Garden offices bringing work home

You have been longing to work from home for years, and finally your boss has offered you the opportunity to try out remote working from home. You leap at the chance to avoid the daily commute, see more of your family and work more efficiently.

Then you realise that your home has no room to accommodate an office. You have already extended into the loft space for the kids’ bedrooms, the second bathroom is in the extension and the kitchen is in the basement – you have nowhere left to expand.

Oh yes you do! Garden offices are where the smart homeworkers are investing their money these days. Companies such as OECO provide garden office solutions that allow you to work from the comfort and convenience of home, albeit a short stroll across the lawn. Super-insulated using advanced, breathable materials, OECO garden offices are usable all year round, not just in the warmer months. Timber-clad, beautifully-designed contemporary garden office buildings blend seamlessly into the natural environment, bringing work much closer to home.


How to fit a kitchen splashback

Splashbacks are becoming increasingly popular.  They are an easy way to inject life and colour into a simple, monotone kitchen without overpowering it.  The most popular form of splashback is the glass version, however, tiled splashbacks can be used as well.

The items you will need before you begin are as follows; neutral colour silicone, silicone gun, tile spacers, drill and rawl plugs (only if you are screwing it on), cloths, warm soapy water, tester pot of paint that matches the colour of the glass, and a small paint brush.  Make sure that the wall is even before you begin, any bumps or dips of more than 2-3mm should be addressed prior to fitting the glass splashback.

Before you begin using your tester pot of paint, paint a strip of colour onto the walls anywhere that there may end up being a small gap.  By doing this you make the gap less noticeable as both wall and glass will be the same colour.

Apply circular blobs of silicone onto the reverse side of the glass; about 20mm in diameter should do it.  Repeat the process of the entire surface keeping the blobs about 100mm or so apart and not too close to the edges.  Now press the glass into place and if feels a little ‘bouncy’ anywhere, remove the glass and apply some more silicone at that point.

Use tile spacers to ensure there is an expansion gap around the edges of the glass, especially if it is close to wooden surfaces or cupboards as these can expand when warm.  Once the glass has been fitted, leave it for a full 24 hours before removing the spacers.  You can now seal the splashback with a clear silicone sealant and wipe the surface down to make sure it is clean.


Measuring your windows for new blinds

Whether you are buying made to measure or standard sized blinds, it is important to get the size of your window right in order to make the most of your new blinds.  Where you should measure your window depends on the type of blinds you are buying.  There are two options:

Inside the window recess

You should measure your window in this way if you are buying blinds which you want to sit inside the window recess, such as roller blinds, vertical blinds or venetian blinds.  Measuring is quite simple: You should always measure the width of your window recess in three places, and use the smallest measurement. You should then measure the drop in the same way.

Outside of the window recess

You should measure your window in this way if you are buying blinds which you want to overlap the edge of your window recess.  Blinds that sit outside the window recess may include roman blinds, venetian blinds and roller blinds.  Before measuring your window, you need to decide how much overlap you want on each side of the window.  The majority of people choose around 6-7 centimetres, although this is entirely down to your preference.  Additionally, the roller mechanism will need to be far enough above the top of the window recess so that the blind doesn’t cover too much of the window when it is rolled up.  You should then measure the size of your window recess in the same way as the above, and add on the size of the overlap (ensure that you add two sides of overlap on to each measurement) to both the width and the drop.


How to cover hairline cracks in plaster

When it comes to redecorating there is nothing worse than finding a long hairline crack on the surface you want to paint.  This does not, however, need to pose a disastrous problem and even the worst DIY people can fix this issue.

All you need is some filler, such as Polycell Hairline Crack Polyfilla, a small paint brush and some sandpaper.  Begin by removing loose plaster and dirt from the surrounding area. Then, using the brush, simply paint the filler into and over the area of the crack.

Do not over-spread the filler or apply too much in one go, just gently build up the level until the crack is no longer visible.  Wait until the filler has dried and then use the sandpaper to smooth the surface down so that it is flush with the surrounding plaster.  Clean off the area once you have finished to remove any dust particles that could get trapped in the paint and give an uneven finish. Now get your paint out and re-decorate the wall, it really is as simple as that.


Planning your new bathroom

When thinking through your plans for remodelling a bathroom, consider the practicalities. Whilst it is fun to launch into the selection of suites, accessories and furniture, before you travel too far down that road get the basics right.

At the early stages the advice of an experienced plumber will prove invaluable, as they are certain to produce alternative solutions and suggestions for the layout and design. They will be able to point out things to avoid and things to include, to make your new bathroom a success.

The bathroom plays a pivotal role in the smooth running of a household. A well-designed bathroom will work wonders for domestic harmony as well as adding value to your home if you should resell. After great kitchens, bathrooms with ‘wow factor’ are what buyers are looking for these days.

Remember that bathroom suites come in all shapes and sizes, and what may look fabulous in the showroom could be far too big for the space you have available. Take accurate measurements so you know exactly how much space you have, and the suite you purchase will be the perfect scale.

Make yourself aware of all that is out there. Don’t settle for a boring, predictable bathroom if you don’t have to. Research will tell you about wet rooms, luxury spa baths, multi-jet showers, twin sinks, heated, steam-free mirrors, excellent bathroom cabinets, perfect bathroom flooring and wall finishes. The remodelling of bathrooms has evolved and the scope of what is possible in the smallest room in the house has dramatically increased.


