Avoiding the cowboys: How to hire a builder

Avoiding the cowboys: How to hire a builder

If you’re a homeowner, at some point you’re likely to need to hire a builder to carry out repairs or improvements. But with all the horror stories you read on the internet, the process can seem scary. How do you avoid the cowboys, and how do you make sure the work done is satisfactory? Here are some tips to help you hire and work with a builder.

Stay local

When you’re trying to find a builder to do some work for you, it can be tempting to cast a wide net, especially if those nearby are busy. But this isn’t recommended unless it’s someone you know or have hired before.

A local builder is easier to call back if issues arise or if you find further work to do. And they’re likely to be more willing to turn up. It can also be harder to check the reputation of someone who doesn’t live locally.

Don’t rush in

Taking time to do your research is key to successfully hiring a builder. Ideally, you want to choose someone with a good reputation, the right skills and plenty of experience.

A good way to start is to make a list of the local builders and building companies in your area. Then, check with family and friends, to see if they’ve used any of them and whether they’d recommend them. Builders may also have lots of online reviews from customers, which can help determine how good they are. They may also have their own website featuring case studies of work they have done in your area. Next, you can check to see if they’re members of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) for extra reassurance.

Now it’s time to narrow down your list. Some builders and building companies specialise or concentrate on certain jobs, such as renovations and extensions or maintenance and repairs. So, it can be handy to make a list of the jobs you want completing and see which builders on your shortlist are the best match. Looking at the descriptions on their listings and at previous jobs they’ve done should help with this.

Getting quotes

Once you have a shortlist of builders that you’re happy with, it’s time to contact them for quotes. Even if it’s just a small repair job, you want to get at least three quotes.

To make sure that the quotes you get are accurate and fair, invite your shortlisted builders around to assess the job and discuss your options with them. If there’s more than one way to complete a job, ask for separate quotes for each option. Also, ask for detailed quotes, as this makes it easier to compare costs and look for savings.

Sometimes quotes can seem a little excessive or too good to be true. You can check the average cost for most building jobs online, to get a feel for what’s fair. If quotes seem a little low, check that hidden costs such as scaffolding and skips are included.

If a builder says they’ll give you a cheap quote in exchange for cash up front, be very wary. This is a tactic frequently used by cowboys.

Working with a builder

Once you’ve found a builder, and you’ve received a quote that you’re happy with, you need to agree upon a start date. It’s rare that a builder will be able to start right away, so make sure you pin them down to a date, so you can prepare.

It’s also a good idea before they start work to check if you need to do anything such as move furniture or cars out of the way. If there are access or similar issues, make sure they’re aware of them. It’s also wise to check they have all the right paperwork in place. Your builder should have insurance to cover public liability and accidental damage and an insurance-backed guarantee, so the work they do is still covered even if they go out of business.

As you may have guessed by now, communication is a very important part of maintaining a good working relationship with your builder. Make sure you’re clear about what you want, and speak up straight away if you have any concerns. Keep an eye on progress, so you can be confident everything is moving along as you’d expect and that nothing is deviating from the agreed plan.


Home improvement tips for sustainable water conservation

Home improvement tips for sustainable water conservation

Are you looking to not only revamp your home but also create a sustainable environment? How about incorporating some space-saving interior modifications while reducing your ecological footprint? If this sounds like a dream, brace yourself, because it’s more than possible with sustainable water conservation methods. And guess what? You even get to save money!

Importance of water conservation

Think about how often you use water every day for showering, dishwashing, laundry and cooking. It’s easy to take this resource for granted. But according to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), freshwater scarcity will affect half the world’s population by 2025. This highlights the urgent need for sustainable water conservation.

Conserving water not only preserves water supplies and reduces the strain on the environment but also decreases energy consumption. A win-win scenario. What’s more? By implementing sustainable water conservation measures, you can reduce your water costs significantly – a bonus worth considering! A visit to fergusonsplumbing.com.au provides more information.

Apart from saving money and energy, sustainable water management aids in maintaining safe and clean habitats for animals and humans alike. After all, fresh drinking water is a cornerstone of a healthy life.

Beyond that, consistent planning and efficient use of water resources ensure you are well positioned to deal with any potential future water shortages or droughts.

Optimising indoor water use

Indoor spaces offer numerous opportunities for sustainable water management strategies. Start by investing in high-efficiency appliances such as low-flow taps, shower heads and dual-flush toilets. They prove to be genuine cost-saving assets over time.

