Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather

Pouring concrete at any time requires care and attention, but doing so in cold weather means there’s other factors that need to be taken into account if the pouring project is to be a success. In this article, the team at Total Concrete will be detailing the ways you can ensure that your cold-weather concrete pour goes smoothly.

Schedule the delivery in advance

Cold weather can cause havoc on the roads, and there’s nothing worse than a project being delayed because a delivery is held up by traffic. Make sure your concrete delivery is scheduled in good time – being organised will only serve you well in the colder months, and getting your concrete on time will help you avoid any last minute transportation issues.

Wear the right clothing

The right clothing is important for two reasons: it will help keep you warm in the cold weather, and it will also protect you from damage to skin that can occur when coming into contact with wet concrete. Wear plenty of layers, and make sure to wear protective gloves and goggles if you’re handling the concrete yourself.

Do not pour on frozen ground

Pouring concrete on frozen ground will cause the fresh concrete to freeze if the temperature is below -4°c. Concrete companies can include hot water in their mixes to raise the temperature of the concrete, preventing it from freezing upon contact with the ground. As well as hot water, you can use portable heaters on the ground to thaw the surface and make it more accommodating for your concrete before you pour it.

Use the right concrete grade

Using the right grade of concrete is crucial to the success of the project, especially if it’s ready mix concrete. A winter mix of ingredients is required for a cold-weather pour, including accelerants to speed up the curing and setting of the concrete, warm water for the mix and avoiding ingredients such as slag or fly ash.

Have help where possible

The more people you have on hand to help you, the quicker the project will be, and the quicker the project is, the less time there is for the concrete to potentially freeze and disrupt the process. This is particularly pertinent to offloading the concrete from the truck.

As you can see, there are a number of precautions to take when carrying out a concrete pour in cold weather. If you follow these tips, you’re much more likely to avoid any mishaps due to frosty weather, and your concrete project will progress as you’d hoped.

Total Concrete Ltd are experts in the delivery and pumping of the highest quality concrete mixes throughout Surrey and Woking. For more information about the work we do, get in touch with us today.

6 Repainting Projects that Can Give Your Property a Curb Appeal Boost

There’s no shame in living in an old house. However, years of existence and the ever-changing weather can cause your home’s beauty to fade gradually.

Whether you’re thinking about selling down the line or you simply wish to give your property’s curb appeal a healthy boost, painting certain parts of its exterior is the best way to go. Paint can do wonders for a house, especially in bringing back its former glory. When combined with creativity and resourcefulness, you can easily liven up your old home and turn it into an attractive real estate investment.

To get you started, here are six features and fixtures outside your home that a fresh coat of paint can enhance:

1. The Front Door

Replacing your front door is an excellent starting point for a home makeover. In fact, a study conducted by a door manufacturer revealed that upgrading this part of the house can increase the perceived value of a property, on top of a return on investment of over 50 percent of the money used for the renovation.

Of course, changing the door isn’t your only option. If you don’t have the sufficient budget for replacing the entire door, you can have it painted instead.

Base your color choice on trends and how the door complements the rest of the house. Better yet, walk around the neighborhood to gather inspiration on the tones that appeal to your community and work well with the surroundings.

Neutral hues can do the job most of the time, especially in terms of matching colors with the rest of the house. But if you’re looking to sell and want your home to stand out, you should consider choosing bolder and more vibrant tones.

2. The Fence

If you have a fence that doesn’t stand out, or no fence at all, real estate investors may have second thoughts on buying your property no matter how beautiful your house is. Because of this, you should also use your resources to provide your house with a fence that will complete

that homey feel most people seek. Having a lovely, newly painted fence also sends a message to potential buyers that your property is well-maintained.

3. The Mailbox

Although mailboxes are made to store and secure your correspondence and subscriptions, they can also give your home’s curb appeal a good boost when repainted.

Believe it or not, this nifty item is one of the first elements that attract people to a property. What’s more, it’s probably one of the simplest repainting projects you can DIY. Even if you don’t plan on selling your house, ensuring that your mailbox looks pristine also shows how much you take care of your property (much like the fence).

