Monthly Archives

July 2019

Lifestyle

How to give your house an eco-friendly makeover

July 31, 2019

If you’re looking to give your home or log cabin a fresh, eco-friendly new look to greet the summer this year, check out this guide for the best furnishings and tricks to kit out your greener living space. 

Picking the right sofa 

Replacing your sofa is a big task. Not only is it certainly an investment, it is also a big design choice. After all, the sofa can’t help but be a huge focus of your room! 

But be sure that your new sofa didn’t cause a price for the planet when it was manufactured! There are a number of things to look out for where picking your perfect, eco-friendly sofa: 

  • Are the materials used to make it recycled? 
    • If not, are they sourced sustainably? 
  • Can the materials of the sofa be recycled again at the end of its life? 
  • For wood materials used, are they sealed with an environmentally-friendly oil finish? 

Considering curtains

Your choice of curtains can really impact your overall eco-friendly rating. Your curtains can work hard towards reducing your heating costs, if you pick wisely. Plus, the way the curtains themselves are made can also be very eco-conscious. 

EcoFriendly Link recommends buying curtains with natural fibres, such as cotton, silk, bamboo, or wool. For a more earthy look, linen and hemp curtains definitely add to the vibe. Plus, making sure these materials haven’t been dyed (or, at least, ensuring they were dyed with low-toxicity/low-impact dyes), is a must for an environmentally friendly home. 

To improve energy-efficiency, be sure that your curtains are lined with a light-coloured material. This helps with cooling your home in the summer and closing your curtains during sunny days will keep you house cool. Conversely, closing the curtains will keep the heat in the room during the winter months, meaning your radiators don’t have to work as hard. 

Flooring

For greener flooring, your mind might jump to reclaimed wood as the only option, but that isn’t the case! There are a number of different materials to consider when picking out the best flooring option for you, including: 

  • Cork
  • Bamboo
  • Glass tiles
  • Wool carpet 

Again, as with the curtains, be sure to research the dyes used to colour these materials before purchasing. Some dyes are highly toxic, so even if the material is sustainable, the process of making the flooring becomes decidedly not-eco-sound! 

Need a nice rug for your floor? Consider a sisal and sweet-grass woven rug. This plant-based rug is made from plants similar to bamboo, and they grow plentifully, meaning it doesn’t harm the environment to make them. 

Shelves

Shelves are an easy way to bring a greener vibe to your home, as you can embrace either the rustic, rugged look or the sleeker modern feel of wooden shelves: so long as it’s upcycled and reclaimed, you’re good to try any style! 

If you’re feeling particularly thrifty, you can put together a number of different shelving types with objects left around the home. One on-trend and simple-to-make shelving idea is hanging shelves: a little rope, leather cord, or chain coupled with reclaimed wood, be it an old wooden pallet or an unused skateboard makes for a minimalistic boho look

Air fresheners

Get rid of synthetic air fresheners that can be toxic to the environment and couple all your eco-friendly air freshener needs with another element of environmentally-sound interior design: houseplants. 

There are so many plants that can brighten up your home’s style, while keeping it smelling fresh

  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Peace lily 
  • Spider plant
  • Aloe vera 

No matter what style you’re aiming for within your home or log cabin’s interior, making it eco-friendly is beneficial to both you and the world around you. Be sure to take an extra moment to consider the materials and their process in becoming furnishings before you commit to buying. 

Sources: 

https://www.upcyclist.co.uk/2017/12/eco-friendly-furniture/

http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/eco-friendly-curtains-save-money/

https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/ikea/ikea-live-lagom/#1364685879425

https://freshome.com/2012/10/15/10-most-popular-eco-friendly-floor-solutions/ https://ritely.com/diy-hanging-shelves/
Lifestyle

Dressing against the norm — what does it say about you?

July 30, 2019

From eccentric socks to dressing against our gendered expectations, many people push the limits of social norms when it comes to fashion. Research has shown that non-conformists can be viewed as being of a higher status and more competent than those who follow the rules of fashion. We take a look at what different clothing says about the wearer… 

Against gendered expectations

The line is becoming increasingly blurred between male and female clothing. Many people are speaking up, opposing the ideas that men and women should be dressed according to their sex. But, are you presenting yourself in a different way when you dress against the gendered expectations? 

