How to Balance Radiators

How to Balance Radiators

Having spent more time at home lately, you may have noticed that some of your radiators are hot and others are cold, which has lead to some of your rooms being warmer than others, creating warm and cold spots throughout your home.

Well, it might be that your radiators need balancing. Simply put, this means that you need to adjust the radiator valves to make sure there’s an even distribution of heated water making its way to each of the radiators in your house.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to balance radiators.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

How to Balance Radiators — Step by Step Guide

Step 1

Bleed all radiators. Turn off the central heating (1) and allow the radiators to cool.

Step 2

Remove the lockshield (2). It will usually have a push-on cap or one that is secured with a screw through the top.

Older models will have a wheelhead valve (3) on the other side — used to turn the radiator on/off. Newer radiators will have a thermostatic valve (4) instead of a wheelhead valve.

Step 3

Open up the valves on all the radiators in the house by turning them anti-clockwise (5). Wheelhead and thermostatic valves can be turned easily by hand, but the lockshield will need a plastic adjuster to open it up (these tend to come with new lockshield valves). You can also use an adjustable spanner.

Step 4

Turn the central heating back on and note down the order the radiators heat up (6). Those nearest the boiler normally get hot first. If you’ve got a lot of radiators, get an assistant to help. Turn the heating off and wait while the radiators cool down.

Step 5

When the radiators are cool, switch the heating back on and go to the first radiator on your list. Turn the lockshield valve clockwise until it is closed and then open it by a quarter of a turn. Once the radiator has warmed up, take a temperature reading at the pipework leading to one of the valves (7).

Step 6

Now take a temperature reading at the pipework leading to the valve on the other end of the radiator and open the lockshield valve gradually until there’s a 12°C difference between now and the reading you took in step 5 (allow a couple of minutes after each adjustment for the temperature to change).

The temperature figures indicated in step 5 and step 6 are relevant to the radiator shown – don’t take them as any kind of optimum figure – it’s the 12°C difference in temperature at the valves that counts.

Step 7

Check the rest of the radiators in the system following the order in the list. The further you move away from the boiler, you’ll find the lockshield valve will have to be opened more. The last radiator may need to have the lockshield valve fully open to work at full efficiency.

Your radiators are now balanced and should work perfectly.

Main image credit: Getty Images

This year marks the very special 30th anniversary of Homebuilding & Renovating. Over the next 12 months, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite memories and bringing you special content to mark the occasion. Thank you for celebrating with us.

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How much does it cost to paint the exterior of a house?

Painting the exterior of your home will boost curb appeal, home value, and give you pride of ownership too. Painting your home’s exterior can completely change and modernize the look of your home too. Plus, it costs less than a full siding replacement, is better for the environment, and can be completed in just a few days compared to a full-scale exterior renovation.

A professional paint job on your home’s exterior will protect your home from bad weather, insect damage, corrosion, mildew, and mould. Your home will look better and you can expect your paint job to last 10 to 15 years.

How to tell if your home’s exterior needs a paint job?

You might not know exactly when your home was painted last, but there are some tell-tale signs that it might be time for this exterior upgrade.

If your paint is peeling, bubbling or cracked.

Look for sections of your home’s exterior walls that have bubbling or peeling paint. If that is what you find, you need to act quickly. When the paint has peeled away, it means your siding is vulnerable to the elements and can start letting moisture in. If you develop a moisture problem, the damage can be extensive. It can lead to rot, mildew and even dangerous mould which will have to be remediated by a professional mould removal company. So, in short, if the paint is peeling, bubbling or cracked, it’s time to call in a professional painting company for an exterior paint job.

The colour is fading.

Your home’s exterior takes a lot of abuse! It gets hit with snow, rain, and damaging UV rays. Over time, it will start to fade. Keep your home looking vibrant and well-cared for with a new exterior paint job. Not only will it improve aesthetics, but fading can also be the first sign that the paint is wearing out and will not do its job of protecting your home properly.

You can see that your wood or stucco cladding is damaged.

That coat of paint is your home’s first defense against the weather. Unfortunately, it won’t last forever. If you see that areas of your wood siding look rotten, or that your stucco is cracking, it could mean the paint is failing. It also means you need to get that siding repaired before you paint over it. Once it’s all repaired, a fresh coat of paint will act as that extra barrier against the elements.

You can see what looks like stains on the siding.

Anything that looks like it’s wet or stained from being wet previously, is not a good sign. Where there is moisture, mildew and mould are sure to follow. You can clean off any stains with a mild detergent and some scrubbing. If the stain won’t go away, you should call in a professional contractor to inspect it for you. Sometimes you can just paint over a stain, but often it means the material beneath the paint needs replacing for it to be fixed properly.

Breaking down the cost to paint exterior of a house

According to HomeGuide, it will cost between $1,811 and $3,201 to paint a home’s exterior. That makes the average cost to paint a house exterior about $2,500 for a 2,400 square foot, two-story house. You can work that out to about $0.60 to $1.60 per square foot.

What factors determine the cost of painting a house exterior?

