Remodelling & Home Makeovers in Colchester, Essex – The definitive guide

Carrying out substantial remodelling or home makeovers to your house can be either an enjoyable and stimulating experience or a nightmare. If you plan each step carefully before you begin work, you are more likely to make real improvements that will benefit your family and add to the value of your property. On the other hand, if you makeover or buy a property to remodel that is unsuitable for your needs you could waste time and money.

remodeling home colchester essex

Remodelling or making over a house or flat is an exciting event- when you find one that seems to be what you’ve been searching for, it can be a heady moment and it’s easy to get carried away and fail to check the essentials. Whether it is your existing home or a property you plan to purchase initial assessments and impressions can be misleading and the shortcomings of what seemed to be your dream home may only begin to emerge after you have moved in.

Consequently, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with a check list of salient points when looking at a prospective house, so you are less likely to discover later that it’s going to cost a great deal to bring the building up to the required standard.

In some ways, assessing the potential of your present home can be even more difficult. Everything fits like an old glove, and it’s hard to be objective about possible makeovers and improvements. Try to step back and take a fresh look at it by using the same sort of check list you would use when considering the purchase of a new house.

  • Structural condition. Before you decide to buy a house or flat (or makeover your existing property), the building should be inspected by a professional surveyor to make sure it is structurally sound – but make some spot checks yourself before spending money on a survey. A pair of binoculars will help you inspect the building from ground level. cracks in house walls
  • Look for cracks in walls, both inside and out. Cracked plaster may simply be the result of shrinkage, but if the fault is visible on the outside it may indicate deformation of the foundations.
  • Inspect chimney stacks for faults. A loose stack could cause considerable damage if it were to collapse.
  • Check the condition of the roof. A few loose slates can be repaired easily, but if a whole section appears to be misplaced that could mean a new roof.
    Ask if the house has been inspected or treated for rot or insect infestation. If so, is there a guarantee? Don’t rely upon your own inspection – but if the skirting boards look distorted or a floor feels unduly springy, expect trouble.
  • Look for signs of damp. In hot weather the worst effects may have disappeared, but stained wallpaper or even poor pointing of the brickwork should make you suspicious. Your best painting efforts could easily be ruined as damp begins to show again in the Winter.

Insulation
Ask what form of insulation, if any, has been installed. Try to establish the level of insulation in the walls, roof and External-wall insulation should carry a guarantee. Study your surveyor’s report to check that the insulation is adequate by current standards.
Home Information Packs supplied to potential buyers should contain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This will give a guide to the energy efficiency of the house or flat you are considering, rating it from A to G – excellent to poor, the level of insulation being one of the most important factors. Currently this assessment is aimed primarily at newly built homes, but there is a possibility that the scheme will be extended to cover older properties.

As well as thermal insulation, consider the acoustic properties of the new home you are buying. Is noise travelling through walls or floors from adjacent properties likely to be a problem?

Decorative condition
Is the house decorated to a sufficiently high standard inside and out, both to protect the structure and enhance the appearance of the building?

The decorative condition of the house may be reflected in the price, but the chances are you will be expected to pay the same whether the work is up to a good professional standard or shoddily applied. It is up to you to point out the difference to the vendor.

Improvements
Make up your own mind whether ‘improvements have been carried out tastefully. Ask yourself if you’re happy to live in a house where the original doors and windows have been replaced with alternatives at odds with the style of the architecture. The advantages sometimes claimed for certain types of stone cladding are very dubious and stripping painted brickwork can be both time-consuming and costly. The neighbouring houses will probably give you an idea of the original appearance of the one you are considering.

Construction work usually requires Building Regulations approval, and possibly also planning permission from the local authority. Ask to see relevant documents relating to any approvals for Building Regulations and planning permission.

Understanding what you want

Before going ahead with a house makeover or remodelling project you need to really understand what you want and potentially need. Yes, we are sure that this part of your house is starting to look a little shabby, or that wall just has felt like it was in the wrong place since you moved in.. But start to make plans, right them down, be sure that you know what you want in terms of function and look and write it down. The first stage is to get inspired.

