Damp is one of the most common issues people find in their homes, and it can often cause people to panic. However, a little education can go a long way, so we spoke to Kevin Campbell of Anke Ltd in Welwyn Garden City, to find out more about how you can deal with the issue.

Kevin is a former military man who spent six years in the Army before becoming a tradesman. Even though he’s left his uniform behind, he’s still a man on a mission, aiming to improve the damp proofing industry and help people deal with the issue in their homes. Over his years on MyBuilder he’s built up dozens of pieces of feedback, all positive, while building a crack team.

We asked him for some tips on dealing with damp when it appears.

 

 

Buy a hygrometer

 

One of the best ways for understanding damp in the home is to discover what the moisture level, or humidity, in your home is. To find out, the easiest way is to buy a digital thermal hygrometer, a device that will tell you the temperature and the humidity level in your property. Kevin said: “The most common cause of damp is simply to do with ventilation – a build up of moisture in the home which isn’t getting out properly. With a hygrometer you can keep an eye on it easily.” Humidity can build up from a number of sources – condensation from baths and showers, cooking, or drying damp clothes on radiators. The answer is often as simple as keeping the place warm, being attentive to keep windows open where possible and ensuring vents and extractor fans are all in working order.

 

Kevin is expert when it comes to fixing damp issues

 

Don’t panic if you spot mould

 

Black spot mould is a relatively common occurrence in many homes, and can often be spotted in bathrooms and around doors and windows. It can be persistent unless the underlying cause, excess moisture, is dealt with, but importantly, it is not a warning of the much more problematic rising damp. Kevin said: “Only 20% or so of damp at low level is rising damp, but people focus on it because they hear horror stories. There’s only a couple of ways to show it is rising damp – things like peeling paint, a salt band on the wall and a damp skirting board. There won’t be black spot mould where there’s rising damp, because the salts in the rising damp would kill it off.”

 

Is there a simple solution?

 

“I love solving problems,” Kevin told us. “Sometimes you find what it is and just fix it, it’s a really good feeling.” Often, damp can take the form of penetrating damp, where water is coming through the walls thanks to an issue like a broken pipe, leaking gutter, or faulty window. These problems may take an experienced tradesman to identify, but once they’ve been discovered, they can be fixed for good.

 

 

Dealing with rising damp can be a big job, so be prepared

 

Rising damp occurs when moisture from the ground soaks up through the lower parts of the home. Modern homes are built with damp proof courses of slate or plastic to stop moisture rising, however, these can fail, while older houses may not have this protection. Repairing a damp proof course can be a large project, involving stripping back walls, but it is necessary to protect the home long term. Kevin said: “The hardest thing is managing people’s expectations when it comes to the job – they don’t realise how intense it can be. But I think we’re good at explaining to people and helping them through it. It’s hard work, very dusty and messy, but I enjoy it.”

If you have more questions about damp and damp proofing, you ask a tradesman for more specific advice. If you need to find a damp proofer, then you can get started straight away.

 

 

Sometimes, the most important things go unappreciated. They’re always there, doing their job, working hard in the background, but until there’s a problem, we never pay them any attention.

That’s how it is with things like our boilers and cookers. Throughout the winter, or whenever we need a blast of comforting warmth, we switch on the heating, and there it is, our radiators quietly getting the job done. When we want a relaxing bath or reinvigorating shower, we turn the taps and enjoy the hot water the boiler happily provides without even thinking about it. When we want a nice meal, we turn to the stove and flick the hobs into life. But when something goes wrong, that’s when we notice it, and realise how crucial they are to our homes.

 

 

What to look out for

 

There are a number of issues that can occur as a result of problems with your gas appliances. When it comes to the boiler, you may notice unusual noises such as bangs or gurgles, or spot leaks and drips. It may lose pressure, keep switching off, or the pilot light may go out. With gas hobs, you may spot that the flames are uneven, smaller than usual, or yellow in colour, or smell more gas than usual. In any instance, if you’re concerned that something isn’t working as it should, it’s always worth checking it out, especially when it comes to gas, as leaks can be dangerous. The smart choice is hiring a qualified gas engineer.

 

 

All about the Gas Safe Register

 

When it comes to gas, only engineers who are on the Gas Safe Register are legally allowed to work on gas in the home. Unlike many other trades where experience may be the only qualification needed, it is essential that you only hire a Gas Safe registered tradesman. The Gas Safe Register replaced the CORGI gas register in 2009. Tradesmen who are on the register are allowed to carry out works such as installing or servicing gas boilers, fitting or repairing gas hobs, and any other work on a heat producing appliance connected to a natural gas or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) supply. Tradesmen on MyBuilder who are Gas Safe registered will mention it on their profile – however, you should always check their registration yourself when you meet them.

 

Check the Card

 

When you meet the tradesmen, always ask to see their Gas Safe Register card, if they do not offer to show it to you. On the front of the card, you can check their picture and unique number, which you can check on the Gas Safe Register site. There is also an expiration date which will show you if their registration is current. On the back of the card, it details which particular work they are able to carry out, from pipework (the minimum requirement) to boilers, cookers and water heaters.

