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Last week MyBuilder caught up with Kerry Chapman from Eurolay Asphalt and roofing, May’s tradesman of the month! Gaining 179 Positive feedback over 4 years, Kerry’s got a lot of happy customers and his business is going from strength to strength.


Eurolay’s beginnings

Kerry’s father has been in the asphalting business his whole life. Initially Kerry aspired to become a professional footballer, even playing for Leyton Orient’s youth team. But it didn’t work out, “I messed it up” he told us, “the lure of being a teenage boy was too much to handle!”. He dropped out of the team and started working for his dad. “I always loved the smell of asphalt!” Kerry exclaimed.

Before starting Eurolay, Kerry went to college and completed a four year apprenticeship, three years at college and one on site. He began at a couple of established companies where he gained invaluable experience, then decided it was time to go it alone. That was 7 years ago and he’s never looked back!

Joining MyBuilder was a game changer for Kerry, 50% of Eurolay’s work still comes through the site. He also finds a lot of potential customers contact him directly after seeing his positive feedback on MyBuilder.


The recipe for Kerry’s success?

“I make sure my profile is up to date, well written, with correct spelling and grammar.” Kerry explained. He also gets professional photos taken of past work so new customers can see the quality of his roofing jobs.

Good communication is also key for making clients happy. He makes sure to get back to customers quickly, and if running late or the job is running over, he makes sure he is completely honest at all times.

Going the extra mile to make sure you get that positive feedback is also important. “I never cut corners to make a job cheaper, I pride myself on Eurolay doing the best job possible. It might cost more, but it will cost less in the long run” he asserts.


Kerry doesn’t charge for quotes, and makes sure to meet customers face-to-face to build that initial trust.

“Customers want to see the person behind the profile, as well as check that you’re a decent person who knows what you’re talking about. Especially customers who have been burnt in the past, they want that peace of mind which I completely understand.”

The future

“Me and the boys are proud of what we’ve achieved on MyBuilder.” Kerry told us, “ my favourite job to date was when we came and fixed the MyBuilder office roof! Being asked to carry out that work was an exciting moment for the company.”


Given that asphalting ran in the family, it seems like Kerry was always destined to work in the trade. One of his earliest memories was playing with balls of asphalt his dad brought home. But little did he know that it would lead to a successful business and almost 200 incredible reviews on MyBuilder!

Check out Kerry’s MyBuilder profile.

Garden hacks

With summer rapidly approaching your garden can quickly get out of hand. We present some great tips to help you spend less time working on your garden and more time enjoying it.


1) Re-use water that you cook with

Much of the water that people throw down their drains every day is rich in nutrients and perfect for your garden.

Water that vegetables have been cooked in can add nutrients back into your soil. Rice water contains starch which helps to encourage healthy bacteria for strong roots. Finally, water that eggs have been boiled in contains calcium which helps plants grow and prevents pathogens from attacking them.

 corn-549328_640 2

Source: pixabay.com/p-549328/


2. Pee in your garden

What?! Yep… believe it or not urine is non-toxic and actually contains nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, all chemicals which can help improve soil nutrients and crop yield. Neat urine can help compost decompose quicker and be used as a weed killer. It’s best to dilute it with 8-10 parts water before adding to grass or plants. Urine also has the added benefit of warding off animals like cats, foxes and rabbits. Before you go wazzing on your garden just remember your neighbours!

Water down urine for your garden

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watering_can


3. Buy a soil testing kit

Add a little science to your gardening by picking up a cheap soil testing kit for around £10. Knowing what nutrients you need to add will give you the best garden soil in no time.

Soil testing kit

Source: Amazon.co.uk/Haversack-Soil-Test-Kit


4. Use candle wax for garden tools

Rubbing a candle on garden tools blades, especially if you’re pruning trees will make life easier. It reduces friction by stopping sap getting on the blades and can also help to prevent rusting.

Candles can be used as tealights

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soy_candle


5. Vinegar is a gardener’s best friend

Who’d have thought that stuff you put on your chips had so many uses in the garden? It’s the perfect weed killer for dandelions, especially on cracks in driveways or paths. It’s great for cleaning lawn mower blades, getting rid of bird poop, removing mildew from garden furniture and giving ants the heave ho from your garden.