The Internet
The internet is one of the most useful sources of information – as you know, you are reading this post. But instead of running out and buying lots of expensive (although inspirational) home magazines, try referencing their online counterparts, searching for online articles that are relevant to your plans. A list of useful websites where you can get inspiration are listed below:

www.homebuilding.co.uk
www.idealhome.co.uk
www.realhomes.co.uk

Exhibitions
A visit to an interior-design exhibition is essential if you are considering a new home, makeover, extension or substantial alterations. Most of the major manufacturers materials, design products and services are present at these exhibitions and are anxious to sell their products to home owners. At the bigger exhibitions, you may have the opportunity to visit a number or show house, where you can make notes of design features, colours or finishes.

Measuring a Room

If you think you might want to change the shape of a room or suspect there may be a problem with fitting certain items of furniture into it, measure the floor area and ceiling height, so that you can make a scale drawing later to clarify your thoughts.
Jot down the main dimensions, not forgetting chimney breasts, alcoves, and so on. Make a note of which way the doors swing: and the positions of windows, radiators, electrical sockets and fixed furniture. Later, transfer the measurements and details to graph paper, drawing them to scale. measuring a house or home

Having drawn your plan of the room, cut pieces of paper to represent your furniture, using the same scale, and rearrange them until you find a satisfactory solution.

Professional Services

Here’s a list of some of the professional services that you may need when considering a major remodelling or makeover project.

Architects: If you are planning an ambitious remodelling project, especially the ones that will involve major structural alterations or extensions, you should consult an architect. Architects are trained to design buildings or interiors that are not only structurally sound but aesthetically pleasing.

Quantity Surveyors: A quantity surveyor (QS) advises you on building costs and savings through the construction stage of the project.
Party-wall surveyor: You are likely to need the services of a party-wall surveyor if your proposed extension will come close to a boundary, especially when there is another building nearby.

Structural Engineer: A structural engineer is responsible for the design of the structural elements of buildings, extensions and major alterations.
Builders: Builders will help you to complete some structural works such as knocking down and rebuilding walls, remodelling rooms, general building and repair.

Electricians and Plumbers: Always look for qualified electricians and plumbers (Contact Colchester Castle Electrician).

Painters and Decorators: The finishing of a project can take time and patience. If you are a dab hand with a paintbrush feel free to take on the project. But for a professional and fast finish consider choosing a painter and decorator to finish up the job.

Building Regulations
To finish up this piece we wanted to make you aware of the your house or homes building regulations. Even when planning permissions are not required, most building works, including alterations to existing structures, are subject to minimum standards of construction to safeguard public health and safety.

Building standards are enforced by your local Building Control Officer (BCO), who is usually under the control of the local planning authority, although this varies from area to area. There are also approved independent inspectors who do the same job as Building Control Officers but are not employees of the local authority. If you think that your project might come under the remit of a BCO make sure that you run your project by them to check ahead of starting any works.

Summary:
If you are planning to makeover your home or planning on remodelling your house make sure to check that your home or the house or flat that you are looking to buy is suitable for the project at hand. Follow our handy checklist to make sure that your project won’t run into any difficulties. Get inspired by visiting online home magazines and visiting exhibitions. Make sure that you do not need planning permission and that your work is carried out by professionals.

We hope that you have enjoyed our guide. If you have a project in mind that will involve any kind of electrical work we would love to hear from you. At Colchester Castle Electrician we help customers in the Colchester area create stunning projects come to life. From adding the perfect complimentary lighting schemes to adding high-tech, audio-visual equipment to your man cave or living room we can help you make your home your castle.

If you would like to discuss your next project, why not get in touch with Colchester Castle Electrician on 01206 700769. Thanks for reading.

How secure is your home?

It is, without doubt, well worth taking reasonable precautions to protect yourself and your family and property against the risks of fire and burglary. The cost and effort involved is small compared with the expense of replacement or even rebuilding – not to mention the grief caused by personal injury or the loss of items of sentimental value.

burglary prevention
Burglar alarms and CCTV are a good way to improve the security of your home.

How a burglar gains entry

Many people innocently believe that they are unlikely to be burgled because they are not conspicuously wealthy. But statistics prove that most intruders are opportunists in search of one or two costly items, such as electrical hardware (typically stereos, television sets and computers, jewellery or cash).

