So you’ve decided you want to grow your own fruit and vegetables and you’re ready to start? Stormclad have created this easy to follow interactive guide to some of the best vegetables you can grow throughout the year. We’ve included information on the best times to sow and harvest as well some tips on how to give your vegetables the best start possible! Before you know it you’ll be growing, harvesting and eating your own fresh and tasty produce!

Click here to get started, or click the image below!

gardening

With the rise of healthy and organic eating, there has been an emphasis on consuming seasonal produce. Not only is it a great way to get the best quality fruit and vegetables on your plate, but its great motivation for growing your own. You’ll have control over the way that it’s grown, from seed to finished product, and access to fresh, great-tasting seasonal produce at your fingertips.

If you’re new to gardening you might want to start out by planting some of the fruits and vegetables that are the easiest to grow. Tomatoes and courgettes are great beginner plants. Once planted, they require little attention apart from watering and yield a rich harvest in the summer months; perfect for delicious Mediterranean cooking!

If you’re looking to grow a low maintenance herb, try mint! Incredibly easy to grow, mint grows all year round; indoors, outdoors, in pots or in the ground and can be harvested all year, too! One tip that you shouldn’t forget, though, is that if you decide to plant your mint in the ground, be sure to plant it in a bag to prevent it from spreading and taking over the garden!

The frosty winter months don’t allow for much in the way of gardening but if you take the right steps, vegetables such as aubergines can be sown now. They can be planted from January to May and, in the coldest months, will fare better in a greenhouse. In slightly warmer climates, they can be planted outside as long as they are covered with a cloche or fleece. This early planting will make the aubergines ready for harvest from July to September.

February to July allows for the sowing of delicious carrots. The most important thing to remember is to ensure that the soil you are planting in is free of stones. Stony soil will cause the root to hit the stones and split, resulting in multiple roots or “deformed” carrots. If the soil is stony, dig trenches and refill with fine, crumbly soil. Do this and in 4 months you’ll have delicious, perfectly formed carrots ready for harvesting!

But what about pests? There are many options available to tackle this but if you want a non-chemical and humane way to deter them, it can seem like a losing battle. When the weather starts to warm up as spring approaches, slugs and snails begin to make an appearance and will be soon attacking your young crops. Instead of pesticides like slug pellets, place crushed up eggshells around the plants. The sharp shells will prevent them from reaching the plant and allow your beautiful vegetables to grow healthily!

The Problem with Condensation

Condensation on windows, and the damage it does to paintwork, curtains, wall coverings and window fittings, are problems frequently encountered in all types of building.

Increasing incidences of condensation in today’s buildings is the direct result of changes in modern living conditions, which have led to warmer and more comfortable rooms.

Some of the triggers include:

  • Traditional open fires being replaced by sophisticated heating systems
  • Draughts from ill-fitting doors and window frames being blocked with draught excluders
  • Carpeted floors
  • Lower ceilings
  • Loft insulation

These modern aids to home comfort have created rooms which are warmer but which often have less ventilation and fewer air changes. The result is that the water vapour produced by normal living activities is no longer able to escape up the chimney or through door jambs, window joints and other outlets.

In certain circumstances, all these aids to comfort combine to create ideal conditions for the formation of condensation.

The problem is: – how to reduce condensation without sacrificing the benefit of increased comfort.

When double glazing is used in conjunction with heating and controlled ventilation it helps solve this problem – and its effectiveness will be even greater if the elementary precautions referred to in this post are adopted.

What Is Condensation?

Condensation is the water which results from the conversion of water vapour in the atmosphere.  The air which surrounds us in our homes always contains water vapour, which is usually invisible.    A typical example is the steam cloud from a kettle, which rapidly becomes invisible – it has in fact been absorbed into the atmosphere.

The warmer the air, the more water vapour it can hold – but there is a limit to the amount it can hold for a given temperature.  When that limit is reached, the air is said to be “saturated”.    When saturated air comes into contact with a surface which is at a lower temperature than itself, the air is chilled at the point of contact and shreds its surplus water vapour on that surface – initially in the form of a mist and, if excessive, eventually in the form of droplets of moisture.   An example of this is when a person breathes onto a mirror: condensation occurs because the exhaled air is saturated and its temperature is higher than that of the mirror (which is at room temperature).

Where Does Water Vapour Come From?

condensationBreathing: Two sleeping adults produce 1½ pints of moisture in 8 hours, which is absorbed as water vapour into the atmosphere.

Cooking:  Steam clouds can be seen near saucepans and kettles, and then seem to disappear.  The clouds have been absorbed into the atmosphere.

The cooker itself may be a source of water vapour; e.g. an average gas cooker could produce approximately 1/5th gallon of moisture per hour.

Washing up: The vapour clouds given off by the hot water are rapidly absorbed into the atmosphere.

Bathing, laundry, and wet outer clothing: These are often the major sources of water vapour in the home.

Heaters: A flueless gas heater can produce up to ⅔ pint of moisture per hour.  Paraffin heaters produce NINE PINTS of moisture for every EIGHT PINTS of fuel burned.

