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What is your question?

Can commercial architects project manage my construction work?

Yes. Commercial architects can provide a wide range of extra services such as project management, site feasibility studies, and help with site purchase. They can also be a great source of information and advice throughout the design and build process.

Will a commercial architect be expensive?

Not necessarily. Commercial architects may charge either a fixed fee, an hourly rate, or a percentage of the building contract. They could also save you substantial amounts of money as their plans and drawings may stop issues arising later in the construction.

How should I choose a commercial architect?

Choose an architect whose design vision fits with yours – but make sure they’ve got something new to bring to the table. Communication is vital. Pick a commercial architect who can communicate well with everybody involved in the project.

What can a commercial architect offer?

Commercial architects can produce plans and technical drawings. They will also put a creative spin on your building project – perfect for retail or office buildings. Commercial architects will make your building stand out from the crowd!

Can a residential architect help me with planning permission?

Yes. Residential architects will be able to manage the application process as well as offer you advice on the best way to design your building to satisfy the local authority.

How should I choose a residential architect?

The key aspect to choosing the right residential architect for your project is communication. Make sure you choose an architect who you can communicate well with – it’s vital that you are able to accurately communicate your requirements for your building.

How long does it take to get plans produced by a residential architect?

Generally the process for having plans produced will only take a month or two. This will depend on the requirements of your project and the number of technical drawings you need to be produced.

Do I need a residential architect?

Residential architects can help make sure that your building or extension is designed beautifully. They may also be able to develop plans which create extra space, or add more functionality. In addition, having plans may speed up the building process and reduces the chance of errors.

Do I need an asbestos survey to sell my house?

There is no legal requirement to have an asbestos survey done to sell your house. However, some mortgage lenders, estate agents and insurance companies may require one.

What should I do if asbestos is found?

Some kinds of asbestos, if they are in good condition, may be left as they are or covered up. If there is any danger of the asbestos being damaged and particles entering the air, it should be removed.

What happens during an asbestos test?

The surveyors will check the entire property for signs of asbestos. They may take samples. If they find asbestos, they will inspect its condition and advise you of the best course of action to take.

Do I have to have an asbestos test?

The legal requirement to have an asbestos survey carried out applies to non-domestic properties. If you own or operate a non-domestic property such as an office, shop, or warehouse, an asbestos survey and management plan must be in place. For domestic properties, there is no legal requirement to have an asbestos survey.

Should I use a licensed contractor for asbestos removal?

For some types of asbestos, you are not legally required to use a licensed contractor. However, it's recommended that you always use one. These contractors will have all the relevant training and knowledge to make sure asbestos is removed safely. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the licensing body.

Do I need to remove asbestos?

Many examples of asbestos will not need removing, for example if it is present in artex that is in good condition. However, if you are carrying out building work on or near the asbestos it should be carefully removed before the building work starts to make sure it is not accidentally disturbed.

Is asbestos dangerous?

Asbestos is very dangerous if inhaled. It can cause a variety of lung-related diseases. Asbestos will generally not be released into the air unless it is disturbed. You should be very careful if you suspect there may be asbestos in your home and have a survey carried out to check that it is not being released into the air.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral. It was used for a wide range of building materials throughout the 20th century. There are several different types of asbestos, and it was combined with many different materials like cement or plaster.

What kinds of loft conversion are there?

There’s a huge range of different types of loft conversions. The most common are dormer and skylight or Velux conversions. There are also hip to gable and mansard conversions. The type of loft conversion that’s most suitable for your property will depend on the style of roof and the size of your loft.

How long will a loft conversion take?

It depends on the style and size of the conversion, but in general, a loft conversion will take between 1-2 months. A loft conversion is a substantial building project, and plans will need to be drawn up. This may add to the time it takes to complete your loft conversion.

Can my loft be converted?

Many types of loft are suitable for a loft conversion. In general, you will need at least 2.3 metres of headroom in your existing loft. This is to make sure there is enough headroom after the conversion.

Will I need planning permission to convert my loft?

Planning permission is not normally needed for a loft conversion as they are covered by permitted development rights. For more information, see our article about planning permission.

Will I have to get different contractors for the plumbing, heating and electrics?

In some circumstances, you may have to hire different companies for different parts of your garage conversion. But most of the time, garage conversion companies have tradespeople that are qualified to do all the work involved.

Will the company deal with the building control application?

Most companies will make the building control application on your behalf and ensure that all the work is completed to the right standards. When a building inspector has inspected it, you'll get a certificate. It usually takes around 6-8 weeks after completion to come.

How long will my garage conversion take?

It's often said that a garage conversion can take anywhere between 1 week to 1 month, depending on the size and scope. But many standard conversions without any plumbing can take as little as 5 days. Your contractor will be able to tell you exactly how long your garage conversion will take.

Will my garage conversion cause disruption to the rest of the house?

It shouldn't do. Most companies will do all the interior work first, and the last job to do will be creating the opening from the house to the conversion. A reputable company will make sure they cause as little disruption as possible during this time.

Will I need planning permission or building regulations approval?

You may need planning permission if you are planning a larger extension. All extensions will need building regulations approval.

Can an extension add value to my home?

Yes. Most extensions will add substantial value to your home, and you may find that the extension adds more value than it cost. However, it’s important to be sure that the home remains balanced. Extending your garage and leaving your property with no parking spaces, for example, may impact your ability to sell.

Will my extension be expensive?

It depends on the size and type of extension. Small porches or flat roof extensions are very reasonably priced. More substantial two storey extensions can be expensive. In general, the price is roughly proportional to the amount of space you add to your home.

What types of extension are there?

There are many different types of extension. For example, you could install an orangery, flat or pitched roof extension, over-structure extension, or glass box extension. Which one of these is most suitable will depend on your existing property.

Are there different styles of guttering?

There are lots of different styles of guttering to suit any property. Half round is the standard style, but guttering is also available in ogee, deep flow, and square styles.

Can I carry out guttering work myself?

It’s recommended to use a professional guttering company to repair or replace guttering, as well as to carry out cleaning. These companies have the required insurance and will comply with health and safety standards when working at height.

