Tag: home improvement

 

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.

 

Each month, the the team at MyBuilder head out on the road to meet some of the hardworking tradespeople across the country as they carry out their latest jobs and projects. We love to see how they work, from their careful planning and preparation, to their attention to detail as they make the final touches. Whether it’s a small, simple job like putting up shelves, or a complex project like a two-storey extension, it’s always fascinating to see tradespeople hard at work, and see the results of their efforts. If you’re a tradesperson using MyBuilder who wants to show off your skills, then get in touch with andrew@mybuilder.com. If you’re a homeowner who’s inspired by these images of transformational home improvements, then you get started on your very own before you know it – simply post a job on MyBuilder and your job will be seen by local tradesmen with the right skills.

A member of the team at Rhys Dobbs Tree Services takes a few minutes break while working on a diseased tree in a garden in Winchester.

A member of the team at Rhys Dobbs Tree Services takes a few minutes break while working on a diseased tree in a garden in Winchester.

Handyman Ian Nicholson puts the finishing touches to a dramatic moon gate in a Worthing garden.

Handyman Ian Nicholson puts the finishing touches to a dramatic moon gate in a Worthing garden.

Dave Rogers of Bristol’s Tool Box Electrical tests a newly-installed fire alarm system.

Dave Rogers of Bristol's Tool Box Electrical tests a newly-installed fire alarm system.

Nuno Monteirom of Nuno Kitchens fits a new kitchen cabinet at an apartment in Hove.

Nuno Monteirom of Nuno Kitchens fits a new kitchen cabinet at an apartment in Hove.

Carpenter Mark Mulholland builds a bespoke TV cabinet for a client in Leicester.

Carpenter Mark Mullholland builds a bespoke TV cabinet for a client in Leicester.

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

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Going out into our gardens is a simple pleasure that many of us enjoy, but it’s also one that lots us take for granted. For those with disabilities or issues with their mobility, making the most of their garden can be difficult – especially if the space hasn’t been adapted for them. If you’re interested in making a garden more accessible, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Tame the Jungle

 

One of the best ways to take back your garden space is to physically clear out the things that have taken it over. Long grass, weeds, climbing ivy and other plants can all choke a garden if left and unchecked, while old broken down sheds and garages can end up as nothing but eyesores that have long outlived their usefulness. A demolitions and clearance expert might be best placed to help remove the detritus that making your garden such an unwelcome space.

 

Don’t Step on the Cracks

 

Old paving, loose blockwork and broken concrete can all prove to be huge impediments to enjoying a garden – while any stairs can be more like barriers for wheelchair users. If a path is meant to lead you through the garden, then it needs to be fit for purpose, while a ramp can replace stairs. A tradesman who does paving and hardstanding can help get them up to scratch.

 

Bed Time

 

Gardening is a British obsession, and even those of us without a green thumb can enjoy planting everything from beautiful flowers to tasty vegetable. However, bending over to get your hands dirty can be difficult for many people – so raised beds, where the planters are brought up to be more accessible – can be a great solution. A good carpenter or joiner can help create an attractive wooden design.

 

Turn on the Bright Lights

 

We all want to make as much of our outdoor space as possible, but it can be difficult when the light is fading and the evenings grow colder. Adding lighting to the seating area of your garden can help transform an underused space, and while it’s simple to add cheap, solar powered lights, an electrician will be able to install a more permanent and comprehensive solution.

 

 

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Space might be the final frontier, but if you’re in a home where space is at a premium, it can also feel like the most precious thing in the world. Being surrounded by your things – and other people – can feel cramped at the best of times, and positively claustrophobic at worst. Almost everyone would like to have more space, and with the right plan and a good tradesman, you can get it, without having to move.

 

 

Knock Down Walls

 

One of the oldest tricks in the book to help maximise living space is to turn smaller rooms into larger ones, by knocking down dividing walls and opening them up. It allows more light in, and diversifies what you can do with the space. It is always worth speaking to an experienced tradesman about knocking down walls, especially if they are load-bearing and may require a structural engineer’s report. Though interior work will not require planning permission, it will need to meet building regulations and be inspected by Building Control. Paul Coulson of KDBS in Newcastle, which has more than 350 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, advises that people look out for experience in the tradesman they choose: “If I was a homeowner looking for a tradesmen, it’s the experience I’d look for over any particular memberships.”

