Have you ever been the victim of a cowboy contractor, or otherwise regretting your choice after hiring someone? It’s not uncommon. After all, how are you supposed to know until you work with them? Hopefully next time you will have some idea, because we have a few potential answers to that question.
Perhaps the number one piece of advice we can give you is to never settle on the first price you hear. There is really nothing to lose by shopping around and asking a few similar firms for price estimates. Although a low estimate doesn’t mean everything, you can judge the best value once you do a little more research into them.
Find personal recommendations
It is one thing to read reviews online, but even from independent sources you can’t be sure how they originated. If you know someone who can vouch for a builder or other tradesperson, ideally after a similar project to your own, you should trust them.
Look locally first
Although you may be able to come to a good agreement with someone who doesn’t live in your area, it’s probably going to be less costly for both parties if the contractor doesn’t have to travel far. They will probably be travelling to and from your property at least once a day for the duration of the project, so this clearly adds up.
Check their qualifications and experience
Obviously professional people in any trade will need certain qualifications to confirm they can work on your property safely, especially with gas or electricity supply work. Check these and make sure they have at least a few years’ experience when it’s a major job. It’s likely that someone who’s never worked on a project like yours before will end up costing you more, even if they don’t plan to deliberately.
Agree a timescale
It’s not advisable to work with only a rough estimate for any project. If it seems too complex to predict, that means you simply haven’t planned in enough detail yet. It’s important to have a start date and completion date pencilled in.
Have it all in writing
Of course, agreements are meaningless if they’re only verbal in this situation. The only way to really ensure you’re going to get what you pay for one way or the other is to have a professionally written contract covering every aspect of your agreement. If the contractor really plans to deliver, they shouldn’t have any problem agreeing to reasonable terms.
This is an interesting topic that you may relate to if you remember attending property viewings with no furnishings and so on. You’ll probably be comparing these with other places that are currently lived in and have plenty of possessions still there.
Trying to draw a comparison in this situation is quite difficult, because an empty property looks completely different to when it’s actually populated. Various illusions and misconceptions may cloud your judgement either way, so consider the following tips to try and get the best out of this experience.
First, check the photos
Before you even arrange a viewing, you will often get the chance to browse through photos on a property listing and use these to make an initial judgement. If they’re not photographed particularly well, empty properties can look less appealing and it can be hard to judge scale. You can learn a lot from a good set of photos, but don’t rule something out just because the pictures didn’t amaze you.
The power of imagination
When you come to actually view a property that currently has next to nothing in it, it’s going to be essential that you use your imagination to visualise what could be done with the space. Even if you’re familiar with the furniture you’ll be using, this isn’t easy. However, try to take advantage of the fact that other people’s things are not that to distract you.
Check everything you can
The main advantage of seeing an empty property rather than a furnished or lived-in one is that nothing is concealed. You can see any hidden damage or potential problem areas with no obstructions, so hopefully you’ll make the most of this and identify any structural or cosmetic problems that might otherwise have been missed. If possible, take some measurements while you’re there as this should also be fairly easy.
Find out when it’s available
If you have any interest in the property, make sure you’re clear on when you would be able to move in. This is probably going to be sooner than usual, because nobody has to move out, which can be an advantage if that’s what you need. It can also put the pressure on because the seller might be keen to get away quickly, and someone could get an offer accepted and start moving in before you’ve had a chance to decide.
Getting used to living in a rental property can be tricky for new tenants, as it may not be immediately clear whether something is the responsibility of the person renting out the home or the person living in it. The agreement you have with the landlord or letting agency will be unique and there might be some unusual rules to be aware of, but in general these are some basic tips to bear in mind.
Share responsibility with your housemates
If you’re living with family this should be easy, but for many people living with friends or housemates for convenience it can be tricky to agree who is responsible for what. This is definitely most common among students! Sudents often have disagreements over property maintenance, and are usually happy to move in together at first, but for various reasons things can change. It’s important to establish early on that everyone understands what the landlord’s expectations are, and that everyone is going to do their fair share of work to maintain the property.