For instance, low-flow shower heads can save about 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower without compromising on pressure or performance. Imagine just how much all these little adjustments could add up to, when applied throughout your home!

Preventing leaks is crucial too. From taps to toilet flappers, leaks account for nearly 12% of overall household water waste, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Regular inspection helps detect potential issues before they escalate.

Lastly, make conscious efforts to minimise water usage. Lather hands before turning on the tap to rinse them off; scrape dishes clean instead of rinsing them before loading into the dishwasher. Believe it or not, these basic changes are significant steps toward optimising indoor water use.

Implementing rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting serves as an effective way of reducing your reliance on public water supply, while also decreasing storm run-off from your property. Several strategies ranging from simple to complex can be employed depending on your budget and needs.

The simplest strategy is installing rain barrels or water butts under your downpipes to collect roof run-off. If you’re aiming for more extensive coverage, a cistern system could be the way to go. Cisterns hold larger volumes of water than barrels and their storage tanks can either be above or below ground, depending on specific design preferences.

Just like any other water source, harvested rainwater would need proper treatment before use within your home – especially if it will be used for cooking or bathing. Using first-flush devices, filters and UV light systems can help purify collected rainwater.

Considering all these tips and steps towards sustainable water management does not only improve homes but fosters a healthier planet overall! Remember, every drop counts in preserving Mother Earth’s precious resources.

High-efficiency household fixtures

Investment in high-quality household fixtures has a substantial impact on water conservation. Low-flow taps, for instance, are one of the most effective ways to save water without sacrificing usability. They decrease water flow by up to 30% or more when compared to conventional taps. This means significant savings on your monthly water bills.

Importantly, look also into efficient shower heads and dual-flush toilets. High-efficiency shower heads can help you save considerable amounts of water during each bath. Dual-flush toilets, on the other hand, offer options for liquid waste and solid waste flushing, mitigating the amount of water spent.

Remember that try as you might, no amount of diligence in running the tap will match the water savings these fixtures provide. Replace outdated fixtures with their more efficient counterparts – this doesn’t only make your home greener, but also adds modern appeal.

A striking detail to note is that some local governments offer rebates and incentives to homeowners who invest in energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, making it even more beneficial!

Regular maintenance and leak detection

To achieve sustainable water conservation, regular maintenance and leak detection should be non-negotiable. According to professionals on this platform, homeowners can save nearly 10% on their water bills by simply fixing leaks.

Establish routine checks on all your taps, shower heads and pipes for possible leaks. A silent toilet leak can waste up to 7,000 gallons of water a month – just imagine! You could fill over ten swimming pools with that amount of wasted water in a year! Regularly check if your toilet tank is free from leaks, using simple methods like a food colouring test.

Your house’s exterior should not be neglected either. Sprinkler systems and outdoor hoses tend to develop leaks over time. A leak as small as the tip of a ball pen can result in a substantial waste of water.

Remember to work with professionals too. They can help detect potential issues before they spiral out of control, proving more cost-effective in the long-term.

Choosing water-smart appliances

Incorporating appliances with advanced water-saving technologies into your home decor plays an essential role in sustainable water conservation. The EPA’s WaterSense program certifies certain products that have been proven to be at least 20% more efficient without sacrificing performance.

This includes updated washing machines and dishwashers that conserve sufficient amounts of water compared to older models – reducing both your ecological footprint and monthly bills.

Further, explore options such as tankless water heaters that provide hot water only when it’s needed, preventing the loss of standby energy. Solar power for water heaters and heat pump water heaters can be excellent choices too.

Dishwashers certified by Energy Star are particularly designed to save vast amounts of both power and water. They eliminate the need for soaking or hand-washing, saving you time, energy and, undoubtedly, water.

Effective kitchen water savings

Your kitchen effortlessly becomes a hot spot for practising effective water savings techniques. Like the bathroom, significant amounts of water get used here for cooking, washing dishes and running the dishwasher.

The first step toward kitchen water management is rethinking how you prepare food. Thaw frozen food in your refrigerator overnight instead of using running water. Don’t let your tap run while washing vegetables – instead rinse them in a sink or a pan filled with water.

Your selection of appliances can appreciably affect kitchen conservation too. For instance, an Energy Star certified dishwasher saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year on average compared to hand-washing!

Filling pots only with necessary amounts of water when cooking helps avoid waste. This also ensures that your food retains more nutrients and achieves better texture.