The main factor that will determine the cost of painting your home’s exterior is the size of the house. This determines both labour and the amount of paint and supplies needed to do the job. Just like any interior painting estimate, the painting contractor will determine the total square footage of the surfaces you need painting and start their quote from there. Things like the complexity of the paint job, how many crew members it will take, and the cladding they are painting over can all play a part in determining cost.

Here are other factors that will impact the cost of painting the exterior of a house:


The prep work for any paint job, exterior or interior, is vital to the final result. If the surface is not properly prepared, the paint job will not last. It needs to adhere correctly to the surface, and that means the surface gets a major clean. For an exterior, that could include power washing, scraping old paint, sanding, repairing cracks, holes and priming the walls.

Extra equipment

A painting contractor will need to use specialized equipment if your home is larger than average. This could include a boom lift or extra scaffolding. This will be worked into your total cost.

Total labour

According to HomeGuide, expect to pay between $30 to $40 per hour per painter working on your home. If you have two painters working on your 1,800 square foot home, it will take them about 36 hours to prep and paint the exterior. That brings your labour cost to $1,8080 to $1,260.

Paint and supplies

It is estimated that one gallon of paint will be used for every 100 square feet of surface area. Low-quality paint is priced at about $21/gallon, with high-quality painting averaging $70/gallon. So if you have a 1,800 square foot house, you’ll need 18 gallons of paint. That brings your paint cost to $380 to $1,260.

Trim and doors

The cost of painting trim is about $1 per linear foot. The cost of painting an exterior door is between $90 and $200 per door, depending on the cost of materials and supplies, and if the door requires any special prepping or repairs first. Add these costs to your estimate.

Try not to cheap out too much on paint. If you use low-quality paint, it will not last as long, maybe five years tops. High-quality paint can last 10 to 15 years, especially with thorough prep work.

Painting different surfaces will determine a different cost.

Most types of siding can be painted over, with varying results and costs. Different types of siding will require more or less prep work and priming, bringing the total estimate up or down. Here is a breakdown of different types of siding and what is required to paint them:

Painting vinyl siding

Your vinyl siding was manufactured in a certain colour, but it can start to fade over time. Painting vinyl is not ideal, but it’s not impossible either. As a general rule of thumb, you can paint your siding as long as you paint it a lighter colour than its original colour. This is because vinyl can only absorb so much heat, and darker colours can cause it to warp. Special vinyl paint will need to be used. Special care will also have to be taken when painting it because if your siding shifts, it could expose the old colour at the seams if it’s not painted properly. Expect to pay $43 per 100 square foot for brush and roller painting, or $34 per 100 square feet for spray painting.

Painting metal siding

The most common type of metal siding is aluminum. If you want to paint metal siding, it will have to be cleaned with a TSP/water solution. Then rinsed, dried, sanded and primed with an oil-based primer. Once the primer is dried, it can be painted. Spray painting will not adhere to the surface, so brush and roller methods are used. Expect to pay $29 per 100 square feet for brush and roller painting.

Painting stucco siding

New stucco must cure for a month or two before it can be painted. Otherwise, the paint won’t adhere to the surface. If you’re not sure if it is cured, a painting contractor can use a moisture meter to determine if it’s dry enough to paint. Then it will have to be sanded, holes and cracks fixed, and it will have to be painted on a dry day. Painting stucco usually takes more paint as the material is absorbent. Expect to pay $112 per square feet for brush painting, $55 per 100 square feet for roller painting and $25 per square feet for spray painting.

Painting wood siding

Preparing wood siding can be very time-consuming. It must be pressure washed, scraped and sanded so there are no loose paint chips remaining. If any siding is rotten or damaged, it needs to be replaced first. Small cracks and holes can be filled with a wood filler. Expect to pay $43 per 100 square feet with brush and roller painting and $34 per 100 square feet for spray painting.

Painting brick

Painting brick and masonry will first require the surface to be scrubbed with a dry brush, then cleaned with a TSP/water solution. Once dry, the painting can begin. Expect to pay $30 per 100 square feet for brush painting, $52 per 100 square feet for roller painting and $18 per 100 square feet for spray painting.

Higher painting surfaces can bring the cost up above average

We mentioned briefly above the complexity of the paint job above. The biggest concern for painting contractors is painting homes that are higher than average, which increases the risk to the contractor and makes the job more challenging.

Heights that are above 8 feet usually take longer in both prep and painting. This is because the contractor must use a roller pole, or a wand on a spray gun, and do it from a ladder or scaffolding. Because of the height risk, the painters will take extra time to be cautious and prevent injury. If you have some higher than average areas of your home, you need to add to your cost estimates. Your painting contractor will determine the extra cost if this is your situation.

Choosing paint for your home’s exterior

Choose the right type of paint

There are two things you must decide when picking out paint for your home: the type of paint and the paint colours. The type of paint you use must be durable to protect your home from the elements. It’s important to invest in high-quality paint, so you don’t have to spend money on another paint job prematurely. Make sure it is stain resistant, has good coverage, and offers outstanding exterior protection. You’ll also have to pick a paint that is suited best for the siding you have on your house. An experienced painting contractor can help you with this.