The average burglar takes only a few minutes to break into a house – often in broad daylight. Nevertheless, although it’s virtually impossible to prevent a deter- mined burglar from breaking in, you can do a great deal to make it difficult for inexperienced criminals. The illustration below indicates the vulnerable areas of an average house, and the points listed opposite suggest methods for safeguarding them. Check out each point and compare them with your own home, to make sure your security is up to standard.

Vulnerable areas of a house
1) The front door
Inadequate locks invite forced entry.
2) Darkened porch
Makes identification of callers difficult.
3) Back and side doors
Often fitted with inadequate locks.
4) French windows
Can be sprung with one well-placed blow.
5) Downstairs windows
A common means of entry if unlocked. Weak putty allows a thief to remove glass silently.
6) Upstairs windows
Vulnerable if they can be reached and opened easily.
7) Trap door to attic
The only way to enter a house from the loft.
8) Skylight
A possible means of entry for a burglar if accessible from an adjacent building.
9) Unlocked gate
Provides a convenient exit for a burglar removing bulky items.
10) Garage or shed
A potential source of housebreaking tools.
11) Downpipe
As good as ladder to an agile burglar.

Burglar alarms and CCTV are valuable deterrents!

Vulnerable areas of a house
Advice from Essex Police. 

Seeking expert advice

If you require more detailed information about home security, you can obtain free advice tailored to your needs.

Crime Prevention Officer
Local police authorities appoint a full-time Crime Prevention Officer (CPO) who is responsible for advising both private individuals and businesses on ways to improve the security of their premises. Telephone your nearest police station to arrange for a confidential visit from the CPO, who will discuss any aspect of home security.

Fire Prevention Officer
Contact the Fire Prevention Officer (FP) at your local fire-brigade headquarters for advice on how to balance effective security measures against the need to provide adequate escape routes in case of fire. They will also explain the differences between the various types of simple firefighting equipment available to home owners. Some local authorities will fit smoke alarms free of charge in some instances.

Insurance companies
Check with your insurance company that your home and its contents are adequately covered against fire and theft. Most household policies are now index-linked, the premium and sum insured being automatically adjusted each year to allow for inflation.

You can also opt for a ‘new for old’ policy that will guarantee the full replacement cost of lost or destroyed property. In some circumstances an insurance company may insist on certain precautions, such as a monitored alarm system, but they may also be willing to reduce your premium if you provide adequate security.

At Colchester Castle Electrician we help customers in Essex improve their home security by helping our customers to choose and install the right fire safety and security equipment. If you are looking to improve your home security then contact Colchester Castle Electrician today on 01206 700769.

 

Thinking of fitting low-voltage lighting?

Originally, low-voltage halogen light fittings were developed for illuminating commercial premises. Being small and unobtrusive, they blend into any scheme and the bright intense beams of light they produce are ideal for display lighting. The potential for dramatic effects and narrowly focused task lighting was not lost on home owners, and manufacturers were quick to respond with a range of low-voltage fittings.

Industrial Low Voltage Lighting
Industrial Looking Low Voltage Lighting

The specially designed miniature bulb is the key to what makes low-voltage lighting so attractive. The light source is concentrated into a small filament, which enables accurate focusing of spotlight beams. The integral ‘dichroic’ reflector allows the heat generated by the filament to escape backward into the fitting, creating a cool but intense white light. Coloured bulbs are also available for special effects and mood lighting.

Low-voltage light fittings

Miniature fixed or adjustable ‘eyeball’ downlighters recessed into the ceiling are among the most widely used low-voltage light fittings. They can be mounted individually or wired in groups to a transformer, which is also concealed in the space above the ceiling. Some fittings are made with integral transformers; these include table lamps and small spotlights.

Low Voltage Line lighting
Low Voltage Line Lighting

Others, such as track lights, combine several individual fittings connected to a single transformer. Unique to low-voltage lighting are fittings connected to exposed plastic-sheathed cables suspended across the room.

Extra Low Voltage Lighting
Extra Low Voltage Lighting

Optimum voltage

Even a small increase from the designed voltage can halve the life of a bulb. If the voltage is too low, light output drops and eventually the bulb blackens. Voltage can be affected in a number of ways, and you need to select your equipment accordingly.

