Category: Homeowner and landlord advice

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Lots of us love using bank holidays to try out some DIY, but it’s not always possible to reach for the toolbox. If your time is precious, or you simply lack the confidence, hiring a professional is the best way to ensure a job well done. With the May bank holiday looming, here are some ideas for DIY jobs you might want to leave to the experts.

 

Inspect your Roof Tiles
It goes without saying that care needs to be taken whenever ladders and heights are involved, but care also needs to be taken with fragile roof tiles – what can be a simple job for an experienced roofer can turn into a costly mess if mistakes are made.
Find a Roofer

 

Cut Back your Trees
Climbing trees with tools – whether a powerful chainsaw or an old-fashioned hand-saw – is always a risky proposition. Tree surgeons have specialised equipment and training to deal with unruly branches smartly and safely.
Find a Tree Surgeon

 

Grout the Bathroom
What can seem like a superficially easy job is often riddled with complications, needing just the right materials and a perfect finish. A tiler will be able to do the job quickly and neatly.
Find a Tiler

 

Paint your Living Room
The time-honoured way to update your interior design, painting is a starting point for many DIYers. However, without the right system of coats, it can also be a surefire way to end up with a rough job that never looks quite right. A painter and decorator will know how to get the best results and can save you money in the long run.
Find a Painter and Decorator

 

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Fit a New Carpet
Cutting a carpet to fit a room doesn’t seem like the biggest task, but one wrong cut could see you with a pricey, but useless carpet that no longer meets the wall. A practiced carpet fitter can refresh a room in a day.
Find a Carpet Fitter

 

Put up Some Shelves
Another old standby for tool-happy homeowners, putting up shelves is perhaps the quintessential DIY job. But if you’re worried about hitting a wire, ruining your dry wall, or just leaving it wonky, a handyman can help.
Find a Handyman

 

Lay New Paving
It’s not as easy as just putting down some slabs – have you considered sub-grades, sub-bases, drainage, and everything else that needs taking care of? If you’re in any doubt, a driveway paver or landscape gardener can step in.
Find a Driveway Paver | Find a Landscape Gardener

 

Stay Away from Gas and Electrics
While there are many jobs that you can tackle yourself, two areas should definitely be left to the experts: anything involving gas in the home should be dealt with by a gas engineer on the Gas Safety Register, while electrics should be handled by a competent electrician who can self-certify their work.
Find a Gas Engineer | Find an Electrician

 

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Going out into our gardens is a simple pleasure that many of us enjoy, but it’s also one that lots us take for granted. For those with disabilities or issues with their mobility, making the most of their garden can be difficult – especially if the space hasn’t been adapted for them. If you’re interested in making a garden more accessible, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Tame the Jungle

 

One of the best ways to take back your garden space is to physically clear out the things that have taken it over. Long grass, weeds, climbing ivy and other plants can all choke a garden if left and unchecked, while old broken down sheds and garages can end up as nothing but eyesores that have long outlived their usefulness. A demolitions and clearance expert might be best placed to help remove the detritus that making your garden such an unwelcome space.

 

Don’t Step on the Cracks

 

Old paving, loose blockwork and broken concrete can all prove to be huge impediments to enjoying a garden – while any stairs can be more like barriers for wheelchair users. If a path is meant to lead you through the garden, then it needs to be fit for purpose, while a ramp can replace stairs. A tradesman who does paving and hardstanding can help get them up to scratch.

 

Bed Time

 

Gardening is a British obsession, and even those of us without a green thumb can enjoy planting everything from beautiful flowers to tasty vegetable. However, bending over to get your hands dirty can be difficult for many people – so raised beds, where the planters are brought up to be more accessible – can be a great solution. A good carpenter or joiner can help create an attractive wooden design.

 

Turn on the Bright Lights

 

We all want to make as much of our outdoor space as possible, but it can be difficult when the light is fading and the evenings grow colder. Adding lighting to the seating area of your garden can help transform an underused space, and while it’s simple to add cheap, solar powered lights, an electrician will be able to install a more permanent and comprehensive solution.

 

Ready to take back control?

 

If you or someone you know is in dire need of a garden makeover, you could be in luck. MyBuilder is currently running a competition with a garden makeover worth £1,000 up for grabs. All you have to do to enter is submit a picture of the garden with the people who use it, and tell us what the makeover would mean to you.

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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.

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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.

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There are two kinds of New Year’s Resolutions. One is about giving something up – smoking, drinking, sugary snacks. The other kind is about promising to try and take up something new – a sport, a hobby, or a passion project.

For lots of people, that project means finally getting round to giving their home the attention it deserves. January is all about having big ambitions and making big plans, so here are some tips for harnessing the spirit of the new year and getting your home improvements under way.

 

Planning for Success

 

No big project gets off the ground without having a solid plan behind it. For major work, like a big extension or a new build, you’ll want to draw up plans, speaking to an architect or architectural technician who can help make your ideas into reality. David Hepburn of Hepburn Architects, a fully-qualified ARB and RIBA-registered architect with 100% feedback on MyBuilder, said: “First, you should describe what you’re hoping to achieve – your ideal situation, not just limited by what you can specifically afford at the time. That’s because if a homeowner explains what their future aspirations are, a good architect or architectural technician may well be able to ‘future-proof’ that project, factoring in various future possibilities in advance.”

