Do You Blog About Your DIY Renovation?

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April 8, 2018

James speaks with Kerry, the creator of the Kezzabeth.co.uk blog. Kerry has gone on to DIY renovate her family’s second home, and shares every moment with her blog’s readers.

Show Notes:

James :             Hello and welcome to this episode of the property renovation podcast. Today’s, really special I in my mind actually, because it’s actually the first time I get to have someone on a podcast that has been running a blog, to do with renovation, you can go to, kezzabeth.co.uk. Her name is Kerry and Kerry it’s fantastic to have you on the podcast. How are you?

Kerry:               Thank you hi how are you?

James :             Good. So I’ll just go straight into the questions but I’m very interested to hear your responses on them. So, first of all, could you tell us why you started your blog on renovation?

Kerry:               Yeas so we did a property before I started the blog and I actually wished that I’d like taking more photos and documented it in some kind of way for myself. So when we were looking to buy our new house, I thought I’d set up the blog. So that’s where it started, and yeah, at the beginning I used it more as a personal diary so it was just for me, but nowadays I sort of write for my readers. So yeah, so it’s changed over the years.

James :             Yeah, I think that’s one of the most important parts of any project is to take the photos, but people forget and all of a sudden it’s complete. What with the nickname? I mean, is that a nickname Kezzabeth?

Kerry:               Yeah, actually that was what my friends used to call me at school when I was starting the blog. I didn’t really, I didn’t have like a set vision in my mind to like what journey it was going to take. I just knew I wanted to write about our house so I just named it after myself and because it’s quite a unique name, I knew I could get the domain and stuff and then um, yeah, so now I’m kind of stuck with it, wishing got something a bit more on focus.

James :             I think it’s very catchy, actually, I, it was probably the name that actually made me connect with you on instagram. No, I like it. It’s definitely a unique example. Um, you mentioned some of the benefits about doing the blog, but also do you think it works in both ways? And what I mean by that is like does it give you a sense of encouragement because of communication coming back to you from followers?

Kerry:               Yeah. So as people leave comments or message me saying how posts to helped them, it definitely makes me want to write more and it definitely encourages you to keep at it because obviously in the beginning when I was getting like no comments or whatever you are doing it for yourself and then as soon as people, you realize people are there and you’re not just talking to yourself, that’s when you want to do it for them, as well as yourself, but like I feel like more with them in mind. I’m so talking to them rather than myself nowadays.

James :             Can you tell us about your first home experience? So finally being able to be on the property ladder. Did you want to do most of the work yourself from the beginning?

Kerry:               Yeah, so we didn’t have particularly great earnings back then and um, it was a bit of a miracle that we could even buy a house, so we knew that we had to buy out that and we knew that to be able to do it up, we’re going to have to do it yourself. So yeah, we actually had no experience with DIY before that. It was just sort of something that we knew we had to take on to be able to have a house that we would like.

James :             Yeah, I mean, you’re not the only ones that are not being put it into that position anyway. It’s very, very difficult to buy a house these days.

James :             Did you end up coming faced with some difficult challenges? and were there any times that you felt like you were to give up or call someone in like a tradesman or a qualified professional?

Kerry:               Yeah, quite a few times. I suppose in the beginning we didn’t even have any, any tools really. That was the challenge, and some jobs that we’ve never done before, we met this doing to close on it and, but then once you start investigating how much things are gonna cost, we were like no no no, we can do this, but yeah, I can’t think of anything specifically, but yeah, it’s definitely, it’s definitely been a challenge, especially just do it yourself and like having a timescale and trying to get the balance right with life and work and DUST!

James :             Well first you’re completely right about having the right tools, and on our blog that launched yesterday. So we’re quite excited about that and we’ve got like a PDF guide to help people and it’s a complete list of tools or any renovation if you’re going to prepare it down the line, but with the tools, you’re probably thinking this tool is going to cost me more, than if I got someone in to do it and then I’m stuck with that tool as well and I might not ever use it again.

James :             Do you think that sometimes homeowners underestimate the time it takes to do a task as well? because you were talking about time scales.

