Category Archives: Advice

Home Improvements

If you are not ready to take on any big projects, small improvements and updates can make the world of difference to the look and feel of your property like painting exterior woodwork such as doors, window frames and fencing.

Roof tiles, gutters, foundations, windows and doors are all exposed to the weather. Throughout the harsh winter winds, snow and torrential downpours can cause damage. Check all exteriors, seals and brickwork and if you spot something that needs mending and cannot be fixed by your own hands, then call a tradesperson to come and make any required repairs.

Painting the exterior of a house is no mean feat. It requires time, care and the right equipment so you might decide it’s one for a professional. An expert will be able to provide the scaffolding needed to reach each level of the house and ensure the job is done safely and to a high standard. It is a job that needs to be done every few years so it is well worth looking and seeing if that time is now! You can search here for Checkatrade.com approved members.

Check smoke alarms

Official advice is to check your smoke alarm at least once a month, whilst you’re busy on your spring clean take the time to do an additional check. It’s quick and easy to do, just remember to tell everyone at home that you are doing it before the alarm goes off.

Before you test, vacuum it gently using the soft brush attachment to remove dust from the sensors. Press the test button and the alarm should make an audible alarm for a brief period of time. If it doesn’t it’s worth replacing the batteries and retesting. If the alarm is over 10 years old, you should consider replacing the whole unit. Your local hardware shop should have a range of products for you to select from.

Prepare your garden

As we are now entering a period of better weather, we can start to look forward to spending more time outside, spring is a great time to start all your preparations.

it is time to make sure your mower makes the cut. Give the machine a thorough clean, replace oil/petrol where necessary, inspect the electrics, lubricate all moving parts and if needed, sharpen the cutting blade. Take extra care when handling the blade. You might look to get it professionally serviced. You can search here for Checkatrade.com approved garden machinery repair expert’s local to you.

Take all the garden furniture and play equipment you’ve stored away over winter, check it over for any damage and natural deterioration and make repairs if needed. If you have wooden furniture, once general repairs have been made, it is always worth re-staining/oiling to protect it from all weather conditions. Your local hardware store should have a selection of products available to suit your needs.

No doubt you will be looking forward to spending summer days in the garden, cooking up a storm on the BBQ and soaking up the sun. Although not the cheapest project to undertake, getting a professional landscaper in will help you create the garden of your dreams, no matter the size of your outdoor space. Why not search our listings of landscapers in your area here.

Conservatories or converted outbuildings get used much more in the spring/summer months as they become a relaxing place to enjoy the sun. Give these spaces a revamp before the summer season begins. You could do this by introducing pastel colours to the furnishings, lighten the walls with a lick of white paint, and bring the outdoors in, by welcoming some plants into the space. This is an easy and effective way of transforming a space this spring/summer.

If you have green fingers now is the perfect time to start planting seeds for summer bedding plants. It is also a good time to plant fruit trees.

Do you want to be able to make more of your garden in the lighter evenings? Outdoor lighting is a relatively easy way to do this, depending on your budget you can get solar powered lights on spikes or you could get a professional in to install mains wired lighting. you can search for Checkatrade.com approved electrician here. There are lots of different way to add some outdoor heating too, from gas powered heaters to fire pits, you can take barbeques into the late evenings.

Forget man caves, it’s all about she sheds these days, a trend that looks like its here to stay! She sheds can be anything you want them to be, creative spaces, somewhere to relax or space for all your planting needs. They can be small or large, the only limitations are space, imagination and budget.

Clean patios and driveways

It’s easy to ignore all those pesky little weeds in the darker winter months but as the days get longer it gets harder to ignore. There’s no quick fix for this, just good old elbow grease. Make sure you have the right tools for the job and a something soft to kneel on. Try to get the whole root out if you can or you could choose to use a chemical weed killer.

Before you reach for the jet washer make sure you have swept the area well first, this will help prevent sending any loose stones flying.

If there are any oil stains it’s worth adding an appropriate cleaner to the area, your local hardware store should have a selection available.

If you notice any damaged areas you should look for some professional assistance, you can search for Checkatrade.com approved members here.

Deep clean your home

There’s nothing better than starting off the new season with a big spring clean in preparation for when the days get lighter and the weather gets warmer, but where do you start? Our hints and tips should help you get on the right track.

