Category Archives: Inspiration

Creating the perfect man cave – by Rachel

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“Man cave”
Noun Informal.
: a room or a space (as in a loft) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

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Step 1 – Choose your cave space

Not many of us have an actual cave to work with so explore your options. Have a spare bedroom or office space? How about an unused garage or loft space? Perhaps you could invest in a shed? Depending on what you want in your man cave, you may not need a huge space, somewhere snug with enough room to spin around with your arms outstretched may be sufficient! However, if your idea of a perfect man cave includes a full size pool table, a swinging hammock and a gym area you’re going to need a bit more space! Also consider that the more obscure, unused or ‘outdoorsy’ the space is, the more time and costs that will be involved in making it into an inhabitable space.

 

Step 2 – Consult your partner/housemates

If you find yourself wanting your own personal man cave then it’s likely you already live in a shared space. If so, you may want to consult the others living in the house! Be considerate… You may need to be prepared to compromise if you’re intending on making a man pad all of your own that no one else is permitted to enter without knowing the password, Morse code blinking sequence and the secret handshake.

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Step 3 – Prepare the room

Once you’ve chosen your space, access its current condition.

Consider:

  1. Insulation
  2. Sound-proofing
  3. Lighting/wiring
  4. Flooring
  5. Decorating

If you’ve chosen a shed or a loft space for your man cave consider insulating, sound-proofing and wiring the space. Any good man cave will be dry, warm, have adequate lighting (dare we suggest remote controlled?!) and will be sound-proofed enough so as not to disturb others. Know your limits, get professionals in to do work where necessary especially if you encounter wiring or asbestos. Click here if you need help finding professionals! Once it’s a inhabitable space, paint or wallpaper it to your desire. Choose a flooring type that suits the vibe you’re aiming for. Carpet is cozy and inviting but it’s not very spill-friendly. If you’re after something more low maintenance or easier to clean, try wooden floor boards/laminate or even lino.

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Step 4 (The fun part) – Equip your man cave!

By far the most important part! What do you want in your man cave? What vibe are you going for?

Ultimate chill out zone? A sofa, beanbag or even a hammock will be essential.

Music studio or entertainment suite? Every man needs a safe haven to play Fifa or Call of Duty, right? Or a widescreen for movie nights.

How about a fully stocked bar? If you don’t drink, try a slushy machine. Who doesn’t love a slushy?

Pool tables, foosball tables or even a mini crazy golf course guarantee a good time. Whatever your heart desires, go for it!

MOST IMPORTANTLY a man cave is simply not a man cave without a plethora of ‘stuff’ and gadgets. Are these things practical? Maybe. Are you going to use all of them? Absolutely not. Does it matter? Nope!

We will follow shortly with our top 10 favourite bits to add to your “man cave”

 

 

It’s time to take a fence – and give it a facelift – by Craig Phillips.

This is a great time of the year to be getting outside and enjoying the garden, but what if your fences and garden shed are looking old and worn? You are not going to be able to settle and enjoy your time out there.

Truth is, you are going to be looking at your fences and thinking “If I don’t get them maintained and treated soon then it’s not going to be long before I’ll be having to replace them!!” The problem is, you’re also going to be asking yourself if you can afford to replace them. Fencing isn’t cheap and neither are sheds so what are the best ways to keep them in reasonable condition?

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There are some really quick, easy and inexpensive ways to maintain both your garden fences and your sheds. If we use these, we will not only be making them look great but most importantly we’ll be making them last longer. Also, let’s not forget that well-kept fences and a good-looking shed can play a key role in keeping or even adding value to your home!

