When I first started my account on Instagram I was looking purely for interior design inspiration as we started decorating our white box. We had bought a new build, so were naively thinking there was “no major work” we needed to do in our home; I soon learned differently! The longer you spend in your new build home the more DIY and “fix up” opportunities you find and you start to really spot the differences between your home and the bells and whistles show home.
We’ve added a few touches to our home; we’ve updated the splashback in the kitchen, changed a few light switches and light fittings. I have really enjoyed making these changes as these touches have made our home different from the others on the street. Its great to take a steady approach to these updates and they a lot are pretty easy to do yourself
I was thrilled when I found Robs account, @newbuild_diy_journey, accompanying You Tube channel and website offering tips and advice on New Build DIY. I was flabbergasted at the extra touches he added to his new build home. Plus it was the first interiors account I showed Mr PHD that he immediately started following! In fact, Robs account led to the total overhaul of the garage, so I don’t know whether to thank him or curse him! I haven’t found many accounts on Instagram that are focused on fixing up new builds, so I was keen to get to know Rob and get more advice on how he approaches making a new build home your own. “I think all the jobs we have completed have made some impact and can come under two categories,” says Rob, “jobs which made a difference aesthetically along with jobs which had the biggest impact practically” I feel comfortable with the former but had a lot to learn from Rob about the latter!
Rob and his wife have owned two new builds; firstly a “York” from Barratt Homes and now a “Holden” from David Wilson Homes, which they have lived in for 2 and a half years. Robs feed is full of all sorts of additions and amendments that I would never have thought of, but he has attacked them fearlessly! Even as a New Build Advocate, it surprises me that someone as experienced as Rob chose to buy a new build as he would have the skill to renovate, unlike us and our soft office hands! “There are numerous reasons as to why we went for a new build, not once but twice” says Rob, “Firstly, was the ability to be able to budget our finances, accurately without the risk of unknown structural cost since with new builds you get a warranty along with NHBC support for up to 10 years, our first house had a 2 year warranty, and our current a total of 5 years, which also was a Godsend when we had a water leak over the Christmas period last year“
“The second reason, was the deals to be had on a new build” and did Rob get a steal! He managed to negotiate an exceptional part exchange deal, free upgrades and stamp duty paid meaning the move to their bigger, 4 bedroom executive new build cost just £3300 inclusive of Solicitors fees for buying and selling; unbelievable!
“The final reason for a new build was the blank canvas it gives you to do what you like and create a home, which I appreciate what can be achieved with any age property, however for me, I know the electrics are/should be to current standards as well as plumbing, so for a keen DIYer like myself you know what to expect.“
What makes Rob really unique in his approach to fixing up his new build, is his ability to see practical additions that make his home more “user friendly.” Things that I, in my focus of painted ceilings and up-cycled lampshades, wouldn’t see at all until taking inspiration from Rob. “I am one for not making life difficult in the long run,” says Rob, “so I like to spend the time early on concentrating on the attention to details, for things such as an outside socket on the garage for when cleaning the car, Hot & Cold outside tap and an extra socket in the living room for either side of the settee for phone charging.”
Genius! I suddenly feel the need to revolutionise our driveway and do away with all the extension leads I have around the house!
I consider myself to be pretty fearless when it comes to painting the house in strong colours, picking out bold statement wallpapers and furnishing the house with pieces I love rather than following trend. I do however, lack confidence with anything remotely “structural.” When Rob talks about his awesome additions like the outside tap and new plug sockets, it immediately sets off a flare for me to “call a man in”; what a terrible feminist I am! So where does Rob get his confidence and skill from? “Since I began posting my DIY work on social media, and following others in a similar situation to us, I found there are many tasks that with a little research reading up or watching YouTube videos, can be completed yourself; things like connecting up a TV aerial. Even jobs such as fitting outside taps, to me is something I believe everyone can do; don’t get me wrong, its not an easy job, but a bit of time and research… anything is possible”
With the impressive work that Rob has done to his new build home, I was keen to find out which of his projects he is most proud of. Here’s a run down of some of Robs favourite home improvements!
