It’s officially the first day of spring today, but with no end in sight of this cold snap it seems as if the seasons in the UK no longer follow a pattern.
So while the weather’s keeping you indoors, why not give your home an MOT!
Stay warm and keep costs down
Every year, we give our cars an MOT test to ensure they’re roadworthy. Similarly, many of us have regular health check-ups. Yet our homes don’t always get the MOT they need. In fact, it makes good sense to give your home a regular review and see where its energy efficiency could be improved. Not only should this result in lower fuel bills, but it should help to maintain your home’s value. Here are some tips.
- Fit double or triple glazing. Switching from single to energy-efficient double glazing can help to prevent 90 per cent of heat loss and save up to £400 a year in fuel bills.
- Install wall and roof insulation to prevent heat being wasted and limit energy usage.
- Review or replace your boiler. An older, G rated boiler can produce two-thirds more carbon emissions than a newer, A rated, condensing model.
- Set a limit! Fitting individual room and radiator thermostats will allow you to control heating levels, saving energy and money.
- Change the lights. Using low-energy light bulbs or fitting dimmer switches offers a more energy-efficient approach.
For more tips and advice go to Pilkington MOT Your Home.
Check the electrics
According to NICEIC, 43,000 fires are caused in the home each year, with over 8,170 (19%) caused by electrical faults and 10,750 (25%) caused by people not using electrical equipment and appliances properly. Here are some tips and advice to help you protect your family and home from electrical shock and fire risks.
- Ensure all sockets and switches are checked and repaired on a regular basis. Look out for signs of over-heating.
- Regularly check flexible cables for extension leads and appliances. Don’t run cables under carpets or rugs – you won’t be able to notice any damage to them.
- Do not overload sockets. The use of extension leads and adaptors should be kept to a minimum. If you don’t have enough sockets in your home ask a registered electrician to fit some more for you.
- Do not put any electric heaters near curtains or furniture, or dry clothes on them.
- If the electrics in your home are over 10 years old it is recommended that you employ a registered electrician to carry out a periodic inspection.
- Always turn off electrical appliances that don’t need to be on permanently when not in use, especially at night.
- In the case of an electrical fire, where safe to do so, switch off and unplug the appliance or switch off the power at the fuse box. Do not put water on the fire, get out quickly and call 999.
For more tips and advice go to www.niceic.com
Keep an eye on your bricks and mortar
As well as sprucing up your home with a spot of DIY over the Easter break make sure you don’t neglect the maintenance jobs to avoid hefty repair bills later on.
It’s just as important to fix faulty guttering or replace missing roof tiles to avoid ruining any decorating you do inside.
Other checks should include giving your windows a thorough once over, checking for signs of wear.
You should also keep a close eye on vegetation and trees that could cause structural damage or dampness to your home. Keep plants and trees pruned back to avoid them potentially causing damage to your home.
If you’re thinking of carrying out any home improvements be realistic about whether you have the skills and the time to undertake such tasks. If you don’t then you will probably save money in the long run by calling in the experts!
The Christmas Holidays are nearly upon us, and with all the home improvement hints and tips we’ve provided you with this year, we hope your homes are now decked and ready for the festivities.
We will be taking our Christmas break from 12 noon on Friday, 21st December, returning to the office at 9am on Monday, 7th January. But before we break for our Christmas holiday we would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our customers for their support throughout 2012.
We would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, and if you have any home improvement requirements we look forward to providing you with our service in 2013.
With the festive season finally upon us, there are still plenty of things to do to guarantee you have the perfect Christmas. Planning visits to relatives is a great way to make time for your loved ones and ensure you celebrate the festivities well. However, leaving your home for a few days can leave you worried about the safety of your property and your personal belongings.
Burglars know that houses are well stocked full of presents and goodies, and if given an opportunity, won’t hesitate. Don’t give thieves access to your home; lock your doors and windows, hide your presents and lower the risk of your Christmas being ruined. Take a look at our simple tips to make your home more secure and protect your property from thieves.
Protect your home
Hide your presents in a safe place
After you’ve wrapped all your presents, it’s tempting to put them under the Christmas tree to make the room feel extra festive. However, leaving presents around the house in full sight will tempt thieves. Why not hide them away in a safe place to reduce the risk of a break in? Make sure your curtains and blinds are shut at night and try putting your presents out on Christmas Eve or even early Christmas morning. Besides, if you have a young family, its more exciting for them to see lots of presents appear on the big day!
Don’t advertise Christmas presents
Keep your windows and doors securely locked
It’s easy to forget to shut windows and doors; however leaving a window open gives burglars easy access to your home. Make sure all windows on the lower levels of your home are securely locked before you leave and especially if you are away for a few days. Why not think about replacing old and outdated locks that can easily be broken by an intruder. Fix a chain to your front door so that if you are not expecting a visitor and the doorbell goes, you can still protect yourself and your home.