In choosing a color, you can have your mailbox painted in the same hue as your main door, or choose a tone that pops up from the rest of the property. Of course, you can also opt for a more neutral color scheme to achieve that classic, timeless look.

4. The Porch or Deck

Porches and decks extend the living space of any home. They also offer added value to the property and enhance its appeal to help attract potential buyers. Plus, ensuring that these extensions are well-maintained can help with the longevity of the entire house. To freshen up your deck or porch, only use high-quality exterior paint products that are made for specific types of surfaces. You can also check the ratings of certain products based on their resistance to color change, cracking, mildew growth, and dirt.

5. The Exterior Window Trim

While these may seem like small details, exterior window trims can actually enhance the overall aesthetic of a house. Leaving this element out of your repainting project can prove to be a big mistake as it is bound to stand out from the rest of the structure.

Although many people choose different shades of white for this part of the house, you can also have it painted the same color as your front door. This will lend a unified effect throughout the property and effectively achieve that curb appeal boost that inspired you to repaint your house in the first place.

6. The Plant Boxes

Plant boxes are decorative and functional elements of the exterior of the house. These fixtures help enhance the impact of the presence of plants on your property.

With that said, you should also consider having your plant boxes repainted according to your chosen color scheme for the house. Matching it with fitting outdoor hues will also have a good effect on the property’s overall aesthetic.

A Final Thought

A fresh coat of paint for the exterior of your house can help in enhancing your property’s curb appeal and increasing its selling value. If you’re thinking about doing this for your home, but don’t have the budget for redoing the entire structure, you can try combining two or more of the repainting projects listed in this article to achieve your desired effect.

 

How to find the perfect Windows for your Home?

Just as you’d take plenty of time when choosing new furniture or décor, selecting the ideal windows for your home is an important decision that requires plenty of consideration. With so many styles, finishes and openings to choose from, it’s essential that you choose glazing that will enhance the exterior of your house whilst ensuring your home remains insulated and secure.

Whilst the cheapest way of fitting windows to a new house is to use white PVCu windows, hardwood, composite and aluminium windows offer a lot for design options and a wealth of stunning finishes. With all this in mind, the team at Martindale Windows Northampton have taken a look through the world of windows to give you a deep insight into what each style of window will provide along with the pro’s, con’s and sots of each.

PVCu Windows

PVCu (plastic) windows have dominated the windows market since their original introduction in the 1990s as a they offer the simplest of all window solutions. Whilst his solution is no longer deemed to be environmentally friendly, at an average cost of between £4000 and £15000 per property, they do offer a relatively cost-effective solution and require little maintenance. However, they can look cheap and reduce the value of period homes and can be difficult to repair if broken.

Composite Windows

Formed around a timber window frame with a weather-proof capping, composite windows are generally used on houses that have harsher climates as they are extremely durable. Available with triple glazing and in range of modern designs, composite windows provide a very low maintenance solution that offers extraordinary insulation. However, at around £10,000 to £25,000 per home, composite windows are one of the most costlier solutions.

Hardwood Windows

As a solution that is extremely durable and more aesthetically pleasing than PVCu windows, hardwood windows are often used for traditional homes and can be tailored to your style with a range of different stains. Whilst slightly more expensive than PVCu windows at between £8000 and £22,000, hardwood windows provide a much more natural look and great longevity.

Metal/Fibreglass Windows

Made from either steel, aluminium or fibreglass, this particular type of window is often used on more contemporary homes to give a sleek and sophisticated style. Whilst metal/fibreglass windows offer a very low maintenance solution and are more stylish than PVCu windows, they’re not as thermally efficient as wooden windows and as slightly more costly than PVCu windows at around £8000 – £20,000 per home.

Window Style: Casement, Tilt or Sash?

Although you may now know the type of windows that you’d like to go for, before fitting your next set of windows it’s also important to consider the style of windows opening that you’d like to go for. With 3 options to consider, there’s a range of benefits from each type.

Open-out Casement system

As a traditionally British option that has been very popular across the UK for a number of years, open-out casements are available in a variety of styles and finishes. Whilst large casements tend to be the cheapest, but you can also select a slightly more expensive small glazed (Georgian style) solution that is often used in country style houses. This particular style is usually made in modular, standard sizes, keeping costs at a minimum.

