House Maintenance | Looking After Your Guttering

gitter junction with down pipeGutter cleaning is an essential part of good house maintenance. But cleaning your gutters yourself does call for a bit of forethought beforehand. While a small one story house is mostly just a frustrating chore, a three-floor townhouse is likely a job for a professional.

A good rule of thumb is how easy it is to get a ladder to reach your gutters. If you can easily find the ladder you need to reach your gutters, you could reasonably consider doing the job yourself. If it takes some effort to find a ladder tall enough to reach your gutters, you should hire a professional company to deal with the problem as that kind of gutter cleaning at that height can lead to falls that are crippling for life, if not immediately fatal.

Still, if you can reach your gutters with ease, cleaning them yourself is more than possible. It is relatively easy to scrape the sludge out of the gutters with a scraping tool, and the natural sludge of rotted leaves and other debris can be used as mulch or thrown on a compost heap. The downspout of the gutter system is particularly important as that needs to remain as unclogged as possible. If a downspout becomes plugged, water will not drain properly and will start seeping into the house, leading to mud in the house and potentially toxic mould and mildew. On top of that, the gutters will eventually sag, and if left unattended long enough, they will eventually collapse on themselves.

Check the spikes to make sure they’re all in the right place. A gutter spike is supposed to fit through the actual gutter, then go through the next layer, the fascia board of the house and finally rest in the rafter behind the fascia board. Spikes do eventually push their way out of the hole over the years, so investing in new gutter spikes to ensure the gutters are secured where they need to be may not be a bad idea.

If your fascia boards need repairing and they are easy for you to reach then you may be able to do it yourself. Here is a useful video for you to show you how to replace the fascia boards. If they are too high or need replacing completely then you will need to call a professional gutter repair company to replace them for you.

Checking for leaks in the gutters can also be a good idea while you are cleaning them. Cracked caulking and holes in the gutters are the most frequent source of leaks and can cause a lot of damage if left unrepaired.

Scraping the old caulking out of the area with an old chisel, followed by applying a new layer of silicon sealing will keep water out of the damaged areas, keeping it from rotting the wooden material beneath that the house relies on to stay standing. While up there, also check the rivets that are attached to the downspout. They can get loose and fall down completely over the years, meaning that they’ll need to be replaced, and the new rivets applied with a rivet gun.

Cleaning the gutters is a matter of patience. One should scrape the sludge out of the gutters with a scraping tool, starting on one end of the house and then scrape what they can reach there, before climbing down, moving the ladder a bit to one side and then scraping out what they find there.

Brief Guide to Regulations governing a Loft Conversion

building regulations for a loft conversionRules on planning permission for loft conversions have been relaxed due in part to the lack of new homes being built over the last few years. Most loft extensions now come under permitted development; however, care should be taken and advice sought if altering roof height or shape. This may be required if there is a need for more headroom and this adjustment will require planning permission, as will any addition like a balcony that protrudes from a Dormer window.

When it comes to seeking the help of the professionals, Specialist Loft Conversions and their partners will be able to advise you on the best way forward in order to begin your project smoothly and finish with the results you are after.

All building extensions and conversions are overseen and approved under building regulations that are responsible for making sure the work is up to standard and safe for the purpose. The building regulation department has to be notified before the commencement of works and then arrange a timetable of inspections with the builder. This will be agreed in stages to allow the inspector to satisfy himself of excellent workmanship and safety before certain areas are covered from view.

Building regs is a vital department. To uphold standards and safety, not only for the general public but to also make sure contractors are up to date with the rules. Sometimes consumers or builders complain that inspections delay the completion of works, but If there was no regulation any handyman could build a loft conversion that could be a potential death-trap for any unsuspecting future purchaser of the property.

One obvious risk is fire and the safety aspects of people escaping from upper stories. Stairs and doors must be protected with 30-minute fire resistant materials. These unique woods, for floors, ceilings, and doors for fireproofing are easily available, along with fire resistant paint to blend with decoration, and possibly add a few minutes of necessary time.
Installation and placement of electrical supply are paramount about the above, and any works have to be carried out by a certified electrician.

Depending on available budget, thought could also be given to a sprinkler system that would need to be considered in the very early stages. Any installation of this system to reduce the risk of fire would be at stage one of the project, along with insulation between ceiling and roof voids. The government policy on global warming and green energy will lay down measures regarding the required thicknesses of insulation.

