10 Winter Preparation Tips For Your Home

Winter Tips For Home

Winter is well and truly on it’s way and it’s set to be another cold one. With that in mind it’s time to prepare yourself, and your home for the freezing weather. We have put together 10 tips on how to ensure your home is ready for winter.

Check The Mains Water Stop Tap

Make sure the tap is able to turn to isolate the water supply in the event of an emergency. Consider fitting a “Superstop” stopcock: the easy way to turn water off.

Lag Pipe Work

Ensure all your pipes are lagged properly inside and outside your home to prevent freezing and flooding should a cold snap take you by surprise. Consider fitting a frost watcher heater in your attic.


Clear all your guttering of dead leavers and other debris to allow rain water to flow freely. This will prevent damage to the buildings and drainage systems.

Check Thermostats Are Working Correctly

They control temperature and provide a comfortable living environment while helping to reduce energy costs.

Boiler Servicing

Have your boiler serviced and your heating system checked over by a registered service engineer to ensure it’s working efficiently. You should also consider adding antifreeze to your heating system as an extra precaution.

Roof Insulation

Ensure your home is not losing unnecessary heat through the roof by fitting additional insulation between 200-300mm thick.

Water Storage Cylinders

Make sure they are lagged to reduce energy bills.

Be Kinder To The Environment

Why not consider replacing your old inefficient boiler with a new High Efficiency Oil or Gas Condensing Boiler and save money on bills over time.

Dripping Taps

Repair and replace broken taps to prevent complete tap failure and the possibility of flooding.


Make sure you have the details of a trusted plumber to hand in case of emergency. Contact us for a list of approved tradesmen.

Why It Might be Time to Renovate Your Garage

Hormann Garage Doors

Garage Renovation

Let’s step back and take a look at your garage – does it ever see the car apart from parked outside? Is it full of stuff in a random manner that could probably do with going to the tip or at least being sorted into some semblance of order? Do you feel like it is a completely wasted space? If the answer is yes to any of these, then it might be time to renovate your garage.

What Can You Do?

So what uses are there for a garage that is otherwise sitting around doing nothing? The answer is a surprisingly large amount! One of the classic uses for a converted garage is as a playroom for the kids or a games room when they get older. Once the basic work is done you can add a big screen TV for their games consoles or other features that allows them to have their own dedicated space.

A home gym is another popular idea, allowing you to exercise when you want and only have the equipment you use within it. It can save you gym membership money in the long run and motivate you to use it as there are no opening times to contend with.

A hobby or interest space is another idea where you can work at what you love without interfering with the normal running of the house. From woodworking to art to crafts, a garage can make a perfect studio or workshop. Just be sure to take a look into adding the extra room to your existing property insurance.

Planning Permission

Before you start doing anything with your garage, you should check out if you need planning permission and if there are any building regulations involved. In most cases, planning permission isn’t needed unless you are altering the structure of the garage so if the work is purely internal, you are okay. The only exceptions are if the property is listed or in a conservation area, while some newly built properties may require it.

Building regulations will apply to any changes you make and all you need to do is contact your local authority with the relevant information. They will let you know about any rules that apply to your plans and will send a building inspector once it is done to give a certificate of completion.

Making The Space Usable

If you plan to use the garage for anything more than storing your car or your junk, then you might need to make some basic alterations to it. Insulation and damp proofing are two examples that are often left off garages but will be needed for a comfortable liveable space. There are regulations about the U value of the property and the damp proofing layers that are required which a good builder can explain in full.

Plumping and wiring will also likely be considered depending on the use of the garage you envision. Any kind of electrical work needs an electrician to complete and will need to be connected to the mains unless the usage is going to be minimal. Plumbing may not be needed unless you want running water to the space.

Get the Best Materials for Your Home Extension

Self Build Extension

As the housing market continues to be a bit unpredictable, more and more people are looking to extending their existing homes rather than moving to a new, bigger one. Adding to the rear of the property can be a big benefit to the overall size of the property and the extra space can be used for a wide range of things with games rooms, home gyms and offices for freelancers being particular popular. While trying to keep the budget down for your extension is always the aim, getting the best materials is also a huge benefit. So what are the best options?


Stone is perhaps the most expensive material to construct your extension but if you live in a conversation area, national park of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) then you might not have much choice. Listed buildings also require any extension (if it gets permission) to be in keeping with the original house and this often means stone.

There are advantages to stone, hence the reason it has been a building material for thousands of years. It’s tough, for starters and it’s very weather and moss resistant. Most of the time if stone is required for an extension, then it will be used as an exterior finish with other materials inside it and an insulating layer between the two.


Brick tops the list in terms of house construction materials because it is highly versatile, cost effective and easy to obtain. If your house is brick built, then you will often want the extension to fit in with it and look much the same. It is common for cheaper, less finished bricks to be used in construction and finished with a finer quality, more expensive brick outside, similar to what is done with stone.


