Posted on Feb 6, 2014

Your Guide to the Different Types of Conservatories – and How to Select the Best One for Your Home

A conservatory is a delightful addition to any home, and this is precisely the reason why more and more homeowners are opting to have one installed. With a conservatory, you have an extra room where you can relax, enjoy the sun’s rays, read a book whilst sipping a nice cup of tea, and just bond with your family and friends in a warm, cosy atmosphere. 

And today, having a conservatory installed is easier than ever – all it takes is a professional conservatory installer, who will know exactly what you need and recommend the right type of conservatory for your space. I should know – I had excellent advice when I decided to have a conservatory built on my property in Plymouth. And I can tell you that it pays to deal only with professionals, as they can give you suggestions on the features that you may prefer and have the conservatory installed in no time. So if you, too, are a homeowner in Plymouth and are thinking of having your own cosy conservatory, then here are a few common types to choose from:

conservatory

  • A three-facet Victorian conservatory

The three-facet Victorian conservatory is the most common type of conservatory. It is ideal for a relatively large area and has a versatile curved or rounded shape that can fit into most garden spaces.

  • A Georgian or Edwardian conservatory

This type of conservatory is also quite common, and it is similar in shape to the three-facet Victorian, although a bit more square and geometric.

  • A Victorian T-shape conservatory

This has a distinct shape, with a centre that juts out onto the garden space. The Victorian T-shape conservatory is similar to a porch, in that its most unique feature is the doors which lead out to the garden.

  • A five-facet Victorian conservatory

The five-facet Victorian conservatory, as its name implies, has five facets instead of three and is usually suitable for a larger space.

  • A lean-to conservatory

The lean-to conservatory is also referred to as a sun room, and it is suitable for smaller spaces or homes with restrictions on height, like those which only have one floor.

  • A P-shape conservatory

This conservatory is a combination of a lean-to and a Victorian, and it is ideal for homes with larger spaces.

  • A gable front conservatory

This kind of conservatory is notable for its square or rectangular shape, similar to the Edwardian style. The gable front is designed in such a way as to let more natural light into the space, as it has more height than other types of conservatories.

Other factors to consider when choosing a conservatory

Aside from the most important consideration, which is the space available in your home, there are other notable factors to consider when choosing the best type of conservatory for your needs. If you would like easier installation, look for a conservatory which has fewer components. Today, you can also choose conservatories which are ready-made to be installed, with different colour finishes and design features such as twist and lock galleries and unique rafter systems.

If you are looking for the best conservatories in Plymouth, it is also wise to look for an installer which is accredited. Look for one which can give you expert installation support and other additional services such as free delivery and free price quotations so that you know exactly what to expect.

Image attributed to: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edwardian_conservatory.jpg

Posted on Jan 27, 2014

Keeping That Heat in Your Home Over the Winter Months

We are now in the midst of that time of year which many of us hate. Aside from being cold, dark, and miserable, it can also be costly to heat your house. Londoners will all be aware of the latest plan to use excess heat generated by the underground to heat people’s homes. It is a neat idea and hopefully something that will be extended to more homes over time. However, if you are not one of the lucky people who get all that heat, there are some things that you can do over the winter to keep those bills down and your home cosy.

furMake Sure Your House Is Heat-Friendly

There are lots of places in your house where all of that heat you are paying for can just disappear to, and we do not want that. It is always a good idea to check once in a while that you are airtight. Get a candle and ensure that there is no cold air coming in through gaps in the windows or doors. If you find gaps, plug them with a sealant or, for single-glazed windows, get some plastic glazing film to put up. It will make a difference. If you are not insulated fully, it might be possible to get some help with the costs – there are many grants available for this purpose, and it is worth checking them out. You do not have to do major DIY work in order to make your house warm. Simple things like putting up thicker curtains or blinds, rugs on hard floors, or draught excluder in your letterbox all add up.

Look After Your Heating

You wouldn’t forget to service your car every year, so do not forget to do the same for your heating system. It is over the cold snaps that you can be sure that unserviced and neglected heating systems will fail. If they do, make sure that you find a reputable professional service for your new boiler installation in London. If you keep your boiler serviced, though, it should serve you well for many winters to come. Some people consider boiler insurance, too. If you are considering this option, make sure that you do your research on the options available to you.

