Archive | Retail and Consumer

How landscaping our gardens could be contributing to localised flooding

Posted on 13 September 2017 by editor

We all like a nice garden and driveway. But does our desire to strive for low maintenance landscaping contribute to flooding? The answer to this is yes. As more and more of us opt for block paving and concrete driveways, greater excess water ends up in the storm drains, where previously it would be absorbed by grasslands and flower beds.

Did you know that if you install a new driveway and it slopes towards the road, then building regulations require you to install a soakaway? Few people know this, but a simple 5ft square soakaway ensures that any excess rainwater is absorbed appropriately into the ground, rather than ending up in the local river. If you don’t install a soakaway, then it could lead to problems down the line selling your property. Even worse, it will only take one unhappy local neighbour to bring a civil claim against a homeowner and successfully win, and the courts will be overwhelmed with claims.

Kerb appeal is of course very important and there’s nothing better than a nice landscaped garden to welcome you home at the end of your day.

Despite this, we all have a duty as homeowners to ensure we provide a sustainable neighbourhood. The risk of flooding had increased over the years, there is of course lots of speculation and science to indicate why this maybe happening, but ultimately, if we want low maintenance driveways and landscapes, then we need to ensure that it complies with building regulations.

If you are looking to develop your landscape or driveway and you know that your driveway slopes towards the road, you should be asking your driveway company if they are going to install a soakaway. If they say no, then move onto another company because they should be complying with regulations. If building regulations find your new driveway in breach, then it is your responsibility to rectify the matter, not the driveway company. It also won’t be the driveway company that lands up in the courts, it will be the homeowner.

This article has been brought to you by aspiredrives.co.uk – a local business that is Which? Trusted Trader accredited and Trading Standards No Rogue Traders approved. They specialise in the installation of block paving driveways and fine patios.

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Cold Winter Months – How to Save on Your Energy Bills

Posted on 13 February 2017 by editor

One of the easiest and most simplest ways of saving money on your energy bills during the cold winter months is to make your home more efficient. You can easily reduce the heat loss through your roof by adding insulation in between the joists in your loft. Many older house typically only have 100mm of loft insulation. Today’s building control recommendations is for your home to have 300mm of suitable loft insulation. Local suppliers such as Wickes often have offers on loft insulation (3 for 2 deals) and you can buy 100mm and 200mm top up insulation in rolls. 3 rolls will be enough for the average home. So for about £40-45 you can significantly improve the roof insulation.

If you have loft insulation between your joists and you go into your loft during the winter months, your loft should be cold. If it’s warm, it’s because you don’t have sufficient insulation and you are losing heat through the ceiling. When installing loft insulation you need to make sure that you do NOT push the insulation as far as you can into the eaves. Air should be able to pass through your soffits and into your lost space by having an appropriate gap over the wall plate (this is the piece of timber the roof trusses sit on, on top of the blockwork). This will help prevent condensation. If you have condensation on the inside of your roof felt, then you have poor airflow.

The aim is to fully insulate the loft, but not at the expense of preventing airflow as this can cause other issues.

You can buy eaves vents, these are simple plastic corrugated sheets that sit in between the roof trusses and prevent the loft insulation from pushing up against the roofing felt and blocking the airflow. They are available in long rolls, and cost around £3.30 for 10m.

It would also be advisable to ensure that your loft trap is also insulated. Although timber has good thermal properties, most older house just have a plywood loft trap. This is not sufficient, and we de recommend improving the insulation of the trap. The alternate, but more expensive option is to replace the loft trap for a modern one. Building control now require loft traps to be made of metal, airtight, good thermal insulation and they are required to meet 30 mins of fire resistance.

Of course, keeping the warm air out of your loft, means that any water pipes and tanks are exposed to colder temperatures. You need to make sure that any pipes are cladded and water tanks are well insulated. This will help avoid burst water pipes in the loft.

Drafts are another problem in the winter months. One of the best draft excluders for your door is EPDM rubber. These can be purchased in long rolls, and you simply stick them around your door frames to create a really good seal when doors are closed.

This advice has been brought to you by RT Heating & Plumbing in Tamworth. They specialise in bathroom installations and central heating services / repairs.

 

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Birmingham Businessman scoops Digital Marketing Award

Posted on 19 October 2016 by editor

David Vidgen, owner of David Vidgen Ltd, an Inbound Marketing Agency in Birmingham have scooped the BirminghamNewsPlus Digital Marketing Award for best ‘Marketing on a Shoestring’. In this category they were able to demonstrate the effect of a digital marketing budget of less than £1000.00.

