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Bafflingly dangerous DIY acts revealed in new photos

Created: 11/09/2017

Danger sign showing person falling

A series of shocking new photographs have been published, revealing the extent to which some people are prepared to put themselves in danger just to complete the smallest of DIY tasks.

The photos, which can all be viewed in this Sun article, feature a range of unbelievable acts of ‘workmanship’, including – perhaps most ridiculously of all – a man changing a lightbulb above a swimming pool whilst standing on a miniature rocking horse, which itself is balanced on a ladder!

Plenty of other astonishing images are also included, such as a man precariously balancing on top of an internal door so that he can paint his ceiling, as well as someone using an angle grinder-like device with a plastic bag substituting for a protective mask.

Arguably the most bizarre image, however (although not strictly DIY-related), showed a group of people placing a huge trampoline on the roof terrace of a massive tower block. As the article noted, “hopefully this family has a large mattress they can put outside their building for the inevitable disaster about to happen”.

‘Hilarious and heart-stopping’

The images, which exclusively feature examples of male idiocy, are described in the article as possibly being a demonstration of “why women live longer” than men! The pictures are described by the article’s author, Emma Gritt, as sitting “somewhere in the grey area between ‘hilarious’ and ‘heart stopping’”, adding that “they’ll make you grateful for health and safety standards”.

It goes without saying that – whilst tasks such as changing lightbulbs and painting are usually fairly risk-free - all of these examples fall firmly under the ‘don’t try this at home’ category!

If you are in any doubt about whether that next DIY job you have lined up is entirely safe, don’t find out the hard way; simply call up an expert handyman professional in south east London to make sure you don’t end up like any of the enthusiastic amateurs discussed above.

Image Credit: Alexander Svensson



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DIY stores report mixed summer results

Created: 05/09/2017

As the summer draws to a close, business analysts have been poring over the performance of the UK’s biggest DIY chains, and - partly due to the great British weather – the results have been mixed.

This BBC News article describes how the country’s two most recognisable DIY brands, B&Q and Homebase, both suffered in the three month-period from May to July as consumers held back from buying traditionally strong seasonal sellers like garden furniture.

Whilst Homebase’s owners would no doubt have been slightly alarmed by their 4.3% drop in like-for-like sales, this result was still not quite as poor as B&Q’s, who saw their sales slump by 4.7%.

This disappointing performance led to Kingfisher, who own B&Q, losing 4.1% of their share value, which was the most lost by any FTSE 100 company during the period.

Homebase have now been owned for over a year by Bunnings Group, an Australian firm who purchased the company for £340 million. Since that time, Bunnings has been developing a strategy to secure Homebase’s long-term growth, with managing director Michael Schneider admitting that they were in for a “long slog”, adding that “there’s no silver bullet” for changing a company’s fortunes.

Screwfix continues to impress

Not every DIY firm wilted in the summer heat, however, with Screwfix – also owned by Kingfisher – reporting a 10% rise in sales between May and July. This particular result will surely come as a relief to the industry in general as an indication that it is not DIY as a whole which is falling out of favour with the public.

Whatever the financial results of Britain’s biggest DIY stores, there can be no doubting the UK’s continued passion for improving our homes. Whether it is always wise for us to make these improvements ourselves, however, is another matter – remember to leave the biggest jobs to the experts at handyman companies in London to ensure complete peace of mind.  

Image Credit: Lee Bristol



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New research reveals Brits’ DIY habits

Created: 29/08/2017

New research from the Halifax bank and insurance company has revealed some interesting facts about the way Brits’ DIY habits and aspirations are changing.

The study was full of interesting statistics, including the eye-catching assertion that only 22% of us believe that we live in our ‘dream home’. Perhaps more surprisingly, this is also the case among 62% of homeowners who have houses worth £500,000 or more.

The report – which is discussed at length in this Property Reporter article – also reveals that around two-thirds of people have made home improvements over the last two years; and, whilst the average spend for most of this work was between £2,000 - £5,000, one fifth have spent upwards of £11,000.