Roman blinds – key facts

What are roman blinds?

Roman blinds are fabric blinds with a cord which raises them into a soft layered pleat, and lowers them to cover the whole window.  When the blinds are raised, the cord is attached to a cleat which is secured to the wall or the window frame, to keep them raised.

Why should I choose roman blinds?

Roman blinds are luxurious blinds that are perfect for giving your room an elegant look.  They can be made out of fabric to match the décor of your room.  They are a contemporary alternative to traditional curtains, and have good blackout abilities.  They can be easily cleaned of dust using a vacuum cleaner.  Roman blinds can also help to keep your room warm and private.

What are the negatives?

Roman blinds can be quite complex to take down and put back up for thorough cleaning, so they should be kept clean and hoovered regularly.

Where can I use roman blinds?

Roman blinds are a great choice for your bedroom, living room or dining room.

As roman blinds are made of fabric, they are probably not the best choice for your bathroom or other locations where they may become wet.

What are my choices?

Roman blinds give you plenty of choice, just like curtains.  You can choose from different fabrics, patterns, and colours, including faux suede and fur.  In addition, if you want to match your roman blind to fabric you already have in your room, it is possible to have your blind especially made from the fabric of your choice.

Most companies offer custom made blinds so they will fit your window perfectly, and you can choose which side you want the cord to be.

You can also choose whether or not you want a blackout lining.


Repairing a Burst Pipe

Plumbing is one area of DIY that requires specialist equipment, but if you have the right tools and a little knowledge, you can save yourself a lot of money.

Emergency Repair

With a pipe repair clamp, you can temporarily fix a burst pipe and prevent the need for an emergency call out.

The first thing that must be done when any leak is found is to turn the water supply off. In order to fix a leak using the pipe repair clamp, you simply place the two halves of the clamp around the split pipe and tighten up with the screws.

Permanent Repair

The easiest way to permanently fix the pipe will be with a compression joint. Using a pipe-cutting tool cut out a section of pipe that is the same size as the new joint. Then, all you need to do is fit the new compression joint and tighten it with a set of wrenches. The burst pipe will now be as good as new and you will have saved a significant amount of money on the cost of calling out a plumber.


How to Fix Phantom Flushing

One of the most common problems for any bathroom suite, phantom flushing is basically an involuntary sound that comes from the toilet.  This involuntary flushing can waste water, and it can certainly make an irritating sound.  Luckily, it is a problem that can be fixed fairly easily.

More often than not, the cause of phantom flushing is the toilet’s stopper failing to seal against the seat of the flush valve as tight as it should be.  This causes water to seep into the bowl at a slow but steady rate, and also causes the sound known as the phantom flush. 

The first step to solving this problem is to turn off the water source for the toilet.  Once the water is off, the toilet should be flushed.  The seat of the flush valve should then be cleaned thoroughly with a scrubbing pad.  This method usually serves to fix the problem, but more persistent phantom flushing may be the result of an improperly centred stopper on the flush valve seat.  Moving the stopper around may solve the problem, but a replacement stopper may have to be purchased.


Laying a gravel path in your garden

There is any number of ways to pimp the garden. One, which has the added advantage of adding an extra security layer, is the gravel path. The security comes from the noise of footfall. A gravel path is also relatively easy to lay and fairly economical.

Mark out the line of the path with sand or a line and cut away any turf and topsoil to a depth of approximately 100-150mm (4-6 inches). Tamp the soil down firmly and fix any soft edges with 100-150mm deep timber battens, pegged at regular intervals. A curved path will need flexible edging, pegged into place to retain turf or flower beds.

Cast concrete is another possible edging, being more decorative and durable, though care must be taken when laying to keep levels even.

Now fill the bottom third with a hardcore base of loose stone or coarse gravel, topped with a layer of sand and a coarse gravel that needs tamping flat. At this juncture, apply weed killer from a watering can fitted with a rose to prevent washing the base away.

Finally, spread the gravel of choice – pea, beach pebble, green basalt or chippings of flint, granite, and stone – over the base before raking, rolling, and smoothing to produce an even, firm path with a level just below the top of the edging. Maintain the path with regular applications of weed killer, raking and rolling, and it will look good for years.


Replacing a Tap

When you attempt to open or close a tap and find that it is difficult or impossible the fault probably lies with a faulty head-gear. Replacing a tap is one home repair project that most people can easily complete. No plumbing skills are required and few tools are needed.

First isolate and turn off the water supply to the tap. When possible, turn off the isolating valve under the tap. If there is none, you will need to isolate the water supply at the main valve to the house.

Remove the tap cover with a small screwdriver. You will see the rim if you look closely at the top of the tap. Insert the screwdriver into the rim and gently lift it away from the tap. After the tap cover is removed you will see the screw attached to the spindle. Remove the screw by turning it anti-clockwise and the handle will lift off easily.

Using an adjustable spanner, loosen the head-gear nut. Hold the tap in your other hand to prevent it from moving while you are doing this and to make this step easier use a little penetrating oil first.

After removing the damaged head-gear nut check to make certain that there is no damage to the seat inside the tap. Once you have done this you can insert the new head-gear and screw the nut into place, tightening it with the spanner. 

Make certain that the tap is open when you reassemble it, so that when water flow is returned the debris can be removed without damaging the washer. Fit the new handle into place and secure with the screw, before replacing the cover. Restore the water supply to the tap and after a few seconds of running clear water you can turn it off.