Knock That Wall Down! Renovations Can Change It All For Your Home

Our homes can be boring. It’s sad but true. Maybe they aren’t that boring at all, but because we spend so much time in them, it can seem that way. What’s more, we all have rooms that we fail to use and rooms that we neglect. Sometimes, our homes can be so big and we lack the initiative to use all of that space.


Let’s be honest. We all have rooms that we neglect and fail to use. A study, second bedroom, office, box room or even dining room! The truth is, most of us don’t have the time to spend in places that offer us nothing. That can transform with a few simple changes to both room layout and your lifestyle.




The simple way to start improving your home?  It’s easy. Furniture. We usually opt to buy furniture for those rooms that need a statement, but this can be lopsided and remove the focus from the other rooms in our houses. It’s important to ensure all the rooms in our home are decked out in the furniture needed.  A lick of paint is never a bad idea as well and can really refresh the feel and mood of a room.


But some plans are a little bigger. Full-scale renovations can be made to homes and are a good idea if you’re inclined to redesign your home. It’s important to act as soon as possible, but you should always take the time to meticulously plan your redesign and use all the resources available, like for both inspiration and planning reasons.


Giving new life to a tired home can be amazing in terms of finances. The Telegraph have the amazing story of Liz and Dan Burgess:


“Take Liz and Dan Burgess, who won the 2013 Homebuilding and Renovating Awards. They converted a crumbling Berkshire bungalow into a handsome, two-storey modern family home . It cost them £825,000, but the house is now worth £1.2 million. It also took them five years to complete the scheme. This is par for the course, explains Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud. “Everyone approaching a project like this should spend three years on planning, and six months on the really expensive bit – the building.”


The Burgess family have added a lot of value to their home. All they did was own it and improve it. That’s it.


Don’t try to do this alone, though. It’s hard work, and you won’t go wrong with calling in a team of builders and carpenters to sort your home out and build to your plans.


As for the actual renovations, those are all for you to decide on. Never be afraid to explore the space of your house. Why not an open plan kitchen area that leads into the dining room? Or even the lounge? What about converting the loft into a new bedroom? It could be an investment that not only changes your home, but your life.

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Make New Friends When You Move Away

There comes a time when we all have to move house. For some of us, it is a decision we have made (such as moving out of our parents’, wanting to upgrade to a bigger house or downsize to a smaller one, to move away for college or university, or to move away for a job) and for some of us it is something we have had to do, for reasons such as financial problems, or a breakdown in a relationship.


It can be a stressful business, moving house. First of all, you may want to put the property up for sale and that can be a huge undertaking which requires a lot of paperwork, calculations and meetings with professionals such as accountants, financial advisors or solicitors. Then, when the house gets bought, you have to move everything out which requires a lot of time and could be a heavy expense if you hire a removals company. Of course, you can always sell the things in your home – this means you will earn money and won’t have to take as much with you into your new home making the task much less arduous and more streamlined.


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When we do move away, especially if it is to a new county, state or even a new country, an aspect of our new lives which we don’t put that much thought into is our social lives. We may have left our friends and family behind, where we used to live, so that means we have to go out and try to forge new relationships with people, who at first, may be strangers.


If you have moved away for college or university, it may be a good idea to attend as many groups and join as many clubs as you can. This is a great way to make lasting relationships. You could talk about your scholarship with John Monash if you’re in an intellectual club, or even talk about the world of sport if you decide to join a football team.


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Another great way of making new friends – whether you have away for university or not – is to go out and mingle and socialize. Going to bars, pubs, cafes and night-classes is a positive way of doing this as you will be in new surroundings, talking to new people who you may not have thought about interacting with before and, of course, you will have a great time doing so. Night-classes reaches out to this point more than the others as you will be learning new skills (yoga, I.T, English, Maths etc) with like-minded people who probably attend the class for the same reasons you do.


Moving away can be a difficult and stressful decision to make, but once you embrace it you will quickly ease into your new life and the new surroundings in your new home. Whatever your reason for moving away to a new place, ensure you are ready for a fresh start and are prepared for what can be a difficult time.

