Saturday, 17 January 2009


“With the cut in interest rates, the savings on your mortgage may be better invested in the home than the bank.”

“Buying curtains, putting up shelves and choosing colours really make your house a home.”

With the housing market so slow, many people are considering renovating or extending rather than moving. It can be a great solution especially if you are near friends and neighbours and your children are settled. With the cut in interest rates, the savings on your mortgage may be better invested in the home than the bank. Getting renovations or an extension added to your home may be quite stressful when the work is being done, but having the extra space is well worth it when the builders have gone home.

Guide to Planning Permission

If you are considering an extension, you need to do some preparation and planning before any practical work can be started. You will most likely need planning permission so you need to get in touch with the council. Planning permission can take up to three months to come through, or even longer if there are problems. You will need an agent or an architect to draw up the plans and there are forms to be filled in, site notices to be erected and notifications to be placed in the newspaper. When you have your permission, you can start looking for your builder.

Choosing Your Builder
Getting a good builder can make the stress of the work much lighter. Ask friends and family for recommendations and get at least three quotes so that you have a chance to meet the builders and see if you are comfortable with them. See what other jobs they have done and whether the customer is happy with their work. As well as the costs, get an idea of how long the job will take and consider who will be doing the project management.

Fixtures and Fittings
Don’t forget to budget for the fixtures and fittings. Take time to choose your tiles, units, showers and sinks. Look at books, magazines and the Internet for inspiration and of course see what you like in friend’s homes. A good builder should be able to advise you while not imposing personal preferences.

Finishing Touches
There are usually little fiddly jobs (called the snag list) when the builders go home, like a missing switch or a leak of some sort. A good builder will ensure that there is time to come back and make these finishing touches. A company like Knottyboy Wood Finishes can make a real difference at this stage as they can finish the woodwork in the house off to a high standard with their lacquered finishes. Then of course, there is the interior decorating. Buying curtains, putting up shelves and choosing colours really make your house a home.

Renovating a Room
Renovating a room isn’t as big a job as an extension but it can still be an exciting challenge. You might have to get the professionals in if the walls need re-plastering or patterned wallpaper rolls have to be matched up. For most of the work you could try your hand at DIY as it will be a case of using your interior design skills to good effect. You’re old three-piece suite might be a bit threadbare. Have a look at having it re-covered instead of buying a new one. The same goes for furniture, it might be far less costly to re-paint or re-varnish the quality furniture you have instead of rushing out to buy new. Choose the flooring to suit your lifestyle, do you need sumptuous carpets or a practical wooden floor and are the curtains ready for a change? If you don’t want too much upheaval the jobs can be staggered and remember to have fun.

If you are trying to sell your property in these deflated times, estate agents recommend these three ways to maximise the asking price.

Sleep on it
Adding an extra bedroom, will boosts those vital estate agent’s statistics in a way all buyers understand. The addition of a decent-sized bedroom can significantly increase the price of your property. If you are considering adding another bedroom again to maximize the value added, try to incorporate an en-suite.

Going Through the Roof
A quality attic conversion will take your house can add value, but a poor quality installation will merely be viewed by potential buyers as a problem that may require fixing at considerable expense. Always make sure your attic conversion complies with current building regulations.

Splashing out

The addition of a second bathroom should add value to your property. A modern bathroom will really lift your property. Consider choosing white fixtures as they won’t date and will appeal to a broader range of potential house buyers.

“Kitchen cupboards can be brought back to life with new doors, bedrooms can be made up to date with new wardrobe doors and furniture from around the house can be re-varnished or painted to bring back to life… at a fraction of the cost of buying new.” Shane from Knottyboy Wood Finishes and Coating Specialists.


There is something very tactile about running your hand over a professionally finished varnished surface like a banister or cupboard door. If you have ever done the job yourself you will realise it takes years of practice to get that smooth quality finish. That is why it pays to get in the specialists.

Shane Deery from Ballybofey started the highly successful Knottyboy Wood Finishes and Coating Specialists in 2002. Shane and his team, based in both Convoy and Ballybofey, specialise in different types of lacquered wood finishes for everything in the home from stairs to furniture and kitchens. They also come in at the final phase of installation in a home to put their professional touch of quality to the finish. Shane himself is a fully qualified French Polisher and worked for Modem Kitchens in the UK as a trainer and foreman before coming home to Ballybofey and setting up his highly successful business.

