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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 (

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.



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.



vintage flooring

Image Credit: Boa-Franc (

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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A quarter of home owners have put improvements on hold

Created: 09/08/2016

It’s been a month since we reported on how Brexit has affected London’s property market when the news of leaving the EU broke, but now research has revealed that a quarter of home owners have put improvements on hold due to the result.

“Has the recent Brexit vote and market uncertainty made you less likely to do any home improvements this summer?” was asked in a survey of 1,009 UK home owners over the age of 18 by kitchen workshop specialists Mayfair Granite.

There were some interesting answers, with 71% saying the vote hadn’t put them off, but a large majority would only consider emergency DIY and improvements to their home if necessary, such as electrical issues and minor plastering or decorating work.  

As many homeowners continue to seek handyman services in London for minor and major home renovation work despite the Brexit vote, it seems that DIY projects are still at the top of household lists. 

The home owners who had answered the previous question were also asked why they were holding off doing home improvements, with many replying with: “The lower pound causing prices to go up, job insecurity, housing market uncertainty and thinking of relocating outside of the UK.”

Speaking to the Property Report, Neil Beard from Mayfair Granite commented on the survey results, saying: “This survey shows that the Brexit vote has affected all parts of society with many wondering what this decision means for the future of the housing market, money markets and job markets.”

Neil added: “It’s interesting to see that 10% of those polled were thinking of relocating outside of the UK; whether this is a knee jerk response to the vote or not, it just shows the uncertainty that we are all experiencing right now.”

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Renovation work on Kensington Palace apartments is complete

Created: 21/07/2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge alongside Prince Harry have completed renovations at Kensington Palace Apartments, the former residence of Princess Diana and the childhood family home for the two brothers.

Renovation work took two years to complete with amendments to the layout of the apartments so that the young trio can have a permanent and professional nerve centre for their charitable and business operations. As they have expanded the size of rooms, this will make way for employing more staff as the trio are set to take on more of the Queen’s official charitable duties.

The trio, especially the brothers, wanted to keep the memory of Diana alive within Kensington Palace walls when planning the renovation work, as the princess was an advocate for charities with projects covering the globe.

There are two new reception rooms, which were once the TV room and drawing room overlooking the rose garden, and these will now be used for meetings and also to entertain guests. The suite that the three had chosen to reserve for their formal business duties is one of many luxurious suites that contain an extravagant fireplace and a polished wooden floor.

Kensington Palace has been the residence of the Royal family since 1689 when King William III and Queen Mary II bought Nottingham House for £22,000. Subsequently, Christopher Wren, who was also the architect behind the design of St Paul’s Cathedral, remodelled the premises into a palace.

As Prince George starts school in 2017, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be looking to make Kensington Palace their full-time home after spending £4.5 million on the renovation work with help from local handyman services. The royal couple and their family will be moving into the palace after spending the past three years at Anmer Hall, hidden in the countryside of Sandringham Estate.  

Image Credit: Carfax2 (Wikimedia Commons)

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The latest DIY tools and gadgets to make your project easier

Created: 14/07/2016

There is nothing better than making something that seems tricky a lot easier and, unless you have the help of local handyman services, having the right tools for the trade is one way to make your home design project a lot easier. With a wide range of products on the market, we take a look at the latest DIY tools and gadgets on the shelves this year.


Bosch Cordless Multi-Sander


Bosch tools


Whether you need to sand down the garden furniture for your summer events or want to spruce up your interior wooden doors, the Bosch cordless multi-sander is a light-weight tool for sanding with minimal effort. It’s easy to handle and is great for smaller surfaces, and with its precise handling features it’s also great for difficult-to-reach areas such as curves in patterned wood. With a changeable battery and a 1 hour charger, you won’t have to wait around for long to get your DIY project complete.

Price: £49.99 from Bosch



Black and Decker Gyro Driver


Image credit: Nikola Smolenski (Wikimedia Commons)


No DIY toolbox is complete without a cordless, electronic screwdriver, and the Black and Decker Gyro Driver is the perfect fit. The world’s first motion-activated screwdriver lets you insert and replace screws with such minimal effort you won’t ever want to change back to a manual! The Gyro Driver uses motion technology to pick up movements in your wrist to control the motor’s direction and speed. This DIY tool is a fantastic gadget.

