25 August 2016

Five Reasons Why a Garden Room Should Be Your Next Renovation

If you love your home but find yourself wishing it was bigger, you can get extra space without major renovations. Your first thought might be a loft conversion or an extension, but there's another way that requires no planning permission and minimal groundwork. And that's by having a 'garden room' built. Oeco Garden Rooms offer a selection of amazing looking 'rooms' that you can have built in your back garden. Here are just five different uses, and the reasons why this should be your next home renovation!

A Home Office
If like me you're a freelancer or run a business from home, you'll know how important it is to have your own office space to work from. Before I moved into my current home I had to share an office with my boyfriend, and it used to drive me absolutely loopy. He would constantly be distracting me, being noisy or making me lose my train of thought while I was writing. We moved in the end which solved the issue, but that's not practical for everyone. And so if you love your home but wish you had more space then something like this solves the problem perfectly. When you work a job that requires a lot of concentration, you definitely do need your own quiet and peaceful space.

A Hobby Room
Even if you're not running a business, if you have a hobby that requires a lot of materials then an extra room like this can be so handy. Plenty of space to store your materials and keep everything organised, and again it gives you a quiet place where you can enjoy your hobby. If your hobby is a musical instrument you'll be happy to know that you can even get soundproofed garden rooms. You can practice to your heart's content and give the rest of your family a break from the loud music!

A Hangout For Teenagers
Which teenager wouldn't want to hang out in something like this with their friends? A perfect choice if you love your home but have begun to outgrow it. If your teenager has the same small room they grew up, you'll probably find it increasingly difficult for them to have friends over due to space. And again, the soundproofing option would be handy here! You could get some comfy sofas and beanbags, a tv and a games machine. 

Somewhere to Relax
Instead of being a hideout for your kids or teenagers, you could turn it into a little space for yourself! With the windows and doors open in the summer you get to enjoy the weather in the garden, and for the rest of the year you could turn it into a cosy little retreat. A great place to read a book with a coffee or a glass of wine, it could be an amazing little room that's just for you to enjoy. Superior insulation is used, meaning it's suitable for all year round so no chilly drafts.

A Guest Bedroom
If you love to entertain guests and constantly find yourself wishing you had an extra room for friends and family to stay over, why not go for something like this? It would make such a cool and unusual guest room. These garden rooms come fitted with an electrical package, if you had a small ensuite plumbed in there too it would basically become it's own little self contained flat.

What do you think, would you have something like this fitted? What would you use yours for?

23 August 2016

The Ultimate Guide For First-Time Buyers

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When it comes to buying your first home, there are lots of things to consider. Do you buy a new build with all of its guarantees? Or, do you purchase a house that needs a bit of work but might save you some money? There are pros and cons for each, so here is a list of the top things to look out for when you’re buying your first home.

Are the fixtures and fittings included?
If you’re buying a house, you want to get as much included in the sale price as possible. The additional items can soon add up on top of the purchase price. Some sellers will do deals to include the carpets and light fittings, and some may even leave the cooker and fridge freezer behind for a set amount. The more you can get, the better. You can always replace them at a later date, but it’s useful to have when you first move in.

How easy is it to repair structural issues?
Obviously, if your survey of the house throws up any issues, you’ll want to consider if you are up to doing the work. If you enlist the help of a professional, you can get quotes on how much it will cost to fix and what building repairs need doing. You can always use that as a great bargaining tool when it comes to making an offer.

Can we add space to the house?
If it’s your first home, you might not consider how the house will grow with you. However, if you decide to extend your family, you might find the two-bed house that is big enough now starts to feel claustrophobic. You can always get an idea of how easy it is to extend by looking at other properties down the street. If they have loft extensions or big double storey ones, then chances are you’ll be able to do the same. 

Can you still get a deal with a new build?
Buying a new home probably leaves less room for deals, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be done. If you are choosing everything from the ground up, try and negotiate some better upgrades such as a luxury flooring or a higher quality kitchen worktop. These are things that save you DIY later on, and also mean you can start out with the house exactly as you want it.

