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Adige Blog

Top DIY Gadgets Every Home Should Have

Whether you are a DIY enthusiast or not, there are some gadgets and power tools you really should invest in. You don’t necessarily need to be skilled at DIY to use them, but if you do decide to undertake a DIY project such as removing a vertical designer radiator from the wall in order to strip off old wallpaper, a few handy tools will make life so much easier. So what tools and gadgets are worth investing in?

Screwdriver Set

A Multi Purpose Screwdriver Set

Every home should have a set of screwdrivers stashed away in a drawer somewhere. Screwdrivers come in handy for all kinds of things. From opening a plug to change a fuse to tightening up a hinge on a door, there will come a time when you need a screwdriver, so make sure you have at least one of each variety available.

Wallpaper Stripper

Steam Wallpaper Stripper

Scraping off wallpaper by hand is a backbreaking job if you are tackling decades of ugly woodchip painted in magnolia. By contrast, most wallpaper will come off pretty easily if you use a steam wallpaper stripper. The only thing you need to be careful of is that if you get a bit too enthusiastic with the steam, you might notice chunks of plaster falling off too.

Power Drill

Power Drill

You can’t put up a shelf without a power drill. Well, you could, but it might not stay up for more than five minutes. Electric drills are cheap and easy to use. Choose from corded economy drills or upgrade to a cordless drill for outdoor projects. For simple DIY projects, go for a cheap and cheerful brand, but if you plan on building an extension, look at quality brands such as Makita or Bosch.

Electric Screwdriver

Electric Screwdriver

If you are a big fan of flat-pack furniture, an electric screwdriver will make your life an awful lot easier. Instead of sweating away with an old screwdriver, you can get the job done in half the time. And the good thing about electric screwdrivers is that they often come with a selection of multi-functional accessories, such as corkscrews, so if you are struggling to uncork a bottle of wine, pull out your trusty electric screwdriver and get Happy Hour off to a fine start.

Mini Sander

Mini Sander

In order to achieve a professional finish when painting skirting boards and doorframes, you need to sand the wood down to remove lumps, bumps and imperfections. To do this by hand takes ages and the end result is not always that great. Investing in a mini sander will make life a lot easier. You can also use mini sanders to renovate wooden furniture if you fancy introducing a bit of ‘shabby chic’ into your home.

Chop Saw

Chop Saw

Chopping sticks for the fire is a pain when you have to do it by hand. A far easier way of chopping small sticks for kindling is to use a chop saw instead. Chop saws are great if you have a huge pile of timber off-cuts. It takes minutes to zap through a stack of wood and turn it into kindling size pieces. For larger pieces of timber (for example old pallets), a circular saw is a better choice, although this requires more strength to wield for any length of time.

Universal Cutter

Universal Cutter

A universal cutting tool is like a penknife on steroids. With one of these little gadgets you will be able to cut through just about anything: carpets, vinyl flooring, electric cabling, and anything else you need to sever in two.

This is just a small selection of the many DIY gadgets you will find at your local DIY store, but with one or two of these in your garage, you should have most DIY projects covered.

How to Find a Top Tradesman

There are times when it feels as if a good, reliable tradesman is more elusive than a unicorn. You know the feeling: you want a new stainless steel radiator or a towel radiator fitting in your home, but finding a plumber to do the job is impossible. None of the people you contact are interested in such a small job, and most don’t even bother replying to your voicemail message. So what are your options?

You could have a go at doing the job yourself, but there is only so much you can learn from a YouTube video and besides, you don’t have the right tools for the job anyway.

Asking a DIY enthusiast friend to help you out is a better option, but that will leave you indebted to them and do you really want “Big Mike” asking you to baby-sit his Rottweiler for a weekend?

Word of Mouth

The best way to track down a reputable tradesman who isn’t going to rip you off and leave your home looking like a building site is to use personal recommendations. Using word of mouth will ensure you only hire tradesmen who have a good reputation. If you have some work that needs doing, ask friends and family if they can recommend a plumber, heating engineer, electrician, etc. It isn’t foolproof, but it will weed out the worst offenders.

