Be Safe In The Home This Christmas

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat ….

We want you to have a safe and merry Christmas this year.  Sometimes with all the preparation and work to make sure everything is perfect, we forget to check for unexpected hazards and risks. Do have a read through our safety tips if only to reassure yourself that you’ve done everything you can to ensure everyone is well and safe over Christmas.

Be safe in your home this Christmas

1. Candles

It’s lovely to light candles over Christmas and they make your home look really festive but do take care with them. Keep them out of the reach of children. As candles burn down, they may come into contact with flammable materials, for example, a candle placed on the mantelpiece may ignite Christmas cards or decorations displayed there.

Keep candles well away from curtains and paper chains and never place a candle on top of a TV set. Don’t forget to extinguish candles before leaving the room especially if going out or going to bed.

2. Oven Ready

Is your oven ready for Christmas? It is going to be working overtime and on for long periods? If it’s due a clean out, do it now as spilt deposits could ignite.

Children can be over excited and racing around on new toys. The house may be busier with adult visitors too. Take care when cooking especially when transporting hot items from the oven to the table and with pots boiling on the hob. Anyone not helping with the cooking should keep out of the cooking area of the kitchen.

3. Christmas Lights

Ensure that any Christmas lights displayed outside are suitable for outdoor use. All lights should be marked with a reputable safety standard. Don’t place the tree in a location that means there’s a long electric wire leading to it which could trip people up. Christmas lights can carry a strangulation risk for young children too. Don’t overload electric sockets and do unplug items when going to bed. It’s about taking time to stand back and check if there are any hazards there for young people.

4. Christmas Tree

If you have young children or pets, check your tree is secure and can’t be pulled over easily. Real Christmas trees can become dried out and hence are lighter and could be toppled more easily. A dry Christmas tree could also be a fire hazard.

5. Christmas Wrappings

Lots of discarded boxes and wrapping paper can be a fire hazard, bags could present a choking hazard to children. Items left lying around could cause someone to trip and fall. Burst balloons are dangerous too. Put discarded items in the rubbish or recycling bin so they are out of the way.

6. Smoke Alarms

Do your annual check on your smoke alarms. Never take the batteries out of a smoke alarm to put into a child’s toy so do stock up on batteries before Christmas Day.

7. Christmas Decorations

Small decorations could pose a choking hazard to young children. If some decorations are made of glass, check they aren’t in a position where people might brush off them and knock them to the ground, or young children can reach them. Christmas crackers can have small parts or sharp parts inside of them that may not be suitable for children.

We at wish you and yours a very safe and happy Christmas and all the best for 2018.

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How to Reduce Heat Loss from your Home

Jack Frost is out and about, there’s snow on the ground some mornings, it’s been windy and cold. How can you stay toasty warm in your home, not just by putting more coal on the fire or leaving the central heating on for longer, but by preventing heat being lost in various ways?



Here are ten tips:

1. Draught Excluders

I’m starting with the quickest and cheapest method of preventing heat loss. Purchase (or make) some long sausage-shaped draught excluders. Place them at the base of each exterior door. When you settle down for the evening to watch television or read a book, put a draught excluder at the base of the living room door too and it will make a difference to the temperature in the room.

2. Secondary glazing

If the windows in your home are single glazed or if they aren’t fitting as well as they once were, secondary glazing is a good option. It is an additional pane of glass or an additional window set behind the existing window and provides an extra layer of insulation.

3. Interlined Curtains

Curtains in a heavy fabric, particularly if they are interlined with a fleecy fabric between the lining and the curtain material, act like a blanket. They keep the cold air around the window and insulate the rest of the room from any draughts. We have large windows in our home and I draw the curtains as soon as light starts to fade around 4:30pm, it makes such a difference.

