Local Government Association statement issued on cladding tests and fire safety UK

In case missed yesterday, please find the latest Local Government Association statement issued last night on cladding tests and fire safety across the country. The LGA represents 370 councils in England and Wales.

Many thanks

Greg Burns

Deputy Head of News and Internal Communications – ‎Local Government Association


CONTACT: Local Government Association media office, 020 7664 3333


“This is clearly an unsettling time for communities whose cladding samples have already come back as combustible or who are awaiting test results. We have been assured that tests on cladding samples are being processed so results should be back quickly.

“Councils are contacting residents living in tower blocks whose cladding has failed tests and working with fire services to establish what action needs to be taken. Councils are also supporting social and other landlords in their area to help them in their work to ensure the safety of their residents when cladding on their buildings fail tests.

“Where cladding fails the test, this will not necessarily mean moving residents from tower blocks. In Camden, the decision to evacuate was based on fire inspectors’ concerns about a combination of other fire hazards together with the cladding.

“Working with fire service experts to assess risks, a number of councils have already introduced other fire safety measures in buildings, such as 24-hour a day warden patrols, when advice from the fire service is clear that this will mitigate against fire risks ahead of the removal of cladding.

“For those areas still waiting for results of tests on aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding, our advice to them is to prepare contingency plans so they can take any measures needed quickly.

“Anyone living in a high-rise building can be reassured that their council will act on any advice from the fire service to ensure their safety.

“The LGA has a team of staff working closely with councils and the Department for Communities and Local Government around-the-clock to help local authorities as they continue to support communities affected during this difficult time. We also continue to press the Government to ensure councils have the funding they need to support residents and carry out any new safety measures.”

DIY Sales down in May 2017

Sales Down for May

According to the latest ONS data, Retail Sales volumes fell 1.2% and value declined 1.1% in May, worse than the falls expected by City Economists. Following a jump of 2.5% in April, due mainly to the un-seasonably good weather and the timing of the Easter break, the May figures provided a stark contrast.

The ONS measurement of the annual rate of growth in May fell to 0.9% the lowest level of growth since April 2013, and below the City expectations of a 1.7% increase.

Consumers have increasingly been feeling the impact of increased prices and weak wage growth, impacting on disposable income and household expenditure growth, which has been the driver of the UK economy over the last few years. Retail Sales are increasingly been seen as a key barometer of the health of the UK economy, accounting for almost 20% of total GDP.

The recently released Inflation figures showed an increase of 2.9% in May 2017, whilst average real wages fell 0.6% in the three months to April 2017.

Read – Inflation hits 5 year high

With the exception of fuel, every single retail category reported a decline in May sales, compared to April. The volume of household goods sold (including home improvement) fell by 5.7%, while food sales declined the least at -0.9%. This suggests that consumers are prioritising essential purchases as opposed to discretionary items, such as home improvement, furniture and electronics.

The ONS also tracks an estimate of internet sales and the value of all non-food products in May increased 12.4% when compared to a year earlier.

Source: Insight DIY Team

Interested in the very latest economic and shopper data for the UK? Sign up for our weekly Insight DIY newsletter here.

Full article here.

Removing A Bed Bug Infested Mattress From Your Home

DIY can fix things up and keep pests out with a huge amount of success. Dust and dirt can be cleaned away too and prevent certain pests, no problem at all. But what happens when a more persistent pest, bed bugs, infest your home? Bed bugs are notoriously hard to get rid of, and it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to do so!

Empire Pest Control have provided us with this infographic on bed bugs, and how to get rid of them and your mattress properly and safely. Bed bugs can infest any home at any time, so it’s important to look for the signs around your home.

Bed bugs pose a serious health risk to everyone in your household. They can bite you, leaving you with itchy red rashes, and transmit some serious diseases. In some cases, people can be highly allergic to the bites, and suffer from major reactions.

These pests not only infest your mattress. If given the opportunity, they will make their home in any upholstery and furniture around your home. So don’t let the name fool you! Bed bugs love to hide around the bed too. Somewhere that’s warm and hidden is where you will find them lurking.

Once you’ve found an infestation, get it treated quickly. Clean your home and keep up the vacuuming. This really helps in getting rid of the bugs and the eggs that may be around your home. Putting a pest control regime in place will also stop any future pest infestations from happening. Empire Pest Control have some great advice on pest prevention, which is really the key to great pest control.