Look After Yourself

Even when your home is warm and cosy, the winter months can be gruelling on our minds and bodies – making us feel cold regardless. Avoid this by ensuring that you look after yourself during these months by eating hot and regular meals and by drinking those hot cups of cocoa. Wrap up warmly with several layers so that you can turn the thermostat down a degree – allowing you to save on that bill. If you are entitled to help with your heating bills, make sure that you contact the relevant people and get it. This is a time of year that can make people struggle financially, and you should not have to do without heating when there was help out there for you.

If all else fails and your heating breaks down, go to that coffee shop or the library. Friends and relatives will always be happy to see you, I am sure. Make the most out of someone else’s heating on occasion and turn yours off.

Image attributed to FreeDigitalPhotos.net Stuart Miles

Posted on Sep 16, 2013

Need an Extra Pair of Hands?

You might have mobility difficulties and live alone but want to maintain as much independence as you can, or you may be engaged in a spot of DIY but need an extra pair of hands. You don’t want to keep calling on friends, family or neighbours every time you need help with tasks around your home. You may have seen builders advertising that ‘no job is too big or too small’ yet you feel that somehow your jobs are ‘too small’ so what do you do? The answer might lie in contacting a Handyman. For every worthwhile Handyman London has to offer there’ll be a range of jobs they are ideally suited to do.

No Job Too Small

While Handyman service companies are likely to also offer the services of skilled and qualified plumbers, electricians and painter-decorators etc, they will also have professionals who specialise in the smaller odd jobs that sometimes just need a steady pair of hands or a head for heights. Handyman services can cover everything from putting up a picture, hanging a mirror, fixing a curtain rail or changing light bulbs in hard to reach places, so it’s worth giving them a call to see if they can help you.

Finding the Ideal Handyman

Ideally you would seek personal recommendations from someone you trust, but if that doesn’t work it is worth looking online at tradesmen recommendation sites. These will give you details of handyman services near to you and will show feedback from customers so that you can gauge the quality of their work. If getting online is difficult, then there are always the traditional directories to consult. If you do have to pick names out of the phone book, call at least 3 different companies and get quotes for the proposed job. Also ask them about their experience and training etc. then choose the one you feel most confident with.

Help at Hand

Once you find a trustworthy and reliable Handyman you won’t want to lose him. Some companies will offer fixed price quotes so that once you agree to go ahead with a job, you won’t have to worry that it might end up costing more. Some will also offer ‘quick-fix’ services, meaning they’ll commit to getting out to you within 24/48 hours. Whatever extras they offer, make sure they are dedicated to leaving your property in the condition that they found it: the last thing you want is to find that the people called in to help you with a job, leave another load of work for you behind them.

Posted on May 10, 2013

Maintain Your Timber Garden Shed

Whatever type, style or size of wooden sheds that you purchase for your garden, they will all require you to maintain them in one manner or another over the course of the year, if they are to prove a useful and secure way to keep all of your garden tools and other items together and out of the way of poor weather.

Where wood is left at the mercy of the rain or just damp, it will eventually rot and crumble, which makes it useless as part of one of your wooden sheds. Garden sheds that are made of wood are also a target for bugs that like to live in wood or eat it. It is for these two reasons that you must maintain your timber garden shed so that it doesn’t rot or get eaten alive.

Which garden shed are you buying?

When you have purchased dip treated wood in the form of a garden shed, it will only be protected for a short while during transit and as it arrives at your home. You will need to treat the wood of your garden shed either before you put it together from its kit form, or after you have installed it in its final position. Dip treatment is only a temporary measure before you choose which method of protection against damp and bugs that you are going to apply yourself.

You’ll have to spend a little more for pressure treated timber, but it will last you for a few years before you need to start an annual maintenance treatment on your garden shed. Being pressure treated, it means that chemicals have been pumped deep into the heart of the wood which will prevent damp from occurring or bugs eating their way through.

When you look over Walton’s sheds on their website, you will be able to choose between dip treated or pressure treated timber and then make your own decisions about beginning with your maintenance treatment on the wood.

Regular inspections are important

To keep your timber garden shed in good condition, a regular inspection of the unit will help you spot any problems early so you can deal with them before they become a major difficulty or inconvenience.

Using a ladder, a careful inspection of the roof will quickly tell you if it is still completely waterproof or whether the roofing felt shows signs of beginning to wear or perhaps being torn. Inspecting the roof in the same position from the underside will quickly show whether damp has started to penetrate the wood in your garden shed.

