Improving Your Property - Helping you improve your property

How to secure outbuildings and sheds :: Posted by: Admin on November 5th, 2015

CCTV and padlock

How to secure outbuildings and sheds

We all struggle for storage spaces and often fill our sheds, garages, summerhouses and outbuildings with ‘stuff’, now whether we need it or not or simply store it until we go to the local dump with it the problem is all the same.

Sometimes we may have a man cave where we go and organise our tools and tinker on the latest product, or maybe we have turned our shed into our office? Whatever we use the buildings for we need to make sure they are secure as they can often be easy pickings for thieves.

Keeping it secure

The simplest way and cheapest way is to fit a padlock onto the door using a hasp and staple. However, you can go further and install alarms and CCTV but this choice comes down to what you keep stored away.

The very least should be a lock of some kind, this will deter the opportunist thief. Adding locks is far cheaper than replacing stolen belongings such as bikes, lawn mowers etc. Once you have a lock fitted, always lock up when you are finished.

If your outbuilding has windows you could put bars over the window to stop easy access through the window, if the windows are lockable, lock them.

Lights, CCTV, Alarm

If you have more valuable stuff stored away such as bikes or your outbuilding is a home office you may wish to consider adding a little more security than just a padlock. An exterior light fitted with a PIR (passive infrared sensor) that comes on when movement is detected is a good idea and could scare off would be thieves.

If you want to keep an eye on what is going on you can install a simple CCTV system, these have come down in price in recent years and will allow you to see what is going on and who maybe lurking around. There are many systems to choose from, many are self install and can be connected to a PC or TV for viewing.

An alarm could also be fitted, these can be self install and don’t have to cost a lot of money for a basic system. A simple PIR (passive infrared sensor) and one or two door / window magnetic sensors should come in under £100.00.

Securing other items

Some people may have extension ladders that do not fit into a shed, garage or outbuilding and simply leave these lying on the garage roof or just in the back garden, well these can be used to gain access to yours on someone else’s property, securing these is simple and cheap, ladder clamps that allow ladders to be securely hung on a wall, or a simple heavy duty chain and padlock secured to a permanent fixture will prevent them being used.

Other items such as screwdrivers, hammers etc. shouldn’t ne left around in the garden for example as these can aid a burglars access to a property or outbuilding.

In conclusion

We all have to store things and most often this is done in outbuildings, simple steps such as those listed above could prevent items being taken or use to gain access to a property.
They don’t have to cost a lot and it is up to you how far you want to go, beit a simple padlock or more secure with locks, lights CCTV and alarms, this will mainly come down to the area you live in and the value of items stored.

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DIY jobs – The right tool for the job :: Posted by: Admin on July 22nd, 2014

Hammer and screw

DIY jobs – The right tool for the job

When it comes to tackling DIY jobs it is best to be planned and prepared, whether it be a building job, gardening, a simple handyman job, plumbing or woodworking job, it is best to be prepared with the correct tools. By using the wrong tool for the job you run the risk of personal injury, damaging equipment or the job you are working on, and more often than not using the wrong tool makes the job harder to do and makes the job take longer to complete.

The right tools for the job

It maybe an old saying and a bit of a cliche but, by having the right tool for the job, will make the job far easier, safer and produce a far superior job. Rather than struggling without the correct tools and in an unsafe way and finishing up with a botched job that you’ll more than likely end having to redo, or calling in a professional to do the job properly for you.

A clean workspace is a safe workspace

If you have a clean environment to work in, without clutter and dangerous hazards such as extension leads and tools all over the floor, the DIY job will be a far safer place to work and a easier place to work, so you will enjoy doing some DIY rather than hate it and shudder at the thought of any DIY tasks. It doesn’t take long to move stuff out of the way and tidy up.

Be prepared

Take time to think about the job, gather the tools you will need, remove any dangers (this includes small children and pets) from your work area. Think about how you are going to do the job, have you got everything that you require to complete the job, the last thing you want to do is have to rush out and buy something in the middle of the job.

If you are doing a plumbing job don’t forget to turn off any water supply before removing taps or cutting pipes. Make sure electrical supplies are turned off before touching wires or removing socket face plates.

Gardening

If you decide to do a DIY job in the garden you should still think about the right tool for the job, and of course safety, such as using an extension lead with a RCD plug (residual-current device) so that if you run over it with the mover the power will be cut immediately.

Power tools

Lets face it we all love power tools, right? Well in the wrong hands they can cause serious injury and damage. However, having the correct power tool for the job will again make life easier, quicker and far more enjoyable.
Wallpaper and heat gun

Your stories

If you have any stories you would like to share, please do so in the comment box below. We would love to hear them,

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Autumn and winter jobs for around the home and garden :: Posted by: Admin on December 3rd, 2013

Fireworks

Autumn and winter jobs for around the home and garden

Winter is fast approaching and before the really cold and wet weather gets here now is the ideal time to do maintenance jobs around the home and garden in preparation for winter. So if you have a spare half day or a weekend and the weather is a lovely autumnal day why not get out in the winter sun and do those jobs ready for the winter months.

