Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Insulate Yourself Against Rising Fuel Prices

Scottish Power has become the latest of the major energy providers to announce a price hike for its gas and electricity.  Bills will rise by 7% on December 3rd.  This follows similar recent announcements from British Gas and Npower.  SSE which trades as Scottish Hydro, Swalec and Southern Electric has recently introduced a 9% increase in its charges.

So with seemingly limited options in terms of swapping providers to save money it’s perhaps more prudent to look at lowering your energy use as the main way to save on bills.  One way to do this of course is to improve your properties insulation.  Efficient Loft and Cavity wall insulation can shave up to £300.00 off your annual charges and with many of major energy providers providing grants to install it for free it’s an option worth exploring.  The excellent Moneysavingexpert.com has a great guide to who has the grants and how you can get them.  Why not take a look, you can save money and the planet!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

When is a guarantee not a guarantee?

All reputable builders and other tradesmen will provide a written guarantee covering their work.   If they won’t, take a look at their van; it probably says Bodge-it and Scarper Ltd.  Get another builder - Quick!
Routinely the written guarantee will set out your builder’s obligation to rectify any defects directly related to his work should any arise within a specified timescale.  Great stuff, you can rest easy right?  Well not quite.

What If the builder ceases to trade, and defects subsequently develop in your installation? His guarantee, although made in good faith, and with the best of intentions, would be entirely useless to you as the homeowner. Unfortunately this is a particularly relevant concern in these volatile economic times.  So what’s the answer?
Well, we would recommend that you ask your builder for an Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG).  IBG’s are an important and cost effective consumer protection mechanism.  Put very simply, when an IBG is put in place the Builder’s written guarantee is “backed” by an insurance policy.

Consequently, should the Builder cease trading and therefore be unable to honour his guarantee, the Insurers would step in to meet any legitimate claim.  It’s simple, cheap and very effective.

All Local and Trusted tradesmen have by virtue of their membership the ability to provide you with an IBG – Do yourself a favour and ask that one is provided for your project.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Making the News - Nationally!

Local and Trusted are featured in a national newspaper for the first time today.  The Sunday Mirror were running a piece on starting an on-line business and asked us about our experience.  What were the biggest challenges? do you have any recommendations for others considering setting up on-line? that kind of thing.

You can read the full article here.  Hope you find it useful!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Increasing the value of your home.

What can you do to your house that is sure to increase its value?
There are a multitude of reasons why people improve their homes, all are valid.  You may be just choosing to modernise, perhaps the feature you are improving has come to the end of its useful life or maybe you are specifically looking to improve the value of the property. This article concentrates specifically on the latter. 
It’s the classic dream: buy your family home, decorate and furnish it with style and taste, and when the time comes, sell it for a healthy profit and move to something bigger and better. Adding value to your house sounds straightforward enough, but it is often trickier than many of us realise and it’s easy to get it wrong.  Interestingly though major up-front expense is not always required.
According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), for example, laying new carpets and wooden flooring has little impact on actual value, though the overall benefits to the occupier are clear.  So what does work when it comes to adding value?
1. Build an extension
'Well-proportioned extensions, not necessarily of the loft, that are in keeping with the design and proportions of the original house tend to add most to value in my opinion,' says Jeremy Leaf, spokesperson for RICS.
'Homeowners should be aware however, that the value of their property will not necessarily be increased by more than the cost of the work unless it is carefully planned and does not create 'top-heavy' accommodation, i.e. too many bedrooms and not enough living space. A carefully planned conservatory may represent the lowest cost and best value alternative.'
According to RICS, an extension such as a conservatory is likely to add five per cent to the value of your home.
2. Add a garage
Garages are an increasingly effective selling feature for
 house hunters. A garage costs between £10,000 and £40,000 to build, but the outlay is likely to be recouped in full when it comes to selling.  
This is particularly the case if parking is difficult and expensive in your area, or security of vehicles is an issue and the rest of the street has a garage, then you should definitely build one if funds allow.

3. Replace your kitchen or bathroom
According to a survey by B&Q, the average value added to a property by
 replacing an old kitchen with a new one is £5,000, and £3,000 for a bathroom. If you are feeling brave and able to install a bathroom yourself, B&Q suggests that it should cost around a third of the price of having it done professionally: on average around £1,300 (or £3,250 if you get a builder in).  Be honest with yourself though do you really have the skills to complete the task to a high standard.  A badly fitted example will almost certainly decrease the value of your home.
'If you want to increase the value of your property I recommend updating your kitchen and bathroom,' suggests Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents.
'Many people consider these to be the key rooms in a home and modernising these areas will certainly help boost both the value of your property.'
4. Make your home lighter
Many interior designers will recommend making
 your home lighter to create a more welcoming atmosphere and ultimately increase the price.
The entrance hall is particularly important as it provides the first impression of the inside of any home. Even if, as is often the case, the space is relatively small it should not be overlooked.  Light, warm colours help create the impression of space and welcome the visitor.  It’s also worth creating interest here with the use of welcoming lighting and perhaps the use of quirky mirrors and pictures.  