Keep burglars away
Ask a trusted neighbour to keep an eye on your home
If you are leaving home for a few days to visit family, why not ask a trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your house. If you are taking your car with you, offer your drive to your neighbours to park on; they will probably be grateful for the extra space and it looks like someone is coming and going from your house. You could even ask them to pull the curtains a few times to create some movement to make your house look lived in.
Also, you may want to think about putting a time switch on your lights and radios. With a timer, you can programme when your lights will come on and turn off. Therefore, it looks like you are home when you are not. This is a great way to put off potential burglars.
Don’t advertise your home to burglars
Visible burglar alarms can be a deterrent to thieves
If you are planning on installing a burglar alarm, you should think about putting it in an obvious visible place on the front of the house. Burglars are more likely to be put off if they can see an alarm as they are more aware of the risk of getting caught.
Install burglar alarms
Don’t just make your home safe from burglars; make it safe for your family
It is likely that you will have visitors over the festive period and some of them might have small children. As a result, it is important that you childproof your home to reduce the risk of accidents to the younger members of your family.
If there is a risk that the Christmas tree might tip over and hurt someone, secure it to the wall or put a safety gate up. If you are going to light candles keep them well out of reach and remember to blow them out before you go to sleep.
Watch out for packaging. Your daughter might be really thrilled with her new doll, but those twist ties that strapped it to its box are a choking hazard. Remember to tidy any wrapping paper and packaging away.
Remove all hazards
Have a wonderful safe Christmas and don’t advertise your house to thieves!
Each home has a story to tell, and whether you’ve just moved into a new build property or a character cottage, personalising your space is the only way to really feel at home in your home!
Your home is your most personal possession. Here are some affordable ideas on how to personalise your space and put your individual stamp on it.
In the frame
Nothing portrays your individuality as much as your pictures. Invest in good-looking photo frames and put up an assortment of family photos on a wall or on table tops. You can even arrange them as a family tree. Hallways and stairways offer a lot of space to display pictures. You can even use digital frames or print them onto canvas.
Instead of dozens of single-picture frames, purchase a large, multi-slot frame and encapsulate all your loved ones into one big family collage.
Vintage Wooden Window Picture Frame Shabby Chic Style
For something truly unique, use items like an old window, shadowbox or glass-topped table to display your favourite photos.
Display your hobbies
Do you have a collection you would like to show off? A hobby or travel memorabilia you would like to share with visitors? Gather these items together and arrange your favourites in small groups of various sized pieces. Whether it’s the quilt you’re stitching, your music stand, or a painting in progress, display your interests in a place where everyone can see them.
Rugs and runners are a great way to personalise any home. They show your particular taste and they can also complement your surrounding furniture. Instead of placing your dining table on the carpet or wooden flooring, why not place a full length rug underneath, the result will be much more striking and make more of a visual impact.
Blinds are a great way to create warmth and privacy, but why not complement them by putting up feature curtains in a choice of fabric and colour that reflects your personality and likes. Combing blinds and curtains really does create a homely feel and you can close the blinds in the evening, while leaving the curtains open to create a stunning window display.
Curtains, blinds and soft furnishings
An easy way to spread colour and really personalise your home is to pile on some pretty pillows. Mix, don’t match throw pillows in the same colours for a fresh and lively look that has a lot of impact without being expensive. Warm colours and natural fabrics are great in the winter.
From the outside in
It’s just as important to add a touch of your personality to the outside of your home as it is inside. Most properties will have a house number, but why don’t you give it a name and welcome guests with a personalised house sign.
If you love gardening or you’re a nature lover, enhance the entrance to your home with your favourite plants. Bay and box (buxus) trees positioned either side of your front door will create a very welcoming entrance. You can continue to decorate your home inside with plants and flowers in colours that reflect your personality and likes. You can even spruce up potted plants by adding personal mementoes to the exteriors of the pots from seashells you found on the beach to the ticket from your favourite film.
Light and scent
Enhance any home
A simple and inexpensive way to make your house feel like a home is to light a handful of small candles and place them throughout the room. The flickering light will bring movement to the room and give off a comforting glow – great for an empty window sill. Just be careful not to place them too close to flammable fabrics or leave unattended.
Add fragranced candles or reed diffusers with your favourite scent or why not encapsulate the time of year – cinnamon and spiced fragrances are great for winter and Christmastime.
How have you personalised your home? Share your comments on what personalised items you have that bring life and your personality to your home.