Kitchen:  Empty all your cupboards and give the doors and shelves a good scrub. Hot, soapy water or your usual kitchen cleaner should work fine. If you have a more specialist kitchen, for example granite or high gloss, you should refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning.

This is also a good opportunity to throw out any expired food, don’t forget the frozen food. If you decide to defrost your freezer make sure you protect your floor and have plenty of towels to help soak up the water as the ice melts.

Why not go through all your lunchboxes and food containers and match them up with their lids? Consider discarding any damaged or odd lids.

Take the time to reorganise the cupboard under the kitchen sink, what do you need to keep and what can you throw away or recycle? Put the items you use the most in easy reach, you could consider investing in some storage boxes and labelling everything so everything is easy to find when you need it.

Lounge: Move all the furniture and vacuum underneath, you might also consider cleaning your carpet, if you’d rather call a professional to help you can search for carpet cleaning specialist members here.  

Take the opportunity to wash your curtains and cushions, dust your blinds and ornaments, wash vases and recycle all your old magazines and newspapers.

Don’t forget to give your skirting boards a wash down, cleaning wipes or warm water should do the trick, make sure your cloth isn’t too wet or you might damage the wood and your flooring.

Let light bulbs cool down and then give them a quick wipe with a duster to make sure you are maximising the light.

Bedrooms:  Give everything a good dust, vacuum under the bed and other large furniture if you can move it, wait until you have some help if you can’t. Instead of putting everything back where it was take the opportunity to have a move around, change is as good as a rest.

Flip the mattress, wash the curtains, take the time to go through your wardrobe and donate clothes you no longer wear.

Consider treating yourself to some nice new colourful bedding to freshen the look of your room.

Bathrooms:  Give all your shower gels and bath foams a wipe with a clean cloth around the necks of all the bottles. Clean toothbrush holder and soap dishes.

Give the grouting a good scrub and look to repair any damaged grouting. If you need help from a tiler you can search our members here. Clean or replace your shower curtain if you have one

A quick wipe over your skirting boards prior to cleaning the floor, always us the appropriate detergent for your floor type.

Deep clean your bath, loo and basin. Don’t forget the bathroom mirror and if you have a medicine cupboard, dispose of any expired medicines or unwanted products.

Under the Stairs: We all have the one cupboard or room that is a bit unloved. Now is as good a time as any to give it a good clear out.

Take everything out and see what you need to keep and what can be donated or stored elsewhere like the attic.

It’s amazing the impact decluttering can do for your mood.

5 Ways Offsite Construction Methods Can Revolutionise Residential Schemes

It’s obvious to many that the United Kingdom is in the grips of a housing crisis. Estimates vary, but the consensus amongst think tanks and politicians is that the UK needs to up its building levels, and fast – to ameliorate the problems caused by a lack of supply in the housing market. Construction, of course, is the backbone of this – which is where offsite construction techniques come in. Quiet, cost-effective and eco-friendly, this blog post will explain why offsite construction is the future of large-scale residential schemes.

Image source: Unsplash

Cost

The bottom line is, naturally, absolutely crucial when it comes to building a residential scheme – you don’t want to run the risk of bankrupting yourself and leaving a site half-built. Offsite construction methods offer a gratifying cost benefit – the project is delivered sooner, so the return on investment is generally superior to that of traditional construction. This also means peace of mind for local authorities and housing associations looking to build quickly and avoid being left out of pocket.

Speed

Punctual and speedy construction techniques can only be good for the building of residential construction schemes, meaning tenants on a waiting lists spend less time in temporary housing – something that is sorely needed due to the sheer number of people on these waiting lists. Modular construction is quick because it utilises factory techniques, meaning there is a controlled environment for the assembly of each module – unobstructed by inclement weather or traffic disruption.

Eco-friendliness

Conventional building methods often harm the environment, by using intensive amounts of water and producing a lot of waste. If you’re looking to create a residential space that’s in harmony with its surroundings, offsite construction is an ideal solution. Not only does it prevent the disruption of the local environment (which is common with full-scale, piecemeal construction projects), but it’s also a whole lot quieter – reducing noise pollution that could affect local wildlife and the sleeping patterns of local residents. 

Safety concerns nullified

Site safety has always been a hot-button issue, as proper health and safety practice breeds confidence and happiness in a workforce. Problems that often arise onsite can be nullified by switching production to a factory setting, with more concrete health and safety procedures in a more controllable environment.