Another way to find someone reliable is to task another tradesman in a different niche. For example, if you need a plasterer, ask a builder or plumber as they usually work with plasterers and will therefore have lots of contacts. You might even be able to score a discount in the process.


TrustMark is a government-backed scheme. Tradesmen listed on the website have to be approved, which means they are more trustworthy. In order to be able to display the TrustMark logo, a tradesman must sign up for a code of practice, submit to checks on his financial and trading history, plus allow on-site inspections. There is no guarantee that a TrustMark approved contractor won’t go out of business and leave you high and dry, but you are more protected than if you hire a random person from the Yellow Pages.

Online Recommendations

There are plenty of online recommendation websites purporting to offer reviews and ratings of tradesman. Think of them as a kind of ‘Trip Advisor’ for tradesmen. How they work is pretty simple: Fred the Plumber can register on an online recommendation website, which provides a convenient platform for him to tout for business. Once he has done a job, his customer is invited to rate his services and the more positive reviews he has, the more work he will get. In theory it sounds good, but in practice sites have been accused of removing negative reviews. There is also nothing to stop tradesmen asking friends and family to leave glowing feedback in order to boost their online profile.

There are several big recommendation websites to choose from, including:

  • RatedPeople
  • Mybuilder
  • Trustatrader

Practice Due Diligence

Once you have drawn up a shortlist of potential tradesmen, check them and their work out thoroughly. Make sure they carry the correct licenses for the type of work they are quoting for. Ask if they can provide references and if they use social networking, look at how they interact with customers.

Always obtain detailed quotes and if there is anything you are not sure about, ask for clarification. Do not pay in advance for work to be carried out, although you may be asked to pay a percentage of the cost of materials in advance. Lastly, make sure you get everything in writing, including the scope of the job and the amount agreed upon. That way you are protected if it all goes wrong at a later stage.

Five Cheap Ways to Keep Your Home Warm In Winter

Once the weather turns colder, heating becomes a priority. Living in a cold home is plain miserable, but if you can’t afford to have the central heating on for more than an hour a day, you may have little choice but to wrap up in lots of thick, woolly jumpers and dance in front of the TV when your toes turn blue. So what cheap things can you do to ensure your home stays warm and cosy this winter?

Prevent Heat Loss through Windows

A large percentage of heat is lost through windows. Installing expensive double-glazing will make a difference, but if you can’t afford to do this then try replacing your thin, fashionable curtains and blinds with some thick, heavy duty drapes. And if you can’t afford to replace your curtains, buy some old blankets and hang these up over doors and windows at night, or line existing curtains with an extra layer of fleece. 

thermal image
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Window Film
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Radiator Foil
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Window Film for Single Glazed Units

Extra heat protection for windows can be bought in the form of self-adhesive window film. It is very easy to fit – apply to the window frame using tape and fix in place with a hot hair dryer. You won’t be able to open the window once you have fitted window film, but it’s cheap enough to replace every year.






Keep Radiators Clear

Radiators need space around them. Placing large items of furniture in front of radiators means the heat they emit will be absorbed instead of spreading out into the room. You can also maximise heat from radiators by putting a shelf above it to channel the hot hair outwards. This is particularly useful if a horizontal radiator is fitted beneath a window, as it will stop the heat from being trapped behind curtains and blinds.

Another way of making radiators more efficient is to stick aluminium foil on the wall behind the radiator. This works to reduce heat loss through walls by reflecting heat back into the room. It is very useful for radiators fitted into external walls. Purpose designed aluminium foil can be bought very cheaply. You can also use regular household tin foil, but this is not as effective. 

Block Drafts

Drafts make a home feel cold. Most drafts creep in under doors and between gaps in window frames. These can be fixed with simple foam strips and draft excluders. Other drafts are more insidious and you might not be aware of where they are coming from. If you find drafts coming through the letterbox and/or keyhole in your door, buy a purpose made cover to keep cold air out. Cat flaps are also great for letting drafts in – either lock your cat flap and persuade Fluffy to become a house cat, or fix a thick piece of fabric over the opening and hope that Fluffy is smart enough to push it to once side when he wants to go outdoors for a wander.

