Category: MyBuilder

 

Christmas can be a stressful time of year for many families, and if money is tight, it can be even more difficult. That’s why MyBuilder is launching the 2017 Hero Project, where fantastic tradespeople can help lend a hand to those in need.

If you’re in need of a small job doing around the house but can’t afford it, you can enter it for the Hero Project. Across the country, generous tradespeople will be donating up to a day of their time to get the jobs done, while MyBuilder will pledge up to £100 worth of materials to each project.

We can’t undertake major works or serious renovations – but if you need your boiler serviced, or a leak repaired, and the budget just won’t stretch, then we may be able to help spread some Christmas cheer.

If you need a present that only a tradesperson can deliver, simply post your job on MyBuilder explaining what needs to be done along with your details and a photo of yourself. We hope to match as many heroes and homeowners as possible, so make sure you explain why you need it!

 

 

Tiles are a great solution for floor and wall coverings – as they’re not only practical and hard wearing, but stylish, too. However, with so much choice on offer these days, it can be difficult to know which types of tiles are the most suitable option to meet your requirements, so the team at Tiles-Direct.com gave us some suggestions.

In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at 5 popular types of tiles – breaking down the differences between each tile and giving you some inspiration for where to use them in the home. From practical non-slip tiles through to on-trend hexagon tiles, you’ll find plenty of useful information and advice, so you can make the right tile choice for your next home improvement project.

 

1. Non-slip tiles

Although it might sound obvious, non-slip tiles should be used in areas that see more moisture than other rooms or where they’re more likely to get wet, such as bathrooms and kitchens. They can also provide safe, non-slip flooring for hallways and outdoor patio areas, where outside moisture, rainwater and debris can all contribute to a slippy floor.

Often made from ceramic or porcelain, non-slip tiles come in a wide range of different shapes, sizes and styles, with a uniquely textured surface that provides additional resistance when wet to help reduce the chances of slipping over.

 

2. Metro tiles

As the name suggests, the metro tile design originates from the tiles used in metro stations around the world. Stylish, timeless and available in a whole range of colours, sizes and styles, these brick-style tiles are incredibly versatile, and can be used as bathroom tiles, kitchen tiles – or just about anywhere you’re looking to add a touch of personality.

From retro and classic all the way through to modern trends, the interior design possibilities with these tiles are endless. Whether you opt for bevelled edges to add texture, flat edges for a contemporary finish or a crackled glaze to project rustic charm, metro tiles are a great way to bring an interesting splashback to a kitchen or feature wall to a bathroom.

 


 

3. Wood-effect tiles

If you love rustic, natural looking interiors, then wood-effect tiles could be just what you’re looking for. Possessing all the charm and character of real wood, they’re perfectly suited for rustic interiors – and don’t require the same level of maintenance.

Wood-effect tiles have come a long way in recent years, with manufacturers going to great lengths to produce authentic-looking wood finishes for floors and walls. From warm and characterful country-style living rooms to rustic kitchens and bedrooms, wood-effect tiles can be used throughout the home, including bathrooms and kitchens if you opt for non-slip tiles.

 

4. Hexagon tiles

If you’re looking to make your tiles a stand-out feature, then why not embrace one of the latest interior design trends: hexagon tiles? From large hexagonal floor tiles in the kitchen to dainty mosaics for bathroom walls, the unique shape naturally projects an interesting focal point with beautiful symmetry and enviable style.

With plenty of colours, sizes and finishes now available, these uber-stylish and practical tiles can be used to achieve a variety of finishes – whether that’s a striking wall mural, geometric floors or funky splashbacks.

 

5. Quartz tiles

Made from a composite material, quartz tiles come with the same durability, beauty and non-porous properties of natural stone, but require considerably less maintenance. For this reason, they’re an ideal choice for busy areas in the home, such as kitchens and bathrooms – adding a luxurious and sophisticated finish.

Whether you fancy dark and opulent or bright and sparkly, quartz tiles can transform areas into glistening havens with their light-reflecting properties and timeless style. So, you can emulate luxury without having to worry about a rigorous daily cleaning routine.

Whatever area you’re looking to tile in your home, it’s important to find the right balance between practicality and style. With this tile guide, we hope you’ll find exactly the right blend for creating impactful interiors you’ll never tire of.

 

Over the summer, MyBuilder and Victoria Plum joined forces to find the bathroom in Britain that was most in need of makeover. Over 400 homeowners from around the UK entered the competition with their stories of bathroom misery and thousands of people voted to for the bathrooms they most wanted to see fixed up.

For many people, their bathroom is a sanctuary where they can unwind in a tub of suds at the end of a long day – but for the Morgan Family in Dudley, this was far from the case.

 

With a derelict shower, an impractical and cracked bath and a leaking floor, getting the bathroom spruced up meant a lot to the Morgans – especially after the incredibly difficult year they’d been through.