External Finishes
Knotty Boy is also busy with external finishes on the home. External finishing is becoming very popular. “In the near future there will be grants for people to install wooden window frames as uPVC frames are non bio-degradable. Wood will also be used more for doors and other outdoor features around the house and also shop fronts,” says Shane. “We only use products that have a minimum of 5 year guarantee and can also be used on steel fabricated surfaces.” Shane advises. “All of the products are water based and are well within with the latest European emissions VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) legislation. It’s important to have products in the home that are non-toxic when they are being applied as well as being safe after application

What’s in a name?
You might wonder where the Knottyboy name came from. His son had the idea as it reflected the fact that Shane worked closely with wood. His son is also caricatured on the logo.

Refurbish instead of Replace
Knottyboy are also getting a lot of business from customers who want to refurbish their old and tired furniture. “People are not getting rid of furniture any more which is good for the environment,” says Shane. “Kitchen cupboards can be brought back to life with new doors, bedrooms can be made up to date with new wardrobe doors and furniture from around the house can be re-varnished or painted to bring back to life… at a fraction of the cost of buying new.”

Knottyboy can be contacted on 087 7702878

“Whether you are freshening your house for a potential sale or looking to put your own individual personality into a room, you can use colour to reflect a mood whilst expressing your creativity.”

A great way to brighten up a room is to give it a fresh coat of paint. Whether you are freshening your house for a potential sale or looking to put your own individual personality into a room, you can use colour to reflect a mood whilst expressing your creativity. Choosing colours may be daunting as there are so many to choose from. Here is a list of the most popular colours and how they will affect your day.

Blue is associated with calming and soothing. It is said to promote intellectual thought and is believed to keep hunger at bay. Other traits include loyalty, serenity, authority, protection and contemplation. It is also said to prevent nightmares.
Best rooms for use would be bedrooms, bathrooms and studies.

Green is associated with nature and energy. It is calming and restful and is related to security and stability. Often seen as a colour of balance as it is halfway between red and blue.
Best rooms for use are bedrooms and living rooms.

Lilac is associated with spiritual matters. It suggests the misty area between the sky and heaven and is often seen as feminine.
Best rooms for use are bedrooms and bathrooms in order to create a stress-free sanctuary.

Orange is associated with stability and reassurance. It is a warm colour and is thought to aid digestion.
Best rooms for use are living and dining rooms.

Pink is associated with love.
Best rooms for use are bedrooms as it can be peaceful and restful. A hot fuchsia can introduce passion.

Purple is associated with creativity, fertility and joy, but also with magic and sex.
Best rooms for use are bedrooms.

Red is associated with danger, passion, energy, warmth, adventure and optimism.
Best rooms for use are dining rooms as it promotes sociable and lively feelings, and stimulates the appetite.

Yellow is associated with sunshine and energy. It is said to stimulate the intellect.
Best rooms for use are kitchens, dining rooms or north-facing rooms.

Brown is associated with security and stability. It is a very practical colour.
Best rooms for use are living rooms and dining rooms.

Black is associated with death, eccentricity, drama. It's a non-colour that absorbs colour and reflects nothing back…..
Best used in moderation (unless you are an emo teenager).

Are you considering painting the exterior of your house. Before you start, inspect the condition of all the surfaces to be painted. Look closely at the exterior walls for any signs of mould. If you see any, mix a solution of 1 part bleach to 6 parts water and apply to affected area. Leave this solution to dry, then using a wire brush remove the debris. If any of the exterior walls have loose or powdery surfaces they need to be cleaned and sealed. Use a primer solution to seal all affected areas as this will act as a stabilizer for your first coat of paint.

Using paint rollers can be the quickest method to cover most exterior surfaces, although you may need to use a brush to cover heavy areas of pebbledash. By attaching an extension handle to your roller you will be able to tackle most of the paint-work from the ground. One method is to start rolling at the top right corner of your first wall, (unless you are left handed and then start at the left side). Now gradually work your way across the wall until completed. Good preparation and attention to detail when applying the paint will mean that you will have a longer time between painting duties….

“Good maintenance of your home costs less in the long term.”

With winter still here, make sure you are protecting your home against the cold.