Leaves

Leaves look nice when they are golden brown and red whilst they are still on the trees but as they fall off they can be a real pain. They can make driveways and paths slippery under foot, block gutter and downpipes and generally make the garden look untidy.

So a good sweep up can make the world of difference and as an added bonus you can bag them up and compost them ready to be spread of the vegetable patch the following year.

Gutters and downpipes

As mentioned above, leaves can build up and block gutters and downpipes creating drainage problems and potentially damp issues in the property. If you have a ladder or access to one or maybe a friendly neighbour with a ladder you could borrow, you can clean out the leaves from the guttering and downpipes along with other debris that may of accumulated over the past year such as sand and grit from the roof tiles and grass that may of started growing, even bird nesting materials.

Simply remove the debris and run some water along the gutter and downpipe from a hose or watering can to ensure the gutters are in good condition, flow freely and don’t leak.

Broken glass and windows

If you have any broken or cracked window panes it is a good idea to get them fixed or replaced. If you have single glazing this is especially important to help reduce heat loss and draughts from getting in.

You will also stop any water being able to get in and causing more damage.

Draught excluder

If you have draughts around doors and windows, or even letter boxes you can quickly and relatively cheaply reduce or completely iliminate them simply by buying and fitting draught excluders.

Draught excluders and readily available from DIY merchants and stores and are easy to fit, many door and window draught excluders simply are self adhesive, some require fitting with screws, such as in the case of a letter box draught excluder.

Roof tiles

Slipped, missing or cracked roof tiles could potentially cost you a lot of money in damage. If water gets into a loft space and you are unaware of it not only could the contents of your loft be damaged but eventually the room ceilings and walls will get damp, this could be costly to put right.

So to prevent this take a walk outside and look up at your roof, can you see and ridge tiles missing, or any broken or cracked tiles, if there are either replace them yourself, or better still, call a roofer to do it for you.

If you have flat roofs do you get a pool of water when it rains, this could create a problem or even be a sign of a problem, if you have a pool of water after it rains on your flat roof it could mean the boards under the felt are rotten and sunk thus leaving a dip in the felt for the rain to gather, again it is worth investigating yourself or calling a roofer.

Painting

Ok the winter isn’t the best time for painting outside but you could to a temporary job by making sure wood is protected with paint, a simple undercoat and topcoat on the bare areas could help protect the wood over the winter and you can go back and do a proper job in the spring of the following year.

Boiler and heating

We all rely on our heating this time of year, so it is worth checking everything is working OK before the really cold weather comes, if you have radiators that are colder at the top than the bottom you may need to bleed your radiators, if you are unsure of this ask a plumber.

You should always call an registered gas fitter if you need work done on your boiler or gas fire.

If you have an open fire, when was the last time you had the chimney swept, does it need doing before you have an open fire?

Outside tap with hose fitted

Outside tap

If you have a outside or garden tap you should make sure the pipes are lagged to avoid the pipes from freezing, also if possible turn off the isolator valve that feeds the outside tap and drain off the water by opening the tap, so there is no chance of the water freezing. You could also buy and fit a garden tap jacket that goes over the tap to keep it from freezing.

Flooding and snow be prepared

If heavy snow is forecast make sure you know where the snow shovel is, if you have one. You can also buy rock salt for your paths and driveways. Keep heating on but at a lower level to help keep the house warm. Be aware of sliding snow of thawing roofs. If you have a conservatory you should ideally have a snow guard fitted to the fascia to prevent snow sliding on the the conservatory roof and damaging it.

If major flooding is warned, take all valuables upstairs to keep them dry and safe. Put sandbags at the bottom of doors to try and reduce the amount of water getting in. Take a look at the Met office guidance for flooding.

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10 things that can devalue your property :: Posted by: Admin on August 7th, 2013

Graphic of a house with money going down a drain

10 things that can devalue your property

You can do thing’s that improve your property but you can also do things that will devalue your property, obviously this isn’t a good thing and when selling your property could affect how quickly you sell your property.

You have to think like a buyer and what they maybe looking for, offer a plain canvas so they can put their own mark on the place. The following 10 items maybe good reason for the buyer to knock your asking price down, so take a read and see if you can improve your property before a buyer views your house.

First impressions

First impressions count so make sure your property has good kerb appeal, make sure the frontage is tidy, keep it clean, if you have a garden have some nice shrubs of flowers and keep the weeds and grass down, don’t let the grass get so high you can lose a small child in it. If your property is in need of decoration either do it yourself of call on the services of a professional decorator to do the job for you.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, make it a good one, not a bad one. Bad first impressions are hard to change.