Although fashionistas are saying that they don’t agree with gender rules, some research suggests that we’re still stuck in our old ways. Psychologists in New Jersey found that attitudes towards gender stereotypes hadn’t changed much between 1983 and 2014. 

There is an argument that shows that it’s favourable for women to cross the gender barrier but perhaps not men. Back in 1990, it was found that — despite the sex of the applicant – if the clothing that they wore was more masculine, they were more likely to be hired. When men dressed in pink however (a colour commonly associated with females), they were seen as less intelligent than women who were wearing the same colour. 

Eccentric wear 

Another way of going against the grain when it comes to style is through eccentric clothing. When we think of outrageous outfits we may think of people with brightly coloured hair, patterned clothing and over the top jewellery. But, there are other ways to express freedom through dress.

For example, people who wear unconventional socks are viewed as being rebellious and expressive. One of these people is Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada, who shows off his fun side by wearing funky socks with a traditional suit. You can make your own subtle ‘eccentric’ changes through patterned socks by CT shirts, online retailers of men’s shirts and accessories. Or make yourself stand out from the crowd through bright scarves and other extras. 

By dressing against the norms, studies have shown that you build a brand of being ‘gutsy’. And in fact, people have the potential to see you as more brilliant, creative and successful. One study, published in 2014, found that those who go against conformity can be viewed as of a higher status than those who don’t. They were also considered to be more competent — potentially influencing the impression that they give off in the workplace. 

Not only does it affect people’s perceptions of you but it can also affect the way you think, feel and act — this is through ‘embodied cognition’. Since eccentric dress gives you greater potential to express your individuality, it’s possible that it can make you feel more confident and comfortable in different situations. This could then go on to improve your performance at work or in challenges where you want to push yourself. 

Against the dress code 

In some situations, for a job interview perhaps, it can be argued that dressing in accordance with expectations is the best thing to do. 

Under some circumstances, we think that people with extraordinary appearances are more successful. 

Men who wear smart, fitted suits as they are often expected to wear in a formal situation, were perceived as being more confident, successful and thought to be earning a higher wage. This was compared to men who weren’t dressed as smartly — in a loosely fitted suit. 

In one study that looked at the effects of clothing, it was found that senior managers were rated less favourably if they were dressed more ‘provocative’. This was a skirt slightly above the knee and one button on the blouse undone. It’s clear to see that it is important to consider our dress style carefully as people can make many assumptions without any evidence. 

In some environments, wearing your set uniform can improve your productivity. Research found that in a lab, those who were wearing lab coats felt smarter and went on to perform better! 

As we can see, dressing against societies expectations can have many effects on the opinion of others and your own performance. Although it’s important to express yourself through dress, you don’t want to hinder your work or your impression on others in formal situations. Wear a pair of crazy socks underneath your day-to-day outfit instead…  

http://www.lifehack.org/531957/people-who-wear-crazy-socks-are-more-brilliant-creative-and-successful

https://www.rd.com/culture/crazy-socks-for-success/

http://uk.businessinsider.com/women-and-clothing-at-work-2015-2?r=US&IR=T

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3482589/Gender-stereotypes-holding-strong-Beliefs-roles-men-women-firmly-held-1980.html

https://www.elitedaily.com/money/people-who-wear-crazy-socks/1055248

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/do-something-different/201304/what-your-clothes-might-be-saying-about-you

Business

What is a property survey and why do I need one?

July 23, 2019

What is a property survey and why do I need one?

When purchasing a property it is always advisable to have to have a survey carried out so you are aware of any areas of concern such as damp, electrical problems or structural issues.   Many home buyers, however, choose not to go ahead with a property survey as they do not wish to pay the extra cost and believe instructing a surveyor will delay the home buying process. Neither is a reason to decide against having a survey carried out.  The survey report will highlight any major faults with the property and may recommend additional investigations this making you aware of potentially costly repairs and allowing you the opportunity before exchange to renegotiate the purchase price.   