 

 

Gas safety is all year round

 

While you must use a registered gas engineer to work on the gas in your home, you can keep gas safety in mind all year round. You should have your boiler serviced once a year to make sure it’s in full working order, and catch any problems before they strike at the worst time. You should also have a carbon monoxide alarm, that can alert you to high levels of the dangerous gas. If you have any questions about gas in your home, you can ask a MyBuilder tradesmen. Or, find out more about hiring a great gas fitter in our hiring advice pages.

 

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Seasons greetings!

Now that advent has begun, we always remember that December is one of the busiest times of year; scrambling to buy presents, running from party to party, and preparing for the big day. Whether you’re hosting friends and family, or just hibernating for the festive period, we’ve come up with the Twelve Jobs of Christmas to help your Yuletide go smoothly.

 

1. Boiler: Nothing kills the festive atmosphere faster than a cold house, and when it comes to keeping your radiators warm and your water hot, maintaining your boiler is essential. Check that any tradesmen working on your gas are on the Gas Safe Register.

2. Insulation: Hand in hand with checking your boiler, if you need help to keep your home cosy this winter, make sure your insulation is up to scratch – and it could save you money too.

3. Chimney: It’s Father Christmas’ favourite way of getting into a home, but a neglected chimney can cause lots of problems down the line. Ensure yours is in full working order, especially if you have open fireplaces or a stove.

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4. Roof: As a runway for reindeer, a loose tile could cause a nasty accident – as well as letting in rain and causing damage. It’s always worth checking before the worst winter weather arrives.

5. Decorate: There’s no point going to town on Christmas decorations if your home’s normal decor isn’t up to scratch. Whether you need a lick of paint or a total overhaul, chat with a professional about your options.

6. Electrics: A tree isn’t complete without a set of lights, but be careful with old sets that may be faulty, and don’t overload plug sockets with shiny new gadgets. If your wiring needs a check-up, use a competent electrician who can self-certify their work.

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7. Greenery: Some of the nicest decorations, like holly, ivy and mistletoe can come straight from your own garden, but if you have more work that needs doing, a tree surgeon or landscape gardener could be the solution.

8. Oven: No matter how big your oven is, it never seems to be enough to tackle a whole Christmas dinner. There’s still time to install a shiny new model.

9. Security: Sadly, thieves know that Christmas can be rich pickings when it comes to homes stuffed with new tech and jewellery – installing a simple security system, or upgrading your locks, can help protect your valuables.

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10. Design: While it’s easy to fall back in love with your home over Christmas, there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of an upgrade – and some architect’s plans could be the perfect present to yourself.

11. Plumbing: Having a house full of guests is always fun – but it can be hard going on the plumbing. If you have a dodgy flush or anything else, get in touch with a plumber before it’s too late.

12. Everything else: If there’s one thing you can predict at Christmas, it’s that something unpredictable will happen. When it does, a local handyman can help with a multitude of jobs.

 

This summer, TV viewers were alternately gripped and horrified by the progress of a group of athletic young people abroad, following their joy and heartbreak, their victories and failures, and waiting with bated breath to see the drama unfold. No, not the football – we mean a popular reality show, where the contestants were seeking their soulmates… as well as £50,000.

But if there’s one thing on the island viewers truly fell in love with, it’s the stunning villa the couples got to call home. With perfectly manicured lawns, a luxurious infinity pool and changing rooms like the backstage area of a fashion show, it’s the kind of place you wouldn’t just want to spend a summer in, you’d want it all year round. So, we’ve come up with some ways you can incorporate a touch of villa magic into your home.

 

 

Outdoor kitchen

 

On the show, the tanned and toned competitors rarely seemed to eat, but there was an extensive outdoor kitchen complete with a double fridge freezer and dining table for them to use if the urge ever strikes. While an outdoor kitchen may not see much use in the UK – even during a heatwave – a pizza oven or brick barbecue will make entertaining easy, and give your garden a great focal point.

 

Swimming pool

 

There are more than 200,000 private pools in the UK, and when the weather is scorching, lots of people will be wishing there were a few more. You’ll need a big garden to accommodate the kind of dramatic pool overlooking the Mallorcan countryside that the couples enjoy, but if you scale back your ambitions, you could add an above-ground pool, plunge pool or even a simple hot-tub for less than you think, and get use out of it all year round.

 

 

Walk-in-wardrobe

 

If your clothes are crammed into tiny cupboards, or you find yourself getting ready by looking in your car’s rear-view mirror, then building a walk-in wardrobe might be the solution. It doesn’t need to have space for dozens of people – a simple small room, with good lighting and inbuilt storage could be all you need to help you organise your things and help you look your best.

 

Terrace

 

You can’t change your view very easily, but you can change the place you enjoy it from. Whether you have a first floor terrace, decking or a patio in the back garden, or are looking to create a space from scratch, you can effectively add another room to your house with some careful decisions. Adding flooring, such as tiling or decking, will separate the space, while seating and lighting will make it a place where you want to spend time.