Regional data was also scrutinised as part of the survey, with London named as the UK area where the most large-scale property changes are being made. According to the results, planning applications for domestic work in the city rocketed by an astonishing 60% between 2012 and 2016.

At the other end of the scale, Scotland’s growth in applications of a similar nature was a comparatively tiny 3%, with the number of submissions actually falling in the 12-month period of June 2015 – May 2016.

Basement conversions are on the up!

The survey also told us more about the kind of work which people are investing their hard-earned cash in, and the findings are indicative of changes in the way we want our homes to look. For example, planning applications for conservatories have fallen by 3% since 2012, whilst loft conversion proposals have risen by 43% in the same period.

Incredibly, basement conversions have grown by over 180% over the last five years – something which the housing historian Melanie Backe-Hansen puts down to ‘a lack of space in our cities and towns’.

Whatever your next home improvement project will be, the wisdom of experience will no doubt tell you that it’s best to call in the professionals to help. Take a look at the comprehensive range of handymen services we offer before you start planning your upcoming extension or conversion, and save yourself a great deal of time and expense!

Image Credit: Philip Swinburn



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Top property care tips for landlords

Created: 15/08/2017

Door key

The idea of buying a run-down old property (or several), doing them up to a habitable state, and then sitting back and watching the proceeds of your tenants’ rent payments roll in is surely something that has crossed many of our minds at some point.

On the face of it, renting out a home at the market rate seems like such a simple way to make money. However, speak to the vast majority of landlords and you will quickly discover that there is far more to it than may first meet the eye.

As well as having to meet a plethora of building and other legal regulations, attempting to find suitable tenants who will respect your property (much easier said than done), and keeping track of an inordinate amount of financial admin, there is also the question of how you should prepare and maintain the place you will be renting out.

Whilst our top quality South East London handyman service providers will be able to do whatever you need to get your property up to the required standard – from electrical and plumbing work to decorating and even cleaning – only you can make the call about what has to be done.

With this in mind, we spoke to “The Landlord”, who runs Property Investment Project (the UK’s biggest landlord blog) about what he thinks your top priorities should be when it comes to preparing a house or flat for new tenants. The Landlord has been providing guidance to fellow property owners for many years and now has more than 45,000 subscribers to his name, so we are pretty confident his advice is worth listening to!

Advice from “The Landlord”

“Two things scream at me, and they're based on two common mistakes mostly made by novice landlords.

1) Only provide the essentials

 

Empty room

“Firstly, strip the property from any appliances, fittings and furnishing that is not expected to come with the property.

“For some reason we think it's easier to leave unwanted items (i.e. items the previous tenants left behind) for our new tenants to enjoy. We'd like our tenants to believe we're being generous, but of course, it's usually only about saving ourselves from the hassle of disposing the items.

“That can be an expensive mistake, because as soon as you start leaving items behind, you typically become responsible for restocking and/or repairing them.

“The rule of thumb is not to provide more than what is absolutely necessary and agreed upon. Get rid of everything else.

2) Avoid ‘the magnolia trap’!

 

Paint brush and tin

“My second word of caution is to sway landlords away from 'the magnolia trap'. While it's almost instinctive to make every room light and airy with a magnolia colour palette, believe me when I say it's a false economy.

“You'll find yourself repainting the walls and replacing grubby carpets between each tenancy, which will quickly become an expensive past-time. My advice is to focus on sensible mid-tones, which can still be appealing, but also, crucially more durable.”

We hope you found the Landlord’s advice helpful, and that nothing we have said puts you off embarking upon a career renting out property. Choosing this path can indeed prove to be a very worthwhile decision, and is full of rewards for those who approach it with a realistic attitude. Being a successful landlord does take a great deal of time and effort but, really, what in life that’s worth doing doesn’t?

If you need any help with preparing your property for your next tenants – however big or small the job may be – don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Handywork Solutions.

Image Credits: Sky Eckstrom, Wisley, Alan Cleaver



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Retired builder turns attention to dollhouses

Created: 14/08/2017

A retired builder from America has turned his attention to building dollhouses in his newfound spare time – a hobby that has gone down particularly well with younger members of his family.