Kitchen

Is your kitchen taken out of the ark? Is it greasier than a chip shop? If your kitchen has seen better days it maybe time to have a new one or at least retrofit it by fitting new door and draw fronts to it. If the walls are greasy use some strong de-greaser to remove the grease.

A clean bright modern kitchen will add value to your property, a run down old one will reduce it’s value. The kitchen is the hub of any home, it should be a nice place to be.

Another thing to consider is if you fit a kitchen that nobody else likes this could also devalue your home, that’s not to say you can’t be modern or contemporary with your choices but when people come to view your property they will have in their minds, “Needs a new kitchen”, and knock your asking price down accordingly.

Bathroom

Much the same as a kitchen the bathroom should be clean and bright. If you have carpet is it in good condition or stained and mouldy, an alternative is a tiled floor, which is easy to keep clean and mob up water.

If you still have a bathroom suite from the 1960’s or 1970’s that is chocolate brown, avocado, turquoise or pink unless you have a retro styled bathroom it could knock a little more of the asking price. White is very popular today with more attention being spent on the accessories such as waterfall taps.

A tiled bathroom is often found nowadays rather than papered due to the fact of the dampness you get in a bathroom from the steam, if you have wallpapered walls that is coming off at the corners, invest in some paste and stick them back.

Decoration

There is nothing wrong with bright colours or big bold patterned wallpaper, but all things in moderation, especially from a buyers point of view. If your decoration is in good condition then you don’t have to worry too much but if you haven’t decorated for the past 15 years consider digging out the paint brushes and roller to give your house a lick of paint to freshen it up.

If you have bright bold colours, consider taming them down a shade or two before putting the house on the market, it won’t be such a shock to the viewers then.

Garden

Both front and rear garden’s are important to maintain, mow the lawn, weed the border and plant some nice shrubs and bedding plants in the border. If you have fast growing Leylandii conifers in the garden make sure they are well maintained and trimmed, the last thing you want to do is end up with a dispute with a neighbor, especially if you are trying to sell your property.

If you have a patio area or decking, give it a clean. Sweep up the fallen leaves. Fix and broken fencing or replace fence panels and mend gates. Put the kids toys away.

Bad workmanship

If you have done any work or had any work carried out on your property make sure it is of a good standard, bad shoddy workmanship shows up and will put people off as they know they will have to redo the work again correctly.

You should never do the work yourself unless you have a good knowledge of what is required, any gas, electric, plumbing and heating should be carried out by a qualified person. If bad workmanship is seen people will wonder what else hasn’t been done right or how much is this going to cost me to put right, all of which devalues your property.

Bad or illegal building

If you have had any building work done in must of been passed with the local building authority, if it isn’t you’ll have real problems when it comes to selling, plus it’s illegal and you could be asked to take it down.

Another issue arises if you live in a listed building, there are rules you have to follow and things you are and are not allowed to do to a property, go against this at your peril and at the expense of devaluing your home.

Building with no planning permission when permission is required will make your property untouchable for many buyers, it just isn’t worth the hassle, so make sure all the paperwork is in order and that the local building authority are happy with your new build before trying to sell.

Woodchip and artex

If you still have woodchip wallpaper or artexed walls this could certainly devalue you property as it isn’t in fashion any more and it can be fairly costly to remove it and have the walls plastered smooth again.

Having woodchip or artexed wall could also show to potential buyers that you haven’t decorated in a while, it could be a deal breaker so consider removing them if you still have them before selling, or be prepared to drop the asking price accordingly.

An Englishman’s home is his castle

As the old saying goes, “An Englishman’s home is his castle”, but that doesn’t mean you have to ram in every period feature into one house, it is good to have original period features but if you adding features be careful not to over do it.

You don’t want to have a ceiling rose with a large light fitting, a picture rail, a dado rail, ornate eight inch skirting boards in a 1960’s end terrace, it just won’t look right and may put people off buying your house as it doesn’t look like a 1960’s end terrace it may look just a bit, over done. So it maybe a good idea to try and keep true to the period of your property when you do it up.

Smells

If you have pets such as cats, dogs and you let them run freely around the entire house you may have pet smells in your house, to avoid this try keeping them downstairs and maybe to one or two rooms to keep smells to a minimum.

Also be aware of leaks, a slow drip from behind the concealed toilet cistern or a leaking kitchen tap will make the surrounding area damp and in time this will smell, if you know you have a leak try and fix it as soon as possible, if you have rotten wood caused by a leak, replace it.

Smells can also come from leaking drainage, you should fix these as soon as possible, not only because of the smell but because of hygiene also.

In summary

I hope this post has been thought provoking as well as useful and pointed out some things that could devalue your house but maybe you hadn’t thought about before.

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