Kerry:               Yeah, definitely, definitely, my other half is always saying, “Oh I think this will on take a couple of days” when actually it takes a couple f weeks, especially if you’ve never done something before. Like, you can’t really plan things going wrong when they go wrong and you can’t foresee things going wrong either.  Everything I think we’ve done always takes longer, even if I think I’ve given myself enough time and never does.

James :             I’ve heard stories myself because like from the tradesmen side or the trades person side, when they’ve actually given an estimate of time, something would take, you should see the picture on the homeowners face! like it’s going to drop because they did not understand how long something will take and then when you start to explain it, it makes sense. So yeah. Crazy.

James :             OK, I’m back to your first home, can you share with us what you felt like when you just completed that renovation? Was it something that you were just like, right, I finally completed it? Or were you just like, I’ve got an addiction for DIY now?

Kerry:               So both. To be honest, I was really glad it was done, we didn’t buy the house because we liked the house as silly as that sounds, but it was just the house that we could afford, so I was really glad to be done so that we could move on because that was always the plan when we built that house, and yeah, we spent I think two years doing that house, sort of learned quite a lot in the DIY world and stuff, and what we could do ourselves and we could do more than we probably ever thought we could do. It was really, really excited to get a new place and rescue and other house, as I like to see it.

James :             I like that comment that you quite like rescue in houses and making them better, that’s nice.

Kerry:               So whilst some tasks in any renovation and quite satisfying another task, somebody can be very tiresome and painstaking, do you have experience of both? or could you tell us the experience of both?

Kerry:               Yeah so anything that makes like an impact straight to a I find really satisfying. So I’m tiling, painting, things like that, and then anything the like it doesn’t really have a visual impact is really painstaking and not very satisfying. So for example, we have repaired so we have some rotten floor joists in dining room, we had to take up all the floorboards and repair the joists along the brickwork and that took about two weeks and we had to hire accroprops and everything. Then once we’d done that and put all the floorboards back down the whole room just looked exactly the same! People would have just been like are you sure you have done anything you tonight frank, the last two weeks

James :             I guess that’s the good part of documenting it as well though, right? Because then after everything’s complete you can look back and go, my God, like I know it looks the same but what we had to do to get there.

Kerry:               Yeah, absolutely, although I did make the mistake of I’m not placing them into my computer once and I lost like two months work, which was actually when we were doing the floor joists as well, so I have no photos to prove it.

James :             Well thank God for icloud based things now where, you know, if you do upload it, at least if your computer breaks down, it’s still somewhere.

James :             So let’s just talk about your blog. Has it been difficult to come up with content? I’ve read your blog and I think you’ve got some amazing content but it must be a struggle sometimes.

Kerry:               Some topics aren’t that interesting or, well they are interesting but it’s hard to make them sound interesting. So that can be quite hard and then because my blog mainly follows like the journey of what we’re doing within our house. If we haven’t done anything for like a week or two, it can be quite hard to sort of keep the content flowing because I feel like, you know, there’s like a blockage. Nothing to really write about so that can be quite hard.

James :             Yeah, I mean it’s um, yeah, you just get like writer’s block sometimes, but then do you kind of go into your own little zone where you trying to think, right, like a series of things to write about or do you just see how it goes kind of thing.

Kerry:               I try to do both I suppose I try to think sort of what we’ve been doing and if I was reading my blog where I would want to know, so what’s useful to my readers on the topic of what I’m currently working on.

James :             Vice verser like, so with the comments or someone emails here that’s been reading your blog, do they sometimes I ask you to write certain things?

Kerry:               Someone asked me, we still have some boarding from some of our old doors. I wouldn’t write a blog post, I haven’t actually done it yet, but they said, “oh could you write a blog post on that?” how you can learn the boarding off the doors. So yeah, I do asked sometimes.

James :             You’ll be surprised at what might not be interested in, to someone who is interested in someone else’s. So it’s, yeah, I mean it’s like that in this industry.

