Tag: roofing

Lee Picknell - Fascias, Soffits and Guttering

Last month’s Storm Doris didn’t have the most dramatic name in the world, but when it was classed as a “weather bomb”, it felt a bit more serious. When it was disrupting travel and damaging property around the country, it definitely made its presence felt, and with April and it’s traditional showers on the way, there’s no better time to think about how your home will cope in a storm.

Fix your fencing

 

Fencing, especially when it’s old and neglected, is one of the most common casualties of bad weather and strong winds. You can prepare for the worst by checking for loose boards or panels, and making sure posts are still deeply rooted. If it does suffer damage, an experienced fencer can help repair or replace the affected areas.

 

Ready your roof

 

Another common victim of high winds and lashing rain, it only takes a small amount of damage to a roof to lead to big problems down the line. A few tiles out of place can lead to major leaks, which can mean significant redecoration. If you’re worried, consult a roofer. Danny Morgan of Morgan Roofing advises asking for pictures from tradesmen so you can see what they’re doing: “When it comes to roofing, a lot of the problems with bad tradesmen stem from the fact they can see things you can’t. I make sure I take pictures of everything, before and after, so I can show the homeowner what needs doing and how I’ll tackle it.”

 

Carl Lamon - Chimney & Fireplace Specialist

 

Gird your guttering

 

As with roof damage, a broken gutter can seem insignificant at first, but can lead to much bigger problems – if a leak is pouring water onto a particular spot on the wall, it can lead to internal damp and mould, and ruin external plaster work or painting. A specialist in fascias, soffits and guttering like Lee Picknell of LP Fascias (top picture) will be able to repair damage and replace any broken parts.

 

Check out your chimney

 

As with loose roof tiles, if chimney pots or bricks come off in a storm, they pose a threat not just to property but people too. If your chimney is old or hasn’t been inspected in a while, it can be worthwhile to have a chimney and fireplace specialist like Carl Lamon of Oxon Stoves (middle picture), or an experienced bricklayer, to assess it and deal with any issues before it becomes dangerous.

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Knocking down walls, digging up driveways, ripping out carpets – they’re all effective ways of starting home improvements, but none of them feel particularly high-tech. However, not all projects are about simple bricks and mortar. Hiring a tradesman for the right job can help add some serious technology to upgrade your home, and future-proof your property for years to come. Here are some of the top home improvements to reboot your home.

 

Hack your Heating

 

2016 saw a lot of people talking about “The Internet of Things” and the idea of smart homes – where appliances in the house are online and always connected, allowing you to control everything with the press of a button from your phone or tablet. 2017 will be no different, as the technology becomes more affordable and more commonplace. One of the first steps you can take is to install a thermostat that you can control remotely, allowing you to change your heating, and the time it’s on, from anywhere. Paul Caton of Paul Caton Gas Services in Chesterfield, a gas engineer with more than 360 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, says: “I always recommend modern thermostats that connect to wi-fi nowadays. They may still cost a bit more, but they come with a good guarantee, and they’re so useful to have.”

 

The Power of Solar

 

If one of your aims for 2017 is to reduce your carbon footprint, installing photovoltaic (PV) solar panels is a great way to go about it. As well as working to generate your own electricity, thus lowering your energy bills, the government also pays a feed-in tariff to homes producing electricity, while there is an export tariff for energy you send to the National Grid. Installing solar panels generally doesn’t require planning permission unless your home is listed or in a conservation area – but you will need a south-facing roof, free from shade, and it helps if your home has a Grade D or above Energy Performance Certificate. It can take some time to recoup initial costs, but speak to an installer to see how it could work for you.

 

Secure your Space

 

Good locks are vital to keeping your home protected, but there are a number of more high-tech ways to go about looking after your property. From alarm systems that automatically notify a response team or the police, to cameras you can monitor on your phone, the technology is more accessible than ever. Stephen Mackinlay of DRAM Security, which has 100% positive feedback on MyBuilder, said: “My first recommendation is always motion detector lights – you don’t want dark areas around your home, especially windows and doors, and they are very cost effective. Then I’d suggest a good intruder alarm, and then CCTV. We only supply HD systems – the whole point is to see people.” A dedicated security installer can talk you through the options available.

 

Entertainment Everywhere

 

In this day and age, just having a TV and stereo doesn’t quite cut it. With all the options available with smart TVs, projectors, and wired and wireless speakers, your home can boast cinema-like quality, without the sticky floors and smell of popcorn. Music fans can also create multi-room sound systems, even using tablet docks to control them, along with other smart home features. For the best way to present and store your set-up, a carpenter is a good place to start. They’re used to building bespoke shelving and cabinets, and can design the perfect home for your high-end rig.