If you are planning on doing any maintenance work yourself, here are some helpful tips that you can follow:

  • start off by scraping off any old debris and moss that will have developed over the years by using a hard brush or a wire brush. On real stubborn areas you can even use a jet spray to pressure wash off any unwanted bits
  • wait for the surfaces to dry fully and then you can start treating the timber
  • there are loads of great colours available now for these kind of surfaces; most of them are water-based and won’t harm your plants or animals, but please do double-check when you buy them
  • there are two ways you can apply the treatments – one is with a paint brush and roller but the other smarter and more professional way to getter a better finish in a quicker time would be to apply your treatment with a paint-spraying system
  • you may find that fence panels are a rougher sawn timber than the shed materials and will be a lot more porous and will require more paint. It’s okay to apply two or three coats if you want to treat them really well
  • when it comes to the smoother timber on your shed you would be better off doing to two or three very fine coats of treatments, leaving each coat to dry and with a very gentle sanding between coats using a soft wire wool; this will help the coats to bond better and reduce the chance of the solutions running

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Of course, if the task is a large one and you don’t have the time or tools to complete the work – or you simply don’t want to attempt to do the work yourself – you can always hire a professional. Reputable, fully-vetted tradesman capable of doing the work for you can be found via Checkatrade.com.

Either way, please don’t put off treating your fences or your shed. When it comes to maintenance, the more often you do it the easier and cheaper it becomes. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to wooden materials that are exposed all-year round to the elements that the British weather serves us!

Good luck and let’s hope you get the chance to get out there and enjoy your garden.

Surely, summer must be just around the corner!!
Guest blog by Checkatrade ambassador Craig Phillips

Why you must check a property’s condition before you buy!

When we are buying a home, part of the stress is because we are normally moving due to a major event in our lives. This might be for good reasons: an expanding family, new job or needing and being able to afford more space. However, it may well be due to tough reasons too, such as getting divorced, being in debt or the loss of a loved one.

As a result, when trying to buy a home during a major life event, good or bad, we often don’t necessarily concentrate on the important fact that when buying you aren’t buying a home initially, you are buying a building you plan to make your home.

The building you have fallen in love with may be in a fantastic location, it may have the perfect space or be the only one you can currently afford and it may look in good condition, but unfortunately very few of us are in a position to assess a property’s real condition. This is why it’s important to get the experts in to check a property ideally before you make an offer or as soon as an offer has been accepted and absolutely before exchanging.

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Buying a property to let
This is especially true if you intend to make money from letting property. To let a property legally these days requires adhering to 145 rules and regulations. Although not all of these are based on the condition of the property, many are.

29 of the rules and regulations you need to adhere to are based on the ‘Housing Health and Safety Rating System’. This is a nationwide requirement to make sure tenants are renting a property which is warm, free of mould and damp and without dangers such as tripping downstairs due to frayed carpets or falling because of poorly laid paving stones.

Other rules and regulations required include annual gas checks and, although a grey area legally, your duty is to ensure the electrics are “safe”.

From a landlord’s perspective, you can easily spend thousands if not tens of thousands of pounds making a property that someone has happily lived in for years achieve the letting standards required.

So if buying to let, make sure you have at least a condition survey from a Residential Property Surveyors Association (www.rpsa.org.uk) or a Royal Institution Chartered Surveyor (RICS) as well as gas and electrical safety checks. In addition, also check the drains and make sure anything the survey has raised is investigated further, such as timber and damp issues or problems with the roof.

Only then will you truly know if it’s a good buy or a disaster which will constantly be eating into any excess income you earn from letting the property.

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Buying a property for you
If you are buying a property for you and your family, the temptation is to save as much on buying the property as you can so you can spend the money on more exciting things such as a new kitchen, bathroom or both. Or you may have ideas of making it into a beautiful interior designed masterpiece.

The problem comes though when things start to go wrong you didn’t know about. A leaky roof or guttering can soon damage your newly decorated property and end up costing you a fortune rather than using problems raised by a survey to reduce the amount you pay for the property in the first place.

And if you think about it, if gas and electrical checks are required for tenants safety, then surely it is worth making sure your family is safe too? The boiler fitted might look new, but if it wasn’t fitted by a Gas Safe Registered engineer and doesn’t have the right certificates, it could be dangerous and harmful to your family.