What is the best guttering material?

The best type of guttering material will vary depending on the requirements of the property. For example, on listed buildings cast iron or aluminium guttering may be required to maintain the character of the property.

How much maintenance do gutters need?

The amount of maintenance will vary depending on the material of the gutter. However, all gutters should be cleaned regularly. Ideally cleaning should be carried out yearly, or more frequently if there are trees close to the guttering.

When should I replace my soffits and fascias?

You should replace your soffits and fascias if you are having problems. Soffits and fascias can degrade and rot away over time, and this can cause leaks, faulty guttering, or even allow pests entry to the roof space. If any of these problems occur, you should speak to an experienced roofline company to discuss replacing your soffits and fascias.

Which material is best for soffits and fascias?

In general uPVC is used for soffits and fascias as it is very strong and durable. It also requires very little maintenance. However, wood can be used and is still popular on listed properties as it retains the original material.

Should I fit vented soffits?

Having ventilation in the roof void is a requirement for building regulations approval. Fitting ventilated soffits is the typical way that this roof ventilation is achieved. If you do not have roof ventilation, you may find that your roof void has problems with condensation or overheating.

What are soffits and fascias?

Soffits and fascias are part of the roofline of your property. Fascia boards sit vertically and provide support for the guttering. Soffit boards sit underneath the fascia boards and protect the underside of the roofline.

Can I use my conservatory all year round?

Modern conservatories are well insulated and have double glazing. This means that you can use them in winter, as well as in the warmer seasons.

How long do conservatories last?

This varies according to the quality of the conservatory and installation work. If these are both high quality, your conservatory should last at least 25 years.

Do I need Building Regulations approval for a conservatory?

Most conservatories won’t require Building Regulations approval. However, if you’re planning a conservatory more than 30 square metres in floor space this may be required. If there is no linking door between the home and conservatory then Buildings Regulations approval will be needed too. For more information and to ensure getting everything right, speak to the local council or planning office... Read more ›

Do I need planning permission for a conservatory?

Many conservatories fall under permitted development which means they don’t require planning permission. There are exceptions to this though, especially if you’re looking to have a large conservatory installed. Read our guide on conservatory planning permission for more information.

How can I get privacy in my conservatory from prying neighbours?

Whilst you may think conservatories are nearly all made from glass, this doesn’t have to be the case. If you live in a built-up area you could have a tiled rooftop to enable extra privacy, use obscure glass and even invest in blinds. Be aware that solid walls are possible but if the conservatory is manufactured with less than 50% of glass, you’ll need Buildings Regulations approval.

What are the other options for conservatory material?

Whilst uPVC is the UK’s favourite because it’s cheap to manufacture and has a number of qualities, there are also options available including aluminium and hardwood. Both are popular for various reasons. Aluminium, as a metal, is the strongest and most durable material available for conservatories. On top of this it won’t rust, warp or crack. Hardwood offers a more traditional appeal and... Read more ›

Do conservatories need to be double glazed?

In 2002 the Government amended Building Regulations governing the replacement and installation of glazing units. For the first time, windows had to meet energy efficiency standards and tough thermal performance levels. For new window units you must have efficiency ratings of at least a level C.

Can I change a metal roof to tile?

The feasibility of this will depend on the roof’s strength, in particular its load bearing capabilities. This is simply because tiles are heavier than the metal sheeting. Normally a tiled roof will need to take a load capacity of 60kg per square metre.

What’s a registered Competent Roofer?

Competent Roofer is a scheme that allows professionals to self-certify that their work is in line with Building Regulations. If you don’t use a registered Competent Roofer, you’ll have to pay your local authority to certify the work.

Are tiles suitable for an area with strong winds?

Strong winds can cause extensive damage to unprotected rooftops and in fact tiles act as very suitable protection. The extra weight they provide is great at countering high wind loads and if anything is damaged during severe weather, replacing tiles is straight forward for professional roofers. When you compare this to lightweight materials there’s a significant difference. If you wish to ha... Read more ›

How can I maintain my roof?

You should inspect your roof at least once a year, to check there are no leaks or infestations. It’s best to do this just after it has rained, so leaks are as obvious as possible.

Some of my roof tiles are cracked, what should I do?

Roof tiles should be replaced as soon as possible to ensure that your roof stays waterproof. Use crawl boards when replacing them to avoid damaging other tiles.

How long should a flat roof last?

It depends on the material you use, but if your flat roof is installed correctly it should last for at least 10 years, and at least 20 if a material other than felt is used.

Can I receive a satellite signal using an aerial?

No, you will need a satellite dish to receive a satellite signal for services like Sky or Freesat. These are installed in a similar way to a standard TV aerial.

Can aerials be installed in places other than my roof?

Yes, an aerial could be installed in your garden or on outbuildings. This will depend on the strength of the signal in your area. A professional aerial installation company will be able to advise you on the possible locations for an aerial on your property.

Do I need a new aerial to receive HD channels?

Not if your current aerial is in good condition and receives a good signal. If you don’t currently get a good signal, you may need to upgrade or relocate your aerial to receive HD channels.

What should I do if I’m experiencing poor TV signal quality?

If your TV picture is pixelated, poor quality, or cutting out, there may be a fault with your aerial or the cables connecting it to your TV. An experienced aerial company can carry out a survey to discover the fault.

How much will a new fuse box cost?

Fuse box prices will vary and a periodic inspection should be carried out first. However, domestic fuse boxes cost an average of £460.

Why would I need a new fuse box?

There are a few reasons you’ll need a new fuse box. This would include:
  • The box being old or out-of-date
  • Insufficient or no RCD protection
  • Holes or gaps in the casing
  • Not compliant with legal specifications

Do I need a Part P registered electrician?

Home electrics can be extremely dangerous and it’s very unwise to try and carry out repair work or maintenance without the necessary knowledge and skill. Therefore we would always recommend using a Part P registered electrician.

When should I have a periodic inspection?