Image source: Unsplash

Flexibility

Renovations or refits are very difficult within conventionally constructed buildings, often involving walls being knocked through, flooring being relaid and the whole process taking a significant length of time – during which the site can become a muddy mess. All of this is not exactly homely, and would negatively impact on a residential development if, say, an apartment building needed a refit. With offsite construction, there exists an ability to swap modules using a process that’s much easier and less destructive than a conventional renovation.

This building technique has so much to offer, with even Grade I listed architectural marvels now being updated to include energy-efficient modular elements. Offsite construction really does have the revolutionary potential to help build the homes of tomorrow, cheaply, safely, and in style.

5 Things to do When the Power goes Down at Work

Electricity is one of the many things that is taken for granted in the modern era, yet power outages can occur at any time (usually at the worse time possible). Most businesses would come to a standstill without electricity, so it’s important for you to know what you are doing in the event of a power cut.

In this short guide, we will provide you with a brief run down of the 5 steps you should take if/when the power goes down at work.

Let’s begin!

  1. Turn off all computers, appliances etc.

When the power goes down, it’s a wise idea to turn off all computers / appliances for when the power eventually comes back on. When the power suddenly comes back on, it can result in a power surge. A power surge may cause any appliances that have been left on to become damaged as the electricity surges back through them. Leaving a light on should be OK, as this will let you know when the power has come back on!

  1. Check other local buildings and offices

If you can, check the other local offices in the building or other nearby buildings to see if their power has gone too. If the buildings neighbouring yours still have electricity then this will indicate that there is a fault with your building, it’s wiring or appliances within, rather than a large-scale blackout. Calling an electrician in this scenario will help to determine what the route of the problem is.

  1. Call 105

The next thing for you to do would be to call 105 to put you through to your local electricity network operator. 105 is a free service available to anyone in England, Scotland and Wales, and can be used to find out information relating to power cuts in the local area and when the power will be back up and running of course.

  1. Tell someone… or everyone

Letting others know that you are in the middle of a power outage is a wise idea. Using social media from your mobile phone or other forms of available communications will help you to do this. If you have access to a mobile phone with social media, try accessing your company’s social media pages to inform your existing/potential customers so that they aren’t left in the dark like you.

  1. Make sure you have backup power

In the event of a blackout or power outage, it’s wise to have the option of a backup power source to help you resume normal service. Your backup generator should be set up to start automatically, should the power ever go down. This will help to minimise your company losses as your generator will kick seamlessly into action and prevent any downtime.

Prepare Yourself for a Power Cut

You need to prepare yourself for when the power goes down. Learn the 5 processes as we have outlined above or print them out for the notice board in your workplace kitchen. Make the effort to get your hands on a backup generator, if you haven’t already, and this should prevent you ever needing to go through steps 1-4.

In the event of a power outage at work, your backup generator will help to ensure business continues to run smoothly, as if nothing ever happened at all.

Diesel Generators are one of the best options available for backup power, ensuring you always have a backup power source available to help you in the event of a blackout.

Bellwood Rewinds is one of the leading choices when it comes to diesel generators for sale in the UK, with a wide range of new/used generators for sale on their website: https://www.bellwoodrewinds.co.uk

7 warning signs that your home may need rewiring

If you’ve lived in your home a considerable length of time (or if you’ve just moved into an older house) the chances are that it will require some repair work. Some things are obvious and other things not so much. You can tell if a chipped or cracked patio will need fixing, because it’s plain to see, but how do you tell if your home needs rewiring?

The older a house becomes, the more aged the electricals inside will be. The inevitable wear and tear that comes from using electrical items everyday can lead to serious electrical damages over time. Your electrical wires should maintain their healthy state for a long time, but for older homes the wires can be a concern and rewiring should be considered.

According to studies carried out by ESFI, faulty electricals account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year. To stop these types of fires occurring, your wires should be looked at by an electrician to establish what state they are in.

How to tell if your house needs rewiring

There are several signs you can look out for to tell whether your home needs rewiring. If you are reluctant to call a local electrician to inspect your home, looking out for these 7 warning signs will be able to give you a solid idea before you make any decisions.

  1. Burning Smells

If you can regularly smell burning around the home, but are unable to identify the source, there’s a possibility that there may be an electrical fault somewhere.

As burning smells will often mean that something is burning, quickly turn off the power at the circuit and contact your local electrician to check it out for you.

