Lee Picknell - Fascias, Soffits and Guttering

Last month’s Storm Doris didn’t have the most dramatic name in the world, but when it was classed as a “weather bomb”, it felt a bit more serious. When it was disrupting travel and damaging property around the country, it definitely made its presence felt, and with April and it’s traditional showers on the way, there’s no better time to think about how your home will cope in a storm.

Fix your fencing

 

Fencing, especially when it’s old and neglected, is one of the most common casualties of bad weather and strong winds. You can prepare for the worst by checking for loose boards or panels, and making sure posts are still deeply rooted. If it does suffer damage, an experienced fencer can help repair or replace the affected areas.

 

Ready your roof

 

Another common victim of high winds and lashing rain, it only takes a small amount of damage to a roof to lead to big problems down the line. A few tiles out of place can lead to major leaks, which can mean significant redecoration. If you’re worried, consult a roofer. Danny Morgan of Morgan Roofing advises asking for pictures from tradesmen so you can see what they’re doing: “When it comes to roofing, a lot of the problems with bad tradesmen stem from the fact they can see things you can’t. I make sure I take pictures of everything, before and after, so I can show the homeowner what needs doing and how I’ll tackle it.”

 

Carl Lamon - Chimney & Fireplace Specialist

 

Gird your guttering

 

As with roof damage, a broken gutter can seem insignificant at first, but can lead to much bigger problems – if a leak is pouring water onto a particular spot on the wall, it can lead to internal damp and mould, and ruin external plaster work or painting. A specialist in fascias, soffits and guttering like Lee Picknell of LP Fascias (top picture) will be able to repair damage and replace any broken parts.

 

Check out your chimney

 

As with loose roof tiles, if chimney pots or bricks come off in a storm, they pose a threat not just to property but people too. If your chimney is old or hasn’t been inspected in a while, it can be worthwhile to have a chimney and fireplace specialist like Carl Lamon of Oxon Stoves (middle picture), or an experienced bricklayer, to assess it and deal with any issues before it becomes dangerous.

Lighthouse-Club

For many tradespeople, falling sick simply doesn’t feel like an option.

Being self-employed means there’s no one there to cover the cost of taking a day off to recover, and a longer-term illness can be hugely damaging to a tradesman’s business, as well as their health.

It’s a sad coincidence, then, that many illnesses come as a result of working in construction. Each year, there are more than 69,000 new cases of work-related illnesses that can be attributed to working in the construction industry, while over 45% of occupational cancer cases in the UK can be directly attributed to working in the trade. As well as this, there are on average 40 fatalities on building sites each year, leaving devastated families across the country.

Thankfully, The Lighthouse Club Charity is there to step in when things get tough for tradesmen. As well as providing welfare and wellbeing advice to those working in construction, it also provides emotional and legal support, and even financial assistance to those most in need. In times of crisis, they can help, with a 24 hour hotline that can also support tradesmen struggling with issues of debt, stress or addiction. They can also give advice on health, benefits and career changes.

At MyBuilder, we pride ourselves on promoting the best tradespeople and their work, helping their businesses grow and prosper. That’s why we’re supporting the Lighthouse Club Charity, kicking off with the Brainy Builders Pub Quiz next week, Thursday 16th in Clapham, London. (Too far away? Let us know if you would like a MyBuilder Pub Quiz, in your area!)

Find out more and book your place

If you aren’t able to make it to the meet up next week, but would like to make a donation to the Lighthouse Club, you can also do this via the Eventbrite page.

Find out how The Lighthouse Club helps people in the construction industry and their families in this video:

_95046868_sun

If you’re a self-employed tradesman, the newspaper headlines this morning wouldn’t have made for happy reading.

“Rob the Builder”. “Spite Van Man”. “No Laughing Matter” – the government has been criticised by all sides for its budget plans.

Some of the biggest news to come out of chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget announcement yesterday concerned the self-employed. If the plans go ahead, the Class 4 National Insurance contributions paid by self-employed workers, such as plumbers, electricians and decorators, will rise from nine per cent to 11 per cent in April 2019. According to the Sun newspaper, the move will hit 2.84 million people, costing them each £240 a year.

At the same time, sole traders who have become incorporated and pay themselves with dividends instead of an annual salary will also be hit, with the tax-free amount they can hand themselves cut from £5,000 to £2,000 a year, which the Sun estimates will be an average hike of £320 a year for 2.2m workers.

In a case study, the paper looks at self-employed painter and decorator Sandie Webster, who’ll be out by £60 a year when the changes come in. The Lincolnshire tradeswoman will benefit from Class 2 National Insurance being axed, only to be hit by the rise in Class 4. “With no holiday or sick pay, I’m thinking twice about whether I should give up being self-employed,” she told the paper.