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The Ultimate Driving Checklist For Weekend Camping Trips

Urban life is all good and well, but nothing can beat the feeling of setting off on a Friday afternoon for a weekend of hiking and camping in the great outdoors. Indeed, the sensation of being out in the wild is as freeing as owning a car and being able to drive wherever you please. It’s still a little bit chilly outside, but this is the perfect time to look forward to the great trips that await us as soon as the weather warms up a little bit. Will it be the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, or even across into the continent for your camping trip? With a properly prepared vehicle, the choice will be yours.



A Well Oiled Machine


Taking a trip into the unknown is as good a time as any to make sure your vehicle is well lubricated and in tip-top shape. You’ll have taken care of the obvious one, petrol, just as you would before any long trip. However, petrol is more important on a camping trip. Why? Because you’re leaving civilisation, and there might not be as many petrol stations as you’d like. If you’re driving off the beaten path, make sure you have a full tank of petrol. Similarly, you’ll want to make sure you’ve topped up your oil before you go. Driving up and down valleys and especially mountains (if you’re on the continent) can play havoc with your car, so make it’s well fed in advance.


All in the Grip/Lighting the Way


If you don’t often taken camping trips, you might be surprised that driving isn’t all about smooth roads and genteel winding country tracks: once you step off the map, the terrain you encounter is anybody’s guess. You might be splashing your way through mud, tackling country dirt roads, or be driving on surfaces that aren’t cleared when it’s snowy or icy. This is all a way of saying: make sure your tires are up for the job. This could be as simple as checking your tire pressure gauge to make sure it’s as it should be or getting a new set from a company such as Wiltshire Tyres. You don’t want to any chances, especially if there’s a chance the roads might be slippery (in some places, snow will be on the ground well into spring!).


Additionally, you have to make sure your lights are all in working order before you set off. You might not notice that you’re missing lights when you’re driving around town, but will when you get out into the country and there are no lights anywhere to guide you.



Emergency Kit

Even the most reliable of cars can break down from time to time, and if you’re driving in difficult terrain, this becomes even more of a possibility. Make sure you pack an emergency kit in the pack of your vehicle besides your camping equipment. Luckily, you should have snacks and bottled water already with you as part of your trip supplies, but having a few specific car items can also go a long way.

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Getting The Most Out Of The Cloud?


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Ever since the birth of the cloud, the niche has been flooded with all kinds of great platforms. Like many business owners, you may be planning to use one of these platforms for all or part of your business infrastructure. While I agree that cloud platforms can be a great tool for many businesses, some can be pretty complex and difficult to wrap your head around. Here are my best tips for getting the most out of it.

Set a Static IP to the VM

With its default settings, many cloud platforms will assign your virtual machine and IP taken from a pool. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the same IP if the VM happens to be de-assigned from the platform’s infrastructure. To make things a little easier, you may want to ensure that the VM you’re using gets the same address every single time it’s turned on. You can do this by setting up a virtual network through the web portal. Then, open the platform’s console and enter certain commands. Usually, when creating VMs on your platform, they should be assigned their own cloud service unless you’re planning to load balance one or more virtual machine.

Make Sure You’re Equipped

As you’re probably already aware, the basic service of any given cloud platform isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything it can offer. Within most good cloud platforms, there’s a whole store’s worth of add-ons and auxiliary apps which add a range of great functions to the existing apparatus. Have a quick look around the platform’s store right now, and you’ll get a taste of what I mean. You can find apps that give you industry-grade image processing capabilities, give you easier channels for monitoring Azure when you’re using it for running a web app, and add-ons to make the process of sharing images much more seamless. The platform in its bare bones may seem like enough for you, but chances are your competitors are already using a wider range of add-ons for their benefit. Be sure to hit the marketplace soon and check out your options.

De-Allocate Unused Resources


Source: Flickr


While cloud platforms like Azure and IBM certainly have a lot of potential as tools, they share the one drawback that anything else with a practical use has: they cost money! Though Azure and other good platforms are certainly worth the investment, you may need to ensure every penny you invest is working for you, and there are various ways you can save money on the platform. For example, to make sure you’re not paying for any VMs while you’re not using them, be sure to open the web management portal and set the status of the VMs to stopped. Just remember to give anyone access to these settings who may need it when you’re out of the office. Remember that shutting down VMs from the OS won’t de-allocate any resources from the fabric.

Take these tips on board, and you’ll have a great experience with the cloud from the very start!

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Turn Your Dump Into A Gorgeous Showhome


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We all have those ‘really’ moments, where we suddenly think is this really it. Such as, is this really my wardrobe, is this really how filthy my car has got, and is this really where I live. The last one is the most common. We get so comfortable with our homes we sometimes forget how amazing a quick home-improvement can be. It doesn’t have to be a whole makeover; it could just be one room, and it doesn’t have to cost thousands and thousands; it could be a few hundred bucks. So why not get your DiY head on and turn your dump into a gorgeous home you can be proud of with these simple ideas.


Paint Your House Happy

The obvious first move is to lift your home with a splash of paint. This is a surefire and stunning way to get rid of any grubby finger marks and hide the beige life encouraged by magnolia walls. That is paints magic ability, it can change your mood, it can uplift your mornings, it can alter your perceptions. As such, why not make your entrance brighter, or your living room softer or your bedroom more wow. And why stop with the walls. A great place to use paint is in your kitchen. Most kitchens are made to feel dated or dark because the cabinets are either dated or dark. So why not give them a makeover. Paint them a lovely green to make them feel a little bit more in touch with nature.


Lift Your Floors

Floors can be the defining feature of your house, and is usually the first thing that catches and steers your eye. But adding a new hardwood flaw tends to cost a bob or two. So why not consider the alternatives. Why not check out the quality laminate flooring by Carpet One and see how easy and cheap it can be to get a gorgeous floor that not only enriches your home, but draws your eye along your hallway and into your kitchen.


Add Some Charm

It’s the little things that will give your harm that little sprinkling of charm and, what’s more, it’s the little things tend to be cheap. So why not get lost on Pinterest for an hour and see what will do wonder for your home. It could be a crown molding in every room, something that is sure to add charm and value for very little money. It could be a DiY stair-runner that captures your heart the moment you step through your front door, like a brightly coloured and self-woven runner from the local market. It could be the striking addition of interior shutters that give your home that old french feel, light cascading through the gaps in the slats. What’s more, these don’t just serve as decorative, or gorgeous, or as a way to stop your neighbors peeking into your home. They actually serve as a means of keeping the heat in during the winter and the heat out during the summer. What an investment.

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Shifting That House That Just Won’t Budge

Sometimes, finding a buyer for your house can feel very much like finding that needle in the haystack. However, the problem might be that you’re looking in the wrong pile of hay, or you’re not using the magnetism at your disposal to bring all those needles right to you. Selling a home, even one that seems resolute on staying right where it is, needn’t always be quite so difficult. Here, we’re going to look at the knowledge that can speed that process right along.


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Know what sells a house

Believe it or not, the amount of time you’ve spent living in and loving a home isn’t going to be the biggest selling factor you can market. When people are looking at a home, they need to know the specifics of what it can offer them. One of the biggest selling points of a home is space. If you have a sizeable attic, basement, or connected garage that could be converted to living space, mention it. Even better, consider making an investment to convert it. In your advertising, highlight the area the home it’s in if that area has some strong marketable qualities. For instance, look at proximity to things like schools, university, and retail centers.


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Know the market

Those aspects of the area are also going to help you better pin down your place in the market. For instance, families will have more use of areas near schools as opposed to single individuals. But that’s not the only way getting to know the market can help. You also need to know the right pricing and the right places to advertise. Assistance from real estate experts can help you find your appropriate position on the market. Some of them can even help you connect to a network that they run internally, helping you reach people in the market you might not otherwise be able to reach. It’s important to know when to use a bit of help, especially if your house is getting little attention at the moment.