Stay in contact with the landlord
Whether you’re dealing with a landlord directly or going through a letting agent, it’s important to maintain that contact and ensure you report any problems. To prevent damage or serious issues in the property, you should try to raise any potential issues as quickly as possible. You should be given a formal record of what comes under the landlord’s responsibilities, so you know when to ask for help.
Follow the rules
The best way of making sure you keep your rented property in top condition is by sticking to any rules or guidelines set out by the landlord or agent. They have their requirements for a reason, so if you’ve been asked to maintain things or refrain from doing anything disruptive you’ll probably do well to stick to these rules. This all means you’re more likely to get your security deposit back at the end of your tenancy, so it’s probably all worthwhile.
Maybe your heating only becomes a priority when it breaks in the middle of winter, which is probably true of many homeowners. Unfortunately that’s not the ideal time to start wishing you had planned out your system more carefully! Now is the perfect time to look at the setup you have at the moment and find ways to improve it before you’re in need of emergency assistance. Luckily we have some simple steps you can start with.
Firstly, remember even the most experienced landlords and homeowners can’t necessarily be expected to know everything about how to maintain a heating system. It’s a great idea to get a professional boiler service from a local professional company, as many of us have boilers and plumbing that have been in place for a long time and they may develop problems you might not be aware of. If you haven’t recently replaced an element of your heating system it should be cleaned and serviced regularly by a professional to make sure it’s efficient and safe, which will save you money later. Continue Reading
Column radiators are a classic staple in home heating systems and they’re enjoying a revival in popularity thanks to the unique and modern designs widely available in the UK. They are now readily available in home improvement stores like Wickes and Home Hardware Direct. Alternatives are available which offer different practical applications, and some people are still put off the idea of basic radiators that don’t look up to date when surrounded by more modern features in a room, but here are some key points to remind you why it’s important to consider high quality column radiators.
It’s easy to fit classic column radiators onto almost any standard hot water system, so whether it’s your bathroom, bedroom or anywhere else you don’t need to make any major plumbing changes to accommodate your radiator. It helps to have a professional plumber to fit your radiator but you can be fairly sure it’s not going to cause any complications when you go for a column format. All you normally need apart from the pipe connections are wall brackets on which to mount your radiator. Continue Reading
If you’re not planning to remodel your bathroom, we have great news. After reading this list, you will be! We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite bathroom features and once you’ve seen all these for yourself you’ll wonder how you managed without them all this time. If you were already thinking about ideas for your new bathroom, then you’ll definitely want to re-think before you miss any of these.
1) Designer Radiators
Radiators are pretty much essential in any bathroom, but there’s no reason you should be stuck with basic designs that don’t match your style. Designer radiators come in a variety of styles and hardly cost more than traditional options, but can add so much to your design. Choose pure white or black to complement a monochrome style, a classic column radiator design or a flat panelled look that looks great with wooden features. Our favourites are tall, narrow radiators with a shiny metallic finish which are very popular at the moment and look amazing in most modern bathrooms. For more designs, check out the selection of bathroom radiators from The Heating Boutique.
2) Heated Towel Rails
To add a touch of luxury to your re-modelled bathroom, you needn’t rely on your central heating to enjoy a warm towel every time you step out of the shower. Although many fabulous designs can be plumbed in like radiators, you also have the option of freestanding heated towel racks powered by the flick of a switch. Depending on the look of your bathroom, you might opt for a small, classic silver design, thicker poles that look impressive and make it easier to hang your towel, or a full-sized metallic rack that looks perfect with a modern colour scheme. Continue Reading
Are you feeling trapped in your house because of lack of space? Don’t worry, for there are many creative ways in which you could add more space to your existing home. One of our favourite options, and the first one we’re going to look at in detail, would be a loft conversion.