 

Plugging Away

 

Not all high-tech updates to your home have to be flashy – some are just really useful. For example, even the lowly plug socket can be upgraded to make it ready for 21st century living. If you’re renovating the electrics in your home, consider installing plugs that also incorporate USB sockets, allowing you to charge devices without the needs for a mains adapter. Jason Briscoe of Electrical Safety Services, an electrician with more than 500 positive pieces of feedback on MyBuilder, said: “They’re the latest thing and more people are asking for them. They’re more expensive than the old-fashioned sockets, but you do get what you pay for.”

 

 

With the long-range weather forecast predicting a cold November and possible snow, we’ve come up with a checklist of DOs and DON’Ts in preparation for the winter weather, including tips from some of our expert tradesmen.

GAS

DO review your fuel options

MyBuilder tradesman Tom Paterson, of Paterson Heating and Plumbing Services in the West Midlands, has started to heat his house with solid fuel (wood) due to the escalating cost of natural gas, although he still uses gas for cooking and hot water. He’s not the only one switching over from gas either, with many of his customers turning to solid fuel to keep their homes warm and costs down. We’d be interested to hear from other people who have done the same.

DON’T keep turning on the heating

Turning off the heating during the day is a commonly used tactic to save on the gas bill. The suprising bit is that it doesn’t always work. When you let your home get cold during the day, your boiler has to work extremely hard to get it back up to a comfortable temperature, and may end up over compensating and using up the same amount of energy that you saved during the day. And don’t underestimate the tendency of family members to get frustrated with the cold house and crank up the heating when it suits them. You might be better off keeping the thermostat at 17-19 degrees and maintaining a warm house throughout the whole day. To find out whether this works best for your home, it’s easy to run a test and measure usage.


ROOFING

DO get your roof checked

To avoid winter leaks, get an expert to check for broken, missing or slipped tiles. According to Garry Connor, an experienced roofer based in Cheshire, one of the most common sources of winter leaks are ridge tiles that have come apart, allowing water to seep into the roof line. Another key place a specialist will look at is the flashing round the chimney stack, as it can lift up or tear and expose the joint to the elements.

DON’T go clambering on your roof

Roofers use specialist equipment including purpose-built ladders, scaffolding and cherry pickers. Given that you can’t do a proper roof inspection from the ground, it is more sensible and safer to let the experts (who are insured and trained) get up there and give you their informed opinion.

winterdosanddonts

CHIMNEYS AND FIREPLACES

DO buy wood from a reputable seller

With gas prices on the rise and woodburners making a big comeback, there’s plenty of opportunity for unscrupulous log sellers to try and offload poor quality fuel. Get a moisture meter (you should be able to pick one up for less than £20) and check the moisture content in your logs before you use them – if it’s over 20% you need to leave them to dry out. A bona fide log supplier will only sell properly seasoned wood.

DON’T burn unseasoned or damp wood

Chimney and fireplace specialist Courtney Gibbs warns that burning damp wood can create a tar that sticks to the flue, potentially causing a blockage and putting you at risk of a chimney fire. If the window on your wood burner turns black, the chances are that your wood is too wet or you have a problem with your flue.


DAMP PROOFING

DO clear your drains

Make sure there are no leaves or debris clogging up your drains, guttering and down-pipes advises Dean Webster of South East Timber and Damp. It’s important to get water away from your property because if it hangs around, you risk developing a problem with damp.

DON’T overlook your brickwork

Pointing should be checked for cracks where water could seep in. Keep an eye out for signs of spalling on your brickwork. Spalling occurs when moisture has got into the brick and the freezing and thawing process causes it to flake.


PLUMBING

DO insulate exposed pipework and tanks in lofts

Berkshire-based plumber Kevin Parsons was brought up in Edmonton, Canada where temperatures can fall as low as minus 25 degrees. He knows the importance of insulating all pipework; back home in Canada electrically charged lagging is used to counteract freezing temperatures. It is now available in the UK but foam insulation lagging wrap is more generally used, and is highly effective as long as joints and corners are well covered.

DON’T ignore that dripping tap

Changes in temperature cause pipes to expand and contract, and joints can become loose. However, leaky pipes may not be immediately visible or accessible so keep an eye out for evidence of watermarks on walls and ceilings and act quickly if you spot anything. Something as simple as a dripping tap could be the sign of something more severe!

As Spring draws closer we can hear the sound of shed doors opening and tool boxes creaking back into life… but alongside DIY comes the inevitable difficulties and horror stories.

At MyBuilder we’ve come across a lot of botched DIY over the years and in every case it was clear the job could have been made easier and safer with the intervention of an expert. We present to you MyBuilder’s DIY You Thought You Could Do… But Can’t!