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Know when you need to fix it up

If you’re getting attention, but few offers, then the problem isn’t how your marketing or positioning your home. The problem is with the home itself. Many of these problems can be easily fixed. For instance, you might think your swimming pool is a great accompaniment for the home, but have you considered that it’s more work for anyone who plans on moving in? Does your home feature a little too much of your personal tastes when people come through it? Could the garden use a bit of care in tidying up its appearance? These issues in home marketability will not only put customers off, it can decrease the value set by any valuations you or your customers get.

As with selling anything, knowledge is what’s going to help you sell your home a lot better. Know the demands of would-be homeowners, know how to position yourself on the market, and know when you need to do a bit of work to improve the appeal of your product.

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Expensive Household? Time to Slash The Bills

There is a downside to the staggering standard of life we have in the 21st century, and that is: things are expensive and we need to work harder than ever before just to maintain the high quality lives we lead. It’s just a fact of life, one that nobody enjoys but everybody has to live by. That being said, things don’t have to be quite as expensive as we think they do. In fact, it’s more than possible to save big money with just a little bit of effort, effort that most people don’t think to put in. In no time at all, you could have grown your holiday saving pot or just have more disposable income on a day to day basis. Here’s a how to guide.



Play the Field

Brand loyalty might sound like a nice idea, and there are sometimes perks to staying with one company for a long time. However, these perks very rarely add up to the value you could save if you look at switching to other companies. Even if you don’t end up moving utility providers and the like, even thinking about it can be enough to get your current supplier to lower your rate. Remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. There probably a host of alternative companies you could take your business to, especially if you live in a busy urban area, so shop around – it might just be the most profitable hour you’ve spent in a while.

Cut the Non-Essentials

Take a walk around your home, do you really use all the things you pay for? For example, everyone knows that cable is expensive, but they still buy it and then never have time to actually watch it. While it might be nice to have the option to watch the latest shows and sports events, you could save big money just by cutting the cable and moving to an alternative entertainment source, such as those available online. If you don’t transfer, you’ll have some extra spending money for going out to be entertained, such as the cinema, or you can put it in the bank.

Lower Your Insurance

No one should advise you to cut your insurance; it’s not one of those things you want to save money on, as having the wrong or insufficient type of insurance can lead to much more expensive problems down the line. However, there are ways to lower your insurance costs without even changing company – you just have to show that your stuff is more secure than it once was. For example, keeping a car overnight in a garage is better than keeping it on the road in an urban area, and this will lower your car insurance money. Similarly, having a solid home security system will show insurers that you’re less likely to have problems with break ins – or if you do, you’ll be more likely to get your stuff back. A Night Owl security system review says you can watch your home while on the move, so if you see any problems you can call the police. This type of advanced security is way beyond what most homes have: implement them and you’ll save money (and gain peace of mind).

Use Less Energy

One of the most simple ways to spend less money on running your home is to…use less energy running your home. Not every aspect of modern life must be the most convenient it’s ever been. For example, instead of running the dishwasher when it’s not full, wait until it is and then put it through a cycle. Or, better yet, hand wash – it takes no time at all and is more cost effective. The same can be applied, especially driers. On a sunny day, why wouldn’t you hang them outside to dry? It’ll save you money and they’ll even smell and feel fresher! There are a number of devices available that can reduce your energy usage too, including water meters so you can see how much you’re actually using.

Change Your Energy Supply

Rather than just limiting your energy use, why not go one step further and actually change your energy supplier? You could be saving hundreds each year by switching to something more sustainable like solar power. When you install solar panels on your roof, you’ll be generating your own energy (for free, or very little) using the power of sunshine. The energy you don’t use will get stored on a battery to be used later, and any excess can in fact be sold back to the grid. This means you could make money from your solar panels! It’s important to find a reputable installer that won’t charge you above and beyond for your solar panels, as the initial cost can be pretty high. The USACEA scam experts know all too well how many homeowners are missing out on great deals for installation and maintenance, so make sure you shop around.

Shop in a Smart Way

In some ways, food and household supplies have never been cheaper, but they’re still pretty expensive. Fortunately, there are more ways than one to shop for your household items. You don’t just have to go the supermarket and fill your trolley with what you need. You can “shop smart”. This means taking advantage of any coupons that may be on offer in stores, not being loyal to one product (go for whatever is on offer/cheapest), and possibly even visiting a number of stores during one shopping trip. Also, remember that small farmer’s markets will be cheaper as there are little overheads – and they’ll also be fresher and better for the environment! It’s possible to eat healthy and well on next to no money at all, you just might need to think about it a bit more.