Tilt and Turn system

This particular design provides a more continental-style window opening that opens inwards and looks best on modern homes. The ‘tilt’ option provides ventilation with security but are typically made to order, meaning that the overall cost can be quite a lot more.

Sash window system

As the mainstay of Georgian and Victorian housing, the sash window is still widely used on traditional-style new builds. Because the sash window is normally made to specification, sizes can typically be non-standard and so can carry quite varying costs depending on the size of your home.

Conclusion

With such a wealth of different options available, finding the right windows for your home is mainly down to the budget you have and the style of property your looking to improve. For a typical town home, we’d opt for either composite or PVCu windows with an open out or tilt and turn finish, whereas if you’re looking to fit-out a traditional rural home we’d recommend either hardwood or composite windows as they offer a much larger selection of stunning colours and glazing finishes.

 

 

 

Useful tips for using ladders when painting and decorating

 

It’s tempting to approach a painting job as if it is child’s play. Truth is, there are one too many things that can go awry with your interior decorating, especially if you do not do your research and properly prepare before you start. This is also the case if you lack the right tools, equipment, and experience to complete your redecorating project. Let’s begin by stating the obvious, you cannot do everything all at once, so arm yourself with a bit of patience and devote an entire day or so to various painting preparation tasks before moving on to the project itself. When it comes to redecorating at home,we will all have that basic checklist of materials we need before we get started; paint, brushes and rollers, dust sheets, masking tape, not forgetting a step ladder.

Ladders certainly make the job of  painting easier but they must always be used with safety in mind. When using ladders for  painting either inside or outside, there are a few helpful tips to give you better traction to keep you safe.

  1. Your ladder should be set up within easy reach and set just below the area that you are looking to paint
  2. Always keep one hand on the ladder whilst painting with your free hand. It is important that you never step above the top 4 rungs because one hand must always stay on the ladder
  3. The most convenient ladders for painting have a tool tray or hook that you can place your brushes and even hang a can of paint from. If your ladder isn’t equipped with a tool tray or hook there are a range of inexpensive accessories that may be able to help.

But what about when it comes to decorating those hard to reach areas such as high ceilings and stairways? In this instance, the general step ladder which most of us will have in our homes will not suffice. Online research into solutions for this will throw up plenty of ‘lash-ups’ using sections of  of extension ladders, steps and scaffold board however it is recommended that you get something that is specifically built for the job.

If you are just painting with no wallpaper involved then you may be able just to get away with using an extended roller which might help you to get to those difficult to reach areas  however it is always important to consider safety first and so the ideal solution would be a combination ladder which is designed specifically for this job.

Combination ladders can be set up in several different ways so that you can reach all parts of the stairwell safely. It can be a straight ladder, a stepladder with unequal legs, or a flat work platform if used with a short section of staging as a deck. Combination ladders also allow you to extend your  ladder to a suitable safe working height so you should be confident that you can work safely up there. The beauty of a combination ladder is that they collapse down so they are small enough to fit into your car boot so transportation and storage is not a problem.

To reiterate an earlier point, it’s safety first when it comes to using ladders. Always check that there are no overhead cables, especially electrical cables, as you lift and move the ladder about, likewise,  never work too close to cables where you may lean onto cables. Only one person should be on the ladder at a time (except if they are ‘footing’ it for you at the bottom) as ladders do have a maximum weight and exceeding this could lead to an accident. Finally, make sure the ladder is suitable for the job and in good condition, for example not broken or damaged.

 

Top 5 Tips for Small Gardens



We know your pain. You’ve moved into a new home and you’re eagerly anticipating making it feel like your own. You can’t wait to get out into the garden and start making changes and planting new flowers and shrubs. But you get out there and find that your green space is smaller than you remembered it, or it doesn’t quite have the room you expected for all your grand garden plans! Fear not – we are here to give you our top 5 tips for getting the most out of small gardens. From useful lawn care advice to planting tips, we’ve got it covered.

