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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.”

Free-Job-February-compressor

 

We know February can be a pretty grim month, so we thought we’d give you a helping hand to get through to spring.

Post a job on MyBuilder before the end of February, and you could get it for free!

Ten MyBuilder job posters will be randomly selected at the end of the month – and each one will get their job paid for them, up to the value of £1,000.

Whether you want a whole new kitchen, or just need to fix a leaking tap, post your job today to be in with a chance to win.

 

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Terms and conditions

 

  • Entries need to be posted on the site – and approved by the MyBuilder jobs team – between 00:01 on 15th February and 23:59 on 28th February 2017. Jobs posted or approved after this will not be included in the competition, Free Job February. Work does not need to have commenced to be eligible for entry.

  • Ten jobs – selected by random draw – will be paid for by MyBuilder, up to the value of £1,000 per job.

  • The ten selected winners will each need to show that their job has been completed – by a MyBuilder tradesman – before payment is made.

  • Proof of payment for the work will need to be provided to MyBuilder before prizes of up to £1,000 are paid. 

  • Any outstanding costs, in excess of the £1,000 maximum prize value, must be paid in full by the homeowner.
  • There is no alternative prize.

  • There is no limit on the number of jobs a single homeowner can post.

  • All entrants must be at least 18 years of age and permanent UK residents.

  • To receive the prize, you need to agree to the following conditions: To assign all relevant intellectual and property rights to MyBuilder; to agree that your job information may be used for any purpose, at any time, without any fee or other form of compensation; and to agree that you may be contacted for publicity purposes.

  • We reserve the right to disqualify entries, without notice, and for any reason.

  • Employees of MyBuilder are not eligible to enter this competition.

  • MyBuilder reserves the right to withdraw or amend this competition in the event of any unforeseen circumstances outside its reasonable control without liability to entrants, the prize-winner or any third party.

In addition, MyBuilder’s standard terms & conditions and privacy policy apply to this competition.

 

valentine blog

February means Valentine’s Day, and all of the cliches that come with it – crowded restaurants, overpriced bunches of wilted roses, and cheesy cards found in supermarket racks.

This year, for a change, why not show some love where it really matters? After a long winter of keeping out the cold and wet, your home might just be in need of a nice treat, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to show how much you care. Here are a few home improvements you can do to love your home this Valentine’s Day.

 

Food for the Soul

 

The kitchen is the heart of the home, where families come together to cook, eat and socialise. If you’re considering a revamp, a kitchen fitter can make the process go more smoothly, helping you source and install a new kitchen. Nigel England of N England Joinery in Sutton-in-Ashfield, a specialist kitchen fitter who has more than 120 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, says: “You see problems with people buying cheap kitchens online, finding out they don’t fit properly or have faults. I’d always advise people to plan ahead – it can take a long time for a kitchen to be delivered, so work with a fitter to plan things in advance.”

 

Heart-shaped Box

 

One of the biggest issues people have with their homes is running out of storage space, as clothes, books and paperwork start piling up on chairs and in forgotten corners. One solution is to fill under-utilised space with bespoke cupboards, turning awkward corners into useful hideaways. An experienced carpenter or joiner will be able to create storage perfectly fitted to your needs.

 

The Look of Love

 

Sometimes the quickest way to show your home you care is to give it a quick makeover. A new lick of paint or roll of wallpaper can revitalise a tired room and make any space more inviting. While many people may be tempted to go down the DIY route, hiring an experienced decorator can help ensure a perfect finish. Nathan Broxholme of NS Decorators in Barnsley has more than 200 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder. He says: “There is often a big difference in quality. It’s about the definition – the cutting in – the opacity… like any specialists, we know what layer needs to go on what, we know what kind of stability we’ll get from each layer we apply, and so on.”

 

Say it with Flowers

 

The tail-end of winter may not be the best time to head outside and start on the floral arrangements, but there are plenty of things that you can do in the garden to help improve the look and feel of your outdoor space. Repairing damaged brickwork, replacing weather-beaten fencing, or adding a new shed or decking area can all help boost your garden ready for spring. Landscape gardeners tend to get busier as the weather improves, so now is the perfect time to find the right tradesman for your job.

Press release 2

We know the tradesmen on MyBuilder do good work.

Every day, we see satisfied homeowners leaving feedback telling us about the great jobs tradesmen have done for them. Turning up early, staying late, going the extra mile – from painters to plumbers and tilers to tree surgeons, we know that you can find the best in the business when you post a job on the site.

So when we launched our Job of the Year competition back in January, we knew it would take something really special to stand out. We wanted the cream of the crop, the stories that would make us sit up and take notice of the efforts the tradesman had gone to. We were ready to be impressed – and yet we still found ourselves overwhelmed by the quality of work being done and the dedication of the tradesmen carrying it out. From Michael Robertson in Manchester who helped build a community food bank for free, to Bob Vass in Buckinghamshire who went above and beyond to build a winter shelter for rescue donkeys, we were inundated with positive tales.