What are You Spending?

People spend more money than they think spend. During the next month, keep tabs of all your outgoings and you might be surprised just where your money is going. If you buy a coffee or your lunch each day then that’ll amount to a sizeable chunk of your wages each month. It’s fine if you think it’s a must have daily expense, but if it’s not – buy a flask and make your coffee and lunch at home. Keeping track might also show how much is spent on alcohol or cigarettes, or splurge spending. At the end of the month you can’t be surprised if you don’t know where your money is – you’ll have it all written down!

Letting the Joneses Get Ahead

There is one simple way to slash the cost of your spending: don’t be competitive. While it’s tempting to buy things we don’t really need, we sometimes do this just to keep up with the people around us. If we sacrifice a little bit of our ego, we could end saving big money and getting the benefit of being out of the never ending struggle to keep up.

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Say Goodbye To Your Kitsch Kitchen

Is your kitchen outdated and, well, a little ugly? Sometimes, kitsch can be colorful and a little quirky. However, sometimes it can mean just plain old fashioned and weird. Don’t fret. This guide will give you some tips so you can say goodbye to your kitsch kitchen for good!


Pay Attention To The Smaller Features

The smaller features of your kitchen are going to make a big difference to the way it turns out. This means paying attention to your accessories, the colors you use, and even how tidy your kitchen is. All of these things make a huge difference. Don’t clutter your kitchen up with accessories, and stay on top of any mess. Make sure you’ve chosen a color scheme that will work well in your kitchen for the foreseeable future.


Know How To Add Personality The Right Way

Adding personality to your kitchen is great when you do it the right way. You don’t want it to look tacky. You can add personality by creating a cool backsplash from colored tiles for example. You could even choose a theme, e.g. country farmhouse, and try to emulate that as you go along. There’s a line though, between displaying things you like and displaying absolutely everything you like. That’s when the kitchen crosses over into kitsch territory!


Make Sure It Works For Your Family

Your kitchen not only needs to look good, it needs to function well too. What is your kitchen used for? If it’s used for both preparing food and eating, you’re going to need ample counter space. If it’s also used for entertaining friends, you’ll need comfortable seating. Make sure the lay out makes sense too.




Change The Look Entirely With New Countertops and Cabinets

You can completely change the look of your kitchen with new countertops and cabinets. You could look into kitchen remodeling if you have the cash for a renovation. If you’d rather save at the moment, using laminate and similar materials could be a cheap, temporary option. Choose something a little more modern and you can transform your kitchen.


Invest In New Appliances

New appliances will save money as they’ll use less energy than your old appliances. Not only that, they’ll look better! You don’t have to get shiny metallic appliances if that’s not your thing. There are all kinds of amazing, retro looking appliances that work just as well but add a little something quirky to your kitchen.


Change Up Your Hardware

Your hardware is one of the easiest things to change, and can lend a completely new look to your draws, cupboard doors, lighting, and more. It’s a DIY job, so you won’t need to get anybody in to do it for you. Just grab your hardware and a couple of basic tools!


There’s no need to put up with your kitsch kitchen any longer. Whatever your budget may be, whatever your dream kitchen looks like, you can create the perfect room in your home. If you have some ideas you’d like to add, leave a comment.

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Marketing That Makes A Mark On Your Customers


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We live in the modern age. An age which requires speed, speed and more speed. This era of technology and ever more rapid communication is amazing, but it’s also overwhelming for a small business just trying to make it in the world. Still, even the smallest fish in the biggest ocean can make a mark if they understand how the ocean works. It’s all about looking at your specific industry, and seeing which few marketing techniques have actually garnered results from your target audience. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the industry as a whole.


This may all be easier said than done, and I realise that, because your company has most likely already implemented some form of marketing campaign. However, the key is to stand out from the crowd, and, most likely, numerous other businesses within your trade are using similar marketing tactics to you. To be unique, then, you have to think outside the box. You have to look at what your potential customers want and offer it to them in a way which captures them entirely off-guard. Here are some ways you could do that.