Choosing paint colours

Choosing paint colours for your home’s exterior can feel a bit stressful. After all, you’ll have to look at the colour you’ve chosen for the next decade or more, so let’s make sure you love it!

If you don’t even know where to start, do a little online research for exterior paint colours. After browsing through a few home improvement sites, you might find a colour profile you prefer. There are also some online tools that will allow you to upload a photo of your house, and try different colours on it, so you can see how it might look.

A paint store or specific paint brand might offer online colour matching tools. You can choose an initial colour, and the program will help you find colours that will match. This way, you can try out different colours for the main walls, trim and other exterior features of your home.

You can also pick up a few paint samples and paint some small areas of your home’s exterior to see how the colour will look. Paint a small area on both the south and north-facing walls of the house, as the lighting will make a difference in how the paint looks. You should also go out and look at the paint samples during different points of the day, and make sure you’re happy with how it looks as the natural light changes.

What paint colours are in style?

Neutrals and naturals remain the trend for home exteriors. For some neighbourhoods, you might have to stick to your neighbourhood guidelines regarding the colours you can paint your home’s exterior. To be sure, check with your neighbourhood association.

Popular colours are neutral beiges, greys, natural blues, and greens. For trim, the trend is to keep it light and bright to provide good contrast with the main colour. Whites and creams work best for this, but some homeowners are going bold with black trim. For the front door, it seems you can get a little more creative. Red, teal, yellow and black doors are popular choices.

Choosing a painting contractor

Painting your home’s exterior is a time-consuming job. It will also require specialized equipment like scaffolding, boom lifts, and ladders. Prepping and painting at high heights can be hazardous, so is best left to the experienced and knowledgeable professionals. Not only do they have the experience to do it safely, but they can also do it more efficiently and you’ll have professional, seamless results.

Like choosing any contractor to work on your home, it’s essential that you do your research before hiring a painting contractor. You want to check for things like a business license, proper insurance, WCB coverage and check the Better Business Bureau for any outstanding issues. You can also ask the contractor to provide references for their last three jobs. Then you can look at photos, do a drive-by and even call the previous customers to learn about their experience. is a free online directory of certified contractors. We vet our contractors based on several important criteria including licensing, insurance, WCB coverage, financial and legal checks, and we monitor customer complaints.

Find a RenovationFind Certified painting contractor in your city!

RenovationFind Certified is a symbol of integrity held by only the most trustworthy companies in home improvement, service, maintenance. 

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5 Advantages to an Interior Paint Job

Color painters

Painting your home’s interior is one of the most affordable and easiest things you can do to upgrade your home. Below we share 5 advantages to painting your home’s interior.

1. You can completely change the way your home looks.

Painting is the easiest way to completely transform your home’s interior look and feel.  Choosing light colours will help make smaller spaces seem bigger. Bright colours can make a family room more welcoming and vibrant while pastels can make your bedroom cozier and calming. You can bring a new positive energy into your home and change your outlook on your families living environment at the fraction of the cost compared to a major home remodel.

2. Your home’s interior will look brand new.

Even a very old home can look like new with a good paint job!  If done properly, a new paint job will cover stains, dings, dents and marks on the walls. This is especially good for busy families that put a lot of wear and tear on walls!  New paint can give any space a fresh and welcoming look.

3. An interior paint job will attract potential buyers.

Are you planning on putting your house on the market? Freshen it up and increase buyer interest by investing in a cost-effective paint job. Not only will an interior paint job make your home more attractive to buyers, painting your exterior walls, trim or outdoor buildings like sheds or garages will increase the overall resale value of your home too. In fact, a simple coat of paint can help it move more quickly on the market and sell closer to your asking price. Learn how to stage your house for sale.

4. Low or zero VOC paints can improve the air quality of your home.

Paint has changed a lot over the years. Low or zero VOC paints release far less toxins and are healthier for everyone, including kids and those with allergies or chemical sensitivities.  They have little to no hazardous fumes, minimal odor during the paint job and no odor once the paint has cured. New paint will also keep dirt and dust build up to a minimum, furthering the advantages for those who suffer from allergies or respiratory issues.

5. Paint can help protect your home.

A fresh coat of paint can help protect your walls from wear and tear. A quality paint job will also keep your walls protected from moisture, preventing the growth of mould and mildew.

Hire a Professional Painting Company 

You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a painter for your home, rental property or business. Whether you’re looking to spruce up the exterior or interior of your house or need help with updating the look of your business, RenovationFind certified painters is the way to go.

Find a RenovationFind Certified painting contractor in your city!

RenovationFind Certified is a symbol of integrity held by only the most trustworthy companies in home improvement, service, maintenance. 

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Surviving COVID-19: For Home Service Businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world and our economy by storm. With government-mandated closures of businesses, self-isolation requirements, and mass layoffs across many industries, you’re likely wondering what you can do to weather this rapidly changing storm. We have some tips that might help your home service business survive COVID-19.

