What Makes A Great Garden Office

One home improvement many people forget to think about, is incorporating a garden office or studio into their garden. It will create a peaceful location to work in, or an ideal sanctuary to relax in. It will add value to your property and will be a great addition to your garden space. The people at Gembuild Garden Offices have sent us this Infographic. It is interesting to see that not all garden offices/rooms are built to such a high standard and can also cost just as much

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Top Money Saving Ideas For Your Home

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One of the most effective ways to save money at home is to make sure you’re not paying more than necessary on your energy bills. A property with low energy efficiency will have high energy bills, more costs for home improvements, and a larger carbon footprint.  It is estimated that a typical household may be losing somewhere in the region of £300 a year due to low energy efficiency. Here are a few money saving tips UK home-owners can follow to make sure their home is energy efficient and economical:

 

Insulation: The amount of heat which can be lost through a building’s roof and walls amounts to around 50%. Having your loft insulated will make a huge difference to this wastage. Make sure the insulation in the loft is at least 270 mm thick in order to get the desired effect. Walls are either solid or cavity (most houses built after 1920 have cavity walls). Both can be insulated if they are not already and, although there is an initial expense, you will save money in the long run.

insulation

Double glazing: Another major cause of heat loss is a home’s windows. Windows and doors with double glazing will ensure that a house stays warmer, as well as providing more security. When it comes to getting double glazing quotes, make sure you get more than one in order to find the best price for you.

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Boilers: Your central heating boiler accounts for around half of your energy bills, so an inefficient model will be very expensive in the long run. A new condensing boiler is much better than an old G-rated boiler. Getting a new one installed can be very expensive at first, but the long term benefits of having an efficient boiler are significant.

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Renewable energy: Thanks to various financial incentives offered by the government, it has never been more cost effective to install an energy-saving and bill-reducing renewable energy technology. Solar PV panels or wind turbines are covered by a feed-in tariff, which means that you can get paid for the energy your home produces. The Renewable Heat Incentive scheme currently provides a grant to help with the installation of heat producing technologies like solar thermal, heat pumps and biomass boilers. All of these measures are also covered by the government’s Green Deal, whereby you can get a loan to cover the whole cost of installation, which you then pay back via your energy bills.

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It is true that if your home is not currently using energy efficiently, there is an initial expense involved in rectifying the situation. The good news is that as long as you are well-informed about the financial incentives on offer and get a few local quotes from trusted suppliers, installing energy efficient measures will bring many long-term benefits, including lower bills, a smaller carbon footprint, and a potential increase in the value of your property.

Image Courtesy: mnn.com, daviestimber.co.uk, kenrhodes.co.uk, 1staction.com, enviko.com

Article provided by localquotes.co.uk


Decorating A Small Room In A Modern And More Tempting Way

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Setting up a new house is a very interesting and a fun-filled task. Many people enjoy decorating small corners; others enjoy canvassing their ideas on the walls. But if you are having a small house the major task becomes to manage it in such a way that the space is utilized effectively. For this you have to be very careful about picking up furniture and other decorative items.

First of all try to pick furniture that is not too large. Low height and small size furniture would make the room look more spacious. Pick out a queen size bed with a chest under it so that you can put quilts and beddings under it. Also purchase side tables and a dressing with drawers and small cabinets, you can use these for keeping small things that might clutter your rooms if put openly. Also you can buy sofa convertible beds to place in the living rooms. In this way your living room might also serve the purpose of a guest bed.

Use a wall mounted television to place in the living room. Similarly you can use vertical shelves to adjust small decorative items. This would save more space and that area would look more organized and clean instead of a clutter. Also use small and beautiful wall mounted containers that match your room décor, as they can also be used to keep important stuff as bills and invoices.

If you are also having a kid’s play area, try to keep only the toys that your kids play with. Give away all the extra toys as charity. Get a storage box for your kids that can serve the purpose of a toy box as well as a sitting bench. Keep all the books on a vertical shelf and hang it over your child’s writing table.

Adding mirrors and glass to the rooms would give your house a feeling of spaciousness from inside. Also you can add plants at different corners which would add color and freshness to the area. You can also use small hanging pots with plants in it near the entrance as it gives the house a welcoming and cheerful effect.

Another most important point is the lightning of the house. To make your house look open and big, you have to make sure that all the areas especially the corners are well lit. If the sunlight doesn’t reach that area, use a small spot light or a chandelier which would enhance that area. Hence you would realize that implementing small ideas can change the whole look and effect of your house.

Author Bio:

Anthony Powell is a professional interior designer and content writer. He holds a great reputation for his work that he have done in his several year experience. Currently he is working for photos to canvas UK based company. Here they offer best quality canvas prints online for the wall display to create the right match for the perfect ambiance.


