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4 Home Improvements For The Holidays

There’s never a better time to enjoy the company of your family and friends than the holidays. With all the dinner arrangements and visits going on during this time, you need to make sure you’ve got the right ambiance and enough space to accommodate your visitors. Here are a few home improvements you can definitely take on before the crowd pours in:

Expand your living area by removing the chimney

If you’re one of the many people who don’t use the chimney anymore at all, you can create more space in your living area by removing it entirely. This renovation, which may affect the stability of your internal walls, should only be carried out by contractors specialising in this. While this home improvement is under permitted development, planning permission might be required if you’re living in a protected area.

Once you’re over the arduous first step, you’ll be surprised about how much space you freed up. And there’s an endless possibility with this space! If the chimney happened to be in the bedroom, you can build a walk-in wardrobe over it or bring in an extra bed for your visitors. If it’s in the living room, you can place a quaint coffee table with matching chairs. The chimney is usually the focal point of any room. Whether you’re going for a decorative or a functional space, your home will surely feel airier than before.

Give your patio a deep clean

Besides the get-togethers, the holidays are also the perfect time to do the home improvement projects you’ve been putting off for the rest of the year. Welcome and entertain your visitors to a pristine patio with the help of some power cleaning. Unlike manual scrubbing, power cleaning gets rid of the deep-seated dirt on your patio – and driveway! – without tiring out your arms or handling tough chemicals. You can leave the dirty work to the nearest contractors.

Install PVC cladding

If you want a fresh look to your home but don’t have the budget to tear down the walls, why not install an aesthetic cladding? With the unpredictable and very wet British weather, your home can definitely use an extra layer of protection from the showers. Durasid cladding waterproofs your home’s exterior without making it look like a flimsy giant doll house. With the natural wood-like finish in classic colours, it will instantly blend with your home’s aesthetics without the high cost.

Convert your garden to a driveway

Here’s a problem you couldn’t ignore when you’re welcoming a lot of guests: parking space. Converting your poorly-tended garden to a very functional driveway not only boosts your home’s kerb appeal; it also saves you from a lot of cleaning time throughout the year. Impress your visitors with a newly installed block paved driveway or even extend the paving to your patio for a unified look.

Since this one is more on the expensive side in home improvements, you can take your time in choosing the kind of driveway and stones you want. For a clean, modern look, you can opt for (paving variant 1) or (paving variant 2). For a more timeless look, go for (paving variant 3) or (paving variant 4). Either way, a new driveway is a great investment to have as in can last you about 15-20 years. Among driveway options, block paving is also the easiest to maintain as you’ll only need to replace the broken block in case it cracks and not dismantle the whole thing.

The holidays need not be a stressful. With the right preparation, you can have the space and the confidence to entertain your guests and keep your home looking great for months or even years after.

8 Tips On How To Waterproof Your Home

As you already know, torrential rains are a year-round worry for us. Unlike in other parts of the UK, we seem to experience scattered rainfall throughout the year. With a climate like this, keeping your home waterproof is a top priority. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your home for heavy rains:

Check if you live in a flood-risk area

Check whether your area is prone to a heavier downpour at the Environment Agency website. If your property is indeed prone to flooding, you should subscribe to flood warnings via email, phone or text. This will help you prepare if your home is affected.

Have your gutters cleaned

If you haven’t had your gutters cleaned in a while, it’s best to have it done by professionals before the rainy days come. Better yet, ask your local contractor to install gutter guards to keep twigs, dead leaves and other debris off your drains.

Assess your windows and doors for gaps or holes

Even if you think your windows and doors are already shut tight, water can still seep through the gaps and holes especially when the wind is strong. Check for tiny entryways and fill them in with a sealant.

Be safe with electricity

Electricity and water is a dangerous combination. If there’s a risk of flooding in your area, make sure that your sockets are all covered, electrical appliances are stored in a dry place, and the kids are away from the fuse box.

Cover air vents

One of the most common ways that the rainwater gets inside the house is through the air vents. When a heavy rain hits, covering your air vents from the outside wouldn’t suffice. Protect your home from water intrusion by covering your air vents with a thick plastic sheet inside and outside.

Clean up your drains from up to down

The clean up shouldn’t stop at your gutters. Make sure that your stairwell drains, window and gutter drains are free from any blockage as well. For drains connected sump pump system, you can test them out by pouring water down the drain line.