Periodic testing and inspections should be completed:
  • Every 10 years for your home
  • Every five years for rented accommodation
  • Every three years for a caravan
  • Every year for a swimming pool
Electrical inspections are also carried out when buying, selling or renting a property.

What is a periodic inspection?

With age and use any electrical installation in your home will wear. A periodic inspection is therefore carried out to ensure your home electrics are in a satisfactory condition. With a periodic inspection:
  • Ensure your electrical circuits aren’t overloaded
  • Avoid accidents such as shocks and fire hazards
  • Discover if there are any defective lines
  • Highl... Read more ›

I’m a tenant in a rental property and think the electrical installation is faulty, what should I do?

You should report any suspected faults to your landlord. It is their responsibility to investigate, and hire an electrician to do any work if needed.

How do I know if my fuse box is faulty?

If your fuse box keeps tripping or blowing fuses, it may need replacing. Other signs that your fuse box is not working properly include humming, sparking and lack of power.

How do I know if my electrical wiring is too old?

You can find out roughly how old your wiring is by simply looking at it. If the wiring around your fuse box is covered in old-fashioned casing, or is damaged, it may be over 25 years old and need replacing.

How quickly can I redecorate my walls after damp proofing has been installed?

You should make sure that all signs of damp have gone before you redecorate your walls. If you want to paint your walls with a water-permeable emulsion paint, you can usually do this after 1 or 2 months. For other types of decoration you should wait longer.

Why is it important to fix a damp problem?

Damp is a serious problem because it can lead to structural damage. This will cost you money and could be very dangerous.

How can I tell what type of damp I’ve got?

Signs of rising damp tend to be close to the ground, usually no higher than a metre. It usually works its way up walls in horizontal lines. Penetrating damp usually develops in patches and can often be much higher up. For more advice, speak to a damp proofing professional.

How can I tell if my property has damp?

There are a few visible signs of damp, although it often goes undetected. These include peeling paint and wallpaper, crumbling plaster, mould growth and rotting skirting boards and flooring.

Are there different styles of cladding?

Cladding comes in a range of styles, such as flush, shiplap, and featheredge. Many types of cladding are also available in a variety of colours to suit any property.

Can cladding help with a damp problem?

External cladding will have an impact on a damp problem. However, it’s important that cladding is the last part of a damp treatment, as installing cladding over a damp wall will make the problem worse.

What are the benefits of cladding or rendering?

The main reason that people use cladding or rendering on their property is the aesthetic benefit. These materials can really boost the appearance of a home. Cladding and rendering can also increase the thermal performance of a property.

What types of cladding are there?

There are two main types of cladding. The first is material cladding, which refers to layers of a material that are attached to the external walls. The material used could be timber, PVC, stone, or other materials. The second type of cladding is rendering, where a coat of plaster is applied to the wall.

Which external areas can be painted?

This will depend on your property, but commonly painted areas include rendered walls, guttering, soffits and fascias, and window frames.

Do I need planning permission to paint the outside of my home?

In most areas, you will not need planning permission. However, if the property is listed or in a conservation area, you will need listed building consent or planning permission to paint the exterior.

How should I prepare for exterior painting and decorating?

Exterior painters and decorators will prepare the areas to be painted for you. This will involve washing and cleaning the area and making sure that it’s a good quality surface. Cracks or holes should be filled in. In some cases, you may wish to have rendering redone before the painting is done.

What’s the best time of year to carry out exterior painting and decorating?

Most companies will recommend that exterior painting and decorating is carried out in the summer months. However, advances in paint technology mean that some paints can be applied in low temperatures and even when it’s raining.

Can I insulate my shed?

Yes, it’s possible to insulate a shed. You might want to do this if you’re planning on working in it during the winter. A professional will be able to help you find an insulated shed or advise you on how to insulate a shed that you already have.

Can I fit electrics in my garden shed?

It might be possible to fit electrics in your shed, depending on where it is and what it’s made of. You should get in touch with a qualified electrician to find out whether it’s possible.

Where should I put my garden shed?

Try to put your shed in open space, away from trees, bushes and other buildings. This will help to protect it from falling branches and sap. It will also mean that you can access all sides of the shed for repair and maintenance purposes. Make sure you take a look at garden shed planning rules before you pick a final spot for your shed.

Does my garden shed need a base?

Yes, your shed does need a base. This is to give it a solid, level foundation. The best materials to use to make your shed base are concrete, natural stone or wood.

What should I do if my deck or terrace is slippery?

Usually, slipperiness is caused by algae or dirt on top of the deck or terrace. A full cleaning treatment should restore the natural grip of the wood or stone. If slipperiness is a persistent problem, consider installing grip mats in high traffic areas of the deck.

Can I fit a hot tub on my terrace or decking?

Yes, although you should make sure that the terrace or decking is able to support the weight of a hot tub. Usually, you will need to have a structural survey done on the area.

Will I need safety barriers or balustrades for my decking?

If your deck isn’t going to be flat to the ground, it’s a good idea to have some kind of balustrade to avoid any tripping. If the gap between the deck and the ground is less than 600mm, use a 900mm balustrade. If it’s higher than 600mm, the balustrade should be 1100mm tall.

How much maintenance will a wooden deck need?

Properly installed wooden decking will not need a lot of maintenance. Most manufacturers recommend regularly brushing leaves and dirt off the deck, and a yearly cleaning and staining procedure. This will keep the wood in the best condition.

Should I use concrete or timber footings?

For 2 metre solid fences it’s recommended to use concrete posts to support each panel. For smaller 1 metre fences or for picket fences with gaps between each timber piece you can use timber posts.

What do I need to do to maintain my fence?

Properly erected fences shouldn’t require a great deal of maintenance. Any rotting boards can usually be replaced without replacing the whole panel. Timber fencing should be stained every 2-3 years.

How do I find out who owns a fence?

Speaking to the owners of the neighbouring properties is recommended. If you are still unsure, you may need to check the original deeds to the property.

Do I need planning permission for fences?

Not if they are under 1 metre high if next to a road or 2 metres high elsewhere. It’s always recommended to check with your neighbours and the local authority if you are unsure. Other restrictions may apply, for example if a fence might impact driver visibility on nearby roads.

