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Apprentice carpenter wins WorldSkills Gold

Created: 06/12/2016

A 20-year-old apprentice carpenter and joiner has showcased his talents for his chosen career by winning Gold at the prestigious WorldSkills competition in Birmingham.

William Campbell, who hails from the village of Donaghcloney in Northern Ireland, came out on top of a field of 500 of his fellow apprentices at the NEC in Birmingham, where he was given the task of assembling a geometrical roof over three days.

Campbell is a student at the South Eastern Regional College (SERC), which also enjoyed other success at the recent WorldSkills event, winning a total of three golds and one silver medal to finish fourth in the overall leaderboard of participating colleges and training providers.

Over 90,000 spectators flocked to the NEC to see the aspiring professionals in action, which only served to increase the pressure on those hoping to prove their abilities. William was not intimidated by the close scrutiny of the judges and audience, however, with his mentor and tutor Rodney McKee noting in this Banbridge Leader article that the youngster had ‘worked very hard preparing for the competition’.

McKee went on to say that Campbell should be ‘very proud’ of his achievements, and that his efforts ‘illustrate how rewarding and exciting a career in carpentry can be’.

The WorldSkills competitions, with regional and national heats taking place globally ahead of the main biennial event, illustrate how offering affordable handyman services or expertise in other trades is a great career option for any young people who are unsure of which career path to follow.

William Greer, the Head of Training at SERC, said that ‘our young people are more ambitious now than ever’, echoing the thoughts of many within practical industries who believe that the recent growth in UK apprenticeships could herald a new golden era for the skilled professions.

The apprentice Campbell has already found employment in his chosen trade and, as his mentor said, will doubtless ‘continue to develop his skills within the industry and have a very successful career’.



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How to keep your home warm this winter

Created: 29/11/2016

We are firmly into winter, or at least it feels like it. The cold weather has crept up on us, bringing with it heavy downpours and gale-force winds. 

Keep your home warm this winter

There are a few easy things you can do to warm up your home, like a new coat of paint to seal your walls, insulation wrap for your windows, or portable, hand-crafted draught excluders for your door frames.

But after a day out in the rain working, or just after your walk back from work, you want to be able to come home to a warm and comfortable house. Now, thanks to our helpful advice, you can ensure that your home is as toasty as it can be.

Big curtains

Uncovered windows can let out 40 per cent of heat from your home. So put up heavy, thick curtains that are long enough to have excess material hanging below the window, or onto the floor.

Big curtains keep your home warm

You can even opt for curtains with a thermal lining, they are relatively cheap for the benefits that you get.

Don’t think that curtains are exclusive to windows either, you can pin up a curtain or even a rug to cover your doors to the outside to help stop a draft coming from the door.

Maintain your heaters

It is recommended that you have your heating serviced at least once every two years, so you should call in a professional local handyman, who will ensure they keep running efficiently. Or alternatively, you can ask them to install new radiators.

Cleaning the likes of your radiators will also help in the meantime.

Loft insulation

Energy Saving Trust say you can be wasting as much as £140 on heating, as the heat generated from your home escapes out through your roof. Costs in gas and electricity will be reduced, while you will have a cooler home in summer but a warmer home in the winter.

You may have read our recent post on how to winter proof your roof, but you can go one step further with loft insulation to ensure a warm and dry home.

Loft insulation

Some houses release up to a half of heat generated through a roof without adequate insulation.

Shelves

It might be a surprise, but by simply putting up a shelf above a radiator can help to channel the warmth created.

Avoid covering a radiator with curtains, or rugs, if you have followed the advice to install thicker curtains. You could end up trapping the heat behind it, allowing it to escape out through the window rather than warm up your home.

Remember not to place anything on your radiators though, due to fire risks.

Filling the gap

While half of all heat loss from your home is through your roof, a further one third can escape from uninsulated walls. Heat flows from a warm area, like your home, to the cold area outside, so walls are a quick escape route for heat. 

