitchen work surfaces with Yuri Geller – just some very light, basic DIY skills.”
Who would you say was the worst DIY dodger?
“Russell Grant! He was hopeless! It was fun though. He’d been given his own family crest and we hung that on the wall while he told me all about it. He didn’t enjoy the drilling and painting though!”
Do you think people are losing their DIY skills?
“It does worry me. When I was a kid I grew up around my father and uncle and there were always hand tools around. Kids now mainly spend their time on computers and I feel that young people are losing their physical skills. There are a lot of first-time buyers who’ve never even picked up a hammer!”
Do you think your shows help to teach DIY skills?
“In If It’s Broke, Fix It, we ran workshops for people to come and learn DIY skills so they could take care of a DIY dilemma at home. It was normally something they couldn’t afford to get fixed.We had teams of middle-aged and married couples and we taught them all the basic skills they needed. I must admit, I was a bit alarmed at their lack of knowledge – some of them didn’t know the difference between a trowel and a hammer! But in the end they all did a brilliant job – one team plastered their entire garage! It was much better than my first attempt at plastering!”
What have you learnt over the years about budgeting and DIY?
“You have to be strict. Some people call me tight because I always try to get the cheapest deal but I always try to save cash, even if it’s only £5 here or there. When you think about it, if I’m building a 27-room house for a client, if you add up every £5 I save, it can end up being thousands of pounds.My advice would be that whether it’s a small job painting a wall or laying a laminate floor, always shop around to find the cheapest prices. Everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment so people really are up for negotiating over the cost of building supplies. I started off with one house 14 years ago and now I own more than 30, but still, each time I buy I learn more and become more cautious with money and plan every detail. And if you plan ahead like that, you can guarantee you’re looking after your cash.”
Craig’s top DIY tips
- Take a look around your house and see what’sold. You’ll save money if you stop things that are worn from breaking – for example,wallpaper and paintwork.
- Make sure you do your research. I’ve done loads of step-by-step video clips on tiling, flooring and painting, and they’re free! You can see them here.
- Shop around and try to buy a multipurpose tool that can do more than one job.
- If you have to do some DIY, plan how long it will take and don’t do it if you don’t have the time. If you rush to get it done, you could make mistakes which cost money to put right.
- Don’t try to go out of your comfort zone. Start with small tasks and when you get more confident, then look at taking on bigger jobs.