The government, which has previously pledged to freeze or cut taxes, is facing a backlash from its own MPs over the proposals, with former Tory minister Andrew Murrison expressing concern for the people running their own businesses: “This party on this side has always been, I hope always will be, the party that supports white van man.”

Pressure is growing on the chancellor to backtrack on the National Insurance changes – but at the moment, he’s insisted they will go ahead.

 

Free-Job-February-compressor

For many, February can be the worst time of the year. It’s cold, it’s dark, the festive season is a distant memory and spring is still a while away. To top it all off, this year Storm Doris didn’t make things any easier for a lot of homeowners.

In an effort to brighten up this miserable month, MyBuilder decided to pay for ten jobs up to the value of £1,000 each, as long as they were posted on the site between 15th and 28th February.

We are now delighted to announce the ten lucky winners of our Free Jobs February giveaway!

 

And the winners are…

 

Mark Elkin, from Staffordshire, had a brand new worktop fitted in his kitchen. Mark had only great things to say about T & S Property Maintenance who carried out the job for him: “Tim was great. He replied very quickly when I posted the job on My Builder, and came to do the job only a couple of days later. He did an excellent job and was efficient, friendly and very professional. I would highly recommend him to anyone.”

Barry McCurdy, from Cheshire, is scheduled to have seven oak veneer doors fitted in his house in the next couple of weeks.

Candice Wilson, from Greater Manchester, is looking forward to having the slate roof on her house repaired, and says that winning this prize has made it possible to get the job done even more quickly than she’d expected.

Tom Walker, from East London, will shortly be having new carpets fitted throughout the flat he is renovating for his son and was very surprised to have been selected as a winner.

Anne Hanford-Dodgson, from Leicestershire, had a leaky roof with water coming in through the light fitting! Anne posted the job on MyBuilder and quickly had the roof repaired by PJM Fascias & Property Maintenance. “Pete came promptly after I posted my job. I chose him because he seemed professional and gave a good price. He completed the work, cleaned up afterwards and was polite. He told me what needed repairing or what needed replacing with total honesty.”

Winston Heuer, from Suffolk, has hired a tradesman to retile the kitchen diner in his home as part of a renovation.

Marc McPhillips, in North Yorkshire, has employed a tradesman to renovate his dad’s bathroom.

Melinda Ponsonby, from East Anglia, woke up to find that all her fencing (and her neighbours’) had been blown down by Storm Doris! She had fence panels fixed and all the debris cleared away by Tree & Garden Services. She said of the job done: “I am really pleased with the replacement fencing and would highly recommend using Tree & Garden Services. Their product is excellent quality, they worked fast and cleared all debris away afterwards. Thomas’ team were friendly and able to start work soon after their quote. They also displayed a great working knowledge and explained everything. I will definitely use them for any future works.”

Andrea Roberts, from Kent, had a bathroom window that wouldn’t open. She is due to have a brand new window fitted next week.

Elaine Farrell, from West Yorkshire, needed an outdated consumer unit safely disconnected and replaced with a new one and has high praise for Luke Pennington Electrical, who carried out the job for her. She says he was very polite and helpful, and worked promptly and efficiently. Elaine says she shall be calling on him to do more electrical jobs for her in the future.

 

Keep an eye out for more competitions from MyBuilder in the near future.

All over the country, tradespeople are waking up every day and going to work. Whether digging out foundations or clambering around the chimney pots, they’re all united by their hard graft and commitment to a job well done.

At MyBuilder, we want to help homeowners find the very best tradespeople, and that means showing off all the great work that tradesmen on the site are doing every day. We love writing about the lengths tradesmen go to to make the jobs happen, but as the old saying goes, a picture speaks a thousands words, so as well as writing, we’re travelling the country to capture tradesmen hard at work.

If you have a job that you think shows off your skills, or a project that you know will make onlookers say “wow”, let us know, and we’ll do our best to try and document it – and you. We’ll even let you have a set of the professional shots for you to use, at no cost. Get in touch with our photographer Andrew at andrew@mybuilder.com, and you could join our other photo stars:

heating

Adam Prentice of White Knight Central Heating and Plumbing Services hard at work replacing a radiator

 

insulation

Martin Johnson of Evergreen Power adds a layer of insulation to a roof in Croydon

 

Daniel Morgan - Roofer

Danny Morgan (r) and his crew at Morgan Roofing finish off a complete roof replacement in Hampton

 

Ben Robinson - Tree Surgery

Ben Robinson of Clear Cut Trees takes down a tree in North London

 

Carl Lamon - Chimney & Fireplace Specialist

Carl Lamon of Oxon Stoves adds a new flue to this chinmey in Didcot

Daniel Morgan

If you decide to go and see Danny Morgan hard at work, there’s one thing you need to take up the scaffolding with you – a good head for heights. When we met Danny replacing a slate roof in Hampton, it felt like being twenty floors up – even if it was only two. “I’m actually not a big fan of heights myself,” Danny admits. “But you do get used to it.”

