Construction site

About Skill Builder

Welcome to Skill Builder, the resource for everyone involved in a building or renovation project. We provide practical guidance for all aspects of building renovation. We aim to give you plenty of hard information, as well as a good deal of inspiration. We recognise that the learning curve in the building industry can be steep and relentless.

As regular viewers of programmes such as Grand Designs will know, when it comes to cutting edge technology there is a lot that can go wrong. In the building industry, Murphy’s Law (if it can go wrong, it will go wrong) sometimes seems endemic, but often it is self-inflicted and unnecessary. In many aspects, the novice is better equipped than the professional to succeed because they tend to seek help at every turn. To use a navigation analogy, it is usually when you think you know where you are going that you get lost. If you know that you don’t know, you are more likely to look at a map.

Do we have all the answers? Certainly not but we aim to provide some of them, and to draw on the experience of industry experts to help you. We also provide product evaluations, practical demonstrations and case histories that will help you source the right products and materials for your project, and more importantly avoid some of the common pitfalls encountered in applying them to your projects. We also aim to help you with the running of your business with our podcast which looks at marketing, pricing jobs, software, mental health and much more.

Skill Builder was co-founded by Roger Bisby who entered the building industry as an apprentice plumber. In those days they still wiped lead joints with a blowlamp and moleskin so you can tell he is no spring chicken. He went on to train as a college lecturer and has also run his own building company for nearly 30 years. He specialises in troubleshooting and has a dogged determination to get to the bottom of difficult problems. He put these talents to good use as the regular expert on London Broadcasting Company’s (LBC) Fix-It Phone In which remained one of their most popular shows throughout its 15-year run. His television work includes appearances as the resident expert on The Terrace (BBC) Watchdog Home Improvement Series (BBC) Rogue Traders (BBC) and House of Horrors (ITV). He currently works for trade publications including Professional Builder, Professional Electrician, Professional Heating and Plumbing Installer, and Professional Housebuilder and Property Developer.

11 comments

  1. Avatar

    Hi Roger,
    First of all I would like to thank you and Robin for all your videos and tutorials, they’re great and have helped me no end. Now a bit about me. Myself and family have started a project to renovate our bungalow in Cornwall, with the majority of work being planned as self build. Now I know alarm bells are probably ringing as soon as I mention self build but I am a serving Royal Engineer and have a appetite to learn with a good grasp of most practical skills I take on (like I said your videos have helped no end so far). Now the project itself is three extensions, two currently and a third to follow once this lots cracked. We have just today got our oversight poured (all checked off by building regs to this stage). Now for the question; living in Cornwall we have needed to fit a radon barrier but I could do with some advice of how to fit the cavity tray and weep holes (position and best materials) over this in relation to DPC?
    We are on instagram @renovatingnumber79

  2. Avatar

    i Rodger,
    I would like to discuss raising damp on my breeze blocks.
    Is it possible to talk to you over the phone or meet in person.
    Thanks

  3. Avatar

    Hi Roger,

    Firstly, Thank you for all your help and guidance! I have been a maintenance engineer in the city of London for some 37 years! Gosh long time when you put it in print. My colleague Brian and I are addicted to skill builder in the form of you tube and pod cast. We are the Morecambe and wise, it has been said to you Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Any way, after following your advise on Abacus bathrooms I am a real convert, I am currently refurbishing our en-suite and require further advise. Long story short, the 4inch waste pipe has terminals under the floor that accommodate 2x 1 1/4” and 1 x 1 1/2” they consist of a moulded plate that looks like it is solvent welded to the body of the pipe. Above that is the standard 4inch inlet for the toilet (above the down stairs ceiling void). I would like to remove both sections. Ultimately I’d like to add a 2inch pipe so I can fit the abacus shower tray in your YouTube vid in our main bathroom at a later date.

    So if I remove said section and fit a terminal under the floor I was thinking a 4 inch opening with short section of pipe inserted with a form of stop end with 2x 2” pipe inserts? This would accommodate future shower and the current en suite. Then fit another 4 inch terminal on top to accommodate toilet. Is there such a thing where I can slide a collar up to insert the two new fittings. Solvent weld the pipe with the slidable collar? If I didn’t have the option of this collar, I can’t see a way of inserting the two new sections. Do you follow? Much obliged for you sage advise. Take care best wishes Paul

    • Avatar

      Hi Paul

      I am trying to follow you but a couple of photographs or a sketch would help a lot.

      There is always an answer. The Abacus tray does take 40mm wastes and that should deal with 25litres per minute.

  4. Avatar

    I’ve recently found Skill-Builder and Robin Clevett, (Robin via Skill-Builder) and it’s been a revelation to me. I’m a very mediocre, (possible even poor) DIY’er but the passion that Rodger and Robin demonstrate for their skills and trade has been an inspiration to me. You two are like hero’s to me and it very strange that I can find hero’s in the building trade, unless your hero’s are cowboys, lol! Your videos are very clear, conscience and enjoyable to follow. When I watch any of the topics you are demonstrating I’m riveted as though it’s a Hitchcock thriller. I’m 64 years old and was made redundant 2 years ago from the corporate financial world after 32 years. I was in a career that lacked creativity, imagination, craft skills and above all enjoyment and fulfillment. Please, please don’t stop these great videos I’m tuned in and about to put up a shelve in the airing cupboard. All the best to you both for 2021!

  5. Avatar

    Hi Roger and robin.

    Will you be doing any videos on soundproofing. I’m looking at doing my neighbouring walls which at the moment are 2 4″ blocks a a bit of plaster. Not very soundproof and the neighbours are getting louder and louder. I trust all the information you give and would love to see a video on this matter
    Many thanks

  6. Avatar

    are you anywhere near chatham kent im looking to get a 6mx4.5m kitchen extension built or can you recommend a friend?

  7. Avatar

    Good morning
    Do you still carry out bathroom installations?
    I look forward to hearing from you

  8. Avatar

    Hi….just some info and guidance really….
    I’ve in the last 6 months laid 70mtrs of Indian stone and would really like to seal it to enhance the natural colours….
    Could you please advise which product would be best to achieve this result….
    Cheers Dave

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *