Buying your first home? 7 signs that indicate faulty electrics

buying-first-homeBuying your first home is always an exciting time, and with so many different things to consider it can be pretty overwhelming. Thinking about the electrics of your potential new home may be the last thing on your mind whilst you worry about whether your furniture will fit and whether you are happy with the area.

However, faulty electrics can be a serious fire hazard and could potentially lead to a serious or fatal accident. Therefore, ensuring they are safe before you move into a new home is essential. It is a good idea to ask the current homeowner for certificates to show who completed the current electrical, and when that was. If an electrician did work yet didn’t provide a certificate this is a worrying indication of the quality of their work.

Testing the electric is the only way to tell for sure that you have a problem. If you are buying a house that is more than 25 years old, it is important to check that the wiring is up-to-date before you make your purchase. This way you can get an estimate of the work your new home will require, before you make an offer on the house.

Re-wiring work can be very disruptive to the fabric of your building, so it is best to get this out of the way before any other work, such as re-decorating, is undertaken.

When is Rewiring Necessary?
If the house hasn’t been rewired in the last 25 years or so, chances are it will need to be upgraded to bring it up to current standards. You can tell whether it has been rewired recently by inspecting any exposed parts of wiring, and you can get an idea from looking at the electricity meter and fuse box. If there is an old-fashioned looking fuse box, this is a good indication the home needs rewiring.

Seven main indicators to look out for are:

1. Are the fuses rewirable? Rewirable fuses haven’t been used for years, so you can guess that if they’re used the electricals haven’t been recently updated.

2. How many socket-outlets are visible in each room of the house? Recently rewired homes tend to have more than two double sockets per room, and any visible single sockets are an indication that the installation is quite old.

3. Signs of overheating at socket outlets will suggest rewiring is necessary.

4. A fuse box with a wooden back or cast iron switches will suggest that it dates back to before the 1960s, and will need to be replaced.

5. Any round light switches, braided flex connecting ceiling roses to light fittings, black switches and sockets mounted into skirting boards may need replacing.

6. Any obvious damage to socket outlets, switches or lights are also a bad sign.

7. Finally, are there any unusual sounds or flickering lights? If the lights flicker, dim and brighten throughout the home, or make a buzzing sound, this is a sure indicator of faulty wiring.

Before going ahead with a purchase, and especially if you have any doubts about the safety of your potential new home, it is a good idea to arrange for a qualified electrician to do a survey of the property. Depending on whether you want a verbal or full written report this can cost you around $150 – $620, but if it saves you a costly mistake or injury in the long run, it’s definitely worth the money.

Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Walton Homes, who offer a  range of beautiful new homes in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and the West Midlands. To find out more, visit their website.

5 Entertaining Tips Everyone Should Know

Party season is right around the corner, and we have some great party tips to make your next get-together memorably festive. Whether it’s your turn to host an office party, a birthday celebration or just a good excuse to have fun with friends, these tips will provide you with what you need for success.


Pick a Theme

Holiday parties have a built-in theme, but even if you’re hosting a mid-week gathering for no particular reason, coming up with a concept for decorations, drinks and food can help you create a festive atmosphere. Luau and tiki themes are always hits for backyard barbecues, but don’t feel constrained to popular party ideas; you can go as wild as you like with your concept. Guests will be charmed with a Mardi Gras masquerade or a retro party with dishes and drinks from vintage cookbooks.




Cook Ahead

When you get most of the cooking done ahead of time, you give yourself more freedom to enjoy entertaining. Instead of spending your party in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on some complicated dish, plan a simple, straightforward menu of foods you know your guests will love. You and they will remember the fun more than the food, so prepare something elegant and easy. Lasagna, roasted chicken and macaroni and cheese are a few possibilities.

Cookware that looks and performs beautifully, such as this set of three handled baking dishes, lets you assemble and store entrees or side dishes the night before and pop them in the oven shortly before guests arrive. They go straight from the oven to the dinner table, saving you another step and giving you more time to spend with your guests.



Make It Inviting with Light

What makes a chic nightclub or formal restaurant special? In many cases, it’s the lighting, not the decor, that makes the difference. Try some special effects with lighting to make your next get-together magical. Outside, try stringing colorful paper lanterns or white fairy lights above your deck or patio. Interior spaces take on a beautifully warm and welcoming glow with candles. Kids and pets don’t always get along with candles, though, so choose child-friendly alternatives such as this electric pillar candle light string for part of your table design.



