Tag: MyBuilder

 

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 a spot of good weather is on the cards, everyone wants to get outside. But when we’re out in our gardens, we start to notice all the the little issues we have around our homes. From unruly trees to peeling paint, here are some problems you can tackle while the sun in shining.

 

 

Sort out Your Garden

 

Whether it’s mowing your lawn, or embarking on a full landscaping project, taming your garden is one of the biggest things you can do to alter your outdoor space. If you have dreams of enjoying a jazzed-up garden over summer, a landscape gardener could help make your dream a reality.

 

Fix your Fences

 

Fences and gates can take a battering over winter, so if yours are looking worse for wear, now is the perfect time to replace damaged panels and fix broken poles. An experienced fencer can get the work done quickly and make sure it lasts.

 

Add a New Coat of Paint

 

If the outside of your home is painted, when was the last time it was done? If it’s starting to show the impact of years of sun, wind and rain, then make sure you get it repainted before any long-term damage occurs.

 

 

Repair Your Pipes and Guttering

 

Most of us tend not to notice gutters and drainpipes – they’re never the most attractive part of a house, they just go on doing their job. However, if they’re not doing their job – if they’re leaking, blocked, or coming loose from the wall, then it’s important to get them sorted before they cause problems such as damp down the line.

 

Update Your Driveway

 

If your brick driveway is missing a few bricks, or your flagstone driveway is cracked with weeds poking through, it’s worth having an experienced driveway specialist take a look before the problem becomes more expensive down the line.

 

Check out Your Roof

 

It’s an old saying, but it’s true – fix the roof while the sun is shining. There’s no sense in waiting until bad weather takes advantage of gaps in the tiles or damaged flashing – hire a roofer who can take a look and advise you on any work that needs to be carried out.

 

Trim Your Trees

 

At this time of year, many trees are nearly in full leaf and often heavy with blossom, and could be causing issues, blocking light to your windows, interfering with power lines, satellite dishes and guttering. If you’re concerned about any trees, it’s always best to speak to an experienced tree surgeon, rather than tackle it yourself.

 

 

May is a popular month for people selling their homes, but you don’t have to be looking to sell to think about adding value to your property. There are big and small ways to boost how much your home is worth, and also make it a nicer place to be.

 

 

Fix structural problems

 

If you are looking to sell, then taking care of major structural issues such as a sagging roofline or persistent damp issues is a necessary step to making it sale-worthy – but they’re not issues that you’ll want to live with for any length of time either. There are a variety of tradespeople available depending on the issue, from specialist roofers to structural engineers, bricklayers, and damp proofers.

 

Create a loft conversion

 

Building up is generally regarded as the single biggest boost you can give to your home’s value. It’s a major investment, but one that pays off with new living space that can completely change the feel of your home. Whether it’s a dormer, hip to gable, or mansard roof conversion, you will need to have plans drawn up and may need planning permission, before hiring an experienced loft conversion specialist to take on the project.

 

 

Build an extension

 

Similarly to loft conversions, adding more space to your home will add value and give you new ways to enjoy your property. Whether it’s creating a kitchen-diner or a dedicated space for an office or studio, there are firms that specialise in extensions and conversions and can help you realise your vision.

 

Update your kitchen

 

Many families value having a modern, usable kitchen, that can be used not just for cooking, but for eating, relaxing and entertaining. If you have the space and budget, updating your kitchen with all mod-cons can be a real boost for your home.

 

Refresh your bathroom

 

It’s difficult for anyone to feel like they can get clean in a tired and broken-down bathroom, with cracked tiles, mouldy grouting, and damaged units. While a bathroom fitter can completely revamp the room, you could refresh it with smaller changes – a tiler can add new tiles for cleaner look, while a plumber can swap in new taps and hardware.

 

 

Add a parking space

 

If you live in a town or city where parking is at a premium and neighbours are battling over spaces on the street, then can it can be a worthwhile investment to replace your front garden with a driveway, giving you peace of mind that you’ll always have a safe place to keep your car. A driveway needs to be built to last, so only hire an expert with a good track record.

 

Boost your kerb appeal

 

No one wants to live in the most run-down home on the street, and for buyers as well, first impressions count. There is plenty you can do to smarten up your kerb appeal, from adding a porch, replacing your front door, upgrading your windows or repainting the exterior.

 

Take care of the little things

 

Sometimes the little things don’t feel that small when you have to deal with them everyday, so why not make them better? Give new life to a room with a lick of paint or roll of wallpaper; add new lighting to your hallway; finally sort out the toilet with the dodgy flush – if it adds value to you, sometimes that’s all the value you need to add.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 


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