Check the driveway

If your driveway is made of a permeable material like resin, water should be able to exit your property without a problem. Otherwise consider having block paving, resin or tarmac driveway installed while there is still time for it to set. Also, make sure that there are no holes or downslope where water could accumulate.

Keep water away from your foundation wall

If you’ve done any landscaping around your home, keep the soil touching your foundation wall just below its top. This will keep any rainwater from pooling next to your home and sneakily causing damage to your foundation.

These tips are only meant to keep the water from getting inside your home. If you’re looking for long-term waterproofing solution, you should enlist the help of a professional. This way, they can do a thorough assessment of your home and you can get detailed recommendations.

How To Maintain Any Paved Surface

If you are looking for a clean and low maintenance driveway or garden, you can never go wrong with a block paved driveway. Among paving options you have out there, block paving is the easiest to customise, maintain and repair. When a block goes missing, you can easily replace it without dismantling the whole surface.

Much like an investment, you want your driveway to be looking new for as long as possible. The good news is, keeping your block paved driveway at its best form is as easy as getting rid of the weeds in between:


  1. Regularly brush your paved surface to get rid of leaves and debris

No driveway or garden is spared from falling leaves and debris. You can easily clean up dried leaves off your driveway with a good brush with a hard bristle. And since these can cause blockage, you might want to dig up a compost pit in your back garden to dispose of them.

For hard to remove oil stains, however, you can pour cat litter onto the fresh spill to absorb most of the oil and clean it up with warm water and detergent. Brush briskly. If you do not have cat litter, you can spray a generous amount of WD-40 on the affected area and leave it overnight.


  1. Pull out weeds germinating on the surface or use a weedkiller

There is no such thing as a weed-free surface. Where there is muck or dirt, no matter how small and shallow it is, the weeds are going to invade it. Which is why it’s important that your driveway is built and maintained properly.

For new or minor weed growth, you can always remove them by hand or a gardening knife, making sure that you get rid of the roots as well. To make sure that they won’t invade your driveway again, you can cover the surface with a sealant when you’re done.

If your driveway is quite large and you don’t have time to pluck them out one by one, you can opt for home remedies such as undiluted vinegar, salt or good old soapy water. Either way, you should cap it off with a sealant to prevent the weeds from germinating on the surface again.

Lastly, you can buy a weedkiller, spray it generously on the surface, and get rid of weeds once and for all. This chemical option might not be everyone’s favourite but it gets the job done.


  1. Use acid-free cleaners if you’re going to use soap to clean your paved surface

With the UK’s climate, it’s not surprising to find algae growth on the roof, driveway, and basically anywhere where water could build up. This one requires a stronger solution to completely get rid of. If you’re not keen on using muriatic acid – and don’t use it without safety gloves if you do! – you can buy non-acidic path and patio cleaners available online and on hardware stores. Be sure to follow safety measures and application instructions when handling strong solutions.


  1. Give your paved surface a power wash every 3 months

With all the dust, debris, stain and strain that your driveway is exposed to every day, it’s not unexpected that it will look dirty despite the regular cleaning. Refresh the look of your driveway and extend its lifespan by giving it a power wash every 3 months. Since this will require a specialised equipment, you can simply contact your trusted home improvement company to do the hard work.

While block paved driveways and patios typically last for up to 20 years, the look and lifespan of your paved surface will still largely depend on proper care and maintenance. To preserve your home’s beauty and for your family’s safety, have your paved and concrete surfaces regularly cleaned.


7 Common Home Renovation Mistakes

Getting your dream home can range from a minor home renovation to a total overhaul, depending on the look and functionality you want. It’s a tedious and often expensive process, but the beauty and comfort of waiting at the end are totally worth it.

Having said this, home renovation isn’t something you should experiment on. If you’re totally new to home renovation, here are some common mistakes you should avoid:

Taking on the wrong project

Many people make the mistake of taking on cosmetic changes and putting major repairs on the back burner. Before you get any fancy upgrade, make sure that there are no damages hiding in plain sight. One effective way of telling a “need” apart from a “want” is by doing a comprehensive home improvement assessment to check for problem areas and opportunities for an upgrade.


