house maintenance

Sell your homeIn our blogs we talk about making changes to your home to make it work better for you, but for some people this isn’t possible or maybe it’s the location that you don’t like? So, you’ve made the decision to move, but how do you get your home ready to sell? Here are our top tips…

Improve the outside and boost kerb appeal
Stand at your gate and look at your home. What do you see? Peeling paint, dead plants, weeds, grass in need of cutting? These are simple things to address but will mean your potential purchasers will be walking through your door excited to see if this is the home for them. A poor exterior is likely to make them wonder if the inside is just as bad.

Time to tackle those repairs
You might find that dripping tap or squeaky door easy to ignore, but a prospective buyer will notice it, and it might start them wondering what else you’ve failed to maintain. Getting on top of these small jobs will mean that buyers aren’t detracted from seeing the best that your home has to offer.

Too much clutter makes your home feel smaller
Before putting your house on the market, why not visit a show-home on a new development. Notice how tidy everything is and how little clutter there is. It’s easy for them, they don’t have a family living there, but in reality, that could be your competition. Take a walk around your house with a critical eye. What do you have out that could be put away, or even into storage? Remember that your potential buyer is trying to imagine themselves in your home, so leave them some space!

Create a homely feel
If it’s cold outside, make sure your house is warm; light a fire if you have one. If your house doesn’t have much natural light, turn all the lights on before any potential buyers arrive, also brew a pot of coffee and put some bread in the oven – they’re old chestnuts, but they work!

Pets…
I think that dogs and cats can be great companions, but not everyone agrees. Some people think they’re dirty, smelly and flea ridden. Now, yours obviously aren’t, but your potential buyer may not realise that, so if you have the option, when they’re due to visit, why not get someone to take Fido for a walk, or suggest to Tiddles that she plays out in the garden. It goes without saying that smelly litter trays should be removed and the room well aired.

Updates worth considering
If you’re home décor is tired and your garden overgrown, consider spending some time getting them “sale ready.” Inside your home, consider redecorating and adding new carpets – neutral is the look you’re going for. It means that people can move in and take their time adding their own touches, rather than feeling that everything has to be done immediately. This can be off-putting to the average home buyer.

Externally, low maintenance is key. Most people love a nice garden, but not everyone wants to spend every weekend keeping it looking that way. Your local garden centre can advise you on which plants require little or no maintenance – some of these, along with a nice lawn (if it’s a family home) and maybe some herbs and you’re ready to go.

It really is worth making some of these updates if you want to achieve the best possible price for your home in the shortest amount of time. Good luck, and do remember us when you find your new home and are considering any work. We can help you with garage and loft conversions, re-plastering walls, extensions or indeed new builds.

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waving goodbye to cold, damp and mouldy roomsThis particular house was built in the mid 1950’s and despite being well looked after, there was a damp and mouldy smell in both rooms at the front of the house. The paint was peeling off in one room and the wallpaper was coming away from the wall in the other. The front of the house was quite exposed and the rooms were difficult to keep warm.

It was determined that the insulation needed to be upgraded, but as the house didn’t have cavity walls, that wasn’t an option. This meant that insulation needed to be added to either the outside of the walls, or the inside. The property owners decided that they’d prefer to have it added on the inside, and as they were fairly large rooms, it wouldn’t be a problem in terms of space.

When the fitted furniture was moved it revealed walls that had been blackened with mould, so the first thing to do was remove the mould and apply a mould inhibitor. Once this was finished and had dried completely, a 100mm thick sheet of insulation was fixed to the walls that had originally had mould on them. They also happened to be the most exposed walls. After this came the plaster board and a skim of plaster. Already the room was feeling warmer and the damp smell had disappeared.

The clients opted for a pale colour on 3 walls, with a bright accent colour as a feature wall. The job was completed within a few days and has made an enormous difference to the feel of the house.

If you have experienced this problem in your house, please call us and we will be happy to find a solution that works for you.

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Check the GuttersThere aren’t many things that you can guarantee, but I think it’s a safe bet that winter will bring rain, and maybe snow. So before winter sets in it’s a good idea to clear your gutters and check them regularly, especially through autumn when the leaves are falling. If you have a build-up of wet leaves over the winter this adds considerable weight to your gutter and is likely to cause you problems.

