Turning to online tutorials to fix a leaky tap or lay some tiles can be a godsend for DIY enthusiasts. Picture: Pikrepo
Turning to online tutorials to fix a leaky tap or lay some tiles can be a godsend for DIY enthusiasts. Picture: Pikrepo

How novice builder used YouTube tutorials to build his dream home

By IZZY FERRIS Time of article published Mar 2, 2020

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London - Turning to online tutorials to fix a leaky tap or lay some tiles can be a godsend for DIY enthusiasts.

Novice Graham Harley took the lessons a few steps further, however – and built a dream five-bedroom house.

With no construction experience, the IT worker completed the home with two outbuildings on his own for just £140 000 (about R2.8-million).

All it took was wading through lots of YouTube videos and DIY books on everything from plastering to roofing – plus an awful lot of time.

The father-of-one, 51, said: "Once I knew everything was level [with the property] I got on with it. It was long, hard work.

"I looked some stuff up online and in books. I knew what I wanted to do – and just did it.

"I had a good contact who helped me out with the products. It’s not the most outrageous build. The place runs very cheap, too.

"There’s an underground heat pump and runs on electric only – no gas. It’s been a labour of love.

"The family have been very supportive. I would work as long as the light allowed. Everything took longer because I was learning."

Harley came up with the idea after a builder joked that anyone could build their own home. So he began his epic project on the site of an ageing bungalow in Ringwood, Hampshire, in 2008.

He first demolished the old property and got to work on the new build with the help of the trusty video tutorials.

Harley and partner Mandie Wales, 48, lived in a caravan on the plot during work – and even had baby Eve halfway through the build in 2012.

Also living there were her two sons from a previous relationship which, they admit, made for a tight squeeze. Harley quit his IT job at one point so he could progress quicker. He finally finished in 2018 and the home has two bathrooms, an open-plan lounge, dining room and kitchen. The two outbuildings have a gym and TV room.

Wales said: "Initially I didn’t think much would come of it. Graham just said he was going to do it – he reckoned it’d take 18 months! We couldn’t have afforded to pay someone to build what Graham did. I’m so proud of him."

Harley added: "A building inspector turned up one day to look at the garage floor. He said, 'You’re not a builder, are you?'. I thought, 'Oh no, what have I done wrong?'. He went on, 'I can tell because everything’s perfect'."

The property is worth a lot more than it cost to build, with similar homes going for £450 000. Harley has since been nominated for a building award.

Although happy with the result, he is not sure he would repeat the feat. "I couldn’t put my family through it," he added. "We’d have to sell this place to do it and it does take a toll on your career. But if I got the opportunity to build somewhere else and my family could stay? I’d do it."

Daily Mail

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