So whether you are buying for yourself or for a tenant, make sure you first check out the building you are buying before you purchase the property you want to make your home.

For expert help checking out your property visit Checkatrade

Kate Faulkner

Design on Property Ltd

Time for a New kitchen? Protect Your Investment! – Yves Way “The Kitchen Guy”

Having a new kitchen is an expensive investment, so getting the design & layout right is huge. You can get plenty of free professional advice to help with this from kitchen show room designers or tradesmen quoting to renovate your kitchen. However, with all the experience and advice they can offer you, one thing they may not bring to the table is how to protect your new investment “long term”!

A new kitchen should serve you for around 20 years, but in that time trends and styles will change, a style which is sort after now may well look dated in 5 years time, and after all the money spent, do you really want to be stuck with a dated looking kitchen for a further 15 years?

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Now I’m not trying to upsell you on “a neutral design”, I’m a big fan of kitchens with personality and I admire people with the gumption to make bold design choices, the point here is to protect your investment (your new kitchen) in the long term. When the time comes that your new kitchen starts to looks dated, wouldn’t it be great if on a very small budget and little to no professional help you could update and refresh the look of your kitchen! Well you can, all you have to do is be prepared for this within your original design! Add features and colours in easily changeable areas of the kitchen, if you commit to Plum coloured units or bright red tiles (not together of course) these are very permanent parts of the kitchen which would require professional help and be costly change. Use Neutral colours for the more permanent areas of the kitchen such as units, worktops and tiles and explore your adventurous side in the 5 areas I have laid out below. Each of the 5 areas below can be refreshed or updated by a competent DIYer, they’ll have a large impact on the design and can be changed on a very small budge.

Kitchen Walls

Use bold colour paints or designer wall paper to give your kitchen an impacting backdrop. You can easily change this down the line for very little cost so be as adventurous as you dare!

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Shelves  

The right shelves can be a statement on there own, use them as a platform to dress up or down your kitchen with some charismatic items. whether its cookbooks, pots & pans, glass storage jars or plants, display whatever takes your fancy and simply change it as it loses its appeal!

Accessories

Whether your opting for one accent colour or half the colours of the rainbow, accessories are the easiest way to achieve this, use tea towels, tea & coffee pots, vintage tins, spice racks even a bread bin to add personality to your kitchen.

Worktop Appliances & kitchen Tools

Worktop appliances such as Kettles & toasters and kitchen tools such as a knife block, utensils rack or pot & pans, these are all available in an array of shape and sizes along with the option of bright colours as well as the more traditional stainless steel and Copper. Use these to dress up neutral work surfaces or open shelves.

Flooring

The last area is flooring, depending on which material you choose as flooring this may be one of the more expensive areas to change, although it can be worth it. No matter how large or small your kitchen floor area is, the colour will have a big effect on the overall design, so in pro rata changing it will have a big effect also.  Bear in mind it will be costlier to change a tiled floor compared to laminated or vinyl flooring and prepare yourself for this in your initial design.

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To summarise, don’t enter your new kitchen project with the glum and negative out look that your new kitchen will at some point once again look dated, enjoy the design process and express yourselves, just be aware that the inevitable fact of styles changing will happen and be prepared! Don’t “play it safe” “play it long term”, have fun with your design, be strategic and yield the best return on your investment.

Enjoy your Kitchen

Yves Way

www.checkatrade.com/Thekitchenguy/

Timing is everything! – Kate Faulkner

When it comes to carrying out property projects on your home, before you do anything – and especially before you hand over any money for goods and services – you must make sure you know how long the job will take.

It’s not just about looking it up online, reading how long it’s taken everyone else and saying, “Oh great, about six weeks”! Unfortunately, whatever timings you research, you’ll find that your project will have a timeline all of its own.