Is it affordable?
If you find your dream house, you need to make sure you can afford it. There are plenty of mortgage calculators around that help you decide whether or not the repayments will be affordable for you. There is the government’s Help To Buy scheme which can help some first-time buyers with their deposit, so it’s always worth checking that out.

Remember the hidden costs
House buying isn’t just about sorting the mortgage and a new sofa. You’ll have to factor in stamp duty, legal fees and removal costs amongst others. Once you have a budget in place, you’ll feel more confident about covering all of the house buying costs.

18 August 2016

Thinking Of Selling Your Home? Get It In Tip Top Shape Before You Do

If you're looking to sell your home, then there will be certain things that you need to do with it. You'll want to get it in tip-top shape to get it looking it's best, in order to appeal to as many buyers and possible and receive the best offer that you can. So what can you do to get it in order prior to selling? Here are a few ideas to make sure that you get the best offers possible.

Neaten Up The Exterior
When someone sees your house for sale, the first thing that they'll see is the exterior.  Chipped paint, cracks and untidy gardens don't make a good impression and so will need to be dealt with. Simply giving the grass a cut, pulling out weeds and pressure washing your driveway can make everything look much tidier, you don't want potential buyers to be put off by thinking the house needs too much work. Your property could look perfect on the inside, but the exterior alone could put people off from making an offer.

Sort Out Problems Inside the Home
If there are things that need to be sorted and repaired in the home, make sure that these are done. It might be something small like repainting a wall or filling some holes. It might be something bigger like a conservatory roof replacement. Whatever it is, don't put it off and make sure that it's sorted before you put your home up for sale. If a home looks well cared for, it's likely to get higher offers than one that looks in disrepair.

Reduce Clutter
Lots of trinkets and photographs on shelves and furniture might be how you want your home to look, but potential buyers are likely to see this as clutter. The best way to show off rooms is by having simple homely touches without it being cluttered or too personal. The people looking around will want to imagine themselves living there, and so having lots your own things on show can be distracting and off-putting. You could make a start on packing things like this away, it will save you time further down the line and make your home more attractive to buyers. Keep out a few key pieces for each room such as a piece of artwork, a clock and some plants. The rest can go away until you reach your new home. Keeping the place generally clean and tidy is a good idea too.
Keep Things Light
When someone looks around a home, they will be looking at a lot of different things. But one thing that most people will want is a home that's bright and airy with lots of natural light. So try to show this as much as possible. Avoid thick and heavy curtains, and always make sure the blinds are open during viewings. If you currently have dark colours on your walls, consider giving them a coat of paint with white or a light neutral colour. The space will look bigger and brighter, and will appeal to more buyers. 

17 August 2016

The Most Beautiful False Lashes In The World

Oh Esqido, you don't half know how to make a great pair of false eyelashes. Just look at them! Beautiful wipsy strands made from mink hair (all 100% cruelty free) in a range of different styles, and all packed up in the prettiest white and rose gold packaging. 

I've tried quite a few Esqido lashes over the last couple of years, and they completely impress me every time. The lightweight cotton band makes them really comfortable to wear, and because they're so well made you can actually re-use them up to twenty five times. I was really excited to see that new styles had been added to the site- with different thickness, lengths and patterns giving you great options for different occasions. Whether you want full on ultra glam for a night out, the perfect fluttery lash for a special event or even a subtle yet gorgeous look for the daytime there's something for you on here. My current favourites have to be 'Stephanie' which give you that bold, glam finish to your makeup for a night out but are still beautifully lightweight and fluttery so you don't look fake or overdone. Unforgettable are a great all rounder, I have a full review here and as I mentioned in that post these are lashes that I plan on wearing on my future wedding day. 

Along with the gorgeously crafted lashes, Esqido also sell an effective eyelash glue called 'Companion'. I've tried a lot of eyelash glues over the years and I can honestly say this is the best one. I've had products that have made my eyes water so badly I've had to remove my entire eye makeup and start again and others that were like superglue and pulled out clumps of lashes when I've come to remove it- not cool. In fact, up until I discovered this stuff I was using hair extension glue for my lashes just because I hadn't found anything else that worked! Companion is a strong, latex-free formula. The thin nib tip makes it easy to apply, and it doesn't sting your eyes. While it keeps your lashes in place all day, it's easy to remove with makeup remover when you do actually want to take it off. 