Within a budget of £1000.00 we were able to redevelop an existing website and transform it, into a highly profitable lead generation tool. In March 2016, we were awarded the contract of developing a website for a local kitchen and bathroom installer. The website was dated, but had good organic rankings. Despite this, leads were sparse and the website was not proving a good return on investment. Keeping within budget, we created a functional website that sought to build visitor trust and to generate highly relevant leads. In the first month alone, we generated more leads than in the whole of the previous year. The website has become such a powerful leads generation tool, this has resulted in a 7 month waiting list for our clients service. We’ve further improved their organic rankings with the use of technical and on-page seo.

David Vidgen

David Vidgen – owner of David Vidgen Ltd

Much of the success is contributed to the inclusion of trust signals to their website. The company operates a 12-month guarantee, as well as several 5 star reviews on Google, so we put this to good practice by making a point of highlighting them on every landing page. We knew that in the construction industry trust is of significant importance, so we made sure we brought all of the trust elements to the reader’s attention. We also took advantage of well known brands, and we were able to piggy-back on the trust of these companies. This is an advanced conversion rate strategy that is used by some of the most successful digital brands. Explained, David Vidgen.

With over 1000 entries in this category, David Vidgen Ltd were worthy winners after they were able to demonstrate their digital marketing expertise backed up by hard data. They provided third party evidence of the levels of traffic the website now receives, the conversion rate, organic rankings and heat mapping. The judges felt that this demonstrated a clear digital marketing strategy by David Vidgen Ltd and an overwhelming return on investment for their client.

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The true cost of selling your home in Birmingham

Posted on 18 May 2015 by editor

There have been many reports in the past year that house prices in Birmingham have increased by around 10%. Which is obviously great for most households who want to see equity in their property. But as house prices increase, so does the lion’s share of commission. Estate agents have cut their fees to as low as 0.5%, but because house prices have increased, it’s really nothing more than a trivial balancing act.

History tells us that the housing market is full of highs and lows. We are all more than aware that most first time buyers are being priced out of the market, and this is further compounded by means testing that puts many mortgages beyond most. The days of borrowing 5 times your salary are gone, and all outgoing expenditure is scrutinised so any mortgages, gym memberships etc are all now deducted from any possible mortgage offer.

So what happens when you need to sell your house but you can’t fund any fees or legal costs. Well, there are plenty of companies out there that will help you sell your house fast. One example is quickpropertypurchase.com whom are based in Kings Heath, Birmingham. They specialise in helping you sell your house fast, and provide a no obligation cash offer within 24 hours after researching your market. They even offer £1000 towards your legal costs. This kind of buying and selling homes is really advantageous for homeowners who want to sell their property, even if your home has sitting tenants, are you on the brink of having your house repossessed, or you simply would like to sell your house, but continue to live in it and pay rent. Having your house purchased for cash is a really quick way to release equity for serving other projects or needs, this is not only ideal for individuals who are perhaps stuck for cash, but great for perhaps landlords who need to reduce their portfolio.

Selling your house via an estate agent when you want a quick sale is near on impossible. The condition and location of your property can cause some real problems; estate agents are notorious at keeping you waiting many months, as well as insisting you have a for sale board outside your home and strangers viewing your property. Companies that specialise in selling your house quick, take all this strain away and in most cases for no more than you would have perhaps paid an estate agent and fees. A cash buyer can give you some real flexibility and security when selling your home, and of course it’s completely chain free. But be careful, there are some unscrupulous businesses out there that will try and take advantage of you perhaps being in financial difficulties.

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Stunning new bikinis and swimwear at The Lingerie Collection

Posted on 22 April 2015 by editor

With the warm weather already already arriving early in Birmingham, now is the time to go and grab that new bikini and swimwear from The Lingerie Collection in Sutton Coldfield. Whether you are holidaying in the UK or abroad this year, wearing a bikini or swimsuit can often be daunting for women, as there a few times when you would wear so little in public. The Lingerie Collection are a specialist boutique, focusing on swimwear for the larger bust size (D cup upwards); and with our free fitting service, we make sure that your next swimsuit will make you feel 100% confident when stepping on that beach.

The Lingerie Collection stock all the latest swimwear catwalk brands, such as Moontide, Phax and Fantasie.

