How To Find a Builder: Where to Start

Finding a highly skilled builder who is able to work within your budget can be a daunting and troublesome process. If this is your first time, then the chances are you’ll have a cluster of questions and possibly wrong assumptions. Where do I even begin my search? What credentials should I be looking out for? How do I know that their style will suit my vision? If these are only a few of the questions that have been troubling you, then you’re in luck. In our guide, we will highlight the common pitfalls that you should avoid as well as showing you how to find the right builder to make your dream build into a reality.

How to do your research

There are a number of different ways you can do this and they can all help to mould a well-balanced opinion. The first step of the research process is to ask around for recommendations.

Ask around for recommendations 

Nothing is more trustworthy than a recommendation from either friends, family or neighbours. A lot of traders rely on word of mouth marketing, and hearing first hand from somebody you trust is sure to help give you an idea as to whether this builder is the right fit for you. It’s not enough to enquire about the finished project since it’s just as significant to ask for judgements on the building process as a whole:

–          Do the builders turn up on time?

–          How often do they have regular meetings with the site manager?

–          Were the projects finished on time?

–          Did they pay close attention to the details of your envisioned build?

–          Were there any hidden costs?

–          Did they stay within the budget?

Finding a builder online

The internet has a massive amount of data and so, quite naturally, you may not even know where to begin looking. A reliable starting point is to look on sites like the Federation of Master Builders. They offer handy tools to help refine your search to find specific trades within your location as well as detailing a list of references.

Checkatrade.com and The Guild of Master Craftsmen are also reliable sources to begin your search for a builder as a result of their strict vetting system that involves each member being independently inspected.

A number of these websites provide ratings to illustrate the quality of tradespeople’s services. However, even if a builder has developed a good online reputation, you should still tread carefully since nothing is more reliable than a personal recommendation. For example, DDS Architecture a local architecture firm based in Edinburgh used a combination of word of mouth and online marketing to build trust with the local community. If possible, still try to find out more about the quality of their workmanship from people/businesses that have used them directly.

Using Your Intuition

This is the tricky bit since it involves risk. When interviewing builders, there are a number of rules you should keep in mind. Be conscious of how they present themselves and try to assess the quality of their equipment, tools and vehicle. A good indicator of their competence is if they ask you for scaled drawings and a specification for them to estimate a quote. It is important to ensure that you’re happy with the drawings and specifications before you hand them to a builder since variations from the original drawings are likely to add unnecessary complications to dimensions and price.

Once you’ve decided on the right builder for you, the next stage is to get a contract written up. The rule to bear in mind here is to never to pay in cash and always have the payments processed at agreed stage completions within the contract.

5 Common Renovation Mistakes You Must Avoid

So you are preparing for a big renovation. Before you sign on the dotted line, you better make sure that you are well prepared to take on this difficult endeavour. Whether you are renovating your current home or just redecorating, you will need to avoid certain pitfalls. If you don’t, these mistakes will likely result in failure or worse. Below are some of the most common mistakes new homeowners make when planning a big renovation.

Getting their Numbers Wrong

Before you even start, it pays to do your due diligence when it comes to the overall costs of the project. You have to be aware of the prices of materials and different types of labour. When you know the cost of the materials and labour, it will easier for you to determine if your contractor is overcharging you or not.

Pulling the Trigger Too Soon

Sometimes homeowners tend to jump the gun when it comes to renovating their newly purchased home. It would be better to first get the lay of the land before you change anything. Try to get to know your home before making any changes. Learn where the sunlight hits and get to know every corridor and every room.  This knowledge will help you make better decisions when renovating your home.

Doing it yourself without Experience

Renovating your home will cost a lot of money. More than you can imagine. With costs so high, most people may want to go the DIY route. This is fine for those who actually know what they are doing, but for most of us, it would be better to leave the renovating to the professionals. While it may cost more than if you did it yourself, the peace of mind will be well worth it.

Picking the Lowest Bidder

Professional and quality work will cost money. Good contractors will charge what’s fair for them. Going for the cheapest option when it comes to renovating may not be the best move as you will be getting only your money’s worth.

