Want It Done By Christmas?

On a recent site visit to a prospective client, who wanted a quote for their kitchen and bathroom installation, my husband who runs Random Task Plumbing asked what they were having and did they have any plans he could see. The client didn’t know what they wanted, other than for all the works to be completed by mid December, in time for Christmas. Bearing in mind that the client hadn’t yet exchanged contracts on the property and presently lived in another part of the country.

Firstly, a detailed quote is impossible to give if you only have a rough idea of what you want, or don’t know what you want at all. Also any tradesperson worth their salt, will have at least a 2 to 3 month lead time, especially leading up to Christmas. Whilst basic help and advice can be given to guide clients regarding types of showers suitable for their water systems and the feasibility  to move the loo to a different location (soil stacks are often forgotten by clients) and draw a scaled plan, most small tradespeople don’t have the time to offer a detailed design consultancy. The fixtures, fittings and finishings have to be chosen by you, the client. After all it’s your bathroom, kitchen etc. and it’s imperative that you love the finished results, it’s your home.

Bathroom Moodboard by designbykaty.com

Detailed Bathroom Moodboard by Designsbykaty.com

So before calling a tradespersons to quote, take time over your plans, keep revisiting them and show them to other people. Think about how you will use the space and how you want it to make you feel. If this is difficult for you, then an Interior Design consultancy is invaluable. For as little as £95.00 a design consultancy could save you a lot of time and possibly money too. Good interior design is about planning, not just about carefully coordinated fabric and paint swatches. This consultancy maybe all you need to set you off to implement yourself. If you require more help tailored to your specific needs, these can be accommodated too, regardless of budget. Of course everyone has budget.

First floor plans of a four bedroom house

You don’t need such detailed drawings unless major renovations are planned.

Interior Designers use local trade, craftspeople and suppliers and only recommend those whose work and people they trust. When deciding, look at reviews, ask to see previous completed work. Personality compatibility also is valuable – can you work with them?

I understand that you want everything ‘done’ and perfect for Christmas, but be realistic with your time scales. Even when you’ve decided on your plans, fixtures, fittings etc. There are supplier lead times to consider too. The last thing you want is a half-finished job over the festive season, especially if planning to have guests.

assembled cupboard carcass's

Kitchen install in progress not what you want at Christmas

After - Kitchen with island and glass partition wall and door to hall.

After – Kitchen with glass partition and door to hall

Once you have detailed plans, you can then invite local tradespeople to quote and provide approximate dates of availability. They will all be able to quote ‘from the same song sheet’, which makes price comparisons clearer. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better, you often get what you pay for. Allow for a lead time on quotes being received too.

Tiling in progress in shower en-suite shower area

A half finished guest en-suite – not what you want when having guests

Completed Guest En- Suite

Completed Guest En- Suite

Plan the work in stages – what can be implemented and finished by your self-imposed Christmas deadline? Is this in the correct order of your work schedule? If so, fine. If not, then it’s far more beneficial to be patient and schedule the works for early in the New Year, thus eleviating the extra stress of Christmas and giving your home the consideration it deserves.

There’s  always next Christmas!


Adding Value to Your Home

Add value from top to bottom

Add value from top to bottom

Buying a home is probably the biggest investment most of us will ever make, therefore as well as making it as comfortable as possible for ourselves whilst living in our home, we want to get the maximum return on our investment too. Location is a key element. You can change the property, but not the location. The more desirable the location, generally the higher the price you will have to pay.However the returns should pay dividends when you eventually sell. If you don’t have the necessary funds for the best location, you may decide to buy a house in a popular road, but at the ‘dodgy end’ of the same road, or in an area adjacent to the ‘prefferred’ area in the hope that the area will eventually become more desirable. This can work, but should be viewed as a longer term return on your capital investment. You may have to wait a long time.

