Not Surveyor SOS!


As a Surveyor we note that there are many television programmes covering the property market aired on terrestrial and satellite television stations which we review in this section of our website. Our television review is our light hearted opinion of the television programme and gives a breakdown of the programmes content. In no way are we advertising the television programme or receiving remuneration for promoting it on our website we are simply giving general information.

If you need help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, dilapidations or any other property matters please free phone
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DIY SOS was first aired on BBC 1 back in 1999 and with Series 23 being planned for 2012 - this is a successful and long running property programme produced by BBC Productions Bristol. The show covers the length and breadth of the country with the DIY SOS team helping to change people's lives by helping with the DIY disasters they have had to live with.

The show has developed over the years with DIY SOS the big build taking on, as the title suggests, bigger projects with more major construction necessary.

The DIY SOS team have ten days to turn the DIY disaster around and reveal at the end of the show the transformation.



DIY SOS has always had Nick Knowles at the helm but in its earlier days had Lowri Turner and various other presenters front a small section which was later dropped from the format.


Nick Knowles

Nick Knowles has been the presenter on DIY SOS since its launch, he is London born, divorced with three children and has forged a career presenting various TV programmes including a couple of years in Australia with WIN TV in their Channel 4 news room.

Although not having a background in construction, interior design nor surveying, Nick is a down to earth, solid presenter and a professional leading the viewer from start to completion in an informative manner throughout the show.

A Surveyor Nick is not but a good host with an air of authority and a good understanding of each week's DIY project he is an excellent presenter of DIY SOS.


DIY SOS team

The DIY SOS team of building experts have become almost as well known as Nick the host presenter with Mark Millar who is a carpenter, Julian Perryman and Mat Skelton who are builders, Chris Frediani who is a plasterer and Billy Byrne who brings his expertise as an electrician.

A Surveyor would be a good addition to the team helping to address the issues in each property the team are asked to turn around.


Programme format

DIY SOS each week gives the viewer an insight into a DIY issue where often the people featured have lived for a considerable amount of time without being able to address their DIY problems. The show varies by covering the whole of the country with a huge variety of properties and scenarios which need to be addressed. This is much like our role as a Surveyor when asked to carry out Specific Defect Reports for our clients helping with identifying property issues and preparing a report to help address them.

Nick Knowles each episode introduces the viewer to the scenario of the show and the owners are interviewed with the property problems shown in full. The programme likes to help deserving families and the viewer by the end of the show quite often becomes touched by the issues they have had to suffer and with the reveal the emotions run high for owner and viewer alike.

The DIY SOS team not only call on family and friends to rally round and help but local tradesmen in the area give their time, expertise and often materials too to help with the scenario. Community spirit is strong and the feel good factor spills over with people pulling together to change someone's living environment and life for the better this is feel good TV.

The various stages of the project are shown interspersed with talking to the owners and getting to understand how the improved living environment will change their lives.

The programme is informative as various stages of building work are shown as well and interior design and with the huge variety of properties and scenarios the formula can run and run.

Unfortunately with many builders around the country not always working to good practice standards we are often called in to survey properties suffering from defects.

The project complete it is time to reveal to the owners their new home with their reactions shown as they see the transformation. Outside finally after taking in what has been achieved in such a short time the DIY SOS team, family, friends and local trades are all congregated to applaud the owners and the reaction is priceless.



The location of the episode is set, a sneak preview of the project to be tackled and introduction to who they are going to help. Nick the presenter and the DIY SOS team are on hand to help then the picture freezes to the DIY SOS logo.



Contemporary, upbeat, light, bright and positive.


Programme example DIY SOS The Big Build Dartford

Standing with The Dartford Crossing in the background and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge Nick Knowles introduces the viewers this week to Dartford in Kent and another DIY SOS challenge.

A single Mum with young son is in need of the team's help living in a Post War Prefab house made of tin something the DIY SOS team have never tackled before in the twelve years the show has been running! The team have ten days to turn what is practically a derelict house into a home for the Mum and her son with the help of a small army of local helpers plus the usual DIY SOS team of builders.