Not Asking Questions

During the planning and construction stages, it will be best that you ask a lot of questions. Don’t pretend that you understand what they are doing. Instead, ask relevant questions and familiarize yourself with the different construction processes. You need to know where your money is going and if it is necessary.

Not Sticking to the Plan

Sometimes you may have the urge to make some changes in the middle of construction. Small changes may look minor on the outside, but they could entail a lot of work and therefore a lot of money. Always talk to your contractor or designer and ask them if the changes are possible and how much they would cost.

Going for Cheap Materials and Products

The things that you will be buying will be with you for quite a long time. For this reason, you shouldn’t skimp on buying quality products. Things such as doors, faucets, cabinets, and stairs need to be of good quality, seeing as that you will be touching and using them every day.

Going for Unnecessarily Expensive Items

Quality doesn’t have to be very expensive. Some things inside your home don’t need to be from designer brands or ultra-luxury makers. Getting a good quality but cheap sofa for example mixed with some tastefully designed lighting fixtures will look like a million bucks. Things like Sisal rugs and good quality tiles are not that expensive, but they will add a lot of class to your home.

remodel

Tips to Remodel Your Kitchen on a Budget

Everyone wants to have the perfect looking kitchen as this room gives the most comfort to anyone out there. Keeping your kitchen in the perfect condition requires some remodelling and construction! You might be thinking that remodelling requires a great amount of money but it can be done easily. Cheap kitchens don’t necessarily mean bad kitchens. You can still do a decent renovation without breaking the bank.

If you are looking to remodel your kitchen and have a tight budget present then let us guide you on what you can do!

Maintain the original layout

When you remodelling your kitchen, you completely want to change its look. But, what most people don’t know is that this is the part which costs you the most. Changing the whole look of the kitchen is quite expensive because it requires the construction of sorts. It’s better to go ahead with the original setting and changing items in it so you can easily save on the cost.

Refresh rather than replacing cabinets

cabinets

One of the major mistakes that many people make while remodelling their kitchen it to replace the complete cabinet. Having a whole in and out procedure can make things very difficult and costly. Sometimes the only thing that you need to do is simply paint the exterior and interior or to change the front panels of the cabinets to make them look brand new.

Mix it up

In the current age of mixes and matches, if you are looking to remodel your kitchen you can go ahead and mix up a range of different finishes. For example, what you can do is that you can have different materials for counters, cabinets and even the tiles. These will have different colours and textures which can complement each other. The benefit of these is that you can save on cost where needed.

Keep old appliances

One of the common mistakes a lot of homeowners make when remodelling their kitchen is that they replace all of the existing appliances to make room for new ones. A lot of the appliances in the present day are quite costly and can really exceed the budget you are working with. When working on a budget, all you need to do is take the ones that work the best, clean them up and place them in a different location to make everything look brand as new.

Do it yourself

It’s time to put away the laziness if you want to cut on your costs. Contrary to the popular belief, remodelling a kitchen yourself is not that much of a hassle. All you need to do is follow the instructions and you will be done! Along with this, purchase the right set of tools and you will be sorted. Moreover, mostly professional remodelers charge a great amount of money to fix everything and you can easily save there.

Best LED Home Lightning Solutions for Modern Homes

Replacing all the incandescent bulbs in your home with LED bulbs may sound like a straightforward endeavor. However, there are actually quite a number of things to consider before overhauling your current lighting system. You have to be aware of the different temperature ranges of LED bulbs, as well as their effect on you and your sleep cycle.

Heat and Light Colors

Lower temperature LED bulbs usually produce warm-white colors. These are colors that are similar to fire, with a reddish or yellowish hue added to them. Medium temperature lighting produces neutral white colors. High temperate light produces cool-whites that are similar to actual daylight. Lumens measures of a light bulb’s brightness, while watts measure its energy usage.

Light and Sleep

High-temperature bulbs produce a lot of blue light waves. These waves, in turn, activate our body’s production of serotonin. This hormone helps us stay away and alert. These types of light are perfect for living rooms, dining rooms, offices, and reading rooms. The optimal color temperature should be around 3000 to 5000K. Cool white lights mimic daylight, which keeps you awake and focused.