If gutters become clogged you could find water running down the outside of your home, which is both annoying and hugely detrimental to your property as it can cause damp, ruin your decoration and even cause mould growth.

Clearing your roof of excess moss, which can get knocked off by heavy rain and end up in your guttering, is also a good winter safeguard. Moss thrives in shady positions, so if you want to reduce the amount that grows on your roof, cutting back overhanging trees is a good idea.

Lastly, check that your guttering is secure, without cracks. There’s no point keeping it clear if at the first sign of high winds it ends up in your garden!

If you find that short term house maintenance is not enough to make your home comfortable, then perhaps it is worth considering a renovation project. Contact us for advice – it may be that a strategic face-lift to roof, gutter, brickwork and rendering will be good value in the long term.

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Check for drafty gaps in the homeIf you live in a drafty house, but you’re not sure where the cold air is coming from, you can smoke them out!

On a cold day light an incense stick and once it’s smouldering nicely, move it towards the edges of windows and doors. If there’s no draft the smoke will rise, but if there is one the smoke will be blown horizontally. Typically the gaps will be where a unit is hinged, or two panels meet.

Once you know where your problem areas are you can then treat them either with caulk or weather strips.

Drafty doors and windows make for uncomfortable living conditions and expensive heating bills.

Wood has a tendency to warp and change size depending on the humidity. If you suspect this is happening then a coat or two of specialist paint could be all that is needed to solve it.

If your problem is that there is a poor seal around your door that’s letting in unwanted drafts, then adding draft excluders will make a huge difference.

Original windows are notorious for sending cold air into your home. Double glazing is a must for thermal efficiency, but if your budget won’t stretch to that, then thick heavy curtains will certainly help, as will draft excluders. I would suggest you need to budget for upgrading your windows.

Even these “quick fixes” may not improve the situation enough – in which case we can help with new windows and doors, perhaps as part of an extension or conversion.

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Helpful tipsWhen the temperature drops below freezing, if pipes aren’t adequately lagged, there’s a chance they may freeze, and even burst.

Having good insulation and keeping your heating on at a low level all the time should help to avoid either of these problem, but if you’re unlucky and your pipes freeze, this is what we suggest you do.

  1. Locate the stop valve and turn it off immediately.
  2. The simplest next step would be to call a plumber, but if you’d like to tackle it yourself, then read on…
  3. Check for leaking joints or bursts in the pipes.
  4. Very gently, heat any frozen sections with a hairdryer or heated cloth around the pipe. Remember that electricity and water don’t mix, so always hold the hairdryer above the pipe.

If in any doubt at all, call a reputable plumber!

Frozen pipes can lead to burst pipes, as water expands when it freezes. It isn’t the radial expansion of the ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the problem, but the build-up of pressure between the ice blockage and the closed tap can lead to pipe failure.

If a pipe bursts in your home the easiest thing to do is call a plumber, but before you do that you need to locate the stop valve and turn it off immediately.

If you’d like to tackle the job yourself, here are our suggestions:

  1. Locate the stop valve and turn it off immediately.
  2. Switch off your immersion heater and your central heating boiler.
  3. Turn on all hot and cold taps and allow to drain. This will help minimise the damage.
  4. Allow solid fuel fires to die out naturally.
  5. Switching off your electricity at the mains is a good precautionary measure if there’s any chance that water could come into contract with electrical wiring.
  6. As soon as possible, alert your neighbours so they can take any steps to safeguard their own homes.
  7. You can make a temporary repair to a burst pipe by binding it tightly with a cloth and/or tape, but this must be replaced by a permanent repair from a registered plumber as soon as possible.
  8. Re-fill your hot water system before you switch on your immersion heater or re-light your boiler.

Remember, adequate insulation is a good step towards minimising the risk of either of these problems, which can have devastating consequences.

Sometimes on older properties it is very difficult to ensure all pipes and drains are insulated against frost. In such an old property it may be worth considering an interior upgrade – even renovation with new protected pipework in modern materials installed to stay warm and run free. We can deal with upgrades and renovations, including the re-plumbing, as well as any remodelling of the interior space, e.g. with partitioning, new stairs, electrics, plastering and finishing. Call us for a consultation.

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