Al Benson, from the city of Genoa in Nance County, Nebraska, spent four decades building houses and ‘hog barns’ (huge constructions used to house pigs on American farms) but found that his fondness for creating things did not disappear when he took his pension.

As Al told his local newspaper, the Columbus Telegram, carpentry has been a part of his family’s life for generations, which may help to explain his skill for making dollhouses: “My grandpa was a farmer and carpenter and my uncle was a carpenter. I like it and I’ve always liked it.”

The fruits of Al’s new hobby were on show for all to see at his town’s recent Heritage Tractor Show, which took place on the opening weekend of August. Whilst most of those who were involved in the exhibitions were content to let their tractors be the centre of attention, Al’s 1950s John Deere was overshadowed by what it was towing on the trailer behind – a beautifully constructed sky blue dollhouse.

‘Keeps me out of trouble’

Al’s rewarding new pastime began when his sister-in-law, who lives in Texas, thought he may be interested in building a dollhouse for her children. Al took up the challenge and has been excelling at it ever since.

The hobby is certainly keeping Al busy; he has so far made five complete dollhouses, two of which have been sold and three given to family members. When questioned about why he dedicates so much time towards this intricate art, his response was frank: “I’m retired, so I’ve got to find something to do. Keeps me out of trouble.”

This may all be a far cry from the day-to-day and emergency maintenance provided by London handyman companies, but the projects do share one thing in common – a passion for keeping the houses they work on looking beautiful and in full working order, no matter their size!

Image Credit: Ivy Dawned



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Female electrician discusses overcoming the gender gap in WW2

Created: 20/07/2017

Wartime cartoon of Rosie the Riveter

Image Credit: Michal Hadassah

All too often, practical professions such as plumbing, carpentry and decorating are still viewed as ‘male’ jobs. If you are among those who feel frustrated by these stereotypes, however, spare a thought for the many women who, in the Second World War, were required to become successful in fields which were then almost entirely dominated by men.

Now, one lady who was at the sharp end of manual labour in the 1940s has spoken out about the huge obstacles she had to overcome when she decided to become a wartime electrician on the banks of the river Clyde in Glasgow.

Netta Harvey, who is now 94, spoke to the Daily Record about how she chose being a ‘sparky’ over the two other options she was given – welding or joining the Women’s Land Army – when she turned 18 and had to take up national service.

Swearing and catcalls

View of shipyard from the River Clyde

Image Credit: Paisley Scotland

After three months of training at her local technical college, Netta was put to work at the shipyard for construction company Harland and Wolff. Interestingly, it was not the job itself which she found most difficult – it was the behaviour of her mostly male co-workers.

“I was a young girl”, Netta said, “Suddenly there was swearing all around. I had never sworn in my life. I found it a wee bit hard.” Nor was bad language the only issue, as Netta goes on to explain: “The men used to torment us…We would be going down the ladders, way down to the bowels of the ship, and they’d be whistling after us. I was platinum blonde when I was young. I got to the stage when I started darkening my hair because they were always whistling after me.”

Nevertheless, Netta grew to enjoy her role and was disappointed when she, along with her two female colleagues at the shipyard, were not offered any future work when the war ended. However, the pensioner still believes that more young women should be looking to become electricians, or embark on any of the other jobs often provided by general handyman services firms. She commented: ‘I would recommend it to any girl, it was very interesting…why not?”



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The world’s worst DIY disasters

Created: 13/07/2017

'Oops' sticker next to crack in wall

If you are a homeowner, the chances are that you will already know how even the most modern, supposedly low-maintenance properties do not always behave as we would like them to.

Unfortunately, having to deal with the occasional electrical or plumbing problem is part and parcel of having your own house, and the experts providing our handyman services in East London are regularly called upon to sort out all manner of home emergencies.

However, whilst broken boilers and leaky roofs are no laughing matter, it can be pretty amusing when we see examples of DIY disasters which so easily could have been avoided.