 Vinegar has many uses in gardens


6. Newspaper stops weeds and grass

Put down sheets of old newspaper around plants before you put down mulch. The newspaper sheets will ensure that weeds and grass can’t come up through your mulch and the newspaper will eventually break down.



7. Eggshells make a great home for seedlings

If you’re planting seedlings, placing them in eggshells is a good idea for a few reasons, they can be stored in the carton the eggs came in, a little hole in the bottom will allow drainage. Once ready to be planted the eggshell containing the seedling can be directly transferred to the soil, the eggshell will break down and enrich the soil with calcium.

 Egg shell for seedlings


8. Gardens love your leftovers

Vegetable peelings can be added to compost to add nutrients. Potatoes can be used to propagate roses providing just the right amount of liquid they need. Banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds can all be used to add nutrients into soil, whilst coffee grounds will also prevent cats from digging and littering in your garden. Garlic and onion peel can be added to water and used as a natural pesticide to keep bugs away from plants.

 food scraps


9. Lure snails and slugs with Beer

Snails and slugs eat plants and generally cause a nuisance, but they love beer. Bury a plastic cup into your soil and add a small amount of beer, they will crawl in and drown.

Beer trap for snails


10. Get a pet toad

If drowning in beer sounds a little extreme, a more natural and humane way to handle those slimy pests is to get a toad. Build a little hut somewhere dark and cool, add some water nearby and wait (or buy one from a garden centre). Toad’s eat an inordinate amount of all bugs.. and who wouldn’t want a pet toad.

 Toads eat bugs!


11. Turn a shoe organiser into a herb rack

Great for the urban gardener. If you’re short of space or prefer to keep things simple, a hanging shoe rack can make a great herb garden

Shoe organiser for herb rack

Source: greenupgrader.com/files/2009/07/planters1.jpg


Hopefully these handy tips will help save time in your garden. If it’s not even in a state to do that, why not enter our competition? You could win a grand for your garden this summer.

Garden Makeover

Thanks to Andy Robertsnet_efektSteveR- USFWS Mountain-Prairiedavid paceyJon S for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License. 


Garden Makeover



Does your garden need a facelift?
Do you have a compelling garden story to tell?
To earn the chance to win £1,000 towards improving your outdoor space, read on!

This month MyBuilder.com is launching an exciting Garden Makeover Competition. All you have to do is make a compelling case for your renovation by taking a photo of yourself in your garden and uploading it, along with with your story. Remember, a picture speaks a thousand words and the most persuasive post wins!

In 2013 we ran the competition in which recent stroke victim Jon Mason struck a chord with voters, beating over 200 entries by getting 765 votes to win a dream makeover. He describes his garden transformation as life changing and hopes it has a similar impact for this years winner. So does he have any tips? Simply enter and “encourage friends to share and vote… I’ve never won anything before, so if I can win, anyone can!”

jon mason garden makeover

BUT what might £1,000 of work in the garden look like for you?
To help you envisage what’s possible we asked one of our experts, Paul Lockwood of Mulberry Cottage Gardens in Hertfordshire to give us an idea. Paul opted for a Mediterranean feel, basing his costs on a 30sqm garden, the size of the average urban backyard. Instead of using traditional hedging that takes a lot of maintenance, Paul creates formal beds more simply and cost effectively:

“The theme is a raised Italian scented garden. Most people these days want to keep things simple within the garden and keep watering down…so keep the garden under budget and effective by using new pine sleepers for around £20 each (there are deals to be had on bulk buys). You can then create raised beds to any size you require.”

Paul’s design is a work-in-progress but his pictures give you a good idea of how the finished space could look. It’s a perfect solution for smaller city gardens: low maintenance but rich in texture and smell. But as Paul points out, it can work equally well in larger gardens, where you might fancy creating a distinct area that has a character of its own.