Indoor plants: A frequently unrecognized but nevertheless significant source of water vapour.

New Property: The bricks, timber concrete and other materials in an average 3‐bedroomed house absorb about 1500 gallons of water during construction.   Much of this is dissipated into the indoor atmosphere during the drying out period.

The three main factors governing condensation are: 

1. Water vapour content of the air

2. Inside room temperature

3. Outside temperature

The first two factors are normally controllable.

1. Water Vapour in the Air- this is produced by normal living activities such as washing, cooking, bathing, etc., and can be controlled by the use of extractor fans, cowlings, and ventilation at appropriate places.

2. Inside Room Temperature - this can be controlled by replacing single glazing with double glazing, thereby maintaining a higher surface temperature of the glass on the room side, and by increasing the air temperature to enable it to hold more water vapour without condensing.

3. Outside Temperature - this cannot be controlled, but it can be countered when it falls by increasing the indoor heating.

How Double Glazing Helps

Double glazing is an insulator, designed to reduce the loss of heat by conduction from the inside to the outside of a building.    Under average exposure double glazingconditions, and provided the room is heated, the room side surface temperature of the inner glass will be higher than would be the case with single glazing.    The likelihood of condensation occurring when warm moist air in the room comes into contact with the surface of the glass is thereby reduced.

It must be remembered, however, that double glazing is an insulator and not a source of heat; nor does it control the amount of water vapour in the air.    When rooms are inadequately heated and there is little heat to retain, double glazing cannot fulfil the purpose for which it was installed.

For example, one reason why condensation forms in, say a bedroom not normally occupied, is that many householders for reasons of economy do not heat such rooms.

Consequently the surface temperature of the inner glass gets very close to the outside temperature.    In addition, the windows in such rooms are generally kept closed, but water vapour, generated elsewhere in the house, will find its way in and then cannot escape.    Thus the two conditions necessary to produce condensation – a low glass surface temperature, and a high water vapour content in the atmosphere – are present.

The Location of Condensation on the Glass

When attempting to reduce the degree of condensation it is important to note on which surface of the glass it forms; its location indicates the cause, and so points to the solution.

Condensation on the room side surface of the inner glass means that the temperature of the glass surface is too low given the water vapour content of the atmosphere in the room.

Condensation within the cavity of a hermetically sealed unit denotes a failure of the seal.

In other forms of double glazing, condensation on the cavity surface of the outer glass generally (but not invariably) indicates excessive leakage of moist air from the room into the cavity.

Condensation can occur occasionally on the cavity surface of the inner glass when the sun is shining on the window.  This means that something in the air space itself, such as an unsealed wooden separator or desiccant, contains moisture.    It should be noted, however, that this source can also be responsible for condensation on the cavity surface of the outer glass.

How to Reduce Condensation

When formed on the room side surface of the inner glass:

(1) Provide natural ventilation through an opening section of the window, or through a proprietary ventilating unit, or through an air brick.

(2) Where there is no open fire, or where existing flues have been blocked off (and cannot be unblocked), ensure that wall vents are fitted and kept clear.

(3) Open at least one window in each room for some part of the day to permit a change of air.

(4) Ensure ventilation of all rooms where gas or oil heaters are used.

(5) Fix hoods over cookers and other equipment producing steam, and ventilate them to the outside air.

(6) Draught proof internal doors and keep them closed, to prevent transfer of air with a high water vapour content from the main moisture producing rooms – kitchens, bathrooms, and drying rooms.  (It should be borne in mind that water vapour does not remain in the room where it is first generated, but tends to migrate all over the house because (a) the water vapour pressure in the original room will be higher than elsewhere and so the moist air will be forced out into rooms with a lower pressure, and (b) convection currents will carry it through the house.

(7) Increase slightly the air temperature in the house.

(8) In cold weather, keep some form of heating on permanently in the house.

(9) Wherever practicable, fix radiators under windows to maintain the temperature of the inner glass at a reasonable level.

(10) Condensation can be caused by isolating the inner glass from the warm room air with heavy curtains when drawn.    To allow free passage of warm air to the glass, position curtains 15cm to 20 cm away from window, and ensure there are sufficient gaps at the top and bottom to permit continuous circulation.  (Holes should be drilled along the top of any box pelmet used).

When formed on the cavity side surface of the outer glass:

This cannot occur with correctly functioning sealed units.  For secondary sash systems proceed as follows:

(1) Make the seal of the secondary frame and the sealing of the secondary glass to this frame, as near airtight as possible.  Particular attention should be paid to all joints.

(2) Drill breather holes through the primary frame to connect the air cavity to the drier air outside.  Holes should have a diameter of 10mm.  If the frame is made of wood it is better to drill a hole large enough to accommodate a metal tube of 10mm internal diameter.    Two holes about 50cm apart should be sufficient for windows up to 1 m wide; more should be drilled for larger windows.   A simple filter, such as glass wool, should be inserted to exclude dirt and insects.

When formed in the cavity when the sun shines:

(1)    Remove the secondary pane.

(2)    Remove and discard any desiccant.