Another primary responsibility of building regs is access and safety to escape routes, should an accident occur.
Access via a staircase will be governed by available space, and there are rules laid down requiring minimum ceiling height, turns on a stairway and size of step treads.
Spiral staircases will save space, but consideration must be given to ease of access and how the extra space created in the loft conversion is to be used.
It would be foolhardy indeed if a significant investment were made to a project that was unsafe or uncomfortable to get the full benefit from.

Cost savvy, Loft Conversion!

picture showing being savvy with your money for a loft conversion or roofing workA loft conversion can be an excellent investment, increasing the value of the property as well as providing valuable extra living space. Expert advice is essential in establishing any legal obligations as well as understanding from someone who has already learned from experience.

Many interior designers are offering their services, and a lot have brilliant ideas, but unless you are in the upper echelons of the salary scale, their charges don’t warrant the expense for an average conversion.

A surveyor or architect is used to drawing up plans, and have lots of good ideas, but as MOST loft extensions do not now require planning permission, this cost can be avoided for now.

The next best thing is a builder who specialises in loft conversions, and more importantly who has a good track record. It would also be preferable if the builder would be prepared to furnish you with past clients contact details so that you can obtain first-hand references.

This can sometimes be a tricky situation because a builder’s past clients may not want to be bothered answering questions or possibly showing you around their conversion, but it is worth asking when building a relationship with someone who will be working in your house for an average of 6/12 weeks.

Alternatively, many good building companies receive customer feedback and reviews on social media platforms nowadays, like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. It can be a wise move to check out your builder’s social media accounts to see what their reviews are like.

It must also be kept in mind that the builder cannot be expected to give up his time and ideas without knowing if he has the job and consequently if he is going to earn any money.

To be most cost effective it is wise to have thought through the basics first. Before talking to builders sketch out a rough drawing of how you perceive the extension, giving the builder as much information as possible as to what you want to use the area for.

A double bedroom or a single bedroom with on suite maybe too tight for the space, but an experienced builder could give you the option to extend the roof. There would obviously be more cost involved, but that decision would be down to you.

If a bathroom or facilities were required, it is important to ascertain supply and exit availabilities.

If you wanted a study, it is important to decide the layout of desks and storage facilities, etc., so that the placement of electricity points or computer connections can be allowed for. Also to save on future energy costs, the placement of windows to allow as much natural light as possible.

Any living space has regulations governing insulation, which again would be advised by the builder, but the main point is having a firm idea of what you want to use the extra space for. An experienced loft converter can then quote on the basic and make suggestions to enhance the project, such as mirrors to give depth, as well as the best use of lighting. By thinking it out, and discussing the options, you will arrive at an acceptable cost and timescale for completing the project.

Making sure you budget effectively for your loft conversion is essential as a loft conversion is one of the top projects that could go wrong if you do not plan thoroughly. Here is an interesting article from thisismoney.co.uk explaining some of the most important things you need to keep in mind at this crucial stage.

Considerations before commencing a Loft Conversion

a picture of roofers toolsGovernment regulation regarding planning for loft conversions has been relaxed over the last few years, but before progressing too far, it is advisable to seek an expert opinion. There are still certain strict rules that have to be adhered to as well as Building Regulations that are still very much in place.

The current shortage of housing has encouraged the government and local council to try to make it as easy as possible for people to extend their living space rather than move home. Along with the ever increasing costs of moving home due to stamp duty and other expenses, now is an ideal time to think about extending your home skywards, and make use of all that wasted space in the loft.

The possibilities are almost endless as to what you may be able to use your loft space for. It can be rather exciting to ponder the options open to you in order to improve your living space.

No planning permission is now required for a loft conversions or roof extensions. However, there are certain limitations and conditions that must be met to satisfy both building and fire safety regulations.

Houses on designated land do not benefit from permitted development.
There are additional roof space volumes of 40 cubic metres for terraced house’s, and 50 cubic metres for semi-detached and detached.
It is important to bear in mind that previous roof space additions must be included in these volumes, and you need to make sure that previous occupiers have not used some of these allowances.

If you intend your loft conversion to have Dorma windows, it is worth bearing in mind that no part of the extension is higher than the existing roof. Any roof extension must not be built to overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house. Also, materials used on the outer extension must be similar to the original house materials.
Some roof extensions with Dorma windows may lend themselves to the inclusion of a balcony, but balconies or verandas are not permitted development.

It is also important to consider your budget and carefully take into consideration all the costs you may incur during the work. Here is a post we wrote getting the budget right for your loft conversion.

The above is not to deter anyone from exploring the possibility of a loft conversion for your home, far from it! As already mentioned, with preferences changing from local authority and cost advantages weighed against moving, now is a great time to start getting quotes!