Now that you know what to do if you discover bed bugs in your mattress, and want to dispose of it, you must still call in the professionals. DIY methods of pest control are often ineffective to such virulent pests. A great method of killing bed bugs is heat treatment, which can be done by any professional pest control company in your local area.

Infographic By Empire Pest Control Ltd

How to organise your toolbox like a DIY Pro

neat toolbox

neat toolbox

One of the most common areas that can become cluttered and unorganized in the home are toolboxes due to the number of items that you can hold inside of the container. From drill bits to hammers, there are several types of equipment that are often difficult to find once they begin to accumulate in the toolbox. When you want to organize the items like a pro, there are a few steps to take, which will increase your productivity when performing repairs or projects.

Purge the Toolbox

Remove all of the tools and place them on a tarp in the garage before you attempt to sort everything. Begin cleaning out the drawers and grouping like items together. You can free up extra space by throwing out tools that don’t work, or you haven’t used in several years. You can also consider throwing out tools that you have duplicates of, which can free up space in the toolbox. Certain products are also unnecessary and may not be used again, which includes Allen wrenches and small screwdrivers that come in furniture assembly kits.

Use Small Plastic Containers

Make it easy to find nails, tacks, and other small items in the toolbox by using smaller plastic containers to hold the products. Label each container and group the like items to prevent the box from becoming messy again.

Sort the Toolbox From Top to Bottom

Place the heavier tools in the bottom of the toolbox to evenly distribute the weight of the box and prevent it from falling forward. Adding lighter items on the top drawers will also keep them from breaking. The sockets should be stored in the upper drawers to make them easier to reach and will allow you to read the markings. Most experts recommend placing the most commonly used items in the middle drawers to make the tools easy to access.


Label the Drawers

Labeling drawers in your toolbox enhances the appearance of the unit and will prevent it from becoming disorganized in the future. You can quickly find what you need in seconds without opening each drawer as you attempt to find the screws or wrenches.

Use Tool Foam

Although you may want the tools to look visually appealing, you can save space by placing everything close together on tool box foam sheets, which prevents the items from sliding around. You can make DIY socket organizers, screwdriver organizers, and wrench organizers with the material. Cut small holes around each tool to make the items easy to take out. Utility blades or X-Acto knives are the best instruments to use to cut through the foam and customize it for your box.

Create Different Types of Dividers

Using dividers in your toolbox is essential to preventing everything from becoming a mess if the tools aren’t separated and in their individual compartments. If you have multiple sets, use metal cardboard dividers and wood to prevent the items from mixing again.

Reality Check: Would Brexit create a DIY recession?

George Osborne

George Osborne

The claim: Leaving the European Union would create a year-long recession.

Reality Check verdict: The Treasury analysis gives two scenarios, described as “shock” and “severe shock”. Both point to a recession in the short term, but in the case of the lesser “shock” scenario, while there would be an impact on the economy, the predicted recession would be very mild and well within the bounds of forecasting uncertainty.

The Treasury has released its analysis of the short-term effects of a vote to leave the European Union – that’s what would happen in the two years after 23 June.

And it’s not pretty – the Treasury predicts that economic growth would decline, wages would be lower than if we’d stayed in and house prices would fall.

If you’re prepared to be influenced by economic modelling (read our Reality Check on the subject here) then there is a simple message, which is that in the first two years, a vote to leave the EU would be a considerably bad thing for the economy.

If you want to go a bit further into the figures, there is more to say.

The Treasury no longer does economic forecasts – that job has now been given to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

What the Treasury is doing is what it calls scenario analysis, which is taking what would happen if we stayed in the EU as a base-line and then considering what the impact would be were we to leave.

So all the figures you see today are not how much worse things would be than they are today. They are how much worse things will be in two years if we leave the EU, than they would have been if we stayed in.
‘That’s a recession’

The Treasury has modelled two scenarios, the “shock” and the “severe shock” scenarios.

The shock scenario is what it reckons would happen if the country decided to negotiate a bilateral agreement to cover its relationship with the EU. The severe shock scenario is what would happen if we decided to trade as just another World Trade Organisation member, with no special relationship with the EU.

The Chancellor said in his speech: “Within two years the size of our economy – our GDP – would be at least 3% smaller as a result of leaving the EU – and it could be as much as 6% smaller.”

“We’d have a year of negative growth – that’s a recession.”

But that doesn’t mean it will be smaller than it is now, it means it will be smaller than it would have been had we stayed in.

If you compare that with the OBR’s forecast for what will happen to the economy over the next couple of years (assuming we stay in) it turns out that under the shock scenario, in the first four quarters after the vote to leave, the economy would contract by 0.1% every quarter.