Wrapping it up

As you wrap up this journey through sustainable water conservation approaches for home improvement, remember: every drop indeed counts! Get into action today by adopting these more conscious behaviours and sustainable practices.

There’s no small measure in preserving the planet’s water resources – each step builds on another to create incredible outcomes. You not only reduce stress on Mother Nature but also save significantly over time – both undoubtedly rewarding results.


Home improvement recommendations for plumbing maintenance

Home improvement recommendations for plumbing maintenancecredit

A home is more than a roof over your head. It’s an investment, a sanctuary and the backdrop to your family’s memories. An integral part of preserving your home is in the pipes that snake through its structure. An often-overlooked element of home maintenance, proper care of your home’s plumbing system is vital to its longevity.

Plumbing maintenance importance

Maintaining your home’s plumbing isn’t just about preventing annoyances like a leaky tap or a clogged drain; it’s about safeguarding the overall health of your house. The role of plumbing maintenance may be underestimated. Don’t wait for an emergency before considering plumbing upkeep as crucial.

The repercussions from neglecting your home’s piping can be extensive and costly. Damage caused by leaks can result in stains on the walls or ceilings, encouraging mould growth and posing health risks.

Moreover, substantial damage to flooring or drywall requires expensive repairs. On the other hand, regular maintenance helps you avoid these issues and ensure your pipes stay in good working condition.

Beyond that, making smart maintenance decisions can boost your home’s value. A well-kept plumbing system reflects good overall home care, adding value to potential buyers. Read more about Dan’s Plumbing for deeper insights into the importance of these systems.

Conducting regular inspections

Your first line of defence in maintaining your home’s plumbing system is thorough routine inspections. Hiring a professional plumber annually to check critical areas can help catch small problems before they escalate.

A solid inspection mainly involves checking the toilet, drains, taps and shower heads for leaks. They’ll look for slow drains that might indicate problems down the line, and review water pressure levels to ensure they’re in line with what’s healthy for your plumbing system.

Moreover, the plumber will assess the state of your water heater, an integral component of the household plumbing. Inspect all visible pipes for signs of corrosion, particularly in older homes.

An annual inspection by a professional plumber might seem like an added expense, but it’s a valuable routine that can save you from costly repairs or replacements in the long run.

Routine drain cleaning

Drains bear a heavy burden in any home. Soap residue, hair and food particles are just some things that can build up and clog drains over time.

Avoid pouring grease down your kitchen sink. It may seem harmless in its liquid state, but once it cools down, it solidifies and can block your pipes.

Routine drain cleaning is crucial to maintaining your home’s plumbing system. Drain cleaning solutions can offer short term relief, but they’re typically corrosive and can lead to pipe damage over time.

Instead, consider hiring professionals for regular cleanings. They possess the necessary tools to thoroughly clean drains without causing harm.

Benefits of pipe insulation

Did you know that insulating your pipes could increase their lifespan and efficiency? This simple measure can prevent several potential problems.

In colder regions, pipe insulation helps prevent freezing. A frozen pipe may burst, leading to costly water damage within your home.

Pipe insulation also reduces the risk of condensation on pipes which can lead to corrosion over time. As an added bonus, when hot water pipes are insulated, water heats up quicker which saves energy and lowers utility bills.

Work with a reputable company such as ASPE (American Society of Plumbing Engineers) certified plumbers to insulate your pipes accurately for best results.

Preventing leaks and drips

Think of a dripping tap as your plumbing system crying out for assistance. It’s easy to ignore these warning signs as minor nuisances, but they indicate significant issues in the making.

A leaky tap could be symptomatic of problems ranging from a worn-out washer to high water pressure. Neglecting it not only wastes water (hence money), but it also risks serious damage to your plumbing system.

Similarly, stop those toilet leaks in their tracks. A continually running toilet can result in exorbitant water bills if left untreated. The culprit can be as simple as an aged flapper valve – a manageable fix if addressed promptly.

Maintaining sound plumbing health requires consistent care and attention – ignore those leaks and drips at your own peril.

Checking the water pressure

Water pressure is another crucial factor in your home’s plumbing maintenance plan. Understanding how to check your water pressure gives you one more tool in preserving your system’s overall health.

To test your water pressure, you can simply use a hose bib gauge, available at local hardware stores. Attach it to an exterior spigot and open the line. The gauge will quickly give you a pressure reading; optimally, your home’s water pressure should fall between 45 and 55 psi.

Too high water pressure is hard on pipes, fittings and appliances and can lead to potential problems such as noisy or leaking pipes, failing toilets and short-lived appliances.

