Finding the Best Tradesmen for Home Improvements and Repairs

Plumber on the kitchen.

If you’re looking to schedule some routine maintenance for your house, carry out a repair or arrange a home improvement project, then you’re going to require the services of a skilled tradesman. But with so many niches and areas of specialisation out there, finding the most qualified practitioner for your situation isn’t always so easy.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at a few of the most common types of tradespeople in operation. We’ll offer a bit of insight into how you can go about selecting the best professional for a given trade:

Electricians

When it comes to hiring an electrician, there are many different variables that need to be considered. To begin with, you want to hire a person who has the proper credentials. Verifying this means that you need to have at least a cursory understanding of local requirements in your area (e.g. in England and Wales, this would mean compliance with Part B building regulations). But you’ll also need a means of verifying a particular electrician’s certification claims. Registration with local trade bodies, accreditation and insurance should also be taken into account.

Interior designers

Hiring an interior designer is a major commitment, and it’s wise to spend plenty of time looking into your options before you commit to a particular service. First of all, you’ll only want to consider designers who have plenty of professional experience as well as certification through relevant local councils or qualification bodies. It’s also important that the interior designer you select has experience working with the type of property or design scheme that is of interest to you. Every designer has their own speciality, so it’s worth shopping around to find one whose talents are well-aligned with your needs.

Plumbers

Unless you’re currently in the process of building or renovating a house, then the likeliest time you’re going to find yourself in need of a plumbing service is when an emergency strikes. With that in mind, you’ll probably need a plumber that offers 24-hour service. You’ll also want to make sure that all of the right certifications and memberships are in place. For example, if you’re looking for Birmingham plumbers, then you’ll probably fare best with a service that belongs to the Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors Limited (APHC). And there are several other certifying bodies that can vouch for a plumber’s ability to work on a particular system or under certain circumstances.

Landscapers

A competent and qualified landscape contractor can help you transform your property through the use of specialised tools and expertise. But finding the right provider isn’t always that easy. To begin with, a run of the mill garden maintenance team may have the requisite skills to keep your garden looking beautiful, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re actually capable of providing landscaping services. For that reason, it’s important to note that there are three overarching aspects to landscaping – hardscaping, softscaping and maintenance. It’s rare for one landscaper to excel at all three. Knowing what specialisation you require will go a long way toward helping you choose the right landscaper.

Heating and Cooling Specialists

When it comes to hiring an HVAC specialist, you’ll want to start by doing some research. Educate yourself about the local licensing requirements, and then read up on your specific heating and cooling system. Specifically, make sure that you know its model and maintenance history. As far as finding the right specialist is concerned, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or to look for reviews in an online directory. And at the risk of sounding repetitive, don’t settle for an underqualified service. Credentials and qualifications exist for a reason.

Builder

Proper licensure is important for any tradesman, but the stakes are particularly high when you are working with the built environment. It’s absolutely critical that the person constructing or working on your house or place of business has all the proper licenses and qualifications. Failing to ensure this could have disastrous consequences. You’ll also want to make sure that they have home indemnity insurance, which protects you in the case that something happens to them (anything form insolvency to death) which prevents them from finishing the job. As far as looking for referrals is concerned, it’s wise to follow up with past customers and to look, in particular, for unresolved disputes related to past projects. These should be taken as red flags.

Carpenter

Carpentry is a truly ancient trade, and today’s tradespeople continue to branch out and specialise. That’s why it’s important to know specifically what type of carpenter you require (e.g. rough carpenters, finish carpenters and repair carpenters). When you know a bit about each specialisation, it becomes easier to narrow down the search. You’ll also want to check and confirm that your carpenter is appropriately qualified, licensed and insured. Finally, availability is often an issue when hiring a carpenter. This is an in-demand trade, and finding a qualified professional with time to work on your project can be challenging.

