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Category: Home & Garden

  1. Simple Ways To Add Value To Your Home

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    Some people don’t think of their home as an investment, they just see it as somewhere to sleep and keep all their things safe. However, your home absolutely is an investment, and when you get older and your children have flown the nest, that investment will pay off big when you can sell your home, downsize, and have a big lump sum left to see you through your retirement. Below are three simple ways to add more value to your property, so that when the time comes to sell, you’ll have more in your pocket than you spent to acquire your home in the first place.

    Simple Ways To Add Value To Your Home Pexels Image

    Make it energy efficient

    With the world becoming more conscious of its carbon footprint, as well as utility bills constantly being on the rise, more and more homeowners are wanting their properties to be as energy efficient as possible. Not only does it help protect the environment, but it means that regular bills like gas, electric and council tax are lowered. There are many ways to make a home more energy efficient, but adding replacement windows that are double or even triple glazed can help to keep the cold out and the bills down. Adequate roof insulation will stop all that heat escaping as it rises, and adding solar panels to the roof can help provide a sustainable source of energy for years to come. Adding a new and highly efficient boiler can also be a way to increase the efficiency rating of the home as a whole.

    Add an extension or conservatory

    Another great way to add value is to increase the floorplan of the property. If you have a particularly large garden, it makes sense to sacrifice a little of it to turn your three bedroom starter home into a four bedroom family home. You will then have the option to add many luxuries like a walk-in wardrobe or an en-suite bathroom, which will dramatically increase the value of your property. A conservatory is also another relatively cheap and easy way to add value. Not only is it easier to gain planning permission to add one, but many buyers will actively search for a property with a conservatory, or else factor in the cost of adding one themselves when negotiating price.

    Do a loft conversion

    This may require some extensive remodelling of your roofline and careful scrutiny of your home’s foundations. But, a loft conversion is a great way of adding some extra room in your house without sacrificing any garden space. Usually, the loft will be turned into a guest or master bedroom, though some may wish to turn it into an entertainment room or home cinema. The possibilities are endless, but the extra space it affords will no doubt increase your property value by more than the cost of installation.

    There you have it, three simple ways to add a sizeable amount to the value of your home. Not only will they increase your standard of living whilst you are still living there, but they will allow you to retire with a little more in your bank account when you do decide to sell up and move on.

  2. Home, work, travel: How safe are you day to day?

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    Recently there has been a spate of home burglaries near where I live.  It’s always worrying to hear of a home nearby being burgled, but what makes these even scarier is the fact the residents were home.  They were cosied up in bed whilst the thieves burgled downstairs and even took their cars!  I find this so scary that someone can break into a home without being heard, take the electronics and have the cheek to take the car off the drive.  What a horrible situation to wake up to!

    Slater & Gordon are soon launching a campaign all about how safe we are in our normal day to day lives.  Safety is such a broad topic from our personal safety whilst out and about, to our health and safety at home and in our workplace.

    With all this in mind, here are a few personal safety pointers everyone should follow:

    Tips to stay safe at home

    Home, work, travel How safe are you day to day - theif crowbar burglar

    Our home is where we want to feel as safe as possible.  It’s the one place we should feel secure as soon as the door is closed behind us.  It’s such a scary thought that our own home could be burgled and our safety compromised.  Here are some ways to ensure your home is secure:

    Stay locked up

    Make sure every entry has a lock and is locked when you are indoors, especially when going to bed. Check all the windows and doors are locked before you check in for the night.

    Keep keys out of sight

    Don’t leave your keys visible in doors and windows, but keep them out of sight and reach to peeking thieves.

    Install security features

    Use motion activated lights around your home to deter burglars.  Install a burglar alarm and set it to downstairs when you go to bed.

    Be neighbourly

    If you’re going away, ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your property.  Let them use your driveway for their guests as this will also give the impression someone is at your property. Remember to do the same for them in return.

    Check who’s calling

    Use a peep hole and safety chain on your front door when answering to unknown callers.  Ask to see ID and refuse to let anyone in who does not have suitable ID.

    How to stay safe in your workplace

    Home, work, travel How safe are you day to day

    Personal safety at work is also very important, particularly for lone workers.  I worked alone in my previous employed role and I also had to walk between locations in a deserted industrial estate late at night.  Here are some tips for staying safe when at work:

    Report concerning behaviour

    No one should experience threatening or aggressive behaviour in a workplace.  If you do, walk away and tell your superior.  Do not let such behaviour continue or elevate.