There are thousands of examples out there of people getting their home improvement projects horribly wrong, but below you’ll find a few of what we believe are the most memorable. Be sure to let us know if you have any shocking stories of your own!

Bathroom blunders

Rusty tap

This video takes us through 50 examples of unbelievably bad plumbing errors. Highlights include:

- 1 minute 14 seconds – A unique space-saving idea – suspending a washing machine above your toilet!

- 2 minutes 23 seconds – Privacy may be an issue for anyone who uses these conveniences…

- 2 minutes 29 seconds – The interesting tactic of installing two sockets directly in line with the flow of a tap.

The apprentices don’t become masters

Rusty nails in floor

In their defence, the people in this video probably didn’t want to do these DIY tasks, but some of their errors are still pretty shocking!

This is from a 2015 episode of the BBC One show The Apprentice, which featured the candidates offering their services as handymen and women. The results show why they should probably all stick to their day jobs.

Our favourite clip from this one is when Lord Sugar’s assistant, Baroness Karren Brady, despairingly utters the immortal lines: “Screwing a nail? I don’t think you screw a nail” whilst watching on.

The world’s laziest DIY-ers?

Wall with brick missing

Finally, here’s an article from MailOnline which showcases a selection of bizarre and – some would say – ingenious DIY innovations which don’t exactly follow the rulebook. 

Everything from clock repairs to car maintenance is covered, but here are a few of our favourites:

- A gaping hole in the wall with two wires poking out of it, accompanied by the helpful note: ‘To ring doorbell, connect wires’.

- A plumber’s plunger repurposed as a heavy-duty doorstop.

- A broken tap replaced by a huge amount of Sellotape and a bulldog clip.

So, if any of the above examples are at all reminiscent of your own efforts (although we hope they won’t be), it may be time to get the professionals in when planning your next home improvement!

Image Credits: Brandon SchauerRachel Towne, Adam Rosenberg, jasleen_kaur



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DIY Brits putting their home insurance at risk

Created: 11/07/2017

 

The comparison website GoCompare has released the results of a new piece of research into the DIY habits of Brits, and the findings suggest that many homeowners may be at risk of invalidating their insurance policies by not sharing the details of their improvements.

The news – which is explored in more detail by City A.M. – will be of some concern to anyone who has not told their home insurance provider of any major work that has recently been carried out on their property, such as the installation of a new bathroom or kitchen.

Despite this news, it should be noted that insurers only need to be informed when major jobs, such as the addition of a new room or the total re-fitting of an existing one, are undertaken. There is, for example, no need to contact your policy provider if you have just carried out some general internal decorating.

Always check your tradesmen’s insurance!

Whilst informing your insurers of any big improvements should be a fairly simple and quick task (it should also be inexpensive, although policyholders should check whether any administrative charges apply), GoCompare also mentioned something else which many homeowners may not have thought of: the status of their tradesmen’s insurance.

‘Another important thing to note is that most home insurance policies don’t cover tradesmen or their work’, commented Matt Sanders, GoCompare’s home insurance spokesperson, ‘so you should always check that they have their own insurance in place’.

According to the research, the most popular major home improvement projects carried out in Britain are the installation of new bathrooms, closely followed by new kitchens and, in third place, the replacement of boilers and heating systems.

Making your own DIY improvements can be a rewarding experience, but it is important that homeowners realise when things need to be left to the professionals! Local handyman, plumbing and electrical experts should always be the first port of call if you are ever unsure about safety or any technical aspects of your work.

Image Credit: Mayberry Health and Home



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Top Tips for Painting Furniture

Created: 19/06/2017

If you find yourself thinking your place could do with a bit of a makeover, but don’t want to embark on anything too colossal, a great place to start can be painting your furniture. It’s quite incredible what a difference it can make, depending on the colour chosen. It really has the potential to transform a room. You can take a table that has seen better days, or chest of drawers that was once a bit bland and boring and really make them come alive.

