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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 April, 2005, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Party people pass on DIY advice
Painting generic
What tips should you consider before getting started?
Over the bank holiday weekend, many of us will be reaching for the toolbox and squaring up to tackle some much-needed home improvements.

But what should we bear in mind before we swing the hammer?

The BBC Wales news website asked Cardiff-born designer Deborah Drew, from TV show DIY SOS, for her advice.

And, since the UK is in the grip of an election campaign, can representatives from the four main political parties give any practical advice to help?

Conservative Shadow Welsh Secretary Bill Wiggin said he was "not bad" at DIY.

Lembit Öpik MP
Do not let Lembit Opik near your plumbing!

"I have an O-Level in design technology and list DIY among my hobbies," he said.

However, he said he kept away from mains electricity and gas, and the best advice he would give people was: "Always read the instructions - then read them again".

Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary leader, said he was no good at DIY.

"My wife doesn't let me go anywhere near a hammer and nails as I always end up having an accident," he said.

His top tip for enthusiasts was: "Do your best, and don't call me for advice".

Lembit Öpik, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, admitted he was "not really" any good at DIY, and told a story of how he tried to fix his toilet when it stopped flushing.

Ann Clwyd
Ann Clwyd has a bad experience with flatpack furniture

"I bought a new cistern, broke the wall mounting points, flooded the bathroom, installed the new cistern, discovered it didn't fit, had to put the old one back on and shoved a new ballcock inside - it works now," he said.

"I turned a £3 15- minute job into a £35 water-spraying, wall-smashing, ballcock-breaking, three-week epic."

Labour's Ann Clwyd revealed she was not a big fan of DIY.

"Twenty years ago, I attempted to assemble a flatpack chest of drawers - after two hours trying to assemble it, I found the final panel was scratched, so it took two more hours to take it apart," she said.

"I vowed then never to do DIY again."

Professional help

Moving over to the expert, Deborah Drew said that if people were only just beginning to think about DIY for this weekend now, it was already too late.

"Preparation is important - it might be better to plan ahead for the summer," she said.

"The best idea is to get some catalogues in and have a good think. It wouldn't hurt getting advice, and checking availability of plumbers and electricians, and delivery times of things like sofas."

She said that doing a quick makeover, such as painting a room, would be a more realistic target.

"If you are going to do something, keep it manageable, and if you have a house that needs everything, go from top to bottom, so you are not traipsing through finished rooms," she said.

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27 Feb 04 |  Staffordshire
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