 

Climbing the Ladder

 

Danny’s had some time to get used to life above the roofline. As he tells us: “My uncle is a roofer, and I started helping him when I was 10 or 11, just fetching things, making the teas, all for a bit of pocket money in the school holidays. I got to like it, and it grew from there. I started to realise as I got older that it was a good trade to be in – my cousin got into it as well – and I thought it would be a nice career to have. I was working in it full time when I was 16 or so. I always wanted to be my own boss as well, and by the time I started my own business when I was about 19, I already had a lot of experience – it gave me a very good head start.” Danny has worked alongside his family before, but is now focussed on his own business – Morgan Roofing – which employs two other workers. He also brings in extra help as needed on bigger projects.

When we meet up with him, he’s working on replacing a slate roof for a home undergoing an extensive loft conversion, adding front and rear dormers. Using a lead-dresser – a specialised tool for shaping lead flashing, that looks like a lopsided police truncheon – he works a thin piece into shape to fit onto a chimney breast. “They’re very old tools, lead dressers,” he tells us. “They used to be made out of oak, and I have some of them, but they’re more likely to be plastic now. This all used to be a plumber’s job back in the day.” Shaping the piece to fit involves careful measurement and precise handiwork, to crimp the edges and fold them to fit exactly around the chimney. It takes a lot of practice and hand-eye coordination. “Luckily, it also means I’m very good at wrapping presents. Danny says.”

 

Daniel Morgan - Roofer

 

From the Gutter to the Stars

 

Over the years of growing his business, Danny has gained an impressive local reputation, with more than 200 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder. “It’s not been easy,” Danny says. “In the early days, I was driving miles just to find myself elbow-deep clearing pigeon droppings out of gutters, trying to build up that feedback. It wasn’t glamorous, but you went and did it. You always want to be in work, and don’t want to turn work down. Now, thankfully, I get to be a little bit pickier, and do better jobs. It can be really special sometimes, when you’re on a roof, up somewhere like Richmond Hill, and you have that view over London. It’s a nice moment.”

Danny started on MyBuilder in 2011, after six months of a friend suggesting he join the site. “One of my friends was telling me for ages, go on, give it a shot, and I always thought, yeah yeah, maybe I’ll give it a go when I get a second. When I did, I was overwhelmed. It kept bringing me steady work. Before the recession, I’d been getting loads from other places, but when the recession hit, they stopped overnight. MyBuilder happened at just the right time for me. It was the best decision I made, for me and my business, and for my family.”

He added: “What I know is that with 200 references on MyBuilder, I’ve maybe had 600 customers, just through that word of mouth. If they’re all positive they’re going to recommend you. Every day someone rings me to ask about doing work because I’ve been recommended. MyBuilder has changed the way I work, quite frankly. Now I’m aiming for 500 bits of feedback.”

 

Daniel Morgan - Roofer

 

Building Trust

 

Roofing is a trade that has had a bad reputation in the past, and Danny is aware of the pressure on him to show his profession in a positive light. “I think the problem has always been one of information,” he says. “In the past, it’s been easy for a cowboy with a ladder to knock on your door and say, ‘there’s a loose tile up there, but I can sort it for you really quickly’, then they go up and discover more that he says is wrong. I’m aware now that a lot of people have been burned before, and I have to build that trust with people. I take pictures of everything, before and after, so I can show people exactly what is happening and how I’m going to approach it.”

He adds: “You can be the best tradesman in the world, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t work with people. I love meeting people and working with them, I can get on with anyone. A lot of my job is about building that trust. People come home from a weekend away and find a damp patch on their child’s bedroom wall from a roof leak. That’s important to them – it’s their home.”

What homeowners are looking for is someone who takes the problem off their hands. “You have to be confident,” Danny said. “I like to get to a job and know I’m taking a problem away from them, especially if they’re already on the back foot after a bad experience in the past. You have to work to gain their trust, especially before money is involved. But I know I’m priced very fairly, providing a good service, and customers understand that.”

 

Daniel Morgan - Roofer

 

Advice for Tradesmen

 

  • Don’t pretend to be something you’re not: “I know that part of the reason I do well is that I’m ‘just’ a roofer. I won’t pretend to be a general builder, or a postman, or anything else. It’s easier to build that trust when people know you’re focussed on that one thing you do day in, day out.”
  • Stay accessible: “It can be hard, especially in my line of work when 99% of the time I’m up on a roof somewhere, and I’m not going to be answering my phone. But you need to stay available, and get back to people as soon as you can. People want that communication.”
  • Go the extra mile: “Any job where you’re working with people is going to be difficult sometimes – not everyone is easy to get on with, and especially if people have had bad experiences before, they’re almost waiting for something to go wrong. It means you have to work really hard and go above and beyond to build that trust, and get the good feedback.”
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