Wednesday 22nd December 2010 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
With much of the country experiencing exceptionally cold, snowy and icy conditions the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is advising homeowners how to look after their property this winter and save money in the process.
Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said:
“If you haven’t already experienced snow or ice yet this winter it seems likely you will at some point so it makes sense that you are prepared in advance. Buy a bag or two of sand or grit so you can make sure you can keep your paths and driveway ice free – just be careful when gritting in slippery conditions. It might also be worth keeping a shovel in easy access in case you need it to clear a path through the snow, although remember never to leave shovels or tools in view as they tempt thieves to use them to gain access to your home.”
“Thieves also like a dark house so make sure you have good security lights. If you don’t already have any external light ask a local electrician to fit one for you. If you already have one make sure it is in good working order to welcome guests to your home arriving over the Christmas and New Year.”
“Make sure your insulation is up to scratch so your home stays warm and your bills are kept to the minimum. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST) installing 270mm of insulation in a loft with no insulation will save you around £145 on heating bills a year. If you already have 50mm of insulation and you topped this up to 270mm, the saving would be around £40 per year. Similarly you need to make sure your pipes are well insulated. Not only will this save you money on your heating bills but it will also help protect the pipes against the cold weather. Even if your pipes are insulated remember you should make sure you leave your heating on for at least a few hours, even if you are away, so your pipes don’t burst.”
“Many of these jobs you can do yourself but if you do need a builder for an extra helping hand make sure you do your research and use a builder that is member of a trade association such as the FMB. Each year homeowners in the UK lose £170m to rogue traders, according to Trading Standards. Just say no to anyone that turns up at your door uninvited and tries to sell their services. Likewise using a builder that claims they can ‘make VAT disappear’ may turn out to be a false economy. The FMB’s top tips for finding a builder are:
Be specific and prepare a detailed brief. Be as clear as you can about what you want, as this can make a huge difference to quotes.
- Ask friends, family and neighbours if they can recommend a builder they have recently used. Alternatively check the find a builder website (www.fmb.org.uk/findabuilder). And don’t be afraid to ask for references or to speak to previous clients.
- Get at least three quotes. When you are ready to decide, don’t just go with the cheapest, consider communication and quality too.
Use a contract. You can download free contracts on the FMB website (http://www.fmb.org.uk/find-a-builder/free-contracts/).
Never pay the full cost of the project up front. Agree a payment plan. Using a credit card to pay can offer you more protection.”