The Kitchen Sink
“The most recent job was upgrading the Kitchen Sink. Originally we had a stainless steel sink which simply looked tacky and industrial. We changed this for a sink from the same manufacturer but was Black and made from Tectonite plastic giving a very executive look, in my opinion and totally transforming the kitchen.”
I have to agree with Rob on this one… even though I didn’t mind my sink until I saw his! I am not a fan of the cheap stainless steel sink the developers have installed in our home; it scratches with just a harsh look and is a nightmare for water marks. I did think that Robs choice of a black sink would have similar issues for watermarks, but the clever cookie that Rob is, he (of course) did his research and used a trim coating from Carbon Collective that would normally be used for a cars plastic trim. Voila; no water marks and easy to clean! Top Tip!
Additional Kitchen Units
I added an additional unit in an empty space, sourcing matching cupboard doors and a unique sized unit & worktop. With this I incorporated a hidden bin which pulls out, along with mounting a TV above on the wall, and hiding a Sky Q box.
In speaking to Rob about this, I eye rolled again. Not with any negativity; one of those eye rolls you do when your thought process is “why didn’t I think of that?!” Not so much for the additional units, but the hidden bin! I don’t know when I got to the age that the idea of a hidden bin would thrill me so much, but I’m not ashamed to admit it!
The Garage and Workshop
“My favourite place of all the house is my garage, our garage is unique for a new build as it’s a single and a half, with a workshop on the rear. When we first moved in this had 2x lights and 1x socket. I rewired this following all standards incorporating numerous sockets along with down-lights on the outside lighting up the garden.”
“Another was probably the job I found to be very daunting which I did earlier in the year, was tiling the kitchen with gloss white metro tiles, but believe me, what a transformation it made, matching in perfectly with the high end appliances and gloss white shaker style cabinets.”
I have to say that this was one of the biggest differences we have made to our kitchen. Developers tend to put a cheap up stand instead of tiling; we realised when we re-tiled our splash back this is likely because it wont show up if any of the units aren’t level, which sadly we found was the case with ours. The new improved splash back verses the glass sheet installed by the developer is a huge improvement, achieved at a relatively small cost; we of course did get a tradesman in as we weren’t quite as brave as Rob to attempt to do it ourselves!
“One of the jobs that stick out the most to me is the front garden project I did; removing all the plants, bark and replacing with block paving edging and chippings, and going with a simple look of plants followed by re-levelling the grassed area. It is so nice when people are passing and stop to comment on how nice it looks.”
Robs front garden offers a great solution to a problem that many new build home owners find, that being the inordinate volume of clay and rubble that “lies beneath” any external area of the house. We also went low maintenance in the front garden with a small amount of turf and some easy going, good natured shrubs.
So what’s next for Rob…? Seems he is a man after my own heart and that his home will never be completely “done” and there will always be a future project on the horizon. He is currently working on his back garden, designing the landscaping, laying the patio, levelling and completing the re-turfing himself of course!
And his advice for new build purchasers…
“I think a common misconception is the expectation that you wont have any issues with a new build, as it is new. Unfortunately this wont be the case, as much as we all would love it to be, there will always be little niggles that need sorting. In my experience I have found, not going in all guns blazing when there is issues is the key to getting things done, along with getting niceties later on, like Paving Slabs at cost price. My final bit of advice would be with the options on the houses. There are some tasks that just simply cant be done after the home is built without a lot of mess internally, so such things as additional outside wall lighting is worth paying the builder for if more are wanted, in my opinion.”
Whatever stage you are at with your new build, Robs tips, tricks and ideas are a great source of inspiration for how you can “fix up” your new home. It can feel initially disappointing to realise there are additions and changes you might need to make when you’ve bought a brand new house, but I implore you to see these DIY differences as just as exciting as those big decorative decisions. Like Rob, I also encourage you to go into buying your new build with a realistic expectation of the work that can still be involved. So let this be a starting point for things you might consider adding to your home to balance the aesthetics with practicalities that will make your home beautifully functional and unique.