Category: Homeowner and landlord advice

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.

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.

design_drawing

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.

 

blognyeres

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.

loftextension

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.

nye

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”.

slateroofer

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.”

loft2

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.

 

12jobssmall_o

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.

b8fc8feb-fedb-4f0a-af29-7e17e32d3384

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.

139b59ff-604b-46ad-8a6f-d3d7edb9dc09

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.

e4218b83-aae0-4ad5-9238-51ee190af2b2

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.

The days leading up to Christmas are always a scramble—between finding and getting your hands on the ideal presents and making sure you get everything in order at work before the holidays, it’s easy to forget about getting your house ready. But from your in-laws to Santa and his crew, the season is packed with visitors to your home. It’s crucial to make sure they’re all comfortable and well cared for. Here are five last-minute home improvements that will make a difference (but that are also hassle-free):

1. Clean your chimney so that it doesn’t poison Santa

chimney_thumbChimneys house dangerous gases, the buildup of which can lead to chimney fires. To prevent this buildup make sure you have your chimney cleaned at least annually, a service that will also ensure blockages like bird nests and cobwebs are removed. Still not convinced? In countries, like Germany, having your chimney cleared is a legal requirement and the percentage of carbon monoxide and chimney fires are much lower. Chimney sweepers undergo extensive training in order to get qualified—to make sure you hire a chimney sweeper who has been through a rigorous assessment process, hire someone who is Guild Registered. For a chimney sweeper to have a Guild membership, they have to be insured and equipped to deal with all the situations that could arise in a standard job.

You don’t have to prepare too much for a visit from the chimney sweeper—simply clearing a passage to your chimney and making sure that your mantlepiece is clear of ornaments is enough. The length of time taken to complete the job varies from chimney to chimney, but on average it shouldn’t take more than about half an hour. That’s perfect around this busy time of year!

2. Make sure the reindeers don’t slip while they’re waiting on the roof

house_thumb

You have probably never hung out up on your roof but Santa’s reindeer will be, so it’s important to have some routine roof maintenance done! You don’t want Rudolph’s hooves catching a broken tile! Though early autumn is the best time for roof maintenance, if you haven’t hired a roofer at all this year, it makes a lot of sense to do so now. A roofer will be able to clear away all the dead leaves and twigs that may have collected over the autumn months. Once that is done, they will be able to assess if your roof needs any repairs.

If you have a tiled roof, damp or leaks may have caused a tile to crack or slip out of place. When tiles fall off, it’s important to replace them as soon as possible to avoid the felt covering beneath getting wet after exposure to rain and melting snow. Wet felt is likely to lead to the rotting of timbers and and ceiling damp. If you have a flat roof, cracks or splits around the edges are common, as is sagging, which is what happens when water builds up.

It’s always a better idea to check for faults and have them repaired rather than wait for a disaster to occur!

3. Invest in a splash of paint to impress any guests coming to visit

paint_thumb

You’re going to have guests coursing through your home—from the dining room to the guest bedroom—and you definitely want to dress to impress. You don’t have to shell out for a refurbishment to make your home look brand new. A paint job in the rooms where you’ll be entertaining will lighten and neaten your home. If nothing else, clearing your living spaces before the painters come in will force you to declutter. And is there anything better to get you in the decorating mood than a freshly painted home?

A paint job is a fairly quick improvement too. Provided that your existing plaster is in reasonable condition, painting a large room will only take around three days (maximum)  from start to finish. Even if you paint all the rooms you’ll be entertaining in—the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room—you’ll only be investing a little over a week for all the paint work. If you hire someone at the very beginning of December, you’ll still have a good couple of weeks to recuperate and get ready for Christmas after the work is completed!

4. Install a bigger oven for that turkey

turkey_thumb

You don’t want to forgo a big turkey this year because of a lack of oven space! A bigger oven will give you enough space to slide in a massive golden turkey, but will also leave you with additional room to spread out all the required sides—parsnips, potatoes, and sprouts. If you’re installing an electric oven, it is possible to do so on your own, provided that an electrician has already wired your kitchen to allow for an electric oven. But if you’re installing a gas oven, you’re legally required to hire a gas engineer to complete the job.

To make sure you hire a gas engineer who knows what they’re doing, check that they’re on the Gas Safe Register. You can do this online, or can ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card. The card will have a unique license number and will list the type of work they are qualified to do.

5. Avoid break-ins if you’re going away

A destination Christmas? We envy you already. Whether you’re going away for an extended period of time or even just a long weekend, it’s sensible to take steps to protect your home. After all, if Home Alone taught us anything, it’s that Christmas is prime time for crooks to strike.

While installing a DIY security system is cheaper, it’s easier and quicker (especially as you plan your trip and pack your bags) to have a professional security system installer do it for you. A professional installer will also be able to give you tailored advice for your home and will be able to double check that the system is working correctly.

Whether or not you give your home a boost this season, we hope you eat, laugh, and celebrate well! Happy Holidays!

MyBuilder is an online marketplace for homeowners and landlords to find quality tradesmen. The blog features advice for home improvement projects and builders.
Looking for a tradesperson?Post a job for free today!
Are you a tradesperson looking for work? Create a trade account

S