A recession is when you get at least two consecutive quarters (three month periods) in which the economy gets smaller. So that would be a recession, but not by very much. It would be well within the degree of uncertainty surrounding this sort of economic analysis.

Under the severe shock scenario, the expected contraction would be much more severe: – 1% in the first quarter and -0.4% in the following three quarters, before registering negligible growth in the following year.

The same may be done with other predictions in the report.

For example, the Treasury predicts house prices in two years would be between 10% and 18% lower than they would be if we had stayed in. The OBR forecasts house prices will rise by about 10% over that period, so if you put those predictions together for the two scenarios you get prices being either flat or falling by 8%.

Full article on the BBC here.

Dunelm’s profits are up

The group has reported continued delivery across all three areas of the growth strategy including
·  In-store like-for-like growth of 1.0% (52 week basis);
·  23.2% growth in home delivery sales (52 week basis), now accounting for 7.0% of total revenue (FY15: 6.1%);
·  Six new openings in the year (including two relocations), increasing footprint to 152 superstores; nine new stores contractually committed.

The housewares retailer also reports progress on eight key initiatives to support the growth strategy and to build a world class operating model in a low cost environment:
· It has opened a new warehouse in Stoke, doubling capacity and providing cost reduction opportunities
· It has improved productivity within stores to reinvest into helping customers, improving service, driving sales and to mitigate the cost of introducing the National Living Wage
· It has also reduced stock holding by £16.5m (12.4%) through improved retail disciplines

The group reported strong free cashflow, up 26.9% to £110.4m; a special distribution during the period of 31.5p per share (£63.8m.
A recommended final dividend of 19.1p per share (FY15: 16.0p), increasing the full year dividend to 25.1p (FY15: 21.5p), an increase of 16.7% for the full year

John Browett, chief executive, commented:”The business has performed well over the year. Shoppers tell us that they genuinely appreciate the unrivalled depth and value of the Dunelm homewares offer. This has meant we have further cemented our leading position through market share gains, driving sales and profits growth, and increasing returns to shareholders, including a 16.7% increase in total ordinary dividends and a special distribution of 31.5p per share.

“My first year as chief executive has been extremely busy and we’re working hard on initiatives across the business. Not least, we are investing in our stores to make them much easier to shop, whilst making sure our vast range of product maintains the value for money proposition which lies at the very heart of the Dunelm offer.

“We remain particularly focused on extending the Dunelm offer to more customers and have opened six new superstores in the year. This will be ramped up in the current year with nine planned openings, three of which are in the London area where we are excited by the clear opportunity for growth.

“We continue to outperform the homewares market, and despite potential challenges to the economy over the coming months and the dampening effect on footfall of recent hot weather, we believe that Dunelm’s competitive position can come into its own, and are confident of continuing to deliver our growth ambitions.” – See more at: http://www.diyweek.net/dunelms-profits-are-up#sthash.ETLJJ2Aq.dpuf

Full article here.


Use Discount Codes for DIY

Use Discount Codes for DIY

Many of us hope to achieve the all American Dream: Get married, own a dream home, have kids, settle down. While many of these are easily attainable, sometimes life can get in the way and complicate things sometimes, especially after you have children.

Typically, once kids come around, things like home repairs and updates can get ignored. The truth is, updating simple things like light fixtures, installing fans, adding a fresh coat of paint, etc. can add a ton of value to your home, but they do cost money.

While some of these seem like they can be pricey (and to be honest, they can) there are simple ways to achieve some of these without going broke. We have all heard of “Do it Yourself” thanks to TV shows like HGTV and TV moguls like Martha Stewart, but sometimes DIY can scare some people. Truthfully, it shouldn’t. With the rise of sites like Pinterest to guide us and discounted sites like Curry’s via Groupon Discount Codes, you can achieve your dream home with less money than you think,

Every day we experiment with new home projects or ways to keep our kids busy, but did you know that DIY has its advantages with homes as well? You will be surprised by what you can do with a few mason jars and tree branches.

Utilize things you already have. Don’t run to the nearest home improvement store. Instead, look for things laying around your house that can be transformed into something else. Take a old ladder, paint it, and hang it horizontally across your wall as a new shelf.

Find local service providers. Not only will you support a small business, but chances are, their prices will be much better (or they will have greater negotiation ability) than a large chain. Shop around, too. If you don’t like the price of something, ask someone else.