A Statistical Guide to the UK’s DIY Habits

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Five things you should know before home DIY

Are you ready to tackle that home project that you’ve been thinking about for months? Whether you’re just giving the walls a new coat of paint in a different colour or adding square footage to your home, there are some little-known setbacks to watch out for. Likewise, there are several things you can do to make your project easier. Avoid learning by trial-and-error with these useful DIY tips.

“Do-it-yourself” isn’t always meant to be by yourself. As proud as it may make you feel to have completed your home improvement project solo, many times, this is neither safe nor reasonable. If you are taking on a job of a larger scope, such as installing solar panels, or if you are moving unwieldy objects, such as cabinets, it’s important to ask for help. This will not only help you finish in a reasonable time but also make sure that you get the best results possible.

You may need to get permits before making any changes to your home. Small projects like painting or re-carpeting usually are at the discretion of the owner. However, if your DIY task list involves demolition, you should first check with your local council to see if you need any permits for the work that you want to do. This will help keep you on good terms with the neighbours and keep you within your legal rights as a homeowner. If you start work on your home without a permit and your local inspection authority finds out, you could be forced to undo all of your renovations.

You could have major issues lurking underneath the surface. From mould to termites, and from faulty electrical wiring to asbestos, possible issues with the foundation and frame of your home can be annoying or just outright deadly. This is why it’s best to get a home inspection before disturbing the framework in any way. Knowing what you are getting into–literally–before you start is your best shot at avoiding nuisances like compensation for asbestos claims.

Your project may take more time and money than you expect. This is a key point that many homeowners miss when they are planning their DIY projects. You should include a buffer of time and money that roughly equals ten percent of your budget. Planning for the unexpected will help you stay focused and keep you calm should mishaps take place.

Success is determined by safety. No one will be impressed with your completely refinished bathroom if you had to break your back to get it done. Remember that your body is the ultimate home, so keep it intact by always wearing the proper clothing and using the right tools. Having a spotter or someone to help lift heavy objects is also a key way to achieve DIY success.


The Do’s and Don’ts of Styling a Grade 2 Listed Property [Guest Post]

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Grade 2 listed buildings are one of those rare property types that people either yearn for, or avoid like the plague. The character seeking house hunters in the first camp love the idea of a home steeped in history and period features, while the cynics run a mile when they think their hands will be forever tied on changing even the smallest elements of a listed property.

While there is a modicum of truth in the belief you have to preserve and protect the original features of a grade 2 listed property, it’s fair to say for many people those simple listed credentials have them signing on the dotted line quicker than you can say ‘exposed beams’. It’s romantic, it’s historical, it’s quintessentially English.

So what actually defines a listed property? Listed properties are generally given their status because they are considerable to be architecturally significant or interesting in some way. Exceptional buildings can be given grade 1 status but 92% of listed buildings in the UK are grade 2 (or in some cases 2* for really significant examples). All properties built post 1700 that retain original features are given listed status with the majority of listed buildings dating between 1700 and 1840.

While traditional views of listed buildings are often of a fine country house or a thatched cottage, a property doesn’t have to be quaint and beautiful to be listed. Just look at Park Hill in Sheffield, brutal and imposing 1960’s flats, yet still listed because of its architectural significance as a social project. Listed city centre gems are also in abundance, especially in places like Manchester that team with mill and warehouse conversions. Modern projects certainly aren’t completely exempt of listed status, but generally, listed buildings are more than 30 years old.

Legal obligations

It’s illegal to seriously alter a listed building without consent from the local planning authority and the consequences of carrying out work without permission can cost thousands in fines and restoration costs. Generally anything other than simple repairs is likely to require listed building consent, so if waiting up to eight weeks for a decision to change something on your home is likely to frustrate you, a listed property may not be the best option!

But owners shouldn’t be trapped into thinking that they can’t do anything with their property, alterations such as extensions aren’t out of the question as long as planning permission and consent is sought. While I’ve heard people state that owning a grade 2 listed building essentially makes you the house caretaker for previous generations, loving owners generally find they appreciate the period features to such an extent that they wouldn’t even consider altering them. It essentially boils down to how much flexibility you expect to have with your property, but bear in mind, installing a porch on a 1990’s house will probably require planning permission too. The constraints around altering your property exist whether your home is 200 or 20 years old.

Be aware that structures on your land can also be listed before you make any major alterations. Many owners find this can be frustrating, especially if they don’t see a dilapidated old outhouse as worthy of preserving! Consider the extra costs that may be involved in restoring outside structures, often fixing stone walls will require skilled workmanship and the use of original construction materials.

Styling a period Property

While you may not be able to alter the exterior of your property without consent, with interior design the general rule is that you can be flexible as long as you don’t tamper with original features. It’s always worth checking with your local planning department before any essential maintenance needs to be carried out as often specialist window fitters or materials will be required to preserve the original style of the property. The philosophy of repair rather than replace is very much central to grade 2 listed building maintenance and your local planning department should be able to give you details of builders specialising in old buildings.