Oiling the window and door hinges will help keep them in good condition, which is extremely useful, especially when the weather is at its coldest. If the hinges become unusable, the door may begin to move slightly out of shape from its location which might let in the wind and the rain which may cause a problem for your wooden shed from the inside out, rather than the usual other way around.

Painting or staining your timber garden shed will help protect it over the longer term, but you must make sure that every part of the wood is protected, not forgetting the parts of the wood that you cannot see where the sides of the shed meet your foundation base. Some people recommend that an anti-water tar-based finish is used around the base of your wooden shed to prevent water from finding any possible way into your garden shed.

There are a variety of sizes and styles available at Walton’s and after making a good quality investment to protect your garden tools, it makes sense that the protector then becomes protected itself.

Posted on Dec 30, 2012

Preparing your Home for a Sale – Things to Consider

It’s not exactly the easiest time in history to sell a home, particularly ahead of winter. Not many people like to move house in the colder months, though it’s worth remembering that a lot of potential buyers will still look around and scope out the properties they may eventually invest in after the New Year.

So, given recent unpredictable news in the housing market, how can you best sell your home quickly in the coming weeks and months? Here are a few things you may want to take on board before you move forward with a sale.

Keep a neutral colour scheme. You should only really customise your décor if you plan to stay in your home, so extreme themes and colour schemes should be avoided. Use neutral colours on walls to help prospective buyers see their own designs in a home when they’re shown around.

Move out unnecessary furniture. Removing furniture can help a house move quicker off the market; after all, it will help a home appear spacious and give clear walkways for tours.

Pay attention to finer details. If you don’t patch up those cracks or clean the grout between tiles, your prospective buyers could see this as a reflection on the state of the house as a whole. Just upgrading smaller items such as light switches or door handles could improve saleability.

Maximise curb appeal. After all, the exterior of the house is the first thing a buyer will see. If there’s a garden, keep grass at a reasonable height; trees and hedges should have branches kept under control. If it’s a terraced house, for example, it’s worth going over any flaky paint or rusty knockers!

Finally, houses need to smell nice. You need to do your best to avoid strong smells, so clean your fridge and be mindful of what you cook ahead of showings (avoid fish and such).

Posted on Oct 7, 2012

Some Thoughts on Picture Framing

Picture frames have a variety of uses: first and foremost a frame defines and set offs an image, drawing the eye to it; frames are also functional in so much as they are a means of display and they protect and preserve. They are also an ideal way to give photographs, posters, medals, certificates and souvenirs a sense of importance.

The key to successful picture framing is of course the choice of frame – but how do you choose the right frame and what choices of frame do you have?

The different types of picture frame

The first step is to familiarise yourself with the different types of picture frame available. These include:

•             Black. Available with many different finishes including grainy and glossy with different edges. Black works well with artwork, prints, photography and watercolours.

•             Colours. Choose from a wide variety of shades, but stick to a colour that complements your decor. These can work well with prints, photography and water colours but remember to match the frame colour to the picture.

•             Finished woods. A good all round frame; choose from a range of finishes including mahogany, flat teak colour veneer and veneer lacquered moulding; also available are reverse profiles that slope away from artwork and are available with different gloss and edges. These work well with traditional artwork, mirrors, prints and posters.

•             Gold. Particularly popular for mirrors, certificates and photographs.

•             Silver. A very diverse finish that can work well with everything from artwork to water colours, oils and smaller mirrors.

•             Unfinished woods. Can often be painted, waxed, stained, or left untreated. Unfinished woods such as oak age well and work well with prints and originals.

How to choose the right picture frame

Though there are many varieties of frames, they can loosely be categorised as traditional (such as wooden frames), modern (such as metal or coloured frames) and transitional (minimalistic). Think about the theme of the room in which the picture or item will be hung and choose a frame that will complement the colour scheme and room style. Old-style gold frames are well-suited to a more formal or traditional environment; while in a more eclectic room you may wish to marry the colour of the frames with accessories or furniture.

If you want a versatile frame then wooden frames are a good choice. They work with all types of décor and as such they are easy to move from one room to another.

The key is to find a frame that enhances rather than overwhelms the subject, which should always be the primary focus. Choosing matching frames for groups of pictures can be a good way of uniting them.