Live in a Smaller Space

There is little point in paying good money to heat rooms you don’t use. It is a lot easier (and cheaper) to heat one or two rooms, so if you are trying to save money, close off rooms you don’t need and concentrate on heating the rooms that you use regularly. Just remember to air these rooms out regularly or damp will become a problem.

There are plenty of things you can do to reduce your energy bills and stay nice and warm. There might even be grants available to help pay for the cost of extra loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, so check out what’s available to find out if you are eligible.

Simple Household Ingredients for Sparkling Bathrooms

Cleaning the bathroom is probably one of the many chores on your “to do” list. In an ideal word the bathroom would be thoroughly cleaned every single day, but if you are permanently chasing your tail, it is a once-per-week task. Yes, Saturday mornings are a time to dig out some rubber gloves and a bottle of bleach before knuckling down to scrub the bath and toilet. But how can you ensure your bathroom is spotlessly clean if you have run out of big brand name cleaning sprays and solutions?

Brand name cleaning products are expensive and not especially good for the environment. Products containing harsh chemicals are also not recommended to us on your designer towel radiators. If the advertisements are to be believed, your bathroom will be a festering cesspit of germs if you don’t blitz it with a few brand name sprays and solutions. However, you don’t need any brand name cleaners to maintain a hygienic and sparkling clean bathroom – there are lots of simple household ingredients you can use instead.

Home Cleaning Productsimage credit to 

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a fantastic all-purpose cleaning solution. You can use it anywhere, even radiators and skirting boards, but it is especially good on glass and ceramic tiles because will remove water marks and soap scum effortlessly. Dilute vinegar with water in a 50:50 solution and use a spray bottle to apply the solution to glass and tiles. Diluted vinegar is great for cleaning floors and neat vinegar can be used to clean toilet bowls and sinks.

Baking Soda

Baking Soda is another handy store cupboard ingredient that doubles as a household cleaner. Its abrasive qualities make it perfect as a scrubbing agent on grimy sinks and other hard surfaces. It can also be used to absorb nasty odours, so sprinkle some on the hinges of the toilet seat or around the base of the toilet if it gets a bit whiffy and finish off with a solution of bleach.

Clear Blocked Sinks and Baths

If your sink or bath drain is slow to empty because of a build up of soap scum, instead of spending money on expensive drain cleaning agents, pour some baking soda down the plug hole and add a cup of vinegar. The resultant volcano of white foam will clear the blockage and refresh your drains, plus it will keep the kids entertained and ignite their interest in science.


Lemons are a lot more than a great accompaniment to a nice gin and tonic. If you have a lemon handy you can put it to good use in the bathroom for it is an excellent natural bleaching agent. Lemon juice is very efficient at removing soap scum and hard watermarks in bathrooms. Lemon juice is also very useful if you have brass plated taps; unlike other cleaning products, lemon juice won’t damage the finish. If you need a more abrasive cleaner, use a cut lemon in conjunction with some baking soda.

Cleaning Floors and Tile Grout

Bathroom floors can be freshened up with solutions of vinegar and water. For tougher stains, sprinkle baking soda over the floor and follow it up with a dilute solution of bleach. Baking soda can also be used as a very effective cleaner for grubby grout between tiles. Mix some baking soda into a thick paste and apply to the affected areas.

With a bottle of white vinegar, some baking soda and a bit of elbow grease, your bathroom will be soon be looking as good as new. You do need to be careful, however, because lemons in particular can bleach surfaces. Always test your cleaning agent in an inconspicuous area if you are trying it out for the first time. That way you won’t end up with marks you can’t get rid of.

Basement Conversions and Creations - Good or Bad?

When space is at a premium, and you have exhausted all other avenues of expansion, a basement conversion could be the way forward. Certainly in overcrowded central London, expensive basement conversions have become the norm with super-rich Oligarchs and well-known celebrities vying on who can build the most ostentatious basement conversion. But is a basement conversion a good idea for the average person? Or would you be better renovating the attic or building a regular extension instead?

If you already have an existing basement, converting it into a habitable space won’t be too difficult. Your basement should already be waterproofed and ventilated, so aside from the addition of extra lighting and other mod cons, it will not cost you too much money to turn it into a spare bedroom, playroom, or whatever else you need.