How often do gardens need maintaining?

This will depend on the size of the garden and the amount of plants within it. For small gardens, fortnightly or monthly visits by a professional gardener will generally be sufficient. For larger gardens or gardens with a lot of plants, weekly visits are best. Some larger projects such as hedge cutting or tree felling may need additional one off visits.

What’s the difference between hard and soft landscaping?

Hard landscaping refers to structural elements like patios, pathways, paving and sheds. Soft landscaping means plants, grass and trees.

When is the best time to carry out gardening work?

Different types of gardening work will need to be carried out at different times of the year. Garden maintenance is a year round job, although the amount of work will usually decrease during the winter. For larger landscaping projects, aim to have these done through autumn, winter and early spring, to give plants time to get established before summer. Be aware that poor weather over winter can slo... Read more ›

Should a garden be regularly maintained?

Regular maintenance is vital for keeping a garden looking its best. By carrying out regular gardening work, you can ensure that your garden is as functional as possible. Regular garden maintenance work could also save you money, as it is better to detect problems such as overgrown trees or rotten fencing early.

What happens to the felled trees?

Tree surgeons will be able to remove any logs or wood chippings produced by the work carried out from your garden. They will then dispose of these in an environmentally friendly manner. Generally the companies will cut and dry the wood and then sell it on to the local community.

Can tree surgeons carry out work on trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders?

In many instances tree surgery work can still be carried out on trees that are protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Tree surgeons will be able to file the needed forms with the local authority to arrange such work, and advise you throughout the entire process.

Should I be carrying out preventative tree surgery?

Even if your trees are not obviously damaged or diseased, tree surgeons can carry out surveys to determine if there is any work that needs to be carried out. This work could range from removing dead branches, pruning to promote growth, or even crown works which could open up more light into your property by altering the height and size of nearby trees.

Can a tree close to a building be felled?

Many tree surgeons offer a specialist service for trees that cannot be easily felled via a simple cut. Sectional dismantling is used which involves making several cuts to slice the tree into small sections which can be brought back to the ground safely. Using this method will allow tree surgeons to fell trees that pose risks to nearby buildings in a safe manner.

How do I know when I need more fuel delivering for my LPG boiler?

Your LPG storage tank should have a gauge that shows you how much fuel it has in it. Most LPG suppliers suggest that you arrange a fuel delivery when the level in your tank gets down to about 20%.

Where can I put an LPG storage tank?

Your LPG storage tank will need to go outside your property, possibly underground if you have limited space. There are planning rules that restrict where you can put your tank, especially if your property is listed or on designated land. Take a look at our planning permission... Read more ›

How do I get fuel for my LPG boiler?

If you choose to install an LPG boiler, you’ll need to find an LPG supplier. They’ll deliver fuel to you every time your storage tank runs low. You can even rent a storage tank from them if you don’t want to buy one.

What’s LPG?

LPG stands for liquid petroleum gas. It’s a by-product of refined crude oil. When it’s put under pressure, LPG turns into a liquid. It’s usually stored in this form. LPG is used as fuel for things like BBQs and camping stoves, as well as central heating.

How many types of air source heat pumps are there?

There are two main types of air source heat pump: air-to-water and air-to-air. They work in different ways and have different advantages and disadvantages. Make su... Read more ›

Are air source heat pumps noisy?

No, air source heat pumps aren’t particularly noisy. Most models make about the same amount of noise as a boiler or fridge.

How long will an air source heat pump last?

If you look after your air source heat pump, it can last for over 20 years. Make sure you check it every year and get a professional to check it every 3-5 years to prolong its life. If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions.

How to air source heat pumps work?

Air source heat pumps work by taking heat from the air and using it to heat your home. They absorb heat from the air into a fluid, which then goes to a compressor where it gets hotter. This heat is then used to warm up water or air, which is distributed around your home.

How long does it take to install insulation?

How long it takes to install insulation will depend on the size of your property. In general, loft and cavity wall insulation can be installed in a day or two. External wall insulation will usually take longer to install.

Which type of insulation is best?

The best type of insulation for your property will depend on the type of walls and any insulation that’s already present. It’s usually a good idea to have some form of wall insulation as well as loft insulation, as this helps to prevent heat loss in both areas.

Does cavity wall insulation lead to damp problems?

Insulating a cavity wall should not affect the damp proofing of the wall. All insulation approved for use in cavity walls has been tested to ensure that it does not allow damp to pass through the wall. Some walls which receive a lot of wind driven rain are unsuitable for cavity wall insulation.

Will insulation save me money on my energy bills?

This depends on the amount of insulation already present in your property. However, adding insulation has been proven to improve the energy efficiency of your home and decrease your heating bills.

Which air conditioning unit should I get?

There are a range of air conditioning units on the market. You should be sure to choose one with the appropriate cooling output for the room where it will be placed. Professional air conditioning companies will be able to advise you of the most suitable units for your rooms.

Do air conditioning units require lots of maintenance?

Most air conditioning units will need yearly maintenance. This will involve a full service and cleaning of filters. In very dusty areas units may need more frequent maintenance. Regular servicing will extend the life of an air conditioning unit.

Can I install an air conditioning unit myself?

As air conditioning systems use fluorinated gases as refrigerants, all work on them must be done by professionals holding valid F-Gas certification. There is a range of different qualifications and certifications that apply.

Is air conditioning suitable for the UK?

Yes – in summer many UK homes could benefit from air conditioning. Also, most modern air conditioning units function as heat pumps, meaning they can be used in winter as part of a heating system.

Can I use a biomass boiler with other forms of heating?

Biomass boilers can be designed to work with other kinds of heating. The most common of these is solar thermal. This is a popular renewable energy pairing. Solar thermal heating will meet your hot water needs during the summer while a biomass boiler can operate as a backup during the winter when solar thermal panels do not perform as well.

Is a biomass boiler compatible with my existing central heating system?

Biomass boilers will work with existing central heating systems, whether they use radiators or under floor heating.