Your Home Takes Centre Court With These Wimbledon Wallpaper Murals

Fifteen Love

Fifteen Love

Wimbledon Wallpaper Murals

It doesn’t matter if you’re simply a novice or a seasoned pro; this exclusive collection of original Wimbledon inspired wallpaper is sure to serve up a grand slam whilst delivering unique design and bold colour. The fun yet refined designs provide any tennis fan’s home with high impact décor.

The wallpaper murals, which are designed and sold by Murals Wallpaper, utilise cutting edge digital printing techniques and one of a kind graphic design. The prints can then simply be hung just like normal wallpaper.

Your Home Takes Centre Court

The team at Murals Wallpaper combined vivid colours and clean court-side inspired lines – with the addition of some tennis lingo – to create a unique collection which remains fun yet highly sophisticated. Paying homage to Britain’s most famous tennis tournament has never been so stylish.

Game Point

Game Point

Product Details

Wallpapers are available at: muralswallpaper.co.uk/collections/wimbledon

All prints are custom-sized, made-to-order and priced at £23.50 ($35) per square metre with international shipping available.

The Benefits of Underfloor Heating!

Benefits of underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is widely used in northern Europe and has in recent years become quite popular in the UK, both for new builds and for updating existing property. There are many companies which offer underfloor heating supplies.

There are low maintenance costs, and the technology rarely needs any form of maintenance once it has been fitted. Many radiators require regular servicing with tending to leaking pipes, faulty seals, air in the pipes which can be extremely noisy and will need draining and eliminating the trapped air.

It is extremely efficient than old fashioned radiators, and consequently more cost effective in regards to utility bills. It has been proven that energy saving from 15-40% can be achieved with underfloor heating.

Studies show that installing radiant heating in your home can reduce the amount of dust mites present by up to 80%!

Radiators take up space and aren’t ever going to win any prizes for their aesthetic qualities. Dust can accumulate behind them and they are awkward to paint.

With a good UFH control system it is easy to save money by keeping temperatures low or even off, in rooms that are rarely used while key living areas are kept as warm as you like. Normal radiators can be tricky to turn off and often that energy is wasted in rooms which you are not using.

A lack of central heating knocks an average of 9 percent off a property’s value which, in turn, means that if you add underfloor heating to your home it will add considrable value.
Not only will it be more eco friendly it will also save you costs in the long run!

Looking to Sell Your Home? Home Improvements vs Home Repairs

Home Repairs

Home Repairs

Anyone looking to sell their home is undoubtedly looking to get the best asking price possible. As a result, altogether too many homeowners spend a great deal of money on home improvements. However, many of those improvements don’t actually add any real value to the home and could very well be a huge waste of time and money. Before selling your home and doing all kinds of unnecessary (and costly!) work, it is in your best interest to know the very real difference between home improvements vs home repairs.

Home Repairs Are Necessary

There is no getting around the fact that some home repairs are absolutely necessary before listing your home for sale. For instance, does your roof leak? If so, get it repaired if it is new enough to have several years of life yet but if it is nearing the 20 year mark, the usual lifespan of a roof, then it is better to find a good deal on a reroofing job. Is all the plumbing in good order and are all the doors and windows intact and weatherised? If so, you may be ready to sell your home.

Some Home Improvements Add Value

Then there is the overambitious homeowner who wants to add value to the home in order to mark the asking price up by thousands. This may be a grave error in judgement as only some improvements will add any real value after the cost involved in making and paying for those improvements. Some homes are in neighbourhoods that don’t have outdoor pools, for example, so to add one on your back lawn would most likely not add any real value because your home is valued based on a number of factors amongst which is the price other homes in your area sold for in recent times.

Merging Home Repairs with Home Improvements

Here is something to think about. When your home needs a home repair and an improvement over what is currently installed would add value, you may wish to consider an upgrade. One good example is that roof mentioned above. Perhaps you’d consider adding energy efficient roofing material that helps you maintain climate control within the home. Or perhaps you’d like to add a loft conversion at the same time to give your home greater living space. If you need repairs in order to list your home for sale, take a little extra time to see if you can improve upon the functionality or the appeal which, in turn, will add value. This is a wonderful way to make a bit of extra money whilst offering a home that would sell much quicker!

If you are looking to sell your home, then, remember that there is a very real difference between repairs and improvements. Don’t make unnecessary improvements that won’t add value as it would be a huge waste of money. On the other hand, the best option is to make improvements whilst doing repairs because those very well could add value and ultimately what you will get upon closing the sale. That’s what you’re after so give it some thought.