Choose a transformer with an output that closely matches the combined wattage of the bulbs on the circuit. It’s important to ensure that the total wattage of these bulbs is greater than 70 per cent of the transformer rating, or the bulbs will burn quickly. For example, a 50W transformer can supply two 20W bulbs or one 50W. A 200W transformer is perfect for four 50W bulbs, but not for six 20W bulbs (for these, you would want a 150W transformer). If you buy a low-voltage kit, you can be sure the transformer is suitable. Even with a perfectly matched transformer, replace a blown bulb as soon as possible to avoid overloading the other bulbs on the circuit.

Low Voltage Halogen Bulb
Low Voltage Halogen Bulb

Dimmer switches

Using ordinary dimmer switches is not advisable, because they too reduce voltage to an unacceptable level. For this type of control, check that the low-voltage fittings are suitable for dimming and only use dimmer switches specifically designed for low-voltage lighting.

Using separate components

If you install a low-voltage lighting kit that comes read wired (see opposite), there is no need to notify your Building Control Officer except when it is fitted in a special location such as a kitchen or bathroom. However, if for some reason it is not convenient to use this type of kit, it is possible to install low-voltage lighting, using individual components such as light fittings, transformer and cable. However this type of work is notifiable.

Having decided on the ideal location of each light fitting choose a central position for the transformer. However, on the low-voltage side, use a separate 1.5mm2 two-core cable for each light fitting, keeping this as short as possible -a maximum of 4 metres from each
fitting to the output terminals of the transformer. Normally, each light fitting is supplied with a terminal block for connecting its heat-resistant flex to the cable.

If necessary, you can install longer cables to each light fitting, but this would involve calculating the larger cable sizes required.

If you are interested in fitting low voltage lighting in your home why not give Colchester Castle Electrician a call on 01206 700769.

Thanks for reading!

Colchester Castle Electrician providing electrical services for customers in and around Colchester, Essex.

How to Install a Signal Booster

In locations where the TV or FM radio signals are weak, such as the Colchester countryside, a signal booster (amplifier) will improve reception appreciably. With the appropriate booster, you can distribute the signals to a number of TV sets and audio systems without loss of quality.

Masthead amplifiers

Signal Amplifier for Digital TV

In areas where reception is particularly poor, it would be worth having a high-gain outdoor aerial connected to a masthead signal amplifier. Mounted outside, the amplifier is powered by a special power-supply unit, which is plugged into an indoor wall socket.
If you ask the installer to fit a diplexer alongside the amplifier, you can gather and distribute signals from both a TV aerial and an FM radio aerial.

Plug-in signal boosters
For best-quality reception a signal booster should be placed as close to the aerial as possible but for sheer convenience it’s hard to beat a booster that you simply plug into a socket next to the television set. Having plugged the incoming aerial cable into the booster, you can then connect up as many appliances as the booster is designed to accommodate.

Other signal boosters are fitted with a 13amp plug on the end of a short length of flex. This type can be left freestanding on a shelf close to your TV set and hi-fi system or you can mount it on the wall, Some of these are fixed-gain’ boosters, and some are made with a dial or switch that allows you to increase and decrease the signal gain as required.

Some indoor TV aerials are made with integral signal boosters.Signal Booster

Installing a booster
It’s advisable to get a professional to put up a masthead amplifier, but if you are confident in all things electrical can you can install a booster yourself indoors. To fit a typical fixed-gain signal booster, screw the mounting box supplied with the booster to the wall or skirting board (1). Check that it’s level before tightening the screws.

Connect the coaxial cables from your television sets and audio system, and also the aerial cable (2).

Screw the booster to the mounting box (3), then plug it into a 13amp wall socket and switch on. Always remember to follow the manufacturers instructions.

If you are having issues with your TV signal or if you want to run your TV or sound into multiple rooms, why not give Colchester Castle Electrician a call and let us help you. You can contact Colchester Castle Electrician on 01206 700769.

Thanks for reading!

Electricians tools – The definitive guide.

You may be a keen DIY’er or just curious about what tools it takes to make the magic happen. But here in this guide we tell you the tools that you will need to start a career in electrical services or be ready for any of your home electrical needs. Remember that just because you have the correct tools, doesn’t mean that you can undertake just any electrical works. If you are not a qualified electrician always check to see what works you are allowed to undertake and what works you are not.