Insulate your walls

If your house was built after the 1990s it is likely to have wall insulation, but any that date back beyond that could be completely without.

In the process, insulation is blown into the wall cavity from the outside of your property. Holes are drilled from outside, allowing a variety of materials to be pumped into the cavity. The most common types of insulation are mineral wool, polystyrene beads or foam. When the cavities are filled, the holes are then repaired with materials that match your house’s exterior facade.

By just insulating your walls, you can save yourself in excess of £160 a year on heating bills.

Boilers

Installing a new boiler can be a daunting thought for a home owner, but it is something that comes with a large number of benefits. 

Install a new boiler

We wrote about the rising cost of moving house in September and found that there were a number of things you can spend the money on to improve your home rather than move. One of them, was improving your central heating.

New boilers provide more efficient accessibility to hot water, while taking up much less space than old ones. New ones are also 90% more efficient than older models.

But the best thing? New and improved central heating can add £5,000 to the value of your property, after spending about £1,000-£3,000 on one.

Upgrade your heating system

If you have a boiler that does its job, and your radiators warm the house, then you are more than halfway there. If you have sealed the drafts, installed a bit more insulation, you are doing even better. The last key to making sure your home is winter ready is to ensure your thermostat is up to the task of maintaining the system. 

Upgrade your heating system

If you have an outdated thermostat – one that's not used to accurately regulating the internal temperature – your heating system may turn on every five to 10 minutes because it cannot keep an accurate temperature.

Image Credit: dunktanktechnician  Pat Pilon Brendan C

 

 

 

 



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Winter proof your roof

Created: 24/11/2016

When the dark winter months roll around, they bring the inevitable bad weather with them.

Snow, ice, heavy rain, intense winds and storms are all going to begin battering your roof, and it is now when you need your roof to be winter ready. 

Heavy rain

Clear out the debris

Your gutters are probably full of the leaves that have fallen during autumn, so it is worth getting out and clearing your gutters and any drainpipes around your house. 

Blocked gutters#

Should your guttering become blocked, they can easily break and cause a serious leak. Wait for the trees to shed their leaves, then go out and make sure you clear as much of the trapped debris as possible.

Check up on it

Just because you have a quick look over your home one Sunday afternoon doesn’t mean that you are covered. Keep checking up on your roof, especially after any intense weather.

Trees and anything overhanging

Almost every year you hear nightmare stories of large trees or branches crashing through someone’s roof after a bad storm.

This isn’t to say you should get rid of the tree entirely, often they are a statement of your property, but before winter you should start checking any overhanging branches. If any seem broken, lose or even rotten then you should look at getting it cut back.

Overhanging trees and branches

Call in an expert

If you find a problem, no matter how small, you should call in an expert. With the weather only expected to deteriorate in the capital in the coming weeks, it would be worth finding yourself a handyman service in London.

Watch for damp

You should always be on the lookout for any damp patches. If you have damp patches it could mean a problem with your guttering, either it is clogged or broken, or that you have a leak.

A leak in your roof in poor weather can quickly become a serious problem. Check the flashing, which is used around roof vents, pipes, skylights and chimneys. Loose or torn flashing is one of the leading causes of leaks, and can be caused by high winds or heavy rain.

Insulation

When the temperature drops, you will probably need to put the heating on, but if you don’t have good insulation and ventilation in your attic you could be facing a hefty bill. 

Roof vent

Put in a vent around the ridges or gables of your roof, these will stop condensation, which could develop into rot or mould.

Image Credit: Gazebo

 

 



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Brits spend £36k on decorating in their lifetime

Created: 09/11/2016

Redecorating the home is something that we Brits take very seriously, as a new study has revealed that as a nation, we spend on average £36,000 on redecorating over our lifetimes. 

Redecorating

The study, conducted by Anglian Home Improvements, found that we will redecorate 36 times, which is an average of £1,000 on each redecoration, with the average time for an improvement taking 18 days.