Daughter Megan explained:

“My sister has special needs and getting her in and out of the bath is difficult as the bath is too low for me to lift her out, as she is 12 and weighs more than me, so it proves really difficult for me and mom to bath her, and the shower is not possible due to the old style of the door – it soaks the bathroom floor and water has previously come through the downstairs ceiling.

“My mom has also been diagnosed with Hodgkins stage four lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, and with vigorous chemotherapy and no immune system it is very difficult to keep an already grim, old bathroom clean to fight infection.”

People around the country sympathised with the Morgan’s story – and the state of the bathroom – with hundreds of people voting to see them win the makeover. Bathroom fitter Darius and his team at 3D Ceiling Midlands Ltd set to work ripping out the mouldy old bathroom, repairing the walls and floor, and installing the new bathroom with all products provided by VictoriaPlum.com.

With the incredible news that mum Lisa is now in remission, we are delighted to reveal the transformed bathroom where she can can relax and recover.

Mum Lisa is delighted with the transformation:

“Darius and his team were very considerate, making sure I got enough space to rest and it’s very rare to find workmen who clean up after themselves so well. They were fantastic.
The new bathroom is absolutely amazing, it’s really nice to have people go up there now and not have to apologise to them afterwards. Now there’s a queue as everyone wants to use the bathroom! It’s just so great that Mia can go up there now be a bit more independent.

“This has been a fantastic end to a very bad year and hopefully things are going to start to turn around now.”

Watch the full video to see the transformation unfold:

 

One cup of tea. That’s how emergency plumber Tyrone Tash measures his jobs. “I like to turn up, get to work while I have my tea, and be done before I need a second cup. Then I’m off to the next job.” It’s a quick pace, but that’s how he likes it.

Life hasn’t always been that fast-paced for Tyrone. When he was a teenager, he found himself working on the tills for Marks & Spencer. “I was in retail for a while, working at three different stores,” Tyrone told us. “I worked in Ealing, then in Kensington, then I thought I’d be the best I could be, and moved to the flagship store in Marble Arch. I was on the tills mainly, and helping customers out, but I didn’t really feel like I was learning anything. After three years I’d had enough.”

Tyrone was at a crossroads. “I’d tried college, doing a course in leisure and tourism, but I knew deep down studying wasn’t for me. I wanted to work full time.” Luckily, something came up. “My dad is a clerk of works. He started out as a painter and decorator but now he goes round inspecting big building projects. He’s got high standards – if you’re not going to do it properly, don’t do it! So he never liked me tinkering at home, because I wasn’t going to do it properly. But he knew a lot of people in trades, and one day, one of his friends gave me a call.”

It was a call that would change Tyrone’s future. “The guy gave me a week to decide if I wanted to come and work with him. I was still in the shop, and I wasn’t sure, but I thought about it for a couple of days, decided ‘yeah, I’m in’, and quit my job. Then the guy told me he thought I was going to turn it down and he’d offered the job to someone else! But thankfully, he kept his word and took me on.”

 

 

The job was joining a large team of plumbers and other tradespeople working on large projects, such as newbuild apartments. Tyrone started doing four days a week on the tools, and one day a week in college. “The other guys used to take the mickey out of me for being a good little student, reading my books – they’d all been doing it for years and learned it all on the job,” Tyrone said. “But I appreciate having the qualifications now. It’s something solid you can show people.”

Tyrone knew from the first day that plumbing was for him. “I couldn’t have done decorating like my dad,” he said. “I’m sorry, but it’s so boring – you’re literally watching paint dry! But I knew plumbing would be for me. I’m an enthusiastic person, I like to get stuck in, and as soon as I was doing it, I just knew.”

It was a steep learning curve, but Tyrone thinks working on the large sites helped him develop his skills. “I spent four years doing new installations, and I learned to solder my pipes properly, all nice and neat. You’re doing it from drawings so you have to be exact, because if you put the pipes in wrong, when they come in and lay the concrete, you might suddenly find what you had planned to come out in the bathroom is now coming out in the bedroom.”

After a few years learning the ropes, Tyrone knew he wanted to go it alone, setting up 24-7 TT Plumbing and Heating, which has now built up more than 200 positive pieces of feedback on MyBuilder. “I just like being out there,” he told us, “where every day is different. On the same site every day, I go mad, it’s like working in an office for me, my brain just turns to mush. I like meeting new people. Six or seven jobs a day, that’s what keeps it fresh”.

 

 

That passion for novelty means Tyrone has found his perfect job as a reactionary plumber, becoming an emergency service of sorts for homeowners who find themselves with leaks, floods, and other plumbing crises. “I like being out there on the road,” he explained. “I got a new van five months ago, and I’ve already covered 10,000 miles. I’m all over north and west London, from where I grew up in Cricklewood out to Uxbridge and beyond – but not central. I can’t bear being stuck in traffic!”