Alexandre Durao of Alex D Architects (pictured above) also has a 100% feedback on MyBuilder. He described how working with an architect helps to realise client’s ideas: “Before I start doing any drawings, I like to consider everything that’s relevant – so for example I go through all the planning policies. There’s no point in making drawings if then you’re not getting them accepted. We have a 97-98% approval rating for the jobs we do – we’re really proud of that.”

 

Finding the Right People

 

When you have your plans, it’s crucial that you get the right tradespeople to help turn your drawings into bricks and mortar. Large projects like extensions and loft conversions come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s vital to find a tradesperson who has experience with your particular kind of project. Lewis Sage of UPS Home Improvements specialises in home renovations and extensions, and has more than 150 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder. His top tip for finding the right builder is to get out there and see their work: “I’d say to 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. The other good thing to do is ask if they have a build currently on the go, and go along and see that. That way, you don’t just see a nice, tidy job, you can make sure everything behind the scenes is being done properly.”

However big your job is, doing your research, planning ahead, and finding the right people for the work will help you keep your 2017 resolutions.

 

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New Year’s Resolutions are always made with the greatest of intentions. Things always start so well; the gym gave you a ‘great discount’ in exchange for a 12 month iron-clad contract. You deleted the takeaway app, the fridge is full of fruit and vegetables and the drawer of ‘emergency’ fags and lighters has been disposed of.

Fast forward three weeks, and the wheels have fallen off your virtuous lifestyle. It began to unravel when you gave the gym a miss. Instead, you decided to pop down the pub last night. Now you’re slumped on the sofa gorging on pizza in the hope it will cure the 8 pints and pack of fags you swore you weren’t going to have.

Ok, maybe you’ve got slightly more willpower than me.

Nonetheless, the promise of a new year is a great time for reflection and planning. Rather than hackneyed resolutions, there are plenty of improvements you can make to your house that will have a lasting impact well beyond 2016. We asked some of our top tradespeople what home improvements they recommend this year.

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Increase your space with a loft conversion

Loft conversions are a great way to capitalise on the unused space in your home, according to Rae Mackay from RCM Carpentry. “Loft space can be converted in many ways, from a simple boarding out for storage through to a full bedroom and en-suite conversion.”

Loft work can happen all year round, so now is a good time to consider one. Start by consulting with a loft conversion specialist as planning permission is often unnecessary. “Dormer conversions are slightly different though, they often need planning.” says Rae, “They also expose your house, so you may need to get a tin roof to protect you from the rain if work starts in winter.”

Install an office in your back garden

Russell Tullis from RT Carpentry believes an outbuilding is a cost-effective way to increase space. “An external office is perfect for houses with bigger gardens and start from a couple of thousand, much cheaper than an extension”.

Spring is a very good time to start planning for this kind of project. “Moisture can be a problem if the outbuilding is made from wood. As the weather gets drier you can get installation and decoration done in a week or less”. Russell’s recent outbuilding projects have resulted in office space, additional storage and even a kids playroom.

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Extend your kitchen or family room

Extensions are a way to both create additional living space and add value to your home. “The current trend for growing families is to extend their kitchen or living area”, said Rae from RCM. “Bi-fold doors into the garden are very popular, on my last job I installed a 5 metre door, it took a look of effort but it looks great.”

Extensions are possible in all weather, though you might lose a few days here and there in the winter. “The perfect weather is dry and warm, but you don’t get much of that in the UK,” Rae joked. Opinions vary on whether to consult an architect or builder first, but Rae recommends getting him round initially. “A builder can tell you what is practically possible before the design stage begins. Some smaller extensions can even be done without plans if no planning permission is required, but we leave that up to the homeowner”.

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Make a new kitchen the hub of your home

Kitchens and bathrooms are the focal point of a home, especially if you are looking to sell in future. “A kitchen update can add a lot of value to a house”, says Russell from RT Carpentry. “Costs vary, an IKEA kitchen might cost a couple of thousand while high-end kitchens can cost upwards of £70k”.

Russell explained the latest trends he has seen when installing kitchens. “High gloss cabinets offer a very modern finish and are in demand, while wooden finished kitchens have fallen out of favour. Gloss finishes come in a variety of colours, I even installed some orange gloss cabinets last week!”

Change the layout by knocking through an interior wall

Remodelling the downstairs can drastically change the look of your house. “It’s important to consult with a structural engineer before you consider changing the layout”, says Charles from Bates Carpentry and Building. “For trickier jobs you might even have to engage an architect”.

“It’s common for clients to knock down the wall between the front and back room to create a through lounge. We charge around £2500-£3000 for that, including the electrics, plastering and carpentry”, said Charles. He’s also busy with bi-fold doors, “Clients like bringing the garden inside with a large opening on the rear of the house. It can be expensive, around £6000, but the results are stunning.”

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Just like everybody else, tradespeople like making new year’s resolutions too. January is a very active time for builders working from a clean slate, which means they have extra capacity to take on more work. This makes the New Year a great time to start your home improvement journey.

If you’d like to speak to knowledgeable tradespeople like the ones in this article, make sure to post a job on MyBuilder.

 


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