Category: MyBuilder

 

A house is a complicated thing. When something goes wrong, it can be hard to figure out what the problem is, and most importantly, how to fix it. That’s when an experienced tradesman can step in.

Here at MyBuilder, there are thousands of tradespeople who know their trades inside out, and are always willing to share some of their extensive knowledge. Ask A Tradesman is filled with burning questions people have had about their home improvements, from the big to the small. We’ve collected some of the most popular questions that have been asked on the site, and collated the best answers. If you need to know more, don’t hesitate to ask your own question.

 

 

Double-glazing drama

 

Question: I’ve just moved into a house which has a number of windows with condensation between the glass panels. Can they be cleaned or do they require replacing?

Answer: Unfortunately for anyone hoping for a quick and easy resolution to this fairly common problem, the best solution is to replace the windows – though just the glass, and not the frames. Though they can be removed and cleaned, replacement is often the simpler and cheaper option.

The condensation occurs when the seal at the edge of the glass breaks down, allowing air and moisture into the gap. If you purchased the double-glazing yourself, you should check with the manufacturer as they may still be under warranty. Otherwise, it is worth hiring a window fitter or glazer to come and measure for the replacements. As BJD Building / Roofing says: “If you have condensation between the glass, it means your units have broken down, best to get a window fitter out to measure up for new units, he will need to remove a couple of beads to also measure thickness of glass.”

 

 

Fusebox FAQ

 

Question: I’m buying a house which has an old fuse box. This was noted on the survey I had done and it was suggested I update it. Is this really necessary? There’s nothing actually wrong with the fuse box – it’s just old fashioned? Are there any safety concerns with these old ones or is this just something they tend to note on such surveys?

Answer: All of the electricians who responded to this query had a similar response – while there may not be anything wrong with the fuse box, any older fittings like this are worth checking out to catch problems before they occur. While the installations would most likely have been done in line with all the regulations that were current at the time, components do wear down over time, leading to issues, so it’s worth having an electrician give it a once over. If it’s found that it doesn’t meet current standards, it will need to be replaced.

N C Electrical said: “If you have an old fuse box you will also have old wiring. Essentially there is nothing ‘unsafe’ with old installations – they will comply to the regulations around at their time of installation. However, old wiring will have been used and will over time wear out just like anything else, the main problem being in the breakdown of insulation. New fuse boxes have switches that are extremely sensitive and if there is a breakdown these switches will not accept the wiring, meaning it cannot be done or causing nuisance tripping. Another problem with old wiring is that electrical screws can become loose, causing wires to become loose, causing unsafe situations.”

 

 

A Payment Poser

 

Question: What is a reasonable payment schedule? Should I give a deposit on confirmation of wanting a builder to do this work?

Answer: This is a complicated question with an answer that varies depending on lots of elements, particular the scale and length of the job, and of course, its cost. Many builders undertaking large projects that are expected to run for several weeks will ask for a deposit to reserve their time and show that the customer is committed to the work. Some will not ask for a deposit, but will lay out a list of staged payments to be made when various milestones are reached, such as when footings are completed, the superstructure finished etc, with the final payment to be paid upon completion. Most builders will have trade accounts so will not need payment for materials upfront. In any case, homeowners and tradesmen should be clear and happy with the schedule before any work is begun.

F Geo Robinson (Coventry) Ltd said: “A good well set up builder should have the resources to finance his own work. However in today’s troubled times getting paid is a worry and it’s all about risk reduction, for both parties. My advice is a small deposit, say £1,000 (on an £8,000) if it is asked for. Then a substantial interim payment if you are happy with progress after a couple of weeks, of say £4-5,000, leaving a reasonable sum to make sure the job is completed. (Finishing a job is always the hardest part for a builder, when most of the value is complete and just the snagging to do).”

 

 

Tiling Teaser

 

Question: Can you tile over old tiles?

The answer to this is simple: yes, but why would you? Tiling on top of old tiles means that any problems with the originals, such as becoming loose, will still be an issue with the new layer, while the extra thickness can also make it more difficult to accurately install fixtures and fittings. People worry about removing plaster from the wall when stripping old tiles, but re-skimming the plaster as a preparation for the new layer is part and parcel of achieving a good finish.

