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.

 

If you see Kevin Campbell working with military precision, that’s because he is.

Kevin, the damp proofer and plasterer behind Welwyn Garden City’s Anke Ltd, didn’t begin his career working as a tradesman – instead, at 16, Kevin joined the Army and spent six years being sent around the world, as he told us: “I was in the cadets as a kid so it just made sense to me to join up when I left school. I did three operational tours of Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Jordan, Cyprus. I loved it – I was the second youngest Lance Corporal in the Army. Looking back I think I probably joined when I was a bit too young though. You have to grow up very quickly. It’s easy to feel you’re missing out on other things, when your friends are all going off on lad’s holidays and stuff – but it gives you a good work ethic.”

It’s an ethic that Kevin still carries with him, even now. “I still get up at 5am – even on weekends!” Arriving on Civvy Street was a culture shock to begin with. “I spent six months wondering what to do, doing a bit of bar work, but I knew the owner of a groundworking company and that got my foot in the door.” There was just one issue: “I realised I didn’t want to be outside any more.”

 

 

That was Kevin’s inspiration to find an indoor trade that would allow him to stay out of the rain, and appeal to his problem-solving nature. At first, it was plastering that caught his eye, but after a while he realised that specialising in damp proofing, with its technical nature, would be the career for him. “It’s hard work,” he told us, “it’s very hard – always dusty and messy. But I enjoy it. I’m always working.”

Kevin did a variety of technician’s courses to expand his knowledge of the trade, but there’s no substitute for experience. “No matter what you learn on a course, you really learn on the job, seeing different situations. I’m always willing to ask questions and get second opinions from other people. I’d rather get it right than guess.”

As he points out, damp proofing is an industry that can have a bad reputation for unscrupulous tradesmen, misdiagnosing issues and overcharging customers. “I really want to improve the reputation of the industry,” he said, “and a lot of it is about education. A large percentage of damp problems are simply caused by poor ventilation and can be easily fixed. Only 20% or so of damp at low level is rising damp, but people focus on it because they hear horror stories. I’ve been to see homeowners who’ve been told they have rising damp and will need to pay thousands of pounds for treatment, when it’s actually a small issue.”

 

 

Anke Ltd (the name comes from combining letters in Kevin’s name with his son, Austin’s – as Kevin said, “you have to think outside the box!”) was set up three years ago and has already built up 87 pieces of feedback on MyBuilder, all of it positive. “I stumbled across it one day and went from there – it’s been great for us, and I’ve recommended a few more people to join it.” The company has grown to have five full-time employees, and Kevin is considering growing the team. “They guys I’ve got are all great – I’ve kissed a lot of frogs to find my princes. I could probably take on a few more guys, but it’s all about finding the right people – training them to think the way you do. It’s very hard. Everyone tradesman can snag another tradesman’s work, but you’ve got to have a line where what gets done is acceptable. We’re all human and all make mistakes, and people can get told the wrong thing by the wrong people. Ultimately, experience is what counts.”

As the business continues to grow, Kevin will carry on getting up at dawn, doing great work, and trying to improve the reputation of the industry. He may not wear a uniform anymore, but he’s still a man on a mission.

 

 

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.

 

 

The weather may be annoyingly changeable, but spring is still in the air and the idea of summer is creeping ever closer.

Spring is the most popular time for people to put their property up for sale, a process which often requires carrying out some work to show it off at its best. Even if you’re planning on staying put for the time being, a little work can go a long way in helping you fall back in love with your home, so here are some spring ideas for sprucing it up.

 

 

Get Rid of Your Rubbish

 

Sometimes it’s not what you add, it’s what you take away that counts. And while it may be painful to get rid of something that’s been there for a long time, if it’s only holding you back, now is the time to get rid. If you want to strip a living room or a bedroom back to a blank canvas so you can start again, or just get rid of something that’s been hanging around long past its sell-by date like an unsightly shed or outbuilding, a demolitions and clearance specialist can do the ultimate spring clean for you, and help you get back to a clean slate.

 

Revamp Your Rooms

 

Whether it’s a simple coat of paint or a total transformation, redecorating can make a room feel brand new. There are almost infinite options, style, trends and fashions you can take influence from, which you can adapt and recreate according to your own budget. Whether you need a painter or a plasterer, a carpet fitter or a tiler, experienced tradesmen can help overhaul a home.

 

 

Update Your Kitchen

 

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, and like any heart, it needs to be kept in tip-top shape. While installing an entirely new kitchen can be a costly project to undertake, there are smaller ways to refresh the room, from changing the cupboard doors to adding a new coat of paint or tiling splashback. However, if you want to go the whole hog, a quality kitchen can be tailored for your family and last for years to come, making it a potentially valuable investment for the future.

 

Give Your Garden Some Attention

 

It’s not just the inside of your home that always needs attention – after months of bad weather, sometimes it’s our gardens that are crying out for some love. A new planting scheme can bring a garden to life, but landscaping can also help to create a new atmosphere and purpose. Dedicated seating areas, paths and terraces can all add interest and utility to a garden, and spring is the perfect time to tackle the project, so your outdoor space can be ready to enjoy in the summer.

 

 

Start Thinking Bigger

 

While it’s always satisfying to create a big impact with little effort, sometimes, a big effort is truly worthwhile. Adding an extension to your home, or converting your loft from underused attic space into fully usable living space, is a major project to undertake, but one that can completely change how you use and feel about your home. If you’re just thinking about how you could transform your home, an architectural designer could be a good place to start – they can look at your home and come up with plans, before a specialist building company can get to work.

 


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