A loft conversion is in fact an ideal solution for you if you are looking out to expand the living area in your home. Conversion of attic space is an affordable way to expand one’s living area in the home and offer great tranquil getaways from the atmosphere of a busy or cluttered family home. If you want to have an office in your home, for example, a loft conversion can be a great way to transform a space that isn’t currently used into something professional and functional.
“There are different types of loft conversions, and so you need to first identify the type of project that would suit your needs,” said John Steele, lead designer at The Loft Consultancy, a loft conversion and extension company in London. You might have to sacrifice some space in your existing home, for example to fit in an additional staircase and link up your rooms logically, as well as potentially having lower ceilings in places. You will also need to consider the pitch of your roof, since a steep slope will give you more space in the centre of your new room but you might struggle to fit in everything you need with steeply sloped walls. Continue Reading
Building work can be a challenging experience that needs to be carefully evaluated before the process begins. A properly formulated planning process comprised of well-defined steps and procedures is necessary in this case to alleviate stress and save money as well as time. They will also help in evading problems with builders, contractors or plumbers. “Everything needs to be covered, from the initial planning stages and appropriate permissions right through to assuring UK plumbing and heating safety standards are met and maintained in your property,” advised Bedford & Milton Keynes’ Gasteam Plumbing and Heating. “With these simple steps, you will be definitely on your way to gaining confidence in your upcoming building project and getting everything off to a great start.”
1. Consider whether permissions or approvals are necessary
There are two types of approvals you to consider, building regulation approval and planning permission. A building regulation approval is applicable for minor renovations such as windows and doors. There is no need to apply for this approval if you have a contractor belonging to a competent person scheme. If the contractor is not registered, you might have to submit full plans with an application.
Planning permission is only applicable if you want to build something new that significantly changes your property, for example an extension or an additional building. These projects can affect the value of your own home as well as other peoples’ and the surrounding environment, which is why planning applications are taken seriously and failing to meet your agreed plans can result in severe penalties.
2. Finding builders and contractors
Whoever you hire, they must be good at their job. The best way is to seek recommendations and references. It is also vital you do a proper check on things such as a contractor’s membership to an approved scheme. Ask for proof of qualifications just to be sure. It is a prudent thing to ensure you have a variety of contractors and builders to enable you compare and choose the best.
3. Get a quote
Get a written quote from at least three contractors and compare them before deciding. The quote must have a fixed total price, validity period, and breakdown of the work to be done. Once you agree to the quote, it becomes a binding agreement between you and the contractor. You can make references to it in case of a dispute.
Whether it’s the installation of a swimming pool to add value to an investment, or simply extending a couple of rooms to make space or a growing family, every homeowner will face a point when they wish to work on their property. Soon after, one realises that the process can be arduous and expensive, due to the usually large scope and long list of details that need sorting; what’s the best way to keep your renovation within budget?
Start off by consulting friends or acquaintances with prior experience. If you don’t know any, try a local discussion forum on the Internet. What was the sort of work they did, and who did they hire? Ask also for any tips or tricks they might have. Their work doesn’t necessarily have to be the same sort you wish to do; you can gain useful insights such as the trustworthiness of the tradespeople, whether or not a type of material might be in shortage, and how best to ask for a quote. Continue Reading
At one time or the other, you might be required to repair or replace your roof. So, it is important to ensure that you know what is involved in the process and how much it will cost you. To help you in the process, this article offers a quick guide to the basics of roof design and construction, starting with the key differences between the main types of roofing.
There are two basic types: pitched and flat roofs.
A flat roof is a roof that is defined as having a pitch that is less than 15 degrees horizontally. A good flat roof should not allow water to collect, but instead drain away safely. This means that most of these roofs have a fall on them, making rain water flow naturally to collection points. You can also have a cosmetic covering of tiled roofs of 10-15 degrees if the underlying roof itself is too flat. Flat roofs are not always as attractive looking and problems with these methods to deal with rainfall are common, but when done properly they can look stunning on certain types of home design. Continue Reading