    Carry a lone worker device

    If you have to work alone your employer should provide you with a personal alarm for your safety.  It’s also important to not complete tasks alone where you could become injured, such as climbing a high ladder.

    Use your own instincts

    Don’t do things that you think are unsafe.  At my previous role I was expected to boil two kettles full of water which were plugged into an extension lead on a floor in a cupboard!  If that’s not breaking common sense health and safety rules, I’m not sure what is.

    Complete health and safety training

    All employers should provide you with adequate health and safety training when you begin the role.

    Your personal safety pointers when travelling alone in the dark

    Home, work, travel How safe are you day to day - dark alone street man

    Most of us have to travel about alone each day, but luckily these are often in times where lots of people are about and in daylight so we feel safe.  Sometimes we may need to travel alone during unsociable hours or even in the dark.  These tips are with your safety in mind for these situations:

    Practical footwear

    Wear comfortable footwear so you can run away from danger if need be.

    Stick to residential areas

    If you can, choose a route in a well built up and lit up residential area. Avoid deserted streets and alleyways.

    Hide valuable items

    Keep expensive items out of sight.  Having an expensive mobile phone on show could tempt a thief and whilst using it you’ll be distracted from danger.

    Tell someone your route

    Let your other half or a friend or family member know where you are going and the route you will take.  Text them when you leave and when you arrive at your destination.

    Use public transport

    Try to avoid walking around in the dark in unsociable hours by getting a licensed taxi or bus to the location instead.

    Carry a personal alarm

    Hold a personal attack alarm in your hand or pocket whenever walking through an area where you feel unsafe.  If danger strikes, set it off immediately and hopefully this will scare away any assailant.

    home work travel how safe are you day to day

     

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    Sources:
    https://www.healthandsafetyatwork.com/personal-safety-review
    https://crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/personal-safety

    Images from Pixabay

  3. 8 Ways To Fast-Track The Sale Of Your Home

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    Selling a home isn’t easy, especially when your property isn’t the only house on the block up for sale. Many people wait months until a sale is made, and this is particularly frustrating for anybody caught up in the house-moving chain. If you are looking to sell your house in the near future, or you are currently sat at home waiting for prospective buyers to call, we have some advice you might find useful. In this article, we will look at several ways in which you can speed up the sale. Read on to find out more.

    1. Choose the best estate agent

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    When you decide to sell your house, the estate agent is generally the first person you call. They have the expertise, after all. However, while the may talk the talk, they don’t all walk the walk! You need somebody you can trust. They need to push your house to potential buyers, write attractive sales listings and have a sales patter that the buyer will find hard to resist. So don’t choose the first estate agent on the high street. Look at online reviews, speak to friends and family for recommendations, and look at their website to see how well they promote properties online. A little bit of research is crucial, as you need to find somebody you can rely on.

    2. Market the house yourself

    Having chosen the right estate agent, you may be tempted to rest on your laurels and let them do all the work. Don’t! You can do your bit to market your house yourself. Thanks to social media, this is easier than ever before, so let your legion of friends and followers know of your house sale and encourage them to send details to their networks. Post links to the property listing and add extra photos to highlight your home’s worth to anybody who may be interested. With the thousands of people at your fingertips on Facebook and the like, you may just find the buyer you have been looking for.

    3. Consider professional property buyers

    If you are looking for a speedy sale, you can sell your house quickly for cash to a professional property buyer. This is a great solution if your home isn’t in the best condition, and the chances of a quick sale are slim otherwise. However, you may not get a profit on your investment if you think you can get a higher price for your property, so you need to weigh up the pros and cons of such a decision.

    4. Add unique selling points

    There are loads of properties on the market, so what is it that makes your home stand out from others? If you can add value with some unique selling points, you stand a better chance of winning over prospective buyers. Examples? You might want to extend your home with a loft conversion for example, as the extra space may be just what the buyer is looking for. Another area to consider is energy-efficiency. Not only will this attract buyers who are looking for something eco-friendly, but it will also tempt those who are looking to decrease their energy bills. Have a look at our kitchen renovation ideas for starters. Ensure you highlight your USP on your property listings and point them out to potential buyers when they visit your home.