 

Job of the year_-19

 

More than 1,600 people felt strongly enough about the work they had done to submit it to the Job of the Year competition, and nearly 34,000 more voted on what they thought was the most inspiring story. After the public vote, we made a shortlist of the 12 most popular entries, before sitting down to choose the overall winner.

In the end, we picked a winner that exemplified all of the best qualities we were looking for: Martin Robinson of MJO Limited in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. When Ellouise Hempstead posted her job – “Two story 34sqm extension” – she knew she needed help. At the end of 2015, Ellouise and her fiance bought a dilapidated barn, and moved into a caravan in the garden while they set about renovating and expanding it. She posted the job on MyBuilder looking for someone with energy, passion and commitment. In Martin, she found all of that, and more. As she put it:

“Our renovation dream went from something average, to something exceptional. Because of his advice, support and enthusiasm, our project has made more progress than we’d thought possible within the first year of works… Not only did Martin give us advice, but he also gave us spare building materials he was going to skip from other jobs, as he knew that we could use them and that it would help us financially. He didn’t ask a penny for them, he even delivered them for us and he had to travel a 40 mile round trip just to drop them off. This would be a wonderful gesture from anyone, but when it’s from your builder, it’s just so humbling.”

 

Press release 3

 

The project is still ongoing, and the couple are still working with Martin to realise their vision. They share £5,000 in prize money.

Asked how it felt to win, Ellouise said: “We’re absolutely thrilled and cannot believe we’ve been picked. Thank you so much. Martin is so deserving of this award and the prize. We just keep pinching ourselves! It shows that helping others really does make a difference and hopefully it will inspire other tradesmen to follow suit and grow public confidence in the building trade.”

Martin, who’s been a member of MyBuilder since 2013, and has 100% positive feedback, said: “It was such a nice surprise to have been put forward for the award. It makes you take even more pride in your work. My half of the prize money is probably going back into my own house. I did want it for a Harley-Davidson, but my other half has told me that’s not allowed!”

Ryan Notz, the founder and CEO of MyBuilder, said: “Huge congratulations to Martin for winning our first ever Job of the Year award. He and Ellouise faced some extremely tough competition, but Martin’s dedication, expertise and energy really stood out and we are delighted to present them with the prize. Celebrating our excellent tradesmen is a big part of what MyBuilder is about, and we hope this competition has helped shine a light on their outstanding achievements.”

There could only be one winner of the Job of the Year prize. But with feedback for jobs being posted on MyBuilder every day, we know the next job of the year is already underway.

 

 

Jeff Mac

It takes a lot of imagination to look at a building site and visualise the final result, especially on a job as big as the one Jeff Macfarlane is working on. Both the front and back gardens of the Hertfordshire home have been levelled to nothing but mud, ahead of a total transformation involving intricate porcelain tiling, artificial lawns, a monolith wall and a hot tub. It’s a massive project, but for Jeff, it’s just another day at the office.

 

Hearing a Pin Drop

 

Jeff (actually Geoffrey, but as he puts it “Jeff looks better painted on the van”), didn’t start out as a tradesman. Leaving school at 16, he found himself in a dead end job trying to earn a bit of cash: “I came out of school as soon as I could, and I ended up doing six months in a factory, feeding pins on to a little wheel. They’d go up and round the wheel, and then a blade at the top would cut them to length. I’d sit there, all day, and just feed in pin after pin after pin. It was mind-numbing. I quit, and my mum thought I was mad – she still wanted me to pay rent. So I thought, what else can I do. I looked at my dad and uncle who’d been in the building trade, and thought, there’ll always be builders, so I got started as a labourer.”

 

Jeff Mac-20

 

Building a Business

 

Jeff’s first stint as a tradesman was a gig working for local authorities, renovating social housing. “We’d go in and completely gut the place, taking everything out of the ground floor, while the family lived upstairs. Then they’d move downstairs, and we’d rip out the upstairs.” But the indoor life wasn’t for Jeff, who soon moved on to working on roofs, before changing again, to try his hand at bricklaying, working mainly as a hod carrier. “I realised that being outdoors was what I liked – it’s the best thing in the world, being out in the fresh air and having that freedom.”

While working for other people paid the bills, Jeff had a bigger ambition – to run his own business. “I always wanted to make a go of it, but there’s always that risk – I had young kids, I didn’t know if I’d find enough work. Subbing for someone else meant I didn’t really have to worry about where the work was coming from, but if I went solo, it would be up to me. Luckily I got on to MyBuilder at the right time, and it all worked out. I wish I could have done it 20 years ago.”

 

Geoffrey Macfarlane - Bricklayer, Landscape Gardener, Driveway Paver

 

Challenge Accepted

 

Over the past few years, Jeff has built his reputation, focussing on landscaping projects and driveways. As his reputation has grown so has his team, with a couple of labourers, including “Cut Master Mike”, who can shape anything with an angle grinder. “When porcelain tiling is £55 a metre, you have to make sure you get it right,” Jeff says. As well as building a small team, Jeff also has an informal partnership with another local tradesman, giving each other the nod when big jobs come up so they can lend each other a hand.

