Handy home improvement tips from DIY expert Jo Behari

If you’re into home improvement TV, magazines and books then there’s a good chance you’ve already come across Jo Behari. Having co-presented UK-based CH4 show Make, Do and Mend, Jo also co-authored The Girls Guide to DIY and is now resident DIY expert at House Beautiful magazine. 

Jo Behari holding paintbrush

In between doing some jobs around the house with Sugru Mouldable Glue, we put a few nosey questions her way. She was jolly nice and answered them all. Enjoy!

You couldn’t move in the '90s for home improvement shows. That slowed down in the last decade, but do you see it coming full circle in the age of Instagram and Pinterest?

"I think Pinterest started the modern resurgence and Instagram has certainly helped. Some of the projects you see on various influencer feeds are a little overwhelming and not necessarily achievable for the average DIY'er. As great as it is to have aspirational inspiration, don't get discouraged if your project doesn't come out like the ones you see on a grid. They often have behind the scenes help and clever editing before they showcase their finished project."

Are you from a handy family? Where did your passion and skills come from?

"My family wasn't massively handy, more extremely independent. I was taught if you wanted a job done you should learn how to do it yourself before getting someone else in. Even if you didn't actually do it yourself, at least you knew how! My dad always did DIY jobs at home and I liked to follow him around and watch. He bought me a toolkit when I moved out of home and gave me his old drill (which still had a cable and a chuck key)."

What's the best bit of a project for you?

"I love demolition. I really like ripping stuff out and taking a sledgehammer to stuff. There is something so satisfying about un-DIY-ing. It's a great way to get rid of some pent-up energy!"

How can we encourage more people to ‘have a go’?

"I think the key is to take away the fear. People are scared that something will go wrong. But if you do your research and have help on hand, then even if something does go wrong, at least you’ve learnt something. If you never try, you'll never learn. There are so many free resources on the Internet to show you how to do pretty much any DIY job and if you know a friend or family member who is good at DIY - then ask them to help. People love to trade their skills, so it's a good way to get some tips and tricks from someone in the know and it makes the job much more fun too."

Jo Behari in a room being renovated

Are there any good ‘starter’ jobs for people lacking confidence?

"Something like resealing a bath is a great starter job. The sealant around a bath often gets mouldy over time. It's a simple job to do and so satisfying once you've done it. But for a novice it can seem like a daunting task. Again, do your research and before you use a sealant gun on the bath itself, practice on some old cardboard so you can get the motion right."

Which 3 things can help make a DIY project a success?

"Planning, planning, and more planning! It sounds boring and we've all heard the old adage 'fail to plan, plan to fail'. But it is so true. Make sure you have all the right tools and materials, take note of the different steps, research from other sources before you start to ensure you know the pitfalls and insider tips, prep your working area, and make sure you set aside enough time. All this planning will make the job go smoothly and give you the confidence to tackle future projects."

What's the project you’re most proud of?

"The first time I tiled a kitchen splashback. It was daunting, as I had never done it before, and it involved lots of cuts around sockets and fittings. I planned it out very carefully and learnt some lessons along the way, but the finished product was so satisfying. It looked great and it probably took twice as long as it should have, but it was worth all the time and effort."

Jo Behari with her toolkit

Have there been any DIY challenges that nearly beat you?

"Yes, plenty. I am not a massive fan of leaks. Water will find a way, so when you think you have found the source of the leak and dust your hands off in admiration at your success, you hear drip drip drip from another area. Or even worse a week later and a damp patch in a different place appears. Leaks are my DIY nemesis!!"

What 5 essentials are in your ‘toolkit’?

  1.  A good quality hammer drill 
  2.  16oz hammer 
  3.  Good quality set of screwdrivers 
  4.  Bradawl 
  5.  Torch

So what did you do with your last pack of Sugru?

"I’m pretty handy with a drill, but sometimes an alternative can offer a better solution. 

Sugru is a great way to attach things to tiles without drilling. The tiling in our bathroom was reasonably new. We were still deciding on a larger shelving unit near the bath but in the meantime needed something to hold all the soap and shampoo bottles. 

Sugru packs and shower caddy

I attached this simple bathroom caddy using one single-use pack of white Sugru, as it holds up to 2kg. After 24 hours, I loaded it up and it stayed stuck beautifully. 

Shower caddy mounted to tiles with Sugru

The best bit is knowing that if we decide on a bigger unit, I can remove this smaller caddy with a sharp knife, without damaging any of our tiles."

Fantastic stuff. Find out more about the project: How to organise your shower without drilling.