On the other hand, low temperature LED bulbs don’t emit blue light waves. Without these waves, our bodies tend to produce more melatonin. This hormone helps us feel relaxed and sleepy. This type of light is perfect inside bedrooms and other rooms centered on relaxation. The optimal color temperature should be around 2700 to 3000K. If you like to read at night, you can add light fixtures or a reading lamp with soft blue and neutral tones.

3 Ways to Save Power When Heating Your Home

Indoor heating costs a lot of money. However, most of us are willing to spend a fortune to heat our homes during the winter. In some places, it isn’t really just a luxury, but more of a necessity. It is quite surprising to know that most people are actually spending more than what is necessary to heat their homes.

If you follow these power-saving tips, you will significantly cut down on your heating bill. Some of these tips might be pretty obvious for some, but most will probably be pleasantly surprised.

Use Natural Heat

Even during winter, the sun still provides a lot of heat. Try to remove any obstacles that are blocking the sun’s rays to your windows. At night, try to use thicker coverings, such as double curtains. You can also try window treatments and covers such as dual shades. These usually have a dark side to absorb heat and a lighter side to reflect it.

Automate Your Heating

Buying a Smart Thermostat or at least a programmable one will save you a lot of money. These devices can automatically turn down the heat inside empty rooms. They can also automatically turn themselves off when you leave the house. More importantly, they will be able to regulate their output depending on a specific room’s temperature.

Reduce Ventilation

People probably take their home’s ventilation system for granted. However, it is important to note that a ventilation system can quickly remove expensive warm air from an entire house in just hours. To solve this, you can try to install automatic timers on these fans. Or, you could just religiously turn them off when not needed.

Raise Humidity

Dry air actually makes you feel colder than moist air. Aside from making it feel warmer, adding humidity to your home also allows heat to stay longer. It also decreases dry skin and chapped lips, making you feel more comfortable. If you don’t want to buy a humidifier, there are some ways to increase humidity without the use of technology. You can try placing containers of water around your house to increase the humidity. You can place them near radiators or stoves to help the evaporation process.

Use a Space Heater Instead

Space heaters have come a long way in terms of efficiency and design. Some budget options cost less than $50 and will provide a lot of heat. These devices are also much more power-efficient than older models, which saves you a lot of money. The biggest advantage of using space heaters is that they are portable enough to move to different rooms if needed.

Make Your Bathroom More Luxurious With These Cheap Hacks

Making your bathroom more luxurious doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. It is actually all about adding the right details, fixtures, fittings, and finishes. Of course, you have to have a sense of design to pull this off, but there are a lot of places to get inspiration from. You can take a look at some photos online to get a sense of what a luxury bathroom needs to look like. However, it is entirely up to you and how you want your own bathroom to look.

Add Some Foliage

Luxury bathrooms more often than not have some form of foliage. Hanging plants and flowers are a perfect fit for any bathroom. There are of course some things to consider before you add any type of plant to your bathroom. The plant has to get some sunlight and there needs to be a lot of moist air. If these two elements are present, you hardly have to look after them.

Add Music and Entertainment

Adding music to your bathroom is relatively easy. You really don’t have to install an entire sound system to make this happen. Instead, add some speakers that can connect to your phone or tablet. This way, you can listen to your favorite songs or mood music while you relax inside your bathtub.

Use Natural Materials

If you can afford it, try to add some natural stones and wood to your bathroom. Stones such as marble, granite, and limestone are great additions to any bathroom. They make any simple bathroom look extremely luxurious. You don’t have to fill the entire room with these materials. Instead, you can place them in specific places to lower the cost.

Adjustable Lighting

By simply adding some dimmer lights in your bathroom, you can instantly change the mood. Adjustable lighting and soft lights help you relax and get comfortable. Harsh lights, on the other hand, can spoil the mood.

Get some Bath Pillows

Bath pillows can do wonders in transforming your dull bathtub into a luxury spa. These pillows are inexpensive and come in different designs. You can pick the ones that best suit your specific theme. Additionally, they are easy to clean and basically dry themselves when left in the tub.