“You can create tiers and change levels with this approach which sometimes is much needed in the garden… Be sure to mulch the whole of the beds with well rotted manure for nourishment and moisture retention though.”

Italian Renaissance style gardens are all about balance, order and harmony, so there are a few rules to observe when you are structuring a garden like this, something Paul has tried to reflect without breaking the budget:

“Planting needs to be kept formal but interesting, using lots of scented herbs such as Lavender Dentata, Thyme and Rosemary, which are usually the main backbone to any Italian or Provencal scented garden. Keep the hardy herbs in formal lines at the front of the beds, then backplant with multi-stemmed sweet bay and in-between plant Hydrangea Annabelle or Hydrangea Quercifolia for lovely summer long white blooms.”

Paul’s Italian garden will be subtle in colour, but will smell delicious. Because it doesn’t require hours of hard labour, it’ll give you plenty of chance to kick back and enjoy just sitting outdoors. The formal layout means the garden has a naturally confident, elegant feel, which is just what Paul is aiming for:

“Be sure to create at least two main feature square-shaped beds to show off a couple of specimen trees…. obviously an Olea ’Olive’ here and there. Try to underplant the specimen trees with topiary Buxus (Box) cones and balls and add a few Allium bulbs to show off their purple hue against the different shades of greens and silvers.”

So if you fancy spending the Summer sitting in a scented Italian Haven, post your garden story with a picture of you in your garden.


Mulberry Cottage Gardens’ ITALIAN GARDEN

  • Materials: 15/18 sleepers and Timberlock screws – £340
  • Soil and mulch for beds – £120
  • Planting – £540
  • TOTAL: £1000

One million people in the UK are tradesmen, with the upcoming General Election 2015 we polled our members to find out how they are intending to vote and what matters most to them in British politics. We produced an infographic with the results:

What are your thoughts? What is important to you an how do you intend to vote for this election?

Banner 1000x300

You may have seen we ran a giveaway on our Facebook last week for 5 pairs of VIP tickets to the Grand Designs Live London event this May! If you didn’t win, you’re in luck! We’ve paired up with Grand Designs Live to offer you an exclusive 2 for 1 discount code.

Grand Designs Live, the UKs top contemporary home show, returns to ExCeL London from 2-10 May 2015 Presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, and based on the hugely popular Channel 4 series, the show offers visitors a unique opportunity to see all the latest trends for the home.

With areas dedicated to interiors, technology, kitchens, bathrooms, build and gardens, there’s something for every room in your home. And with over 500 exhibitors, you can shop from a great selection of brands with 100’s of items not available on the high street.
With all this and much more, make sure you plan a GRAND day out this May!

ExCeL London 2-10 May 2015

Claim your 2 for 1 tickets now

We have teamed up with Grand Designs Live to offer you 2 for 1 tickets to the event!
Simply log on to www.granddesignslive.com, follow the link to book your tickets and enter the code MYBUILDER241 to claim.
Or call the ticket hotline on 0844 854 1348.

**T&C’s – Transaction fee of £1.70 applies per order. Tickets must be booked in advance. Offer ends 1st May 2015. Offer valid on standard admission tickets only. Saving based on the door rate.


Last week, we invited two long standing MyBuilder tradesmen Luke Stagg and Dave Gilbert to our office. They took part in our live online discussion to talk about their personal experiences using MyBuilder. Here’s what we found out…

Dave Gilbert started in the trade at 23. “Doctors were retraining as plumbers as they were earning more at the time”, he told us. “I tried 300 electrical employers in Berkshire before one of them would take me on. I worked and trained there in 2010.”

Once qualified, Dave headed to the big smoke where he landed a 6 month sub-contracting job. After discovering MyBuilder, he started taking on small electrical maintenance jobs and his career progressed from there.

Luke Stagg, from Croydon, completed a crash course in plumbing around 7 years ago. He had high hopes of qualifying and landing loads of work, but as a newly qualified plumber that wasn’t the reality. Luke worked hard for 2-4 years to gain some solid experience and then started making a decent living – joining MyBuilder contributed to his success. He says the site “changed his life.”