BJD Building & Roofing: “You can tile over tiles, with the right preparation, but I would never do this – the proper way is to strip right back to original wall finish. Don’t worry if you do pull a bit of plaster when stripping the tiles, as it’s easy enough to replace. Tiling over tiles can make it awkward, i.e. extra thickness when tiling around shower fittings. For the sake of a few hours work, I would take them off.”

 

 

Damp is one of the most common issues people find in their homes, and it can often cause people to panic. However, a little education can go a long way, so we spoke to Kevin Campbell of Anke Ltd in Welwyn Garden City, to find out more about how you can deal with the issue.

Kevin is a former military man who spent six years in the Army before becoming a tradesman. Even though he’s left his uniform behind, he’s still a man on a mission, aiming to improve the damp proofing industry and help people deal with the issue in their homes. Over his years on MyBuilder he’s built up dozens of pieces of feedback, all positive, while building a crack team.

We asked him for some tips on dealing with damp when it appears.

 

 

Buy a hygrometer

 

One of the best ways for understanding damp in the home is to discover what the moisture level, or humidity, in your home is. To find out, the easiest way is to buy a digital thermal hygrometer, a device that will tell you the temperature and the humidity level in your property. Kevin said: “The most common cause of damp is simply to do with ventilation – a build up of moisture in the home which isn’t getting out properly. With a hygrometer you can keep an eye on it easily.” Humidity can build up from a number of sources – condensation from baths and showers, cooking, or drying damp clothes on radiators. The answer is often as simple as keeping the place warm, being attentive to keep windows open where possible and ensuring vents and extractor fans are all in working order.

 

Kevin is expert when it comes to fixing damp issues

 

Don’t panic if you spot mould

 

Black spot mould is a relatively common occurrence in many homes, and can often be spotted in bathrooms and around doors and windows. It can be persistent unless the underlying cause, excess moisture, is dealt with, but importantly, it is not a warning of the much more problematic rising damp. Kevin said: “Only 20% or so of damp at low level is rising damp, but people focus on it because they hear horror stories. There’s only a couple of ways to show it is rising damp – things like peeling paint, a salt band on the wall and a damp skirting board. There won’t be black spot mould where there’s rising damp, because the salts in the rising damp would kill it off.”

 

Is there a simple solution?

 

“I love solving problems,” Kevin told us. “Sometimes you find what it is and just fix it, it’s a really good feeling.” Often, damp can take the form of penetrating damp, where water is coming through the walls thanks to an issue like a broken pipe, leaking gutter, or faulty window. These problems may take an experienced tradesman to identify, but once they’ve been discovered, they can be fixed for good.

 

 

Dealing with rising damp can be a big job, so be prepared

 

Rising damp occurs when moisture from the ground soaks up through the lower parts of the home. Modern homes are built with damp proof courses of slate or plastic to stop moisture rising, however, these can fail, while older houses may not have this protection. Repairing a damp proof course can be a large project, involving stripping back walls, but it is necessary to protect the home long term. Kevin said: “The hardest thing is managing people’s expectations when it comes to the job – they don’t realise how intense it can be. But I think we’re good at explaining to people and helping them through it. It’s hard work, very dusty and messy, but I enjoy it.”

If you have more questions about damp and damp proofing, you ask a tradesman for more specific advice. If you need to find a damp proofer, then you can get started straight away.

 

 

Here at MyBuilder, we like to think all of the great tradesman on the site are heroes – taking on jobs big and small, fixing leaks and building extensions, and helping homeowners to feel happy in where they live.

But last week, one London builder took that heroism to the next level, after he risked his life to foil a diamond heist.

The Evening Standard reported how the unnamed building site manager, originally from eastern Europe, suffered a punctured lung and cuts all over his body when a gang of would-be thieves attacked him with an axe and an iron bar.

The builder stepped in when he saw a group of men preparing to launch a smash-and-grab raid on Boodles, a high-end Knightsbridge jewellers which stocks luxury gems and watches. The heroic tradesman was watching men on scooters taping up the licence plate on a Land Rover, and believed they were trying to steal it, unaware it was being used in a robbery. When he intervened, he was hit with a metal bar and stabbed with what he believes was a screwdriver, before another man attacked him with an axe. He was protected by his two thick jackets, but still suffered serious injuries. However, he doesn’t regret his actions, telling the newspaper: “We have to stand up to these people, I wanted to join the police. I think it’s important to step in and make society better.”