Block or breeze block is without doubt the cheaper construction material but doesn’t look so great so is usually finished with something a little fancier such as brick or stone. Block is ideal for modern dual-layer walls and can even be finished with a layer of rendering for a modern look.


Glass is most often associated with conservatories but there are some modern designers who are using more glass in their extensions. This can make the area more energy efficient, gaining heat and light from the sun and retaining this through the use of double glazing. Glass also looks very decorative although isn’t as popular if the created space is going to be used a bedroom in some cases.


Wood is one of the original building materials, pre-dating stone and brick which have come to replace it. Wood was seen as old-fashioned and impractical but modern developments have brought it back to the list of the best materials.

Kitchen Renovation Ideas For 2016

Kitchen Refurb

No matter how much you love your kitchen, there comes a time when renovation is needed. Whether it is simply refreshing the cupboard doors and drawer fronts, changing a few key elements or a complete overhaul of the space, the kitchen is a hardworking room and this work always pays off. So here are a few kitchen renovation ideas to get you started.


The kitchen is as much about storage as it is about cooking and cleaning. Food, pots and pans, cutlery and a host of other items all need somewhere to live and getting the balance between useful storage and clutter can be difficult.

While kitchen cabinets are great for hiding everything away, sometimes it can be good to open everything up. Kitchen shelves rather than cupboards is a popular choice at the moment, using wood that coordinates with door colours and making use of a few accessories alongside the practical elements. Another idea for kitchen shelves are those that come in a laminate look that mimics the countertops. This creates a harmonious look from bench to ceiling.

If you have too much clutter on shelves in your kitchen, then why not look at pantry storage? Use a cupboard to keep all of those bottles and jars and grab some of the nifty storage solutions available to organise them. Keeping things like herbs and spices out of the daylight can also prolong their lifespan and maintain freshness.

Little changes

Renovating the kitchen doesn’t mean scrapping everything and starting again in all cases. For example, if your doors and drawers look good but you hate the handles, then simply replace them. You can change the feel of a room just by altering the hardware on the units and use the theme or colour in other elements of the room.

Tiles are another little change that can be made that can have an amazing effect on the room. Going for a splash of colour or pattern or even just styled white tiles can add something new to the room without having to change a single cupboard.

A new light fixture is another great little touch to change the room. You can follow the style you want or go for something practical such as a rail with directional spotlights on it, allowing you to shine light in all corners of the room. For an extra practical touch, add under cabinet lighting too – LEDs are great for this and very cost efficient to run.

The big stuff

Gone are the days where kitchen cupboards had to be a wood effect and painting them in colour is a great way to overhaul the look of the room. There are now ranges of special paint designed for the purpose with a full range of bright and subtle shades to suit any taste.

A new kitchen sink is a great way to change the look and feel of a room and many now drop into the bench so replacing them with a new style may simply be a case of measuring the gap and picking from the candidates available. Add new taps to complete the change of look, tying them in with new cupboard hardware.

Why Choose Glulam & Posi Joists?

When looking at the construction of a building, one of the most crucial areas is the flooring. The design of the structure and the flooring used on this foundation is critical to the long term strength of the property as well as making for a well-designed and visually pleasing end result. Two of the newer ideas on the market are Glulam and Posi Joists. But what are they and why would you use them?


Glulam Example

Glued laminated timber, known as glulam, is a structural timber product that uses a number of layers of timber that are bonded together with a highly durable and moisture resistant adhesive made specially for structural jobs. Because of this design system, glulam is very flexible in its size with variations ranging from 45mm x 45mm right up to250mm x 1800mm x 30 metres long. It is an environmentally sustainable material that needs no mining or high energy processing in the way that steel or cement does and creates a warm and comfortable feel to any building in which it is installed.

Glulam is also lightweight, relieving stress on the underlying elements of the house and is one-sixth the weight of a reinforced concrete beam and two-thirds the weight of steel. Because it is lightweight it is also very easy to work with and is also fire resistant. It confirms to the Approved British Standards 4169:1988 and BS EN 386:1995.

With glulam being made as it is, it can also be created into various specifications depending on the needs of the property. It is very durable and can even work in very corrosive environments such as in a swimming pool where the humidity and chlorine levels can cause serious problems to other types of materials.

Posi joists

Reduced Posi Joists

Due to the ever changing demands for sustainable homes that also have a range of ventilation and heat recovery systems, more and more architects and builders are looking for open web flooring systems to meet these needs. One of the most popular of these are the posi joists and strut system. The combination of the lightness of the timber and the special steel web structures means that the system can cover greater distances than other forms. It also allows for a greater variety of internal layouts and a larger range of design freedom in domestic, commercial and industrial properties.

Another major advantage of the system is that there are far few components to put into place than in a traditional softwood floor. This means it is both cheaper and quicker to install. Carpenters don’t spend large amounts of time drilling holes and accommodating the electrics and plumbing facilities that are required. The system also requires less bracing material than other systems and there are no herringbone strutting required.