Just remember to get expert advice from the outset. Not just on current regulations, but on making the most of the space available.

Get advice on maximising the space and usage of all those awkward nooks and crannies that will obviously be there due to the overall sloping roofs. It is amazing how someone used to designing these attic areas can come up with ideas to make an irritable angular corner into a feature that enhances the overall area.

In summary, you do not need planning permission to convert your loft space, however, always check the government regulations to be on the safe side. However, there are several important considerations one must address at the start of the project to make the best decisions about your conversion. Seek the advice of an expert to be clear on all safety issues and ensuring you are complying with the best standards. Furthermore, an experienced designer can give you some great advice on the best way to design and build our loft conversion.

Lifestyle & Financial Rewards of a loft conversion

loft conversion and financial rewardsMaking the most of our home and living space is a priority in most people’s minds. Not only thinking of comfortable living but also considering the future.

It is a known fact that taking into account economic booms and busts, over the last century, property prices have continued to grow and outstrip inflation. The shortage of available properties in our ever increasing population seems to indicate this will continue.

Therefore, money spent on extending a property by way of a loft conversion, if done well, should bring a better lifestyle as well as financial rewards when deciding to sell in the future.

A loft space in most properties is just a wasted void, and at first look, it is all too easy just to insulate and plasterboard the rafters and put down a chipboard floor. This creates a usable space, but care should be taken before spending any money that may be wasted before taking expert advice on the best and most cost-effective way to proceed.

You will also want to consider what the extra space is going to be used for. Depending on the house shape and size, a loft conversion will have a floor area equivalent to the ceilings in the rooms below. A standard three-bed semi has the potential of yielding a large space which could include a main room, plus storage or another facility, like on suite, depending on access to facilities. There are also many other things you should consider before starting your loft conversion project. You can read our post here on what you should consider before starting a loft conversion.

Two vital points that must take early consideration is head height and natural light.

Minimum legal ceiling height has now been removed from Building Regulations. However, practicable height should be a minimum of 2.1m. Standard height of ceilings is 2.4m.
Most loft areas, by design, have slanting roofs. Priority must be to establish whether Dorma or Velux windows are installed.

It is always advisable to try to decide in advance as to what the loft conversion will be used for. Initially, it may be the intention to create a playroom for the kids, so they can leave their toys around without cluttering the rest of the house.

Possibly a workroom, studio or study. It is very easy to get caught up in the urgency of creating a particular space, but forget what happens when you come to sell. Any potential buyers may not be looking for the same uses. Some may be put off buying because they cannot see the potential of spending money to change to their ideas.

It is standard Estate Agent jargon to speak of three bed, four bed or five-bed houses, so when you come to sell it is practicable to be able to easily convert your study or whatever room you choose, to a presentable bedroom. This should ensure the best price for your property, but standard and presentation is paramount.

Any thoughts of a loft conversion must start with finding a reputable expert who can advise on the current legislation regarding planning and building regulations. An expert who can also advise on best use of space, lighting and insulation, and also a firm quote and timescale to complete.

It is important to make sure that you take into consideration every aspect of a loft conversion and seek the advice of an experienced professional before beginning. For more information, read our article on the important considerations of your loft conversion.

Jetts Creek Building Co | Sublime Construction

construction workersWe are Jetts Creek Building Co, a professional firm of builders in the South of the United Kingdom.

We are specialists in building and construction work including extensions and repair work. We primarily serve the domestic market however, we are able to also take on commercial jobs depending on the size of the project.

We work with a variety of tradesmen, so if your building project also requires a plumber, an electrician, a plasterer, a decorator, a carpenter or any other kind of trade, we can bring our partners onto the job to work with us. The tradesmen that we work with are hand-picked, which means you can rest assured only top quality professionals will be working on your project.

This blog will help to give you the information you need in order to make a good decision about the kind of work that you want undertaking. We will give advice on building regulations and special considerations you need to bear in mind for certain jobs such as extensions, loft conversions and foundational repairs.

Many people are a dab-hand at DIY, in which case they may like to undertake minor jobs at home themselves. Therefore, we will also give advice on common jobs from carpentry to minor building repairs.

This information should help to point out some of the pit-falls to avoid in order to complete the job well. As experienced tradesmen, we can also recommend the best tools for these kinds small of jobs.

This is a new blog so please check back in a day or too for more information and advice on your planned building works.

For now, we will leave you with this informative video from LABC Building Control about some rather important changes the building regulations in the UK that you need to be aware of.

Thank you for visiting us.