The keen DIY’er or apprentice electrician only needs a limited range of tools to make electrical connections, but an extensive general-purpose tool kit is required for making cable runs and mounting electrical accessories.

Electrical tools include: 

Terminal Screwdrivers

Terminal Screwdrivers - Electricians tools
Terminal Screwdriver

A terminal screwdriver has a long, slim cylindrical shaft that is ground to a flat tip. For turning screw terminals in sockets and larger appliances, buy a screwdriver with a plastic handle and a plastic insulating purpose version that can both strip the sleeve on its shaft. Use a smaller screwdriver insulation and crop conductors to length with a very slim shaft to work on ceiling roses or to tighten plastic terminal blocks in small fittings.

Diagonal Cutters - Electricians tools
Diagonal Cutters

 

Diagonal cutters

Diagonal cutters will crop thick conductors more effectively than electrician’s pliers, but you may need a junior hacksaw to cut meter leads. They also help you to cut small pins easily. Available in a plethora of sizes try to buy a nice pair that are multi-functional and comfortable. Padded handles are a must.

 

A Craft Knife

A knife with sharp disposable blades is best for slitting and peeling the sheathing encasing cable and flex.

Craft Knife - Electricians tools
Craft Knife

Electrician’s pliers

These are engineer’s pliers with insulating sleeves shrunk onto their handles. You can use pliers to crop circuit conductors.

Electricians pliers - Electricians tools
Electricians Pliers
Wire Strippers - Electricians Tools
Wire Strippers

Wire strippers

To remove the insulation from cable and flex, use a a pair of wire strippers with jaws shaped to cut through the covering without damaging the wire core. There is a multi-purpose version that can both strip the insulation and crop conductors to length.  A wire stripper is often considered the most important tool for professional electricians and other related personnel.

Power drill

A cordless power drill is ideal for boring cable holes through timbers an wall plug fixings. As well as standard masonry bits for wall fixings, you will need a much longer bit for boring through brick walls and clearing access channels behind skirting boards. If you shorten the shaft of a wide-tipped spade bit between floor joists.

Torch

Keep a torch handy for checking your consumer unit when a fuse blows on a lighting circuit. You may also need to provide light when working on connections in the loft or below floorboards. A torch that stands unsupported is particularly helpful.

Testers

You can buy reliable testers without having to spend a great deal of money. Most good DIY outlets stock a range of them.

Mains Voltage Tester - Electricians tools
Mains Voltage Tester

Mains-voltage tester

Mains testers are designed to tell you whether a circuit is completely ‘dead after you have turned off the power at the consumer unit. that’s intended for use with mains voltage similar devices are sold in auto shops for testing 12V car wiring only.

Multimeter - Electricians Tools
Multimeter

 

Multimeter

An electrician needs a multimeter, for measuring insulation resistance and covering continuity. There are digital instruments that give readings on an LCD screen, and there are analogue ones with a needle that moves across a scale on a dial. With some meters, you can select an audible signal to tell you when there is continuity.

Socket tester

Socket Tester - Electricians Tools
Socket Tester

A simple plug-in device can be used to test the connections inside a 13amp socket outlet without having to turn off the power or expose internal wiring.

General purpose tools

Every electrician needs tools for lifting floorboards, cutting cables and fitting mounting boxes.

  • Club hammer and cold chisel – for cutting channels in plaster and brickwork in order to bury cables or mounting boxes
  • Claw hammer – for nailing cable clips to walls and timbers.
  • Cabinet Screwdriver – for fixing mounting boxes to walls.
  • Spirit level – for checking that mounting are fixed horizontally.
  • Plasterer’s trowel or filling knife – for covering concealed cable with plaster or other kinds of filler.
  • Bolster chisel – for levering up floor boards
  • Wood chisels – for notching floor joists
  • Padsaw or power jigsaw – for cutting through floorboards close to skirting boards.
  • A floorboard saw – it is the best tool for cutting through tongued and grooved floorboards.
  • A small spanner – is needed for making some earth connections

We hope that you have enjoyed reading our definitive guide to electricians tools. Remember, if you are not a qualified electrician you may not be allowed to undertake certain types of electrical work. Always check the regulations and if in doubt check with your BCO.

Thanks for reading Colchester Castle Electrician.