TRUE Solicitors outlines the different types of property surveys available and which is most appropriate to your needs. 

What is a property survey? 

A property survey is conducted by a professional chartered surveyor to examine the condition of the property that you are buying. The surveyor will complete an inspection of the property, reporting back on any issues, such as structural problems or any major repairs.   They may, for example highlight the need for an electrical re-wire or need to fix a leaking roof. The report will also state things such as the type of glazing and type of brickwork included in the property. 

Why do I need to get a property survey? 

Although it isn’t mandatory to get a property survey, it is a wise investment to avoid unwanted issues which could end up costing you thousands in the future. 

If issues are highlighted in the survey, you will be recommended to obtain specialist quotations so you are aware of the likely repair costs.  This will afford you the opportunity to renegotiate with the seller on the price you have agreed to pay. For example if the property needs an electrical re-wire that will cost £5,000 and the property has been down valued accordingly, it is common practice  to ask the seller to reduce the price accordingly, or ask them to complete the work before exchange.. 

Whilst a survey is recommended for every homebuyer, it should be viewed as a necessary expense for those buying a property that: 

  • is a listed building
  • has a thatched roof or timber frame 
  • is an old or unusual build 
  • is in poor condition 

Which type of survey should I get? 

There are different types of property survey available. They differ according to the level of detail that they go into. You can choose from the following survey types: 

  1. Mortgage Valuation 

A mortgage valuation is technically not a survey and is required by all mortgage providers, in order for them to assess how much the property is worth. It allows the lender to ensure that the value of the property provides an adequate level of security against the loan. A mortgage valuation will only report back on obvious major issues with the property, and will not provide any further detail on how much it will likely cost to remedy such problems. The cost of a mortgage valuation typically starts at around £350 and will increase in accordance with the size and value of the property. 

  1. HomeBuyers Report

A HomeBuyers report is a more detailed report and will highlight any structural issues such as damp or subsidence, as well as any other issues to the interior and exterior which may not have been obvious to the naked eye. The report doesn’t however go as far as to look under the floorboards or behind walls. 

A HomeBuyers report uses a traffic light system to highlight the condition of the different parts of the property — green indicating that everything is in good condition, orange showing some cause for concern, and red indicating that there is a need for serious repairs. 

There are two different types of Homebuyers Report: 

HomeBuyers Report (Survey Only): This option costs around £350 and will check for major issues, but will not offer a valuation of the property.   

HomeBuyers Report (Survey and Valuation): This option costs around £450, but along with a full inspection of the property it also includes a valuation and an insurance reinstatement value. 

  1. RICS Building Survey 

A RICS Building Survey is a good option if you are buying a property that is particularly old, large or you are planning major renovations.  

The Building Survey has the same traffic light rating system as a HomeBuyers Report, highlighting any major issues. The survey does however go into further detail by checking behind walls, inspecting between floors and above ceilings, as well as checking over the attic. The report will also provide advice on the repairs needed, including estimated costs and timings, along with what further damage is likely to result if you fail to carry out the repairs. The report varies in cost depending on the size of the home, it typically costs between £500 and £2000. 

Do I need a survey if I am purchasing a new build property? 

New build properties are not without fault, a ‘snagging’ survey should be carried out to identify any minor or major defects prior to you moving in. The cost for a snagging survey is usually around £300 to £600. 

It is best to complete a snagging survey before exchanging contracts, if the property developer allows you access to the site. This way you can arrange to have any problems fixed prior to you moving in. If the developer won’t give you access then you should arrange for the snagging list to be completed as early as possible after moving in. 

Where do I find a good surveyor? 

When looking to instruct someone to complete your property survey it is essential to check that the surveyor is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). You can use their websites to search for recommended surveyors in your area. Your property solicitor, mortgage lender or estate agent will be able to recommend a good surveyor to you. 

If you’re looking for a residential conveyancing solicitor, get in touch with our friendly team today. We offer you fixed fee, stress free conveyancing, whether you’re buying or selling, remortgaging or transferring equity. 