Tyrone can do six or seven jobs a day, and although he can pick and choose his jobs these days, in the past he’s worked late into the night. “When I was doing all-night calls, you used to get people crying down the phone at you. It’s tough. The money is good because there aren’t many people who want to do those jobs, but it’s hard to drag yourself out, and you could be so tired.” Now, he tends to start work mid-morning and go into the evening, but can still end up getting home at midnight.

In the years he’s been working, he’s seen it all. “I don’t mind all the dogs and stuff, but you do end up in some strange places. The worst is when places are really dirty – I’ve seen dust gathering on top of dust.” He added: “One job I really remember was when someone rang me about a pipe that had split. He’d been on holiday in the USA and it was during a snowy winter a few years ago. His ceiling has collapsed, falling into his bathroom, but he couldn’t get someone to come see it because no one wanted to head out in the snow, and the water was still flowing. I had 12 jobs that day – I must have been the only one working. I got there after about four hours, and turned off the water in five seconds. I was like ‘sorry mate, I wish I could have got here sooner’. People need to learn where there stopcocks are though!”

 

 

Despite the long hours and tough jobs, it’s all been worth it. “It was hard, starting out,” he admits. “MyBuilder was great for building up my reputation though. That’s what it was all about for me – getting those reviews. I was chasing feedback over money to begin with. The first job, when someone took a chance on me and I didn’t have a review on there, I was so grateful, I practically did it for nothing. But I wanted the reviews. I used to look at other guys on the site and see how they did it. I was going for jobs all day long, then asking the people to leave feedback. You can’t beg them, but it’s worth explaining to them how important it is.”

Tyrone has big ambitions, inspired by the Pimlico Plumbers vans he sees around the capital. “I think it’s amazing the business they’ve built up. I’d love to grow into something like that – I already have the personalised plate for the van! By the time I’m 40, I’d like to have a team of people and be the one directing the work. Running a business is difficult, dealing with admin, and I’ve made mistakes along the way, but it’s been a learning process. I still enjoy it.” He might have a few more years to go in his van, but Tyrone is always keen to take on the next job, and always happy to have another cup of tea – just the one though.

 

Advice for Tradesmen

 

  • Timing is everything: “You can’t be late in this game, keeping people waiting is just rude. I tell people a window when I’ll get there, and I make sure I’m there.”
  • Stick to your quote: “It’s annoying if you make a mistake and you’ve underpriced it, but the person has accepted you based on what you told them. If you have to just charge for materials and undercharge for your time, I think it’s worth it to build your reputation build trust with a client.”
  • Give receipts: “Make everything nice and official, be professional. It’s not that hard to do but it helps everyone out.”

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.

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

ben copy

Whether climbing trees or jumping out of planes, tree surgeon Ben Robinson is making the most of his head for heights.

Ben Robinson of north London’s Clear Cut Trees thinks it’s only natural that he ended up becoming a tree surgeon. “Most of my childhood memories are of playing outside,” he tells us when we met him in the midst of a day of quoting. “I grew up in London, in an estate, and we were always out swinging about in the big willow trees that were there.”

Despite his love of the great outdoors, it took a while before Ben realised that was where his real passion lay. “I came out of schools with just some GCSEs, and I actually ended up going into the media. I started out doing graphic design stuff, and then moved to a post production company, but I realised quite quickly that it wasn’t for me – it just didn’t fit my personality. Being indoors, at a desk – when I was growing up, I just wanted to be outdoors, but I was stuck inside.”

It was a random encounter that provided the spark for Ben’s career change. “I fell into it by accident, I guess,” he tells us. “I saw some guys working on a tree on my road, and I liked the look of it. I ended up going through a directory, ringing as many different companies as I could to see if I could get a job. Most weren’t interested in someone with no experience like me, but after a while I found a company that said, okay, let’s have a chat.”

Ben began working for company, staying mostly on the ground while he began to learn some of the skills needed to master the trade. “The firm that took me on did so on the proviso that I did an intensive course to get my knowledge up. I went and did a ten week course that showed me as much as possible – tree names, tree lore, climbing, knot tying, first aid, chainsaw use – all the basics you need on a day to day basis.”

 

Ben Robinson - Tree Surgery

 

But it was working with other, more experienced arborists – known as climbers in the trade – where Ben got his real education. “I was very lucky, in that the company was big enough to have climbers from all over the world working there. Back then, the money here in London was seen as very good, so guys who’d be travelling would stay here for a while to find some work and make some money. I had the luxury of learning from some of best climbers from around the world.” Nowadays, he says, those lessons are just as likely to travel in the opposite direction. “You’ll see people from the UK going over to Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, to do work over there. I think it’s a bit less lucrative here than it once was. There are fewer Aussies coming over now, I think their industry has matured and grown, so they can stay and find good work. But I was there just at the right time where I could learn a lot from them.”