Creating a whole basement from scratch is a different story and definitely not one for the faint hearted. Digging out a basement is a major project. It is not something a keen DIY enthusiast can do on their weekends as foundations need to be checked to ensure they can support the structural alterations. There is also water drainage to consider – imagine the carnage if you accidentally severed a water main. Lastly, there is a cost implication – digging out a whole new basement from scratch is not cheap, so be prepared to spend a lot of money to achieve your perfect underground living space. 

Is Planning Permission Needed?

You shouldn’t need planning permission if you are converting an existing basement. Your new basement living space can even be larger than the old basement as long as you don’t extend beyond the boundary of your property. However, in some cases, specific planning permission will be required. For example, if you live in a terrace house, you will need a Party Wall Agreement in place since you share a common wall with your neighbours. To avoid any problems, always check with the local planning office before you start excavating – or it could get a bit messy further down the line.

Important Considerations for Basement Development

  • Damp proofing – A damp basement might be ok for storing old tins of paint and a few bottles of wine, but it certainly won’t be very pleasant for guests, so an adequate damp proofing strategy is essential. There are different methods of keeping the water out; your building contractor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate one for your basement. A water membrane system can be used to seal the space and allow water to drain away. Alternatively a cement based system may be more suitable.
  • Heating - Basements are usually cool all year round which can be comfortable in summer but a bit chilly in winter months. Basements are often partially insulated by the ground around them, so your existing heating system should provide the reasonable amount of heat required for comfortable temperatures. You will however need to check with a heating engineer to see if your existing central heating system can handle a new designer vertical radiator. Alternatively, you can opt in for an electric designer heated towel rail independent from your central heating system.
  • Lighting – Natural light is key to a successful basement renovation. Often natural light is in short supply when you build down instead of up, but there are ways and means to introduce natural light into a basement, even if you don’t have any windows. Light tubes can be used to pipe light down into a basement. Alternatively, you may be able to fit a flat double glazed window at ground level, which will have the added benefit of giving you an extra source of ventilation.

Plan the Space Carefully

How you use the extra space will probably depend on how much light there is down below. If natural light is in short supply, consider turning your new basement into a games room or gym, but if you are able to introduce natural light, it could make a great guest bedroom or teenager’s bolt hole.

Choose an Experienced Contractor

Basement renovations can be challenging, so always choose a reputable contractor who has previous experience with basement conversions. It can be tempting to try and save money in the short term, but when things go wrong, it is usually extremely expensive to try and fix them.

Can the Green Deal Save You Cash?

An energy efficient home is far more than an eco-home with a compost toilet and a turf roof. By maximising your energy efficiency you can potentially save hundreds of pounds per year. You can also have a much nicer home; a home that is warm in the winter. So what is the Green Deal and how can it help to make your home more energy efficient?

The Green Deal is a scheme devised by the government to help households pay for home improvements that can reduce energy bills. The idea is that instead of taking out a loan to pay for big home improvements such as installing double-glazing or a new energy efficient boiler, you pay for the improvements via savings made on your electricity bill. And if this sounds way too good to be true don’t worry because it really is a very good scheme; or at least it is for most households.

Green Deal Stamp

A Green Deal for Everyone

Unlike some government sponsored schemes, the Green Deal is open to everyone. You don’t have to be on a low income to qualify for Green Deal grants. Anyone can apply for Green Deal money, although those on a low income will be eligible for extra assistance. The Green Deal is even available to tenants, the only caveat being that a tenant must get their landlord’s permission as the repayments are tied to the property rather than the tenant. You can also apply for Green Deal money if you have an electricity meter.

How the Green Deal Works

Borrowing money to pay for energy efficiency improvements via the Green Deal initiative is fairly straightforward. Unlike a regular loan, Green Deal repayments shouldn’t cost you any more per month than what you are currently paying out on bills. Because the Green Deal scheme is supposed to save you money on your energy bills, once the energy improvements have been made, your energy bills will be lower and therefore there will be no net increase in annual expenditure.