Decide now if you’re going to close

If you are planning on staying open during this crisis, you need a strategy to do so. The government mandates social distancing, and many homeowners are practicing self-isolation to protect themselves and stop the spread of COVID-19. Your business needs to have a strategy to adapt to these requirements or a plan of how you can successfully pick things up later if you decide to close your doors.

Managing cash flow needs to be a part of your strategy

Cash flow management is essential to surviving a crisis like this. That doesn’t mean cutting all your expenses entirely and hope for the phone to ring with more work. You need to find out where you can spend money strategically to help grow your business – even in challenging times like these. You might have to lay off some employees and sub-contractors, but think about how you can increase your messaging now, so your customers know where to find you when they need your home services. Read this 6-step plan for taking control of your cash flow

Take advantage of business support

The federal government, along with your provincial government, has offered a range of emergency supports to help businesses get through this. These services will help you keep staff on the payroll, even if they are underworked or don’t have any work at all, so you can bounce back more quickly when it all blows over. 

Your business may be eligible for business supports that include: 

  1. $40,000 interest-free, government‑guaranteed loan to help pay for operating costs that can’t be deferred as a result of COVID‑19.
  2. $10,000 (25%) of the $40,000 loan is eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before De‍cember 31, 20‍22.
  3. If the loan cannot be repaid by De‍cember 31, 20‍22, it can be converted into a 3‑year term loan at an interest rate of 5%.

Don’t rely on referral business

At RenovationFind, we have heard from many home services contractors that they’ve never had to advertise. Many companies in our industry have grown thanks to referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. Unfortunately, our customers are all laying low, social distancing, and many self-isolating or under quarantine. That means they are no longer gathering with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours. Word-of-mouth marketing has paused for now, so it’s time to consider other ways to grow your business during this time. 

Work ON your business, not IN your business

You’ve heard this term before, but now is the time to start putting it to practice. Let’s face it; your customers are going to wait if possible before calling a home service company to work on something in their home. You’re going to have some downtime. Use it to work on improving your business. Here are some ways you can do that: 

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): How do you manage your relationship with your customers today? Leads that come to your voicemail or social media pages area easily missed. A good CRM software can manage all conversations, leads, and essential activities, so nothing ever gets dropped. When this is over, you’ll no longer have to worry about upset customers calling saying they are still waiting for estimates. Right now, you have time to research CRMs and set one up. Some recommended CRM software includes Pipedrive and Hubspot.  
  2. Improve estimate templates: How are your customers receiving estimates? Are they receiving a rough estimate verbally or in an email, or do you have appropriately branded documents for providing quotes? Have you seen your competition’s estimates? Take the time to improve how your estimate document looks.  Recommended Quoting software includes SumoQuote
  3. Update your website: This is something you can easily do while your customers are practicing social distancing or self-isolation. Your web company will still be working! Whether your DIY your website using online templates and tools, or hire a web design firm, you should take this time to ensure your website is modern, professional, and informative. Recommended website development companies includes Funnel Edge Marketing or a DIY website builder like WordPress
  4. Consider your visual branding: Does your logo need an update? Do you need to work on your external documents, so they align with your company’s brand? Graphic designers are still working! Now is the time to update your logos and other branding documents. Recommended companies like Knorth Creative or Funnel Edge Marketing
  5. Build your online presence: Google reported that most consumers are researching over ten sources of information before making a buying decision. During this pandemic, consumers are spending more time online than ever! Try Googling your company name. Make sure every page and profile that appears in the search results looks great. You do not want potential customers to see incomplete profiles, bare pages, and no imagery. Recommended companies like Dingus & Zazzy
  6. Build trust with your customers: In a time like this, you need to make it clear to your customers that you are still operational and taking this health crisis seriously. Develop a proper written response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It needs to include specific safety and health measures you’ve made following advice from the World Health Organization, Health Canada, and other local authorities to keep your employees and customers safe. It has always been important to carry proper insurance, business license, and WCB coverage. Still, homeowners are pickier than ever when it comes to hiring companies that will be coming in or around their home. Make sure your credentials are up-to-date. 

Reassess your marketing and advertising strategy

The unprecedented cancellations of events, conferences, and trade shows combined with the increasing barriers to face-to-face business pose an enormous challenge. Now more than ever, companies across all industries must turn to digital marketing to survive COVID-19. Take advantage of this time to fine-tune and improve your online marketing. Think about it – your customers are all online right now – if you don’t reach them there, your competitors will.  