Usually painting the exterior of a building will require consent to ensure the building’s character isn’t affected by the colour or texture of the paint, but painting internal walls rarely requires you to seek permission. Painting over exposed brickwork, engravings and beams is generally best avoided in a grade 2 listed building and sandblasting or power washing is prohibited.

Neutral tones are generally recommended when styling a grade 2 listed property as bold, rich tones combined with a low beam ceiling can make a room appear smaller than it really is. If deep colours really do appeal to you though, painting the walls either side of a chimney breast can inject a splash of colour without overpowering the space. Trawling through antique shops for furniture and trinkets is also useful when furnishing your period property for both authenticity and cutting down on costs. Many owners of grade 2 listed properties also find that uneven floors and ceilings are common place in old houses! Although this may be slightly annoying, as long as the house is structurally secure it’s nothing to worry about but can make finding flooring tough. If your property has stunning original flagstones you’ll want to preserve them, but for home-owners opting for carpet, sisal carpet is a popular choice for uneven floors because of its strong, rough weave.

Victoria is writing on behalf of Shepherd Gilmour properties, specialists in Manchester city centre letting and estates.


How to Spot a Cowboy Builder

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We’ve all seen TV programs and documentaries about cowboy builders – those tradespeople setting out to make a quick buck by exploiting the vulnerable and trusting; plumbers who have apparently never seen water in their lives, or central heating engineers with a habit of causing dangerous gas leaks. Loft conversions and home extensions are also popular terrain for cowboy builders, and being able to spot one before they take your money is the best way to protect against shoddy workmanship and an empty wallet.

There is a fine line between a cowboy builder who is merely a bad or lazy tradesman (usually both) just acting the part, and an all-out thief who has little intention of actually carrying out the work they charge for. It is far easier to be caught out by a cowboy, so if you’re planning a loft conversion or home extension soon, follow these useful tips for spotting a builder who’s all talk and no action…

Things to watch out for:

  • Cowboy builders are renowned for drumming up trade with forceful door-to-door sales calls, aggressively dismissing the talents of local rival companies and insisting that you need work carrying out that you probably don’t. Be wary of doorstep pitches.
  • If you hire a contractor that suggests beginning work without getting proper clearance or planning permission from the relevant local authorities, it could indicate a cowboy desperate to get in and out with the cash as soon as possible. It also pays to be suspicious of anyone who says they can start straight away, as a good builder is usually a busy builder!
  • Look for a builder that offers a complete service that includes survey, design, construction and finishing of your loft conversion? Not only is this convenient and cost-effective, it also shows that they don’t specialise in individual areas that could be done on the cheap and without the need for accreditation, as a cowboy might.
  • Are you offered a fully itemised quote with no ‘hidden extras’ or admin costs and the like? If not, you could end up with some unexpected bills down the line for work that was not needed or even completed in some cases.
  • Does the contractor provide a guarantee or warranty for the work and materials offered? This protects against shoddy workmanship and cheaply sourced building supplies. Similarly, are the builders insured against accidents whilst performing the work?
  • Even small things like a company address with a landline phone number provide reassurance – if the only contact details you are given is a mobile number, proceed with caution!
  • Do they insist on being paid in cash, or offer you a discount for cash-in-hand payments? Any contractor that cannot provide a business account for payments immediately raises doubt.
  • If a builder starts to over-emphasise the scale of the work, trying to confuse you with technical terms and embellished language, it should start the alarm bells ringing in your head.

Things to consider:

  • Ask to see accreditations: are the builders working on your loft members of the Federation of Master Builders? This will guarantee a certain high standard of product and workmanship. Other associations, such as Fairtrades and Trustmark, may also indicate reliability.
  • Request references from past customers, particularly regarding projects similar to the one you wish to carry out.
  • It helps to get estimates from at least three different builders. Not only does this give you a good idea of the realistic cost of the work, it also gives you bargaining power.
  • Where possible, use a written contract that specifies everything from agreed price of the work to timescale and methods of waste disposal, and do not pay for the job in full before it has been completed.

LMB Lofts:

Why not bypass the risk of encountering a cowboy builder altogether, and come straight to the trusted professionals at LMB Loft Conversions. Our team of expert builders have the skill and experience to take on any project, and all hold full accreditation from a number of relevant sources, including TrustA Trader and the Association of Master Tradesman, as well as being registered Velux suppliers.

We provide first rate loft conversions, dormer conversions, bedroom conversions and garage extensions, all at highly competitive rates and with fixed quotations that include no additional extras.

Our website also includes a number of glowing testimonials about past work, giving you an idea of the standard of work we carry out, so avoid those dodgy cowboys and get in touch with the team at LMB today!