Make the Lawn Beautiful

The lawn is the absolute centrepiece of any garden. It is what you notice first and if it isn’t cared for, it will drag down the look of the whole space. No matter whether you have acres or a few feet, if you make your lawn beautiful it will make your garden more inviting and a more enjoyable place to spend time in. You can achieve a lush lawn in a number of ways, but it boils down to DIY or hiring a professional. Both have their benefits, but if you want to have the most stunning lawn and consistent treatments throughout the year, we would recommend leaving it to an expert. However, if you want to get your green fingers on your lawn, there are plenty of DIY guides out there. Make sure you regularly rake, mow and water your garden for the nicest lawn that will have your neighbours green with envy!

Keep it Simple

Try not to overpower or over-plant your garden if you are struggling on space. Sticking to a few statement plants or trees will not only make your garden look more stylish and chic, but it will give the impression of space and openness. Make a few trees or plants the central focus of your garden and then create symmetry around this. If you have a lot of plants it can quickly appear cramped and make your small space even smaller. Having fewer plants also means you can take a little less time tending to the garden and more time enjoying it.

Use Height to Your Advantage

Climbing plants, multi-layered planters, garages and walls are the friends of small gardens. Anything that you can do to extend your garden upwards is a good thing. This gives you considerably more space to be creative. Having plants growing upwards will also give you more privacy from neighbours if you are living in close quarters with other flats or homes. There are many structures available that allow you to plant fruit, vegetables or flowers in a multi-storey way. Hanging baskets are also an easy option when adding plants to your garden at different height levels. Take advantage of all these options and don’t be restricted to the single level landscape of your small garden.

Furniture with Multiple Uses

If you have room to add some seating to your garden, ensure it has multiple purposes that can be used throughout the year. If you don’t do this, you are missing out on a huge space-saving aspect of your garden. There are benches available which double-up as storage boxes, for you to pack away gardening equipment or other garden accessories. If you are getting chairs for the garden, make sure they are stack-able or fold away to become smaller. It is also better to buy garden furniture which can be left out all year round, as you may not have the storage room to put them away during winter months.

Trick the Eye

One way to make your garden appear bigger than it is, is to use elements which accentuate and enlarge your garden. Think reflective surfaces, shiny plant pots and light colours throughout. If you are having some paving or gravel, make sure it is beige or a similar shade to open up the space and make it feel lighter. Mirrors in the garden not only make it feel more stylish and add an element of interior design, they also make you think there is more space than there really is. As much light and reflection you can bring to your back garden, the better. It’s all about the illusion!

 

Inexpensive Landscaping Ideas to Beautify Your Yard

The yard is one of the most important parts of your property that determines how much your home stands out in the neighborhood. When it comes to caring for the house, the yard is an integral part of the setting that is the first impression that you make on your guests and influences your property value. If you’re on a budget but want to get creative with the space, there are a few inexpensive landscaping ideas to consider to beautify your yard to ensure that you can show it off.  

 

Add Clusters of Planters  

If you want to make a statement that draws attention to a specific area of the yard, consider adding a cluster of planters for increased visual interest. The flowers or plants can be grouped based on their color shade, type, or height to ensure that the arrangements are both beautiful and eye-catching. You can also make the foliage look like it’s spilling out of the planter to ensure that it looks natural with how it’s on display in the yard.  

 

Use Perennials  

When you don’t want to spend a lot of money on beautiful flowers to plant in your yard, opt for purchasing perennials, which are colorful and will add extra drama to exterior of your property. Although the perennials may be considered an investment for some people due to their price tag, they last longer than other types of plants and can become a permanent fixture in your yard or garden throughout the year.  

 

Plant Plenty of Trees  

One of the best ways to beautify your yard is to plant plenty of trees, which will create a lush setting where plenty of shade is present. Consider lining the yard with trees, which will frame the space and keep it enclosed for added privacy. You can also hire a company like Tree Survey to add trees to walkways or areas of high traffic to draw more attention to specific areas that lead up to the house or the backyard.  

Create a Flower Bed Border  

Adding a stone edge to your flower bed will frame the garden and can prevent it from blending in with the rest of the yard. A flower bed border will create a finished look that separates the flower bed from the rest of the garden. Using stones for the border is an easy and affordable way to create the beautiful feature without having to hire professionals to perform the project.  