Figure out how to adapt your marketing to the current situation, and then double your efforts. You might have a list of things you’ve always wanted to do to enhance your online marketing; now you have the time to get through that list. Here are some ideas: 

  1. Improve lead generation: If requests for estimates have come to a halt, start researching online services that only offer effective lead generation. 
  2. Build branding and awareness: Most people are stuck in their houses right now. They might have a big project in mind for the future, but right now, all they can do is research. They’re on social media and surfing the web far more than ever. Now is the time to get your brand messaging online and in front of as many homeowners as possible. 
  3. Develop quality online content: Write some helpful educational articles that will genuinely help homeowners. Think about how you can educate them first, so when the time comes, they’ll approach your business, and you’ll make the sale. Right now, people don’t want to get an estimate, and they’re not even interested in a discount on your services. They just want to learn. Make sure your company is teaching them. 
  4. Strengthen SEO: If you can afford it, now is an incredibly advantageous time to improve your search engine optimization. Many companies are cutting back or eliminating their SEO spending, so if you have the reserves, now is the perfect time to invest in passing your competition in search engine rankings.

RenovationFind is an experienced and successful digital marketing company. We provide homeowners with a valuable service that directly benefits your business as a RenovationFind Certified company. We spend a lot of time on building content, brand awareness, lead generation, and search engine optimization. We are here to help you ride out this challenging time. Please connect with us.

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The True Cost of Renovating

Inevitably, there will be some unfinished projects or updates that need finished before you put your home on the market. But, be thoughtful about whether they’re truly necessary and will provide a high enough return-on-investment (ROI) of both time and money.

Before you do anything, check out the price of homes recently sold in your area and how they appear in order to avoid overdoing renovations. And never do more in renovations than your home is worth in the first place. If you own a $100,000 in a not-so-great area, there’s probably a cap on the most people will offer you for it, so it doesn’t make sense to spend $150,000 for renovations, additions, or upgrades.

Especially if you’re looking to sell your home without an agent, you’ll want to consider smart renovations to attract more buyers. The more buyers you have, the more (and better!) offers you’ll get.


Painting the walls of your home is one of the least expensive home projects you can embark on, and doing so can really increase the sale price of your home. The key is to stick to neutral colors and do it yourself if you can. By hiring a professional painter, you’ll increase your costs from an average of $380 to the $1,500 to $2,000 range, according to Clever’s recent True Cost of Homeownership study. By paying that much more, you’ll significantly reduce your ROI.

Rely on your real estate agent’s expertise in where you should paint all four walls and where you can get by with patching and touching up. They can also provide insight into the best colors for your area and market. When in doubt, neutral colors ensure your walls won’t turn off would-be buyers. Try to appeal to the masses. 

Minor kitchen remodel

Most homeowners spend a good amount of time in the kitchen area of their home. If you can avoid going overboard, this makes the kitchen a good area of focus for your home renovations. But beware, the average kitchen remodel costs homeowners more than $22,000, even though most expected to spend in the range of $5,000.

Focus on the simple things that pack a big impact or are an immediate turnoff to potential buyers. This might include swapping out old cabinet hardware for a more modern look, replacing countertops, or pulling up that ‘80s linoleum and putting in new flooring. As mentioned above, a new coat of paint (and removing any wallpaper at the same time) can also do wonders. If your faucet is particularly funky, you can replace it with new for around $100 if you’re handy.

Granite countertops can run over $5000 depending on the square footage, and the ROI is questionable. 

Brighten the bathroom

If your bathroom isn’t neutral or is a dark color, painting it a brighter shade should be top on your list. As with the kitchen, bathrooms are some of most frequently used rooms in a home so spend some time and money making it stand out. You don’t have to start ripping out cabinets or replacing tile — simple updates can pack a big punch.

Replace old cabinet hardware, consider painting or staining cabinets if they are especially worn or outdated, and add a new faucet or light fixture. Focus on brightening up the space. Since bathrooms tend to be small areas, it’s important that the lighting, paint colors, and overall color scheme stay light and bright to make the space seem larger.

With the smart, quick upgrades you can keep costs lower than $1000. 

Outside updates

While replacing the vinyl siding on the entryway with stone veneer could cost you to the tune of $8,000, it’s a huge upgrade in terms of curb appeal. Carefully choose where this cosmetic improvement will catch the eye of potential buyers the most and be conservative.

Other exterior upgrades and are sure to increase foot traffic at your open houses include simple landscaping and possibly a new exterior door. Adding bushes and flowers brings life and color to your front and backyard. 

Small upgrades like this can have a huge ROI because of their low cost and high impact! 

Author Bio: Ben Mizes is the Co-Founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, a free online service that connects home buyers and sellers with real estate agents. Ben is also an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed real estate agent in the State of Missouri.

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Aberdeenshire Couple’s Self Build Dream Becomes Reality

Content supplied by Scottish Building Society

Graeme Gammie’s dreams of building a new home for his family nearly didn’t get off the ground when his lender turned him down for the self build mortgage he needed to fund the project.

Despite having a sizeable deposit and owning the plot of land on his father’s Inverbervie farm, his application to a major lender was rejected because of his postcode.

“I was surprised to say the least, because when I first started thinking about building our own home, I thought money would be the last thing I would have to worry about. I did a bit of research for self build specialist lenders myself and came across Scottish Building Society.  It was a relief to find professionals who knew what they were talking about and understood the local market. It was still a rigorous process, with lots of questions to answer, but they all made sense and it helped dealing with people who knew what they were doing.”