Custom framing, mounting and other things to consider

Custom framing services give you access to a far wider choice of frames and mounts – you can have frames made-to-measure and even have old frames refurbished. It is well worth investing in the skills of a specialist picture framer as the overall finish can turn an otherwise ordinary subject into a striking thing of beauty.

If do you opt for a readymade frame, be careful with your measuring techniques  and always give the size of the glass when ordering a frame for a mirror; and remember when measuring oil paintings that canvasses are not fully square and so you should always measure the widest part on each side, allowing around 4mm for canvas work and 2mm for board work.

Insuring artwork

Generally, unless artwork has a high value it will be covered under a standard home contents insurance policy. If individual pieces of artwork do have a high value, for example in excess of £1,500 per piece, then they will need to be identified on the policy as separate risks. Also, if you have numerous items in a collection that individually don’t have a high value but collectively do so (for example £5000-£10,000), then again you should inform your insurer. Always check the insurance limits that apply on a policy before you agree to its terms.

Remember also that a home insurance policy with accidental damage cover will protect against damage caused by accidents and other such mishaps, for example an expensive picture frame being smashed during a home decoration project.

Posted on Sep 28, 2012

How to Deal with Your Debts

For anyone struggling with debt in these financially uncertain times, a debt consolidation program can often be the most sensible and effective way of coping with escalating demands from an increasing number of creditors.

Debt is often described as a spiral: once you get sucked in, it becomes increasing difficult to escape. Today, with the threat of unemployment, pay freezes and rising essential bills, budgets are stretched to the limit and many people simply have no extra resources available for unforeseen events.

It is in these circumstances that many fall into the trap of borrowing money from unscrupulous sources, such as payday and doorstep loan providers. These loans are easily available and targeted at people with poor credit ratings, but they involve horrendous levels of interest. And the vicious cycle of debt tightens as those already in debt invariably have to borrow more from one creditor to pay off another. In addition, many of these loans are secured against a property, which means you can lose your home if you fail to keep up payments.

Debt-consolidation, or debt-management, plans involve combining debts to all creditors into one loan with one single monthly payment. The idea is to ensure that this payment is affordable and will not result in clients continually having to borrow more and more money just to meet their debts.

These programs are generally offered by reputable organisations whose aim is to help people manage their finances and clear their debts, not just make more money from them by offering more credit at high interest rates. In certain circumstances they will also negotiate with creditors to try to freeze interest and charges on existing debts, so avoiding any additional costs being accrued on top of what is already owed.

A reputable debt-consolidation company will also work to ensure the plan agreed operates in the most convenient and effective way for its clients, offering a range of contact options, the opportunity to discuss their situation with a fully trained, impartial adviser and continuing support throughout the duration of the plan. They can also recommend other ways in which clients can budget more effectively, such as energy saving and switching utility providers.

As would be the case with any organisation offering financial advice, however, it is essential for any would-be client to check that it is authentic and authorised by the Office of Fair Trading or other regulatory body.

Posted on Aug 31, 2012

What to Expect from your Estate Agent

When buying or renting a property it goes without saying that the experience and expertise of a good estate agent can be vital. There are many decisions to be made throughout a property purchase and many procedures to follow in order for everything to run smoothly.

The first, and one of the most important decisions when moving home, is which estate agent to use. Before you make that bold move, here’s a checklist of what to look for in an agent:

  • Visibility. Will your home be in the shop window? Not just the shop window in fact – although a prominent, central window display will be a good start – it will need to be in the local papers, on key websites such as Right Move, Zoopla and FindaProperty to maximise the chances of your property selling quickly and at the right price. The agent must also be willing to push your property out via leaflet drops and calling potential buyers in order to raise interest.
  • Flexibility. Estate agents need to arrange viewings to suit your needs, so if only evenings and weekends are acceptable to you then they should abide by your wishes. Similarly, they should only be sending people through the door who have a genuine interest in buying your property – too many agents encourage home hunters to see as many styles of property as possible, in order to get a feel for what they want. That’s okay for them, however it does mean that a lot of time-wasters will be turning up on your doorstep.
  • Presentation. When scanning potential properties, buyers are drawn to the images, making them incredibly important. As such, high quality shots of your kitchen, bathroom, lounge, bedrooms etc. will make your home stand out from the crowd – don’t accept anything less from your agent.
  • Progressing your sale. Having sold your home, the hard work shouldn’t stop there. Every year, hundreds of sales fall through before exchange of contracts so an agency with a dedicated sales progression team is favourable to one without as important calls can often be missed if an agent is out on a viewing, for example.
  • Extra charges. Estate agents sometimes have tie-in periods, charge you if you pull out of a sale or require an upfront fee for marketing your property. Just so you aren’t hit with an unexpected bill, it’s best to check this out before signing on the dotted line.
  • Financial service. Many of the bigger estate agencies offer to sort your mortgage out for you too. For some people this is a good thing, while others prefer to do it themselves for fear of not ultimately getting the best deal. Either way, an agency shouldn’t pressure you into using their financial services.