Jeff is the first to admit it hasn’t been easy though: “It’s hard when you set out on your own, you have to be so dedicated. Being on MyBuilder really helped me, because I could see the work out there, and focus on going for it. I was a bit obsessed in the first year, going for jobs, but it paid off. Getting the feedback in really helps to build your reputation. I remember when I got to 20, I wondered if I’d make 50. Then when I did, I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to 100. But I enjoyed the challenge – it gets quite addictive! For a long time I could see another tradesman in my area was winning more jobs than me, so I spent ages working out what he was doing and how I could do better – the competition makes you better.”

He’s now up to 110 pieces of positive feedback, but he’ll keep chasing the next milestone – all while enjoying the job. “I really do love it. At the end of the day, all anyone wants to do is an honest day’s work, and that’s what it’s all about. I love this business. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

 

Geoffrey Macfarlane - Bricklayer, Landscape Gardener, Driveway Paver

 

Advice for Tradesmen

 

  • A good opening message is crucial: “When you get in touch with someone on MyBuilder, that first message is key, it’s their first impression, it’s how the homeowner will think about you. I have a prepared message that I can change for different jobs. Going to that effort can be a big help winning jobs.”
  • Timing is everything: “Most of the jobs I do are very seasonal, you get busy at different times of the year. If you’re just starting on MyBuilder, you need to remember that in the summer when a lot of established tradesmen are busy and a lot of homeowners are posting jobs, that’s a chance for you to take on work. You have to persevere with it.”
  • Stick to what you know: “I always think it’s best that tradesmen do what they’re good at and don’t overstretch themselves. The job I’m doing now, the plans have a roofed area being built, but I’m not going to try and take that on – I’ll leave it to someone who knows that work. It’s the same when it comes to booking in jobs – there’s no point cramming them in and doing them badly. Don’t overstretch yourself.”

Blog post_-2

Space might be the final frontier, but if you’re in a home where space is at a premium, it can also feel like the most precious thing in the world. Being surrounded by your things – and other people – can feel cramped at the best of times, and positively claustrophobic at worst. Almost everyone would like to have more space, and with the right plan and a good tradesman, you can get it, without having to move.

 

Knock Down Walls

 

One of the oldest tricks in the book to help maximise living space is to turn smaller rooms into larger ones, by knocking down dividing walls and opening them up. It allows more light in, and diversifies what you can do with the space. It is always worth speaking to an experienced tradesman about knocking down walls, especially if they are load-bearing and may require a structural engineer’s report. Though interior work will not require planning permission, it will need to meet building regulations and be inspected by Building Control. Paul Coulson of KDBS in Newcastle, which has more than 350 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, advises that people look out for experience in the tradesman they choose: “If I was a homeowner looking for a tradesmen, it’s the experience I’d look for over any particular memberships.”

 

Add Extra Storage

 

If you have pots and pans, books, clothes, paperwork and all manner of other things building up in towering piles around your home, just the sight of them can be enough to stress you out. But the old adage is true – out of sight, out of mind – and if you have some way of putting the clutter away, it stops being clutter. Creating extra storage space means thinking creatively – adding in new sets of shelves to the corner of a room, or creating built-in wardrobes for a bedroom with an awkward wall. An experienced carpenter or joiner can give you some ideas or turn your own designs into reality.

 

Convert your Loft

 

City planners have known for generations that the best way to find space is to embrace the vertical, and build up. If you have a loft that is sitting empty, or is just used for storing a dusty box of Christmas decorations, it could be ripe for a conversion that could see it transformed into a usable space. A loft conversion specialist can lay out the different kinds of projects available – from a simple dormer, to a whole mansard roof development. Lewis Sage of Romford’s UPS Home Improvements, a business with more than 160 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, recommends seeing a tradesman’s previous jobs to help decide who to choose: “Any good builder who takes pride in their work should be happy to put you in touch with old clients. I’d suggest that clients get out there and have a look at something the tradesman has done in your local area – there’s nothing better than actually seeing it.”

 

Create an Outbuilding

 

While your home may feel full to bursting, if you have any outdoor space, it might be the perfect place to focus your attention. It only takes a small amount of space to erect a shed that is perfect for storage, while with a bit more room and a larger budget, you could create anything from an office room to a granny annexe that can provide extra accommodation. Depending on the scale and usage, these may need planning permission, so speak to an experienced builder who can talk you through the process.

 

Build an Extension

 

Sometimes, if your home feels too small, the simplest thing to do is just make it bigger. An extension will add space – and potentially value – to your property, whether it’s just expanding your kitchen, or adding a double-height extension giving you a bigger living room and an extra bedroom. These can be subject to planning permission as well as building regulations, and with such a big project, you need to be on good terms with your tradesman. Vasile Ghinda of V Ghinda Builders specialises in extension building and has dozens of pieces of good feedback on MyBuilder. He says: “The first thing I’d expect someone to ask about is experience, how long you have worked, what jobs you have done that are the same. But you also want to know what a tradesman is like. You need to be able to talk to them, get on with on them.”

 

MyBuilder is an online marketplace for homeowners and landlords to find quality tradesmen. The blog features advice for home improvement projects and builders.
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