After a seventh month build programme, Graeme and his partner Debbie, are now getting ready to move into their new five bedroom detached home which they have designed to accommodate their three children.

Using a Main Contractor

The couple appointed local building firm GF Bisset of Inverbervie as main contractor on the project and agreed to release funds in two tranches, the first when the building was wind and water tight, and the second on satisfactory completion.

“It was a huge benefit to have a main contractor who could directly supply the trades needed as it meant we have had a single point of contact throughout. GF Bisset gave me a fixed price for the build which included allowances for some fixtures and fittings. It meant we could have tight control of the budget so that when I upgraded the staircase increasing the cost by £3000, I could alter spend elsewhere on the project to make up for it. There is no VAT on a new build property so I made sure to use suppliers where the contractor had a trade account to simplify the accounting process. It all helps to keep stress levels down,” said Graeme.

Once fully finished the house will be worth around £450,000 and with the builders off site, Graeme and Debbie are looking forward to creating their garden and outside space to take advantage of the amazing countryside views. 

Lessons Learned 

Do … plan ahead 

“It’s the small details that catch you on the hop,” says Graeme, “like being asked what kind of outside lights we wanted on the day of installation when we hadn’t even thought about them. We also had to make a snap decision on the colour of the roof ridging when the roofers arrived on site.”

Don’t … penny pinch

“We have had great value out of our relationship with the builder by accepting their price for the job on condition that they added value by including a few extras such as installing our wood burner stoves and fitting all our flooring. It worked for them and it’s worked for us. The end result is a quality job.”

Scottish Building Society Self Build Mortgages 

Scottish Building Society offers mortgages for people looking to build their own home. The self build mortgage may also be suitable if you are renovating or extending your existing property. All mortgage applications are based on affordability and all existing financial commitments are taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis. For full details visit your local branch or call a mortgage advisor on 0345 600 4085. Find out more.


Scottish Building Society is regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 206034). Member of Building Societies Association and UK Finance. Scottish Building Society, SBS House, 193 Dalry Road, Edinburgh EH11 2EF

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Introducing Home School

If you thought Covid-19 had to put a halt to your self build, extension or renovation plans, then think again.

Today we’re launching Home School, a collection of helpful videos, trusted guides, clever ideas and online seminars designed to help you put all that extra time at home to good use planning your dream property.

If you were just about to start your self build or renovation – or have realised your current house just doesn’t suit your lifestyle anymore and are now dreaming of starting one – then Home School is here to help you start planning and detailing your project, all from the comfort of your own home.

We promise to provide the best information, ideas and advice to anyone looking to create their dream home.

(MORE: LIVE UPDATES on how the lockdown could affect you, your home and your build project)

Home School will be covering five main topics. Click on your chosen topic in the list below for more information.

Why Now?

Although you can’t get tradespeople in to start work at the moment, now is actually the perfect time to plan your project. You can research materials, decide on designs, apply for planning permission and get professional advice, all from the comfort of your own home.

Many companies in the home improvement sector have adapted quickly and are now offering online consultations and design services, and we’ll be sharing the details of those with you through Home School.

(MORE: Companies offering special services during lockdown)

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Companies Offering Special Services During Lockdown

Spending more time at home during lockdown can be the perfect opportunity to plan, detail and specify your dream home, whether that’s through a home improvement project, a renovation or building your dream home from scratch. 

As part of our new Home School initiative, we’re compiling a list of all of the companies offering special services to customers during lockdown so you can continue to plan your project from the comfort of your own home.

We’ll be updating this list regularly, so do bookmark this page in your browser.

(MORE: LIVE UPDATES on what the lockdown means for you, your home and your project)

Type of service during lockdownOnline consultations

What are we doing? Thinking of extending your home and looking for inspiration and tips on how to get started? Whatever questions you have about an extension you are looking to embark upon or are progressing with, the founders of George and James Architects will be on hand to help in one-to-one online consultations.

Type of service during lockdown: Quantity surveying and cost consultancy service for self builders

What are we doing? Jason Bailyes BSc (Hons) specialises in providing detailed costings for your self build including tendering advice and guidance when appointing contractors to undertake your build. A very affordable service by a construction professional that will protect your build budget.

Type of service during lockdownOnline consultations, answering queries, phone consultations on 01845 525664, architect CPDs via webinars

What are we doing? We’re continuing to work on existing and new client lighting designs. The design and project management team are working from home with full access to all our design tools, systems and client project information to hand. We’re running online meetings and design reviews using Microsoft Teams, Blizz and Zoom.

Type of service during lockdown: Phone consultations (0121 314 7735). Contact for advice, technical consultations and sales-related support

What are we doing? We are offering a full service to prospective homebuilders by discussing timber frame/SIPs/Passivehouse solutions, offering quotations for these options. We’re also answering technical queries for all aspects of the build. We can even put clients in touch with external architectural resources.