Advice The thrill of owning your own home can carry you away on a DIY spree, or with builders quotes for major improvements. Do not be too hasty to knock down walls, live in the house or flat for a while, find out what works and doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle. Long term homes evolve gradually. For shorter term homes used as a step ladder in the property market, think about who your target market will be when you come to sell. Who will want to live in your property, what will they need and want. Then plan any updating and renovations on this basis. immaterial of your goals, do your sums first, do not over do or over develop as this can have a derogatory effect and end up costing you. Recently I have viewed properties which are in need of renovation. The asking price did not particularly make it a bargain to instantly grab. After planning and costing the work necessary to bring the property up to standard, I asked the selling agent what selling price could realistically be achieved. The agent suggested a vague figure. “Oh” I said. “By the time I had bought the property, spent X amount on it, not mentioning the blood, sweat and tears) the house will be worth maybe a little more, or even less than it had actually cost me”. The agent replied that I should look at it as a long term investment. Even so, you at least want to break even, better still make some money for all your efforts, otherwise you might as well go and buy something already completed and lovely, and save yourself all the grief and bother. The same can be said when over developing a property on very expensive and unnecessary improvements. Use the existing values of  houses in the same vicinity as a guide for the ceiling price which could realistically be achieved, and don’t forget to take market fluctuations into account too.

Value Added

Kitchen – Will add up 4-5 % value. A well planned and designed kitchen help sell a property. It will also give you pleasure whilst working in it. Don’t install a very expensive kitchen in a modest house,  your gain will not cover the cost of the kitchen. Likewise a very cheap kitchen could de -value an up market home. Think about which style of kitchen is going to suit your target market. You may love bright orange, but will they?

Bathroom -Will add  will add up 3% to the value. Keep it simple by adding a white suite,  a shower screen (if over the bath) instead of a curtain.  a chrome heated towel rail, nice taps and shower heads.

Conservatories or Orangeries – Will add   up  7% to the value. Create extra square footage by adding a conservatory or orangery.  Always build it as big as you can, but do not compromise your garden. Place furniture in it for it’s intended use i.e. dining or lounging area. Make the space flow from the existing house and not look like an added ‘bolt on’ afterthought.

Loft Conversions – Will add  up to 12.5  %  to the value Use a ‘dead’ space for living space and extra square footage. However be careful not to compromise  the existing accommodation  to fit in the stairs  i.e. by encroaching on small bedrooms or landings. Employ a specialist company to plan and execute the work. Building Regulations will be required.

Converted Cellars and Basements Unless your home is worth £300 per square foot, which is the cost of doing a basement, you will not get a return on your investment, only add extra living space. Though expensive, this is a very popular choice of adding extra living space for kitchens or family rooms. A specialist basement conversion company should be hired to carry out the works.

 Garages –  Not many houses actually use the garage for their car. It is often used for storing stuff. Turn it into living space. The cost will be approximately £10,000. To calculate the added value simply multiply the square footage gained by the local price per square foot of property.

Less is more, it is better to do less very well with good quality fixtures, fittings and finish, than more done badly.

What Colour’s Will Your Home Be In 2014? – Trends

Some years ago my sister was looking for Coral coloured cushions. She searched high and low without success. “Coral must be out of fashion”. she complained. The only cushions available were in  the colour’s of that particular year, and Coral wasn’t one of them. The same problem can arise with clothing fashion, as these colour’s too are mirrored with interior colour’s. “Who the hell decides and dictates what colour’s we should be buying anyway?” My sister continued to complain returning home minus the Coral cushions.

There are a few bodies of people who generally decide. Pantone Colour Institute in America, the Colour Futures Team who make paint for Dulux and Global Colour Reseach who produce Mix Magazine.  These companies carry out research around the globe on popular holiday or travel destinations, , artists and entertainment, maybe future sports events, views on world issues. They capture the mood of the world in colours which they believe reflects this. ( In a previous blog  http://sminteriors.co.uk/2013/10/06/colours/   What Colour Are You Today? I discussed this subject.)