Repayments are the amount you are predicted to save on your bills, plus interest. The repayments are spread over a long period of time – between 10 and 25 years. The money is deducted directly from the electricity account, so if you move home, the debt stays with the property.

To apply for Greed Deal funding, you need to invite a Green Deal assessor to come and check out your home. This part of the process isn’t free, so make sure you shop around for one of the cheaper organisations. You should also check that whomever you invite is a member of the Greed Deal scheme. There may also be free assessment deals available in your area – so check before you pay for an assessment.

Eligible Home Improvements

There are lots of home improvements you can make with Green Deal funding:

  • Double-glazing
  • Loft insulation
  • Replacement boiler
  • Solar panels
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Solid wall insulation

One important thing to note is the some of the more expensive home improvements will require a portion of the payment upfront. The reason for this being that the energy savings you are predicted to make will not cover the cost of the installation entirely. So do make sure you can afford to inject some cash into the deal before you apply for funding.

Once you have had your energy assessment done, you can shop around for the cheapest quote for the work. You are not obliged to have the work carried out by the company that did the Green Deal assessment, even if they imply you are. So don’t be ripped off – get at least three quotes before you sign on the dotted line.

Here are some useful links for more information on Green Deal;

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When NOT to Try DIY

Home improvement programmes have become massively popular in recent years. Turn on the TV on any given day and you will be confronted with bright and breezy presenters telling you how to transform your home from an uninspiring box into a palace fit for an A list celebrity. And the best bit? Instead of paying a fortune to a builder or interior designer, if you follow the tips on screen, you can achieve some amazing results with a spot of DIY.

But is it really such a great idea to have a go at complex home improvement projects? Surely it would be better to pay someone else to do the work, even if it’s more expensive. Well, it depends. DIY is obviously going to be cheaper if you have the skills and tools available. It can also be more satisfying to do the job yourself and let you select a stunning designer towel radiator instead of a standard heated towel rail using your savings. However, there are times when you shouldn’t attempt DIY, so if you have a burning desire to have a go at home improvement, give it some serious thought before you pick up any power tools.

The Sharp End

When you don’t know one end of a tool from another, DIY is not a good idea. Power tools are lethal weapons in inexperienced hands. One false move and you could end up in casualty, so start small and work your way up to more complicated jobs.

A Complicated Project

Some DIY tasks are relatively simple. Most people can change a tap washer or put up a shelf without any major problems. You don’t need specialist skills or lots of tools to do simple jobs - some general knowledge will suffice. And even if you do get it wrong, the consequences won’t be too serious.

However, many DIY jobs are not simple and it is these that the amateur DIYer should stay well away from. Some tasks need specialist skills that only a qualified tradesman will have. For example, installing a new central heating boiler should not be attempted unless you are suitably qualified. Whilst a competent DIYer is more than capable of fitting a new radiator or replacing a shower, installing a boiler is a whole different ballgame, so don’t be tempted to ‘have a go’.

A Poor Track Record

If you have spent time in casualty as a result of severing something vital with a power tool, don’t even think about attempting any DIY task, no matter now simple it appears to be. There are some people who just can’t be trusted with a sharp tool, either because they are clumsy or just unskilled. If this sounds like you, pay someone else to do the work instead. Yes, it will be more expensive, but unless your spouse has a huge life insurance policy with your name on it, it is the safer option.

Building Regulations

There are many home improvements where the finished result has to adhere to building regulations. For an experienced builder or tradesman, this won’t be a problem, but if you are an amateur, you probably won’t have a clue about such things. To avoid falling foul of the local housing department, don’t be tempted to cut corners and save money by doing it ‘on the cheap’. Your house might not fall down, but a bad job will definitely cause issues when you want to sell at a later date.

DIY can be enormous fun. It can also be very rewarding as the sense of pride that comes with surveying a completed project is hard to beat. However, DIY is an expensive folly if you attempt a project well beyond your skill set, so never overestimate what you are capable of or you could end up with an expensive repair bill.

Garage Conversions: Good Idea or Terrible Mistake?