Type of service during lockdown: Online consultations, presentations, remote site surveys, remote “Buddy Services”

What are we doing? We are offering 1-2-1 Project Surgeries to discuss your projects, share documents and plans from the comfort and safety or your own home. There’s also our Remote “Buddy” Service to support your installation on site and we can walk through your site with you to carry out our Remote Online Site Surveys.

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Repointing Brickwork: Your How-to Guide

Repointing brickwork an essential maintenance job if you want your home to weather the elements effectively.

Whether your house is constructed from brick or stone, mortar can make up as much as 15% of its overall surface area — so it isn’t hard to see what a huge impact repointing brickwork can have not only on the stability and performance of your home, but also on its final appearance.

The wrong mortar mix, inappropriate materials, a poor colour choice, or a bad application – will spoil even the best brickwork. This is huge shame as, when done well, repointing brickwork is a job that can really enhance a home, despite its seeming insignificance.

If you are still not convinced that you need to repoint then bear in mind that mortar is a primary defence against water ingress and as such is a critical aspect of a home maintenance schedule.

Repointing brickwork should be high on the priority list when renovating a house. Missing or damaged mortar is a common source of leaks and a cause of damp in homes in need of wider renovation.

Although many renovators carry our DIY repointing, given the requirement for working at heights it can be a job that is best outsourced to a professional.

See more DIY tutorials

All About Repointing Brickwork

What is mortar?

Mortar is the substance that separates individual masonry units (such as bricks or stone blocks) from one another. It protects the building from water ingress and is also used to fill any irregularities on the bedding faces of the bricks or blocks (the bedding is the mortar used to bind the bricks to one another.)

Mortar can be made up of a variety of different materials. It is softer than bricks and stone so at some point in the life of a building, it will start to deteriorate— and this is the way things are supposed to happen.

If the mortar was harder than the bricks, the bricks themselves would take the brunt of weathering, causing them to erode and fail — and replacing brickwork is far more expensive and disruptive than repointing brickwork.

Put simply, repointing brickwork is renewing the outer portion of the mortar joint, and a good repointing job on your home should last up to 50 or 60 years.

What does repointing cost?

If you can easily see open joints around the mortar bed, then it is time to think about repointing.

Repointing is a straightforward job and the materials required are not expensive — but the cost of the labour involved in brickwork repointing can be quite high.

It can also be hard to find a builder willing to take on small repointing jobs, which is why many people choose to carry out repointing on a DIY basis. Don’t forget though that DIY repointing will usually require scaffolding hire.

According to, you should budget around £20-£30/m² for brickwork repointing, with their estimate for a three bedroom semi-detached house coming in at around £3,000 once scaffold hire, materials and labour are factored in.

Which mortar is best for repointing?

A large range of textures and colours can be achieved when mixing mortar. Most houses built up to and including the Victorian era used lime mortar and if your home falls into this category then this is most certainly the mix you should use.

The use of cement in repointing mixes does tend to be a bad thing in old houses (although it is still frequently done) causing decay to occur earlier than with lime mixes and damp more likely to raise its head. Cement mortars are harder, more brittle and less porous than lime and will weather slower than the bricks themselves.

Mortars containing cement tend to be more susceptible to salt and sulphate attack, while mortars containing only lime (putty or hydraulic) and sand are not vulnerable to this kind of damage.

Lime mortars are more expensive than cement — but in the long run they can actually save money as putting right problems caused by inappropriate cement mixes can be costly.

Repointing: Step-by-Step Guide

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Chisel
  • Cement mixer
  • Pointing trowel
  • Mortar board
  • Scaffolding
  • Soft brush
  • Wire brush
  • Lime
  • Sand
  • White cement

1. Repointing brickwork is clearly high priority on this wall. Not only is there a mixture of materials, but the profile of the pointing ranges from semi-recessed to plastered-on-top — not good. As with many renovation projects, plants have been growing up against the walls — these should be pinned back and then tethered into place before any work can start on the building. Repointing brickwork is a messy job so plastic sheets should be laid over flower beds, new paving and areas of grass.

2. The old pointing is removed with a hammer and chisel, with particular care taken near the areas shown in the following four steps. Disturbing old mortar around windows can affect the way they fit (and open). The chisel is used on its own to chip out only the loose material.

3. Take care around doorways — if mortar gets pushed into the gap between the wall and the frame it can cause the door frame to move and make the door hard to open and close. Loose mortar is raked out gently with a narrow chisel. Metal gutter brackets are prone to falling out if they are disturbed during the chopping-out phase. Power cables for external lighting is often run inside the pointing so take care. It was easy to spot on this job because the joint was a different colour in the course leading up to the lamp.

4. This is what is left after the old mortar has been removed. The edge of the stone is revealed all round and there is now a gap wide enough to take (and hold) the fresh mortar which will soon be applied to the wall.

5. Plenty of dust is left in the gaps between stones afterwards. This is brushed out before repointing begins.

6. To keep the colour of the mortar consistent for the whole job, the mix is carefully measured out. In this case, three buckets of yellow building sand, one bucket of lime and a quarter bucket of white cement. Each full bucket is levelled off at the top while the quarter-full bucket of white cement is measured off to a line drawn inside the bucket.

