Saturday, March 24, 2007

Addicted to Twitter!

I've been reading about this site for a while now and last night, finally decided to sign up.

In short, Twitter enables people to post their latest thoughts online within around 160 characters.

The site sells the idea of people being able to tell others what they are doing instantly and even by mobile phone.

I quite like the idea of Twitter as a super fast and condensed set of micro blogs from all over.

I see Twitter users getting better at expressing themselves with less words and detail compared to regular bloggers.

I'm thinking about whether we can post our latest reviews to Twitter making our list more and more accessible to a larger community.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Coloured plaster

Getting the right colour in a room is always going to be one of the bigger decisions you will make in decorating. Well it wont be if you're wall papering and that my friends is the subject of a completely different blog post all together!
The use of paints is one thing but to use plaster of colour is another proposition all together! Paint will always look like paint in comparison and once you realise the scale of variety on offer, you'll probably want to bookmark the website offering the selection below;

The Artful Plasterer really do offer this many colours of plaster. No pictures of finished walls I'm afraid. If anyone finds an example or 2 just send me a message. I'd love to see the finished result.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why pay when you can DIY?

Some times you feel the need to quote from an original source. Today its actually a slogan from our friends at;

'Why pay when you can do it yourself?'

Research from Direct Line shows that home improvements average at £7,340 a time but yet 1.1 million of us Brits have had to put up with the substandard installation of kitchens and bathrooms and unsatisfactory extensions. In my case it was the fitting of a boiler.

The research goes on to state that 1 in 7 of those unhappy with home improvements have been stung by tradespeople not honouring a contract.

More often than not people that pay for work in cash believe that cash payers do not have the same legal rights as those paying on the books.

This is not the case!
Homeowners who pay in cash and are unhappy with the work carried out have exactly the same rights as those who pay by cheque or credit card.

I recently spoke with a very helpful volunteer from the Citizens Advice Bureau by the name of Lorraine about this very issue and received 3 helpful fact sheets about how to dispute unsatisfactory work by builders, plumbers etc.

Leave a comment if you'd like me to forward them to you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Safety First

A bare footed electrician standing on a metal ladder in a swimming pool...No!

Ethical Homes at the Ideals Homes Show

A little more on the Show last Saturday.

Lynch Architects created the shows central feature, which demonstrates the latest ideas in sustainable building techniques. Entitled ‘Sustainable living – a return to community; the central part of Earls Court had been turned into a snippet of a village with three houses - representing urban, suburban and rural living.

Since reading The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton I dream of a time when we will be offered spacious modern living as offered by Lynch Architects in the UK as a popular alternative to those beige bricked pastiche designs we have allowed ourselves to tolerate.

Lynch Architects

Barratt Homes

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Ideal Homes Show

Me and my brother were lucky enough to get hold of some complimentary tickets to the Daily Mail Ideal Homes Show at Earls Court today.

The last time we went was back in 1985 or there abouts. It was called the Ideal Homes Exhibition then.

All we remember of the event was a Volvo stand with an amazing plastic ball playground which we decided to live in for the duration. We were about 5 years old in 1985 by the way/ Oh yeah and there was a Volvo hat made out of card board that we got for free. Brilliant!

Volvo wasn't there this year. I'm not entirely sure why a car manufacturer gets to take a space up at a Homes show. This year it was Nissan but without the playground.

The Ideal Homes Exhibition has been running for absolutely ages. The first one was held was back in 1908. Wareham Smith, an advertising manager for the Daily Mail at the time founded the event as a marketing opportunity for the paper. There used to be strong theme of education at the event which has since been completely overshadowed by commercial products and services.
Not much change there this year. I did expect to see more innovation but didn't find anything of great interest apart from a cluster of Carbon neutral show homes. More on that later.

We paid for a guide which came with a goodie bag that amounted to a can of baked beans and a leaflet claiming to make us millions from property investment.

There was a great food area that resembled Spitalfields market exactly and flocked wallpaper absolutely everywhere!

I'll find a couple of independent reviews of the show and post them here in due course. I think I'll see about taking a stand next year.

The list is getting bigger and better and the more chance I have of sharing great customer reviews with others, the better for all of us.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Top value-adding home improvements revealed!

Estate agents have revealed their top value-adding home improvements, as well as their worst alterations in this survey.

Estate Agents' top three value-adding improvements were adding a downstairs extension (70 per cent), followed by putting in a new kitchen (65 per cent) and adding an extra bedroom or study (57 per cent). However, consumers thought these changes were on average 28 per cent less important to adding value to a home than agents.

However, consumers thought these changes were on average 28 per cent less important to adding value to a home than agents.

"Whatever we may think of them, estate agents are the experts when it comes to what helps or harms a sale," said Alliance & Leicester's Richard Al-Dabbagh.

"They conduct valuations of properties on a daily basis so they know that, while you may be proud of your carpentry attempts in the kitchen, they will deter most potential buyers."

Mr Al-Dabbagh added homeowners should be careful that their planned home improvements actually do add value to their homes.

The survey finds consumers also disagreed with agents on alterations that devalue a property.
Agents' top five improvement disasters were obviously home made cupboards or kitchen fittings, non-neutral external decorations, putting polystyrene tiles on a ceiling, removing period features and putting down patterned carpets.

By comparison, consumers thought these alterations were on average 18 per cent less damaging to a property's value than agents, with the biggest disagreement ranked as the removal of period features.

Estate agents' top ten value-adding improvements

1 - Extension to provide extra living space downstairs

2 - New kitchen

3 - Extra bedroom / study

4 - Garage

5 - Conservatory

6 - New bathroom

7 - Adding a new ensuite/shower room / WC

8 - Internal redecoration

9 - New windows / double glazing

10 - Driveway / additional parking space

Saturday, March 03, 2007

B&Q do good

B&Q have ended up on my radar more and more of late and I'm glad to say it is for positive reasons.

Sticking on the subject of water the diy retailer has a handy calculator to saving water around the house.

Its really easy. Go take the test.

Throwing the baby out with the bath water

With sunnier and drier weather expected over the coming months and yet more warnings of a water shortage in southern England homeowners are being urged to save water.

I don't think anyone can beat my mate Tony who uses his bath water on the garden plants but here are a Top 5 water saving tips from B&Q;

1 - Install a water butt or underground storage tank to collect rainwater for use in the garden - it could save 2,800 litres of water, more than enough for gardens in the summer

2 - Think before you flush. Do not use the toilet as a dustbin - each flush can be as much as 11 litres

3 - Try washing vegetables in a bowl, rather than under a tap. Putting a lid on a saucepan will also mean you need to use less water when boiling vegetables

4 - Save hassle as well as water by plugging leaks and fixing drips - a dripping tap can waste 20 litres of water a day

5 - Keep a bottle of tap water in the fridge - running the tap until it is cold wastes five litres of water a time.