Choosing a Firm to Renovate Your Bathroom

If you’ve never had to go through the process of evaluating local building contractors and choosing one to undertake a major refurbishment project in your home, you might find my recent experiences helpful. Faced with the task of completely renovating a shabby old bathroom, I set out to find a firm near my home in Bexhill who could complete the work to a high standard, finish the job in a timely manner, and charge me a fair price.

 

What to Ask a Bathroom Fitter

Although there are many good contractors working in the South East, there are also some that are less scrupulous than others and even those that are generally honest may omit certain crucial facts unless asked directly by prospective customers.

 

1. How Much Insurance Cover Do You Have? You should not have to ask a reputable contractor whether or not they have liability insurance, but you will need to ask them exactly how much they are covered for in terms of accidental damages while working in customers’ homes.  As general liability insurance may need to cover medical costs in the event of accidental injuries, as well as repairs to damaged properties, it should be in the order of millions rather than thousands of pounds.

 

2. How Much Input Will I Have on the New Design? Some bathroom designers and fitters treat their customers like small children who are incapable of deciding anything important for themselves. If you want to end up with the bathroom of your dreams, make sure that the contractor you hire is keen to hear your design ideas and happy to incorporate them into the new layout they create. The whole renovation process should be a collaborative effort between you and your builders.

 

3. What Is Included in the Price This is one of the most important questions to ask, no matter how trustworthy your chosen contractor may be. You should insist on a comprehensive written quotation that describes the scope of work in great detail. Without such a document, you are almost certain to run into difficulties further down the line.

bathroom-renovations

If you can find a bathroom fitter inwho is able to answer the above questions to your satisfaction and who charges reasonable prices for high quality workmanship, you may be on to a winner. However, before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to ask for references or testimonials from previously satisfied customers.

Finding a Boiler Fitter You Can Trust Completely

Finding a Boiler Fitter You Can Trust Completely

When my ancient boiler finally gave up the ghost just before last Christmas, I was not sure what to do. After a local repair specialist told me that it was basically time to get rid of it and buy a more up-to-date model, I was resigned to doing just that once the temporary repairs he had effected had got me safely through to the end of the winter. What I hadn’t bargained for was just how hard it would be to find a competent installer who I could trust completely. Given the cost of a new boiler and the safety issues concerned with its installation, I needed to be 100% sure about my choice.

How I Found the Right Boiler Fitter

After canvassing the opinions of some local friends and discussing the matter with a few work colleagues, I put together the following checklist to help me sort the wheat from the chaff and choose a trustworthy fitter. I am sharing this list with you in the hope that it may help you to achieve the same goal.

  • Gas Safe Registration – Any engineer that you invite into your home to fit a gas appliance should be on the Gas Safe Register. If this is not the case, you should not even consider hiring the person in question. All engineers who are on the register are legally qualified to work on gas appliances in domestic properties, which is not something that can be said for their unregistered counterparts.
  • Generous Liability Cover – If you are at all unsure whether a particular firm or individual fitter is insured to carry out work in your home, ask to see a copy of their insurance policy. It may be a slightly unusual request but it is one that any reputable firm will be happy to comply with and is definitely worth making if you have any doubts.
  • References – Something else that any reputable boiler fitter should be able to provide without any difficulty is references from previously satisfied customers. If you want to make sure that the company or person you are thinking of hiring knows exactly what they are doing, ask to be provided with testimonials to that effect.
  • Competitive Estimate – You want to make sure that the people you hire to install your new boiler are competent, qualified and well insured but you don’t want to pay over the odds if you can help it. Request detailed and firm quotations from at least 3 different firms to make sure that the one you pick is competitive. 

If you follow the above advice, you will greatly increase your chances of selecting a professional and reliable installation expert at the first time of asking. Assuming this is the case, it would be great if you could take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to share your experiences online, so that others may benefit from the knowledge you gained when evaluating suppliers and installers in your part of the country.

Granite Worktops London

Why Granite is the Best Choice for Your Kitchen Worktops

Having spent hours researching the various options available to London homeowners who want to replace their existing kitchen worktops with ones that will not only look great but that will last for many years as well, I decided to share what I learned about granite in the hope that it may help others who find themselves in the same situation as I was a few months ago.