Create a Play List


Music makes a party, and you have more options than ever for music that complements your theme. Internet radio stations have hundreds of stations with dozens of exciting musical genres from which to choose. You can even find music from favorite television shows or movies to play as background music for a season finale party or Oscar night. For holiday parties, look for unique takes on classics; an album of vintage Christmas music, for example, makes your party memorable and will get people talking.



Appeal to All the Senses

You’ve already decorated, cooked and chosen the music, but don’t forget to make an impression on your guests’ noses. Bouquets of fresh flowers, incense or candle warmers have the staying power to perfume the air for hours without coming on too strong. For a dinner party, choose scents that go well with food and won’t overpower the meal, such as vanilla or spice fragrances. A summer cocktail party might call for something exotic and tropical.

Entertaining can be as much fun for you, the host, as it is for your guests when you plan. Start thinking about creative, fun party ideas today, and you’ll be set from now until the new year!

Choosing the Best Home Lighting

home-lightingOur homes and the way we decorate them say a lot about us. Lighting is such an important part of home decor yet sadly it’s too often overlooked or an afterthought when decorating. From Feng Shui, we have learned that choosing the right type of lighting can affect the entire mood of a home.  Even if it’s perfect in one room, another area may have horrible lighting creating an immediate negative vibe. For choosing your lighting, take these ideas and tips into consideration.

Bulb and Fixture Type
The bulb you choose can make a huge difference in a room. Gone are the days when we had simple 60-watt bulbs or the exciting three way ones that got brighter with the slight turn of a key. Now we literally have hundreds of styles and levels of brightness and energy efficiency models to choose from. Fixtures are also widely varied and can be purchased in every style imaginable from 1930s art deco to modern spun glass.

Kitchen and Bath
For safety in the kitchen and bathroom, you will need brighter lights. You want to see what you’re cutting with that knife or where you’re applying eye liner.

Home Ofiice
A home office will be more comfortable with lighting that mimics the outdoors, especially if you don’t have windows to help bring in natural light.  You’ll want to stay away from the garish overly bright fluorescent that make you look or feel washed out and tired.

Bedroom lighting should be first and foremost, relaxing. Gentle lighting encourages relaxation. Consider dimmers for bedrooms. Both kids and adults are made much more comfortable by use of dimmers. For kids who like to sleep with the lights on at first, a dimmer switch makes it easy for a parent to later turn the light down gently without turning it off entirely or suddenly. Adults can adjust the lighting to bright when getting ready for work and dim for relaxing which aids in getting better sleep.

Your lighting shouldn’t be exactly the same throughout the house but it should flow. Your fixtures don’t have to be perfectly matched but again, flow and a common theme is good. You don’t want 1950s contemporary in one room with a deer antler chandelier in the next. It’s too jolting as you go through the home. Also, consider the size and style of your home as a whole unit and then room by room.

Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting for porches, patios and yards can be fun. From criss-crossed string lights to twinkle lights in trees or patio spotlights, just being outdoors in a fun style environment is great. Your lighting can make or break a party though. If it’s too garish and bright and everyone will try getting back inside while too dim has everyone squinting to see.

Energy Efficiency
There are numerous new energy efficient lighting choices although some bulbs are painfully bright. Use fixtures and shades to cut brightness to acceptable levels. Consider LED lighting for soft hallway or night-lights.  They cost more up front but basically last a lifetime and pay for themselves quickly.

Overall, don’t be afraid to show off your inner decorator when choosing lighting for your home. There are literally thousands of combinations of fixtures and bulb types that make choosing new lighting so much fun.  Make your choices based on how you use each room and the mood you’re going for overall.

Luke Garbutt is the owner of Fully Amped Electrical. With over 14 years’ experience in the electrical trade arena, Luke has had experience working in the residential, commercial and Mining sectors. As the owner of a growing business, one of the hardest things to do is to ensure quality and the highest of standards. So Luke does his best to share, through writing, as much of his electrical knowledge as possible to help out anyone who needs it.

7 Things You Need to Do Before a DIY Project

To-Do-ListTackling projects yourself pays big dividends. You save money, learn something new and gain a sense of accomplishment. Your new bookshelf or birdbath is almost a bonus. Unless you’re an avid do-it-yourself-er, though, you’re probably going to have that moment of alarm when you wonder if you’ve taken on too much. There’s no such thing as guaranteed perfection with improvement projects, but with planning, you’ll maximize your chances of success.

1. Get Everything Together

Chefs use a term for collecting ingredients before they start cooking: mise en place. The French phrase describes putting everything within easy reach, and it prevents the chef from ruining a delicate dish through inattention. Your latest painting project may not be as time-sensitive as the perfect pancake, but it’s still helpful to gather everything you need before you start. Making a checklist will keep you on track.

