The Cost And Return Of Home Improvements

Where To Improve Your Home To Make The Most Return On Investment
With the housing market stagnant in many areas and buyers harder to come by, it is important to improve your home to make it more sellable. This could mean little projects such as laying new carpets and redecorating or undertaking bigger improvements such as kitchen extensions and adding a conservatory.   Such improvements can increase the value of a property and make for a quicker sale should you decide to sell or re-mortgage.

However, whatever home improvements cost money. So is it best to use your savings, tap into the equity you have by re-mortgaging, take out a home improvement loan or use a 0% credit card?

For instance, a big improvement such as a conservatory can be quite expensive, so it might be best to save up for it or get a low-cost loan.

A smaller improvement such as replacing the kitchen tap could be done using a 0% credit card, but make sure you pay it off during the interest-free period if you can.   Here are some home improvement suggestions with guide prices…

Home improvement return on investment 2

Home improvement return on investment 3

Home improvement return on investment 4

Home improvement return on investment 5

Home improvement return on investment 6

Source: http://www.moneysupermarket.com/loans/

Colour Psychology: A guide to choosing colours for your home.

Grand Taps UK currently have released a marvelous range of mosaic tiles. Yay! Mosaic means colour, yes? Yes. Not sure which to pick? Have a glance at the rainbow-like infographic below, it’ll explain just when and why to use colour. colour psychology doesn’t just relate to tile and paint colours, it applies to every instance where colour is involved – branding, clothing, accessories, cars, (insert colourful item here), (and here) – you get the point.

We hope this assists you in creating the perfect atmosphere in your home.

colour-psychology

Infographic designed by Dale Anne Scogings

Quick Fix Tap Replacement Heads With Valves

Replace Your Tap Valves And Heads

Are those old taps bugging you? Are they stiff and weeping from the joints? Are they ugly?
I have a quick fix… New tap heads. Not as good as replacing the complete tap and not as cheap as replacing only the washers but rather a best of both solution.
You can buy just the tap heads in different styles that will screw straight into your existing tap body. These replacements include the handle, collar and valve complete with new washers. You can get for the bath, basin and shower.
I found mine at the local plumbing store and you can get a big choice online.
The image here does not do the final result justice because it doesnt show the weeping joint or the stiffness of the handle or the scars of many years of use on the old tap handle, believe me there is a big difference.

DIY: Furniture White-wash

Firnityre Whitewash Do It Yourself

By Dale Anne Scogings

You’ve just finished painting you bathroom and you have half a tin of white paint left. As you start cursing for not calculating correctly you spot that old piece of pine furniture that some long lost relative or ex-lover-spouse person built, varnished and gave to you because varnished-pine used to be cool. So what does one do with left over paint and outdated pine furniture? One white-washes it. That’s what one does.

You’ll need some paint thinners, a paint brush, some sandpaper (or an electric sander), some white paint (or any other colour for that matter) and one piece of dated furniture. Armed with these tools you can begin your process of freshening up your ‘unfresh’ furniture.

How? First you need to wipe down the pine surface, using a slightly damp cloth. Next up, you need to roll up your sleeves, don your dungarees, blast some music and get in touch with your inner carpenter. It’s sanding time. Using the sandpaper you need to remove all of the old varnish. Yay for a clean varnish-free-paint-wanting surface!

The fun part comes next. It’s Picasso time! Dilute your paint with the paint thinners and get painting. I usually go by the half-half ratio, but it’s totally up to you. For a darker wash use less thinners and for a lighter wash, use more thinners – simple. The same goes for the number of coats you do, yes? One coat might seem dark at the time of painting, but give it a few minutes and the wood would (say wood again) soak it right up. Going with my half-half ratio, I did about three coats of paint to get my rocking chair looking spiffy again.

There Is A Demand For Female Plumbers

Move over boys, there’s a gap in the plumbing industry for women and they are ready to fill it!

Watch this cool music video:

An article in The Independent reveals this quite clearly with statements like “Anyone who can give birth is stronger than they look”, “women can do the heavy work” and “women make the best plumbers because they realise the importance of respect” by experienced West Yorkshire-based plumber, Hattie Hasan.

Why female plumbers?