The police are investigating the attempted raid, which took place at 11am on Friday 30th March, and say nothing was stolen. The builder’s colleagues all branded him a hero, and we think so too!

If you know a hero tradesman – whether they’ve foiled a crime, raised money for charity, or just gone above and beyond in getting the job done for you – we’re always happy to hear about them. And if you need to find your own hero tradesman, you can get started right here.

 

The Easter weekend is one of the most popular times of the year for homeowners to tackle a DIY project, and while we all love the satisfaction that comes with taking on a job ourselves, if you’re in any doubt at all, you shouldn’t be afraid to leave it to the experts. Hiring a great quality tradesman can help ensure a job is done to a true professional standard – and leave you free to enjoy your long weekend in plenty of other ways.

Hiring a tradesman can also help keep you safe – every year, thousands of well-meaning home improvement enthusiasts become part of a terrifying statistic – one of the 220,000 people who wind up in hospital after their DIY goes wrong, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). We’ve looked at some of the most common sources of accidents, and suggested the best people to hire if you’re in any doubt.

 

 

Knives and scalpels

 

Care has to be taken with anything sharp, especially if you’re cutting something tough like a carpet. Many people try and fit their own carpet or lino, but an experienced carpet fitter can ensure it’s all properly measured, fitted, and done without getting any blood on the pile.

 

Saws

 

With saws, it’s not just the sharp blades that are the issues, it’s people cutting on unsuitable surfaces, where the material being cut isn’t properly secured. If you haven’t invested in a work bench or other solution when you’re trying to prepare your shelves or skirting board, find a carpenter or joiner who will be well-equipped to tackle any job.

 

 

 

 

Screwdrivers

 

The humble screwdriver may not seem like the most threatening item in the toolbox, but a quick slip is all it takes for someone to wind up spending their bank holiday in A&E. Whatever you’re trying to get done with the humble flathead, consider using a handyman who will be well versed in all sorts of quick fixes around the home.

 

As well as tools, materials are the source of thousands of accidents as well.

 

Paving / Concrete blocks

 

Any heavy items can cause problems if not handled properly – either slipping onto toes and fingers, or causing back and other injuries from being carried without proper technique. Driveway pavers and landscaping specialists are used to dealing with all sorts of heavy items and installing them properly and safely.

 

Paint and paint pots

 

A tin of white emulsion isn’t the most foreboding object, but thousands still wind up hospitalised after misusing it. One of the most common issues is people painting ceilings and getting paint drips in their eyes. A painter and decorator who is familiar with their materials and techniques can get a perfect finish without any nasty accidents along the way.

 

 

Last month, we gave homeowners across the country the chance to have their home improvements done on us, as part of our Free Job February giveaway. Now, we’re happy to announce the ten lucky winners chosen randomly from around the UK whose homes will all get a boost, free of charge!

 

 

Amy Naughton of Marlborough is booked with a great tradesman to have her entire home repainted next month.

Abigael Akindiya of Dartford has had laminate flooring installed in her house. She was delighted with result after hiring carpet fitter Ionut Tiganu: “They were friendly and gave me good advice regarding materials to use and how to look after my floor. I will recommend him any day, any time. Good job, well done.

Chris Rouse from Doncaster is set to have his back garden completely made-over.

Rob Haley in Southgate is replacing all the worktops in his kitchen.

Gwynneth Barker in Sheffield has had new vinyl flooring fitted in her home. She also had a great experience after hiring S L E Flooring and Joinery: “I am very pleased with the result – a very professional job at a reasonable price. I am definitely going to use the company again.”

Susan McDonald from Belfast hired an electrician to remove an unused broadband socket.

Jeremy Kemp from Llanelli hired a handyman to assemble some flatpack furniture and hang pictures.

Helena Rowe from Catford hired a decorator for various jobs around the house.

Nicole Collins – from Stratford has had her downstairs loo and sink replaced.