Do biomass boilers need lots of maintenance?

Biomass boilers do require some maintenance. Many manufacturers recommend servicing twice a year, although this is often included in the installation cost. Many systems have automatic fuel loading that removes the need to manually load fuel. You will need to remove the ash from the boiler, but this is as easy as emptying a vacuum cleaner.

Do biomass boilers take up lots of space?

Many domestic biomass boilers are no bigger than a standard gas boiler. However, they do require a flue and a space to store fuel. These can be designed to suit many different properties and will fit in lots of homes.

Is electric heating suitable for my home?

There are a range of variables that will determine which heating system is best for your home, such as the level of insulation and size of rooms. However, electric heating is suitable for many homes. Electric boilers are very compact and do not need a flue. Underfloor heating is effective at heating rooms of any size.

Should I use a certified electrician to install my electric heating?

It’s always recommended to use a certified electrician to carry out electrical work. They can self-certify that their work meets building regulations. While some parts of electric heating systems can be installed as a DIY project, the thermostat and other control wiring legally must be installed by a certified electrician. There are a range of competent persons schemes in operation.

Do electric boilers or underfloor systems need servicing?

One of the big benefits of electric boilers is that they do not require annual servicing. There is no legal requirement for a yearly service and safety inspection as there is with gas boilers. Some installation companies do offer servicing packages included as part of the price.

What are the benefits of electric heating?

Electric heating has several benefits. It can be paired with renewable electricity generation, so the electricity used to heat your home will be sustainable. Underfloor heating is very efficient and can be cheaper than comparable gas or oil fired systems.

Do oil boilers need lots of maintenance?

Modern oil boilers do not require a lot of maintenance. OFTEC recommends that oil boilers are serviced and inspected every year. This keeps them running as efficiently as possible and will ensure any issues with your boiler are identified before they cause bigger problems. This servicing is also vital because of the increased risk of carbon monoxide leaking from a poorly maintained boiler.

Do I need to use an OFTEC certified installer?

The Oil Firing Technical Association or OFTEC operate a competent persons scheme to certify installers. It’s always recommended to use an installer with this certification as it proves they have the training and expertise to properly install your boiler and give you realistic advice on the efficiency of your system. Also, OFTEC registered installers offer Workmanship Warranties to protect you if... Read more ›

Are oil boilers as efficient as gas boilers?

Yes. Modern condensing oil boilers are ‘A’ rated and therefore as efficient as comparable gas boilers. They come with the same controls as gas central heating systems, so you can still use a thermostat to control your heating efficiently. Also, oil is more efficient as a fuel source than gas, so you will get more energy per unit of oil. Oil prices can fluctuate, however, so ensure that you fin... Read more ›

Why should I get an oil fired boiler?

If your property is not connected to a gas main, oil boilers are a great alternative to gas boilers and more efficient than LPG alternatives. They can also be paired well with renewable sources. However, if your property is connected to the gas mains, there is generally no reason to switch to an oil boiler, as you will need to have oil delivered to an extra storage tank.

How does the A-G gas boiler rating system work?

The A-G scale refers to the energy efficiency of your boiler. G-rated boilers are the least efficient, and give you less heat and hot water for your money. Installing an A-rated boiler will reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions.

Can I stay at home while my gas boiler is being replaced?

When your boiler is being replaced you won’t have hot water or central heating. If you don’t mind this you can stay in your home, and use portable electric heaters if needed.

How do I know if my gas boiler needs replacing?

If your boiler is making strange noises or smells, or doesn’t seem to be working properly, it may need replacing. Boilers usually last about 15 years. Even if your boiler is working normally, it’s worth replacing when it gets this old.

Do alarms deter burglars?

Visible alarm systems can deter burglars. There are a range of options for what happens when an alarm is triggered. For example, there are bells only, alarm receiving centre, and homeowner monitored alarms. These are all effective as deterrence methods, and which you choose will depend on your specific needs.

Will my alarm system cause lots of false alarms?

Properly installed and calibrated alarm systems will very rarely trigger a false alarm. If you have pets you will need to use pet-friendly alarm systems. External sensors should be properly calibrated to avoid triggering in the wind or rain.

How many sensors do I need?

The number of sensors you need will depend on the size of your home. Most alarm systems feature 2-4 passive infrared sensors (PIRs) for motion detection, and 2-4 magnetic contact sensors on doors and windows.

Are wireless alarm systems reliable?

Modern wireless alarm systems are as reliable as wired systems. Wireless systems can transmit alerts as quickly and reliably as wired systems. They are also suitable for installation in more places as there does not need to be space to hide the wires.

Which CCTV camera should I get?

The type of camera that will be most effective will vary depending on the space you would like to monitor as well as the specific location. Professional CCTV installation companies can carry out a survey of your property and identify the key areas to monitor.

Does CCTV work in the dark?

Most cameras have a night mode to capture video in the dark. They use an infrared sensor to detect infrared light. These pictures are black and white, but still retain plenty of detail.

Does CCTV deter crime?

Various studies have suggested that CCTV is an effective deterrent against home burglaries. In the event that a crime is committed on your property, well placed CCTV means you’ll have the evidence to help the police.

What are network enabled or IP cameras?

Network enabled/IP cameras are digital CCTV cameras. With these cameras, the video captured can be streamed over the internet anywhere in the world. Most manufacturers of IP cameras have a smartphone app that allows you to watch the video feed on your phone.

Will I need to replace my appliances?

Not if you don’t want to! The size of many appliances is standardised, meaning they should fit in to any new kitchen. Ask an experienced kitchen designer or installer if you’re not sure if your current appliances will fit into a new kitchen.

What types of worktops are available?

There is a huge range of worktops on the market. In terms of material, worktops can be wood, natural stone or metal. Worktops are available in a massive variety of styles and colours, to suit any style of interior decoration.

How long will it take to install my kitchen?

This depends on the size of the kitchen and the type of worktops and appliances you are installing, but most kitchen installations will take around 1-2 weeks. Be aware that many kitchen manufacturers have substantial lead times. Tiling or electrical installations may add to this time.