The garage is often the most underused space in our homes. Originally garages were intended for storing cars, but over the years garages attached to modern homes have shrunk to such an extent that a large percentage are too small for even compact cars. As a result, garages tend to become the dumping ground for a vast range of miscellaneous items: bicycles, gym equipment, gardening equipment, DIY junk, and anything else that doesn’t have a home, including spiders.

But there is another way. Garages can be converted into useful living spaces that enhance the rest of the property instead of becoming a graveyard for unwanted board games and half used tins of paint. Imagine how much more useful your garage would be if it was transformed into a study, kids’ play room, or even teenager’s annexe. So what do you need to consider before starting a garage conversion?

Change of Use Application

Simple garage conversions will only need a wall and window/door in place of the existing garage door. However, since a garage is not designed as a living space, in order to turn it into one, you will need to apply for Buildings Regulations approval since you are changing its use. You may also need to build extra foundations or add lintels to support the new structures.

Is Planning Permission Necessary?

Unless the existing structure is altered, planning permission won’t be necessary. However, if your home is a listed building or the garage is a stand-alone structure, planning permission may be needed from your local planning department, even if you are only making a few very minor alterations. As such, it is always sensible to check with the local planning officer before doing anything – and make sure you ask for written confirmation.

Building Regulations require that a room created from a garage must have adequate ventilation and an escape route in the event of a fire. Infill walls will also be subject to Building Regulations to ensure adequate foundations are in place. Once the conversion has been completed, the building inspector will come and inspect the work before he issues a certificate of completion. For this reason, it is a good idea to employ a reputable contractor rather than attempt to do the work yourself (unless you are suitably qualified of course). Without a certificate of completion, you will run into serious problems if you try and sell the property at a later date, as your buyer’s solicitor is likely to start asking difficult questions about the change of use of the garage. 

Create a Lovely Living Space

Before starting a garage conversion, think about what you want to do with the space. Where will access from the main house be? What about lighting, damp proofing and ventilation? At the very least the new space will require a window large enough to escape through. The new space will also need extra insulation, and if you want to sub-divide the space into two rooms, you will need to construct a new block or stud wall. Additional wiring and plumbing will also be required – can your central heating boiler cope with the extra load of a new vertical radiator (or two)?

Loss of Use

One important thing to consider when planning a garage conversion is that the creation of a new living space will entail the loss of a large storage space. Do you have somewhere else to keep your bicycles, DIY equipment and a whole host of other junk?

You should bear all of these things in mind before making a final decision. Although a garage conversion is always going to be cheaper than moving to a bigger property, don’t forget to factor in all of the less obvious costs such as a new central heating boiler, new flooring, plus a new shed for all of your items.

How to Design the Perfect Teenager’s Bathroom

There comes a point in every parent’s life when you dream of having a bathroom all to yourself. Instead of queuing up outside the bathroom every morning, feeling as if you are a tenant in your own home, you can relax and enjoy a pleasant soak in the bath or a leisurely shower. With teenagers in the house, such a happy scenario is out of the question. They take forever in the bathroom, doing what teenagers do best, which is personal grooming on an epic scale.

The best way to avoid losing access to the bathroom every morning (and evening) is to provide them with their very own bathroom. That way you can enjoy having a bathroom all to yourself and they can spend as much time as they like primping and preening in front of the bathroom mirror. So, what things should you include in a teenager’s bathroom?

Power Shower

Ideally install a shower in a teenager’s bathroom. They will want to have a bath or shower at least once per day, so it makes sense to provide a shower as it will save you money on your water bill if you are on a water meter. You may even wish to consider the possibility of a wet room.

Storage Space

Ample storage space is a must-have in any teenager’s bathroom. Most teenagers have vast collections of makeup, lotions and potions, all of which take up a lot of space. One bottle of shampoo and conditioner won’t be enough. They are more likely to have about fifty, plus matching bottles of conditioner, hair serum, and anything else they think will make them look cool.

Since the majority of their time will be spent staring into the bathroom mirror, it makes sense to have a fitted vanity unit rather than a standard sink. This will give them lots of room to store their bottles, spot creams and beauty accessories. A storage unit in the shower cubicle or above the bath is also a good idea as this will keep some of the clutter out of the shower tray and bath.

