DO IT YOURSELF
So many people are afraid of DIY, yet with a little knowledge and a lot of care, you would be pleasantly surprised at the results you can achieve. We have tried to cover off the basics with a simple ‘How-To’ approach – we hope you find this helpful. To help you obtain maximum enjoyment from your home, here are a few useful guidelines.
Before moving in most developers have a well prepared process to ensure any issues requiring attention (e.g. small areas of paintwork that may have been missed, damaged tiles etc.) are noted during a walk-round the property with you, prior to legal completion. It is worth making sure that you document any such points with the developer, sign and date this; certain problems such as scratched glass, damaged tiles and sanitary ware cannot always be rectified later. These issues are referred to as SNAGS;
INSTRUCTIONS AND MANUALS
Check to ensure you have been provided with operating instructions and user manuals for all your appliances, heating/hot water and security systems. If you have not, ask your developer at the earliest possible stage.
STANDARDS OF FINISH
Every property is unique and hand-
crafted. There will always be some small variation in the finished appearance of the construction of your home. As long as these conform to the warranty providers build standards this will be considered to be acceptable.
During the drying out process different materials will shrink at different rates and this can result in minor cracks which are perfectly normal. Your developer is not required to rectify these unless they are excessive (if you can fit a pound coin in the crack this would be considered excessive as it is greater than 2 mm, up to which this will be covered by homeowner maintenance). Shrinkage at the stair string is excessive over 4 mm.
1. Do not turn the heating up high – maintain a steady even temperature;
2. Open windows when you’re in the property and leave ‘trickle vents’ open when you’re not to assist with the even circulation of air and minimise condensation;
3. Leave fitted wardrobe doors ajar to avoid the build-up of moisture as this can cause mould;
4. Use your ventilation system in bathrooms and the kitchen area.
Buying a new-home should be a trouble-free exercise, but sometimes in life, things don’t always go as smoothly as we would want them to. Your developer (or their appointed customer care team) will probably be your first port of call.
If the problem is not something they are responsible for, they will probably be able to point you in the right direction. Below is some guidance and access to various parties who may be able to provide you with the support you need.
One of the aspects of annual home maintenance often overlooked is the cleaning of gutters.
Gutters collect airborne rubbish – leaves and twigs dropped by birds – so if your home is near trees, bank on having to clean out your gutters at least twice a year.
Why – because eventually they will clog and fail to take away rain water causing an overflow.
Debris will block down pipes and they are even harder to clean out.
There are some sensible short-cuts to avoid these problems, products that can be placed along the length of the gutter that block rubbish but not rain (acting like a brush) … take a look at: hedgehog-gutter-brush.co.uk
There is a myth that new homes don’t require maintenance or up-keep. Clearly this isn’t the case. Every new homeowner needs to maintain their property if they wish it to last – when all said and done it is most likely the single greatest investment you will make in a lifetime.
APPLYING NEW PAINT
Most properties are painted in a light coloured emulsion – this satisfies most palettes but is not intended to last forever. We would advise that after 12 months you consider freshening this up and, at that stage should you prefer a different scheme, change the colour maybe! Equipment needs maintenance too – especially your heating and hot water system. Don’t forget the annual service for your boiler (otherwise you may invalidate your warranty).
Putting up shelves and fixing brackets to your walls needs a little forethought. There will be electrical cables and plumbing pipes behind your walls and you don’t want to interfere with these. Also different wall constructions require specific fixing devices, so take good advice from your local DIY store before you start work.
Many new properties now days have under floor heating so again be aware of this possibility before you drill holes in the floor to fix door stops and so forth. And remember, electrical and plumbing work must only be carried out by competent qualified tradesmen – never attempt this kind of work by yourself.
There are some excellent products to help make the job of putting up a shelf or hanging a flat screen TV, a piece of cake. Before you start:
1. What kind of construction is the wall – most modern properties are dry lined which means a plasterboard behind which is a cavity?
2. What is the weight of the item you wish to hang?
3. Are there power sockets or light switches either above or below where you wish to secure the item (if there are then find a better place as this would indicate power cables sit behind the board and you don’t want to disturb those)?
‘Cavity’ fixings come in many shapes and sizes – select the one for the job based on the weight or load the item you’re hanging will create (you will find this information on the packet) – remember to spread the load evenly using more than a single fixing point. Always ask in store for advice before you buy.
Again the paintwork on the outside of your property is not intended to last forever. We would advise you look at this after 2 years and certainly maintain it by re-painting/varnishing every 3-4 years thereafter.
Painting must always begin with thorough preparation. Probably the one thing everyone will undertake at some point in their ‘home-owning’ lives is painting – walls, ceilings, woodwork and so forth. But before you can undertake this you must carry out some basic preparation to ensure that:
1. The surfaces to be painted are ready;
2. The immediate area is protected from spills, drips and splatters. Preparation is key to a great finish. Here are some simple principles:
3. Ensure that all surfaces are clean and grease-free (for walls and woodwork a sugar soap solution is a great way to de-grease);
4. Make certain also that all surfaces are flake free and smooth;
5. Cracks in walls should be filled with a suitable domestic filler (a small tub is not expensive) – rake out any loose material before filling – use a flexible metal or plastic edge to achieve a good flat surface (always slightly overfill as this will shrink back when drying. When completely dry rub down to the surrounding surface level with light glass paper);
6. Woodwork should be lightly rubbed back with a fine glass paper to give a key (this will help the new paint to bond to the surface);
7. Cover up the surrounding area – inexpensive light polythene sheets can be purchased at any DIY store to protect floor and furniture.
WHAT DO I NEED?
You do not need a lot of equipment, but a basic kit might look like this:
1. 1/2″ brush (for cutting in);
2. 1/2″ brush for doors, window frames and other painted woodwork;
3. Small and medium rollers for walls and ceilings;
4. Plastic tray (to hold paint when using a roller);
5. Paint stirrer – cheap piece of plastic or wood, spatula shaped to stir paint before using (always read the instructions on the paint tin first as some paints must not be stirred e.g. non-drip);
6. Masking tape (to tape-off areas that do not require painting e.g. a door frame when a wall is to be painted).
Apply paint by small brush around the edges of a wall (‘cutting-in’) and take your time with this to provide a neat tidy edge.
Then to cover the larger areas apply paint with the roller – but at a steady rate, too fast and you are likely to ‘splatter’ the paint everywhere with a mist of tiny droplets. Use the plastic tray to pour a small amount of paint from the tin so that you can pick it up on the roller easily. Make sure your coverage is even and don’t over work an area – there is a limit to how much paint can be applied in one go so accept that a wall may need a couple (or more) coats, depending on the quality of the paint.
Always leave each coat for the recommended ‘drying-time’ as applying subsequent coats too soon can simply lift the original coat right off the surface.
Paint is a broad topic and a visit to any DIY store will confirm this. Small tester pots are a clever way to avoid spending a lot of money on the wrong colour – remember dark colours make rooms feel smaller.
The type of paint will depend often on the room and application – walls are better rollered in something with a wipe-clean finish where there are pets and children involved (eggshell finish or a silk vinyl emulsion).
Restrict your palette to two colours – certainly no more than three (woodwork / walls and maybe a feature wall). Muted/light colours will make future saleability far easier as strong colours tend to be very personal in taste.