I couldn't be happier with my new Esquido lashes, if you've not tried them yet they come highly highly recommended by me! 

14 August 2016

Simple Hacks That Will Make Life as a Pet Owner Easier

Having a pet is a big commitment. Pets like cats and dogs have long life spans, so if you choose to adopt one then you have to be in it for the long haul. People can put off by the time commitment that's involved with owning a pet, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of hacks and shortcuts that can make your life a bit easier, save you time but still mean you have a happy and content pet.

When it comes to cat and dog food it's much cheaper and more convenient to buy in bulk. There's less chance of running out, and you don't have to keep dashing out to the shops to buy more. But big bags of food can lose their freshness over time, and so it's worthwhile buying a large plastic food container  from a pet shop to keep it sealed. I personally free feed my dogs which means leaving food down at all times, and simply refilling the bowl when it's empty. Having two dogs I find this way means there's no competition for food, since it's always available and is the method that works for us best. However if you have a dog or cat who will overeat given the chance (or have a breed that gains weight easily) you'll need to weigh and portion out their food. Doing this all in one go and separating it into plastic boxes will not only save you space but time too, as each day you can grab a box and pour it into their bowl with no messing about.

A healthy pet shouldn't have an odour, but older cats and dogs or those with health conditions can be prone to being smelly. If you have a pet like this, it's a good idea to encourage them to sleep in their own bed or on throws on the sofa that can easily be washed. That way you can put the throws in the washing machine, and save your carpets, sofas or rugs from getting smelly! It might take a while to get them into the habit (especially if they've always been allowed on the carpet and furniture), but encouraging them to move to a place where you have washable throws and covers down will mean you can keep where they've sat clean. Between washes you could spray their bed to keep it smelling fresh. Use an old cleaning spray bottle and fill it with some water, and a few tablespoons of baking powder. Mix it up and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. It's a natural way to eliminate smells so you're not spraying chemicals all over your pet's stuff.

Cleaning up after your pet is an unfortunate yet unavoidable part of the job. But there are things you can do to make your life easier. Cleaning up after your dog in the garden for example is much easier with a scoop than a thin glove or bag! It's also worth having a hose installed in your back garden too to wash down where they've been each day. Jeyes Fluid is a great disinfectant that's recommended for cleaning dog urine, which you can dilute with water and use outside. Just make sure the area is completely dry before letting your dogs back in the garden. Similarly for cats you could get something like a robot litter box. It's able to clean itself and control smells and waste, so it saves you a horrible job and makes your life much easier.

Caring for your pet involves giving it plenty of attention, and dogs especially are needy and enjoy nothing more than spending time with their humans. Investing in some decent toys will give you hours of fun together, and help them to use up some energy- a tired dog is a happy dog! For bigger breeds or those that love to chew up their toys, go for pieces made with solid rubber. They'll last for ages, and while they cost a bit more money up front will save you in the long run where they don't have to keep being replaced.

Have you got any hacks that have made your life with a pet a little easier?

11 August 2016

Simple Tricks to Save Big Cash on Your Utility Bills

Household bills are expensive, and along with your rent or mortgage chances are most of your wages are taken up by them each month. And while bills are an inevitable fact of life, it doesn’t mean to say you have to pay well over the odds. There are plenty of things you can do to reduce your bills, and free up cash for the things you’d rather be spending it on. 

Save on Your Gas Bill
Getting your windows double glazed and having wall and loft cavity insulation is a great start to saving money on your gas bill. But there are things you can do that don’t involve getting builders in- if like me you’re renting you can’t exactly start changing things like this and so have to work with what you have. So to save money on your gas bill, turning off radiators in unused rooms is a good idea (as well as keeping the doors shut to those rooms!) You could also have your heating on a timer so it’s not being left on all day, and get plenty of cosy throws for your sofa to cuddle up with in the evenings. That way you’re not having to put the heating up so high all night too. 

Save on Your Electricity Bill
So much electricity is wasted every day just from leaving products on standby. The Energy Savings Trust claims that up to £80 a year is wasted in most homes due to appliances left like this. It’s not difficult to switch something off properly when you use it, so try and get into the habit as much as possible.