Female Plumbers are in demand

Carol Cannavan, secretary of the Institute of Plumbing and Engineering’s Women in Plumbing Group, once told the BBC that there is a great demand for female plumbers and that more women should be supported into the industry. She said that some sections of society feel more comfortable with a woman plumber, such as certain religious groups. In her experience, customers have often asked specifically for female plumbers and this shows a need for them.

An Equal Opportunities Commission report has stated that 12% of people would feel safer and more relaxed hiring a female plumber.

Plumbing companies have said that there is a need for woman plumbers as customers feel secure around them and can relate to them. The elderly, in particular, feel more comfortable allowing a female plumber into their home.

Some say that men are happy because it’s a woman at home with their wife or, if they’re the ones at home, they feel that they are less likely to be judged because they cannot perform the plumbing task themselves.

How easy is it for females to enter the plumbing industry?

The Equal Opportunities Commission is trying to combat skills shortage and the under-representation of females in this industry by encouraging more women to complete plumbing courses.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has reported that £23 billion could be added to the British economy if more women enter into the workplace, thus helping the nation to recover from the recession.

The UK’s biggest name in vocational education, City & Guilds, places no restrictions on the number of women allowed to take their plumbing courses. In fact, the organisation is actively encouraging more women to enrol.

Why aren’t there more female plumbers?

Summit Skills, the Sector Skills Council for the building services engineering sector in the UK, has estimated that there are approximately 160 000 plumbers in the UK but less than one percent are female.

In Hong Kong, Equal Opportunities Commission chairman, Lam Woon-Kwong, has said that, in his years in the public sector, he has seen females holding back their career advancement as they don’t want to outshine their spouses and want to devote more time to their families. At the launch of a women’s leadership program, Woon-Kwong said, “It’s free choice but I hope that is not a conscious choice conditioned by social stereotypes disguised as free choice”.

Hasan is aware of the myths around female plumbers that are holding them back from entering the industry and realises that the industry still has a long way to go. She has said that many people mistakenly believe that women are not strong enough to deal with the manual labour aspect of plumbing and that it is not a job that is economically sustainable as only women hire women plumbers.

Cannavan believes that more needs to be done to challenge the perception that plumbing is strictly a male profession. She said, “I think it is about getting information into schools and making it clear that it’s not just one career, there are so many different things you could become within the industry.”

So for all women who are interested in becoming plumbers but are allowing those myths to get in the way, maybe it’s time to prove society wrong? The economy, workplace and educational institutions are all desperate to have you after all!

Here are links to some promo videos from Stopcocks Women Plumbers, a national organisation of highly skilled Women Plumbers:

Here are contact details for some female plumbers in the UK:

Plummy Plumbers

Tel: 020 8670 0342

A1 Plumb

Tel: 020 7684 2006

Girlz on Tap

Tel: 01273 248 744

Pink Plumbers

Tel: 01923 283 421

How To Install A Bathroom Basin Mixer Tap

Chrome Basin Mixer Tap ICE

Turn the Water Off First!

The mixers are relatively simple to install although we do recommend you get a qualified person to do the installation.

Basin Tap Installation Diagram

2 flexi pipes connect your hot and cold water into the bottom of the unit. Prefferably hand tighten the pipes, do not use tools that will damage the connection.

The unit is attached to a one-hole basin using a threaded rod and nut.

A Rubber O-ring is placed on the top of the basin and then rubber and metal gaskets are placed under the basin.

The type of connection required from the flexi hoses to the water supply depends on the size and type of pipework or couplings that are already in place in your bathroom.
You may need to connect using a brass male coupling (pictured here)

brass coupling
if there are no existing connectors on the pipes or you may need to fit a reducer if the existing connectors are larger than required.
If you are lucky the existing connectors will be a perfect match.
Use PTFE tape on all connections to ensure a good watertight seal.

PTFE Plumbers Thread Tape

Plumbers PTFE Thread Tape

All these items can be bought from your local plumbers merchant.

Here is a diagram showing the layout for installing a basic basin mixer tap with pop up waste:

basin pop up connection diagram

Cleaning A Leaking Ceramic Disc Type Tap Valve

Cleaning A Leaking Ceramic Disc Valve Cartridge For A Tap

What are they, how do they get dirty and how do you clean them?
Ceramic disc valve tap cartridges are made with two ceramic discs each with either two holes (for single lever) or 1 hole (for pillar or 2 handle taps) in it. One disc moves with the tap handle and the other disc remains in position. When these holes are aligned, the water is allowed to flow. In the off position, the holes are no longer aligned and the water stops.
These regulate the flow of water from your tap. It can happen that small particles get stuck in the disc assembly and you must clean the cartridge. In extreme cases you must replace the cartridge but obviously it is better to clean the cartridge before replacing it.