Mirror, Mirror

As we have already mentioned, teenagers do like to spend an inordinate amount of time gazing into the bathroom mirror. A large mirror with an inbuilt lighting – think movie star - vanity mirror would be the ideal bathroom accessory for an image conscious teenager. Providing adequate lighting should help to ensure they don’t overdo the fake tan or makeup.

A Laundry Basket

Most teenagers treat the floor as one big laundry basket. They assume that the laundry fairy is hovering nearby, ready to collect their dirty laundry and return it in a convenient pile, washed and ironed. One way to encourage your teenager to be a bit tidier is to provide them with a laundry basket. Do make sure it is large enough, though, as most of them use a clean towel virtually every day and bath towels soon fill a laundry basket up.

Funky Décor

It is a good idea to consult your teenager before deciding upon a decorative scheme. Just because you like pastel colours or plain white tiles, they might not be of the same mind. Take their tastes into consideration, but don’t allow them to talk you into something too outrageous. Just because they have seen an amazing bathroom on At Home with the Kardashians, it doesn’t mean that floor to ceiling marble is a great idea in their small bathroom. 

However you choose to design your teenager’s bathroom, make sure you provide them with lots of cleaning equipment and full instructions on how to clean a bath, shower and toilet. It will be a valuable lesson for them.

Loft Conversions - A Cheap and Cheerful Way to Add Extra Space?

When space is in short supply and you can’t afford to move to a larger property, the next natural step is to think about extending upwards. Since all homes have some degree of loft space, turning what is ‘dead space’ into usable living space can make perfect sense if your home is just too small now that you have kids/teenagers/elderly parents living with you. But loft conversions are not as straightforward as some people think, and there are a number of important issues to take into consideration before you install a dormer window and a new staircase.

Is the Loft Suitable for Conversion?

Sadly, not all attics are suitable for converting into living space. Older properties, typically those built pre: 1960, are usually suitable, but modern homes tend to have different roof constructions that are more difficult to convert. Truss sectional roof structures are the norm in modern houses. To convert a roof of this type is an expensive job because it entails adding structural support in the form of steel beams. Older properties have traditional framed roof structures, which can be opened up fairly cheaply. The best way to check whether (or not) your loft is ripe for conversion is to open up the loft hatch and take a look.

How Big is the Loft?

Head height is very important in a loft room. There is little point in building a room in the loft if you can’t actually stand up in there. Depending on how tall you are, there needs to be at least 2.2m of head room in the main part of the roof space, so a loft with a low roof pitch is not going to be suitable unless it is redesigned or large dormer windows are added to increase the amount of available floor space.

Water tanks and chimney stacks can also prove to be major obstacles in the roof space. You might be able to move a water tank, but it is pretty difficult to relocate a chimney stack.

Loft ConversionsCredit to Artdom Construction Ltd

Building Regulations

Loft conversions must meet current Building Regulations, so it is a good idea to have your plans for a loft conversion drawn up by an architect before you start looking for a building contractor. This should help to iron out any potential problems before building work begins. If your property has any party walls, you must tell your neighbour about the work. If you intend on adding dormer windows to the roof to create extra light and head room, you may need to apply for planning permission – check with the local planning department for clarification.

Fire Safety Issues

Fire safety is very important in a property with more than two storeys. It is a lot harder to escape a fire when you are on the third floor of a house, so the new floor must have adequate fire protection in the form of a fire door and windows large enough to escape from.

Other Considerations

Obviously you will need a staircase into the attic if it is turned into additional living space, but do you have room for a staircase? There is no point adding a new room if you have to sacrifice a room in the process. A bespoke staircase design might save you space, but it will cost more. Spiral staircases can also save space, but they are a nightmare when it comes to shifting furniture.

Can your central heating boiler cope with the addition of extra radiators or maybe even a new stainless steel heated towel rail? If it can’t, you may need to upgrade to a new boiler, which will be further expense.

A loft conversion will add value to your home and make it easier to sell, but only if the conversion is a quality one. So weigh up the costs and don’t be tempted to hire a cheap builder or you could end up paying dearly in the long run.