Laundry Room Ideas

by HO
(UK)

Question:
Do you have any good ideas about having a laundry room?

Never having grown up with one I am yet to be
convinced.

Response:

A laundry room just off the kitchen is just the place for all the messy jobs.

Like you many of us have grown up with kitchens that have no adjoining laundry room. How can we prepare food in a quiet and hygienic atmosphere when the washing machine is starting its first cycle and the cat is scratching at the table leg waiting for its next meal?

Who wouldn't include this useful room in their way of life?

It is best designed in the north side of the house, so it can stay relatively cool and out of the way.

Washing machines need somewhere to go and nowadays you can stack machines and dryers together. This would be a real eyesore in a modern kitchen.

Just like washing machines dishwashers create electrical pollution and can be noisy. Tuck that and the dishes away in the laundry room.

Plumb in a sink too. It will come in handy for all sorts of jobs away from the kitchen - such as cleaning delicate clothes, paintbrushes and cats dishes.

We've got a special place for "Henry" and we keep all the cleaning products under the sink.

The laundry room is where the cats eat their meals. And when the kittens are around smelly kitten litter is a real turn off in the kitchen.

Finally, we do have our pantry here too. I know it's not the ideal place but it is cool but with a big family we need a lot of storage.

Well these are just some laundry room ideas. I hope you are convinced.






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Concrete Floor Construction.

by Editor
(Uk)

Question:

What's involved in concrete floor construction?

Hardwins Answer:

Combined with plastic membrane to prevent damp rising from the ground, the concrete flooring is an effective protection for the floors and floor joists. At a place where the floors are most vulnerable.

Have you ever looked under the floorboards in an older house? You will probably see bare earth with joists suspended over the brick piers. Now put your hand near the ground. If you feel a breeze then that is good news because the airbricks are working as they should. Timbers love air that is moving.

If the airbricks are blocked and there is no ventilation then these conditions are encouraging dry rot. Which could mean expensive repairs.

In recent years building technology has got over this damp problem in several ways and is applied rigorously to new built houses. What they do now is:

1) Use Airbricks 150mm Above Ground Level

Inserting airbricks at 6 inches above ground level keeps the holes clear of obstructions and encourage ventilation.

2) Use A Damp Proof Membrane

Lay a bed of hardcore using clean broken brick or stone to a minimum depth of
6 inches. Compact the hardcore with a vibrating plate and surface with 2 inches of compacted sand, to receive the Damp Proof Membrane – D.P.C.

Lay the membrane over the site and dress the inside of the block wall. The D.P.M. will help to prevent the damp conditions that could arise if the ventilation holes in the airbricks ever get blocked.

3) Lay Concrete Over The Membrane

Laying concrete can be very labor intensive so use concrete mix. Its expense is offset by the time and labor saved, if you were to mix it yourself. A normal mix may be 1:8 (one measure of cement and eight measures of ballast) but check recommendations. Pour the concrete to a depth of around 6 inches. Rake the surface of the concrete to give a level finish and allow to dry.

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VAT Question

by Anon

Question:

I am building my own house. I have read somewhere that I wont be charged VAT on building work. Is that true and if so how does it work?

Hardwins answer:

If you or any one else is building your house you can make a VAT claim on all materials used for the building of your house. To be clear it's those materials that are part of the structure of your house plus materials used in the garden in order to comply with your planning permission such as fencing.

If you have paid VAT at 20% your VAT claim on
£50 000 of materials could be £10 000. So expect a nice lump sum at the end of your build. Ideal for paying for finishing touches to the kitchen, carpets or landscaping.

Make sure all materials are bought in your name only and that VAT is shown clearly on all receipts. Builders should not charge VAT on their labour whether they are VAT registered or not.

Unfortunately you cannot claim exemption on professional services such as architects, surveyors, solicitors and such like.

You can claim VAT from Customs and Excise on production of proof you have finished your home. The councils building inspector at the end of the build will provide this.

Remember you can claim for the recovery of VAT on anything that is part of the house and that wont be taken with you when you leave. It can include the fitted kitchen and fitted wardrobes but - sorry - not the carpets.


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Soil Profile

by H.O.
(Norwich, UK)

Question:

What can a soil survey tell me please?

Hardwin's Answer.

A soil profile will help you know what type of soil you have underground and how well it can take the weight of a dwelling.

Many old timber frame houses were built with very shallow foundations and never survived to tell the tale. They vanished without trace.

Where they have survived you often find sloping floors,ceilings and leaning walls. But there was a lot of "give" in the materials used then, compared with modern materials.

With modern rigid materials you cannot risk using foundations that might move over the course of time - even when you use timber frame.

A soil survey will give you information you need to know and the person who will help you is the soil engineer who would has access to a web soil map of the area and is probably already familiar with the local soil conditions.

One early, crisp morning I met up with my soil engineer and a local farmer with his digging machine. The information we got over the next two hours was very helpful.

I discovered I was going to have to build over an old pond and Victorian dump.

The remnants of an old pond lay under the corner of the proposed house. We also dug up a lot of old bottles suggesting an old dump which was still being used as such.

The willow trees gave it away.

Four willow trees on the boundary and close to our discovery of the pond, were a give away sign. As you know, willows thrive on water.

Why no one has built here before.

When the surrounding houses were built in the 1940's the technique of piling was considered far too expensive for local builders. So this bit of land was just left alone and continued as a dump right up until modern times.

Next doors assured me that I have at least one mini car in the garden because he had put it there himself. Another local took credit for a motorbike. Our arrival has certainly spoilt everyone's fun.

So was piled foundations the best option?

Yes. There was no doubt. Having considered the results of the soil survey the surveyor recommended pile foundations even though the pond would effect only a small part of the proposed house. For practical reasons the foundations had to be the same type throughout.

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Passive Solar Heating

by Hardwin
(UK)

Question:

In what way can I use windows to improve passive solar heating?

Hardwins Answer:

First and foremost use good quality double glazed unit. It’s no good trying to heat a room in the middle of winter when all the warm air is escaping through single glazed windows. “K” glass seems to manage this very well.

Why not position large windows on the south side where they can capture and store heat from the sun. The low winter sun will come straight in and heat up the room, giving a light, warm sunny room and lower fuel bills.

Sunny rooms are a delight, especially in the winter months and do not require much heating. On the other hand overheating can occur in the summer months. Avoid this by protecting the south facing windows from direct sunlight entering the room.

Make the west windows smaller to minimize the warming effect of the evening sun in summer especially in the living room and office. Use light color blinds to reflect out the heat or better still shade these windows on the outside.

My wife likes a warm bathroom at all times of the year so if you are like her use nice large windows.

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