Outdoor living in a garden room

As summer looms, many customers are looking to outdoor living in the garden.

Apart from adding value to your home a Garden Room or alfresco dining space is great fun and top of many homebuyers wish list, if you are looking to sell.

Recent surveys have shown that over 80% feel an entertainment space in the garden is very desirable, even in this English climate. So clearly it’s something worth considering with a great return on your investment

Creating an outdoor living area that may include a Garden Room can be an great way to differentiate your property if you’re looking to sell, and some of our ideas to make the most of your outdoor space are very easy and won’t break the bank.

  • alfresco eating: I don’t know how, but it seems to improve the food and with a simple fire pit for background heat it’s a great way to entertain under the stars
  • outdoor lighting: simple low voltage or even solar lamps turn the average garden space in to something special.
  • screening: with cane or bamboo screening being such good value you can easily create an outdoor living area separate from the rest of the garden, incorporating heat lamps and fire pits
  • water elements: you only have to look at garden images online to see that water is a great feature in a garden, so try for something no matter how small, as it adds a feeling of tranquillity
  • garden room: a very worthwhile investment as they have many year round uses and will always add value to your property

If you’d like to enjoy the great outdoors a little more, improve it with outdoor garden rooms from Outdoor Living Rooms.

Getting the best out of your boiler

We all know heating your home can be expensive but there are lots of ways to help keep costs low. One sure way is getting the most out of your boiler to keep you warm but at the same time save you money.

60% of your energy bills each year is spent on your heating so getting an efficient boiler can make a lot of difference. If your home is heated by either a gas or an electric boiler, you can reduce your bills by making it work better, exactly when you need it. Here are some tips on saving money by making your boiler more efficient:

  • The best way to use a boiler is setting the times for it to turn on and off such as switching it on just before you get up in the morning and back off again before you go to bed, this way you don’t waste any energy.
  • It is much cheaper to keep the boiler switched off while you are out and have it come on only when you get home.
  • We have found that setting your boiler timer to come on half an hour before you get up and switch off about 20 minutes before you leave the house is the most efficient use of energy.
  • Turning down your thermostat by just one degree can save approximately £90 a year on your heating bills as well. The recommended healthy room temperature for your living room is 21 degrees and 18 for the rest of your home. Try turning your central heating down by one degree, leave it for a day and see if you still feel warm enough. Keep doing this until you find the right temperature for you and your family.

We regularly check the boilers in our homes to make sure they are working as they should. If there are any problems or your boiler needs updating we will then book in our repairs team to complete the work.

What if I notice a problem with my boiler?

It is important to report the problem as soon as you can so we can help straight away. But there are a few simple boiler checks you need to do before you contact us which will help us solve the issue.

  • Is the boiler gas or electric?
  • Have you checked if there are any supply problems in your area?
  • If you have a payment plan, have you checked if there is enough credit on your card?
  • Is the thermostat in the correct place?
  • Are the radiator valves open properly?
  • Can you hear any noises coming from the boiler?
  • Is there a pressure reading on your boiler? What does it say?

If you need boiler repairs in Blackpool, contact APG Domestic Services for more information.

How to Add a Garden Office

How to Add a Garden Office

An increasing number of people are choosing to work from home, but hate having their home office on top of them all the time. Mark Ramuz reports on an easy and popular alternative, the garden office

Over two million of us work from home and that figure looks set to grow as more people swap office life for home working. However, the convenience of teleworking comes with its own drawbacks, in particular the loss of a room in the house and the feeling of never really ‘leaving work’.

This is why many people are now creating dedicated work spaces in their gardens, away from home life and all of its distractions. Whether you fancy a big DIY project, or will find a specialist company to take on the work, we look at what to consider when building a garden office.

How Big Can a Garden Office Be?

There’s no hard and fast rule on the optimum size, but a garden building should never look overbearing or take up more than half of your garden. However, if you plan to build it without planning permission you will be restricted to:

  • an eaves height of 2.5m,
  • an overall height of 3m (or 2.5m if within 2m of a boundary)

Where you plan to site the new building is also important. If it will be within five metres of your home (and over 10m²) it will be treated as an extension to your house. Your local authority will then count it as part of your permissible development. This may be a problem if you already have a large extension to your home. It also cannot sit forward of the principal elevation of the original property.