Roofer

Roofers are another of those tradespeople that you’re most likely to need when an emergency strikes. This makes it all the more important that you have a reliable service to call upon. If a storm strikes and your roof is suddenly in need of emergency repairs, it’s going to be difficult to spend much time shopping around for a qualified roofer with all the appropriate credentials, licenses and insurance. That’s why it’s a good idea to make note of these professionals ahead of time. When it comes to roofing jobs, references and word-of-mouth referrals go a long way.

Whether you’re in the market for plumbers or interior designers, you can be sure that finding the most qualified professionals is going to require a bit of research on your behalf. But by educating yourself about the job at hand, you’re much more likely to find the right tradesperson for the job.

Quick Fixes for Small Problems around the Home

House MAde Out of Tools

We’ve all been there – there are a couple of smaller problems around the home that shouldn’t really take all that long to fix, but… for one reason or another, we just haven’t got around to actually fixing them.

They’re a pain in the neck, even if they’re not particularly difficult to complete. Putting something off is infinitely easier than actually doing it!

But, unfortunately, we have to do it sooner or later. So with that in mind, we thought we’d cover some of the quickest fixes around, so that – if you have a problem that needs sorting out – you can get round to fixing it tout de suite! Sorted.

Squeaky Door Hinges

Your door hinges are squeaking all the time – is there anything more annoying than that? Luckily for you, it’s a super simple fix: all you need to do is spray a bit of WD-40 on the hinge, working in the liquid by moving the door backwards and forwards for a minute.

If you don’t have any WD-40 to hand, you can always try rubbing some petroleum jelly onto the hinges.

If neither of these works, it’s time for a bit of elbow grease. Lift the hinge pins out a little bit, then lubricate them up with a little three in one oil. Make sure to use a paper towel or two to catch any errant drips!

Peeling Wallpaper

Again, super simple tip, this. Grab a pot of wallpaper paste and blob some of it onto a knife. Then you just smear it onto a bit of regular old writing paper, then rub that paper against the underside of the wallpaper that’s peeling.

Next, simply press the wallpaper firmly into the wall, and slide out the writing paper from beneath the wallpaper. Lastly, you just need to smooth out the paper – we’d suggest using a clean cloth to do this.

Dusty Chandeliers

Dusting your chandeliers – where do you start? It’s a good job we’re here, isn’t it? First of all, use your common sense: turn off the lights. After waiting for the fixture to fully cool down, pop on a pair of cotton gloves. Dab one with a little glass cleaner, but keep the other dry.

All you need to do now is to rub each fixture with the dampened glove first, drying them off afterwards with the dry one. Spotless!

One thing, though: if your chandeliers are crystal, you don’t want to use glass cleaner. Instead, substitute it for a solution made up of three parts distilled water to one part rubbing alcohol.

Slamming Doors

Yet another annoyance around the home, slamming doors can thankfully be fixed with a minimum of effort. All you need to do is to get hold of a handful of pieces of foam weather stripping, and affixing a few smaller bits around the doorstop.

If you’d rather use something that you’re more likely to find around the home, grab one of those wide elastic bands that you’ll often find wrapped around a bundle of letters. Wrap the band around one of the doorknobs then stretch it around to the other side, wrapping it around the other doorknob. This will act as a cushion, stopping any nasty slams.

DIY Tips for Beginners

Frau beim Heimwerken, Werkzeug

Just by having a few tips on your side, DIY can be made a whole lot easier, and more enjoyable to boot. DIY is there to save you a bit of money, but it can be pretty costly on your time. Luckily for you, we’re here to save you a bit of time with your DIY.

It’s the best of both – so what have you got to lose? Here are our tips!

Stop Wood from Splitting

When you’re hammering nails into thin wood, you risk the wood splitting. Use this age-old carpenter’s trick to prevent that happening: drive the head of the nail into the wood perpendicular to the grain. Simple!

Keep Your Brushes in Good Nick

The best way to keep your paintbrushes in good condition is also one of the easiest: hang them from a clothes hanger after you’ve cleaned them. Keep them going for longer!

