Category: Homeowner and landlord advice

 

Every year at this time, millions of teenagers across the country summon up their courage and tear open the envelopes containing their exam results, taking out the pieces of paper that will decide what they’ll be doing for the next year, and beyond.

 

Many of us swear that school will be the end of our exams, but the truth is, we never stop being put to the test. From our jobs to our homes, we always have questions to answer and goals to achieve. If you want to see if your home is up to standard, we’ve posed some brain teasers that you can tackle – but don’t worry, there’s no pass or fail here… because we’ve given you the answers too!

 

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Is your home light enough?

 

If your home feels dark and dingy, there are a number of ways to approach the problem. First, are your windows being blocked, either by towering walls and fences or by looming plants and trees? In the first instance, a bricklayer or fencer may be able replace your problem fence with an alternative such as trellis, which allows more light through, while a tree surgeon can tackle unruly trees and overhanging branches.

 

Secondly, are you using lighting properly? A few well-placed lamps can help illuminate your home, but more permanent solutions can have more dramatic results – spotlights in a hallway, or above-cabinet lighting in a kitchen for example. An electrician can help install these fixes.

 

Thirdly, think about the role decoration plays. Dark shades of paint and heavy woods can drain the lightness from a room. A painter and decorator can introduce brighter tones and help lift a space.

 

 

Is your home well ventilated?

 

If your home has issues with damp and mould, you’re not alone – but there are simple ways to overcome the problem. Buying a digital hygrometer can help you keep tabs on the moisture levels in your property, but the key things are to keep air flowing and avoid producing too much moisture to begin with. Open windows where you can, and try to steer clear of drying clothes on radiators or taking long, steamy showers. You should also check your extractor fans to make sure they’re working, or have them installed if you don’t have any. If there are persistent damp spots in certain places, such as under windows, then you check if there are issues with leaks, either from the window itself or from the brickwork around the windowsill.

 

 

Is your home well insulated?

 

If your home feels too hot during warm summer months, but freezing cold in winter, you should consider your insulation. As well as saving money on heating bills, it will also make your home more energy efficient.

 

Windows are doors are prime candidates for being upgraded if you want to improve your insulation. Properly-fitted double glazing will make a big impact. Cavity wall insulation and loft insulation are bigger steps, but can also produce great long-term results. You can also insulate beneath the floors and target things such as pipes to prevent them freezing during winter.

 

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For the past few months, TV viewers have been 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 are seeking their soulmates… as well as £50,000.

But if there’s one thing on the island viewers have truly fallen in love with, it’s the stunning villa the couples are getting 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 seem to eat, but there’s 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.

 

 

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 long summer evenings.

 

 

Lawn

 

Most lawns in the UK are looking in a pretty rough way at the moment, with rainfall at only 6% of what it normally is at this time of year in some parts of the country. But even in the Spanish sun, the villa has a beautiful emerald lawn, which means it’s 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.

 

 

It’s a fact: Homes are getting smarter. With innovations such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod allowing us to do anything from playing music to turning off the lights without having to lift a finger, isn’t it time bathrooms played catch-up?

In terms of technology, the humble bathroom really hasn’t changed much over the decades, but all that is set to change. We asked Adam Chard, bathroom expert at VictoriaPlum.com, to give us a taste of the type of bathroom tech we’ll be installing over the next few years.

 

 

Smart mirrors

 

Whilst a wide range of new bathroom technology is now both readily available and affordable, many homeowners are still resistant to change. If you fall into this bracket, why not start small? One of the easiest ways to make your bathroom that little bit smarter is by adding an LED mirror.

Not only will an illuminated mirror bring additional task lighting (great for applying makeup, brushing your teeth), it can also be used to provide ambient lighting, which is ideal for getting the mood just right. Plus, LEDs use less energy than traditional bulbs, so it’ll save you money in the long run.

However, it’s not all about lighting. Many LED mirrors now come with smart new features, like demisters, so no matter how hot and steamy your bathroom may get, you’ll still be able to use it, even after a bath or shower. You can also find models with infrared sensor switches, meaning wet or soapy hands needn’t cause you any issues.

With technology moving at a rapid pace, expect to see mirrors that sync with your messages, emails and social media in the near future.

 

 

Don’t miss out…

 

Why should you miss out on your favourite programmes just because you’re in the tub? Now, every bath time can become a soap opera, thanks to the widespread availability of bathroom TVs.

Specially-designed to be splash-resistant, with an IX64 rating, these TVs can be used in bathroom zone 1 and upwards, which even includes your shower enclosure! They can even be positioned flush to your bathroom tiles, blending seamlessly with the overall décor.

They come with a fully waterproof remote, so there’s no worries if you accidentally drop it into your bath. Plus, with all the great sports events taking place this year, you really wouldn’t want to miss a goal, try, wicket or point, just because you had to answer a call of nature!

 

Hands-free

 

That old, reliable combination of basin and toilet hasn’t altered much over the years in terms of design. However, there are a few innovations that are challenging the traditional way we use our bathroom suite.

The motion sensor flush may be more commonly found in public toilets, where a large number of users means this option is more hygienic, however they are now finding more practical use in homes. For older people, or those with restricted mobility, a motion sensor can provide much-needed relief, meaning no twisting or awkward bending is required to flush the toilet.