“I didn’t have any plans for the long game,” Ben says, “but I was young enough that I could just try some things out. I got to realise that I really enjoyed it, and still do.”

Despite finding his calling, Ben still had other ambitions he wanted to pursue. “I’ve always been good at the sciences and had an interest in it, especially biology. I guess trees fell into that. So it was something I wanted to explore, and see what direction I might go in, beyond just being a climber.” Ben found an outlet for his ambition in undertaking a part time degree in biological sciences through Birkbeck University, eventually receiving first class honours for his efforts. “My final thesis wasn’t actually about trees, in the end,” he admits. “It was about antibiotic resistance – but that’s another story!”

Managing his coursework alongside his busy career as a tree surgeon spurred Ben to achieve another ambition – starting his own business. “The admin side of things doesn’t come particularly easy to me, but I’m a quick learner. The degree helped to teach me to fairly militant about deadlines and organising my time. I was capable before that, but I don’t think I would have been as much of a success.”

Clear Cut Trees began in 2014 and now has a team of six, working in two crews. “Business has been really good,” Ben says, “it’s been pretty consistent, with natural peaks and troughs. It’s a bit quieter around Christmas and in the summer holidays, but there’s always been enough work. I like to try and get jobs booked up a month or so in advance to stop me panicking, but we do get emergency work coming in too, especially if there’s been a storm.”

 

Ben Robinson - Tree Surgery

 

Tree surgery is a year-round trade, with autumn the best time for most pruning jobs according to Ben, while it should generally be avoided in spring, particularly for trees that bleed, such as birch and mulberry. “Tree removals also happen throughout the year,” Ben explains, “though you might have more issues in summer with subsidence because there’s more going on with the roots.”

He joined MyBuilder in the autumn after he set up the business, and says it was vital in helping to get the company up and running: “It was the first thing I joined and it helped a lot to get me going – it’s such a handy tool for tradesmen, I couldn’t recommend it enough.” Three years on, he still has 100% positive feedback from happy clients.

“We do a mix of all jobs,” he says. “We focus almost entirely on private gardens, because they’re just nicer jobs – people are more appreciative. Local authorities used to keep a lot of their work in house but now they outsource, but it tends to go to big firms who can basically work to cost. I much prefer private gardens. The nice thing now, three years in, is that we’re starting to see repeat work from people we saw back when we started. That’s a really good feeling, that they liked us so much they want to have us back.”

Like in all trades, he occasionally encounters people who’ve tried to have a go themselves. “You do see some scary stuff,” he admits. “YouTube has a wealth of videos of people doing dangerous stuff with ladders and chainsaws. The main issue with doing tree work yourself is that whatever you do, you have to wait a very long time to be able to undo it – until the tree grows back. It’s not like a plumbing job where a professional could come and get it back to normal that afternoon.”

 

Ben Robinson - Tree Surgery

 

Ben makes sure his own crew keeps safety in mind at all times. “We’ve not had any significant accidents, we keep a tight ship, and all our equipment is top of the range and well-maintained. Some issues are unavoidable, but you mitigate against it with good procedures. A lot of the safety stuff becomes second nature, but if you’re going up a 90ft plane tree for example, you make sure you double and triple check everything.”

Heights aren’t an issue for Ben, though. “I lived in a block of flats growing up, so I’m used to being up high. In fact, my hobby is skydiving! I did a tandem course in Spain, jumping with someone else, then a course to learn how to do it solo, so I now have a licence and can jump from any drop zone.”

As well as unusual hobbies, Ben has also encountered the occasional unusual job. “I guess the classic is the cat stuck up the tree. I’ve only done one I think, where the cat was still there when I turned up. I had to scale a roof, then use a ladder to get across to a tree. And when I finally got it, it scratched me to pieces.”

With the business going from strength to strength, trees are still where Ben’s passion lies. “I think my favourite trees are the almost stereotypical ones – oaks and beeches, trees that grow to enormous proportions. It’s still one of my ambitions to go out to California and see the giant redwood forests.”

With plenty of work booked in and only a few days off planned, the big US trip might have to wait for now – but if there’s one person sure to make an ambition a reality, it’s Ben.

 

Advice for tradesmen:

 

  • Spend time getting your online presence right: “Starting out on MyBuilder and making my own website felt like a lot of work, but once you’ve put in the groundwork to get it right, the really see the results down the line.”
  • Be willing to answer questions: “Customers will naturally have a lot of questions when it comes to the job, so you should be willing to be patient and explain as much as possible. The more helpful you are, the more appreciative the customer is.”
  • Don’t delay on quotes: “I think it’s a bad look to let people chase you for a quote. They want to make a decision on a tradesman and get the job done – as a basic courtesy, I try to get any quote turned round in 48 hours.”

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