Category: MyBuilder

 

A good laugh can brighten up the working week and everyone has one of those stories that is guaranteed to get a laugh. Have you got a hilarious, embarrassing or shocking true story from working in the trade? Send it in and we’ll share the best ones!

 

Share your story

 

This week’s best stories:

 

We asked the great tradespeople who use MyBuilder for their funniest work stories and it turns out they are a bunch of pranksters… Not that we want to encourage this sort of carry on, but when it’s all good clean fun, we just had to share a few of our favourites…

 

A pizza the action

 

I told the labourer that the customer was ordering dinner, you just had to tell him what pizza you wanted – and so he did. He walked straight in and said “Hi, I will have meat feast thank you” which the customer knew nothing about. The labourer came out and we were all laughing. Always a funny one to watch.

 

Things that go bump in the pipes

 

Me and my buddy were working on a full heating installation just outside Edinburgh. The gentleman of the house left early in the morning for work and we carried on with the job. Around lunchtime, a woman came to the front door to inform us that the gentleman had died at his work. She was his niece and she told us to carry on with the work as normal and to call her when the work was complete.

In the afternoon, my buddy was in attic running a 28mm copper gas pipe. He had taken it up into the attic from the meter outside earlier that morning. I heard him moving around the attic so I decided to go outside and whisper ghost voices up the open ended gas pipe into the attic. “Ahhhhhh, Paaaaul, sorry I died young man……. please finish off my Central heating……  oooooo!”

Well, you should’ve heard him screaming and tripping over stuff in the attic. He basically fell down the attic ladder and ran outside! I had to run away slightly when I told him what I’d done. Laugh about it now though! 🙂

 

All you can cheat

 

Just told you a story about me and my buddy Paul…… ghost story, Well he got me back big time!!

We were at a job in Edinburgh. The customer left for work and we were working away.
During the job he said “Hey, look at this note beside the kettle: it says help yourself to tea, coffee, juice, sandwiches, biscuits.”

I thought it was an excellent gesture from the woman and she did seem the type to do this. We did intend to work until 7pm that night to get as much done as possible, but Paul got a phone call and had to leave.
As he was leaving, he said, “See you tomorrow buddy. Oh, by the way, I wrote that note!”…. and he left.
I had to down tools, head to the nearest Tesco and buy all the stuff we had ate! Total nightmare! Funny though when I look back on it.

 

 
Got a story too good not to share? Tell us what happened!

 

Share your story

 

 

We all want to be as healthy as possible, and we’ve never been more aware of the importance of things like eating a balanced diet and getting some exercise. But just as important as what we do to our bodies and what we put in them is where we spend our time – and nowhere is that more important than our homes. We’ve put together some tips on how you can make your home a more healthy place to be.

 

 

Install alarms

 

It’s a basic safety element that no home should be without, but many of us our lax when it comes to putting in smoke alarms and keeping the batteries fresh. It’s also a good idea to have a carbon monoxide alarm as well, which checks for high levels of the gas which can result from issues with your boiler. If you need help putting them on the ceiling or on a wall, a handyman can help you install them and put your mind at ease today.

 

Make sure your extractor fans are working

 

Modern homes are typically well insulated, which helps keep them warm, but isn’t always good for keeping fresh air circulating. In bathrooms and kitchens in particular, if there isn’t enough ventilation, stagnant air can build up. A good extractor fan will help keep air moving and freshen up your home. An electrician is a good starting point for getting one installed if needed.

 

Check for water leaks

 

Unchecked mould can lead to respiratory problems, so it’s important to tackle any sort of moisture build up which lead to damp. As well as tackling ventilation, checking for leaks is also vital, to make sure water isn’t getting anywhere it shouldn’t such as under floors or behind plasterboard. A good plumber can make sure your plumbing system is leak free.

 

Clean your chimney

 

If you have a working fireplace and chimney in your home, it’s essential that it is regularly checked and maintained. Any blockages can lead to harmful gasses building up, while if there is larger debris trapped in the flue, it can lead to fires. A chimney and fireplace specialist will be able to take a look and give you the all clear.

 

Inspect your paint

 

If you live in an older home, especially one with rooms or features that were last renovated prior to the 1980s, it is worth checking to see if any of paint used was lead-based. High levels of lead are toxic, but it was commonly used for many years. Care needs to be taken if covering up or removing lead paint, so make sure you speak to an experienced painter and decorator. For more information, read the government advice.