 

Ensuring that your swimsuit fits will boost your confidence. Women with larger busts often wear ill fitting swimsuits and bikinis, that’s why we offer you a fantastic free fitting service – designed to ensure that you feel 100% confident with your purchase, and to ensure that when you step out on that beach, you don’t feel exposed or out of place. We understand that swimwear is intimate, so we choose our brands very carefully, taking our time to ensure that we only stock swimwear that is fashionable, and is designed to compliment your body.

Our stock includes all the latest 2015 collections, including bikini’s, halter neck tops, strapless, kaftans and swimsuits. They are currently offering 10% off your first in-store order, so there’s no better time to grab that new bikini.

Why not check out our website today www.thelingeriecollection.co or pop into store at:

The Lingerie Collection
Unit 10
Mitchells
Weeford Rd
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands
B75 6NA

TEL: 0121 3234888

If you are looking for exclusivity in store we can open the shop out of hours* and provide you a complete swimwear personal shopping experience.

*Minimum spend required – please call the store for details.

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Local builder seeks to help raise construction standards

Posted on 05 February 2015 by editor

A local Birmingham builder is seeking to help raise the construction standards and reduce the number of individuals suffering from cowboy builders by increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge of building standards and workmanship.

There is no doubt about it, the industry suffers from cowboy builders and rogues who seek to capitalise on naive and unaware consumers who simply rush into choosing a builder.

“The problem is, not enough people understand good workmanship and what makes a good builder,” explained David Vidgen. “We rely too much on recommendations and referrals, from individuals who simply are not qualified to determine whether a builder has done a good job or not. What’s more, it often takes time for problems and construction issues to come to light, and by this time you have already praised the builder.”

“What consumers should be be doing is arming themselves with some building standards knowledge and go and check out any prospective builders previous work for themselves. Good builders work to high standards, and these standards can often be found by simply looking at a wall. There are some very simple checks, such as checking to see if joints (perpends) are aligned and straight, if joints are full and appropriately finished (joints should not have holes, cracks or concrete bulging from the joint). Another simple way to determine a builders standard is to look at the wall and see if there are issues with colour banding. Colour banding is where you get patches of the same shades of bricks clumped unsightly together in walls; this is caused by using the same pack of bricks instead of alternating and selecting bricks from several packs. When you construct walls and houses you will need a large number of bricks that come in many packs. Each pack often carries slightly different shades of bricks, so to avoid colour banding in walls, you should select bricks from all packs as you progress. A poor builder ignores these guidelines and as a result you end up with unsightly walls.” states David.

“Another very simple way to determine quality of workmanship is to look at the mortar joints themselves, have they dried to be the same colour? Too often we can see walls and houses that have been constructed, but little care has been taken by the builder to ensure that the ratio of sand and cement is consistent throughout the build. Otherwise you end up with different colour mortar every 5 or 6 courses of bricks. Any good bricklayer understands the need to ensure that the cement is mixed to the manufacturers specification, and by applying these rules you also ensure that the mortar joints dry the same colour throughout the build. If you are having a house extension, care should be taken to try and match the existing brickwork and mortar colour. A good builder will perform ratio tests before they commence to ensure they get a good colour match.”

“I’m not saying that references are completely useless” explained David, “they are useful to determine if the builder was clean and tidy, punctual and carried out the work to the agreed schedule with no surprise invoices or requests for money. I also recommend that you don’t just inspect their most recent work, ask to speak and inspect the workmanship that was carried out some time ago (2 years or more). This is to see if problems arose over time.”

All of these recommendations and lots more useful advice to help you find a good local builder can be found on David Vidgen’s website at www.davidvidgen.com – the purpose is to ensure that few individuals instruct the wrong type of builder and they get high standards of workmanship.

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Largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria opens in Birmingham

Posted on 17 November 2014 by editor

For the 14th Year running the German Christmas festive market has opened its doors with over 180 stalls. Organisers have stated that it’s the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria.

The market brings a real festive spirit to Birmingham, providing a real opportunity to sample traditional German food, beer, mulled wine and Christmas gifts, open daily between 10am and 9pm until 22nd Dec 2014.

“Anybody who has visited the market in recent years, will know that it provides a real sense of fun, festivity and outstanding food.  The traditional German Bratwursts are simply mouthwatering, and the beer is top notch. My kids love the atmosphere and the Carousel, it really makes for some great photo opportunities” said David Ward.

 

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Glamour Locks Hair Extensions – New Business Start up in Birmingham

Posted on 03 June 2014 by editor

To celebrate small business week, we are profiling a new start-up business that is taking Birmingham and Solihull by storm. Glamour Locks Hair Extensions offer that celebrity look at just a fraction of the cost with their new 100% human hair extensions with tiny tips.  Cheaper than original hair extensions, these tiny tips do not damage the hair because they do not require heat, brading, glue or sewing.