7. Repointing is generally done from the top of the wall downwards. However, the first half metre of a solid wall without a damp-proof course (as here) holds a lot of moisture so this section is done first — giving it more time to dry. The mortar is pushed in firmly, working from right to left.

8. Once two or three courses have been repointed, the vertical joins between are filled too. Notice that the mortar is allowed to overlap all the joints and no attempt is made at this point to neaten it up. With the bottom half metre of the wall complete, the top section is started. Within five hours, a team of two complete this stage on this 24m2 wall. The mortar is left until nearly dry. How long the drying process takes depends on the weather and the position of the house in relation to the sun. In this case, the mortar is ready in just a couple of hours.

9. A wire brush is used to take off the excess mortar and leave a face joint that is only just recessed from the face of the wall. In other areas of the country, a deeper joint or one that is flush with the wall may be more appropriate. The wire brush also cleans up the stonework as it moves over the surface.

10. A close-up of the finished job. With the face joints now clearly defining the stones, the wall not only looks great, it is ready to withstand years of weathering.

Top Tips for Repointing Brickwork:

  • Using a narrow chisel around windows and doors minimises the risk of pushing loose pieces further in around the frames
  • The use of an angle grinder should really be avoided — it is easy to slip and damage the face of the brickwork or stone and is unnecessary with most traditional lime-based mortars
  • When you have a space large enough to take the new mortar, stop raking out and brush the joints down. Then give the joints a spray with water — this helps the new mortar dry out evenly. Wait for the water to dry off before repointing
  • Aim to replicate the colour, texture and durability of the existing mortar. Carefully measure each component of your mortar and make a note of the quantities used to ensure each bucket load matches the last
  • Begin from the top down (in order to keep any dust and water spray away from freshly repointed joints)
  • A slightly open final texture tends to look more attractive than a very smooth one. An easy way to achieve this is to gently rub the filled joint with a stick or rubber, and then to softly brush it over before it dries
  • To avoid the new mortar drying out too quickly, spray the joints lightly with water from time to time

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Home Renovation in 7 Steps


You’ve been dreaming about remodeling your house. Perhaps it’s finally getting that kitchen renovation of your dreams or updating a bathroom or two. Where do you start? Whether you’re looking for some simple upgrades, a major home renovation or addition, or building a brand-new home,

Integral Construction Management Inc. is a full-service renovation company in Edmonton. If you’re thinking about embarking on a home remodel, read this typical process for home renovations.

1. Initial Consultation

A team member from ICM will meet with you to discuss your plans. This is when you get to tell them about your dreams and what you want to achieve with your project. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the kind of work they do. After this meeting, they will guide you through the process.

2. Design and Plan Your Project

The key to a successful home renovation or major construction job is a well-laid plan. Working with professional designers, their team can help you create a design plan for your home that will include all your must-haves and perhaps a few elements you hadn’t thought of before too. From the major components like the layout of your home to all the finishes, everything will be included in the plan. Read more about planning and designing a home renovation.

If you’ve already worked with an interior designer and have a plan, you can move on to the next step.

3. Reviewing the Scope of Work

Once you have a plan, you’ll have a good idea of what exactly will be required to complete the home renovation. The pre-construction step in the process will include the details pertaining to trades, suppliers, consultants and obtaining any required building permits. This step might take some time as all the information is gathered. They might have to deal with things like building code, engineering and other factors that can influence the project. Once the information is gathered, your project is in the queue and a detailed estimate and contract will be created.

4. Project Estimate

So, how much is this going to cost? Now that you have a complete design and architectural plans, you will get an accurate estimate. This estimate will include all the items associated with your project. Always get a detailed estimate from any contractor you hire so there are no surprises.

5. Signing the Contract & Planning the Project

Contractor.With the design and estimate complete, all the groundwork is in place to ensure the project gets started on the right foot. The contract includes all the details of your home renovation including trades, materials, project schedule and anything else that might be included in your renovation. Reputable general contractors will have all of this in writing for you and will be there to answer your questions and keep you informed on what is happening with your project every step of the way.

6. Project Management & Construction

One of the greatest advantages of hiring ICM is the project management aspect. Having a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced project manager to take care of all the details, big and small, will ensure the project runs smoothly, on budget and achieves great results. No matter what stage your project is at, they will ensure you are kept in the loop the entire time.

7. Post Construction

Just because the job is done, doesn’t mean you no longer benefit from hiring a professional general contractor. They will stand behind their workmanship and offer warranties. They will always be a phone call away if you have any questions or concerns, even after your warranty expires. Good companies believe in building long term relationships with their customers, even after the project is complete.

General Contractors in Edmonton

ICM’s commitment is to complete your construction project as if it were our own. As your general contractor, they treat each project as a reflection of who they are.  Your satisfaction is very important to them and they hold themselves and everyone involved in your project to the highest standards. Let them help you with your renovations or new construction project today!

Contact Integral Construction Management Inc. today!

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