2. Get Organized

Having everything in one place is a great start, but organizing it improves your efficiency. Tool kits or household organizers that hold everything you need for your latest do-it-yourself job make staying organized throughout the project a snap.

3. Study Your Subject

You probably already know something about your project before you start it, but unless you’re already an expert, getting a refresher course from books or online sources can make the difference between a serviceable item and one that’s spectacular.

4. Try a Kit

Whether it was riding a bike or baking a cake, your first attempt at doing it yourself probably needed a little input from an expert. If you don’t have a master crafter handy when you start your project, work from a kit. Many artists got their start with paint-by-number sets, and even the best cooks still use recipes sometimes. Kits make things accessible for beginners. After putting together your first fairy garden, you’ll undoubtedly have tons of inspiration for your own version.

5. Find a Good Work Space

When you have enough room to spread out and see what you’re doing, your DIY efforts pay off with better results. If the weather’s pleasant, work outside or in your garage with the door open. When you’re inside, like to work at night or must work on your project in confined quarters, use ample lighting to avoid eye strain.

6. Stay Clean

You’ll have plenty of use for cleaning supplies after you’re finished, but your project will also benefit from using them before and during the job. Cooking in a spotless kitchen or working in a well-organized garage is always inspiring, so clean before you build or craft.

7. Use the Right Tools

Many of us have used a shoe heel as a makeshift hammer, but when it’s time to do a project right, having the proper tools can spell success. With a ball-joint vise, for example, you gain an extra set of hands and can work on the whole project at once.

Whether you’re building a dollhouse or your own home, every great do-it-yourself project starts with preparation!

Image Credit: Iris Classon

5 Tips for Easy DIY

Forearm-forklift-strapsEveryone loves the after shot of a before-and-after DIY project, but the steps you take to prepare beforehand matter most when you’re the one doing the work. Whether it’s something as simple as adding new slipcovers to furniture to pull a look together or completely redoing a room for a new purpose, preparing for a do-it-yourself job before you apply the first brushstroke of paint is key to a successful transformation.

1. Get Organized
Having your supplies at your fingertips makes any DIY job easier. When your tools are within reach, you can take care of little do-it-yourself repairs around the house before they become bigger problems. It’s easier to find decorating inspiration when everything you need is in plain sight too. Turn a corner of your garage, utility room or sewing room into your do-it-yourself headquarters with storage tools that make the most of your space and keep essential equipment at the ready. Some cabinet storage solutions work for a variety of uses. A turntable bathroom organizer is great for medicine bottles and hygiene items, but it’s also an excellent caddy for tubes of beads and sequins, fabric paints or other small items for detail work.

2. Take It With You
Bringing your tools to the project instead of taking the project to your workspace is often more convenient. Using rolling cabinet storage and portable tool boxes lets you keep your supplies nearby as you make necessary repairs or let inspiration guide you. It’s easy to put off that paint retouching job when you don’t have your tools handy, but with easy-access carts and caddies, you have everything you need and can tackle the project with a minimum of fuss.

3. Plan Your Budget
Almost any project costs less when you do the work yourself, but a miscalculation in the beginning could lead an economical project into big cost overruns. Budgeting tools help you get a handle on expenses and figure out if it’s the right time to embark on that home improvement project. When you sit down with your calculator, consider opportunity costs too; your time is worth money, and you may find that it makes more sense to buy some parts of your project already made than to do everything from scratch.

4. Take Care of Your Tools
Before and during any improvement or repair job, keeping your tools in good shape is vital to a successful project. Painting a large room in a day may not be practical, but by wrapping paint rollers in plastic, you can pick up tomorrow where you stopped today. For outdoor projects, keeping tools and supplies in working order makes lawn and garden care simple. Having to disentangle your hose or clean your lawn mower before you use it can be enough to dissuade you from starting a new improvement project. Keep your equipment ready to go and take advantage of your cleaning, mowing or organizing urge when the mood strikes you.

5. Turn on the Lights
After you’ve done the work, treat your latest DIY project as a masterpiece and give it the lighting it deserves. The right lighting has the power to transform a room and make a home project look professional.

Garden Glow – Outdoor Lighting Solutions

Does your garden glow…literally? Gardeners spend so much time making a plot of dirt into a beautiful horticultural oasis, though once the sun goes down, it becomes veiled by darkness. The proper accent lighting can fix this problem and actually add a dynamic layer to your garden. The most obvious purpose of lighting is to allow friends and family the chance to enjoy the garden after dark. However lighting can also create a brand new atmosphere when the sun sets. Here are some unique options to light up your yard.

These lights add whimsy and fun.

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