4. Loft Insulation

Heat rises so heat can be lost through the roof of your home. There is no point in the ice being melted from the roof while you’re shivering inside so loft insulation is an important factor. Quite a bit of heat can be lost through the roof of your home so make sure that there is plenty of insulation up there. If the upstairs landing always seems cold, which of course affects the rest of the rooms, check to see if the access door to the attic closes properly with a good seal and if insulating it could help. You can use an adhesive to attach fibreglass insulation to the attic side of the door.

5. Open Fire or Stove

A lot of heat is lost up the chimney of an open fire and that happens both when the fire is lighting and when it isn’t. Many homeowners are opting to install stoves now as their output of heat is considerable. Do get advice on the correct size of a stove for the room but you will find that the heat from a stove filters through very effectively to nearby rooms too.

Recommended read: Which is best for your home – open fire or wood burning stove?

If you’re not using the open fire on a regular basis, perhaps only at Christmas, then block up the airflow with an inflatable chimney balloon. They fit various chimney sizes. You can simply blow up the balloon and place it in the chimney. If you forget to take it out before you start a fire, the balloon will automatically deflate so it won’t cause your house to fill with smoke.

6. Expanding Foam

Pipes, gas lines and electrical cables going into your house often have spaces around them that have not have been filled in completely. These spaces let cold air in. They might also be entry points for mice and insects. You can seal these spaces relatively easily with expanding foam.

7. Wrap up Warm

It may sound obvious but there’s little point in spending a fortune on heating and just wearing a t-shirt. The house does need to be toasty warm if you’re having a dinner party but for normal use, put on an extra layer or have a cosy blanket to hand by the sofa. Wearing thick slipper socks helps too. An electric blanket or a hot water bottle ensures the bed is cosy.

8. Add A Layer to the Flooring

If you have hard flooring in the living room, invest in a rug for the winter months – wrap the floor up warm as well. Even if you have underfloor heating, the bare look of a tiled floor in a living area can look cold. Texture and fabric add warmth. If a place looks cosy, we’ll feel warmer.

9. Efficient Heating

Get your heating system serviced once a year by a qualified professional as it may not be working as efficiently as it could be. Sometimes radiators only heat half way up and this is because they need “bleeding” to let air escape.

10. Extractor Fan

Don’t forget to turn extractor fans off as while they remove steamy air from a kitchen or bathroom, they’ll also be removing warm air. Once they have done their job, switch them off or if you have teenagers in the house who forget to do so, get a timer so they switch off x minutes after being switched on.

Many of these recommendations can be carried out easily but if you need a tradesperson (for example, for installing secondary glazing, insulating your loft or servicing your boiler), do look for quotes on our website.

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Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas

Whether you don’t have the space for a traditional Christmas tree or you’d like to do something rather different this year, here are alternative Christmas tree ideas which are festive as well as providing conversation points as visitors call in.


Pallet Christmas Trees

Pinterest is full of ideas for recycling pallets and it doesn’t disappoint with these concepts for Christmas trees: simple yet effective, bare or highly decorated, suitable for indoor or outdoor.

christmas tree on pallet

The first one doesn’t even need basic carpentry skills, it’s a case of arranging the lights and decorations in a traditional tree shape. I really like the log at the base too for that special finishing touch.

pallet christmas tree


Mini Wall Christmas Tree

This mini wall Christmas tree is so cute. It’s quite small, placed just above a side table but could be any size. The thing to watch out for, of course, is doing damage to the walls with sticky tape. Use light decorations and secure to the wall with pins.

Wall christmas tree

Wall Christmas Tree

If you’d like to make a bigger version and don’t want to risk damaging your walls, invest in a huge frame and build the tree within the frame like this one. Another advantage is you can wrap them up and store it in the attic for the next year. It’s bright, sparkly, definitely a Christmas tree and it doesn’t take up much space.

Wall Christmas Tree big

Wall Christmas Tree with a Christmas Smell

I’d prefer more Christmassy decorations on this tree but some will prefer the plainer vibe. The advantage of this design, of course, is that with the real pine branches, you’ll get the smell of the pine, of Christmas.