What are the benefits of having a designer design my kitchen?

Working with a designer to plan your kitchen means you’ll get the best possible use out of the space. Designers can offer you lots of space saving solutions and innovative kitchen units, making your kitchen a truly functional space.

Should I use a designer to design my new bathroom?

Using a designer to professionally design your new bathroom will mean that you know you’re getting the best style of bathroom to fit your room. They can advise you on the best layout, styles, and colours to turn your bathroom into a beautiful space to relax.

What are the benefits of renovating my bathroom?

Apart from the aesthetic benefits of modernising a bathroom suite, replacing older toilets and showers with modern energy and water efficient ones could save you money. Also, modern mixer taps offer more precise temperature control.

My bathroom is very small, what solutions are available?

There is a range of space-saving toilets, showers and baths available. These are designed to accommodate small spaces and could mean that you can fit a bathroom in a small room that might otherwise be unused.

How long will it take to install a new bathroom?

In general, a new bathroom will take 1-2 weeks to install. This will vary depending on the size of the bathroom and the range of new units. Tiling and installing underfloor heating will make this time significantly longer.

Can plaster cover Artex?

Plastering is suitable to cover most Artex. If it’s shallow Artex, it may be covered by skimming plaster on top. If the pattern of the Artex is too deep, you may need to use plasterboard to cover it.

What types of plastering are there?

There are several different kinds of plastering. ‘Dot and dab’ refers to a base layer of plasterboard which is attached to a wall using ‘dabs’ of adhesive. ‘Floating’ is a technique where a backing or undercoat plaster is applied to walls. ‘Skimming’ or ‘reskimming’ refers to the very thin final decorative layer of plaster.

How do I fix cracks in my walls?

Plastering will fix small cracks in walls. Very small cracks may be fixed by simply reskimming plaster. More serious cracks will usually mean that you need to use new plasterboard or backing plaster.

How long should I wait after plastering to paint my walls?

You should always wait until plaster is dry before painting. The time this will take varies depending on the room and property, but in general, it will take about a week.

What types of flooring can I use with underfloor heating?

Engineered, laminate and vinyl and tiles are all fine to use with underfloor heating. But beware of wood or carpets as these materials will absorb moisture.

What's the best flooring for a kitchen?

Vinyl, tile or laminate are good options for the kitchen, but stay away from carpet or wood flooring. Wood flooring can warp and rot from water damge or spillage. If you are looking for the wood look, try engineered boards as this will help them become resistant from water and changing temperatures.

Can I use my old carpet underlay under new flooring?

If you're replacing your carpet with new carpet, you might be able to use your old underlay. But if you're getting wood, laminate or vinyl flooring it's not suitable. It will put stress on the joints if you use underlay.

Why do I need expansion gaps between the flooring and walls?

Depending on the flooring you lay, you will beed between 10mm and 15mm gaps at the edges of your room. This is to accomodate for temperature and humidity fluctuations that cause your floor to expand and contract. Don't worry - the gaps will be covered by your skirting board.

Can painters and decorators repair stained walls?

Yes, painters and decorators can repair stained, damp or mouldy walls. Usually, this process will involve stripping away the damaged paint and treating the area with specialist paint. After this is done, the damaged sections can be repainted to match the room.

How should I prepare for interior painting and decorating work?

Your painter and decorator will carry out most of the preparation work for your project. You can help them by ensuring that the area is clean and tidy. Also, remove as many personal items and pieces of furniture from the area as possible.

Which type of paint should I use?

There are lots of paints that are suitable for different areas of your property. In general, gloss and eggshell paints should be used in high traffic areas, whereas matte paints are suitable for lower traffic areas. Professional painters and decorators can give you advice on the most suitable types of paints.

What sort of jobs will an interior painter and decorator carry out?

Interior painters and decorators will offer a wide range of services. These range from painting and wallpapering to other decorating jobs such as fitting skirting or architrave.

How do I manage drainage for my paving?

There is a variety of methods available to ensure that your paving drains properly, for example draining into a lawn or soakaway. Correct drainage of paving is a requirement for planning permission. See our guide on planning permission for paving for more information.

What colours and patterns are available for paving?

Paving comes in a wide range of colours and patterns. Consider using a contrasting colour for the edges of your patio or driveway for a tidy effect.

Can paving withstand the weight of my car?

Paving can be used for driveways and is capable of bearing the weight of cars and other vehicles. Ensure that you choose the appropriate type of paving, as some are designed for paths or decorative use. Correct installation is vital as improperly installed paving may move or break under the weight of a car.

How can I get rid of weeds coming through my paving?

You should pull up and remove weeds by hand. If it is a regular problem, you might need to reseal the paving. In extreme cases, the sub layer itself may need to be re-laid. You can use weed killer, however some paving can be discoloured by strong weed killers.

What materials do patios come in?

Patios can be made from brick, natural stone or paving stone. These materials come in a huge range of colours and effects, so your patio can perfectly complement your garden space.

Will my patio withstand heavy rain?

Patios use durable materials which will be able to withstand extreme weather. It’s important to consider the drainage of your patio, as heavy rain will need to drain away to an area that can absorb the water.

My garden is sloped, can I install a patio?

Patios are suitable for many gardens. If you do not have a flat area already, consider having some landscaping work done to create one. If your garden is on a very extreme slope, you could have a multi-layered patio with steps between each layer.

Will my patio need a lot of maintenance?

Patios do not require lots of maintenance. They will only need occasional cleaning to make sure that the material keeps its original appearance.

Do I need to be at home when my driveway is being worked on?

Your contractor should have access to your driveway and a power source. If they have these things, you don't need to be there while they're working on your driveway. However, it's worth being around if you can so you can clarify details and answer any questions.

When's the best time to get driveway work done?

Driveway work is usually done in the warmer half of the year. This is partly to avoid bad weather. If you want to get ahead and avoid waiting for a contractor to be free, you should try getting in touch with a professional in early spring.

Do I need to seal my concrete driveway?