According to the survey, bathrooms and living rooms are top of the list for rooms in need of a makeover with 33% of respondents putting them ahead of the kitchen (32%) and their master bedroom (25%).

For those of you who do not have 18 days to spare, the best option is to use a local handyman service to help do the work.

At Handywork Solutions, we have put together a list of redecorating projects that you can get your handyman in to do.

Wood flooring

A lot of people overlook wooden flooring, but there are a lot of benefits to it. Wood floors are much easier to clean than carpets; spilling a glass of wine or muddy paw-prints on carpet is a disaster, but you simply need to brush or whip down the wooden flooring.

Get a handyman to put in some wooden flooring

They are also much more hygienic as unlike carpet it doesn’t catch dust mites, fleas, dust or dirt, which can all play havoc with anyone suffering from allergies.

Painting

Possibly the most popular redecorating project, painting is actually a deceivingly difficult project and can actually be a much bigger task than you had bargained for. 

Painting is a popular decorating project

Painting both the interior and exterior of your home can add value to your home, it will give it a fresh look and brighten the rooms.

It will also promote your indoor air quality, which is a great health benefit while keeping dust and dirt at bay.

New bath, sink, taps and toilets

For any kind of plumbing maintenance or installation, the team at Handyworks Solutions are here for you.

New toilets don’t just make your bathroom more welcoming, but are actually much better for the environment, with many new models reducing water usage.

Install a new bathroom

The bathroom is a very personal space, for yourself and for your guests. A new bath with free-flowing hot and cold water is a real comfort, buying a new one gives you the chance to make this space your own with a tub to match your needs or taste. 



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How to get your guest room ready for Christmas

Created: 14/10/2016

Christmas is fast approaching; mince pies are in the stores, people are buying their presents, but your guestroom is still nowhere near inhabitable for the influx of family and friends that are coming to visit.

Fear not, with our top advice and with a little bit of help from some handyman services, you’re guest room will no longer be confined as a storage locker for last year’s unwanted gifts. 

The bed

A bad nights sleep can ruin a trip, so before having guests stay in your spare room its worth revisiting the bed. Perhaps it has the mattress that has been rejected by you and your partner and deemed inadequate by your kids, so do you think your guests are going to want to sleep on it?

If you don’t want to get a new mattress, why not just have a re-jiggle of the others in the house. You would rather that you or your kids put up with the unwanted mattress for a couple nights, than having disgruntled guests thinking poorly of their stay.

You should wash and change the sheets and bedding around a week before you are expecting visitors. The smell and the freshness makes the bed so much more welcoming and comfortable, the guests will feel like they are sleeping in a brand new bed.

Add extra blankets, pillows and perhaps a throw. It will give the guests a bit of freedom and make them feel like they can properly relax, rather than worry about whether the pillow is filled with feathers or is nylon.

Heating

 

A cold house is uncomfortable and not very welcoming for your guests. No matter how many blankets you put on their bed for the night, they will not enjoy the struggle of trying to escape the warm embrace of their duvet when the rest of the room is freezing cold in the morning.

Having a new boiler will not only take up less space than older models, they can add £5,000 to your property’s value.

It also saves the embarrassment of an in-law walking down to breakfast in the morning covered in shampoo to tell you the hot water has gone off.

Or you can replace the radiators, allowing you to choose your own personal style for the room.

Television

During the holidays, the TV is flooded with repeats and childhood classics for all ages, meaning it is often a nightmare deciding what to watch with your family.

Inevitably, everyone’s favourite re-run or Christmas related film is on at the same time, so why not put a spare in the guest room? It gives them the freedom that their own remote offers, while avoiding potential arguments. 

Brighten the room

A fresh lick of paint can utterly transform a room, and getting someone in to do the decorating relieves some of the stresses around an already frantic time of year.

Remember, you don’t need to paint the room just for your guests at Christmas, you can treat it as a test run. If you get plenty of compliments from them, great, leave it. If not, simply repaint again.

