Project managing major alterations to the home

For some people, the challenge of project managing the renovations or alterations to their own property is one that they relish whereas others may feel that tackling this task may be beyond their knowledge and skills and they take it on purely to save money. It certainly should not be embarked on lightly and having tradespeople that are reliable and trustworthy will definitely make things run more smoothly. Always ask for references from tradespeople and if possible visit sites that they have worked on previously and speak to clients.

It is essential at the outset to set a realistic budget for the work to be done and to add ten percent for any contingencies. Getting quotes based on an accurate schedule of work ensures that like for like comparisons can be made between different builders and the more detailed the schedule the more accurate the price will be. Remember to make your plans fit your budget not the other way round to avoid going way over budget and having to cut corners towards the end of the project.

Before any alteration work starts it is important to check whether any planning permission is needed and if so how to go about getting this. An experienced builder will usually be able to advise the homeowner on this issue and recommend an architect if necessary. Do not be tempted to do any works without the required permission as it can be costly at a later date to put things right.

Planning the timing of work to be done is a tricky issue as some work needs to be completed in a specific order especially concerning electrical or plumbing work that involves first fix and then later after plastering has been completed, second fix. Research will need to be done or advise asked of the builder to ensure there are no holdups in building progress.

It is inevitable that there will be hiccoughs along the way but most of these small problems can be overcome and so it is important if you are to manage the project successfully that you do not panic and plan carefully how to proceed.

In order to keep tradespeople on side it is a good idea to provide a kettle and even tea and coffee so that they can get a drink during the day, it will be appreciated and may help the project to run a little more smoothly if you are lucky.

Are green roofs the future?

Many people now are eager to protect the environment and have a zero-carbon footprint. They not only want to do this but also want to give back to nature too if possible. When designing a new roof for a property, decisions will need to be made about the roofing materials to be used. Some people are looking with interest at the environmentally friendly alternatives that are on the market.

The type of roof that does this most effectively is a so-called green roof where the roof is covered with plants or grass that are still growing. The chosen roof needs to be flat or with only a slight pitch to make maintenance more manageable as the grass will need to be mowed at regular intervals during the growing season.

Apart from the above maintenance there is little to do with this type of roof, but the environmental impact is immense as it proves to be an ideal habitat for many insects. If colourful wildflowers are planted on the green roof it will attract butterflies and bees too.

It is hopeful that in the future grants will be available to install environmentally friendly technology on and in our buildings so watch this space.

Changing the roof to make your attic usable

For many people wanting to do a loft extension to give them more space for additional bedrooms or a study the problem they are faced with is the lack of height in the loft. Building regulations state that a certain standing height needs to be achievable in order for the loft to be used as a room. Changing the roof may seem a drastic way to gain this extra height but it may be possible to change part of the roof by putting in a dormer window or extending the existing roof to achieve this.

The first contact needs to be an architect who will be able to advise on the current regulations and produce a plan that will need to be submitted to the local council planning department for consideration. Structural calculations may be needed but usually the architect can arrange for these to be done.

Once planning has been approved the next task is to choose a builder or roofer who will be able to quote for the work needed. It is advisable to obtain three quotes for any building work that needs doing making sure that each builder has a schedule of work to quote to. The builder will probably want a payment schedule to be set up with payments at points during the work. The final payment should be made once the work on the roof has been completed to the customer’s satisfaction.

Roofing options for a new build

Deciding on the type of roofing for a new house may seem it some to be irrelevant as the majority of constructors simply use standard roof tiles but are there other choices that may be more cost effective and help to lower energy costs to the householder?

One of the increasingly popular options is the long-lasting metal roof. This type of roofing reflects sunlight instead of absorbing it therefore keeping the house cooler in the hotter summer months. The roofing material can also be recycled when it needs replacing unlike standard concrete tiles that are not recyclable.

If you want to be able to generate electricity in your home, then solar tiles are one way to achieve this. Whereas homes used to have solar panels attached to the roof now the panels are incorporated into the roof tiles which means they do not look as obtrusive to passers-by. Although more expensive initially once installed they will not only provide free electric to the home but also there are government schemes in place that guarantee payments for the owner to put electricity into the grid for others to use.

For those that want to really be eco-friendly there are so called green roofs. These are when the roof is made from a waterproof membrane which absorbs water and allows for planting on the roof. This is only suitable for certain types of premises but is becoming more popular as we seek to look for more environmentally friendly ways to construct our homes.

Install a light tunnel to bring light into your home

If you are carrying out alterations to a property, the situation may arise that a window has had to be removed or blocked off resulting in there being insufficient light coming into a room. This can often happen in a bathroom or on a landing. Light tunnels, which can sometimes be called sky tunnels, sun tubes, roof lights or tube lights are an ideal solution to this problem and can be installed into most roof structures.

Installing a light tunnel into an external roof is a similar process to that of installing Velux windows, and can be fitted by a professional or by someone with some building knowledge and experience.

A Light tunnel consists basically of a roof dome connected to flexible or rigid reflective tubing leading to an internal lighting unit. This lighting unit acts as a diffuser which spreads the light from its source evenly into the room. The main purpose of the tube itself is to carry the light from the roof, down the tube and out of the internal diffuser with as few bounces as possible, keeping in mind that every bounce that occurs can degrade the amount of light.

Many people choose light tunnels as an alternative to artificial lighting as it is free and does not require any energy to run it and because it gives a much nicer lighting effect during daylight hours.