Sealing your driveway isn't 100% necessary, but it is recommended. It will help keep your driveway in good condition and increase how long it lasts. Sealer should be applied approximately once every 2 years, or when your driveway begins to show signs of deterioration.

Why has my driveway cracked?

Driveway surfacing materials like concrete, asphalt and clay brick usually crack because they've been exposed to extreme temperatures or put under high pressure. It's important to repair driveway cracks before they get worse and cause damage to vehicles.

Why has my driveway sunk?

Driveways usually sink because they haven't been laid properly. They may not have been dug deep enough, or the installer might not have used the right materials.

What's the cheapest driveway surfacing material?

Gravel is the cheapest driveway surfacing material. Asphalt costs a little more than gravel, and concrete is significantly more expensive. The cost of paving depends on the material you use.

Which driveway surfacing materials are permeable?

Gravel, asphalt, concrete and paving can all be permeable. However, some types of asphalt and concrete are impermeable. This is why it's important to be precise about what material you want for your driveway. If you want a permeable driveway, you should also make sure that your sub-base is also permeable.

What materials can I use to surface my driveway?

The most commonly used driveway surfacing materials are gravel, asphalt, concrete and paving. Take a look at our product information pages to help you decide which one to use.

What’s the best way to deal with pests?

It’s usually best to use some kind of preventative pest control as well as reactive measures. Pest control professionals will be able to advise you on the best kinds of preventative measures to take.

Will the pest control treatments be safe for my family or pets?

A pest control professional will always make sure that the treatment they apply is safe for people, pets and the surrounding environment. However, in rare cases and with serious pest infestations, you may need to leave your home for a short period of time.

Can I treat an infestation myself?

Yes, although pest control products available to the public are usually only suitable for dealing with very small pest infestations. If you have a nest or persistent pests, it’s best to contact a pest control professional. They have access to more suitable products.

How are pests treated?

This will vary depending on the type of pest. For insects, an insecticide spray or powder will usually be applied to the area. For other pests such as rodents, poison and traps will generally be used.

How do I fix a blocked drain?

Depending on the size and location of the blockage, a blocked drain may be fixed by simply removing the build-up. This can be done either by using drain cleaner or physically removing the blockage. If the blockage is very serious or located within the pipes themselves, you will need to contact a plumber.

Can a plumber fix my gas boiler?

This will depend on the issue. However, many plumbers are also Gas Safe Registered, meaning they can undertake work on all aspects of boilers and central heating systems.

What should I do if I have a leaking pipe or tap?

If a tap is leaking, it may simply be a loose valve or washer. However, if these appear to be sufficiently tight, you should contact a plumber, who will be able to investigate and rectify the leak.

What kind of services will I need a plumber for?

While some small plumbing jobs can be completed yourself, it’s recommended that you use a certified plumber for bigger jobs. Installing toilets or sinks, repairing leaks, and replacing pipes are all jobs that qualified plumbers will be able to undertake.

Do I need planning permission for solar thermal panels?

Most domestic solar thermal panels do not need planning permission and are covered by permitted development rights. There are restrictions on the size and location of these systems. If you live in a conservation area or listed building, or want to install a very large solar thermal system, check with your local authority to see if you will need planning permission.

Can solar thermal panels provide enough hot water for my home?

Obviously the performance of a solar thermal system will vary depending on the location of the home, the insulation of the property, and your own hot water requirements. Solar thermal panels are capable of providing all of your hot water requirements from April to September. They will still make a contribution to your hot water needs for the rest of the year, but in general you will need a backup ... Read more ›

Are there different types of solar thermal panels?

There are two different types: flat plate, where lots of thin tubes carry water through a flat absorber panel, and evacuated tube, where vacuum glass tubes capture the sun’s energy directly. There is little difference in performance between the two but evacuated tube panels do more obviously extrude from the roof.

How do solar thermal panels work?

Solar thermal panels work by capturing heat directly from the sun and using it to heat water. This hot water is then passed through a coil to heat the water for your central heating system. Solar thermal systems are compatible with many existing conventional boilers with hot water tanks, and can be set up to feed in to your existing heating system.

Is there enough sun for solar panels in the UK?

It may be hard to believe with the summers we have in the UK, but there is more than enough sunlight to power solar panels. Solar panels operate in daylight, rather than needing direct rays from the sun so they’ll work throughout the year.

What are the main benefits of solar panels?

Solar panels provide an alternative to paying expensive National Grid energy rates, so primarily their first major benefit is helping to reduce bills. Solar PV panels will produce free electricity, whilst solar thermal panels generate heat for hot water and space heating. There are also payment incentives known as the Feed-in Tariff scheme (FITs) (for solar PV) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (fo... Read more ›

Do I need to do a lot of maintenance on my solar panels?

As long as your panels are installed at the correct angle, you shouldn’t have to maintain them. The rain should clean them, but you could occasionally spray them with a hose. Also make sure no debris falls onto the panels.

How long do solar panels last?

If your solar panels are installed and looked after properly, they can last up to 40 years. Most manufacturers will give them a 25 year warranty, and you may need to replace the inverter after this time.

How do solar panels work?

How do solar panels work?

Solar panels are made from individual solar cells. The cells absorb sunlight and turn it into DC electricity, which is then converted into AC electricity so you can use it to power your home.

Are blinds available for my conservatory roof?

Yes, there are specific styles of blinds that are designed to fit on conservatory roofs. These are often motorised, meaning they can be easily opened and closed via a remote control.

Can I get blackout blinds?

Yes, many blinds are available in blackout versions. These feature an additional blackout layer which will block more light coming into a room.

Do blinds provide insulation?

All blinds will provide a small amount of insulation, helping to keep rooms cool in summer and warm in winter. If you need blinds to keep the sun out of a room, choose a foil backed style which will help to reflect the sun. For blinds to keep a room warm, choose a thicker fabric blind.

What’s the best way to clean my blinds?

The best way to clean blinds will vary depending on the material and style of the blind. In general, fabric blinds can be hoovered, gently dusted and dry cleaned, while wood or wood effect blinds can be cleaned with a damp sponge. Usually, using detergent is not recommended.