Granite Worktops for London Homeowners: Thoughts from a Recent Convert

I won’t go into excruciating detail about the mineral composition of granite, as you can find this information elsewhere if you are interested in the scientific details. Instead, I will tell you why I chose it for my kitchen surfaces.

  • Durability – I was sure that I wanted natural stone for my kitchen and from my own research, I came to the conclusion that granite stood head and shoulders above the other popular choices when it came to durability. Although granite countertops normally need sealing, they are naturally quite stain resistant, to a degree that few other materials are. Furthermore, they are less susceptible to heat damage from hot pans than other surfaces. Having said that, it is never advisable to place hot pans directly onto any worktop.
  • Style – Admittedly this is more of a subjective area but if you take a look at the choice of high quality granite worktops in London that are available today, I’m sure you will agree they are very attractive. I find them more aesthetically pleasing than marble, engineered quartz or any other surface you care to mention. If you feel differently, you may of course choose quartz or another high quality alternative.
  • Ease of Maintenance –Granite surfaces normally need to be resealed less frequently than marble and they are generally more resistant to scratching. The fact that I could install them and use them on a daily basis without having to think too much about maintenance issues was a major plus point as far as I was concerned.

If you are looking for kitchen worktops that are incredibly easy to keep looking good, naturally stylish, and that will withstand pretty much any amount of wear and tear to which they are subjected, I recommend that you seriously consider granite. Visit your local showrooms or search online for nearby suppliers and ask what they have in stock. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed if you do.

Choosing a Contractor to Renovate Your Kitchen

Last year, I decided that it was finally time to do something about the state of my kitchen. I’d neglected it for too long and I now had the money for a complete renovation.

I thought the hardest part was going to be choosing a new layout, furnishings, appliances and colour schemes but it turned out that the most difficult task I faced was choosing a reliable contractor to carry out the necessary work.

If you are planning to renovate your kitchen in the near future, I hope what I learned from my experience will be useful to you.

Kitchen-Renovation

Companies That Design, Manufacture and Install Fitted Kitchens in Leeds

 

There are many firms in my part of the world that specialise in kitchen refurbishments but not all of them are true professionals. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, ask the following questions of each company you are thinking of hiring:

 

  • Can You Show Me Examples of Previously Completed Projects?One of the easiest ways to establish whether a contractor knows what they are doing and, of equal importance, whether their sense of style matches your own, is by looking at kitchen renovations they have recently completed.
  • Are You Insured? – Every professional contractor, without exception, will have comprehensive liability insurance. In the event that your home is damaged during the renovations, such insurance will cover the cost of repairs.
  • Do You Have a Showroom I Can Visit? – Not every firm has its own showroom but many well-established contractors have a place where you can see examples of the kind of work they do. Whether you are searching for high quality fitted kitchens in Leeds or another part of the country, limiting your choice to those suppliers that have a showroom will make your task much simpler.
  • Do You Offer a Comprehensive Renovation Service – Make sure that you don’t have to employ a dozen different contractors by hiring one that can take care of everything from the design, manufacture and installation of your new kitchen to the electrical, plumbing, and building work that will be required.

 

While you may find a good contractor who cannot answer all of the above questions in the affirmative, you are more likely to succeed in your search for a reliable, reputable team if you make your choice from a shortlist that only contains those firms who can say yes to all of them.

8 Tips for Unclogging Your Drains

Posted by BP Drains, Kent

Got a blocked drain?

We know the feeling – as the pool of water starts to collect around your drain, you get a sinking feeling in the bottom of your stomach. You are strapped for cash so decide to try to attack the clogged drain yourself and decide to not call a plumber. The good news is that most clogged drain problems are usually easy enough to correct on your own without having to call a plumbing drain specialist.

 

The average homeowner should be able to clear most clogs in a drain in a couple of hours or less. Try some of the following do-it-yourself household clogged drain tips that anyone can use.