Wall Christmas Tree with pine smell

Wall Sticker Christmas Tree

This wall sticker Christmas tree is lovely for a child’s bedroom – and yes, they can be removed easily without leaving a sticky residue.

christmas tree wall sticker

Driftwood or Twig Christmas Tree

The Twig Christmas Tree is a great design if you have a bare wall and don’t want this year’s tree to take up much room. This is particularly nice as the driftwood or twigs bring a more nostalgic and organic touch to the design. The white lights and decorations are simple too.

Driftwood Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Ladder

An old-fashioned wooden ladder provides the correct shape for emulating a Christmas tree. Wrap it in greenery or lights for a very alternative tree this year.

christmas tree ladder

Which one is your favourite or will you be opting for the traditional tree this year?

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Results and Video of our November Draw 2017 monthly draw

Hi folks,

here are the results and video of our November Draw 2017. Each month we have a draw for everyone who hires a tradesman and provides feedback. So not only do you get up to 4 quotes from Rated Tradesmen but you also are in with a chance to win a cash prize as well!

The draw for everyone who hired a tradesman and provided feedback in the month of October was held on November 24th. The results are as follows:-

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Using White Lights Creatively For Winter Cheer

It’s mid November, Thanksgiving is around the corner, towns are switching on Christmas lights over the next couple of weeks, there’s lots of discussion about the Christmas advertisements on television, you’ve added mince pies to your shopping basket and oops, they all seem to have disappeared – are you longing to get the Christmas decorations out but feel it is too early? I usually put the decorations up around 12th December and I wouldn’t dream of putting them up in November yet this year, I find myself longing for some bright and warm and slightly festive decorations for some winter cheer.

I like the idea of using some white string lights in a couple of rooms, they could even stay there for the entire winter. They’ll add to the Christmas decorations when I do put them up and are cheery enough to add some atmosphere without being deliberately festive.


Here are 8 creative ways to use white string lights in your home:

1. Under Glass

White lights under jar


Do you have glass domes, cloches or bell jars? Coiling up a string of white lights inside each one is simple yet will give a warm and friendly glow.

2. A Christmas Tree That Is Definitely Not A Christmas Tree …. but could be

white lights on branches


Use twigs or light branches to create a sculpture in the corner of the room and bring attention to it with white lights. It could even replace a Christmas tree if you wanted. Alternatively, drape lights around a larger branch if you can hang it over a dining table, for example, for soft atmospheric lighting.

3. Winter Warmth

white lights on fire


Do you have a fireplace that you only use at Christmas and for special occasions? Brighten it up with some carefully placed logs and a string of white lights. Simple but effective.

4. Ladder Lighting

white lights on ladderSource 

A wooden ladder isn’t just an accessory or a piece of furniture to use as a clothes horse, it can make a very attractive feature in a room, especially if draped with white lights.

5. Bedroom Romance

white lights bed


We may not all have four poster beds to drape white lights from (isn’t this lovely?) but a similar effect could be created by winding lights around a wooden headboard.

6. First Impressions

White lights lanterns


Brighten up your porch or hall by placing white string lights in hurricane lanterns. It makes for a more welcoming atmosphere too.

7. Mark Your Doorways

White lights doorway


Add attention to detail by draping lights around doorways. Smaller lights would create a more festive, traditional vibe.

8. A Mildly Festive Kitchen

white lights kitchen


Sometimes the kitchen is overlooked when it comes to Christmas decorating but the addition of some simple white string lights brightens up the space on those dark winter evenings.

Do be safe and ensure you don’t overload any sockets by plugging in too many sets of lights! Always switch them off when going to bed or leaving the house. What do you think of these ideas for using white lights to add atmosphere and yet you can’t be accused of being premature with your festivities?

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Getting Your Home Ready For Winter

It’s really getting wintry now. Are you wondering where the time has gone? Are those jobs you meant to do over Hallow’een still waiting? You may have put away your summer clothes and you’re already wearing your winter coat, hat and gloves but is your home winter ready? Here’s our checklist and tips to ready your house for the winter months.