How much maintenance do bifold doors need?

Bifold doors are generally very low maintenance. They will only need infrequent cleaning and occasionally you may need to oil the track mechanism to ensure smooth opening.

Will I need a traffic door?

Traffic doors are doors which open like an ordinary door. They are contained within the bifold door configuration. It’s recommended to fit a traffic door if you intend on using your bifold door as the main access point to your garden.

Are bifold doors suitable for my home?

Bifold doors can be made to measure to suit a huge range of properties. There are minimum and maximum sizes for door leaves. These dimensions vary between manufacturers. Different configurations of bifold door are suitable for different size openings.

Are bifold doors secure?

While some people may see bifold doors as insecure, many bifold doors feature advanced security measures. Internally beaded strengthened double glazing is very secure. Choose a bifold door with a multi-point locking system for enhanced security.

Can I replace my front door without replacing the frame?

It is possible to replace a door without replacing the frame. However, most people choose to replace both their door and frame at the same time, as this is likely to make your home security and energy efficiency better.

Can you paint composite doors?

Composite doors have coloured skins rather than a coloured coating on their surface. This means that their colour is long-lasting and they don’t need repainting. If you want to change the colour of your composite door it’s best to ask the manufacturer about the best way to do this. This is because different composite doors are finished in different ways.

What's an engineered wooden door?

An engineered wooden door is a door made out of multiple pieces of wood. This is opposed to solid wooden doors that are made out of one piece of wood. Engineered wooden doors are usually covered by veneer to make them look like they are made from one piece of wood. They tend to be sturdier and straighter than solid doors.

Will a new door fit my aperture?

Many doors are made to measure. If you require a non-standard door width, ask a professional door installation company to measure your aperture and manufacture a door to fit.

How do I know my new door is secure?

There are a range of locks that are available for doors. Look for ones accredited by Secured by Design and British Standards. The quality of the installation will also affect the security of the door.

What colours could I have my doors painted?

The colours available will depend on the material of the door. Timber or aluminium doors can be painted to many different RAL colours. uPVC doors are generally available in fewer colours, but they can still be matched to many existing designs.

What materials are available for doors?

Doors can be bought in a range of materials, such as wood, aluminium or uPVC. There are also more modern composite doors which use a variety of different materials for toughness and durability. Doors are also available in glass reinforced plastic (GRP), and engineered timber.

How can I get rid of my old conservatory?

A good way to get rid of your conservatory is to sell it. Depending on its condition you may not make much money from it, but it’s an easy and financially viable way to get your old conservatory dismantled and out of the way.

What is uPVC?

uPVC is unplasticised polyvinyl chloride. It is a favourite amongst homeowners and manufacturers for its cheap production cost and excellent benefits. uPVC is used for window frames, conservatories and doors. In fact, uPVC can be three times cheaper than wooden frames and is also the most energy efficient option. As well as this, uPVC is now available in a range of colours other than the typica... Read more ›

How can I get rid of my old conservatory?

A good way to get rid of your conservatory is to sell it. Depending on its condition you may not make much money from it, but it’s an easy and financially viable way to get your old conservatory dismantled and out of the way.

What happens if I have problems with my new windows?

Ultimately the double glazing company you use is responsible for the quality of work and to ensure your windows are of an excellent standard. This is why it’s important to get a warranty and use a Fensa registered installer. If problems emerge within a couple of years then it’s likely the installation was of a poor standard. Contact the double glazing company and have the issue repaired or... Read more ›

Should I use a Fensa registered installer?

Using a Fensa registered installer isn’t compulsory but it helps to protect you from cowboys and rogue traders. It will also make life a whole lot easier in regards to Building Regulations. Replacement windows must meet a certain energy efficiency rating and once fitted you need a certificate to show your installation complies. By using a Fensa registered company they’ll issue this certificate... Read more ›

Are A-rated windows worthwhile?

On the grand scale of things there isn’t a huge difference between B-rated windows and A-rated windows. Consumer watchdog Which? calculated an extra 6.5% would be saved on energy bills with A rather than B rated panes.

What is the Window Energy Rating (WER)?

The energy efficiency of windows is measured using ratings, varying from A, the most efficient, to G, the least efficient. This scheme is run by the British Fenestration Council (BFRC). To comply with Building Regulations you’ll need windows of energy efficiency at least level C.

What are the other double glazing options?

Double glazing frames don’t just have to come in uPVC and are available in other materials including aluminium and wood too. Wooden or timber windows are more suited to properties with a traditional look and are often the frame of choice for listed buildings and homes in conservation areas. When properly maintained wooden windows can last well for years but can be up to three times more expe... Read more ›

What is uPVC?

uPVC is unplasticised polyvinyl chloride. It is a favourite amongst homeowners and manufacturers for its cheap production cost and excellent benefits. uPVC is used for window frames, conservatories and doors. In fact, uPVC can be three times cheaper than wooden frames and is also the most energy efficient option. As well as this, uPVC is now available in a range of colours other than the typic... Read more ›

What if my home isn’t suitable for double glazing?

Some properties are unable to have double glazing, especially those in conservation areas or listed buildings. To counter this problem and still benefit from a warmer home and cheaper bills, secondary glazing is an option. Secondary glazing is a second pane fitted inside your original window. Secondary glazing will still save you around £105 yearly.

How much money will I save with double glazing?

By replacing the single glazed windows in your home you stand to make savings of around £170 each year. It’s not just the financial gain that makes double glazing attractive though and you can also save up to 680kg of carbon emissions annually. Over 20 years this is a saving of around £3,400 and 13,600kg of CO2.

What happens to my old windows?

After fitting your new windows, your installer should take away and dispose of your old windows. If you want to keep them, just let your installer know before they start work.

Should I get all my windows replaced at once?

You don’t have to, especially if you’re on a budget. If you’re only replacing some, it’s a good idea to get all the windows on one side of your property replaced at the same time, so they all look the same.

Do I need to stay at home while my windows are being replaced?

Most installers will not need you to be at home while they are fitting your windows. It’s a good idea to be present though, just in case they have any questions for you.