Meet the man who has saved himself £75,000 in tradesmen's fees – by watching YouTube DIY videos.
NHS worker Alex Dodman, 36, has built himself a dream home that includes a gym in the back garden, a family-sized cinema space, and a trendy fold-down bed for his home office.
And he's done it all by learning on the go – watching YouTube videos and reading building forums.
Alex bought the home in Saffron Walden, Essex, which he shares with his partner and two young children, in 2018 for £250,000.
But he has since been told his improvements have helped it more than double in value, to £525,000.
Alex first got into DIY when he bought his first home in 2014, fitting a kitchen and laying a patio.
But after purchasing his current house, his DIY instincts went into overdrive after watching a tradesman put up a stud wall – and realising he could be doing it himself.
He said: “We had the house valued in 2020 and were told it was now worth £525,000, which I put down to the work I’ve done.
“It went from a run-down two-bed, to a four-bedroom house with a nice big garden.
“I estimate I’ve saved about £75,000 in the last few years, simply by not calling in tradesmen and attempting things myself.”
His most recent project was turning a little-used spare bedroom into a sleek and modern office – that could still be called into bedroom service if needed.
After having a brainwave to install a space-saving folding down bed, Alex was dismayed to find a professional carpenter would charge thousands – and he would face a substantial wait.
So, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work himself.
He said: “Since I’ve been working from home I’ve wanted a home office, and I was thinking about doing it for ages before I found out how much it would cost to have someone in.
“In the end, just using pine boards from B&Q, the bed itself cost me about £250 – and then another £160 on the mattress.
“I spent probably two or three weeks on it in total, and it’s great – when it’s up, you wouldn’t think it was a bedroom at all.
“Getting the paint, lighting and flooring bits from B&Q as well helped bring my whole vision to life.”
But his favourite build is what he calls the “Superbed” – two king-sized beds connected in the master bedroom, with a huge projector screen on the wall.
Alex reckons this is perfect for family movie nights, and it also means that when his kids – aged five and two – drop off to sleep with mum and dad, they don’t spend all night kicking each other under the sheets.
His exploits have even gained him a following on Instagram – where 122,000 people and counting can check out his home-builds in detail.
In the garden, Alex’s home gym stands at 6m by 6m, contains enough gear for a full workout – and, at one point, even had its own sauna.
He said: “I’ve got rid of the sauna now and plan on building an outside one next to the swimming pool – which is my current project.
“I watched a YouTube video of a woman in Holland who built her own pool in her garden, and as soon as I’d watched that I rang up and hired a digger.
“I’d never driven a digger before, so I’d dug this massive hole and then there was no going back.
“In general, the hardest thing to learn from a DIY perspective was plumbing – that’s quite annoying. If you do it wrong, you get drips and stuff.
“But it’s not as hard as I thought it was going to be – it really is kind of like water LEGO.
“I wasn’t confident in DIY, but the best way to learn is just by giving it a go. I’ve made mistakes and stuff doesn’t always turn out how you think but giving it a go is the best way.
“I learned almost everything from YouTube, and there are a lot of builders’ forums online where you can find help on loads of projects – any problem you come across, it’s likely someone else has in the past and has written about it online.”
Susie Spence, Interiors Director at B&Q said after seeing Alex’s home transformations: “We love seeing the results of customers home improvement projects, little or big, and Alex’s is such a unique transformation, which is why we reached out to work with him on our Changemaker campaign.
“Making little changes to improve your living space can make a big difference, and we encourage everyone to get stuck into their homes and see what they can do to make their homes and life better.”
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