Kerry:               Absolutely. You don’t know what you don’t know, if you don’t know it, that’s my other half always says.

James :             So what’s been the single most satisfying thing to come out of doing this blog?

Kerry:               So I’d say helping others and hopefully making people realize that the things that you can do yourself because I know not everyone would think of certain jobs as a DIY friendly job, and then they’ve said after reading a blog that I’ve wrote about it they’ve said, “oh I’m going to give that a go now. So that was really satisfying, helping others and inspiring others if that’s what I do, yeah and then I suppose I’ve also worked with a few brands from the blog, which is also very nice.

James :             Yeah, but I think you end up giving people a sense of encouragement and confidence for them to go on and do it.

Kerry:               Yeah it’s definitely more confident when you see, if you’ve seen someone else can do it, you think, yeah, I can do that too.

James :             Yeah and this is how I’ve seen like the DIY aspect of the industry grow so much because so many more homeowners have confidence to do it these days and it is very satisfying and it’s enjoyable to look back at it.

Kerry:               It is, I literally built my house myself or whatever, and you can take pride in it, and you can also be a bit more on the finish, make sure you’ve got the finish to your standard.

James :             You can add your stamp to it in a way when you do it yourself. Yeah, exactly.

James :             So where do you get your inspiration from when you’ve been renovating your second home?

Kerry:               Well, it used to be pinterest, but nowadays I definitely look to instagram for like the style and interior aspect of it. Yeah, there’s a problem now with house accounts, and they just photograph that house in the way that they’ve done it up or how they paid for it to be done, and yeah, there’s so many, literally so many creative people on there, it is the best place to go for inspiration design wise. It’s also got people renovating aswell, so you can say see their journey as well, so you can see both the ugly and pretty and It’s really good.

James :             I agree with you. I think instagram is absolutely amazing for this, for this kind of thing.

James :             Do you think instagram is missing anything? In terms of like what do you think there’s anything you think you could do better to serve people like yourself and myself, like in the way that we look at things? Because I always think about that because you could end up going through constantly all the time. Um, but I’m, I’m always like thinking surely it’s an easier way to find what you want I know you’ve got the hashtags and stuff.

Kerry:               I know what you mean they hashtags become really like cluttered because people overuse them and then it’s quite hard to separate. A lot of it is like to the design aspect, so if you’re looking for an answer to any problem is probably not the best place to go. Most of them are quite, you know, pretty and it doesn’t tell you how to necessarily how to do something, but there are tradespeople on there as well.

James :             No just more diyers this is what I would like to see. I love seeing people start from the beginning and you just follow the whole account to when it’s completed. That’s good.

James :             OK, final question, what single piece of advice could you give any homeowner that’s wanting to renovate their own home DIY style.

Kerry:               Plan! Do a lot of Planning and definitely research. It takes quite a long time to learn to DIY, but there’s so many like great resources out there that can help you and tell you how to save. Probably my only advice, plan well and research hard.

James :             One more final question. So I’m going to put you on the spot here, but we’ve been doing the podcast since June 2017. So what’s your opinion on what we’re trying to do?

Kerry:               I think it’s great. I think that needs to be, as I said, you know, really great resources out there for DIY’ers or people renovating event and lots of, um, lots of topics on renovating aren’t talked about that much, often, all about, um, you know, the finish, the end result, not the journey and all the things that you have to tackle your way through. Especially if it’s your first, um, renovation, you don’t know any of that, you want no wait until you come across it

Kerry:               Having advice out there, whether it’s talking about money that’s often not talked about enough, how much things are going to cost or what to look for when you, um, hire a tradesperson I think all that really needs to be talked about so that everyone renovating can expect it and can seek advice.

James :             Thats very nicely said.

Kerry:               Thats what you’re doing saying yeah, it’s brilliant!.

James :             So, like I said, you can find kerry’s blog kezzabeth.co.uk and you can also go on instagram @kezzabeth_blog

Kerry:               I’m on twitter. I don’t tweet very often. So probably instagram and the blogs the best place to find me.

Abi Bacon