Emma Smith the founder of Glamour Locks said “the hair extensions that we fit are unique to the industry in that they use tiny tips technology that does not damage the hair. This allows users to wear the extensions with great comfort and for up to two months at a time per fitting, after which we simply remove and refit. Each set of extensions are designed to last approx 12 months. So unlike other hair extension brands, our hair can be reused, so is considerably cheaper and cost effective. The removal and refitting process just requires the use of new tiny micro tips that secure the hair in place every two months. This is because the users natural hair grows, so the extensions need refitting.”

Hair extensions have become widely used and accepted across the globe. This in turn has fueled the consumer markets, as the general public strive to achieve that celebrity look. From a start-up business perspective, you can see why Glamour Locks have entered the market. With every celebrity, actor, singer etc now using hair extensions, this is a phenomenal business opportunity to reach out to consumers who want that celebrity look and feel. We already know from the cosmetics market that if a product is priced reasonably, it will attract buyers. It appears that Glamour Locks are doing just this and we wish them every success.

Glamour Locks Hair Extensions are based in Kings Norton, Birmingham serving both the Birmingham and Solihull markets. You can visit their website at: www.glamourlocks-hair-extensions.co.uk

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LIchfield Estate Agents seeks to transform the market

Posted on 15 May 2014 by editor

The estate agency industry has long attracted an abundance of negative publicity due to unethical trading and poor customer service. Turner Sales and Lettings are a small independent estates and lettings agency based in Lichfield and are about to transform the local industry by offering unrivalled service and competitive fees. They don’t have a traditional bricks and mortar shop front like most agents, instead they have a heavy presence online. With 90% of buyers now using their smart phones and tablets to search for property, the need for a shop front and high newspaper advertising costs are a thing of the past.

Their unrivalled service includes the use of professional photography. You only have to trawl agency websites to see that most if not all photography is undertaken by individuals who have little or no training with the use of a camera. Out of focus, poor exposure, bad composition are just some of the most common errors you see with images taken by estate agents, and this means that your home is not being showcased to it’s full potential.  Because online websites allow multiple images to be displayed for each property, Turner Sales and Lettings believe that professional photography is a very important component when it comes to advertising your home because it’s first impressions that are going to get viewings. Another aspect of their service includes ethical advice, including recommendations to declutter and remove personal items from your home before viewings. This helps those viewing your property to picture themselves living at the address, and if you have a running machine in the living room, this will do very little to convince them your home is perfect for them.

“Viewings are part and parcel of the estate agency industry. What’s alarming is that many agencies don’t provide accompanied viewings, in other words they leave the seller to undertake the appointment and escort the potential buyers around the property.” said Mary Meacham. “We do not do this. In fact we appoint a dedicated property consultant when you instruct us. This individual will be present at all viewings and will be fully responsible for accompany the potential buyer around your home. Because we don’t have rigid opening hours like other agencies, we are available 24/7 and will undertake viewings at times that suit the seller and buyer rather than our own convenience.”

“Communication is an integral part of our business. We always provide continuous follow up and feedback throughout the selling process including the around the crucial completion date. It’s this level of customer service that our clients want. They don’t want to have to pick the phone up and call us because they are left in the dark.” Mary explained.

Lichfield was recently announced as the 17th least affordable city to reside in. One of only 3 cities outside the south east. You can read more in this story here.

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More jobs at Longbridge

Posted on 05 December 2013 by editor

Longbridge the former home of the MG Rover group has confirmed today that it is set to create a further 350 jobs. Phase 1 of the project has already successfully been completed with the development of a new Bournville College, Sainsbury’s, Costa Coffee, Beefeater, Premier Inn, 35,000 sq ft of offices and the £2m Austin Park, a green area named after Lord Austin of Longbridge.  The centre also boasts free parking, with a new park and ride facility due to be open in 2014.

The 350 jobs is subject to planning approval for a new 150,000 sq ft 2-storey Marks & Spencers store. Work is set to start in 2014 summer and be completed by Christmas 2015.

Marks & Spencers regional manager Julie Ridley said it believed the planned store would “cater for the shoppers of south Birmingham and attract new customers from the M5 and M42 corridor”.

St Modwen acquired the 468-acre site after the MG Rover Group collapsed in 2005. Thus far over 3,500 jobs have been created on the site, just over half of the 6000 that MG Rover employed at its peak.

 

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