Pantone’s chosen colour for 2014 is ‘Wild Orchid’ as a colour with confidence and warmth and encourages creativity and imagination. Some say it reminds them of cheap bubble bath and nail varnish, far too ‘in your face’. It maybe overwhelming to paint all your walls with ‘Wild Orchid’ for your taste and mood of the moment, but it could be added as an accent colour with soft furnishings and accessories teamed with Grey’s (a perennial favourite at the moment) or a splash of green (think of an Orchid plant).  ‘Sea Urchin’ is the chesen colour of Dulux which is harmonious and natural, a softer shade of Teal. This is a far easier colour to live with and has a calming, restful effect. If painting all your walls this one colour is still too much for you, just paint one wall, and paint the corresponding walls in one of Farrow and Balls colour’s of the year Purbeck Stone or Moles Breath. http://www.farrow-ball.com/?channel=ppc&gclid=CM7J5qW7jLwCFYrjwgodCHMASw Shades of yellow, whether a bright acid or  ochre hue are also included in the trends and lifts blue and grey colour schemes. These could be introduced with bedding, rugs and wall art.

Remember that light in a room effects the colour, be it natural or artificial. Which direction the room faces – North, South, East or West. What times of the day will the room be used, mostly during the day or evening or both?  What is rooms intended purpose? These factors should all be considered when pouring over paint colour charts. Still not sure, then purchase sample pots of paint and paint onto A4 copier paper and stick them to the walls. Doing this avoids any colour’s bleeding through your final chosen wall colour. Live with these, and notice how the colour changes during the day and night. Does the colour make you feel good or ill?

Experiment with the ‘trend’ colour’s of the year and have some fun with them, including Coral which is now ‘on trend’ too!  http://blog.lauraashley.com/at-home/cool-coral-home-story/

Photo’s design-seed.com

Don’t Get Bogged Down

Before you even walk into a bathroom showroom, and walk out, what seems like hours later, laden with product brochures  feeling bogged down, and totally confused about the choices available to you, do your homework first.

1, Measure your rooms dimensions including ceiling height (so you know that the height of your chosen shower will actually fit). Measure the windows and doors.

2. Note where your existing plumbing pipes are, including the soil stack (for toilet waste). Pipes can often be re-routed if necessary, but best to check with a plumber. It would also help to know if you have high or low water pressure. Think how disappointed you would be having the ‘rain water’ deluge head fitted in your shower, to be greeted by a trickle of water.

3. Make a checklist of what you want. What do you want to do in your bathroom? Bath with a separate shower, or do you only have space for a shower bath? Do you want a statement or purely functional bath? Do you want to remove the bath and replace it with a large walk in shower? Do you have room for, or want twin basins?

4. Consider storage needs for bottles, make up, loo rolls and perhaps towels.A vanity unit with drawers fitted with separate compartments could be considered.

5. Lighting – A range of task lighting for applying make-up or shaving. Consider a wall hung vanity cabinet with a back lit mirror and a de-mister pad, with lights hung each side of the cabinet to avoid shadows from being cast onto your face. Recessed LED lights in ‘cubby holes’ ( built in recesses used for shampoo, conditioner and body wash products avoiding chrome fittings) and under units or shelves add ambiance whilst enjoying a relaxing soak.

6. Fittings – This can be a mine field.  What style do you want? Sleek and modern, classic, period. Do you want looks over functionality? Do you want mixer taps, bath fillers (bath fills with what looks like an overflow) plus diverter hand set, or standard ‘telephone’ taps. bath shower mixers or thermostatic shower mixers.Do you want chrome, gold, white or very decorative fittings? Do you have a preference towards a Caronite, steel, acrylic cast iron or other material for your bath? Cast iron is heavy, expensive and virtually everlasting. Caronite is durable, excellent wearing capabilities, mid range in price good quality and very popular. Steel is less expensive than Caronite, is hard wearing but can feel cold. Acrylic baths are cheap, light but are prone to movement. A Jacuzzi bath tends to be great to begin with, but tend to clog up with lime scale if fitted without a water softener.

7. Flooring – Do you want tiles, with underfloor heating, vinyl,or wood?

8. Heating – Do want a statement radiator, or heated towel rails? Do you want the heated towel rails to be dual fuel? (Duel fuel means having a separate electric switch fitted which can be used to warm and dry towels when the main heating is not switched on).

9. What do you want on your walls? Do you want it fully tiled, or only in wet areas? Do you want different tiles  in different areas? How do you want the tiles hung? Landscape, portrait or brick style?

10. Budget – What is your budget? You usually get what you pay for in terms of quality in the product.

Once you have narrowed down your wants, needs and desires, then go to a bathroom show room, knowing what it is you require from your bathroom.