AMH is an independent media house free from political ties or outside influence. We have four newspapers: The Zimbabwe Independent, a business weekly published every Friday, The Standard, a weekly published every Sunday, and Southern and NewsDay, our daily newspapers. Each has an online edition.

DIY home renovating tips

FASHIONS come and go, but the home designs that make people feel good really don’t change.

FASHIONS come and go, but the home designs that make people feel good really don’t change.


Consider layout features for your house that allow natural daylight to shine in on two sides of your most important rooms.Take note of the wonderful effect created by a cascade of steeply pitched roof surfaces.Create transition zones between indoor and outdoor spaces.

Build a scale model first Few people have the ability to visualise a house or addition in 3D while looking at a set of two dimensional drawings. It’s tough. That’s why building a scale model offers so much value, even with renovations.

Beware of the mould hazard Homes in cold areas are especially susceptible to interior mould growth. As warm, moist indoor air filters through cracks around windows, doors and electrical outlets, it cools, creating condensed, liquid water droplets within wall cavities. At a minimum, insist on the very best vapour barrier installation to seal against this. Better still are the new condensation-resistant construction systems like structural insulated panels, and walls made of insulated concrete forms. Even an exterior layer of rigid foam applied to the outside of a stud frame wall greatly reduces the potential for condensation inside wall cavities.

Choose the best roofing materials A large part of the cost of any roof goes to the people nailing down the shingles. That’s why paying more for the best roofing materials is the least costly long-term option. Today’s top asphalt shingles offer twice the working life of standard ones (up to 50 years in some cases), yet should only add about 25% to the overall cost of a shingling job.

Ventilate siding, brick and cathedral ceilings Few exterior walls are completely rainproof. Ventilate the area behind siding, brick and stone. The best options are made of synthetic mesh that holds siding about 1/4-inch away from exterior walls, allowing water to drain downwards and out harmlessly.

Tall, vaulted, cathedral ceilings are inspiring The space between rafters needs to be ventilated to the outdoors with open channels connecting peak and eaves. Don’t stuff the space full of fibreglass insulation.

Build Clear Expectations Before any work begins, you need to build a two-way understanding with your contractor. As a homeowner, you’re entitled to a detailed, written contract outlining everything that will be done for a specific price paid. Some builders will try to convince you to pay them by the hour, plus materials. Don’t do it. This approach provides no incentive for efficient work and leaves you with no clear idea how much building you’ll receive for your dollar.

On the other hand, in all courtesy and fairness to your contractor, you need to understand that deviation from any detailed plan is costly, troublesome and frustrating.

You must be prepared to pay extra (sometimes a lot extra) for changes to the contract you signed. This is only fair, so don’t change your mind unless you must.