Category: Homeowner and landlord advice

 

The leaves are changing colour, the evenings are drawing in, and before we know it, the clocks will be turning back. Autumn is here, and there are a host of things you can do to your home to get it ready for colder nights and wetter days.

 

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Check your heating

 

Across offices and bars, the debate is already raging – have you turned your heating on yet? If you haven’t, then the chances are it hasn’t been on for a very long time. If that’s the case, then there’s no better time to make sure your boiler and your central heating system are all in full working order. Get yours checked over before all the engineers are busy with emergency callouts – or before you’re stuck with your own emergency breakdown.
Hire a heating engineer

Update your windows and doors

 

As temperatures drop, our cosy nights in can be rudely interrupted by cold drafts. Single-glazed windows and wooden doors can be the main culprits for these. Make sure yours are well-fitted and up to date to keep the cold out, and improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Hire a window fitter / carpenter

Repair any broken fences or gates

 

Strong winds and falling branches can wreak havoc on fences and gates, while wet conditions can cause wood to swell, warp and rot. Before any more bad weather sets in, it’s worth checking for any damaged panels or posts. Fixing them early can save money and effort further down the line
Hire a fencer

 

 

 

Fix damaged roof tiles

 

One of the easiest ways to prevent major problems from occurring is to keep an eye on your roof for signs of damage. Even a few loose tiles can lead to nasty leaks. An experienced roofer can inspect everything and should be able to show you pictures of any damage you might need to have repaired.
Hire a roofer

Make sure your home is insulated

 

No one wants a chilly and unwelcoming home when autumn begins to bite, so making sure your home is properly insulated is essential to keeping things nice and toasty. It can be a big job depending on what you want done, but can benefit your home for years to come.
Hire an insulation installer

Add new lighting

 

If you want to turn your indoor spaces into a safe haven from autumn’s damp and drizzle, lighting is key to creating the perfect atmosphere. Adding spotlights, accent lighting, or even just dimmer switches, can help change the character of a room with immediate impact.
Hire an electrician

 

 

 

Public holidays can feel few and far between in the UK, especially at this point in the year – the August bank holiday is the last day off until Christmas, and no one wants to think about the festive period just yet. When these days are hard to come by, it’s essential we make the most of them – so why not make plans this weekend to make some positive changes to your home?

 

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Clear away your summer clutter

 

If you still haven’t got round to putting away your suitcase after a sunny holiday in the past few weeks, don’t feel guilty – maybe you just don’t have a good place to put it. We all have stuff that never seems to have a place to go, so why not finally make somewhere? Converting your attic into useful storage space can make a huge difference and mean there’s always somewhere for your luggage to go.

 

Change up a room

 

We all have a tired room that needs a lick of paint t0 sort out, but we’re usually all too busy during the summer to get it done. Now there’s an extra day at your disposal, why not take it on – and if you don’t fancy doing it yourself, just hire a painter and decorator who can get it done quickly, and to a high standard.

 

Get rid of your old shed

 

If you’ve spent the summer going for long bike rides or spending lazy evenings cooking on the barbecue, you might have had to endure the rusty nails and giant spiderwebs of your garden shed more than you would have liked to – so why not ensure you don’t have to go through it all again next year? A demolitions specialist can clear out an old shed in next to no time, clearing the way for the nice new one you deserve.

 

Clean the chimney

 

September is fast closing in, with colder weather following close behind, and while it might not feel like time to light the fire and get cosy just yet, you don’t want to be caught out when the opportunity presents itself. If you’re not sure your stove or fireplace is up to it, find an expert who can make sure it’s all in working order and ready to go.

 

Cut down any dangerous branches

 

Glorious summer weather may have seen our gardens filled with blooming flowers and towering trees, but if you have any overgrown branches that look like they could cause a problem if bad weather strikes, then it’s worth nipping them in the bud. An experienced tree surgeon can help advise on what needs to go and carry out any work safely.

 

Check your roof tiles

 

A few downpours aside, this summer has been very kind to our roofs and gutters, but are you ready for the next shower? We all know the old saying about fixing roofs and shining suns, so while we’re still in August, get rid of any doubts by getting in touch with a roofer who can take a look and put right any issues.

 

Inspect your boiler

 

We recommend this tip all the time on MyBuilder, but it’s for good reason. Firstly, no one wants to have the hot water go off when you need it most, and secondly, gas boilers need to be checked to make sure they’re safe and not letting off dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide. Getting your boiler inspected can be done any time of year, but if you’ve got a whole day away from work, you have no excuse not to spend a few minutes booking an appointment with a Gas Safe engineer.

 

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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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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 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.