Generate some hype.

Of course, there are many different ways to create a buzz around your company. You might do a little networking on the streets, and you could think of a quirky marketing gimmick related to your style of service, in order to appeal to your target audience. Of course, your target audience isn’t just out on the street. A great way to reach them is through the power of social media, and sharing some exciting content on Instagram or Twitter, perhaps with pictures of goods your company offers, could be the way to boost local hype for your business.


Do something personal.

Believe it or not, your potential range of customers don’t actually view themselves as “customers”. These are people, and when they’re purchasing a good or service from businesses within your industry, they don’t see themselves as another cog in your business design; these people see themselves as somebody who needed something, and they went to the best place which seemed to be offering it.


This is the key. You’ve got to stop thinking about your business as an end, and start seeing it through the eyes of your customers; as a means to an end. People don’t care about the company itself. They just want to buy a good or a service from a brand that they can trust, and this is the tricky part. You have to show that you’re different to the other players in the market.


In my opinion, the best way to do that is to do something real. Handwriting a letter to existing customers, for example, shows that a human being has taken time to talk to them specifically. Even sending a quirky, well-designed flyer could re-capture an old customer’s attention, and you could use a Weekend Printing service to do so in a professional, polished manner. People like the personal touch. They might even refer you to their friends if they feel you’re different, and you could offer them rewards for doing so. Think outside the box.


Ensure your team is on the same level.

The most important aspect of a successful marketing campaign is a real campaign, as I’ve said many times. If you want your business to project a driven and motivated image, everybody has to be on the same page. Your employees need to all want the same things for your business. Ensure you hire the right people for the job.

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A Stitch In Time: Home Repairs You Can’t Afford To Put Off

I completely understand the want to put off routine maintenance in your home. After pushing yourself so hard at work, it’s more than reasonable to want to use the rest of your time for some well-deserved R and R. Having said that, there are certain things which can really come back to bite you if you put them off for too long. Here are a few problems you should jump on before they become a full-blown home disaster.

Replace Washing Machine Hoses


Image: Pixabay


It’s pretty hard to believe, but every year over $170 million’s worth of damage is caused by washing machine hoses failing. If you know it’s been a while, check on your washing machine hoses. Make sure that all the connections are secure, and that there’s a minimum of four inches of clearance between the connection and the back of the washing machine. This reduces the chances of the hose getting any kinks in it. Even the hoses that are labelled as “burst proof” stand the risk of breaking, and they usually fail in a single spot – the coupling. If you notice any issues with your washer’s hose, acting now could mean avoiding a very expensive call to an emergency plumber.

Patch Up Crumbling Masonry

When the mortar in your home’s masonry begins to crumble, it can loosen the position of bricks, and even cause them to fall right out of the wall of chimney. If you’re noticing deep cracks in your home’s mortar, usually accompanied by wasps or bees making their home in the gaps, you need to act! The issue may only be isolated to a single wall, but it’s essential to fix these kinds of issues before they get any worse. Grouting is the best way to make minor repairs. Simply mix up some quality cement, along with sand and lime, and press it into the cracks you have. Just be aware that the mortar you add won’t match the colour of the existing mortar exactly. However, the mixture you use will weather over time, and make for a fairly close match. Larger issues will require the services of a contractor. Whether it’s big or small, cracks in your masonry certainly aren’t something you can afford to ignore.

Secure Loose Rails


Image: Pixabay


If you’ve got a deck or balcony on your home, and there’s an area of railing that always rocks back and forth when you lean on it, this will need to be repaired as soon as possible. Sure, it may have felt stiff enough the last time you checked. However, the longer it stays in this condition, the more risk there will be of it toppling completely, and causing you or your guest to take a dangerous header off the deck! Screws and nails unfortunately aren’t enough to put this issue to bed. You’ll need to source a special connector which will fully secure the railings to the frame, within the relevant code requirements. Be sure to check and understand any railing codes before diving into a DIY fix.

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