  1. Discoloured Switches / Outlets

Discolouration of the outlets or switches can be a sign that there is either a loose connection or that the wiring is faulty. Arcing or sparking can be a result of loose connections which can lead to small fires that cause the surface of the outlets to become discoloured.

Ignoring the discolouration can lead to life-threating fires, so it’s a wise idea to do some digging and call an electrician to look at your sockets/outlets for you.

  1. Flickering Lights

If your lights flicker or get dimmer on occasions, you may need to replace your light bulbs or check that they are screwed in properly. There’s also the possibility that there is a more serious underlying problem that you aren’t aware of, such as faulty wiring.

If you suspect that your lights may be flickering due to an electrical rewiring fault, calling an emergency electrician is a wise idea.

  1. Blown Fuses or Tripping Circuit Breakers

Designed as a safety measure to prevent electrical fires, circuit breakers will cut off any electrical flow when a circuit can no longer handle the number of amps. When your electrical system becomes worn and can no longer handle the amount of electricity required for your home, the chances are fuse with blow or the circuit will trip. Bad wiring is usually a direct cause or trips and blows, and will certainly need addressing sooner rather than later.

When appliances become too hot, this can also lead to trips and blows. If you are unsure what is causing your circuit to keep tripping, bringing an electrician in to investigate is a clever thing to do.

  1. Socket Problems

Over time, sockets can wiggle or even fall out the wall, which means they will need replacing.

If your wall sockets are hanging out the wall, wiring can become exposed. This is clearly dangerous for young children and any pets that you may have in the home that like to play.

Sizzling or buzzing noises are also a frequent problem for wall sockets and will also need investigating by a professional who knows what to look for. They will be able to tighten the outlets back into place or replace them altogether.

  1. Aluminium Wiring

According to the consumer product safety commission, aluminium wire connections are more likely to fail which can cause overheating. Overheating will eventually lead to a fire, with aluminium wiring considered to be more of a risk that copper wiring.

The letters ‘AL’ on the jacket of the wiring will indicate that the wires are aluminium, but if you aren’t sure, an electrician will be able to assist you.

  1. Electrical Shocks

Even the smallest of electrical shocks is a huge warning sign. If plugging in an electrical appliance to the wall socket has ever resulted in a shock, then more often than not there will be an issue with the outlet, rather than the appliance.

Electric shocks of any kind should never be ignored. If you have experienced a shock, step away from the wall socket and contact an electrician at the earliest opportunity.

Does your home need rewiring?

If you have come across any of the 7 warning signs recently, this may indicate that your home needs rewiring. To avoid violating any electrical codes or putting yourself/others at risk, please DO NOT attempt to rewire your home yourself.

The best thing you can do is to get in touch with an electrician, like S&S Electrics. They will be able to tell you if your home or office needs rewiring:

http://sands-electrics.co.uk

 

5 Ways To Make Your Site Secure and Safety-Conscious

Image source: Unsplash

In this day and age, there’s little room for unchecked health and safety hazards in the workplace. So, when it comes to construction, where fatal injuries are around four times more common than in other industries, the importance of a safe and secure site is paramount. Whether it’s a small-scale home extension project or a grand residential scheme, construction companies and tradesmen have a duty to keep themselves and their employees safe from harm.

And that’s why, in today’s article from Action Storage, we’ll be taking you through five crucial changes you can make to show that security and safety are at the top of your priority list.

  1. Involve staff at each level

As site safety involves everybody – from senior management to apprentices – it’s crucial that everyone is on board. Tradesmen and construction companies often fall down when they keep safety at a management level – and that can be a costly mistake to make. It’s worth setting up a system or forum that staff can use to raise safety concerns, whether that’s a dedicated safety officer or a monthly meeting with representatives at each level of the business. This way, you’ll ensure concerns are raised with the people who need to hear them and any updates are filtered through the entire workforce.

  1. Appoint a safety officer

While personal safety is everyone’s responsibility, appointing a staff member who is available for discussing concerns and actioning changes will ensure nothing slips through the cracks. This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring someone specifically for that role (unless your company is large enough to warrant it), as, with some training, an existing employee should be capable of taking on the responsibility day-to-day. Whether they’re speaking to fellow team members, reading up on the latest safety regulations or carrying out regular checks of the site, having a dedicated safety officer on hand will ensure site safety is always on someone’s mind.