Avoid Splinters

Drilling a hole into wood? You’re always going to encounter a bit of splintering on the bottom. How to avoid this is nice and easy – all you need to do is pop a bit of spare wood underneath it, and secure it all together with clamps.

Stop Paint Drying on the Tin Edges

If paint dries on the edges of the tin, it can make it hard to get the lid back on properly, which could in turn cause the paint inside to start drying?

How do you stop this? Simply fold a bit of foil around the edges.

Drill Holes into Glazed Tiles

You don’t want to risk your drill slipping as you’re making holes in glazed tiles. All you need to do to avoid this is popping some masking tape onto the tile. Make a cross with two short strips, with the centre on the hole. Then get to work!

Catch Dust While Drilling

When you start drilling into a wall, it can create a whole heap of dust. If you want to avoid that, all you do is get a Post It note and fold it in half. Stick it to the wall beneath where you’re drilling, and all the dust you create will fall neatly onto the “shelf” you’ve made below it.

Put up a Level Shelf

Putting up a shelf is an easy job. Making sure it’s perfectly level, however, is less simple.

Here’s an easy way to make sure your shelf is 100% level. First, fix one support to the wall. Next, place the shelf on top of the support, and a spirit level on top of the shelf. Move the shelf slowly upwards, until you can see it’s perfectly level, then pencil a line below the shelf. Hey presto – that’s where to affix the second support!

Magnetise a Screwdriver

A magnetised screwdriver is a surprisingly useful thing, especially if you need to put some screws into awkward to reach places. You can easily magnetise your screwdriver at home, simply by getting a magnet and running the magnet over your screwdriver repeatedly, always in the same direction.

Need to stop it from being magnetised? Just put the same pole on the screwdriver and run the magnet in the opposite direction.

How to Winter-Proof Your Home

snowflake at wood background

Autumn has well and truly set in – the nights are creeping in earlier and earlier with every day that goes by, and coats are becoming more and more an everyday necessity. Sadly, it seems as though the summer isn’t coming back for a quick encore, even though it only lasted for about a week or so.

However, we can’t wallow for ever. At some point, we have to accept that winter is coming, and we have to be prepared. Winter-proofing your home is a great place to start, as it will keep you and your loved ones toasty and warm whilst also saving you a bit of money in the long run. What’s not to love?

Here are our tips. It’s all you need to make a good start on protecting your home throughout those chilly winter months!

Protect Your Patio

Winter is cold and wet – any aluminium patio furniture is at risk of rusting. Bring in the furniture if you can, but if not, you should at least cover it with some tarp. This should help keep it pristine.

While you’re at it, if you have a garden hose lying around outside, drain it and keep it somewhere warm until the spring. If you don’t, the water will freeze inside it, ultimately causing holes to appear.

Use a Thermostat

If you don’t have a programmable thermostat already, we’d recommend investing in one. They’re not overly expensive, and the investment will pay for itself over time.

Fiddle about with the settings to find something that works for you, but we’d recommend turning it down by 5 degrees or so while you’re at work, and making sure the warmer temperature kicks in about an hour before you’re due to get home.

Remember as well, if you go away for a while in winter, your pipes are at risk of bursting if they get too cold. A programmable thermostat will help you avoid that pitfall.

Replace Your Doors and Windows

This step is a bit more expensive in the short-term, but as a longer-term investment it will definitely pay off. A full-glass storm door will do the job when it comes to preventing drafts, but these can be costly.

When it comes to windows, get them double-glazed if you haven’t already. Triple-glazing is also an option, but the gains aren’t quite as noticeable. You can also look into low-E treated glass – these save energy too, but with the added benefit of cutting UV rays.

Insulation Is Key

Insulation is sort of the be all and end all of money-saving home improvements. Not only does it trap heat and keep out the cold, but it also helps to cut down on outside noise and reduces drafts. It’s definitely worth looking into.

Get it installed in the roof or attic, as well as in the basement if you have one. Foam insulation is by far the best option, though it is of course slightly more expensive than fiberglass. Get an expert round if you’re not sure whether you’re insulated already.