Price: £20 from B&Q



Ryobi Laser level

For those who like to make no mistake when aligning skirting boards or bathroom tiles, the Ryobi Phone Works Laser Level is a great investment to add to your DIY tool collection. Unlike the spirit level that is more commonly used, the laser level enables for a permanent line to work with. The spirit level also requires more hands if working with multiple materials, making the laser level much less fiddly.

The Ryobi Laser is specially designed for turning your smartphone into a cross hair laser level and comes with a phone mount clip for a steady and precise line. Compatible for both Android and iOS devices, what better DIY gadget could you ask for?

Price: £50 from B&Q



irobot vacuum cleaner



Image Credit: Karlis Dambrans (Wikimedia Commons)


After completing all the hard work of your DIY project, the last thing you want to do is have to tidy up the bits and pieces left on the floor. Luckily there are now some smart vacuum cleaners on the market that will do the more tedious jobs for you, just like the iRobot Vacuum Cleaner. The clever robotic technology allows for a high-efficiency cleaning system and maps the environment around it so it doesn’t lose track of where it is or where it has been. The best feature, though, is the automatic suction power increase for where it is needed most.

Available from

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How Brexit has affected London’s property market

Created: 06/07/2016

The end of June 2016 was a historic time in British history and saw British citizens make the decisive vote to leave the E.U. Amongst many other areas that will change the lives of many, London’s property market will become a hive of interest for investors both in the UK and abroad. But what will this mean for future property owners and those already living in the capital?

Nearing the day of the Brexit result, Foxtons Estate Agents, who focus on London’s property market, told This Is Money: “The run up to the EU referendum led to significant uncertainty across London residential markets and the decision the leave Europe is expected to prolong that uncertainty.

“While it is too early to accurately predict how the London property sales market will respond, the upturn we were expecting during the second half of the year is now unlikely to materialise.”

Figures from the Bank of England showed that more property owners were securing mortgages for house purchases leading up to Brexit. Where 66,205 applied in April for mortgage approval, in May there were 67,402 people in the same position.

Although there is still a long wait ahead for estate agents and investors interested in London’s property market, there won’t be a definitive answer to how Brexit will affect the industry, as Nationwide’s chief economist, Robert Gardener, explains: “Ultimately conditions in the housing market will be determined by conditions in the wider economy, especially the labour market. It is too early to assess the impact of the referendum vote on the economy.”

Estate agents have highlighted that prospective buyers and sellers will certainly be hesitant to take any action until the economy sees real trends following Britain’s decision to leave. However, this will give property owners the time to source handyman services in London to complete their home renovation plans. 

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Updating the garden for summer

Created: 14/06/2016

The garden is the ultimate space for entertaining family and friends in the summer months and updating the area can add a dash of warmth and sophistication regardless of the size of the space. Whether you are looking for fresh, new ideas to update the garden for summer, or your wooden fencing needs a little TLC to make it stand out in the sun, here at Handywork Solutions we have everything you need to make preparing your garden for the summer simple and easy.



updating the garden for summer

Whether you are refreshing the look of your current fencing or want to spruce up new panels, there are some really easy-to-use products and paints to update your fencing. There are many colours and types of paints to choose from, and many are specially designed to be long-lasting, durable and weather resistant.

It is best to paint your fence in the summer months so it will dry quickly and, of course, look at its best for when you’re entertaining your guests with a BBQ. Use an undercoat or primer before coating with your chosen paint as it will increase the life-span further. Or if you would prefer to sit back, relax and enjoy your newly transformed garden even more, get a helping hand from a London handyman service.  



updating the garden for the summer

Creating a border of colourful plants alongside your newly painted fencing is a great way to set off any garden party. If you have a slightly smaller garden, spread plants sporadically to create the illusion of space, trying to avoid using bushes and tall trees.

Layering plants around the borders by planting the smallest at the front, such as pansies, and slightly taller ones to the back, such as lupines, adds depth to your garden space. Look to include brightly coloured plants to attract bees, birds and other insects to create a world of activity when you aren’t occupying the garden space.



update the garden for the summer

Image Credit: Wicker Paradise (

One of the most important parts of updating any living space is the furniture. There are so many options to consider when looking for the right pieces for you and bear in mind the theme or style that you want to convey, as well as the practicality and comfort level.

