Improving your home: When to hire and when to DIY

Improving your home: When to hire and when to DIY

It’s no secret that a lot of money can be made from buying a property that is in need of some work and doing it up yourself. However, depending on the amount of work necessary, this can soon become a costly affair.

Therefore, when you embark on a house-remodelling project, and you’re looking to set a budget, you should consider just how much of it you can do yourself. After all, if you save some money on stripping your own wallpaper, you may be able to afford that beautiful ceramic sink you’ve had your eye on for the kitchen.

The main three questions to consider when deciding whether to DIY or hire a professional are: do you realistically have the time to complete this project? Do you realistically have the skills to complete this project? Could it be dangerous to yourself or damaging to the property if you attempt to complete this project on your own?

Below is a list of some of the most common tasks associated with doing up a house, as well as some recommendations on what you should DIY and for what jobs you should hire professionals.

Opening cans of paint

DIY: painting

Although it can seem daunting, learning to paint a room isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Have a look at tutorials online and perhaps find a more experienced friend or family member to assist you.

Wooden shelves against a grey wall

DIY or HIRE: cabinets and shelves

It may take some practice, but hanging cabinets or shelves isn’t too difficult once you’ve got the hang of it. Again, there’s a wealth of tutorials online on this subject for you to watch and learn.

Repairing a thatched roof

HIRE: roofing

As a rule of thumb, anything that may damage the structure or integrity of your home should be done by a professional. If you need your roof fixed, for peace of mind hire a professional roofing company that has a number of good reviews.

Laying laminate flooring

DIY or HIRE: flooring

When it comes to flooring, you can either DIY or hire, depending on what kind of work you are looking to have done. For example, laminated flooring is much easier to install than hardwood flooring.

Installing plumbing in a house

HIRE: wiring and plumbing

Although most people are capable of doing minor electricity jobs such as changing a plug themselves, all the major wiring should be done by a professional. Getting wiring wrong can cause a lot of damage – not only to yourself but your property. Similarly, plumbing mistakes can seriously damage your property, and the property value along with it, so make sure you hire a trusted professional for all your plumbing needs!

Small jar of chalk paint

DIY: furniture

This doesn’t refer to flat-pack or self-assemble furniture, but rather to a project where you buy a cheap piece of furniture and do it up to your liking. Most people have seen IKEA furniture hacks, and while they may look easy online, it can be difficult getting the desired result. Nevertheless, failed furniture DIY projects would never damage your home and seeing as IKEA furniture is very budget-friendly, you can easily try out your DIY skills without breaking the bank.


How to make your home a greener place to live

How to make your home a greener place to live

Everybody has the desire to try to live a better and healthier lifestyle, and in the same way, they also want to use as few natural resources as possible. Just as there are options in the way you can live, there are also ways you can turn your house into something that’s far more energy efficient and a lot greener. Here are some ideas that you can implement in your home that will make a significant difference to your life and the environment.

Smart thermostat app

Install programmable thermostats

If you’re the type of person that always leaves the heating or the air conditioning on when there’s no-one in the house, then a programmable thermostat is for you. It will allow you to control when you have the heating and the air conditioning on, so you can have it colder at night and slightly warmer in the mornings. These types of the thermostat will save you a lot of money and energy in the long term. To take things a step further, if you install a smart thermostat, you are getting all the benefits of a programmable version, plus the ability to turn it off and on when you’re not there. That means you can always instruct it to turn on just before you get home if you’re going to be late.

Saplings in light bulbs

Change your light bulbs

Traditional bulbs have long been known to be inefficient and have a relatively short lifespan. With the introduction of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED), the cost of energy used by house lighting is drastically reduced. If you’re still using the older types of bulb, then changing them to CFL or LED ones will show an immediate difference in your energy consumption. In some cases, the only lights that couldn’t have this new type of bulb were those that were designed to be dimmed. However, there are now more modern versions of LED that are dimmable.

Bobble hats on roofs

Eliminate air leaks and heat loss

One of the main reasons that homes lose heat is through escaping air and uninsulated walls and roofs. If you’ve ever seen the roofs of houses after it snows you’ll see that the uninsulated ones have melted the snow, whereas those with insulation haven’t. If you’re not sure whether your home is insulated or not, you can get it checked and have insulation fitted that uses natural products. It’s not just the insulation that you need to think about; you should also look for anywhere the air is leaking out. It could be from the toilet outlet, or perhaps the outlet pipes for the sink. Fill the gaps with expanding foam or plaster to seal the holes and keep the heat inside. One other way that heat can escape is through your windows. It may be because they’re older windows with only a single pane of glass, then they could be losing much more heat. If that’s the case, then you should be thinking about window replacement Virginia Beach so that you can get new ones fitted.