Just remember before you begin, as Mike Edwards of DIY Doctor told us, “the 12 P’s of decorating anything: preparation, preparation, preparation, preparation, preparation etc…”

If you are excited by the prospect, consider the below tips for painting furniture. However, if you don’t think you have the time, asking for help from a handyman service is always recommended. 

painting table

Move furniture into a safe place

When your’re painting, the last thing you want is to spill any materials onto the floor or stain beloved items, so therefore the first thing you should do is move your item to be painted into a safe place. Try taking the item outside, or somewhere that you can reach all sides of the piece easily, this way you will allow for a smooth paint job without making a mess in the wrong places.

It would also be a good idea to cover the floor below the piece of furniture. An unwanted blanket could do the job, or picking up a dust sheet from someone like Tool Station would certainly be a benefit. 

Paint stripper

DIY Doctor provided some great advice for those looking to paint their furniture, suggesting a particular product to help strip old paint and varnish from your pieces.

Having reviewed this Eco friendly home paint stripper, they informed us that not only does it do a great job, but because of its water base, it is also safe on the skin.

“Many people use solvent based strippers which stink the house out and are pretty hazardous on the skin and in the eyes. They also open the timber grain up too much making the paint blotchy when repainted. Home Strip does none of this and is guaranteed not to harm any surface it is applied to.”

Sand before painting

Sanding might not be what comes to mind but it’s a pretty essential element if you want to get the job done right, especially as stripping off the old colour will allow for the best coverage.

We spoke to Brewers, an independent decorator merchant, who told us to "make sure you sand the surface to ensure a key for the paint to adhere to, be sure to wipe down the surface before painting to remove any loose dust."  

It is recommended that you sand all surfaces with 150-grit sandpaper and use an orbital sander like this one from Axminster. Just be careful not to damage the surface. The idea here is to rough up the surface a little so you can add primer later in the process.

Also, once the painting has begun, you will want to sand again between coats should there be any drips or residue left on the piece.

painting furniture

Remove residue 

Speaking of residue, it’s very important that the surface of your piece is completely wiped down. Use a tack cloth, not a paper towel, and make sure to use a new cloth to wipe down the item in between each coat of paint, once it has dried of course. This step is important as you need to remove all signs of lint and dust before applying protection at the end.

Use primer

Once all residue has been removed, you will want to apply primer as if you don’t, there is a very good chance that paint will chip off and not last as long. Apply the primer with a roller and make sure to get into those hard to reach areas. Once the primer is dry, you can then sand away any drips, and wipe down again with your tact cloth.

Use roller first

When you start painting, try using a foam roller first, giving your item a nice even coverage -about three coats will do it. Brewers recommend: "When painting, always start at the top and work down, making sure you smooth out paint drips as you work downwards."

Leave six to eight hours between these coats and remember about sanding and wiping down between these coats.

painting

Brush for gaps

Also remember to use your traditional brush as you will want to make sure to cover and reach all those gaps that you might have missed. Complete coverage is very important as the last thing you want is to have put the piece back in place and realise that your coat is uneven or patches have appeared. Take your time, follow the steps above, and make sure all is well before moving on.

Add protection

The final tip and step in the process is to add a layer of protection to your painted piece of furniture. Here you will want to apply a thin coat of varnish or other clear sealer using a new foam roller. Once applied, go over again with the roller with a very light touch to ensure that no bubbles are occurring. After this has been achieved, leave the item to dry for as long as possible, otherwise the piece of furniture could get sticky.

And there you have it! Your piece is done, and you are ready to put it back into place. You will be surprised at how different the room will look with it, and thanks to a bit of hard work, you will have essentially given yourself a brand new piece of furniture. Enjoy!



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Top Tips to Consider When Moving House

Created: 16/05/2017

There is plenty to consider when moving home, and while you might think that you have all your bases covered, there is always a chance that you have forgotten a thing or two.

With that being said, we have put together this collection of top tips to consider when moving house, hopefully paving the way for a smooth and successful moving experience.

Electric meter

Find out where your meters are

One of the first things you will want to do is find out where your new home’s meters are. You might want to change water or electricity suppliers and in order to do so, you will need to locate the meters.