5 No-Cost Energy Saving Tips Every Home Simply Must Have

If you are in the process of building your home, you have the opportunity to build it in a way that will ultimately save you a lot of money in energy expenses. In this article, we will show you some of the best ways to save energy at no extra cost. While these energy-saving tips are easier to implement during a build, existing homes can still take advantage of them.

Using Natural Light

While building your home, consider adding a few more windows and holes in specific areas to let natural light in. The sun provides quite a lot of illumination and strategically placed windows will ultimately save a lot in electricity.

Install a Smart Thermostat

Smart Thermostats will be able to automatically regulate your home’s heating and cooling system without a lot of user input. These devices can adjust these systems depending on the ambient temperature, saving you a lot of money in the process.

Use Quality Insulation

The right type of insulation will help you save a lot of money in energy cost. Insulation will help trap warm air during the winter and keep cold air in during the summer. Insulation has to cover the entire home, including walls, floors, and the roof. Ducts used in central heating and cooling systems also need insulation to increase their efficiency.

Use Power-saving Appliances and Lighting

Older appliances usually consume a lot of electricity. Most of the modern appliances are quite energy-efficient. This includes modern inverter-type refrigerators, front-loading washers, and air-conditioning units. Converting all your light bulbs into LED bulbs will also save you a lot of money. LED light bulbs consume significantly less power than their incandescent counterparts.

The Winning Formula to Planning on a Tight Budget

If you are planning to build your dream home or project, having the right plan and budget will be vital to ensure the success of your project. For those who are on a tight budget, here are some tips you can follow to make your plan a reality. While you might think that your plan will cost a lot of money, there are some ways to cut cost without sacrificing your structure’s integrity. You might be pleasantly surprised at how much you can stretch your budget if you just follow the tips listed below.

Tip #1

Always think your plan through. Make sure you have all the numbers you need. This includes prices of materials and labor, as well as some extra budget for unforeseen problems down the line. If you are over budget, you can always modify your plans during the crucial planning stage. If you are hiring an architect, talk your plans over and run through them twice or thrice for good measure.

Tip #2

Measure twice and cut once. Measure your plot of land properly and always take into consideration obstacles such as trees and rocks. Properly identify the number of materials you will need to buy to build your structure. Do it before you go out and buy them. By doing this, you will avoid wastage and therefore wasted money. You never know, you might be able to extend your plans with the money you saved up.

Tip #3

Go green. You might want to consider applying eco-friendly measures to your structure. A sustainable and power-efficient home or structure will pay dividends in the long run. Consider adding solar panels, efficient heating systems, energy-saving lighting solutions, and other efficient technologies. Going green isn’t just good for the environment; it is also good for your wallet.

Tip #4

Consider buying prefab materials. Prefabricated homes and sheds come with architectural drawings and all the materials you need to assemble. Going with prefab will save you a lot of time. They are also easier and cause less clutter during construction. You can also customize your home through modular prefab systems.

Planning for Safety: Make Your Home Safer With These Useful Design Tips

Our homes are places that we feel the most secure and the safest. However, poorly built houses may become deathtraps. Accidents at home are one of the most common ways people get injured. The most common areas in our homes where accidents happen include stairs, bathrooms, and doorways.

Fortunately, there are some methods to ensure that our homes are safe for us and our children. With these universally applicable tips, you can make sure that your home remains a safe haven for your loved ones. These universal design features are applicable to any house or structure, which means that you may want to consider adding them to yours.

Avoid Uneven Surfaces

Obstructions such as a curb in the bathroom can lead to some nasty falls. Even if the difference in elevation is just an inch high, people can still trip over them if they are not paying attention to where they are going.

Install Grab Bars

Grab bars really aren’t just for the elderly. Adults and children can also take advantage of them should they suddenly lose their balance. Grab bars are relatively easy to install and having them is a safe solution to prevent any unwanted accidents. You can install grab bars in specific areas in your bathrooms and staircases.

Go for Carpet or Matte Finishes

More often than not, accidents usually occur in staircases. Placing a non-slip carpet or skid-resistant treads on the steps can help prevent accidents. For those who prefer wood finishes, it will be best to go for matte finishes as opposed to gloss finishes. Socks and certain footwear are prone to slipping on gloss finished steps.