 

Add Extra Storage

 

If you have pots and pans, books, clothes, paperwork and all manner of other things building up in towering piles around your home, just the sight of them can be enough to stress you out. But the old adage is true – out of sight, out of mind – and if you have some way of putting the clutter away, it stops being clutter. Creating extra storage space means thinking creatively – adding in new sets of shelves to the corner of a room, or creating built-in wardrobes for a bedroom with an awkward wall. An experienced carpenter or joiner can give you some ideas or turn your own designs into reality.

 

Convert your Loft

 

City planners have known for generations that the best way to find space is to embrace the vertical, and build up. If you have a loft that is sitting empty, or is just used for storing a dusty box of Christmas decorations, it could be ripe for a conversion that could see it transformed into a usable space. A loft conversion specialist can lay out the different kinds of projects available – from a simple dormer, to a whole mansard roof development. Lewis Sage of Romford’s UPS Home Improvements, a business with more than 160 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, recommends seeing a tradesman’s previous jobs to help decide who to choose: “Any good builder who takes pride in their work should be happy to put you in touch with old clients. I’d suggest that clients get out there and have a look at something the tradesman has done in your local area – there’s nothing better than actually seeing it.”

 

Create an Outbuilding

 

While your home may feel full to bursting, if you have any outdoor space, it might be the perfect place to focus your attention. It only takes a small amount of space to erect a shed that is perfect for storage, while with a bit more room and a larger budget, you could create anything from an office room to a granny annexe that can provide extra accommodation. Depending on the scale and usage, these may need planning permission, so speak to an experienced builder who can talk you through the process.

 

Build an Extension

 

Sometimes, if your home feels too small, the simplest thing to do is just make it bigger. An extension will add space – and potentially value – to your property, whether it’s just expanding your kitchen, or adding a double-height extension giving you a bigger living room and an extra bedroom. These can be subject to planning permission as well as building regulations, and with such a big project, you need to be on good terms with your tradesman. Vasile Ghinda of V Ghinda Builders specialises in extension building and has dozens of pieces of good feedback on MyBuilder. He says: “The first thing I’d expect someone to ask about is experience, how long you have worked, what jobs you have done that are the same. But you also want to know what a tradesman is like. You need to be able to talk to them, get on with on them.”

 

 

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There are two kinds of New Year’s Resolutions. One is about giving something up – smoking, drinking, sugary snacks. The other kind is about promising to try and take up something new – a sport, a hobby, or a passion project.

For lots of people, that project means finally getting round to giving their home the attention it deserves. January is all about having big ambitions and making big plans, so here are some tips for harnessing the spirit of the new year and getting your home improvements under way.

 

Planning for Success

 

No big project gets off the ground without having a solid plan behind it. For major work, like a big extension or a new build, you’ll want to draw up plans, speaking to an architect or architectural technician who can help make your ideas into reality. David Hepburn of Hepburn Architects, a fully-qualified ARB and RIBA-registered architect with 100% feedback on MyBuilder, said: “First, you should describe what you’re hoping to achieve – your ideal situation, not just limited by what you can specifically afford at the time. That’s because if a homeowner explains what their future aspirations are, a good architect or architectural technician may well be able to ‘future-proof’ that project, factoring in various future possibilities in advance.”

Alexandre Durao of Alex D Architects (pictured above) also has a 100% feedback on MyBuilder. He described how working with an architect helps to realise client’s ideas: “Before I start doing any drawings, I like to consider everything that’s relevant – so for example I go through all the planning policies. There’s no point in making drawings if then you’re not getting them accepted. We have a 97-98% approval rating for the jobs we do – we’re really proud of that.”

 

Finding the Right People

 

When you have your plans, it’s crucial that you get the right tradespeople to help turn your drawings into bricks and mortar. Large projects like extensions and loft conversions come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s vital to find a tradesperson who has experience with your particular kind of project. Lewis Sage of UPS Home Improvements specialises in home renovations and extensions, and has more than 150 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder. His top tip for finding the right builder is to get out there and see their work: “I’d say to clients get out there and have a look at something the tradesman has done in your local area – there’s nothing better than actually seeing it. The other good thing to do is ask if they have a build currently on the go, and go along and see that. That way, you don’t just see a nice, tidy job, you can make sure everything behind the scenes is being done properly.”

However big your job is, doing your research, planning ahead, and finding the right people for the work will help you keep your 2017 resolutions.

 


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