On the flip side, too low water pressure can result in insufficient water supply. This situation makes everyday activities like showering and washing dishes quite frustrating. You may need to adjust your home’s water pressure regulator or install one if you don’t have one.

Handling sewer line blocks

Sewer line blockages are an oft-dreaded experience but taking prompt action can prevent a minor issue from becoming a major disaster such as sewage backup inside your home.

Early signs of sewer line trouble include gurgling noises from drains and toilets, slow draining water and unexplained foul odours in your house.

If you notice any of these symptoms, inspect for possible clogs using a sewer camera. This specialised gadget will travel down your pipes, capturing video footage for review.

Sometimes, all you need is some vigorous plunging to dislodge a clog. However, long term persistent clogs might require heavy-duty equipment like sewer snakes or hydro-jetting machinery.

Remember, consistent issues might hint at a more severe problem, such as tree roots infiltrating your sewer pipes. In these instances, professional assistance becomes necessary.

Professional assistance for plumbing

Despite the plethora of DIY possibilities, there are times when reaching out to a plumbing professional is the best course of action. They bring their expertise and specialised equipment to tackle extensive issues that are beyond your knowledge or capabilities.

For example, dealing with frozen pipes can be risky business for a novice. An incorrectly thawed pipe can easily burst, causing serious water damage. Professionals possess the necessary tools and expertise to carry out such tasks flawlessly.

Apart from handling emergencies, plumbers on this site can also offer regular inspection and maintenance services. These professionals can catch potential problems before they escalate, saving you time and money in the long run.

Remember, while cost might discourage some homeowners from seeking professional help, consider it an investment towards maintaining the health of your plumbing system and overall home integrity.

In conclusion

Caring for your home’s plumbing system is crucial for its longevity and efficiency. Routine inspections, regular drain cleaning, water pressure regulation, handling sewer line blocks etc underpin fundamental aspects of plumbing care.

It’s important not to underestimate or ignore minor warning signs, which may lead to serious problems down the road. Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek professional help when needed. A little proactive maintenance goes a long way in preserving your home’s overall health and enhancing its value in the long run.


Small scale home improvements that can make a big difference

Small scale home improvements that can make a big difference

Home improvements are one of the most engaging and exciting home based tasks in which you can get involved. They definitely trump cleaning and chores, and they can make all the difference to the overall look and feel of your living spaces.

But many people shy away from home improvements, thinking they take too much financial investment, time and effort. Of course, there are many home improvement projects that can be included in this category. Major renovations such as extensions, loft conversions and more are capable of being greatly disruptive and can cost a huge sum.

However, not all home improvements need to be taken to this level. Instead, there’s a host of small scale improvements that you can choose from that will still have a hugely positive impact on your home’s value and appearance. Here are a few that you might like to take into consideration!

Painting and decorating

Feel like one of your rooms needs a bit of a refresh? This is where painting and decorating can make all the difference. Painting your room can help to make it feel fresh and new. You can choose a new colour scheme or you can stick to the old one. Either way, walls will appear fresh, even and bright. If you’re choosing a new colour, make sure to patch test it on your walls to see how it dries. If you don’t have much time on your hands or don’t want to risk messing up, you can use a professional painter decorator who will have the job completed quickly and to a high standard.

Window shutters

Few homes have window shutters but Plantation Shutters can make all the difference to your home’s functionality and design. Not only do they have aesthetic value, but they can also help with managing the light and temperature levels in your home, allowing sunlight and heat in or blocking them out. Consider styles and colours that go well with your home’s interior as well as exterior.

Kitchen counter-tops

We tend to accept the counter-tops we have in our kitchens when we move into our home. For many of us, they don’t even stand out as something that can be changed. But you can always replace your worktops with something of a different material, colour or design. Popular options include granite, marble and quartz. Make sure to look into the qualities of any counter-tops you’re choosing to make sure that they suit your individual needs well. Some are less absorbent and resistant to spills and stains, some less so. Some are more durable than others too.


When did you last consider the kerb appeal of your home? Sure, the majority of us focus on our interiors when it comes to home improvements, but working on the outside of your home can add value and make you feel happier in your living space too. Try painting the front door, fixing squeaky gates, making sure fence panels are even and more. These small steps will make a huge difference overall.

Each of these changes can have a huge impact on your home without entailing the money, time and effort involved in full scale home renovations. Hopefully, one or two will appeal to you!