 

Install a DIY Water Feature  

Water features are common in yards because they add an upscale touch that incorporates added visual appeal to the space. Instead of investing in an expensive water fountain or pond, opt for making your own water feature with the use of an old whiskey barrel and an iron teapot for a fountain waterfall that is tranquil and inviting. You can place the water feature in the middle of the yard or in the flower bed to beautify the setting. 

5 Important Factors to Consider Before Hiring a Self-erecting Crane

Self-erecting cranes are indispensable items of equipment used on construction sites that are of short duration and often with space restrictions. They are designed to lift and move heavy supplies and equipment that are too hefty and bulky for other machines to carry.

A self-erecting crane is  one of the most expensive pieces of equipment around and you may have to shell out extra money for additional features.

The good news is that if you need a self-erecting crane for a construction project, you do not have to empty your bank account or apply for several loans to get one. The total self-erecting  crane rental cost is more manageable than its sale price and, as such, is a better option, especially if you only typically need this machine for the short term.

Renting the Right Self-erecting Crane for Your Project

While hiring a self-erecting crane is indeed a more cost-effective option, note that it will still require a considerable investment. To be sure that you will rent the best self-erecting crane to fulfill your requirements, consider these factors first before hiring the equipment:

  1. The work or project site

Having a clear picture of the location and environment where the self-erecting crane will be used will help you understand which type will fulfill your requirements.

Some of the more important details about the work area where the equipment will be placed that you should take note of are:

  • The overall size of the area
  • Number of Building floors, as well as each one’s height
  • Possible causes of obstruction
  • Capability of the crane to move in a 360-degree radius
  • Ground and typical weather conditions

2. The primary use or uses of the equipment

When shopping around for a self-erecting crane to hire, think about the kind of materials it will need to lift and move frequently. It will also help if you already know if the equipment will be used to lift and move large numbers of small loads regularly or only once or twice for really heavy and bulky supplies or machinery.

There are different types of self-erecting cranes and anticipating the load capacity that the crane will be lifting regularly, as well as the height it has to cover, will help you choose the best one. This, in turn, will enable you to get the most out of the machinery, and your investment.

3. The reputation of the crane rental company

Although self-erecting cranes are made of durable materials and are built to last, poor maintenance can cause them to sustain damage and make safety a concern.

As such, before hiring a crane from a particular company, read up on the most trusted brands and types of self-erecting cranes. Look into their safety records or history. When dealing with the crane rental company’s sales staff, ask for access and go over the equipment maintenance and safety records.

If you will be hiring an operator from the company, check their operators’ credentials, background, and safety record as well. See if their team of operators regularly take related health and safety courses; this would mean that they work on staying updated with the best and latest industry practices.

Take the time to visit the company’s office or warehouse to inspect the equipment as well. It is important that you see for yourself how well-maintained and fully functional their self-erecting cranes are.

4. The type of control suitable for your operator’s work style

In case you already have a crane operator, consider your employee’s experience and preference in operating the equipment. Some operators prefer using a crane with a fixed control station. Other operators prefer the remote control features of the newer models of these cranes.

To be certain you will hire a crane that your operator can properly and comfortably handle and will thus be useful in your worksite, talk to your employee first.

5. The cost

Lastly, make sure you will hire a machine that you can afford. Many companies charge self-erecting crane rental by the week. You can try negotiating with the company, though; they might give you a better price, especially if you will be hiring the equipment for a longer period.

Although you may have set a budget for the rental cost, you still need to be flexible. Keep in mind that when it comes to hiring specialized machinery, you get what you pay for.

AUTHOR BIO

Hermann Buchberger is the Founder and CEO of Active Crane Hire. He’s taken the company from start-up to Industry Leader offering the largest fleet of construction cranes in Australia. ACH launched a new type of crane previously unheard of in the Australian market: electric tower cranes. The company’s infrastructure and associated services now comprise a fleet of trucks and trailers, a crane-rigging team, mobile crane technicians, a fleet of service vehicles, and an extensive range of crane spare parts.