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To make sure you get the job done on time, here are five things you need to find out first:

Do you need external approval for the works?
The first thing to check is whether you can simply go ahead with the works or whether you’ll need planning permission, building regulation checks or a building notice. In theory, planning applications should take around eight weeks, but they can take up to 13 weeks – and sometimes more. Bear in mind that a lot of things can happen at the council’s end, such as neighbours objecting to your plans, or in your own life, that delay you submitting plans or responding to queries from the planning office. So it’s best to assume it could take up to three months, more for big projects.

Building notices normally require two working days for approval, but check with your local authority.

 

Remember that holidays and ‘life’ get in the way!
Whenever I’ve carried out a project, especially if it’s been a big job, I’ve always found that a huge number of days are lost to holidays, sickness or people having problems in their lives, meaning timings don’t go as smoothly as planned.

So while you’re planning or carrying out a property project, my advice is not to take any holidays yourself, as that will almost certainly delay things.

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Then, don’t forget that Easter, the summer and around Christmas are classic times for everyone else to go on holiday too, so if you want work done then, plan well ahead. Ask your team who’s away when, so you can factor it into your timings.

 

How long do materials take to order?
This is especially important to check if you’re ordering things that are bespoke. Window companies may work to lead times of 6-8 weeks; new boilers may take two weeks to fit; kitchens may only take a week or so to order and be delivered if they’re ‘flat pack’, but bespoke ones can easily take up to eight weeks.

Don’t forget, if there are measuring errors or any damage to bespoke items, this will take more time to remedy and won’t be picked up until the materials are on site. So it’s worth checking when you order, what would happen if there was a problem, so you can build this extra contingency into your timings, just in case.

 

Are tradesmen at the ready or fully booked?
The bigger the job, the more likely the builder or tradesperson is likely to be booked up well in advance. For example, if you’re planning a big extension, it could take 4-6 months from start to finish and a builder might already have two or three jobs in hand. That means you might have to wait up to 18 months to secure the right company.

Even small jobs, such as extra electric sockets or boiler work, could take weeks to get booked in. Remember, tradespeople aren’t just waiting for your call – especially the good ones, who are rarely short of work. You really need to plan ahead and start checking availability with people as early as possible.

 

Can you speed a job up?
Well, you can try….but that’s often when things go wrong. One of the best ways to speed up a job is to try and find someone reputable that has just had a cancellation or see if other jobs they have lined up could be switched. Be prepared to pay a little more to incentivise them to move your job up their priority list.

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Another option could be to hire someone in from another area where demand for work isn’t quite so high. For example, it’s not unusual for someone in Peterborough to carry out work in London, in order to get a job done in weeks that would otherwise take months to book with a London tradesperson.

For more help and advice on your property project, you can ask me any questions directly – just email me via Propertychecklists.co.uk (link: https://propertycheck.ssl.subhub.com/contact )

Kate Faulkner

Design on Property Ltd

My journey to The London Marathon!

I began running relatively late in life approximately 6 years ago after taking part in a charity run organised by my previous employment.

When I began training I ran from my front door and after just a few yards, I was exhausted and wondered how on earth anyone could run any further. I was so naïve that I did not realise that you had to stretch before and after, the following day I could barely walk. However, I persevered and after completing the charity run, began looking for other organised runs to enter.

My friends and colleagues told me I had the ‘running bug’ and I began to see how addictive this sport was becoming. After taking part in local 10k races I thought it would be good to broaden my horizons and increase my distances. Where better to do so than in my home town of Liverpool!

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So, in 2014 I ran my first half marathon and loved it so much that this has now become an annual event for me. So, what next? Well the answer is of course, a marathon. But which one? I had read and seen on TV that the London Marathon was the biggest and best in the world, the one that all distance runners aspire to, so surely that was the one to aim for.

I was lucky enough to obtain a place through my running club and so, the challenge was on and the training and fundraising began.

I chose to run for Tommys which is a charity that does invaluable work and research into difficult pregnancies. As both of my children were born prematurely, this has long been a charity I respect and admire.