Sources: 

https://www.comparemymove.com/chartered-surveyors/what-is-property-survey

https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-buying/what-sort-of-survey-should-i-have/

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/a-guide-to-homebuyer-surveys-and-costs

https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/sector-standards/building-surveying/home-surveys/

Business

Relationship Retention – Tips To Maintain Professional Coworking Connections

July 20, 2019

The increasing popularity of coworking spaces in Australia and around the world speaks to the changing patterns of work in the digital age. Growing numbers of flexible and freelance workers, as well as entrepreneurs and startups, is a sign of an increasingly dynamic and shifting segment of the workforce. This situation, while a natural outgrowth of advances in communication technologies, offers both opportunities and difficulties for maintaining professional connections.

Whether you are coworking in Melbourne or elsewhere, using coworking spaces as a networking tool is a great way to maximise the time you spend in a work environment. You may be looking for some advice on how to forge and maintain connections when you are working among colleagues and acquaintances in coworking spaces. 

Let’s look a closer look at some essential tips to help you to establish yourself in your industry and propel your business to further growth.

Consistent Connection

Working in a coworking space is a natural and organic way to get to know other professionals, whether they are working in your industry or not. The dynamic group of flexible workers who populates each coworking space will usually be composed of similarly minded and motivated entrepreneurs who are just as interested in succeeding as you are.

Connecting with your coworking colleagues during lunch breaks or downtime is a great way to forge connections that could potentially provide new opportunities for your business. While it can be useful to simply work alongside other people to break the isolation of freelance work, it is worthwhile to leverage some of these connections to get insight into how you can improve or where you might look for new clients.

Bring Something To The Shared Table

To establish and maintain the connections you forge in coworking space, you need to have something to offer. Be open to collaborating with others on their projects and be ready to provide insights and advice into your colleagues’ work-related problems. Being a person who has solutions or good ideas is a great way to demonstrate that you are a serious and emerging player in your industry. Your colleagues will notice this and will be interested in helping you succeed, especially if they see that you are taking your work seriously. You will meet all sorts of different people in your coworking space and maintaining connections with each of them can bring unexpected benefits to your own business. Just be prepared to assist others in the same way as they help you.

Practice Good Coworking Etiquette

Part of being someone who your fellow professionals want to be involved with is practising good etiquette in the coworking space. Whether you are at home in Melbourne or abroad, be aware of the etiquette and cultural norms that are appropriate for your location. Beyond that, a healthy dose of common sense can keep you in your colleagues’ good graces. Try to be friendly and polite with your colleagues and make sure to keep your phone calls in quiet areas to a minimum, the same as you would expect in any office environment. Treating your colleagues with the same respect that you expect to receive from them is sure to assist you in maintaining professional connections.

Keep In Touch

Coworking spaces are ultimately what you make of them. If you go into work in a communal space every day with a positive and motivated attitude, you are sure to attract like-minded professionals into your network. Make the effort to socialise with your colleagues in a formal but also in an informal way. Keep in touch with people outside of the office but be courteous and respectful. By following these tips, you are sure to stay connected with a vibrant and insightful cohort of coworking professionals.

Lifestyle

Four Tips for Renovating your Home

July 14, 2019

If you have just moved house, or are getting fed up of your décor, you might be thinking about changing a few things. Whether it is just a lick of fresh paint to smarten the look, or you want to do more extensive work, then there is always some planning needed. If you are ready to change the look of your home, this renovation guide will give you some tips to get you started.

1. Vision

In order to renovate your home, you need to have a vision of what you want the end results to look like. To do this, you might like to get ideas from magazines or online. Visiting showrooms will also give you inspiration. Searching for showrooms in your area, like bathroom showrooms Hertfordshire, gives you many different styles of bathrooms and fixtures that you could apply to your new bathroom.

Another way to get ideas on what you could do with your property is to look at similar houses in the area and see what changes the owners have made. An easy way to do this is to look online at property sale websites, which often have interior photos of houses that are for sale.