But you don’t have to commit to repainting the entire room to give it a face lift; new shelves, ornaments or flowers on the bedside table and tasteful Christmas decorations all give a bit of life to a room.

Clear some space

Clare, creator of Emmy’s Mummy and blogger of all things household to entertaining children, offered her top tip for making the most of your guest room this Christmas.

“My Tip is to make full use of any cupboards and to clear the room as much as possible for guests. The more that's put away, the more room they have and the less chance of something getting broken.”

You should be conscious of suitcases or big bags, so allow for enough floor space for one, especially if your guests are only staying for a couple of days and are therefore unlikely to unpack.

By simply moving a few things around, putting the bed into another part of the room and decluttering, you can make the room look twice as big. This is important. You do not want anyone feeling claustrophobic, this extra space coupled with a new bright coat of paint and a couple of mirrors will give the illusion of a much larger room.

Cater to their age

For younger guests, pack even more cushions, pillows, blankets and sheets into the room. Kids love building dens and getting creative, so why not store a few spares in the room to feed their imagination. 

Have a few magazines or games available, as something to do while they sit in their blanket castle.

For older guests, magazines and books can be left in the draws or on the bedside table, but why not add a few extra seating options?

It’s hard to sit and enjoy a book perched on the side of a bed, but an extra armchair in the corner facing the telly or window will offer another comfortable option.

Bathroom basics

Inevitably, one of your guests will forget a toothbrush or a towel, so make sure you have some spares in the room.

It can be as simple as a couple spare towels, some toothpaste and a comb. You don’t want your bathroom pillaged and find that on Boxing Day, you’re out of shampoo or shower gel.

Image Credit: Max Charping



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From the building site to the bright lights of professional football

Created: 26/09/2016

The 2015/16 Premier League season proved that anything can happen in football. Leicester City where crowned champions, and former non-league nobody Jamie Vardy was named joint top goal scorer.

In recent years, more and more non-league players are making their way into the professional game. Coming from all walks of life, many are having a huge impact on the modern game.

You will be surprised how many professional players were once offering handyman services or painting walls for a living before hitting the big time.

Charlie Austin – Bricklayer:

In October 2009, Charlie Austin signed a nine-month contract with Swindon Town aged just 20. Just weeks before, Austin was working as a bricklayer during the week and played for Poole Town on the weekends, scoring 48 times in 42 appearances.

Now, Austin is a household name playing with Southampton in the Premier League, with 193 career goals to his name.

Image credit: Brian Minkoff-London Pixels (Wikimedia Commons)

Stuart Pearce – Electrician:

Former Nottingham Forest and England legend, Pearce spent four years as an electrician in the early 1980s, whilst playing for non-league side Wealdstone.

‘Psycho’ has always been a supporter of the amateur football, and in 2016 teamed up with Fiat to launch the ‘Tradesman Trials’, which gave tradesmen the chance to win a one-month trial at a football league team of their choice.

Jimmy Bullard – Painter & Decorator:

Aged 20 and playing for Ebbsfleet Town, one of football’s funniest personalities was working as a painter and decorator with his dad, but it didn’t stop him taking the game seriously.

His dad would allow him the day off when he had a weekday game, allowing him the day to prepare like a professional for the match. This approach paid off, when in 1988, a West Ham scout spotted Bullard. In February of that year, Harry Redknapp offered him a contract with the club.

Image credit: Jon Candy (flickr.com)

Miroslav Klose – Builder:

One of the most decorated strikers in modern football, Klose is Germany’s and the FIFA World Cup’s all-time leading goal scorer.

But whilst playing for FC 08 Homburg, a fifth division side at the time, Klose worked as a builder and bricklayer when he was 20. Signing for Kaiserslautern as a 21 year old, Klose remained as a carpenter, as he felt it was important for his and his family to have a trade to fall back on.