 

 

Lawn

 

Most lawns in the UK have been through a lot this year, with rainfall at only 6% of what it normally was in some parts of the country. But even in the Spanish sun, the villa had a beautiful emerald lawn, which means it was being closely looked after by a dedicated team of night gardeners. If you don’t fancy that level of upkeep, then artificial grass could be a solution – many are making the switch, with the latest products being hard-wearing with a natural look. You’ll never have to mow it again – though you might need to sweep it from time to time.

 

Fire pit

 

If you want a dramatic garden feature where you can gather people to dramatically break their hearts, a fire pit is just the thing you need. Of course, you could also use it as a place to hang out with friend and family, and extend the use of your garden into the cooler months.

 

 

You don’t have to be looking to sell your home to think about adding value to your property. There are big and small ways to boost how much your home is worth, and also make it a nicer place to be.

 

 

Fix structural problems

 

If you are looking to sell, then taking care of major structural issues such as a sagging roofline or persistent damp issues is a necessary step to making it sale-worthy – but they’re not issues that you’ll want to live with for any length of time either. There are a variety of tradespeople available depending on the issue, from specialist roofers to structural engineers, bricklayers, and damp proofers.

 

Create a loft conversion

 

Building up is generally regarded as the single biggest boost you can give to your home’s value. It’s a major investment, but one that pays off with new living space that can completely change the feel of your home. Whether it’s a dormer, hip to gable, or mansard roof conversion, you will need to have plans drawn up and may need planning permission, before hiring an experienced loft conversion specialist to take on the project.

 

 

Build an extension

 

Similarly to loft conversions, adding more space to your home will add value and give you new ways to enjoy your property. Whether it’s creating a kitchen-diner or a dedicated space for an office or studio, there are firms that specialise in extensions and conversions and can help you realise your vision.

 

Update your kitchen

 

Many families value having a modern, usable kitchen, that can be used not just for cooking, but for eating, relaxing and entertaining. If you have the space and budget, updating your kitchen with all mod-cons can be a real boost for your home.

 

Refresh your bathroom

 

It’s difficult for anyone to feel like they can get clean in a tired and broken-down bathroom, with cracked tiles, mouldy grouting, and damaged units. While a bathroom fitter can completely revamp the room, you could refresh it with smaller changes – a tiler can add new tiles for cleaner look, while a plumber can swap in new taps and hardware.

 

 

Add a parking space

 

If you live in a town or city where parking is at a premium and neighbours are battling over spaces on the street, then can it can be a worthwhile investment to replace your front garden with a driveway, giving you peace of mind that you’ll always have a safe place to keep your car. A driveway needs to be built to last, so only hire an expert with a good track record.

 

Boost your kerb appeal

 

No one wants to live in the most run-down home on the street, and for buyers as well, first impressions count. There is plenty you can do to smarten up your kerb appeal, from adding a porch, replacing your front door, upgrading your windows or repainting the exterior.

 

Take care of the little things

 

Sometimes the little things don’t feel that small when you have to deal with them everyday, so why not make them better? Give new life to a room with a lick of paint or roll of wallpaper; add new lighting to your hallway; finally sort out the toilet with the dodgy flush – if it adds value to you, sometimes that’s all the value you need to add.

 

 

When the weather outside is wild and unpredictable, heading inside and enjoying the calm and comfort of your own home is a simple pleasure. While storms are raging and the rain is coming down, there’s nothing better than unwinding in a relaxing space you’ve helped create yourself. If your interiors are feeling drab or dated, we’ve come up with some ideas to help bring your rooms back to life, and turn them into the perfect shelter from any storm.

 

 

Time to Redecorate

 

If the skies outside are grey and overcast, sometimes our rooms can feel the same way. If yours are in need of some rejuvenation, a lick of paint can be all they need to make them come alive again. While painting is something you can tackle yourself, an experienced decorator can ensure the job gets done properly and is finished to a high standard.

 

Add New floors

 

Floors take a beating when bad weather hits, as we run home with soaking shoes and muddy boots. Even the most hard-wearing carpets can begin to show signs of age in heavily-trafficked areas such as hallways, and wooden floors can be similarly damaged by damp and stains. A flooring fitter or carpet fitter can help advise you on how to update your flooring and keep it pristine.

 

 

Refresh Your Bathroom

 

If you’re caught in an unexpected downpour, taking a nice soothing shower can be just the thing to help you relax. However, if your bathroom has seen better days, you might want to upgrade your showering experience, with a new shower, bath, or entire bathroom suite – perhaps with a new colour scheme and accessories to go with it. A bathroom fitter will be able to complete the project and give you a whole new room to enjoy.

 

Update Your Kitchen

 

Summer storms may be dramatic and exciting, but they’re certainly not ideal for barbecues. If you’re stuck cooking inside your kitchen instead of grilling out in the garden, then you’d better make sure your kitchen is the kind of place you want to spend time. It’s one of the most-used and well-loved rooms in the house, so make sure yours is up to scratch – speak to a kitchen fitter about creating a room that is right for you and your family.