Likewise, motion sensor taps are now also finding their way into domestic settings, providing a more hygienic experience all round.

 

 

Bidet toilets

 

Taking things a step further, bidet toilets may be something you immediately associate with Japan, rather than the UK, however they are becoming more prevalent.

Costing significantly more than a traditional close coupled toilet, an electronic toilet system offers the user greater comfort and control over their personal hygiene. Ideal for the elderly, disabled or those with restricted mobility, this type of toilet usually features a warm air dryer, personal sprays and self-cleaning. Some can even be raised and lowered, so minimal bending of the legs is required, allowing the user to enjoy independent living well into their more senior years.

 

Smart showers

 

Again, something that is slowly but surely creeping into bathrooms up and down the country, smart showers are taking digital showering technology to another level entirely.

With a smart shower, like the SmarTap system from VictoriaPlum.com, you can fully customise and control all aspects of your showering experience, allowing individual family members to set their own perfect temperature, flow and duration. This can even be used to set your bath running, so it’s ready the minute you walk through the door.

Not only are smart showers good for a personalised experience, they can also be used to monitor usage, which is great if you’re looking to save water caring for an elderly relative. They can also be used to spot and solve any potential issues with your plumbing, with remote access meaning no need to call a qualified expert out.

Smart shower systems are great for people with different forms of disability, as, when combined with a smart home system such as Amazon Alexa, they can be voice activated.

 

To find out more about the latest bathroom tech, head to VictoriaPlum.com and keep up with the latest in bathroom technology.

 

 

When summer begins, it can unfortunately bring with it a rise in crime. Opportunistic burglars take advantage of opens doors and windows, and properties left unattended when families go on holiday. However, there are a number of steps you can take to help keep your home safe from crime in the coming months.

 

 

Install a security system

 

One of the most comprehensive ways to look after your property is to install a full security system. These can range from simple cameras, which you can monitor via an app on your phone, to fully integrated systems involving camera, sensors and alarms, monitored by a security firm. If you’re interested in upgrading your security, chatting to a security system installer can help establish which system is best for you.

 

Upgrade your locks

 

If you’re concerned about the locks on your doors and windows, upgrading them to meet modern standards can be a relatively simple and cost-effective job. Prevention is better than cure, so hiring a lock fitter to make an assessment and get things up to scratch is better than waiting until it’s too late.

 

Inspect your doors and windows

 

Even the strongest locks can be ineffective if they’re fitted to doors and windows with weak, rotted frames or fragile glass. Replacing doors and windows is a more pricey job, but can pay off in the long run, with extra benefits such as better insulation and soundproofing, as well as increased security.

 

 

Add more lights

 

Burglars typically try to get in through places where they can’t be easily seen, such as at the sides and backs of properties, away from neighbours and passers by. A motion-activated light can help deter potential intruders by helping alert others to their presence.

 

Fix your fences

 

Even small things are all it takes to make your home a more likely target than any other house on the street. If you have broken fence panels or gaps that mean a burglar can be in or out quickly, it might be an invitation you don’t want to give. A fencer can ensure you have no weak spots.

 

Make your garden work for you

 

Simple changes to the landscape around your home can help protect it. A popular choice is using gravel instead of lawn paving, which means you can better hear people approaching your home.

 

 

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.

 

 

When a spot of good weather is on the cards, everyone wants to get outside. But when we’re out in our gardens, we start to notice all the the little issues we have around our homes. From unruly trees to peeling paint, here are some problems you can tackle while the sun in shining.

 

 

Sort out Your Garden

 

Whether it’s mowing your lawn, or embarking on a full landscaping project, taming your garden is one of the biggest things you can do to alter your outdoor space. If you have dreams of enjoying a jazzed-up garden over summer, a landscape gardener could help make your dream a reality.

 

Fix your Fences

 

Fences and gates can take a battering over winter, so if yours are looking worse for wear, now is the perfect time to replace damaged panels and fix broken poles. An experienced fencer can get the work done quickly and make sure it lasts.

 

Add a New Coat of Paint

 

If the outside of your home is painted, when was the last time it was done? If it’s starting to show the impact of years of sun, wind and rain, then make sure you get it repainted before any long-term damage occurs.

 

 

Repair Your Pipes and Guttering

 

Most of us tend not to notice gutters and drainpipes – they’re never the most attractive part of a house, they just go on doing their job. However, if they’re not doing their job – if they’re leaking, blocked, or coming loose from the wall, then it’s important to get them sorted before they cause problems such as damp down the line.

 

Update Your Driveway

 

If your brick driveway is missing a few bricks, or your flagstone driveway is cracked with weeds poking through, it’s worth having an experienced driveway specialist take a look before the problem becomes more expensive down the line.

 

Check out Your Roof

 

It’s an old saying, but it’s true – fix the roof while the sun is shining. There’s no sense in waiting until bad weather takes advantage of gaps in the tiles or damaged flashing – hire a roofer who can take a look and advise you on any work that needs to be carried out.

 

Trim Your Trees

 

At this time of year, many trees are nearly in full leaf and often heavy with blossom, and could be causing issues, blocking light to your windows, interfering with power lines, satellite dishes and guttering. If you’re concerned about any trees, it’s always best to speak to an experienced tree surgeon, rather than tackle it yourself.

 


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