Ultimately, it’s about choosing an agency you feel comfortable with and who you know will be working in your best interests. Contact Galliard Residential on 0208 582 5517 to see if we fit the bill.

Posted on Jul 15, 2012

What Do You Hate Most About Your Home?

We all have things we don’t like about our properties. Often these are little, niggling issues which can be sorted out a lot more quickly than you might think.  If your home isn’t as perfect as you would like than have a think about whether one of these points applies to it.

Cold and Draughty

There are a few reasons why this could be the case but badly fitting windows and doors is the most common one. This is a lot easier to sort out than you might imagine, and with new double glazing you could note an immediate change in the property. Apart from this, you might want to consider under floor heating and cavity wall insulation. All of these points added up together can easily turn a cold house into a lovely, warm one. Your first step, however, should be the windows and a site such as Anglian Home will show you some of the top models around.

Old Fashioned

There are few things worse than being ashamed of your home because it is old fashioned. If this is the case then you probably shy away from inviting people over to visit you. In most cases a fresh coat of paint on the walls and new floor coverings can make all the difference. If the situation is more serious then you might need to upgrade the kitchen or the bathroom. This doesn’t have to be terribly expensive provided that you keep your plans simple and modernise the house one step at a time.

Too Dark

Another common complaint is over the amount of light a property receives. This can often be solved very simply by adding better lighting to the affected rooms or going for a lighter colour scheme. If the problem is that little or no daylight enters the property then this is a more serious matter. In this case you might need to look at more drastic solutions such as adding more windows or a skylight. For downstairs rooms the addition of a French door or even a conservatory can be ideal.

Awkward

This is a fairly wide ranging point. Maybe you have a garage door which is difficult to open or a bathroom which is awkwardly laid out. Ideally you will want to have a good think about what is wrong and how you could fix it. Quite often there could be a very simple way to improve an issue which has been making your life a misery for years.

Posted on Jun 28, 2012

Cutting your Insurance Premiums, not your Cover

Home insurance costs are one of the many areas that people are looking to make cutbacks in the current economic climate. With household budgets stretched to the limit for many and prospects for wage growth limited, insurance is one of the outgoings that people will be looking to reduce.

For the over-50s, who are either planning for or are in retirement, managing outgoings is even more important. So how can older citizens keep their insurance costs in check? There are many different ways reductions can be made, and this guide outlines a few basic tips.

Shop around

Many people assume that their renewal quote will be their best option in terms of price, feeling that their loyalty to a provider will be rewarded. However, this is a misconception; there is no reason why the cheapest provider available would necessarily remain so a year later. Shopping around is advisable every time the insurance comes up for renewal, and particular attention should be paid to specialists. Policies from Castle Cover, for example, offer reduced rates by only insuring people over 50.

Get the right balance

With any insurance policy, there is a balance to be found between the price of the premium and the excess, or deductible. This latter figure is the amount the individual pays towards the cost of a claim, and higher excesses usually mean lower premiums. For those living in a low-crime area, agreeing a higher excess may be a good way to reduce monthly outgoings. Do a simple house insurance comparison online to find your balance.

Don’t claim!

Obviously it’s not always that easy, but the cheapest way to make long-term savings with insurance is not to make claims. So if the monetary loss from the incident is only slightly more than the excess, it is sensible to avoid making a claim which will push the premiums up.

Secure your property

It stands to reason that the more secure a property is, the less likely it is to be burgled, but beefing up home security with state of the art systems from companies like Livewatch.com also gives an insurer more confidence to offer a lower premium. Simple measures such as the addition of a burglar alarm,double-glazed windows and security lighting can lead to lower premiums, as well as safer possessions. Security is very much about making a property less attractive to thieves, so homeowners should think about how they would get into the property if they lost their keys and secure these access points. Trimming back any plants and trees which could provide cover for burglars looking to break in is also a good idea.

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