MeditationIt’s widely reported that the top 5 stressful life events are:

  1. Death of a loved one
  2. Divorce
  3. House move
  4. Major illness
  5. Job loss

As I was pondering these life events I realised that some of them are inter-related. Anyone that has ever moved will know how stressful it can be. Couples splitting up and divorcing after moving house isn’t as uncommon as you might think. The stress of any of these could be enough to bring on a major illness. A job loss could result in down-sizing and necessitate a house move. The death of a loved one might result in any of the other four. It’s easy to see where a downward spiral starts and it could so easily happen to any of us.

Sadly we can’t help with four out of the five events, but we do have some suggestions for how to avoid a house move if your current home isn’t suiting your current needs.

So you have been in your present house for a few years but now children (or more children) have come along – or your lifestyle has grown to include entertaining groups of friends. Your present location suits perfectly – the schools are great, commuting is minimal, you like (perhaps love) the area – you don’t want to move – and anyway to do so would cost a fortune.

Why not use the money you would lose on a house move – solicitors, tax, removals, redecorating and refurnishing the new property etc. etc. – (not to mention the stress) and simply adapt your current property. Well OK, it may not be that simple – but in the hands of a good builder it could be more do-able than the moving option.

These options include extending the main house, e.g. alongside or upwards, converting a garage or loft, knocking through rooms, putting in larger windows or ceiling light guides, adding a conservatory, opening out a room or rooms to the outside world with big sliding patio or bi-fold doors.

Not only does the money go into your property rather than outside agencies, but you also get to stay in the location that you know and love. What could you do to your house that would make it work better for you?



ConservatoryAt this time of year we all begin to look forward to spending more time outside our homes. Gardens are beginning to show signs of life and we relish the thought of summer BBQ’s, relaxing in the sun and long summer evenings.

Garden Centres are vying for our attention and custom as they approach their busiest time of year, but unless you have a big budget to play with you really need to plan how you will spend your money. In larger gardens you can have a hefty bill in the garden centre and then hardly notice the difference when you’ve planted everything out!

If your garden is basically OK, I would suggest you focus on one area to really make a difference.

A decked area can make a huge difference to your garden and the possibilities are endless depending on your budget. If your garden and budget is big enough, multiple levels of decking can work really well. Each level can have its own purpose and if you combine this with bi-fold, patio or sliding doors, you will be blurring the lines between home and garden which is wonderful in the warmer weather.

A good way to plan any changes to your garden is by using tracing paper. If you place this tracing paper over an A4 picture of your house and garden, you can then draw the changes to see what they would look like, and make changes until you’re happy with the result.

In terms of wood, you have two options, hardwood or soft wood.

Soft woods are cheaper, but they need more preparation. They must be pressure treated and cuts should be sealed with an end-grain sealer.

Hardwoods are more expensive to buy but are extremely durable and also look really good.

Which option you choose will depend on several things.

  • Who is fitting it – fitting costs are likely to be cheaper with hardwoods than soft woods. Not an issue if you are fitting it yourself.
  • How long you are likely to keep it for – if it’s a long term structure then hardwood will look good for longer without the upkeep that softwood will need.
  • Environmental concerns – hardwood is less renewable. Hardwood trees grow very slowly and it can take hundreds of years to replace them, compared to tens of years for softwood trees.

With British summers being unpredictable, maybe you’d prefer to use your budget by moving your indoors outdoors. I know that sounds strange, but a conservatory can be a great compromise. A fully glazed conservatory that you use as a dining room can be used all year round. Or maybe you’d prefer to relax in a “sheltered garden” – well a lounge that has a fully glazed conservatory extension can give you that outdoors feel all year round.

Modern ideas of integrating the garden into the home frequently lead to the need to knock down walls and open out doorways. Sometimes this can involve a degree of structural re-working, other times not so much – either way it needs careful planning and thought about what can be achieved and how, with due consideration of the wider implications.

Generally this integration of home and garden will seek to open the aspect from inside with extra wide windows so blurring the boundary or even enabling it to be completely removed by use of lengthy runs of bi-fold doors or sliding patio doors.

Consultation with a trusted builder at an early stage can avoid problems later by foreseeing possible difficulties which can often be simply worked around for an optimal and cost-effective solution.