Common Household Problems Fixed in a Flash

Common household problems – things like bumps and holes in the walls, scuffs on the walls from shoes being kicked off or even just drawers stuck on their runners – can be a real pain in the neck. But luckily, you don’t need to call a handy man in to fix all these little jobs. You can do it yourself far more easily than you might think, without any special “tools“.

paintingawall

  • If there are tiny little holes in the walls but you don’t have any caulk or filler, you can use toothpaste. Yep, really. If it’s a white wall, just smooth a little bit of toothpaste into the hole and even out with the tip of your finger. If your walls are painted, you can still use toothpaste – let it dry and then paint with a matching colour.
  • To clean rust – it might sound obvious – but you’ll need a rust cleaning powder. Sprinkle it around the effected area, dampen the rough side of a regular dish sponge and scrub gently to remove the rust in tiny little black flakes. Regular cleaning and regular use of a rust cleaning product should prevent it, too.
  • If you have scuffs on the wall due to kicked off shoes or furniture dragging where it shouldn’t, you can easily clean it off with a half and half solution of white vinegar and water, again, using the abrasive side of a regular dish sponge to buff away the marks. The place will smell vinegary for a while, but at least you won’t have to repaint!
  • Dressers that get stuck on runners are incredibly annoying – especially if you have to put up a fight with your chest of drawers every time you want to grab an item of clothing. You can either use something like WD40 to oil the runners so that they run smoothly, or if you don’t have any, just rub an unscented candle onto the runners to lubricate them.
  • Want a new loo seat? They’re easy to replace – just measure your existing toilet seat, unscrew the nuts on either side of the toilet seat, chuck the old one out, then put the new one in place and just use the same screws to fix it into position. Easy peasy.
  • If your sofa is sagging and the cushions practically sitting on the floor, you can easily sort it out without having to resort to a new sofa or re-upholstery. Buy some plywood, with a smooth side, measure it to the size of the cushion, then pop smooth side up underneath the cushion – it’ll give it extra support.

Source: The Nest

How to Project Manage Your Home Repairs

Planning and project managing home repairs and conversions is, arguably, more important than the conversion itself. If you don’t plan or have a strict timetable in place, you’ll find it difficult to keep everything on the right track. Plus, the longer your house is filled with dust and building debris, the more miserable you’ll be. Follow these 6 steps to keep your home repairs on track. For help getting the job done, take a look at these links for builders and building materials.

build

 

  • Plan your budget. Write down everything that you’d like to get done, in the order of importance. For example, getting your kitchen redone is more important than remodelling a bedroom. Creating a beautiful new bathroom is (for most) more important than painting the dining room. Write down a list of everything you need to do, then ask a professional (or get a builder’s quote) how long everything will take and how much money you’ll have to spend. Take it step by step, and don’t do one job here and one job there – it’ll really frustrate you.
  • Keep changes – changes of the project – to a minimum. It is unbelievably expensive to change things like your kitchen cabinets halfway through or the placement of plumbing pipes or electrical outlets. Make your plan, double and triple check that what you’re doing is what you want and stand by your decisions!
  • Choose materials wisely. If you’re on a tight schedule, keep in mind that fancy or more expensive materials will usually take longer to ship, longer to fit and longer to incorporate into the build. But on the other hand, these materials could be well worth it.
  • Consider starting your repairs during the “quiet” period. For example, in the winter, storm damage is more common, but if you try to get someone to repair it they may well be booked up for the next month. Instead, call your builder and ask them when they’re most busy, and book your home repairs to occur during their quiet period. Also – and this is really important – pay for the job, rather than the hour, otherwise you could find yourself out of pocket.
  • Plan repairs according to the seasons. Sort out storm maintenance in the summer and clear out drainpipes in the summer before they get blocked with leaves during the autumn.
  • If you know that you want your home to be transformed in time for Christmas or a special event, plan, plan and plan some more. It’s unfair to give them a tight schedule, especially if they’re likely to be incredibly busy.

Source: The Nest