Larrikin carpenter Scott Cam, of Channel Nine’s Domestic Blitz, gives us his top ten tips for home reno projects. Scott tells us about essential tools for the DIYer’s toolbox (see our DIY section), the move towards building with sustainable wood products and gives us an insight about builders’ beer etiquette.
What are essential tools for the home handyman?
Scott: “The main thing to remember – when you are a home handyman or woman – is to not go too big too early and not have power tools that could cut your fingers off. So, I think hand tools are the most essential thing.”
- Screwdriver set
- Tin snips
- Wire cutters
- Hand saw
- Square pencil
- Level and shifter
What is the best power tool someone could buy? Or should weekend renovators just hire large tools?
Scott: “The most important power tool you can have is a cordless drill, one with a hammer component so you can drill into masonry or concrete or brick.”
“I don’t like the concept of people that aren’t really up there on power tools to go out and hire a nine inch power saw because it’s so easy to injure yourself with those. So if you hire power tools, make sure they’re small ones.”
What’s your favourite power tool?
Scott: “I’ve got about 300 power tools and 10 circular saws. I really like my chainsaw – it’s petrol driven – and my big circular saw. You have to be very experienced to use a big chainsaw and it can be dangerous for the home handyman.”
What is the most important building tip to remember when revamping your home?
Scott: “Be prepared to make sure you budget. Be careful of variations. If you’ve got a plan, stick to that, and don’t change things along the way because that’s when you get into strife and you’ll run out of money.”
“And be prepared, when you’re in old homes and you’re knocking a few things down, that you’ll have to rewire the whole place, as there’s no point putting wiring in when you’re half way through – so there’s $10,000.”
* Scott advises renovators to check the plumbing and electrical on homes more than 40 years’ old.
Where is the line between home renovation and home demolition?
Scott: “It’s based on your foundations. If you’ve got bad foundations from the start, which a lot of houses had in the old days, (when) they used to just lay the foundations straight onto the ground with no footings. Sometimes a builder or an engineer may need to get involved and say, ‘look there’s no point in renovating, here, it’s best to knock this down’.”
Easy building project for the weekend renovator?
Scott: “Without a doubt it’s to put a deck on the back of the house with a pergola over the top – creating a new room – an extension. It’s an easy extension to do and make it covered, so it’s all-weather.”
“You put a little clear roof on the pergola you knock-up; and a deck underneath that, put a table and chair out there, some blinds coming down to protect against the wind and the rain, and you’ve got yourself a full extension of your house. And even when it’s pouring with rain you can sit out there. It’s without a doubt, an easy way to add value to your home and get a better standard of living.”
Are people moving towards using more sustainable products? Are the products more expensive? Any special precautions people should take when using these products? For example, embedded nails.
Scott: “We use a lot of plantation timber these days in the building industry and I also use a lot of recycled hardwood, which is quite expensive, but it’s a great feature timber. It’s very hard for the home handyman to nail into second-hand hardwood – you’ve got to be on your game!”
“As far as treated pine is concerned, it’s the way to go for your outdoor stuff because it lasts a lot longer and the price is cheap. I think that’s the way we are going in this industry, if we don’t do that, we’ll run out of timber, so we’ve got to start using the stuff they can grow in the pine plantation.”
But if you’re after a bargain, visit a demolition yard, or scout around a house block where someone is demolishing a house, to get second-hand timber. This timber could have embedded nails in it – so take care!
The best advice for our weekend carpenters?
Scott: “Know your limitations, and once you start something, make sure you finish it! Don’t take two years to build it – start it and finish it!”
“And the other thing is, make sure you get beers nice and cold for the 5 o’clock knock-off. There’s nothing finer than sitting at the end of the day and having a cold beer and admiring what you’ve accomplished for that day. It just doesn’t get any better. It’s magnificent!”
Do you think the internet is helping people with renovation/building information? Is it making the building industry lose (or gain) business.
Scott: “I think it’s a great thing that people are doing stuff at home and people are getting stuck into it. I’m not real good on the internet, I need to get in there a bit more myself, but a lot of my friends go onto the internet and find out information.”
“If people do get out of their depths and go a bit hard, then it’s great work for us to come along and fix those things.”
* Article written by Angela Erini