    5. Make essential repairs

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    Nobody is going to buy your home if its a potential money pit, so you will need to get on with any repairs before your buyers visit. Unless you are selling your home as a fixer-upper, ensure your home is safe to live in and hire any professional to take on the larger jobs you can’t manage. Then focus on the smaller things you can probably manage yourself, such as oiling creaky doors, repainting the rooms, and replacing light bulbs and broken fixtures. There will be expense on your part, but your home will sell faster if it’s safe and liveable.

    6. De-personalise your home

    You may be proud of your knick-knacks and family photos, but the prospective buyer needs to imagine the living space as their own. What you have done with your home over the years is of little value to them. While you don’t need to remove every item of furniture when somebody comes to visit, you can at least create some space to allow the buyer’s imagination to flourish as they walk around your house.

    7. Remember first impressions

    You need to create a positive first impression, so do what you can to make your home inviting to the buyer. This includes curb appeal, so get to work on the exterior to your home, such as the garden and perimeters. A fresh lick of paint on your front door will help your home stand out, as will a quick pressure wash of your drive or walkway. As you greet the buyer at the door, be pleasant and polite. A tidy home is a must so get rid of any clutter ahead of time, and send your kids to the neighbours if you think they are going to get in the way. A fresh vase of flowers or biscuits baking in the oven will provide your visitor with an attractive aroma, too. In short, make the visit a pleasant one, and spend time before their arrival to get rid of anything that will leave a negative impression.

    8. Don’t overprice your house

    Your estate agent will let you know how much your house is worth, so don’t think about over inflating your asking price. Some room for negotiation is always important to the buyer, so overpricing it slightly to account for this is okay, provided other homes in the area are selling at a similar price. Of course, it’s fine to ask for more money if you have spent time adding value to the property, but again, speak to your estate agent for qualified advice, and do your own property research online.

    Final word

    Time of year is another major factor of course, as is the state of the property market, so be sure to speak to your estate agent for further advice. However, follow our tips above, and your home should still sell reasonably quickly. 

  4. How To Create An Outdoor Living Space That’s Better Than Inside

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    “Hang on a minute; why on Earth would I want an outdoor living space in the middle of winter?” The truth is that the December in Britain is not a great time of year to be outside. The odds are high that you would rather be wrapped up by the fire, and that is understandable. But, outdoor living spaces don’t have to be freezing cold or uncomfortable. In fact, the very best is a mixture of elegance, luxury and comfort all rolled into one. Plus, being outside tends to break up the monotony of winter.

    These are the tricks of the trade to consider if you are interested.

    How To Create An Outdoor Living Space That’s Better Than Inside

    Shelter From The Elements

    From rain to snow, sleet and gale-force winds, the UK gets it all at wintertime. To be outside then, you have to cover yourself from the weather. Otherwise, you’ll get drenched and end up with an almighty cold. A roof is without a doubt essential, but which one is a personal choice. Rustic homeowners can opt for a wood ceiling with central beams for support. Thanks to the texture, it feels cosier and less modern. Contemporary property owners should try a glass roof as the lines are sharp and the material more up to date.

    Fire It Up

    When the mercury drops, you need to maintain your body temperature. Nowadays, all good hardware shops sell space heaters which are stylish and practical. Modern houses can even buy the tall heaters that are chic and take up space that is hard to use. But, a true outdoor living space wouldn’t be complete without a log burner. Not only does it give off heat, but it also helps to reduce a property’s CO2 emissions. Burning wood is much better than using electricity or gas.

    Create A Focal Point

    Indoors, there is always a central piece which catches the eye and dominates the room. An obvious yet basic example is a television. Not only do your eyes gravitate towards it, but the furniture points in its direction. A living space needs a similar focal point, and BHG recommends a pond or a water feature. Then, you can add luxury furniture from Garden Furniture & Interiors Co. to offset the style. If a pool is too much hard work, you can plant a tree. In time, trees grow to great heights and are very conspicuous.

    Think About Privacy

    One minute you are relaxing and the next someone walks by and ruins your peace and quiet. It’s a free world, but privacy goes a long way, especially in your own home. Because an outdoor living space is open by nature, there may not be blockages that restrict people’s view. However, you can add them quite easily by planting shrubs and hedges. Or, you can use bulky appliances such as a fridge to act as a blocker. A final option is to put up a retractable screen or install curtains.