Design Practicalities

At the planning stage, consider creating a hard path leading to its entrance so you don’t churn up the grass. Trees or shrubs screening the building will make it less conspicuous, and maintain privacy for you and any neighbouring properties.

In addition, your neighbours may object if the room blocks light to their property or overlooks them. Always contact your local authority planning department and ask their advice. You may be asked to send in a sketch with the dimensions and location in your garden. Your council office’s planning department should let you know within two weeks if it needs planning permission.

Building Regulations don’t apply to the building of a timber cabin as it is classed as a ‘temporary structure’.

If you have a large garden, aim to get your new building to face south. You can even add roof windows, as well as a sink, toilet or work surfaces.

How to Secure a Garden Office

Bear in mind that a garden room is often an easier target for an intruder than a house. Police initiative Secured by Design offers tips on keeping your property safe.

  • Fit a PIR light and alarm to sense movement.
  • Buy metal security casings for PCs and lock these to the walls.
  • A gravel path to the building can act as a deterrent to intruders.
  • Ensure all doors and windows have locks that meet your insurer’s standards (BS 3621 is usually cited).

Choosing a Garden Building

Timber clad buildings are a popular choice as they can match both traditional and contemporary properties. For a low maintenance option, choose thermally-modified timber — it will cost more initially, but the alternative if treating the cladding with preservative every two to three years.

Brick and block requires very little maintenance, but will add to the cost of the project. As will the inclusion of a lot of glazing.

Alternatively, you could look at the many unusual buildings such as shepherds’ huts, tabernacles and modified gypsy caravans that can be quickly installed as garden offices.

To meet planning requirements (or not need planning as the case may be), find a garden room which meets the permitted development criteria listed above.

How Much Does a Garden Office Cost?

Size, construction type and whether you take the DIY approach will all have an impact on the overall cost of your garden office. A DIY kit can cost as little as £1,000 for a 3x3m, uninsulated cabin. Bespoke options can cost as much as £30,000 for a fully-insulated, glazed, wired, heated and finished option.

As a guide:

  • Cabin Style: Softwood tongue-and-groove boards interlock at the corners to form a cabin with a pitched roof. You only need a few metal fixings for the roof and floors and the rest locks together and can be built up in a couple of days. B&Q’s range starts from around £1,600. The glazing is plastic but you could fit your own double glazed units. A 3x3m cabin from Garden Affairs in 44mm timber and a range of door/window styles starts from £3,815.
  • Modular: Basically mini houses, with softwood clad walls filled with insulation and plasterboard interiors. These buildings can also be assembled quickly. Doors and windows are often Pilkington K double glazed units. The Garden Escape can supply anything from a 7.2 to a 19.8m² unit with insulation, electrics and phone points installed from £7,500.
  • Timber Frame: If your wallet stretches to £10,000+ a timber framed building is the ultimate hideaway. Choose weatherboarded or rendered panels, an oak frame, roof tiles or even a thatch roof. Courtyard Designs offer 10x15ft–20x15ft offices with a double glazing, high security locks, wiring, lighting and insulation from around £21,000–£28,000.

How to Heat and Insulate Your Garden Office?

A cold and draughty garden office is not going to be an appealing place to work, so when it comes to insulation, treat it like a habitable space. Basic versions, or glorified sheds, will need added insulation, but most garden offices on the market are either modulate or closed-panel builds with insulation already incorporated.

You will also want to choose double glazing and a well-insulated door to keep a comfortable temperature year-round.

Electric radiators or electric underfloor heating are practical as your office will need to be connected to main electricity anyway. However, heating with electricity can be expensive so consider adding a woodburning stove instead, and focus on good insulation. It might also be worth considering renewables.

If you would like to look into garden room kits, take a look at Outdoor Living Rooms.