After approximately 6 months of training in all manner of weather conditions, the week leading up to the big day arrived. This consisted of nightly meals of pasta, sleepless nights, nervousness and excitement. I felt like a kid at Christmas.

On race day my biggest anxiety was getting to London on time. I was due to get the first train out of Bognor which should have got me there in plenty of time. However……… my train was cancelled due to an electrical fault! This resulted in a 30-minute delay which meant I would not get to the start on time. I knew that it can take some time for all of the of runners to cross the start line so I was not overly concerned.

I arrived at the start line and you i’m sure you can imagine my dismay when it was practically deserted apart from a few marshals in their high vis tops collecting discarded sweatshirts and binliners. In what can only be described as a ‘panicky’ tone I asked them where the start was. After they finished laughing and high fiving each other, they pointed me in the direction of thousands of runners in the distance amidst a cloud of dust, well on their way to marathon glory.

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So, with my sweatshirt duly discarded and no time to stretch, off I ran to catch up. Upon crossing the start, I was shocked to find myself running in the middle of hundreds of spectators cheering me on and calling my name (printed on my vest). I was also flanked by those huge screens showing just me, along with my arrival being enthusiastically announced over the PA system. I had visions of me being included on an ‘and finally’ feature on the news.

Also, I had no time to allow my running watch to pick up a GPS signal so I had no means of monitoring my time and distance other than guess work and the mile markers on route.

I soon caught up and was on my way passing by dinosaurs, rhinos, red Indians and sponge bob square pants to name but a few. The experience certainly lived up to the hype. The amount of support throughout was staggering, especially at Tower Bridge, the half way point where the crowds were amazing.

Children hold out their hands for a high five, people offer sweets (to keep sugar levels up) and constantly call out runners names in encouragement, spurring us on every step of the way.

At mile 17 I began to struggle but persevered and ran the whole distance without stopping.

With the end in sight, I sprinted to the finish to be handed my medal and goody bag.

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I was delighted to find that I had beat my target time. Not bad for someone who 6 years ago could not run for more than a few yards without running out of breath!

London now has a special place in my heart for giving me my own unique marathon experience and now that it’s been and gone, I miss the training, adrenaline and the fun of doing it but hope to gain a place again next year!

Sean

Reception

Successful event for Checkatrade Founder Kevin Byrne!

Checkatrade.com founder and CEO, Kevin Byrne shared his successful story as one of the leading entrepreneurs at the Acumen Business Convention on the 10th May.

The networking event which was held at the Grand Hotel, Brighton marked the seventh year of the prestigious event and saw over 250 CEO’s, MD’s and decision makers all in attendance for both networking and outstanding speaking.

Having most notably won the London and South East Director of the Year Award, Kevin was keen to share his experience with others. The CEO discussed how he took an idea with no investment to a business turnover of £16million that generates a £2.7 billion a year for all of the trades on-board.

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Kevin commented on his achievement;

“This was a great evening and I was extremely pleased to speak about my success story with like-minded individuals. My story is very unique and it is great to share with others on how to build the right company culture and how to drive a business.”

The evening also saw Founder of Cobra Beer, Karan Bilimoria, Author of Brand Famous, Linzi Boyd and Founder of Acumen Business Law, Penina Shepherd all sharing their business stories.

Guests at the Acumen Business Convention were treated to a three course lunch, public speaking and two interactive workshops.

Checkatrade is a free, online service that is dedicated to helping you find the right trade or service.  With over 25 per cent of UK households using Checkatrade, they ensure that their tradespeople are fully vetted before they become a member of Checkatrade and once they join, members agree to have feedback from their customers put online for all to say. Checkatrade has gained over 2 million reviews of tradespeople to date.

For more information about Checkatrade or to find the perfect tradesperson for you, visit www.checkatrade.com.