 

Replace your carpets

 

If you are particularly sensitive to allergies, especially dust and pollen, then replacing carpets with a wood or lino alternative can make a difference, as carpet fibres hang on to dust and pollen leading to further irritation. A flooring fitter can give you a quote on how much it would cost to replace any carpets.

 

 

Millions of people across the UK suffer from hay fever – an allergy to the pollen produced by trees, grass and weeds. It causes stuffy noses, itchy eyes and other cold-like symptoms, and for many people, staying indoors and keeping the windows closed feels like the only way to escape the suffering.

One growing trend in UK gardens might also provide some relief though – artificial grass is increasing in popularity all the time. In a recent survey carried out by MyBuilder, 40% of people said their dream garden would feature a low-maintenance synthetic lawn. A whopping 87% of people said they expected artificial grass to become more common across the UK in future – despite the fact that three quarters of people said they could still tell a fake lawn apart from the natural alternative.

 

 

If you’re interested in changing up your garden, adding an artificial lawn is just one option. Here are some other moves you can make to add some excitement to your garden this summer.

 

Build a barbecue

 

Instead of relying on a cheap disposable barbecue, or a rusty old kettle grill lost at the back of the shed, you could become the queen or king of the coals this summer by building a purpose-built brick barbecue. A good brick barbecue will become a centrepiece of your garden – a talented bricklayer will be able to help you construct one in no time.

 

Add a new shed

 

Brits are famed for their fabulous sheds, which have been turned into everything from traditional pubs to elaborate model railway showrooms. But for most of us, the shed is a rickety wooden shack, filled with spiderwebs and broken plant pots. If yours is leaking and liable to fall down in the next storm, why not invest in a new one that will actually be useful – a driveway paver can help create a base for it to stand on that will ensure it actually lasts this time.

 

 

Create a treehouse

 

If you have kids, or are just a big kid at heart, building a treehouse is a way to build memories for years to come. While you can buy kits to assemble, a carpenter could help you to build a unique creation that will be a family favourite for years to come.

 

Introduce a pond

 

Many people enjoy the relaxing and soothing character of having water in their garden, be it a fountain, a pond, or other water feature. A pond can be home to fish, frogs and other wildlife, and be a wonderful way to bring more of the natural world into the garden. A landscape gardener will help create a pond that suits the space.

 

 

 

Despite the stereotype of the handy dad, fixing things around the home, most dads today aren’t quite as into DIY as you may think.

In a survey carried out by MyBuilder asking dads what they most wanted for a Father’s Day present, two thirds turned down the option of a new set of tools in favour of more relaxing options, with a fancy meal in a top restaurant being the top choice.

On top of that, more than a quarter of all dads reported than when they had tried their hand at DIY, they’d had a disaster – proof if it were needed, that some things are just best left to the experts. Here are some of the most common DIY jobs, and advice for who to hire while dad puts his feet up.

 

 

Painting

 

Giving the walls a new lick of paint – how hard can it be? While it’s a popular job for DIYers, it’s not always the easiest to get right. Preparing the surface and getting the number of coats rights can be tricky. To ensure a great finish, a professional painter and decorator can handle the work.

 

Putting up shelves

 

Another DIY favourite, putting up shelves is often seen as a simple task, but getting a level shelf without leaving the wall looking like Swiss cheese can be harder than it looks. An experienced handyman should be able to handle it, or if you want a more complex arrangement, like inbuilt wardrobes, a carpenter might be a good option.

 

Clearing the garden

 

Getting rid of overgrowth or knocking down a shed doesn’t require complex measurements or expensive tools, but it does need a bit of planning if it’s to be done safely. A specialist in demolitions and clearances can make easy work of it and save you the stress, especially if there are complications along the way.

 

 

Dealing with a leak

 

A leaky tap or a mysterious dripping under a U-bend can be a real pain, but dealing with anything on the main water supply without knowing what you’re doing can be a bad idea. A plumber can identify a problem and any other factors quickly and safely, without risking flooding your home.

 

Gas and electrics

 

It should go without saying, but anything much beyond changing a lightbulb or a fuse should be left to a professional, and gas should only be dealt with by a tradesman on the Gas Safe Register.

 

 

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.

 


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