Or if you were to employ a handyman service to make changes to your home, they will also need to know this. So before you move in you should ask the estate agents or previous owners where the gas and electricity meters are, as well as asking them about where the main stopcocks are so you can shut off the water should you need to in an emergency.

Know when your rubbish is collected

This may seem like a trivial matter but the question of when your rubbish will be collected at your new property is one that is often forgotten about. Asking what days your bins are collected is a sensible question, especially when you are chucking out stuff you no longer need in your new home.

The last thing you want to do is find yourself with a whole host of items to chuck but have no idea when any of its allowed to be put out. Moving is stressful enough, so make life a little easier for yourself by finding out small details such as this.

post

Redirect the post

With all that will be going on it is very easy to forget to redirect your post. If you don’t, then you could be receiving bills and other important information to your old property, and not paying for outstanding debts could end up affecting your credit record.

While the new owners of your old home will hopefully be kind of enough to forward on anything that turns up, it’s always best to be proactive and make sure it’s taken care of. You can redirect via Royal Mail for as little as £5.25 a month, and for either a three, six, or 12 month period.

Who supplies the existing utilities?

Another really important question to ask is which company supplies the energy, broadband and phone line for your new home. You might find out that you are happy with the current suppliers but there is a good chance you will want to change at least one of these elements.

Once you find out, you can then shop around until you find the best deals. Like with the metres, the previous owners or estate agents will be able to tell you these details. So make sure to ask in good time and then it will be one less thing to worry about. Changing utilities can often be time consuming so it is always recommended to get on this as soon as possible.

painting

Paint before you move in

Another point to include on your moving home checklist is painting and overall decorating. A little tip is to try and do as much painting, either yourself or your Handyman, before you move everything in. This will save you having to move heavy objects around and will make painting rooms a much easier job.

If you are moving home, it is quite understandable that you will want to put your own stamp on your new home. Websites such as Paint Direct offer a vast selection of different paints to help you give your new home just the look you desire. And doing this before you move in will make moving day just that bit more special.

Moving boxes

When planning your move, deciding all the things that you want to take, and just which belongings will make the trip to the new house, you will eventually come to a point when you need something to pack everything into.

Obviously some larger objects like furniture can go pretty much as is, but all of your various possessions, the different accoutrements that you’ve acquired over the years, will need to be packed safely away. So getting hold of some secure packing boxes is an absolute must.

Sites such as Packingboxes.co.uk provide everything you need in this regard, such as extra strong double wall removal boxes to help protect your items during the move. With bubble wrap and removal blankets also available, you should be covered for every eventuality. 

house

Use a removal service

Once everything is packed up, and all other preparations have been made for the big day, you will now be faced with the task of actually moving yourself and your belongings out of your old house and into your new home.

These can often be stressful occasions, but by employing the services of a removal/moving company like Fantastic Removals, you can at least remove some of the burden from your shoulders.

We spoke to Fantastic Removals who kindly offered the following advice:

“Moving house is an experience that can send anyone into an emotional rollercoaster, but with the right preparation, the negativity can be brought to a minimum. To do this, planning early will be your best decision. An early plan gives you enough time to declutter, change the address, pack, organise transportation, and hire the right moving company.”

Fantastic Removals can certainly help make the process easier by offering “full insurance, around-the-clock customer support, free quotes and a variety of customizable moving services. If you’re moving house, you can choose from the specialised man and van service, house removals and office removals service.”

Beyond simply moving your stuff, Fantastic Removals also have a packing and labelling service, and storage should you require it. They also offer end of tenancy cleaning as it’s never a bad idea to leave your old property in the best condition possible. This is performed by the tenancy department at Fantastic Cleaners

This is a great way to make moving a smoother process; letting someone else worry about the heavy lifting, allowing you to focus on other important details.

There are of course many things to contemplate when moving house, but by considering all of the above, and making sure you’ve given yourself plenty of time to accomplish your tasks, your next move should hopefully be a little more manageable.



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