The Mum and her son have been in the house for ten years, it was not quite as bad as it is now when they moved in but over the years life has been tough. Her son suffers from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and they had some difficult times whilst looking to transfer him to a school which is specifically aimed at children with similar difficulties. With her son's condition and two part time jobs trying to support them both life is hard with no money to spend on the house and little time too.

The Post War Prefab house was built originally to last fifteen years and sixty years later is still standing relatively untouched since it was built. The construction leaves the house feeling cold and has deteriorated over the years but does have a little shed at the bottom of the garden where her son likes to escape to. The shed area has his play area of a construction site (he has a collection of signs and cones etc) and doctor's surgery (with his files and charts etc) and as he grows older suffering with Autism he will need more space as often people with this degree of this condition never lead an independent life.

Over the years as a Surveyor we have often been asked to survey Non Traditional Construction homes many of which have included Post War Prefab construction dwellings.

The DIY SOS team get cracking and Nick visits the Mum and her son who, due to his condition finding noise disturbing and change difficult, have moved out whilst the work is taking place. At nearby Grandma's house Nick learns how ASD children like to have space and find it hard with a lot of people being around and how the Mum has learnt to cope over the years in a home with holes in the floor and electrics hanging down from the walls. As the young boy gets older his Mum would like him to have a special area in the house where he can have his own space the garden shed works okay at the moment but certainly he will outgrow it and it gets very cold in the winter.


A new design

Back at the house all the tradesmen are busy with the architectural designer Oliver Heath at the helm. Oliver appeared in the successful BBC series Changing Rooms in the past and is a nationally renowned designer wining many awards from for example from The British Institute of Design and BBC Young Designer of the Year he brings everyday homes up to scratch to make them fit for the future including his own 1970s home in Brighton.

Oliver explains that there are many properties like the 1940s Prefab house they are working on which need making fit for the future and today's standards kicking them into the 21 st century with adding insulation, helping to stop draughts and making them low energy consuming. Oliver also has to make sure the design suits the Mum and her son with their particular needs balance between technically efficient home but also a wonderful nurturing space to live as individuals but also together.


History of the Prefab house

Black and white footage takes the viewer back to just after the Second World War with a Prefab house being constructed houses were made of steel and all sorts of materials including concrete and aluminium. These houses were fast to erect and were only ever meant to last for fifteen years so sixty years on this episodes house really should not be in existence!

As a Surveyor we can see the problems these properties have particularly regarding the lack of warmth and thereby heavy heating bills.


The Plan

To make the house be around for at least another sixty years the team plan to reconfigure the entire layout of the house on the ground floor with a hallway and lounge next door with the old kitchen becoming one of two rooms with one at the back for the son to retreat to and the other a new study area for the Mum giving them each a space of their own. An extension to the rear is going to be added to allow a new kitchen/dining room. As the team are concentrating their efforts downstairs upstairs will have a lick of paint. Outside the house will be wrapped in a thermal layer with render together with new windows and doors throughout to help reduce the heating bills significantly.

The extension is being started with a new super fast system where the foundations are drilled rather than dug which should be complete in just a few hours.

Perhaps this is why surveying is such an interesting career as building methods change over the years and with new developments in construction techniques there is always something new to learn.


The Garden and the play shed

The son's beloved shed is heading for the skip although they know that he does not like change they understand at age 10 he soon will be hitting adolescence and the time is right to make the change so he will enjoy the new result for years to come.

The garden is somewhere the son feels safe and in control, a garden designer is called in who specialises in gardens for children with learning difficulties. The garden designer wishes to include elements in the design which are not prescriptive in how they are used i.e. the only thing you can do is slide down it or the only thing you can do is sit on it etc elements instead are saying you can sit on this, you can balance on, stand on, lay on, slide down etc depending on what you fancy doing. When looking at an area in the garden for children it will not necessarily look neat and tidy to adults but will be what the children like. The garden idea is to continue themes from the house with two separate garden spaces a play area to the rear with a super cool new play shed and at the front a new relaxing decked area for the Mum to chill out in. The garden is set at a thirty degree angle to the house to maximise the space and from the new kitchen window the Mum will be able to keep an eye on her son as it is directly in line with the shed.