Image credit: Sven Mandel / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Ian Wright – Plasterer:

Arsenal’s second highest goal scorer of all time with 104 goals, Ian Wright endured a tough time as a young man finding his path in the world.

Having endured unsuccessful trials with Southend and Brighton, Wright turned to non-league and amateur football in the 1980s, whilst earning his keep as a plasterer.

Despite a spell in prison and almost losing it all to drugs, Wright was offered a full-time contract by Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell, exchanging a set of weights for his services with Greenwich Borough.

Image Credit: Ronnie Macdonald (flickr.com)



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Moving prices rise to over £30,000 for London homeowners

Created: 22/09/2016

London homeowners can expect to pay £31,416 on average to move home. The rise, up by £4,732 on last year, is thought to be caused by the sharp rise in property prices.

Across the UK, house prices have risen by an average of 8.5% in the last year. But in London, that figure rises to 14.5%.

Moving costs in the South East of England are the second highest in the country at £20,210, still £10,000 less than for properties in London. Over the last decade, these figures have been steadily rising, with the cost of moving in the capital having risen by 68%, (£12,680), which is taking up nearly 72% of average annual earnings.

Considering the escalating price in property prices and moving costs, homeowners could choose to invest their time and money elsewhere by spending the £30,000 average on home improvements. Though these improvements may seem daunting, a local South London handyman can help.

A new kitchen - Average cost: £8,000

Kitchens are the heart of the home and are becoming a living place as much as a place to cook. New appliances don’t just last longer, but they offer peace of mind, with dishwashers and washing machines coming with five- or ten-year warranties. A new kitchen can add 5.8% to the value of your property.

An extra bathroom - Average cost: £2,000-£6,000

Most homes have that one cloakroom cupboard, unused and undervalued. So why not reinvent this space into an extra bathroom? An extra bathroom adds an awful lot to the house, adding privacy and flexibility for yourself and guests.  An extra bathroom can add 5-6.1% to your property’s value.

Convert your garage - Average cost: £10,000

90% of British garages don’t contain a car, so why not convert this storage room into extra living space? Every man dreams of his own space, a man cave, a personal gym or a workshop, you can even convert the space into an extra bedroom or playroom for the kids. To figure out the added value to your house from converting your garage into living space, multiply square footage by local price per square foot.

Central heating – Average cost: £1,000-£3,000

No one likes holding their hand under the tap for an age, as it slowly numbs waiting for hot water. A new boiler provides more efficient hot water accessibility. New boilers also take up much less space than older ones, meaning you can free up space for storage. New central heating can add £5,000 to the property’s value. 



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‘Smart bricks’ to revolutionise the construction industry

Created: 06/09/2016

 

A team of scientists at the University of West England (UWE) in Bristol have partnered on a design led by Newcastle University called the European ‘Living Architecture’ (LIAR) project.

New ‘Smart Bricks’ are being tested and developed for the construction industry, which will be able to recycle wastewater and generate electricity from sunlight, creating a ‘bioreactor wall’ in buildings and homes.

The projects aim is to combine living architecture, computing and engineering to tackle the current global sustainability and climate change issues.

Speaking to Builder and Engineer, Professor Andrew Adamatzky, LIAR project director at UWE Bristol, commented: “The technologies we are developing aim to transform the places we work enabling us to co-live with the building.

“A building made from bio-reactors will become a large-scale living organism that addresses all environmental and energy needs of the occupants.”

The bricks will be filled with microbial cells and algae which will self-adapt and evolve to changing conditions in the environment and monitor the behaviour of air flow and the number of occupants in the building.

The cells, also known as Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) also contain unique organisms to facilitate clean water, produce electricity and accommodate suitable living and working conditions for the occupants within the building.

Andrew Adamatzky continues: “Walls in buildings comprised of smart brick containing bioreactors will integrate massive-parallel computing processors where millions of living creatures sense the occupants in the building and the internal and external needs of the occupants.

