Thursday, 15 September 2011

Autumn Home Checklist by FMB

As the summer draws to a close and the evenings get shorter this is the ideal time to do some seasonal jobs in the garden and around the house.

It’s a good idea to start at the top and work your way down when assessing what jobs need to be done. Start off by looking at the roof, are there any loose tiles? Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the UK’s largest trade association in building says “You may be able to identify roofing problems from the ground but it is not necessarily a good idea to climb a ladder for a closer inspection or try and rectify the problem yourself. When work at height is involved it is always best to get the specialists in so you can avoid injury. Remember doing maintenance and improvement work yourself can actually be a false economy anyway as work which is completed to a poor standard can actually reduce the value of your home.”

Next, have a look at the guttering for damage and check for any sign of moss or algae which is a sign that water is leaking from the guttering. Clear away any blockages, leaves and debris that may have accumulated in the guttering. A simple test to check your guttering is working is to pour a jug of water down and make sure there are no blockages but be careful as you will have to use a ladder to do this. Replace damaged or rusted cast-iron guttering with a modern alternative.

Check your paintwork for signs of cracking, as rain and frost can get into the wood work and cause rot. Also check that windows and doors fit properly and that no drafts can get through. Draft proofing your home could save you around £80 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. As well as wood work on windowsills and door frames you should also have a look at the exterior paint work – if your home is painted. Repainting the exterior may be a job for a builder as it might require scaffolding and it’s important to get a good finish.

Check paths and patios for any damage or algae. You can buy various products at a local garden centre to remove algae or moss. Using a pressure washer can also clear dirt from a patio but be careful that you do not do this when the weather starts to turn frosty, as the patio could ice over and cause an accident. You should also be careful not to have stagnant water sitting on the patio as this is a main cause of algae and moss.

After your last BBQ of the summer make sure you give the BBQ and garden furniture a good clean and store it away from the harsh weather in a shed or garage.

As the evenings begin to get darker make sure you have a welcoming light to guide you to your front door. 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.

You probably haven’t been using your boiler very much over the warmer summer months but no doubt you will need to start using it again soon, so now is the perfect time to get your boiler serviced. You should have your boiler serviced once a year to ensure it is working efficiently and that it is not dangerous. If you have a gas boiler it should only be serviced by a qualified engineer who is registered with the Gas Safe Register.

You can probably do most of these seasonal jobs yourself but if you do need help make sure you always carefully choose your builder.

Below are the FMB’s tips for choosing a builder:

1. 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.

2. Ask friends, family and neighbours if they can recommend a builder they have recently used. Alternatively check the find a builder website ( And don’t be afraid to ask for references or to speak to previous clients.

3. Get at least three quotes. When you are ready to decide, don’t just go with the cheapest, consider communication and quality too.

4. Use a contract. You can download free contracts on the FMB website (

5. 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

Source: FMB

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