Tag: home improvement

 

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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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.

 

 

For the past few months, TV viewers have been alternately gripped and horrified by the progress of a group of athletic young people abroad, following their joy and heartbreak, their victories and failures, and waiting with bated breath to see the drama unfold. No, not the football – we mean a popular reality show, where the contestants are seeking their soulmates… as well as £50,000.

But if there’s one thing on the island viewers have truly fallen in love with, it’s the stunning villa the couples are getting to call home. With perfectly manicured lawns, a luxurious infinity pool and changing rooms like the backstage area of a fashion show, it’s the kind of place you wouldn’t just want to spend a summer in, you’d want it all year round. So, we’ve come up with some ways you can incorporate a touch of villa magic into your home.

 

 

Outdoor kitchen

 

On the show, the tanned and toned competitors rarely seem to eat, but there’s an extensive outdoor kitchen complete with a double fridge freezer and dining table for them to use if the urge ever strikes. While an outdoor kitchen may not see much use in the UK – even during a heatwave – a pizza oven or brick barbecue will make entertaining easy, and give your garden a great focal point.

 

Swimming pool

 

There are more than 200,000 private pools in the UK, and when the weather is scorching, lots of people will be wishing there were a few more. You’ll need a big garden to accommodate the kind of dramatic pool overlooking the Mallorcan countryside that the couples enjoy, but if you scale back your ambitions, you could add an above-ground pool, plunge pool or even a simple hot-tub for less than you think.

 

 

Walk-in-wardrobe

 

If your clothes are crammed into tiny cupboards, or you find yourself getting ready by looking in your car’s rear-view mirror, then building a walk-in wardrobe might be the solution. It doesn’t need to have space for dozens of people – a simple small room, with good lighting and inbuilt storage could be all you need to help you organise your things and help you look your best.

 

Terrace

 

You can’t change your view very easily, but you can change the place you enjoy it from. Whether you have a first floor terrace, decking or a patio in the back garden, or are looking to create a space from scratch, you can effectively add another room to your house with some careful decisions. Adding flooring, such as tiling or decking, will separate the space, while seating and lighting will make it a place where you want to spend long summer evenings.

 

 

Lawn

 

Most lawns in the UK are looking in a pretty rough way at the moment, with rainfall at only 6% of what it normally is at this time of year in some parts of the country. But even in the Spanish sun, the villa has a beautiful emerald lawn, which means it’s being closely looked after by a dedicated team of night gardeners. If you don’t fancy that level of upkeep, then artificial grass could be a solution – many are making the switch, with the latest products being hard-wearing with a natural look. You’ll never have to mow it again – though you might need to sweep it from time to time.

 

Fire pit

 

If you want a dramatic garden feature where you can gather people to dramatically break their hearts, a fire pit is just the thing you need. Of course, you could also use it as a place to hang out with friend and family, and extend the use of your garden into the cooler months.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 


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