Find this article on the Building Construction Design website – http://www.buildingconstructiondesign.co.uk/news/successful-event-for-checkatrade-founder/

Building contruction design

Summer Time Garden Tips!

Summer is fast approaching and soon the improving weather will tempt us all to swap cosy nights in for patio BBQ’s and lazy Sundays spent in the garden. Many of us are guilty of neglecting our gardens in the cooler months; the motivation for keeping overgrown grass and shrubbery under control is often forgotten when the rain and chill forces us indoors. Now is the time to neaten up those outdoor spaces in preparation for spending more time in what can become one of the most rewarding and relaxing spaces of our homes – Make your garden a hub for social gatherings by trying out some of these tips to make it all the more inviting.

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  1. Depth over distance

We aren’t all lucky enough to own vast expanses of land to work with, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get creative with smaller gardens and utilize smaller spaces too. Raised or staggered flowerbeds can provide new dimensions of depth and create the illusion of more room by allowing you extra spaces to plant colourful blooms. There are heaps of options out there which allow you to maximize your garden’s potential for housing flowerbeds without dominating too much floor space – Think upwards, not outwards! Landscapers can assist in choosing the best layout to suit the shape and size of your garden or, if you have an eye for design yourself, your local garden shop should offer some ready-built choices to place and plant yourself.

  1. Pot Planting is a thing of the past

We are so accustomed to seeing flowers sprouting from pots that it can be fun to mix things up. Surprise visitors to your garden by treating them to the sight of geraniums bursting from less conventional containers. Colourful wellies can in fact be the perfect base for planting when filled with some soil and bulbs in the summer; Just make sure to select plants with small root systems and drill a few holes in the bottom first to ensure proper drainage. Why not hang a few from fences as alternative flower baskets which blend perfectly with the theme of the outdoors and brighten up the parameters of your garden?

  1. Welcome the Wildlife

Bird houses anshutterstock_313654058d tables are great for nature, but can also act as quirky accessories in the garden. Little brown boxes for birds to nest in can appear bland and boring – So why not give them a colourful lick of paint and transform that hidey-hole into a renovated, modern townhouse for sparrows and blue tits or possibly even a woodpecker?

There are a range of ready-made bird houses out there which already feature these quirks, some resembling miniscule dolls houses with their little shuttered windows and delicate features. Similarly bird tables can be painted to match the colour scheme of your garden, transforming them into a feature.

  1. Reflections

Our homes are filled with mirrors and reflective spaces and we’re all aware of the illusions of space and openness they can provide. Extend this to your gardens by hanging mirrors with ornate, vintage frames. This idea can look particularly effective if you have climbing plants or overgrown shrubbery creeping up fence panels as you can nestle a mirror amidst a gap of the greenery, creating an unexpected reflection glimpsed by those who walk by. Be very conscious when placing your outdoor mirrors – For the best effect they should be positioned so that they reflect outdoorsy views, such as more plants or open spaces, rather than reflecting plain fence panels or the back of your house. For safety, also be very aware of how the sun hits your garden and avoid placing mirrors in direct sunlight.

  1. Accessorize your Patios

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Patios can serve as the centre of garden gatherings and Summer BBQ’s, so make sure yours is up to scratch before you host your next outdoor party. Amplify the appeal of your patio by using patterned fabrics on outdoor furniture or bright parasols to create spots of shade. Accessories like rustic, sturdy outdoor lanterns are not only stylish but can provide the ambient flicker of candlelight as the sun begins to set. If your guests have a habit of staying late, consider taking the inclusion of lighting a step further by investing in some outdoor fairy lights – They can be hung from pagodas or even entwined around bushes to cast a twinkling, dreamy effect on the night.

Enjoy making the most out of your garden this Summer!

 Chloe Stevens 

Membership Advisor

 

Teddy Rocks Festival 2016 sponsored by Checkatrade!

When the Newton family of Blandford Forum lost little Ted to cancer at just 10 years old it sparked something incredible in them. They chose to keep his spirit alive and in his memory, the charity Teddy20 was formed.

