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Construction slows after bumper year

This is the third month that the construction industry has reported a slowdown in growth, but despite that, it has had a bumper year, the reason for this, the best year for builders since as far back as 1997, is that UK’s booming property market has at its heart house building, which is the strongest sector in the industry.

Planning Permission – a necessary evil?

Planning Permission.

It’s there to protect us, but often it can seem as if it’s there to frustrate us.

As you wander around Britain’s towns and you’re likely to wonder what the planners were thinking of when some schemes were passed. Part of the problem is that you don’t always need planning permission. There’s an amount of development that’s allowed in most areas under what’s known as ‘permitted development’, however if your building is listed, or you’re in a conservation area then you’ll need planning permission for pretty much everything, and sometimes that might even include painting your fence, or cutting down your trees. (more…)

Oeco Garden Rooms – a great hideaway in your garden

Garden rooms from Oeco are the epitome of contemporary style and the designs’ clean lines fit in perfectly with any style of landscape.  Innovative garden rooms can be used for a variety of purposes and are a less expensive alternative to building a home extension.  In the main, garden rooms require no planning permission and can be erected professionally and safely within the bounds of your property without fuss.Modern style garden rooms from Oeco come with all the amenities you would expect to find in a home, are energy efficient and temperature controlled for year-round usage.  Whether you want an office, a studio, a playroom or a hobby room a beautifully constructed garden room will fit the bill.The timber clad finishing not only offers a beautiful and robust finish but also serves as additional protection against the elements and the ‘breathable’ construction of these garden rooms keep interior condensation away.Garden rooms can be fully customised and come in a range of finishes, with quality foundations and are built to last.  Oeco garden rooms are manufactured with a ten year guarantee to ensure customer peace of mind.

Filling Larger Holes in Exterior Masonry

Larger holes, as opposed to cracks, in exterior walls require a mixture of sand and cement ,rather than simple filler.  This is also the way to treat areas of blown render.  Rainwater can quickly penetrate such defects if you do not address the issue promptly, bringing all sorts of damp-related problems to the building.Mix the sand and cement dry in a 5:1 ratio to begin with, before adding water slowly until you achieve a stodgy consistency.  Then add mortar plasticiser to improve the mix’s workability.Remove debris from the hole and wet it with a brush, and then help the bonding improve further by mixing a small amount of PVA adhesive with water in a 1:5 ratio.Transfer the cement to a hawk and use a plastering float to press it into the hole or area of blown render.  Hold the hawk just below the filled area to catch excess cement as it falls away.Next, smooth the surface of the wet render to make it flush with the surrounding area and allow it to dry slightly.  You can polish the surface using a wetted float several times, if necessary.If there is any subsequent bulging of the patch as cement forces itself out from the inside while it dries, it usually means the hole is too deep for a single filling.  If this is the case, take the patch back to below wall level and allow the remnant to dry thoroughly before applying a second layer of cement to the render mix.

Long-Term Property Checks

Once you have lived in a property for a considerable amount of time, it is important that you check a number of things, in addition to the regular property checks that are undertaken every six months.First, head outside and check the chimneystack.  If you do not have one, there is nothing to worry about, unless you had one before.  If the chimneystack is leaning over to one side, check it out from a few angles to determine which direction it is leaning.  Also, check for damaged or leaning chimney pots, and plant growth around the general chimney area.Next, check for subsidence around the house.  Look inside and outside the house for cracks in the walls to see if the walls have moved in any way.  If they are leaning in a direction towards or away from you, it is vital that you get professional help as soon as possible.  You can also speak to your insurance company to prevent further damage to your own house and the houses on your street.Check the consistency of the mortar as well as the flood membrane on the outside of your house.  If either one shows significant signs of damage, it may be worth it to get certain bricks repaired and the flood membrane patched up.Check inside for staircase damage also; wobbly banisters are dangerous and could break, causing railing damage.  Next, check for damage under manhole covers.  All of the blockages found should be fixed as soon as possible.

General Property Checks

You should generally evaluate your property every six months to see if there are any signs of wear or problems that need urgent attention.  First, check all of the doors and windows in your house to see if they are sticking or creaking.  A little WD40, or something similar, will fix up poorly functioning windows and doors quickly.Secondly, check the door handles.  Modern five-lever mortise deadlock handles require quite a lot of pressure to shift the levers into place.  These often loosen over time, but can usually be tightened with a 3mm Allen head key.  This is a simple job that takes less than a minute, but can save you a lot of money in the long run.Thirdly, check all of the airbricks in the house to make sure they are clear.  If they are not clear, clean them out with compressed air or a vacuum.  It is also important to make sure the ground level has not risen or fallen around the house.  If you notice any cracks in the wall or ground movement, this can be a sign of subsidence.Lastly, television, telephone and internet cabling, as well as satellite dishes on the house should be checked regularly also.  These are easy to check, but doing so will save a lot of time.  A satellite dish should not move around or look unbalanced, and cables should not be in the position where they can rub against other objects and get caught.All of these checks can help you avoid costly repairs.