2. Budget

Having a budget for a home renovation project is essential, as without setting limits or knowing what you are going to be spending can lead to debt. Have a fixed amount that you want to spend and give yourself a cushion to cover any unexpected costs. How to determine your budget will depend, as it can be considerably lower if you intend to do much of the work yourself, However, if you don’t have the expertise, then you are better off hiring a professional who will get the job done well and quickly.

3. Professional Advice

If you intend to carry out structural changes to a property, such as removing walls or adding a loft conversion, then it is important to get the advice of a professional builder or architect. Removing load-bearing walls without replacing the support can be dangerous, as well as costly to put right if done incorrectly. Other works that will need professional expertise are drain removal and rerouting. You might also need planning permissions or have to comply with rules and building regulations.

4. Keep Mess Low

Renovation can be messy, especially if you are altering the layout by knocking down walls. Mess from home renovation can quickly build up, it is a good idea to hire a skip where you can put all the waste immediately. If you are only renovating one or two rooms, then frequent trips to your local tip should be enough. 

It can be difficult living in a home that is being renovated, but sometimes there is no choice. If you are staying in the home, it can become stressful. Try to have one room that you can keep clean and dust free. This will help you shut off from the project when you need to.

Renovating a home can be both exciting and stressful, but while it might feel difficult at times, keep the finished look in mind. After your home renovation, not only will you have a beautiful place to live, but you will have added value to your property too. 

Uncategorized

Ways to Save Money on Home Renovation Projects

July 4, 2019

Most people here the word renovation and gasp knowing that the cost will consume not only their entire savings but more than likely a lot more money that they don’t have. While many renovations can run well into the tens of thousands, especially if it’s a kitchen remodel, DIY projects don’t have to cost even half of the estimate you may receive from a contractor. 

Do Some of the Work Yourself 

If you are willing to do some of the work on your own you can cut the cost of a remodel by better than half. However, when it comes to updating the actual plumbing or electricity, for a bathroom or a kitchen, unless you know someone who is a plumber or an electrician, you’re better off hiring a professional. 

A Fresh Coat of Paint 

In any room, a fresh coat of paint can change the appearance completely and give it a new look. And, if you want, you can create a border, or a two-tone wall to add contrast. All you need is the paint, rollers, brushes, tray and painters tape. 

Hardwood Floors 

Nothing beats the look and feel of a home with hardwood floors. They add beauty and character and are surprisingly easy to maintain versus carpeting. If your floors are less than desirable, you can use a buffer and then a couple of coats of finish to restore your floors to like-new condition. This is a project that you can do in a single weekend, and acquire long-lasting results for a nominal fee. 

Kitchen Upgrade 

If your kitchen is outdated and you want to bring it to the 21st century, you can do so by adding new appliances and countertops. If you don’t have the cash or you don’t want to part with your savings, you can opt to rent and then own appliances for a lender. This way the payback amount is small monthly and you get brand new appliances. If your existing cabinets are in good condition, as in most cases, you can simply apply your desired color of paint and then change out the hardware. Add a new hand-applied tile backslash and your kitchen is complete for just a few thousand dollars. 

Don’t Discount Second-Hand Offerings 

Many people want a new piece of furniture or accessories for their home. And, while somethings certainly should be new-to-you like a mattress, furniture is one of those things you can buy used. Visit the local thrift shop or google online second-hand stores that sell used pieces in good condition. Even if you need to change the color and replace the hardware to coordinate with your existing decor, it will save you money. You can also check the local paper to see if anyone is having a garage or an estate sale. 

Creating Additional Storage 

Lack of storage is a problem for many homeowners. If you have a basement,  you can build storage shelving units instead of paying for prefabricated kits that can cost upwards of five hundred dollars each. The nice thing about this DIY project is that you create a customized storage space, designed specifically for your home. You can do the same thing with any existing closet. By simply measuring the space and then acquiring the supplies, you can design storage that suits your needs. 

You work hard for your money, and spending it wisely should be a goal you look to achieve. The good news is that even when you need to overhaul a room in your home or create added storage space if you are willing to do the work on your own, you can do it for just the cost of the supplies.