Barbara Valentine from Merseyside had her boiler serviced and was very happy with the work carried out by Mayan Gas, Heating & Plumbing: “Steve arrived promptly for the appointment and did the job really quickly and efficiently. He was very professional and charged a good price for the work done. I would definitely recommend him to others and we will use Steve again for future work”

Congratulations to all the winners – and keep an eye out for more competitions from MyBuilder in the near future.

 

 

When renovating your bathroom, it pays to know what’s hot and what’s not in contemporary bathroom design. That’s why we asked Nicky Kingston, Stylist for bathroom experts VictoriaPlum.com, to give us her top 5 bathroom trends for 2018.

 

Vibrant colours

 

Remember those terrible avocado bathroom suites from the 70s and 80s? Whether it was your grandparents or even your parents that owned one, homeowners have played it safe in recent times, employing a more neutral colour scheme for their bathrooms. These days, you’re more likely to find a monochrome palette rather than anything too adventurous.

However, this is all set to change in 2018, as designers start throwing caution to the wind! With Pantone announcing “ultra-violet” as their colour of the year, expect to start seeing purples and turquoises being used as a primary base colour in bathrooms up and down the country. Gold is also a colour that has caught the imagination (which I’ll discuss later).

A very simple way to introduce a primary colour into your bathroom design is by painting a wall and adding accessories in the same shade. Towels, bath mats and blinds can all be used to great effect.

 

A gold standard décor

 

Even before Great Britain’s record medal haul at the recent Winter Olympics, gold has been touted as the colour to look out for in interior design this year. And with bathrooms there is so much you can do with this precious metallic finish!

Of course, I’m not suggesting you go overboard and end up with a bathroom that looks like it belongs to some power-crazed military dictator. There are more subtle ways to give your bathroom the Midas touch.

Chrome taps and showers have been the mainstay of bathrooms for a long while, but we are now seeing more and more homeowners opting for gold-coloured finishes. Metallic tiles are also proving popular, with golds and silvers combining to create a glittering and quite glamorous back drop to that relaxing soak in the bath. You can even add matching gold accessories, to create a bathroom design that wins hands down.

 

 

Get smart

 

No longer just a niche interest of gadget-obsessed geeks, smart homes have really begun to take off in a big way. With millions of Amazon Alexa devices snapped up over the past 12 months, coupled with Apple’s new HomePod, it looks like many of us are finally embracing smart technology to run our homes. With this in mind, it is now the bathroom’s turn to take advantage of this new technology.

Digital showers are certainly getting smarter, with the ability to set a constant temperature and even switch easily between different outlets. However, homeowners are now demanding more from their bathroom experience.

New smart bathroom systems, like VictoriaPlum.com’s very own SmarTap, are now providing people with a personalised experience that can be controlled via their phone or even through voice activation. These smart bathroom systems not only help save water and energy, they also update automatically so features can be added and improved well into the future.

 

Funky floors

 

Boring flooring will become a thing of the past in 2018. Many people are now tearing up their tired old lino and jazzing things up with a feature floor.

The best way to approach this is to use feature tiles. There are so many different designs, patterns and colours to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Victorian style tiles are popular, with ornate patterns that look elegant, whilst geometric patterns can be used to complement a multitude of styles, like Art Deco. Your tiles don’t even need to be rectangular or square in shape. There are many interesting shapes you could try like hexagons or even circles.

Choosing a coloured grout instead of the usual white is another way to funk up your flooring. Use a black grout to make white tiles stand out or choose a shade that works with your main bathroom colour.

Wood effect tiles will give the natural appearance of wood without any of the maintenance issues that real wood can bring.

 

 

Green for go

 

As well as getting smarter, our homes appear to be getting greener, with house plant sales at an all-time high.

Many modern homes have very little in the way of green space, and for those living in urban flats, the situation can be even worse. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that many of us are using our green fingers to great effect when decorating our home interiors.

The benefits of houseplants have long been appreciated, but it is only in recent times that their use has seen a revival. In the bathroom, you can create a totally tropical look and feel by adding plants that thrive in warm and humid conditions. Aside from the usual suspects, like Spider Plants and Aloe Vera, why not add a Kentia Palm which thrives in low light or a Boston Fern which loves moisture. If you’re short on surfaces, add some hanging planters instead.

 

Get the look

 

Head to VictoriaPlum.com for more great bathroom ideas.


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