Claim for a roofing repair in Blackpool with your insurance company

A roof repair can be stressful because not only can repairs be costly but the overall issue can affect your day to day living. The latter means that the roof damage repair is not something that you can delay. For this reason, insurance companies can help you out with the costs. However, several things need to be considered before your insurance claim is granted.

Full coverage for repairs

In some cases, full coverage is given for roof repairs but this is not common and most of the time, only parts of the costs would be covered. Full coverage is only given if your roof was previously in very good condition, was brand new, or if the cause of the damage, such as a storm, was included in the coverage.

Coverage for roof replacement

Another important issue is whether your insurance company would cover the costs of a new roof or a full roof replacement. This will depend on the damage that has been done to your roof. If it can be proven that a new roof is actually needed and that the damage cannot be fixed by repairs alone, then the insurance company may cover the full costs of a replacement. It also helps if the cost of a new roof would be less than repairing every damaged area.

Estimation of costs

To file an insurance claim for a roof repair you first need to get an estimation of the cost of repairs. To do this, you need to contact a reputable roofing company to give you an estimation of costs. Many roofing companies will do this for free, so it’s worth your while spending some time giving a number of companies a call. It also helps to hire a roofing company that has insurance expertise so that they can help you out with any questions that you may have throughout the process.

Factors to be considered

When looking at your insurance claim for roof repairs, the insurance company would look at several factors and use these to determine whether or not your claim is valid and how much of the costs they can cover:

Age of roof

The age of your roof will affect the extent of the damage done therefore this will be one of the main factors that an insurance company will take into consideration. Generally, a roof that is less than ten years old will be considered fairly new.

Condition of roof

If your roof is more than ten years old, but it was well maintained, and in good condition before the cause of damage, it’s likely that you will get better insurance coverage. Getting your roof checked at least once a year and providing proof of this to your insurance company will stand you in better stead when putting in a claim.

Cause of damage

This is the most important factor that insurance companies will consider as it will determine whether or not they will even consider providing you with anything for the required repairs. Insurance companies will not cover damage caused by regular wear and tear but causes that are unexpected such as natural disasters (storms and hurricanes), unexpected disasters (fire) and outside factors like vandalism. It is worth asking your insurance company which causes they do cover because each company and policy will differ.

If your roof is in need of repair, checkout Total Roofing Solutions for roofing repair in Blackpool.

Looking for boiler service in Lytham

At APG Domestic Services we have a qualified team of registered Gas Safe engineers in Lytham who are on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all your boiler related needs, including boiler servicing. They have experience working with both gas and combi boilers, in both residential and commercial properties in Lytham, so rest assured you’re in safe hands.

Why service my boiler?

It is important to consider boiler servicing regularly and an annual service is highly recommended. Our Gas Safe engineers, based throughout Lytham, will ensure your boiler is in good working order and does not have any problems which could be dangerous to your health. We can service your boiler at a time that is convenient to you – we work out of hours so there is no need to take time off work just to have your boiler serviced.

If your boiler is ageing or your heating system contains an open flue it is even more important to think about boiler servicing, as your heating system is at higher risk of leaking carbon monoxide into your home or workplace, which can lead to death if undetected.

A boiler service will involve our gas engineers turning on your system, checking for gas leaks, cleaning boiler parts where required – like an MOT for your boiler! Depending on your boiler and how often you have had it serviced, this can take as little as 30 minutes.

Our engineers in Lytham are experienced in servicing both gas and combi boilers.

Boiler maintenance and servicing

Another reason you should be thinking about boiler servicing on an annual basis is that your boiler’s warranty may depend on it, and without it you may not be covered if you need your boiler repaired. The number one company for boiler service in Lytham.

APG Domestic Services covers London and the surrounding areas, our team are familiar with all the major brands and models including: Baxi, Broag (Avanta), Glow Worm (Ultracom, Flexicom, Betacom), Ideal (Classic, ICOS, ISAR, ESPRIT, ELISE, Mexico), Keston (Qudos), Main, Potterton (Suprima, Promax, Performa, Gold), Vaillant (Ecotec), Worcester (Greenstar, Highflow) and Honeywell Controls.