“Each smart brick is an electrical analogous computer. A building made of such bricks will be a massive-parallel computing processor.”

As the development of the building and construction industry expands and grows, scientists are always finding ways to make housing and offices more environmentally friendly and efficient. Those who are looking to champion a more eco-friendly living or working space with the use of modern technology should get the advice from a south east London handyman who can provide you with expert knowledge for a more up-to-date lifestyle. 



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The vintage decor revival

Created: 31/08/2016

When it comes to updating the interior of your home there are so many styles to consider. However, with the vintage décor revival now in its prime and 21st century variations of the traditional Tudor style being introduced into the industry, now is the best time to consider the versatile vintage style for your home interior.

 

Colour palette

vintage decor

Image Credit: Charlotte Holmes (flickr.com)

The stereotypical vintage colour palette has also had a 21st century renovation, with murky and monotonous colours being swapped for light ivories and whites for a fresh transformation of colour. However, you can easily combine these two contrasting colour palettes to make the perfect vintage décor design for any room in the house.

Statement walls are a modern decoration idea that can be interpreted with vintage patterns, so if you are want to use patterned vintage style paper on one wall and use a lighter paint on the rest, then you will be well on the way to accomplishing something refreshing and colourful in terms of traditional vintage design.

 

Furniture

vintage chairs

Since the start of the vintage décor revival, shops dedicated to the movement have been popping up all over the country, supplying vintage and second-hand furniture at very good prices. Shops such as Rose & Grey sell a wide range of furniture, home accessories and quirky products.

If you really want to achieve the vintage look and create space within the home whilst doing so, why not choose professional, reliable handyman services in London to incorporate a vintage-style built-in bookcase? Not only will it be the finishing touch when considering vintage furniture pieces, but also create a traditional, unique style that isn’t seen in many homes today.

 

Flooring

vintage flooring

Image Credit: Boa-Franc (flickr.com)

Flooring is a major factor when considering renovating your home interior, especially when a vintage style is involved. Wooden, sanded down and polished flooring is a big hit for those who want to achieve the ultimate vintage look and really emphasises the style intended.

White flooring, as well as the traditional dark wood flooring, are the most popular choices and compliment any type of vintage colour palette or furniture piece, so you can mix and match with whatever works well for you. If you are looking for something a little more unique, head over to English Salvage where there is a wide variety of original, antique flooring styles and designs to suit any taste. 



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Sydney Opera House is set for $202 million renovation work

Created: 15/08/2016

The famous Sydney Opera House will be undergoing major renovation plans in the next two years, with the work set to cost $202 million.

The renovation work will not only improve the acoustic sound within the main auditorium, but also modernise the surrounding interior, with upgrades to lounge, restaurant and seating areas. New lifts will be fitted for better accessibility throughout the building as well.

The Deputy Premier and Arts Minister Troy Grant told the IB Times: “The Sydney Opera House has played an important role in our nation’s history and embarking on these renewal projects will ensure that it continues to be relevant for generations to come.”

In terms of the new and improved acoustic features to be implemented, a new acoustic ceiling will be installed for better sound distribution and quality. Louise Herron, the Sydney Opera House chief executive, continued: “The problem is with the very high ceiling a lot of the sound that the orchestra actually makes rises and isn’t reflected down, so that the musicians on one side – for example the second violins – have trouble hearing the double basses.

“It means, it’s not such a good experience as it could be if the sound is more contained.

“A lot of the equipment is… old and anyone knows that technology has moved a long way and has worked really hard, so that need to be replaced.”

A new function centre is planned to accommodate 190 seats and 500 standing with additional passageways and stairs leading up to the main hall. Accessibility is also a key feature in the redevelopment of the Sydney Opera House, with 26 extra wheelchair spaces being created in various parts of the concert hall.

Improving the look and sound of your home doesn’t have to leave a dent in your bank balance as there are knowledgeable handyman services in south London who are willing to make your dream home come true.  



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