A few years ago, some strong winds blew my side gate off its hinges. Ripped the screws right out of the wood as if they were nothing more than velcro. I fixed it – temporarily – by drilling out the screw holes and plugging it with wood filler, but the next time we had some wind, the gate fell down again, this time breaking off palings.

I thought I’d have to replace the whole gate. I fixed the holes using timber filler again, but by now the gate was little more than a partially severed limb, waiting to drop off and die. I wedged bricks on either side, turning it into a useless barrier between my front and back yards, but eventually it was blown over again.

When I did find the time to go shopping for gates, I couldn’t find one that was the same as my current, broken gate. Too big, too small, or with gaps between palings that would only encourage my Golden Retriever to bark at passersby. In any case, replacing the gate was going to cost at least $150, without factoring in the time and effort to install the thing.

But it all came to a head a few weeks ago when another gust of wind blew the gate over, this time knocking off about half the palings with the impact. With a curious dog moments from escaping, I had an epiphany – why not just reverse the cross beams, and attach the palings to the other side?

So that afternoon I quickly removed the remaining palings and began hammering them in to the wood. As darkness fell, my fingers began to fill with splinters, but as I stood the gate up and screwed it back onto its hinge, I was struck by how simple – and cheap – this option had been. Where previously I had been looking at $150 or more to replace the entire gate, I was able to install the fixed – and sturdy – gate with nothing more than a few nails, a hammer and a screwdriver.

So next time you’re heading to Bunnings for some DIY work, stop and think if there’s an easier and cheaper way to do it. You may end up pleasantly surprised by what you come up with.