Finally, once the property is complete, the posi joist system allows easier access for maintenance and alterations than most other systems. So once ventilation and heating systems are installed, they can be easily reached for servicing and alterations. This can continue to save money in time and effort needed to do the work.

Specifying Materials For Your Self Build

Self Build Northern Ireland

Being hands-on with your self build project has many advantages but it can also be overwhelming when you realise the sheer scale of choices that you are faced with when deciding on building materials. Every aspect of the build will require a huge number of decisions and to add to the confusion you may find that your requirements change as the build progresses.  To make your life easier and ensure the build goes according to your schedule and budget you will need to decide on your materials and eliminate those that don’t fit with your budget or style early on in the process. 

Sometimes Alternatives Are Better

You may be tempted to go for authentic materials such as wood and stone but there are lots of modern alternatives which are a lot cheaper and in some cases they actually perform and look better. A good example of this is using slate and stone cladding instead of natural stone. Often alternative materials are easier to install than their natural counterparts so they require less skill to install. This will lower the cost of installation or make it easier for you to do yourself.

Which Wood To Choose

When building your own home it’s likely that you will be needing lots of wood for a variety of uses. Wood is a great building material as it’s strong and durable while being flexible and renewable and it looks great as well. The type of timber you choose depends on what you are using it for.

Wood is strong, durable, long lasting, restorable, recyclable, renewable and of course, attractive. With so many different types of wood available you should consider what you need it for and allocate a form of wood best suited to each job. For example engineered timber is perfect for flooring, pressure-treated timber is great for decking and western red cedar is ideal for fencing so the wood you choose depends on its purpose. Your budget also plays a big role in which wood you choose as you may want solid oak floors but may find that your budget only allows for laminate. Once again specifying the best materials to suit your decor and budget is important.

Know Where To Look

So where can you find the best range of materials to choose from for your self build? Thankfully there are some useful online tools available for specifiers to search a huge range of building products, materials and fixtures and they also act as a comparison tool which is ideal when you are faced with lots of choice.

Knowing where to source your materials and building products is essential for saving you both time and money when undergoing a self build as you can be assured that you have chosen the best materials that your budget allows and are able to eliminate others early in the process. As with any build good planning is vital and this includes specifying materials at an early stage.

Your Guide To Building A Garden Fence

Fencing Northern Ireland

Having a fence around your garden is a must if you’re in need of privacy, security or to keep pets enclosed safely. Putting up a new fence can feel like a daunting task if you’re new to it but fear not, our how to guide will walk you through the entire process to turn you from novice to a fencing pro in no time.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is not required for your fence as long as it’s no taller than 2 metres. When the fence meets a road or footpath the height restriction is 1 metre high. This usually works out that your back garden fence will be up to 2 metres high and your front garden fence will be up to 1 metre high.

If you live in an open plan or shared development then you will also need to seek planning permission as the fence will be impacting on others who are entitled to use that space. If you are in any doubt about whether you need planning permission or not then you can find more guidance here.

Choosing Your Fencing

Now that you know you’re in the clear to start building your fence you need to choose which type to go for. Consider the purpose, size and design of fence that best suits your needs to help you choose the right one for you. The most common types of fencing to choose from are:

  • Palisade – One of the most popular types of fencing, palisade allows you to have both privacy and some visibility in between the panels allowing light to get in while giving you the traditional look of a garden fence.
  • Closeboard – Closeboard fencing is made up of vertical timber panels, which overlap each other. This creates a whole panel with no spaces in it so it is the ideal choice for those looking for extra privacy and it’s cheaper than other options.
  • Trelis – Trelis fencing looks great either on it’s own or alongside palisade or closeboard fencing. When used as a decorative piece it allows more light into your garden and it can also act as extra security when added to the top of your existing fence.


It’s important that you measure out the boundaries for your fence carefully as any mistakes at this stage can cause major problems further down the line. Ensure that you include widths of the fence panels and the gate within your measurements to keep it as accurate and in proportion as possible.

Setting The Posts

Once you have made your measurements and worked out how many posts and panels you will need then it’s time to set your posts.

Install your corner posts first and then establish a straight line to the middle posts by tying a piece of string from one to another. Once you have set your posts then you need to add horizontal support beams that will allow you to attach your panels, you will ideally want 3 support rails.

Once you have your panel lined up then it’s simply a case of hammering 2/3 nails into each of the support beams to ensure that it is securely fixed. A good tip at this point is to use the depth of the beam to create an even space between each one, the last thing you want is to have different sized spaces between your panels.

Building Your Gate

You will want to use sturdy posts to support your gate as this is the area of the fence that will be doing the most work. Measure the distance between your posts and then make the width of the gate 1 inch smaller on each side and remember to make the height of the gate a few inches smaller than the overall height of the rest of the fence to allow it to swing open with ease. You will also need to add hinges to one of the posts to allow it to open and close. Once your gate is complete then you have a fully functioning fence around your property.

For more information on our timber fencing options visit our dedicated fencing page.