Appliance energy label

Upgrade to energy efficient appliances

If your household appliances are more than a few years old, then they might not be terribly efficient. For that reason, you may want to consider changing devices such as your washing machine, fridge-freezer or dishwasher to one that has a higher energy star rating. Sometimes there are schemes involving your energy supplier that can help you cut the cost of replacing inefficient appliances.

Aerated tap water

Reduce water consumption

There are many ways that you can reduce your water consumption and lower not only your water bills but also help to conserve water. You can start by adding aerators on your taps and fitting low-flow shower heads. These use less water but still give a good spray, so you’re not missing the additional supply. You should also think about switching from taking baths to showers as this dramatically reduces your water usage. Another way to save water is to use plants in your garden that don’t need much water, or those that are native to your country. It will mean that you spend less time watering them and you’ll use less water to keep them healthy. You can also choose to fit a water butt to catch rainwater; you can recycle this natural water and use it in your garden.

Solar panels on a roof

Switch to solar power

There’s been an enormous boom in people choosing to get some or all their energy supply from solar power. There’s no doubt that for those who can have it, there’s a significant reduction in their energy bills. In some countries, you can even sell the power you don’t use back to the grid. There are solar solutions available for both hot water and electricity. With water, it’s pumped through tubes that absorb the sun’s energy and heat the water. With electricity, solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity. Both systems are fitted to the roof of your home and are placed at the best angle to get the most sun. There are also other water heating systems such as one that uses a series of underground pipes in your garden to absorb heat from the soil.

Compost heap


To reduce the amount of food waste that you send to landfill, you can buy or build a composter for your garden. The food waste goes on the top, and bacteria and worms turn it into compost that comes out of the bottom. Some food shouldn’t be composted – items such as meat, fish and bones. However, newspapers, junk mail, egg boxes and cardboard can be disposed of on to a compost heap. The other advantage of creating your own compost is that you’re not buying peat-based compost that is taking away natural, non-renewable resources.

If you’re looking to change the way your house uses energy, then there are many ways you can achieve it. As well as these ideas, you can also try growing some of your own food and fitting a more energy efficient boiler. With just a few simple changes, you can start to make a real difference to the planet.


How to reduce the cost of buying a home

How to reduce the cost of buying a home

Are you considering moving to a new house but aren’t keen on the costs that come with it? If the answer is yes, you might be pleased to know that just because buying a house can be expensive; it doesn’t necessarily have to be. The truth is that you can buy property without it breaking the bank, it’s just a case of taking steps to minimize the amount that needs to be spent.

When you invest in property, whether it’s to live in or to rent out to make a profit from, there’s usually a range of fees that come with the purchase. In addition to a variety of other costs. However, just because these costs can be high, they don’t have to be. Want to reduce the cost of buying a home? Below is a list of useful tips that it is worth implementing in your property purchasing search, to help reduce your buying costs.

House shaped from £20 notes

Take out a 95% mortgage

One of the most significant costs that comes with purchasing property is the cost of the deposit. To be accepted for a mortgage loan, usually a 25% deposit is required, sometimes even more than that. This is a lot of money and can be one of the highest costs associated with buying property. However, the good news is that there are 95% mortgages that you can consider taking out. These are mortgages where you only need a five percent deposit, rather than a 25% one. Not all mortgage companies offer these types of mortgages and not everyone is eligible for them, but if you take the time to do your research and shop around, you may be able to successfully apply for this kind of mortgage and save yourself thousands.

Mortgage document

Save on the cost of fees

Another high cost that is associated with purchasing property is the cost of covering the fees that come with buying a property. These can run into thousands and are usually incredibly high in price. However, there are steps that you can take to reduce the cost of these. One of these steps is by using the Open Listings websites to house hunt, make offers online, and securing a 50% commission refund. Believe it or not, there are lots of websites that offer a range of deals for buyers, helping to save money on the cost of property fees. Take the time to do your research, and you’re sure to come across some incredible deals.

Moving cardboard boxes

Move out of your old home & into your new one

The moving costs that come with purchasing a new home can also be high. Instead of renting out a moving van and professional movers, consider moving yourself out of your old home and into your new one. The process may take longer and be more stressful, but if it reduces the cost of moving to somewhere new, surely it is worthwhile?