Loft Conversion: Common Terms

The following list of terms will help give you a basic understanding of many of the key factors involved in loft conversions. While this list is certainly not comprehensive, it does aim to offer a quick overview of some industry-specific terms that you may not be familiar with that can help you begin a discussion with your loft conversion builder.Dormer: An extension of the roof that gives more internal head room on a loft conversion. If you have limited space, a dormer conversion could suit your needs.Loft conversion: Transforming the top-most level of a home into useable space. If you are thinking about adding to your home’s living space, a loft conversion is an affordable option.Mansard conversion: A specific type of loft conversion in which the roof is renovated to include two pitches on each side.RSJ: The abbreviation for rolled steel joist, essentially an “I”-shaped beam crafted from rolled steel. These are typically used in loft conversions to help support the weight of the floor and the ridge of the roof.Shell conversion: A type of loft conversion in which a professional builder will handle all the most difficult work such as installing stairs, steel work, and structural elements. Lesser jobs like hanging doors, installing skirting boards, painting, and decorating are left to the homeowner. Shell conversions can significantly lower the total loft conversion cost.Velux: A name brand of double glazed roof windows, generally considered to be the top of the line. The company offers a wide range of styles and sizes to choose from.

Gazebos – perfect for lazy summer days!

Whether you’re in need of a sheltered area for a social function, want to improve your garden by providing it with a useful focus, or need to knock something up in a hurry as economically as possible for a private party, a garden gazebo is the natural choice. The open tents familiar from garden fetes are just one form of gazebo available, as they come in all shapes, sizes, styles and materials you can imagine. Indeed, one of the gazebo’s biggest selling points is its flexibility.The average back garden can benefit enormously if it’s focused around a small, wrought-iron arbour incorporating a few seats or a bench. Alternatively, you might want to consider the luxury of a bespoke wooden gazebo, constructed from traditional timber, as a permanent fixture in your garden. A wood gazebo blends in organically with the trees and shrubs and makes an attractive alternative to a garden hut, a space to hang out during the mild weather.But for many people maybe strapped for cash in the current economic climate, a simple canopy gazebo is more than enough to provide focus, shelter and a great setting for social events. People prefer some form of covered space rather than an open garden when it comes to socialising, and a canopy gazebo provides just that. It can be easily set up before the event and packed safely away afterwards.A patio gazebo is a good choice for those wishing to add another space onto the back of the house that can be used during mild spells, and makes an economical alternative to an extension.

What are Gazebos Made of?

Gazebos run the gambit from the prestigious red cedar ones to the simplest of canvas. The material you choose for your gazebo is important for its longevity and durability.Red Cedar is expensive but maintenance costs are low because red cedar naturally resists damage and decay because of weather and insects. Grade One Western red cedar is preferred above all others.Southern Yellow Pine is the next choice in gazebo materials. This pine creates a wooden gazebo of superior strength and resistance to environmental changes. This wood is pressure treated and kiln dried twice to avoid cracks and shrinkage of the garden gazebo. The cost of Southern Yellow Pine is about 10 percent less than the Western Red Cedar.For people on a budget, vinyl is a very good choice of material. It is designed to mimic the wood appearance of the more expensive gazebos. Because it is made in the factory, there is no painting, staining or sealing that needs to be done. A vinyl gazebo can withstand severe weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow or the beating of a hot sun. The vinyl garden gazebo is durable and still looks beautiful. The roofing materials chosen for an outdoor gazebo is one of the most important elements to consider.  Most gazebos have a layered Japanese or slate shingled roof. The most economical is the asphalt shingles because they are easy to manufacture, readily available and prepared in a rainbow of colours, but thatched gazebo roofs are also popular due to their ease of construction and waterproof properties. Most hardware stores carry asphalt shingles so repairs are easily made. For a classy looking outdoor gazebo, you can use the cedar shingles at a higher cost or use copper for the roofing. Copper is an expensive option but it can make you the talk of the town.

It’s easy to find a new property with online property websites

Buying or renting a house for the first time can be daunting, but there are plenty of websites out there that are dedicated to finding you the right property. Online estate agents offer a wide range of properties from houses to flats and can give you a list of local properties for sale or rent at a click of a button.Online property websites such as findaproperty.com and rightmove.co.uk list all of the local estate agents listings, giving you even more choice. These website also provide detailed descriptions and pictures of the properties, as well as maps so you can see where it is situated.Buying a house or renting a flat needn’t be hard, take a look at online property websites, they can give you all the advice you will ever need: happy house hunting?

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