We asked both tradesmen if they found it hard to win work when they first started using MyBuilder:

Dave: “I found it very easy – I saw that most of the work coming through was what you might consider electrical maintenance, small jobs. I soon worked out how to approach these jobs, for example how I’d message the customer and the speed of responding. The penny dropped that I could start my own business just from the work I was winning on MyBuilder.”

He found that by doing the smaller jobs initially, his feedback quickly grew as well as his client base. Happy customers were recommending him elsewhere and his business thrived. He could then win bigger jobs based on his feedback.

For Luke, success didn’t come as fast, but he kept at it. “It took me a couple of weeks to get shortlisted for my first job. I was up against guys with over 100 feedback.”

“There was one guy who would go for every job I went for and I originally thought “oh I haven’t got a chance.” Then I got shortlisted for a few jobs and bent over backwards for the customer – I still do. Once I got a few good pieces of feedback on my profile I found myself getting shortlisted more and more.”


Feedback is something both tradesmen agree is the bread and butter of their business.

Luke is obsessed with keeping it positive. He even has bad dreams at night where he receives negative feedback. “It’s really sad I know! I’ve woken up and thought oh, no! To me my feedback is massively important and it pushes me to deliver my best at all times.”

As Dave puts it “great customer service skills are necessary when you’re a tradesman. We’re in the service industry so you have to be polite, punctual and honest with the customer at all times. Otherwise you risk giving them a bad experience.”



Initial messages are a huge factor when it comes to winning jobs on MyBuilder.

Dave and Luke both make sure every first message includes a warm, friendly and personal introduction. Dave added that he states his hourly charges in this first message, as well as a time prediction of how long he thinks the job will take. Usually he’s pretty spot on.

“I try to put myself in the customers shoes and think about what they’d want to ask.” noted Dave.

Luke also makes sure he reads job descriptions well so he can tailor messages to each customers needs. “Templates save a lot of time, I have 5 or 6, which I always tweak for each customer. I also include my quote if I feel I can give this over a message, if not I’ll ask for photos so that I can quote in my second message.”

Luke does point out that quoting over messages isn’t always perfect, but sometimes it’s worth it because it means he wins the job quicker. “Sometimes I do quote, and realise I under quoted when I get to the job. But I just bite the bullet. Some guys would go out and then double the price for 20 extra minutes of work but I say that if you want the good reviews, sometimes you have got to bend over backwards to get them.”


During the live chat, it became clear that speed was imperative for both tradesmen when it came to getting shortlisted and bagging that job.

“If you hang about, then you can end up wasting a couple of quid on a shortlist fee, that’s a pint of beer!” exclaimed Luke.

“I have alerts set on my iPhone that make a noise every time MyBuilder emails me leads, I get in there straight away. Especially after being shortlisted, I’ll try and contact the homeowner as soon as I see it.” He adds “You have to be like that with the whole job. If your communication is brilliant, and the customer knows what’s going on at all times then they’re going to be happy.”

Dave: “Like Luke said, it’s about being quick. They’re really impressed when you’re fast at responding once they’ve shortlisted you.”

One tradesman wrote in and asked “What do you do if the client has invited you and another tradesman at the same time?”

Luke: “Go go go! Quick!” – for him it’s about speed.

Dave on the other hand, is a little more careful. If the job has been flooded with loads of interested tradesmen he lets it go – especially if he’s already quite busy. But he says every situation is different and sometimes it’s best to just express interest and call the customer to find out.



“When you started on MyBuilder what sort of area did you cover? And how was it easiest to win work?” – Anthony Millington.

Dave explains that setting your working area on MyBuilder is a huge advantage. He has friends who get up really early to drive a long way for jobs. But all he does is set a 5 mile radius on MyBuilder and works within that every day. This is much more convenient and saves a lot of travel time.

When Luke first joined MyBuilder he tried to cover as big an area as possible. “Soon I realised I was getting more jobs locally. I fine tuned my working area to cover the ‘hot areas’ which were located closer to me anyway.”

For more trade tips please check out our Advice Centre. We’ll also be blogging part two of the town hall meeting next week, so keep your eyes peeled!