Buying a new home is always going to be costly. However, it doesn’t have to be overly expensive.


How to build your dream house

How to build your dream house

The idea of being able to create a place where you can live and enjoy your life is something that everyone has thought about from a young age. However, being able to make that dream come true is very rarely a simple process. It takes time, a lot of saving up and a great deal of thought. Even though this is probably one of the most time-consuming, stressful and expensive projects of your life, the end result is definitely worth all the sleepless nights.

In order to be able to keep your sanity throughout the process, you can find a few useful tips in the following short-list. Building a house is a project that will allow you to discover who you are, what you like and how you want to live.

Calculator and accounts

Establish your budget

The budget for your home is one of the primary sources of conflict in this process. Being able to make a list of all the things you can afford can help you a lot to understand the following steps. Moreover, you can then find out whether you need to save up more money in order to be able to add certain things to the list. A builder or architect will be able to tell you what you can acquire with the money that you already own. Generally, you should consider the cost of the land, the cost of construction, other fees and taxes and furniture and décor.

Solar panels on the roof of a house

Think about your home needs

Consider your lifestyle and think about all the aspects that could facilitate living in your dream home. Moreover, make sure you only add aspects that will make your life comfortable from all points of view. Even though it might seem difficult, try to draw a clear line between your wants versus your needs. A good way of making an investment that you’ll be able to benefit from in the future would be by including innovative technology in the plan. San Diego home solar power is a good example in this case. Solar power systems can be integrated to most house types, allowing you to reduce electricity costs and help protect the environment.

House plans

Create a house design

Once you establish your real needs, it’s time to get even closer to your dream. Although the architect is the one who usually puts together a house plan, you need to be involved in this process as well. Make sure you choose a design that fits your tastes, budget and future plans or ideas. For example: a home office, a gym and a playroom or a nursery for your future kids. Make sure you discuss everything with your designer and suggest changes if needed.

Welcome to our home painted sign

Move in and enjoy

After endless months of building your dream home, the day will arrive when you’ll finally be able to move in. You’ve worked hard for it, so you should enjoy every second that you spend in your new place to the maximum. Invite your family and friends over and celebrate!


Beautify your Palm Springs property for a quick sale with these healthy desert plants

Garden containing healthy desert plants
If California is known for anything, it’s for being home to the Hollywood film industry as well as the largest number of health-conscious consumers. In fact, diets have been named after the state! If you’re in the process of sprucing up your home for a quick sale and the garden leaves a lot to be desired, why not kill two birds with one stone and give your property instant curb appeal by adding beautiful, low-maintenance edible desert plants known to promote better health?

Not only is California known to be the epitome of a health-conscious community, they’re also big on sustainable living. You’ll probably find more thrift stores and recycling centres per capita in California than in any other state. Yes, California is the most populous state however, if you factor in proportions of recycling activities per 100 people, California leads the nation by a long shot. Create an eco-friendly garden by growing plants that require little or no irrigation. Get tips from about planting and caring for edible, desert plants.

Chia flowerscredit


One of the most popular health food ingredients on the market today is chia seeds. Health conscious people do everything from putting them in smoothies, sprinkling them on salads to adding them to home-made bread. The plant that produces the seeds – Salvia hispanica – belongs to the herb family. It requires a lot of direct sunlight, something the Coachella Desert has plenty of! Chia seeds are extremely high in the Omega complex of fatty acids, vitamin B1 and niacin. Chia plants produce beautiful blue flowers that will enhance your landscaping and grow well in rock gardens.

Agave tequilana and cactus plantscredit


Have you heard of the sweetening power of agave nectar? Not only is agave a natural sweetener much healthier than sugar, but the plant is high in fibre, necessary for healthy digestion. Did you know that agave is also used to distil tequila? Is it any wonder that many Central & South American homes sport this ground-covering succulent on their lawns and gardens?

Prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear

Prickly pear, or Opuntia to give it its proper name, is a hardy cactus native to South America. Not only is it an attractive, sculptural plant, its pads and fruit are edible. It’s very low in fat and calories and high in magnesium and vitamin C. The deep-growing roots of the prickly pear helps prevent soil erosion.

Aloe vera plant

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is famously used as a natural remedy for soothing sunburn and as a moisturising ingredient in beauty products. It’s also claimed that the extracted juice helps support good gastrointestinal health.