 

  1. To clear a clogged drain, try this simple technique before attempting to use any commercial chemical product:Pour 1/2 cup of salt down the drain followed by boiling water. Continue to flush with very hot tap water until the clog is clear.
  2. Try pouring a cup of yogurt (without fruit) down the drain and leave it for several hours.
  3. Is your drain clogged from hair going down the drain?If you have Nair (the leg hair remover) laying around you can try to pour a bottle down your drain. Let it sit for about a half an hour, then put hot water down the drain. It will clean out and keep working on the gunk and hair further down the line as it continues to move down the pipes and drains.
  4. Put some disk soup (such as Dawn) down your drain. Follow it with some hot water and it should do the trick to unclog your drain.
  5. For slow-running drains, you can shake a half box of baking soda down the drain, then dump in one cup of vinegar. It should bubble and foam, so you may want to cover with a towel. When it stops foaming, flush the drain with very hot water for 2-3 minutes.
  6. If you can get at the drain pipe, open it up. Get a water hose, put the hose up thru the drain pipe and turn your water on. It will hit the clog and wash it out. No chemicals involved and usually works.
  7. If you’re tired of clogged drains in the house, one way to clear up your plumbing is by using a simple plunger. Though most people use the plunger for toilets, remember that you can use a separate one for other applications, including drain cleaning a sink.When using a plunger, use a great deal of force to press the plunger handle down over the drain obstruction. Wait a minute and then see if the clog is cleared. You can then repeat the drain cleaning process as necessary.
  8. Still having problems with clogged drains? No chemical or clogged drain tip will work as effectively as a £30 drain clearing “snake” that you can buy at your local plumbing or hardware store. If all else fails, you will need to call a local drainage company and have him take a look at it.

blocked-drains

shop-display

Your Shop Fittings Can Manipulate Your Ideal Customer’s Behaviour

The layout that you create in your store, along with the type of shelving, retail display units and other shop fittings that you choose, will have a major impact on the in-store behaviour of your customers.

What you are aiming for of course, is to create an environment that encourages consumers to make a purchase in your shop rather than walking out and buying what they need from another retailer. If you ask any consumer what they are buying whenever they go shopping, they will probably talk about the specific products or services for which they are paying.

However, in reality what they are really paying for, whether they realise it on a conscious level or not, is the whole shopping experience rather than just the products and services themselves.

 

Creating the Ideal Shopping Experience

Now you know what it is that really motivates your customers to make a purchase when they come into your store, you can set about providing them with the type of shopping experience they crave.

 

  • Use Displays to Convey Information – Shopping should be an effortless experience, not a hard slog that involves chasing down sales staff and having to interrogate them on the merits of each product in your store.  You need to create visual merchandising displays that convey all the relevant information concerning the products in the display to your customers. In addition to making it easier for shoppers to choose what they want to buy, this will also make life easier for your sales staff!

 

  • Start with the WindowsYour shop needs to look like the kind of place that your target audience is interested in visiting and the best way to achieve this is by using high quality window display units to show off your stock. Retail display systems like slatwall, available from companies such as Crown Shop Fittings who deliver to all areas of the UK, are an excellent choice when creating shop window displays. This is the most basic way that you can influence shoppers’ behaviour, and also the most important: creating displays that entice them into your shop.

 

  • Customer Traffic Flow – Once consumers have walked through the door, you need to make sure that they go to all the different areas of your store that you want them to see. The best way to achieve good customer traffic flow is by experimenting with layouts and product positioning. Take note of the patterns of behaviour as different people enter your store and alter your layout and displays to increase their exposure to the products that you most want to sell.

 

There are many other ways in which you can influence customer behaviour, such as with the use of effective mood lighting and ambient music, but the layout of your store and the visual displays you use are the most important to consider. Working with an experienced firm of shop fitters, such as Crown Shop Fittings in the UK, will make it much easier for you to fine-tune these aspects of your store.

solar pool heating system

Benefits of installing solar pool heating system

Solar pool heating systems have been around for almost three decades now and they are widely popular too. Swimming pool owners have to spend huge amount of money for paying the pool water-heating bill in the winter months. With the help of the solar pool heating system, you can save on water heating bills and at the same time enjoy swimming in the warm pool during winter. Even the US Department of Energy has recognized the solar pool heating system as one of the most eco-friendly and energy efficient means of heating the pools.

The traditional electric or gas powered pool heating systems are not at all cost effective. It is not possible for all the homeowners who have a pool to bear such high expenses. The installation charges of solar pool heating system may be more than that of the traditional heaters but once the system has been installed you will not have to pay high sums as its annual operating cost. This way you will be saving money in the long run.