5. De-clutter
If you have lived somewhere for more than 10 years, order a mini-skip and throw out anything you are not using.
We all tend to accumulate far too much clutter, and to show your property off to its best advantage, potential buyers must be able to see the available space in each room.  Sound simple doesn’t it?  Well it is and it may just tip the scales in your favour when potential buyers are judging the value of your property compared to others in your neighbourhood.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Chauvinism or just plain bad manners?

We had an interesting e-mail this week.  A lady who had recently used our site to find a reputable Tradesman, kindly sent us a very complimentary e-mail about how our system had helped her when looking for quality Tradesmen to work on her home.

The lady in question happens to be an engineering professional specialising in project management.  She explained that she had invited two of our Tradesmen to visit her home to finalise their quotes. 

“They were both extremely professional and helpful in answering the questions my Husband and I put to them”.

In her experience, she went on to explain, this is not always the case:

“In the past I have often tried to avoid contact with Traders whenever possible due to the unacceptable chauvinistic attitude I often have to deal with; an example would be when I ask a question of a Tradesman he will address my husband with his answer and/or respond patronizingly and/or derisively to any suggestions I make in design or construction.   In these cases I often remove myself physically from any further discussion and the offending Tradesman/men are often consequently unsuccessful in their bid. I never interact with Tradesman if I am alone; both in the job negotiation and work implementation processes”.

What’s your view is chauvinism alive and kicking in construction and other lines of business.  Let us know your thoughts.

Incidentally, before anyone shouts at us, we use the term Tradesmen/Tradesman as opposed to Tradesperson throughout our website as this is accepted term used throughout the industry and online.  Not because we aren’t aware that there are many talented female Tradespeople out there you’ll understand!

Friday, 7 October 2011

What our Tradesmen think of us.............

This weeks blog post is really easy for us, just a copy n paste job really.  We thought we'd share some of the testimonials we've received lately from our Tradesmen.  These are all completely genuine, each one appears on our site (along with loads more from satisfied homeowners).  We're really pretty pleased with this lot!!

“Local and Trusted has really delivered for us.  We have won in excess of £6000 worth of work in a little over 6 months directly from the site.  Amazing value for money and great people to deal with.  Thank You”.  Robert Jeffels (Inside Out North East Ltd).
“We had tried other sites before but nothing has even come close to Local & Trusted.  They are genuine people who want to help the homeowners and the tradesmen.  Since joining we have had our money back literally dozens of times over and gained some fantastic testimonials into the bargain”.  Dave Sutherland (Alston Decorating Contractors).

“The best form of marketing/advertising we have come across.  These people really do want to provide their tradesmen with work.  They have provided us with nearly 70 opportunities in 6 months.  Fantastic service, Terry is always available with help and advice if needed”.  Paul Cox (Cox & Richmond Property Maintenance).
“Had my first lead within a day of signing up and recouped my entire year’s subscription 3 times over within a month”.  Jeff Davison (JD Handyman Express).

“Local and Trusted have provided what they promised – opportunities.  It has delivered a fantastic return on investment for us and it’s really easy to use.  I would recommend it to any genuine Tradesman”.   Andrew Armstrong (Complete Building Services)

Friday, 23 September 2011

This is the Real World – Unfortunately.

We’ve all heard of people being ripped off by dodgy “builders”.  Often these stories end up in the local or even national media; unfortunately though these cases are just the tip of the ice-burg.  Not everyone wants to publicise their misfortune/misjudgement.  This week one of our Local and Trusted Tradesmen, a Builder in this case relayed the following genuine story to L&T. 
He was approached in June by a “really nice couple” in the Newcastle area (we won’t be more specific than this) to provide a price for the construction of a sunroom/kitchen extension.

He put his price together and submitted it.  A month or so later the couple contacted him to say he had been unsuccessful in his bid.  They had decided to go with another builder who was over £4k cheaper on a job with a value of somewhere in the region of £30k.  They explained that this was largely due to the fact that the winning bidder “was not VAT registered”.  Our builder accepted their decision but advised that a company bidding for £30k jobs which was not VAT registered (despite claiming to have been trading for several years) should maybe set the alarm bells ringing.  Would they “really have the resources and knowledge to do the job well?  it doesn’t sound like they have done many jobs of this value” He advised them to check references closely and proceed with caution.
A couple of weeks ago the couple contacted our builder – they were in need of help!  The “builder” they had chosen had started on site in August.  He discovered that the existing foundations on the house were entirely sub-standard “practically non-existent”.  “They would need sorting” he explained “but I can do it – no problem”.  Over the coming days he began missing shifts and the job slowed down dramatically.  Eventually, he simply stopped turning up at all.  The “nice couple” have not seen him since, or the £15k they had paid him.

Our Builder has since been back – the foundations do need to be underpinned or piled.  No problem to competent people.  Trouble is the original “builder” was not competent.  He had got in above his head and when faced with a significant but entirely solvable problem, he had panicked and left the job and our couple in the lurch.
They are now 15K down, have a barely started extension and are faced with the delay and extra expense of organising the remedial works.  We can only imagine the distress this is causing.

Our advice is simple.......... check the references and capabilities of any Tradesman you engage.  Local & Trusted is a good place to start.......!  www.localandtrusted.com