  1. Turn off the water supply. Place a cloth over the waste hole to catch any small screws or parts that may accidentally drop into the basin/sink as you work.
  2. Remove the cartridge
  3. Examine the cartridge. Clean and rinse the seals, openings and cylinder. If a seal is damaged then replace it
  4. Remove mineral deposits stuck on the ceramic discs. A drop of food coloring may reveal a cracked ceramic disc. If you see a crack you must replace the cartridge
  5. Reassemble and test. Ensure the tap is in the ‘on’ position and slowly turn the water supply back on. Too much pressure too fast can harm the discs in the cartridge
  6. If the tap still leaks you need to replace the old cartridge

How To Install A Kitchen Sink Mixer Tap

Aero Kitchen Tap
Turn the Water Off First!
The mixers are relatively simple to install although we do recommend you get a qualified person to do the installation.
2 Flexi pipes connect your hot and cold water into the bottom of the unit. Prefferably hand tighten the pipes, do not use tools that will damage the connection.
The unit is attached to a one-hole sink or counter using a threaded rod and nut.
A Rubber O-ring is placed on the top of and a rubber then a brass gasket is placed under the counter.
The type of connection required from the flexi hoses to the water supply depends on the size and type of pipework or couplings that are already in place in your kitchen.
You may need to connect using a brass male coupling (pictured here)

Brass Coupling To Connect Monobloc Tap Flexi Pipes
You will need couplings if there are no existing connectors on the pipes. You may also need to fit a reducer if the existing connectors are larger than required.  If you are lucky the existing connectors will be a perfect match.

Ensure Watertight Connections With PTFE Plumbers Thread Tape

Plumbers PTFE Thread Tape

Use PTFE tape on all connections to ensure a good watertight seal.
All these items can be bought from your local plumbers merchant.
Here is a diagram showing the layout for installing a basic kitchen mixer tap.

Kitchen Sink Tap Installation Diagram

Whats That Filter Thing In A Tap Spout?

Bathroom and kitchen tap aerator diffuser

In the spout opening of many taps there is a filter thing. It is not actually a filter at all but this is what it gets called a lot of the time.

So, what is it Supposed to be called?

and what is it for?

Call it an aerator or diffuser and you will be on the right track. I have heard it referred to as a filter and gauze sieve but these are not correct.

This clever piece of technology changes the way water exits a tap spout. The Aerator is either wire mesh or plastic grate and is screwed to the tap spout end, often with a chrome collar (the pics above show the aerators inside chrome collars). The water is agitated in the aerator and mixed with air that enters through tily channels in the side so when it comes out of the spout it feels luxuriously soft and bubbly.

Aerated water is gentle and pampers your hands.

Aerators also act to direct the water flow straight out of the tap spout and minimise splashing.

The aerator also restricts the water flow along with adding air to the water so it is also a water saving device.

Aerators are common on kitchen taps and basin taps where the spout shape allows. Square and waterfall spouts often dont have. You can easily see the aerator in tap pics, it either protrudes from the spout or you can see the screw collar line on the spout end.

They are not so common on bath taps as the restriction will slow down filling the bath tub and you dont usually wash your face or hands direct from the bath tap spout.

Aerators often get clogged by debris, especially in new installations or after pipework repairs or maintenance. This gives the impression that the pipes are blocked and often leads to major investigation and costly plumbers bills when all that is needed is to unscrew the aerator and rinse it clean.

Taps that usually have aerators:

Taps that often dont have aerators:

Swivel Spout Servicing On Kitchen And Bathroom Taps

Swivel Spout Sink Tap

Most kitchen taps and some bathroom taps feature convenient swivel spouts.
These taps usually have rubber orings and a nylon bush in the spout for water seal and swivel action. To maintain good spout swivel action try the following:

  • Turn off the water supply to the tap
  • remove the spout (normally held in place by a grub screw at the back)
  • clean the exposed part of the spout and the open hole where it came out of
  • apply some vaseline to the o-rings and nylon bush
  • replace the spout