Tiling

Tiling seems quite straightforward. It’s the familiarity that does it – all that time spent staring at the tiles while in the bath or by the wash basin. How hard could it be? After all, it’s just sticking some tiles to the wall, right? The first challenge is that the surface needs to be perfect. A wavy or bumpy wall looks much worse when tiles are covering it. Secondly, laying tiles is not easy – it takes a lot of practice to get it right. Lastly, once you make a pig’s ear of the tiling, the professional tiler will likely break the tiles trying to get them off. Buying the tiles twice won’t be a nice end to your DIY experiment.

Carpet Fitting
Carpet laying can’t be that hard, right? Just roll it out, measure around the fireplace and.. uh oh, it’s too short! Remember, once you’ve cut the carpet too short there’s no attractive way to fix it and replacing the whole thing is an unnecessary cost. A skilled fitter has the experience of measuring and cutting awkward shapes; they are also much more likely to have all their fingers left after using the troublesome stanley knife!

Building Garden Walls
Everybody knows that bricklaying is a proper building trade. But when it comes to garden and boundary walls, somehow it changes in our mind from building to tinkering in the garden. What gives? It might not seem too important because it’s just in the garden, but white mortar smeared all over the faces of your crooked bricks won’t impress the other half, or your guests. It will also (hopefully) annoy you for the rest of your life and remind you of the value of a professional job. If that doesn’t convince you, think about the time spent. A good bricklayer can lay 1,000 bricks a day to perfection whereas a good DIYer will be lucky to lay 100!

Hanging Doors
Hanging a door is a lot trickier than it sounds. If you screw the hinges into the door frame and it’s slightly off, it’s practically impossible to adjust it. In addition, planing the door is a difficult business; too long and you’re dragging it across the carpet, too short and you’ve got a draught. Getting it wrong will remind you every time you walk through that door why you should have got an expert in. Your hopes of a quality doorway all hinge on a seasoned carpenter.

Tree Surgery
Chopping down trees is lots of fun. It might seem tempting to buy your own toy, errr – chainsaw for the price you’d pay a tree surgeon, but you might regret that decision once you cut your leg off. Chainsaws are seriously dangerous and even trained professionals use protective clothing and special helmets. Even if you’re just pruning a tree with a hand saw, you might do more harm than good to your tree. Knowing where and when to prune is the key – which is why tree surgeons go to college to learn their trade!

Wallpapering
Redecorating is an often underestimated task, taking a lot longer than most of us anticipate. One of the trickiest tasks is wallpapering, especially if you want the patterns to look seamless. In a way, wallpapering is an art form, after all it will be adorning your walls for years to come. The last thing you want is a drunk-looking floral pattern or scruffy ends – have a painter and decorator help you with your fancy feature wall.

Cleaning Gutters
Sunday morning in the rain, with a ladder on a rooftop – something tells us this isn’t going to end well! Heights can be dangerous and any kind of roof work should be left to experienced roofers if at all possible. Yes, it may ‘just be a few leaves’, but is it really worth a tumble from a ladder? We don’t think so!

Laying Turf
You stand there with rolls of turf and a vision of Wembley stadium’s pitch in your back garden, but the outcome looks more like a field after a festival. If turf is not laid correctly you risk uneven surfaces, yellow grass or even bald patches – not a good look for impending summer barbecues. Let a professional take care of the planning, preparation and laying – then you won’t be looking at your neighbour’s lawn ‘green’ with envy.

Demolition
Demolition is not just ‘fun with sledgehammers’. Well, it might mostly be fun with sledgehammers, but dangers lurk in every corner. From broken glass to electricity to smashed fingers, it’s definitely a skill to know which tools to use, when to get people to stand clear, and how to dismantle something. Let the tradesmen have some fun for once!

Architecture
OK, this one might seem a bit unlikely. It would seem that there aren’t many DIY architects. But architecture isn’t just designing a new building. Any changes to the layout of your home is by definition architecture. Many people don’t think of consulting an architect for en-suites, loft conversions or even extensions. Even a badly planned en-suite bathroom can ruin a bedroom by creating dead space and an awkward layout. Builders are usually more than happy to build whatever you ask them to, but you’re going to be the victim of your own bad decisions. A good architect need not be too expensive and what’s the good of having that new extension if you hate living in it?

Do you have anything to add to our list? We’d love to hear your stories.

 

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The difference between an average tradesman and an excellent one can be almost imperceptible to the uninitiated, but watch someone like Kerry of Eurolay Asphalt and Roofing in action and you start to see what it is. The average tradesman just comes in and does the job they have been asked to do. Sure, they usually do it adequately, but professionals who take a real pride in their work think about the bigger picture. Here, what may have been a job tidying up the roof and fitting some decking becomes a bigger contract, as Kerry takes the time to check out the surrounding structure. It may be costly for the householder (and a better job for him) in the short term, but it would certainly make for big savings in the long term. A good tradesman will be willing to talk you through the work that needs to be done and even show you what is wrong. They talk in terms you can understand and are happy to answer any questions.

 


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