  1. Stay organised

Image source: Pexels

Because safety is sometimes seen as an inconvenience in operations, making things more difficult than they have to be can cause things to be missed – and that means organisation is key. From the site equipment to the procedure for raising concerns, keeping all aspects streamlined and straightforward will make it as easy as possible for staff to follow safety rules. Whether that means installing dedicated lockers for PPE, managing spreadsheets to ensure that pipelined concerns get through to management or setting up a basic intranet for employees to log queries anonymously, try your best to make safety improvements accessible and easy to understand for all staff.

  1. Set aside some resource

The reality of site safety is that it will probably cost something – whether that’s time, money or both. And that means that setting aside resource specifically to support with new procedures and equipment is crucial to ensuring security and safety updates are always possible. From a small financial budget to fund extra helmets, gloves and goggles to time allocated for a safety officer to read up on the latest regulations and perform checks, ensuring you have the time or money to accommodate necessities will mean you won’t be scrambling for cash, should something crop up.

  1. Encourage younger workers

In any trade, you’re bound to find young and motivated workers eager to learn about their chosen industry – and it’s these impressionable youngsters who comprise the workforce of tomorrow. This means that communicating the importance of safety to them is vital if you want to create a culture where health, safety and security are respected. Whether you develop a training structure with these aspects at its core, or set up a buddy system where experienced workers show them the ropes, setting the precedent from the moment they walk in is essential for today, tomorrow and the years to come.

Site safety doesn’t have to feel like a chore. By taking steps to create an atmosphere that actively promotes the welfare of employees – whether that’s 10 people or 100 – you can ensure your team becomes safety-conscious by default. By putting these tips into action today, you can gain peace of mind that your sites will always have staff welfare at their heart.

EPC requirements from April 2018

Calling all landlords! If you’re currently renting any properties within the private rented sector, the government has made a change to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations and it is more than likely to affect both you and your tenants. From the 1st April 2018, most landlords, unless legally exempt, will be legally obligated to ensure that their privately rented properties have a minimum EPC rating of E. This means that any landlord with an EPC rating of F or G will have to make modifications to their properties in order to raise their rating; if they fail to do so they run the risk of being sanctioned with a fixed penalty fine of up to £4000.

The change, which was set out by the Minimum Energy-Efficiency Standards (MEES), will be applicable to most new lets and renewals of tenancies within the private rented sector from the 1st April 2018, however it won’t be extended to existing properties until 1st April 2020.

What does that mean for landlords?

The new legislation seeks to reduce “fuel poverty” in England and Wales, a term used to describe the state of being unable to adequately heat one’s home. The government also hopes that the new regulation will reduce our carbon footprint and promote an overall more energy-efficient way of life.

The new legislation will legally prompt landlords to invest in energy-efficient measures in order to improve their EPC ratings. Retrofit measures include A-rated boiler systems, external wall insulation systems and ground source heat pumps. These measures can indeed be expensive however they could also work in your favour as you may be able to increase your property’s value as well as its appeal to potential tenants. Furthermore, with there being talks of the government raising the minimum EPC rating to a C by 2035, retrofitting your property could prepare you for both upcoming and future requirements.

 

How can landlords get an EPC for their rented properties?

If you’re a landlord with a property within the private rented sector, you can get an EPC rating by arranging an appointment with a domestic energy assessor who will come and inspect the household. It has always been a legal requirement for landlords to provide an EPC as soon as they place the property on the market; the certificates last for 10 years and you risk facing an approximate £200 fine if you fail to provide a valid EPC to your tenant. Prices for EPC’s usually start at approximately £35, you should be able to find a local assessor on the EPC website.

How does the new legislation affect tenants?

The new legislation was initiated by MEES to improve the energy-efficiency of homes within the private rented sector to improve the standards of living for tenants as well as making their daily household habits more environmentally-friendly. The new regulation also promotes a wider awareness of the importance of energy-efficiency within the household, highlighting the benefits of being informed. For example, a home with an energy efficient new boiler could reduce energy wastage and enable huge savings.

How can tenants access their homes’ Energy Performance Certificates?

The online EPC Register should provide you with access to the EPCs for all properties.

The government is constantly seeking new methods to promote energy-efficient, cost-effective lifestyles. So, if you’re a landlord with a property in England or Wales, it would be wise for you to start considering what you can do to improve