Rattan furniture, such as that from London Rattan, is a great option to consider for your garden. The woven pieces are often found in seaside surroundings and patios, so adding them to your outdoor space will give an instant feel of relaxation and luxury. For ultimate beach vibes, choose a white/cream pillow to contrast with the natural colour of the woven rattan.

Other options include gas-powered heaters for cooler evenings or hammocks to truly enjoy the feeling of relaxation. But whatever you decide to purchase, make sure it does the job for your individual wants and needs!



updating the garden for the summer

Outdoor lighting can make a huge impact when updating your garden for the summer, creating an elegant exterior that you won’t want to leave.

Natural lighting in the form of garden torches look elegant in any surrounding space. They are available in many hardware shops and there are citronella options to repel insects that are prone to joining the party during the evening. Other examples include solar-powered fairy lighting to place around the fencing or a patio fire pit, such as those from Kadai which add warmth and rusticity to any party.

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Charles Dickens fans protest against home development

Created: 13/06/2016

Fans of one of the world’s most famous writers, Charles Dickens, want to block plans that could see development work take place next to his former home in London.

The Charles Dickens Museum in Holborn, central London, is likely to be affected by building work that is proposed for the property next door. Employees at the museum fear that the building is at risk of damage and now admirers and fans from the Dickens Fellowship are documenting their pledges to have the planning permission overturned.

Information from the Camden New Journal outlined the designs for the listed five-bedroom home next door that include expanding the basement below the back garden. 

Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Tony Williams, the Fellowship’s president, said that the plans for the rear of the neighbouring house “will strike members very closely since many of them individually and collectively as branches contributed sums to the improvement and maintenance of the garden space.”

The plan to extend the neighbouring property puts pressure on the museum to perform to its high standards, attracting visitors from across the world, including New Zealand, Japan and North America.

Museum volunteer John Gardener told the Camden New Journal: "This is a living room where the Dickens family would spend time and the study where Dickens wrote Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby and which would be relatively well lit especially in the mornings.

"These rooms are now becoming increasingly hemmed in by the proposed extension and a small part of the original character is further eroded."

The Charles Dickens Museum was established in 1925 after the property was saved from demolition. But now those not in favour of the developments fear that further excavation work could lead to structural damage to the museum, and Dickens’ last surviving London residence.

If you are looking to extend your property through a conservatory, patio or extension, or have had planning permission approved by your local council, professional handyman services in London are on hand for affordable advice and property updates.

Image Credit: Dickens Museum (Wikimedia Commons)

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DIY project spending at seven-year high

Created: 02/06/2016

Spending on DIY projects has hit a seven-year high since 2008 according to figures released by Lloyds Bank.

Spending on household improvements increased by 13 per cent to £5.8bn last year, equivalent to £210 per household, and has mostly been spent on DIY tools such as electrical equipment, plumbing tools and lawnmowers. This resulted in a five per cent advancement from £4.8bn in 2014 to £5.1bn in 2015.

Speaking to Property Reporter, Lloyds Bank Mortgage Products Director Andrew Mason commented: “Taking a DIY approach to home improvements helps cut costs and provides homeowners with the opportunity to put their own distinctive stamp on their property. Although we’re not quite back to the spending heights of about a decade ago, these latest figures do show sustained growth in home improvement spending over the past seven years. This indicates a growing confidence in the housing market and wider economy, in stark contrast to the sharp fall in spending between 2007 and 2011, which reflected the worst of the economic and housing downturns during this period.”

In turn, the last ten years have demonstrated a link between the development of DIY projects and the performance of the housing market and prices of properties across the country. During the regained strength of house prices between 2011 and 2015, spending on DIY increased by 18 per cent.

Total spending on home maintenance, improvements and repair increased by 0.3 per cent to £7.38bn in 2015 from £7.36bn in 2014.

Other areas of expenditure on DIY projects and maintenance included materials, handyman services, tools and machinery.

The figures follow the news that people are starting to purchase property in need of renovation, rather than spending their cash on either pre-loved properties or new builds, with the most common areas of the home for improvement being the kitchen, bathroom and carpets throughout. 

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