1. Check that your gutters aren’t full of weeds or leaves. Now is the time to do it as all the leaves are down. If they’re blocked and there’s a lot of rain, it’s going to make quite a mess apart from anything else. If the gutters and pipes are full of water that then goes on to freeze, it can cause the pipes to crack and break.

If there are tall trees in the garden, do get them assessed in case weak branches or the whole tree might come down in a winter storm.

2. If you have an open fire or stove, get the chimney swept as a build-up of soot is a fire risk. Even if you don’t use the fire much, there could be lots of twigs or a bird’s nest in there. Get the chimney sweep to check that all is as it should be

3. We lose a lot of heat from our homes from ill-fitting doors and windows. Now is the time to get some of those repaired. Putting a draught excluder by your exterior doors will reduce that cold draught coming in under the door. Pull the curtains on rooms that are used infrequently, for example, a spare bedroom.

4. If your boiler or gas fire hasn’t been serviced for over a year, now is the time to get it done.

5. Any exposed water pipes should be insulated. Was there any work done during the summer and left on the long finger to be finished when you had time?

6. Have a walk around your house and look up at your roof. Do any tiles look loose? The recent storms might have caused some minor damage that you didn’t notice at the time.

7. If you haven’t done so already, put away or cover your patio furniture and children’s play equipment. If you had bedding plants in pots, you can use the spent compost as a mulch on the beds. Wash the pots before putting them away until next year or get fresh compost and create some displays for winter.

8. If the ground is dry enough, give your lawn a final mow. Cut away dead flowers and shrubs. If you have dahlias in the garden, this month is the time to lift them. If you’d like more flowers in the spring, it is time to plant snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers.

9. If you have a holly tree in the garden, cut a few stems that have berries for your Christmas decorating. If you leave them in water in a cold place such as the garage, they should keep until Christmas.

10. Make your home look cosier too by buying a few cosy scatter cushions and a throw for the living room. Adding a couple of table lamps and dimming the main light will create a relaxing atmosphere too.

If you need a tradesman to do any pre-winter jobs, such as fixing roof tiles, tidying up your garden or doing any other repairs, do look for a quote from up to four rated tradesmen on our website.

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Tips & Inspiration for your Home Library

Tips_and_inspiration_for_your_home_libraryI’ve always loved books and have bookcases in various rooms of my home: living room, sitting room, bedrooms, hall and kitchen. Three out of four of us in the family are avid readers and see books as possessions to be read, kept and treasured.  I’ve recently been thinking of turning one of the rooms into a home library. While it’s lovely to have books in most of the rooms, it would be nice to have a room set up that is really conducive to reading, that is a room dedicated to books rather than being a room with a bookcase added into the mix.

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Results and Video of our October Draw 2017 monthly draw

Hi folks,

here are the results and video of our October Draw 2017. Each month we have a draw for everyone who hires a tradesman and provides feedback. So not only do you get up to 4 quotes from Rated Tradesmen but you also are in with a chance to win a cash prize as well!

The draw for everyone who hired a tradesman and provided feedback in the month of September was held on October 29th. The results are as follows:-

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Which Sofa? Which Armchairs? We Help You Decide

Which_Sofa__Which_Armchair_Traditionally, most families purchased three piece suites: a three seater sofa and two matching armchairs. Then the two piece sofa became fashionable and things started to mix up a little. If space permitted, some purchased a three piece sofa, a two piece sofa and a matching armchair. Others purchased a two piece and two armchairs – but still matching in style and colour.

It’s now about choosing chairs and sofas that you love, that suit your personality and your decorating style. Being eclectic is a positive.

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Attic Conversions: What You Need To Know

Attic_Conversion_TipsWith the increased rental costs, not to mention the difficulty of finding a nice place to live, many students and young adults are choosing to stay living at home with their parents even if it means a commute. At an age when they need some private space, parents are exploring the options of converting the attic into a bedroom / study for their young adults.  If you are thinking of converting your attic, here’s what you need to know:

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