Within two years of installing a good solar pool heating system, you will be able to recover the initial cost in the form of energy bill savings. The price of fossil fuels is never going to decrease. It will continue to soar upwards. Fossil fuels also cause environmental pollution. That is why installing solar pool heating system is beneficial for the health and budget of your family.

A great advantage of the solar pool heating system is that they need almost zero maintenance. The operational costs are minimal as well. Solar energy is available in most of the regions even through the winter months. In addition, we can solar energy free of cost. Easy availability of the fuel, which is sunlight, makes the solar pool heating systems so flexible.

These days, even commercial swimming pools are also installing solar pool heating systems. The solar pool heaters are simple and sturdy. They do not have fan motors or compressors, which easily breaks down. As a result, you will not have to spend often on repairs. Some manufacturers provide lifetime warranty on their solar pool heating systems so that you can get it mended free of charges.

Smart Finance

Smart Finance: How Changing Interest Rates Could Affect You

Last week, it was announced that inflation and interest rates were dropping to very low levels, largely thanks to a dramatic fall in oil prices. It’s possible that the Bank of England base rate could be cut to 0% – a record low since the financial crisis six years ago – and inflation is said to stay low for at least a year until oil prices stabilise. For the first time since records began in 1989, inflation will be negative as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), believed to be hitting -0.3% in March. However, Mark Carney – Governor of the Bank of England – believes CPI will return to the target 2% within two years.

Nonetheless, this news means that there could be some effects on monthly payments like mortgages, wages and the cost of living. The question is, how could these changes affect you?

Your mortgage: If the bank rate falls to 0%, it is possible that your mortgage rates could fall. Lenders are unlikely to change their standard variable rates (SVRs) to pass on any benefits but this doesn’t mean you definitely won’t. Most people with a tracker mortgage should benefit as most lenders don’t have ‘collars’, a minimum level written into their small print. However, some lenders can and have gone back on this, due to ‘market conditions’. Customers with Barclays-Woolwich could benefit as they are said to be moving people onto tracker mortgages rather than SVR when they come off special deals. Nonetheless, 85% of people who took a mortgage out last year picked a fixed-rate mortgage rather than a tracker deal so, therefore, won’t benefit if there is a cut.

interest rates

Your wages and cost of living: These low rates could mean good things for your pocket. Wages increasing across the board, falling unemployment, the decreasing price of goods and rock-bottom inflation mean that people should see a little more cash in their pockets for a while, especially as the price of food has also been going down. However, Martin Weale – Bank of England board member – is insistent that people don’t assume this will be an ongoing issue and put off spending, as this could lead to lower spending, more deflation and a weakened economic growth.

Your savings and investments: It’s possible that banks might reduce the rates on existing accounts but not so much the newer deals. This all depends on how experts feel about the future of rates. Due to conflicting information about rising/falling rates in the coming months, banks might be inclined to offer better rates on their new fixed-rate savings. It remains to be seen whether stock markets, bond prices and property values will rise but this fluctuation could have a negative effect on assets.

It all remains to be seen how much these interest rates will change and how they could affect our pockets. If you keep an eye on our Twitter account, we will be sharing our thoughts and other interesting information on the subject of changing interest rates.

When it comes to understanding the changing interest rates when you’re buying a home, Plentific has you covered. Our Interest Rate Sensitivity chart will calculate exactly how much your monthly mortgage payments will be altered with changing interest rates – a handy tool when you’re thinking of buying a house and you’re not sure what mortgage would suit you best. If you’re stuck, you can talk to one of our expert mortgage advisors to understand better what exactly you’ll be paying for your new home with the addition of interest rates and the recent alterations in Stamp Duty.

conservatory

Home Improvement predictions for 2015

As I mentioned in my previous post, people are starting to expand their home rather than upsizing. Considering the uncertain economic climate it does appear that increasing the size of your home is the smarter route to take e.g. garage conversions.
Not to mention all the other benefits that come with having an extension built, but it also can significantly increase the value of your home.

Automated Controls

Reminded by a previous post last year in April I mentioned that ‘Smart Homes’ were starting to pick up a trend in 2014, and it has carried on into 2015! Slowly building up in popularity, people are finding that having thermostat controls, lighting etc automated a big help.
We all need ‘One less job to do’ around the house and things like being able to preheat your oven via your smart phone is just what we need! If you haven’t already started this then you need to get on it now, trust me, it saves a great deal of stress.