When surveying properties we not only look at the buildings but are always interested in the outbuildings and garden as a whole particularly making sure there are no trees within influencing distance of the property.




The building work takes shape

The base for the extension is complete which would normally take four or five days using the new method of drilling, the walls are arriving which are basically a modern day Prefab construction which have several inches of insulation which is exactly what this tin house needs. The walls and roof with this construction method will be erected in a day which will be an amazing transformation. A project built in the traditional way could take about four months to get to the same stage.


Prefab history

One of the DIY SOS team was brought up in a Prefab in the 1950s which was a single storey with a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and a toilet reminiscing that they were temporary constructions not meant to last for years and years. However with the need for housing many have remained and over the years some have had insulation added, rendering etc to update them which can be seen with some of the lady's neighbours properties.

Today, as we are Surveyors, we are frequently as when carrying out a survey on a property about its thermal efficiency particularly with the current times of ever increasing energy bills.


The build goes on

It is Day 2 and it is pouring with rain. Work goes on, a stump grinder is in place which is a machine that grinds tree stumps away to help open up the garden. More traditional skills such as plastering have started and the project is well and truly taking shape.


How will this new home help?

The son's headmaster is enthusiastic about the project saying that a better living environment will help the son.


Halfway point, sun shining - all going well

The outside of house is being wrapped with thermal insulation, skylight window for kitchen extension is going in which will flood the room with natural light there is a hive of activity with all involved working to make the house a better, safer and warmer place for the Mum and her son to live.

Another meeting, this time Mum and son and Oliver the designer who shows them some pictures of what has been going on at the house.

In the garden the turf is going down and planting is taking shape. However a snag there is no budget left for a desk for the Mum as they cannot afford anymore timber! Oliver, the designer after trying to expand the budget unsuccessfully decides to be creative scaffold planks, sanded down will make a perfect desk!

Over the years as a Surveyor we have come across many unusual materials used within properties and find the designer solution of saving costs using scaffold planks most inventive!


New playhouse / shed

A huge shed arrives with two large circular windows Nick does a Playschool what is through the round window today routine! Building site signs and working traffic lights too are all installed no doubt the son will love this new space.


Thermal imaging

A thermal imaging camera view of property shows much less heat escaping compared to the thermal image picture taken at the start of the project. All helping to save money, walls and roof all insulated helping to turn the house into a warmer environment and energy efficient. When asked by our clients when carrying out surveys we often use a thermal imaging camera to investigate heat loss in a property.



The viewer is shown around the house with Nick making reference to lots of shades of grey! with accents of pink in the accessories.

A tearful Mum is amazed at her new show home style house and all the transformation, this is a new chapter and new start for a new life in her new home. Her son cannot stop smiling and saying wow in the new house and in garden he bouncing up and down with joy with his new shed.






Time for thank you's

After the reveal the DIY SOS team and all the local trades, family and friends have all congregated to give a round of applause and share in the Mum and her son's happiness.


In summary

Positive thoughts and new beginnings for the Mum and her son with an amazing transformation of their home. As a Surveyor we found DIY SOS informative regarding building techniques and the history of properties built Post War in this Prefab construction. The programme moves at a pace allowing the viewer an insight into all the changes as well as interviews with the owner and gaining an understanding as to how the improvements will help change their lives.





Reference to other interesting articles on property television programmes

and property issues are:-

Homes Under The Hammer

Build, Buy or Restore?

Help! My House is Falling Down

Property Ladder and Property Snakes and Ladders

Cowboy Builders



Independent Surveyors

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0800 298 5424 for a Surveyor to give you a call back.


Independent commercial property surveyors

If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site


We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

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