Creating a lovely garden with healthy desert plants, you’re sure to increase curb appeal instantly, especially to those looking to move westward for a more beneficial lifestyle. Add value to your property and get healthy in the process!


How to decorate your home on a budget

How to decorate your home on a budget | H is for Home

If you’re looking to give your home a new lease of life, but you don’t have the budget to spend a lot on materials or furniture, then there are still many things you can do to brighten up your home. However, if you’re staring at the walls and struggling to think of any ideas, then here are a few that can help get you started.

Paint and paint brushes

Use paint creatively

Using paint to bring some colour back into your house is ideal, whether you are staying in the house or getting ready to sell. It is a popular idea to add a splash of colour to just one wall to create a feature wall. It allows you to use vivid and bright colours without going over the top. If you are feeling particularly daring, you can paint the whole room in a bright colour, though the rest of the furniture of the room should be in neutral colours to avoid clashing. Using paint can work in any area of the house, though it is particularly effective in bedrooms and living rooms. Also, don’t forget about the exterior of your home, either!

Spacious living room

Switch things around

If your budget doesn’t stretch to new furniture, then that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a new look. Think about what you already have and see if you can change things around. Maybe something that has been in the bedroom for years can find a new lease of life in the living room. It doesn’t matter what it has been used for in the past; you can create new and exciting ideas just by using it differently. You should also think about what you no longer need, as a room that is cluttered can feel untidy and cramped. If you can identify some things you no longer want, then send them to the local charity shop or sell them online. You may even raise enough money to buy something else.

Sofa, pot plant, chest of drawers and tall floor lamp

Choose your lighting

You may not think so, but lighting can have as much of an effect on a room as decorating. By adding some side table lights or a standing lamp, you can create a nice comforting mood in the room. It’s perfect for the evening when you want to sit back and relax after a hard day at work. If you already have side lamps, then think about moving them to other areas of the room, or to another room altogether. Why not use some old fabric to recover the lampshade? It will need to be fire resistant, but you can easily create a lamp that will match the décor of the room.

Grey sofa with contrasting cushions

Add some cushions

Your budget probably won’t allow you to afford a new sofa, but you can still give it a new lease on life. Try buying some cushions in a colour that matches the walls; they can be scattered on the sofas to give them a new look. Get some of different sizes and colours so that it doesn’t look too uniform. You can apply the same trick to the bedroom, buy some cushions to go on the bed during the day. It will make the room look better, and it will be great to sit up in bed reading with them around you.

Sewing workspace

Try matching fabrics

If you are handy with a sewing machine, the possibilities are endless with what you can create. Buy yourself some material that matches your colour scheme and make some curtains to go along with some cushion covers. It means you won’t have to buy new cushions and it will be cheaper than buying ready-made curtains. You can even take it a step further and buy towels in matching colours for the bathroom and kitchen. If you can get enough material, you can even make bedspreads or bed linen with one side plain to offer a contrast.

Small, circular mirror above a side table

Add size and light with mirrors

One of the quickest and easiest ways to add another dimension to your room is using mirrors. They don’t have to be new; you can find interesting ones in charity shops. By placing them on the wall, they can make the room look a lot bigger. They can also reflect any light in the room to offer a brighter look. To add a little style, you can experiment with multiple mirrors in a room; go for different sizes and designs, which will make it look special.

Using a staple gun to reupholster furniture

Recover and reuse

Apart from just moving your furniture into other rooms, you can also redesign them to make them more contemporary. An old chair might look as though it needs to go, but with some fabric to cover the chair and some paint, you can give it a whole new look. You will need to sand down the wood and remove the old coverings before you start, but it isn’t as hard as it sounds, there are guides out there that can walk you through the process. Once you have mastered the idea, you can tackle any furniture in the house in the same way.

Monochrome framed poster above two white metal trolleys

Add some artwork

To add something a little different to your room, why not think about adding some artwork? It can be something you create yourself, or perhaps some pre-framed prints that you buy from the store. You can also find some nice examples in charity shops; there are often hand painted examples that have been donated. Another idea is to find a poster that you like and buy a frame for it. It can be a new or used frame, and you can then paint it to match the décor of the room. You can create a nice feature wall by assembling pictures of various sizes and placing them all on one wall or a room. It’s also effective to have family members on the wall of the hallway as you enter the house. With a little imagination and some reworking of old furniture, you can redesign your home within even the smallest of budgets.