Conservatories

Conservatories look set to regain their popularity in 2015. After the little fad in the early 2000’s conservatories haven’t really gained that phenomenal status since, until now.  We’ve noticed a dramatic increase in homeowners wanted quotes for conservatories because they want the extra space!
With materials to suit any home they are the perfect way to  blur the boundaries between the inside and outside of your home.
conservatory
Declutter Your Space

Declutter Your Space

Look around your house. Go ahead, take some time walk through each room and really look at it. Think about it the way a stranger would. If you walked into your house right now as a complete stranger what would you think? Does your house look really good or does it look cluttered and full of way too much stuff?

Is there space for you to walk around the entire room easily? Do you have to step over a lot of stuff? What about drawers and closets? Does everything open and close easily without you having to push things aside or lean over boxes? Can you find everything that you want quickly and easily?

If you are like most people then the answer to a lot of those questions is probably no. Your house is probably way too cluttered for you to walk around and open doors easily. You probably have to push boxes and papers out of the way all the time to get to the things that you want. And you probably never know where anything is.

Well the good news is that we are here to help you with those problems. I’m going to tell you what it will take for you to get your house in better shape quickly and easily. By the time you’ve read through this article you will be able to know exactly what you need and what you don’t in your home and how to keep it looking great.

The first step is going to deal with the clutter in your home. That means getting rid of all the extra, and broken things. This will include going through every single thing that you own. You are going to be looking at everything to decide what you need and what you don’t. While you are going through your home and decluttering your space there are four questions that you should be asking yourself about every item that you find. These questions will help you to decide what should be done with the items you have:

Is it mine? – You don’t want to start throwing out or donating things that don’t belong to you. So anything that you borrowed from a friend, library books and movie rentals all go in one pile to be returned wherever they belong.

Does it work? – If you pick up something that’s broken or full of holes then it doesn’t work. These items go straight into the trash. Don’t think about how you were going to fix it one day when you got the chance or it belonged to your daughter five years ago. If it doesn’t work then throw it out.

Do I need it? – This is the category where you look at the worth of an item.
Is it usable and do you use it? If it is a special shirt you’ve had for five years and never worn once then it is probably something you can get rid of. If it is the coffee pot you use every morning then keep it. You also want to use this category to get rid of anything that might be broken. If it is not usable, you don’t need it.

Is it sentimental? – This is the category for things that are special to you but you don’t necessarily have a use for. Your daughter’s handprints from when she was five might go in this pile. So might your great-grandmother’s necklace or your father’s watch. These are things that are too special to you for you to get rid of.

So let’s get started with one of the simpler rooms in your house. Which room in your home has the least clutter in it? If you are like most people, it is probably the bathroom. After all, what do you store in the bathroom other than your hygiene and toiletry products? Not a whole lot most likely. The only other things that will likely be in this room are things that were in your pockets at one time or another. You may find change or gum but you probably won’t find a lot of big things. So go through each of those cabinets and drawers, look through the closet and pull out everything that doesn’t belong first.

Anything that isn’t hygiene and bathroom related doesn’t belong to the bathroom. Start by sorting out those items and sort them based on the categories you were given. If it is useful and you want to keep it put it in one pile, if it is useful but you don’t need it then put in somewhere to donate. You will also want a trash bin for anything that needs to be thrown out and a pile for things that need to be returned. Everything that you move around in your bathroom should go into one of these piles.

Once you have gone through the things that don’t belong it is time to go through the things that do. The old perfume bottle that’s been empty for months can probably be thrown out. Your old towels that have holes in them can go, too. Anything that is no longer usable or that you don’t like can be donated or simply thrown away. Your bathroom should be completely empty save for the pile of stuff that you’ve decided you are going to keep. Look through that pile again and think about whether you really need those items. Anything you decide you don’t need can be put into give away or throw away pile.

Once you’ve done with the bathroom move on to the next less cluttered room, and so until the entire house is decluttered. At the end of the day, you would be surprised how many things you have stored that you haven’t needed actually. Call your local rubbish collection London company to deal with the useless things, and the rest give away.