Hosting a dinner party this Christmas? Simple tips on how to make your home more spacious and inviting
It’s that time of year again; Christmas is coming and there are presents to buy and cards to send. Hosting a dinner party is a great way to bring loved ones together to celebrate over the festive season. Creating a peaceful, inviting environment for your guests can make a real difference to the ambience of your party. Follow our tips to make sure your dinner party runs without a hitch.
Create a cosy environment
Firstly, try to create as much physical space as possible – move any unnecessary furniture out of the living and dining areas so that your guests have more space to move around. Your guests will feel uncomfortable if they feel cramped or confined, and they may not enjoy themselves.
If you have a fire, light it to create warmth and a homely feel. There’s nothing more inviting than a cosy living room! Maybe even light a few candles, or hang up some clear fairy lights to create a festive feel. Candles can give the illusion of warmth even if you don’t have a fire.
De-clutter your home
As they say, a tidy house means a tidy mind! It’s easy to feel stressed when throwing a dinner party so why make it harder by leaving things out that you could trip over. Move any obstacles to the edges of the room and if you have children, make sure their toys are stored away. This will physically make your house more spacious and appear far more inviting to guests.
Why not opt for a smaller Christmas tree this year? It will have the same effect but will take up far less space and is also much easier to handle! De-cluttering instantly makes a house look bigger, which will achieve your desired effect.
Create a relaxed dining area
If you have a large dining table, move it into the centre of the room so that all your guests have plenty of space when they are eating. Then when you have finished serving food, why not push your table into the corner of the room to create more floor space.
The colour white can instantly create the illusion of space. Try and find a white or cream coloured tablecloth that makes your dining table look bigger and more luxurious. Team this with polished cutlery to create a feeling of smooth lines and a modern feel.
Give your conservatory its own Christmas sparkle!
If you are fortunate enough to have a conservatory, why not hang up some fairy lights along the windows? The light will reflect off the glass windows creating your own magical sparkly effect. Consider draping white throws over the conservatory furniture to match the dining room tablecloth.
With the festive season fast approaching, it’s time to ensure your house is ready for all those visits from family and friends.
Whether you’re just having some close family members round or hosting a glamorous dinner party, your home needs to be fully prepped whatever the occasion. After all, if you’re going to put all that effort into the menu, surely you should do the same to your home? We’ve prepared a few simple tips to get your home party ready!
Firstly, check your home – is it safe or does it need a health and safety face lift? Chances are you’ll probably find something in your house that’s unsafe. It could be uneven tiles, an unsteady stair banister or loose wires. All of these are potential hazards and possible party stoppers. The last thing you want is a close friend having an accident and your party being remembered for all the wrong reasons.
This is especially true if you have children visiting. To a child, an unfamiliar home is like a new playground – everything is a new toy to be explored. So, to put yourself and your guests at ease, make sure all dangerous objects are removed out of the reach of curious hands. Next, check all cupboards and drawers are working. Now is the perfect time to do some quick DIY if there’s an unsteady or damaged handle. It may also be worth investing in corner covers to protect anyone from hurting themselves if you have sharp corners on furniture.
Once you’ve given your home a full health and safety inspection, give it a good clean. De-cluttering can be a great way of making a home look more spacious. Adding a few mirrors around the house will also make your home appear instantly bigger. When giving your home a good clean, it’s important to focus on your guest bathroom too. People often pass judgements on the state of someone’s bathroom so don’t give them the opportunity to say anything negative about yours. A little tip… Once you’ve finished cleaning thoroughly, add some candles and flowers to make sure it smells clean and fresh.
Now we all know when guests arrive that one of the first things which can cause mess is unclean shoes. Asking people to remove their shoes can be a tricky situation as some guests may feel uncomfortable doing this. Therefore, to avoid making visitors feel uncomfortable, make sure you leave a mat outside. Mats with bristles work best as they will help remove any dirt from shoes. But, if you’re still extremely nervous about muddy shoes on your clean carpets then it may be time to invest in an inexpensive rug. Think how thankful you will be when there are no muddy shoe stains, or worse, red wine stains at the end of the night.
When it comes to the actual night of the party, it’s important to consider a few ‘must have’ items. Stock up on the napkins and towels in case there are any emergency spills. Stain remover is also a must for any dinner party. So many people have been caught out by a tipped glass which can ruin all of your hard work preparing and cleaning your home. There are some great products on the market that can instantly get rid of stains with minimal effort.
By following these simple tips, you will be fully prepared for hosting a get together and can enjoy your party. It’s important that your guests see you relaxed too. After all, what guest is going to enjoy themselves if their host is on edge the whole night?! As they say, ‘preparation is key.’
Do you have any suggestions for guest-proofing your home? If so, let us know.