Save on Your Water Bill
In the UK the prices for your water bills are set, and there’s nothing you can do to haggle a lower price or ask them to reduce it. Between 1973 and 1990, the Valuation Office of the Inland Revenue put a valuation on all homes, and it’s based on these valuations that the water companies work out your bill. Of course this is crazy, the value of a property can change drastically in that time (for better or for worse). The Valuation Office no longer changes these rates either, and so you’re stuck with the water bills you’re given. However there are a couple of ways around this. The first one is to have a water meter installed, this means that you only pay for the amount of water you use instead of a set bill. However this does mean that your bill could end up being higher if you use a lot of water, and is only really worth doing if you’re a single person living in a property (or are a particularly thrifty household when it comes to water). The second way is to get your own private water supply. This can be achieved with borhole drilling, it saves you money and also means you’re not at the mercy of the water companies for things like hosepipe bans. Boreholes can be done even in small gardens, and gives you access your own clean private water source. 

Save on Your Shopping Bill
One of the key ways to save money on food shopping is preparation. Draw up a weekly meal plan, and then write a list based on exactly what you need. Then follow the list religiously, if you’re easily suckered into deals and things you don’t need at the supermarket then consider doing your shopping online. When you know what you’re eating for the next few days you can be prepared, you’re never caught short wondering what to make and won’t end up resorting to expensive and unhealthy takeaways. If you’re strapped for time during the week, batch cooking at the weekend can be helpful. Make a big meal and portion it into freezer bags or tupperware boxes ready to grab and reheat when it’s late and you’re tired. Another great way to reduce waste and make your money go further is to add some store cupboard recipes to your weekly rotation. The kinds of meals that can be made cheaply using the dried and frozen food you already have on hand- no need to run out to the shops to buy more fresh ingredients. Think things like chicken pasta using dried wholemeal pasta, frozen chicken breasts and homemade tomato sauce using tinned tomatoes and herbs from the storecupboard.

10 August 2016

Three Home Upgrades To Tackle Before Winter Arrives

You might think that it’s far too early to start thinking about autumn and winter. We are in the middle of summer after all! But in actual fact, now is the perfect time to get those winter home upgrades installed. Not only is there less demand now so you'll find parts and accessories cheaper, but it also means your home is ready for when the cold weather arrives. Nobody wants to live in a cold house while the work is being completed. Here are some home upgrades you might want to consider getting sorted now.

Replace your boiler
Dealing with a dodgy boiler? It may be time to upgrade and replace it. Many homeowners will only consider doing this when their boiler breaks down, but this could leave you in the sticky situation of having no heating or hot water. To avoid having a freezing cold home in the upcoming months, get it sorted now. Go online and search for a boiler repair and replacement service. They can help you choose the best suitable option and fit it for you. Doing this during the summer does have advantages as it will be completed quicker and you may be able to take advantage of discounts. Even though it’s a new boiler, make sure you get it serviced to ensure it’s fully effective.

Add protection to pipes
Burst pipes are more likely to occur during the autumn and winter, and can cause utter devastation to your home. So take some time upgrading the protection you have around your pipe work. Foam sleeves, otherwise known as lagging is commonly used to prevent pipes from bursting. If your pipes already have lagging, check the condition. If it’s split, mouldy or has holes, remove and replace it. If you’re unsure how to do this yourself, ask a local plumber to assist you or use Youtube tutorials. Doing this upgrade now will give you peace of mind that you won’t come home to a flooded home.

Install a stove
A stove can be a fantastic addition to your home from both a style and functionality point of view. Stoves, whether gas or wood burning can help to warm the rooms in your home when the temperature drop. They can also add style and emphasise the look you want to create within your interior space. So if you’ve always wanted to add a stove to your home, now is the perfect time to do so. While it probably won’t get a lot of use just yet, as soon as it starts to feel cold your home will be well prepared. Go online to find stove installation services in your area and to consider which type of stove would best suit your home.

Adding these improvement upgrades to your home now can save you a lot of hassle when winter inevitably arrives. So as premature as it might seem, it’s definitely worth getting ready sooner rather than later.