Teddy Rocks started out with a few bands in a local pub, The Greyhound in Blandford Forum back in 2012. This year the event reached Festival status with a new location, Stour Meadows, and a capacity of 2,200 people!

Tom Newton, Teddy’s big brother, and band member himself worked tirelessly with his crew to bring on huge acts, including The Hoosiers, From The JamGentleman’s Dub Club and Don Broco who performed to the huge crowd from the Ted Newton stage over the weekend.

Other acts over the 4 days included InMe and The King Blues, plus Room 94,Luna Wilson, Cardinal Bay,Dead! and The Gospel Youth. Saints of Sin,The Dirty Youth and Dubheart who performed from the second stage, The Sunrise Stage.

Tom and his family had a dream, to raise as much money as they could to help children fighting cancer, and support their families. After this weekend, they should feel incredibly proud of themselves. Teddy Rocks 2017 is set to be even bigger than this year!

Checkatrade.com were the main sponsors of the event this year and Claire Hossell (Head of Finance) attended the event.

So you want to buy a wreck and do it up – is it really as easy as you’ve seen on the telly?

I’ve seen a lot of these big renovation projects on programmes over the years and by no means did all of them go to plan! But at least back in the 1990s there were lots of properties that were in need of updating and, because it was generally only first time buyers or builders who wanted to buy them, they often got them at a bargain price.

However, in the years since property make-over TV shows boomed, things have changed. I find many people these days who are desperate to do a property up end up overpaying for it because there’s just so little of that kind of stock on the market. And in far too many cases, they pay more than the property would be worth even after the upgrade.

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So if you want to make money from doing a big refurb or are hoping it’s a ‘cheap’ way onto the ladder, you’ll need a lot of luck – unless you can afford to buy a real wreck for 100% cash, which reduces buyer competition.

All that being said, if you do still want to pursue your dreams of turning a dreary, unloved property into a beautiful home, then the first place to start is to really understand how the property is built and whether it’s structurally safe.  Depending on the age of your property, this could be done via an RPSA qualified surveyor (www.checkaprofessional.com), who will give you an idea of the property’s condition and what needs doing, when. If you need to have a valuation of the property as well, consider a RICS HomeBuyer Report and if it’s a big old house or one that is just normal brick construction, then upgrade to a RICS Building Survey, which will give details of defects, repairs and likely on-going maintenance. Some building surveyors have also helped me understand potential costs involved in fixing problems or carrying out major works.

Once you have a good idea of the property’s condition, it’s also wise to get gas and electrical surveys. Make sure you use a Gas Safe Engineer and an electrician who is ‘Part P’ registered.

Personally, I wouldn’t exchange on a property unless I’d had those three things carried out: an individual property survey that I’d instructed myself (i.e. not just a lender’s valuation) and gas and electrical checks – especially if I was buying a wreck. There are just too many things that can hide behind walls or under floors that can cost a fortune if you don’t have them checked out, over and above obvious signs of things like damp and mould.

Next it’s about budgeting for other essentials, such as whether to repair or purchase new windows, roofing and flooring and, in this day and age of increasing utility prices, looking at what you can do to make the property more energy efficient.

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Finally, it’s the job most people start with – but I’m afraid it must come last – and that’s what you spend on a kitchen, bathroom, decorating and furnishings. My advice here is not to spend a fortune on these initially, just in case any hidden problems come to light post-refurb and you have to rip everything out a few years later because the roof leaks or there is damp and mould invading your newly-decorated walls.

But hopefully, if you instruct thorough surveys and checks before you start and make sure all the renovation and refurbishment works are carried out properly, there’ll be no need for any of that ripping out! Take your time, budget carefully and don’t cut corners.

Need more help on finding your wreck and renovation experts to help you? Visit Checkatrade.com

Kate Faulkner

Designs on Property Ltd

www.propertychecklists.co.uk