Make sure no tap is left dripping.
If that is not possible put a plug in the basin or bath overnight (as drips cause ice to block waste pipes).
Never allow cisterns to over-fill (as water in overflow pipes can freeze, causing the cistern to spill at the sides).
In a long cold spell, open the attic door occasionally to let in warmth from the house.
During cold periods if you have to leave the house for short periods, keep the central heating turned on, turned down to the minimum. For long periods, drain the plumbing system by closing the main stopcock and opening all the taps.

Your home, like many homes, will have areas that are colder than others and damp patches can form. It might be a simple case of lack of air and condensation. If this is the case, an open window will probably solve the issue. Sometimes, however it is a bit more complicated than that. Here are some causes of damp that if left unchecked could lead to problems.

If your home is newly built it may be damp because the water used during its construction (for example, in plaster) is still drying out.
Look out for leaking plumbing, central heating pipes, wastes or overflows.
Does rain seep through the roof where a tile or slate is broken or missing? This can cause problems and you might not even be aware of it.
Over flow spilling from a blocked gutter, broken gutters or down pipes.
Rain penetrating from around the window or door frames.
Rising damp is due to a defective damp-course or haviong no damp-course. Rising damp usually appears in rooms at ground floor level, and will rise in the walls only to a height of around 1m.

These types of dampness often leave a visual watermark. Being aware of a problem is the first step, getting it seen to as soon as possible is the next. Problems will only get worse if they aren’t dealt with. Contact your local tradesperson if you need advice. If your home is damp for any of these reasons it may take weeks of heating and ventilation to dry out, but good maintenance of your home costs less in the long term.


Why is it sometimes necessary to constantly bleed radiators?
Constantly venting a radiator is necessary to eliminate air or occasionally hydrogen gas. Both can cause the radiator to become cold. It is usually assumed the problem is due to air but often it's because of the formation of hydrogen gas resulting from electrolytic corrosion, the evidence of which is a black sludge deposit in the system, including radiators. Black sludge can be dealt with by dosing the system with a suitable de-sludging agent. Your local supplier will advise on the amount to put into the system and if you are in any doubt get in a professional.

Brand-new systems will always initially give up lots of air, which collect in radiators and will usually need to be vented a great deal for the first few weeks.

Moving or staying put in your own house? It makes no difference as you will still have to do the cleaning….. What a relaxing thought….

After having the windows tightly closed to keep in the heat, your house will be in need of a good clean and airing. Letting fresh air circulate is great for the house and might put you in the mood for some spring cleaning. Deep cleaning each spring gets rid of dust and dirt that has accumulated throughout the winter months and helps keep your home and family healthy. The idea is to remove more embedded dirt, dust and contaminants than you do during your regular maintenance cleaning.

Clean carpets. Regular carpet cleaning helps maintain the life of your carpet and can improve indoor air quality, which in turn decreases the likelihood of allergy and asthma symptoms. If you do not own a carpet cleaner, look at renting a machine or hiring a professional.

Wash windows. Regular cleaning of your windows, inside and out is a necessary part of keeping our home looking shiny and clean. Sparkling clean windows are a wonderful way to view the outside world. Never clean your windows while they are in direct sunlight. Your cleaning solution will dry too fast, which causes streaks as the cleaning solution dries before you can wipe it off. The best time to clean windows is on a cloudy, dry day.

Wash linens. Wash bedding, curtains and shower liners according to fabric

Vacuum mattresses. Dust and dust mites build up in your mattress so vacuum your mattress using the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner. This draws air through the mattress and unsettles dust and dirt.

Clean light fittings. Turn off your light then remove the light bulbs and light casing.

Clean waste paper baskets. Empty all rubbish containers. Clean and disinfect inside and out with warm, soapy water and an environmentally friendly disinfectant.

Clean the cooker hood. To release trapped grease and odours, wash the range hood and fan with warm water and vinegar then rinse well. Remove the metal filter, soak in warm water, vinegar and a few drops of washing up liquid and then rinse well before replacing.

Clean cupboards and drawers. Vacuum up crumbs, dust and hair and wipe clean.
Wash the bottom and inside of each drawer and cupboard using a solution of two
tablespoons vinegar into a few litres of water and wipe dry.

Organise cupboards. Reorganise cupboards around the house, removing items that you have ‘slightly’ outgrown or have not worn in the past two years. Check all expiration dates on medications and remove old lotions, shampoos or cosmetics.

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