Buying materials without surveying your home 

If you’re going the DIY route, make sure you’re buying the right materials – and the right amount. After deciding which renovation to tackle first, list down all the resources you will need including the tools you will rent. This can keep you from making impulse purchases and ensure that you’ve got everything you need from start to finish.

To get the right information on the construction materials you will need, you can enlist the help of a Chartered Building Surveyor.


Hiring amateur builders 

As you probably already know, cheap quotes and subcontractors who are available to work immediately are just two of the things you should be wary of when hiring workers.

To make sure that you’re getting the best contractor for the job, ask for recommendations from your family and friends or book a site inspection. Showing your prospective contractor what needs to be done allows them to assess the situation, how much and how long it will probably take to complete the project.


Underestimating costs

This is the most common mistake when it comes to home improvement. To avoid or minimize overspending, draw up your budget by listing all tasks and materials that are needed and then follow it up with a survey of products and services. An ideal ceiling would be 20% atop your allotted budget. Home upgrades do not come cheap – make sure that it won’t mess up your finances.

Another way to go about it is to enquire about flexible payment schemes for major home improvements. At D Harrison, we are offering 0% interest finance for all contracts over £1000. Ask us how you can get your dream home improvement here.


Ignoring rules and regulations

Depending on your location and the type of home improvement you want, you will need to comply with the requirements of the law. Before undertaking any home improvement, make sure that you have checked with the local authority for any needed permission.

Related: 10 Things You Can Do Without A Planning Permission


Settling for cheap materials

Sometimes you end up spending more by opting for low-quality materials that won’t last very long. A quality home improvement is a great investment. When choosing materials for home renovation, never substitute cheaper materials if it’s not a good fit.

  • Traditional buildings do not go well with waterproof sealant or paint.
  • Don’t use these materials if you’re living in a period home: stone cladding, roughcast, pebbledash, PVCu.
  • Don’t substitute hard cement mixes with soft lime mortars.


Not following a floor plan 

Sloppy design or no design at all can potentially ruin your home’s potential. Before taking on a major home improvement, consult with a licensed architect first or a trusted local contractor.

Getting A New Driveway? 4 Things You Must Know

Getting a new driveway involves so much more than choosing the right paving material. This investment can be quite costly depending on the look you want to achieve and you’ll be using it for so many years so getting the basics right is very important.

Here are a few things you should consider when getting a new driveway:

Prepare well.

A poorly laid driveway can potentially cost you more – and nobody wants to pay twice for a rework. Whether you’re getting a block paved driveway, resin, or tarmac, make sure that the surface is well prepared. Tarmac and resin can usually be laid on top of an existing driveway provided that there are no cracks on the surface and potholes are a minimum of 300mm. Overlays are cheaper than a full new driveway but it will be very likely that the pre-existing damage can impact your new surface. Depending on how terrible your new driveway is, you could spend more for getting minor repairs done to get it redone. Not to mention maintenance costs rise every year.

Not all contractors are created equal.

While price may be a major factor when hiring a contractor for your new driveway, going for the specialists on the driveway you want is still the best way forward. When hiring contractors, you may want to get an estimate from several candidates to get an idea of how much a new driveway costs. Next, take it further by asking your family and friends whether they have worked with these contractors before. Keep accurate notes of these questions:

  • How is the workers’ work ethic?
  • Are they trustworthy?
  • How closely did they follow the contract?
  • What’ the total cost of the project?
  • Were you satisfied with the job?
  • Do you notice any problems with the driveway so far?

Before giving it a go, make sure you have booked a site inspection with the driveway experts and know about the process straight from them.

Think about aesthetics.

If you’re serious about increasing the value of your property, matching your new driveway to your home and landscaping is a great way to do it. Think about how your new driveway will affect the style and overall feel of your home. Will it be a curved driveway? A bending one? How about drainage? More than aesthetics, your new driveway should blend with the ground shape.

Get protected. Learn about the warranties that come with your new driveway.

A new driveway is an excellent investment. It instantly increases the value of your property and it beautifies your home in more ways than one. You’re also going to use it for so many years so it’s important than your contractor offers sufficient warranty for your new driveway.

At D Harrison, we are offering 10-warranty for newly installed driveways. If you want to know how our paving surfaces will work on your front garden or you wish to know about how to get them at 0% interest, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!