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    How to create an outdoor living space that is better than inside

  5. 6 easy ways to save money around the house (and be eco-friendly)

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    Being eco-friendly is becoming more and more popular as we realise we need to live sustainably to protect our planet for future generations.  It’s also a great way to look after ourselves too by creating a healthier environment to live in and using healthier toxic free products in our homes and on ourselves.  Not only this, but becoming more eco-friendly is also much friendlier to your wallet.  There are lots of ways you can live a more sustainable lifestyle that will also save you money in the long run.

    Here are six ways you can be eco-friendly around the home and save money at the same time:

    6 easy ways to save money around the house (and be eco-friendly)

    Flannels

    Do you clean your face every evening and morning with cleanser and cotton wool?  I do love using cotton wool pads (the Fairtrade from the Coop are my fave), but it’s so wasteful.  They end up in the trash and then in landfills.  I get through a chunk a day to both cleanse and tone my face two times a day.  To stop being so wasteful I’ve started using a flannel in the shower to wash off the cleanser instead.   Flannels last over and over and just need a good wash now and then.  I’ll rinse in hot water in the shower after each use and hang to dry so I can use it the next day.  Using water also makes my face feel even cleaner than just using cotton wool and cleanser.  I’ve even seen washable cleansing pads about that are smaller and can be used water free, totally in the place of cotton wool.  I’d usually get through a pack of cotton wool per week, so using a reusable alternative is a great saving.

    Cleaning cloths 

    I went through a massive phase of using cleaning wipes for everything.  They are super convenient, but also very costly and terrible for the environment.  Most of the plastic wrappers are not recyclable and all the cloths end up in the bin and landfill.  Plus it’s easy to grab way more than I really needed out of the pack and waste a load every day.  Now we use a spray and cleaning cloths to clean around the house.  The cloths can be reused so many times and it’s an awful lot cheaper than repeatedly buying packs of wipes.  You can even turn old worn out clothes into rags to use as cleaning cloths.

    Eco friendly concentrated spray 

    To go with our cleaning cloths we use eco-friendly nontoxic spray, usually by Method, but we’ve also used concentrated spray.  You buy concentrated liquid or sachets from companies like Natural Collection and add water yourself.  This greatly reduces the amount of plastic production and waste as you can reuse the same plastic bottle over and over.  You just add the concentrated mix, top up with water and save money in the process as it’s much cheaper than continuously buying eco-friendly one use bottles of cleaner.

    Related blog post: My Current Top 5 Natural Home Cleaning Brands

    Reusable bamboo towels 

    Ecoegg sell a roll of reusable bamboo towels which we use in place of kitchen roll.  With two young children we found we were buying paper kitchen towel every single week and getting through a mountain of the stuff!  I’m so pleased I looked into an alternative as we now use bamboo towels every day instead, saving a stack of cash and stopping so much landfill waste.  The bamboo towels can be used with spray to clean or on their own to mop up spills.  They can be washed up to 85 times according to the pack, but we’ve probably washed some many more times.  They go bobbly after washing, but this doesn’t affect their performance.  They say not to tumble dry, but we do.

    Laundry balls 

    Ecoegg also make reusable laundry and tumble dryer balls.  The laundry balls last for up to three years depending on the size you buy.  The dryer balls last forever and can be used on their own with no additional costs or incense refills can be purchased to give the clothes a light scent.  The laundry balls need topping up with pellets, but these will work out so much cheaper than using regular detergent and fabric softener every day.

    Read my review here: How to save time and money on your laundry with Ecoegg

    Reusable straws 

    One thing we switched to a long time ago is reusable drinking straws.  I’ve seen many argue that straws are unnecessary, but I personally like to drink my smoothies through a thick straw.  We did at first switch from plastic straws to paper straws as these seemed a little more environmentally friendly.  I’m sure you’ve all seen the horrid pictures of animals with plastic straws stuck in their noses.  But even better than paper straws are reusable straws.  We have a few thick plastic ones that can be reused, but also some steel metal straws which will never wear out.  Lifetime straws that will save you money and stop so much waste.

    I hope this blog post has inspired you to make some simple switches around the home to save money and be more conscious of what you’re putting into the environment.

     

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     6 easy ways to save money around the house (and be eco-friendly) (1)