A young mother from Bedfordshire is encouraging women to give DIY projects a go — showing that it can still be done with a small child in tow.
Jasmine Gurney even continued to share videos of her home renovation work while heavily pregnant with her first child, now 17 months-old, and has more than 62,000 subscribers on her "Oh Abode" TikTok channel and more than 80,000 followers on Instagram.
Jasmine says her videos aim to inspire women to learn new skills and take on DIY projects themselves, although she welcomes viewers of all genders.
With the building industry being predominantly male dominated — around 85% — she also aims to encourage the next generation of tradeswomen and teach others who are also thinking of renovating a house.
Doing DIY with one hand with a baby in the other
Incredibly Jasmine continued her DIY videos even while looking after her baby. She has built part of a wall cabinet, painted a shed and worked on wall panelling all while also holding her young son when he wouldn't settle without being held.
Jasmine prides herself on a "no excuses" attitude to her DIY work, but also points out that it's often necessary for families choosing to renovate on a budget. That said, she has encountered some negativity to carrying on DIYing while pregnant with people saying she "shouldn't/couldn't".
"I just didn’t see pregnancy as a barrier to getting on with things. I actually had quite a tough pregnancy too, with both fibromyalgia and hypermobility, I was in constant pain, and one of my coping mechanisms pre, during and post pregnancy for these conditions, is keeping active doing DIY so my mind is off the pain," she explained to Homebuilding & Renovating.
"I had so much I wanted to do to my house still and thanks to the pandemic, was home a lot more to be able to do them. I took nesting to the extreme and started getting as many of the “big” projects out the way before baby was here as I could as I knew I wouldn’t have as much time/ability to do them once he was born."
"There was so many projects I wanted to do to get the nursery ready, so that was my main driving force, then once that was finished I could start ticking off overdue projects."
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Built a pergola while pregnant
Jasmine completed a number of DIY projects while pregnant including building a pergola as well as a pantry, stair gate, neon sign, planters, laminate flooring, floating tables and shelves and a baby changing table.
When asked which project was most difficult to do whilst she was pregnant, Jasmine said: "I thought building my pergola would be the hardest, but it was surprisingly straight forward and my husband was on hand to do the overhead lifting while I screwed things into place.
"My ensuite floor tiling was the hardest project to do whilst pregnant, for sure. It was in July 2021, we had a massive heatwave that week, I was 30-something weeks pregnant, on my hands and knees and in a confined space with not much room to manoeuvre. It was tough, but I still managed it.
"My knees took a battering, but it was the lack of flexibility and my bump getting in the way of me bending over or reaching over that made it difficult. A few back rubs, and a warm shower, and I was right as rain though. Looking back, the majority of my pregnant DIYs were done cross legged on the floor."
Encouraging other women to give DIY a try
Jasmine has expressed her hope that her "can do no matter what" attitude will help inspire others to give DIY a try, noting that there is a lack of female representation in the building industry.
And part of that is batting off negative comments some men in the industry sometimes give her. She said one tradesman told her to "get back on the treadmill instead of stealing jobs off tradies" in response to her video building her pergola when she was 24 weeks pregnant. The guy had clearly failed to spot why she had a large belly — now she just ignores unconstructive comments.
"I’ve always loved pushing the boundaries of gender stereotypes, I grew up watching my mum do the home improvements and decorating and I was always very hands on with fixing things, helping my granddad build things and doing woodworking at school. For A-Level, I was one of Two girls that did the subject," she said.
"When I started my Instagram account in 2018, it occurred to me that I’d rarely seen any women building things or DIYing online. There just weren’t the volume of home or DIY accounts as there are now (since the pandemic) Most people didn’t have the same upbringing as me either, exposed to DIY, or with parents/ grandparents to teach them these skills.
"After building and connecting with my community, it was evident that most women did actually want to know how, but hadn’t started themselves because they were scared, weren’t sure how to start, or lacked their own tools," she adds.
"I started documenting all my projects and teaching other women how to use tools, how to do basic home improvement projects and then it just grew from there. I kept getting requests for particular projects people wanted to do, how to use particular tools and even get requests to hold workshops, which hopefully i should be able to do in the future."
Now Jasmine teaches anyone that wants to learn so that they can gain these skills too. "I do it with the hope that it enables them to go on to teach their children and pass down the knowledge that many people hadn’t inherited from their own ancestors," she said.
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News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals. Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.