(3)     Drill holes to connect the cavity to the outside as described in paragraph (2) above.

(4)   Dry out the frame area.  Care must be taken not to apply concentrated heat close to the original glass.

(5)    Seal up any holes or cracks with compound or wood filler.

(6)    Seal completely all wooden surfaces in the cavity with a proprietary wood sealer.

(7)    Replace the secondary pane, taking care to make the seal and all joints as near airtight as possible.

condensation - wetSummary

Double glazing cannot cause condensation.  By acting as a heat barrier and providing an inner pane which is considerably warmer than the outer pane, condensation is reduced.

Modern buildings are designed to eliminate draughts and do not have the natural ventilation that some older houses have with their chimneys and ill‐fitting doors and windows.  Houses which have been completely sealed by the installation of cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, double glazing, and draught proofing throughout are likely to become moisture traps.  In such cases, condensation is a ventilation problem.  Provided the rooms are heated normally, the solution will probably be found by providing controlled ventilation.

In the case of older, “unsealed” buildings, the dominant factor is likely to be the indoor temperature, and additional heat, or the introduction of localized heat near the windows, will probably provide the answer.

Bathroom

  • Stop water vapour finding its way into the rest of the house, particularly during and after bathing.
  • After a bath or shower, close the door and open a window for a few minutes.  Position a radiator, or heated towel‐rail, under the window.

Bedrooms

  • Check points under “Living Rooms”, particularly with respect to the position of curtains and the provision of vents.
  • If possible extend the central heating programme to compensate for the night‐time drop in external temperature and the increase in water vapour caused by the occupants’ breathing.
  • Bedroom windows should be opened during the day to allow at least one complete air change.

Living rooms

  • Allow the room’s warmth to reach the windows.    Position heaters under the windows, and use fittings which hold the curtains at least 15cm to 20cm away from the glass to allow free movement of warm air.
  • Open windows for at least a few minutes each day to permit air changes.
  • Where open fires are not provided, or existing flues are blocked off, see that wall vents are fitted and kept clear.  When a gas fire has been installed in an open fire aperture, the backplate should have vent holes below the fire, unless this is provided for in the fire design.
  • Where possible, avoid glazed or non‐absorbent wall coatings as these canmpromote condensation on walls.

Kitchens, Laundries

  • Close internal doors and keep a window open.    Alternatively, install extractor fans or cooker hoods, ventilated to the outside air.

The last few years have seen Britain enjoy some spectacular summers, so it’s easy to understand why so many homeowners are opting to invest in conservatories, or to de-clutter the conservatories that they already have and turn them into relaxing summer living rooms. Spending a warm summer evening relaxing in your conservatory and taking in a beautiful view of your garden is almost like going away on a mini holiday. The only downside to conservatories is that during the day they can get rather warm. The good news is that this is easy enough to fix, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your conservatory cool and comfortable.

Here are a few simple changes that will keep your conservatory at a comfortable temperature under the summer sun. Many of these tips also apply to other rooms in the house. If you don’t have a dedicated conservatory, and don’t have the space to get one built, then you can use these tips to convert a living room or spare room that sees a lot of sunlight into a “garden room” or a “sun room” for people to relax in during the height of the summer:

Blinds and Window Films

Blinds work both ways – in the summer, they keep heat out, and in the winter they keep heat in. This makes blinds a great addition to any conservatory. Temperature management is not the only feature of blinds, either. They also do double duty blocking out the glare from the sun, and offering privacy when it is needed. Motorized blinds are incredibly convenient, but can be expensive. Pull-cord operated blinds look just as good, however, and are far more affordable. Choose brightly coloured blinds to make your conservatory look bigger and more welcoming, and to match the summery tone of the room.

Another good way to manage heat in your conservatory is to fit window films. These films work by filtering UV light, reducing glare and stopping too much heat from passing through the glass. The films reflect the energy from the sun away from the conservatory, ensuring that it stays at a pleasant temperature. Window films are fairly affordable, and can be added to an existing conservatory quite easily.

Window blinds

Air conditioning units

Dedicated air conditioning units are quite expensive to run, so they are usually installed only as a last resort. However, if you really like your conservatory and plan on spending a lot of time in it then air conditioning is a good investment, because many modern units can be used for heating as well as cooling.

One option that you may want to consider if you own your home and do not plan on moving in the near future is a solar-assisted air conditioning unit. These units are cheaper to run, and are ideal for keeping a conservatory at a steady temperature throughout the year.

Fans

A good fan is a must-have for any homeowner during the summer months. If you are getting a new conservatory built, be sure to add a large ceiling fan to the conservatory’s feature list. In addition to this, consider investing in a couple of standing fans; preferably motorized fans with variable speeds. If you don’t like the look of large, bladed fans, choose one of the new bladeless designs for extra style. Depending on the size of the conservatory, you may want more than one fan.

Ceiling fan

Good Ventilation

If you are getting a new conservatory built, ask the contractors to include some vents in the roof, and lots of windows that can be opened. Make sure that the roof vents have a secondary grille on the underside for added security, and that all of the windows are lockable. To maximise airflow, it is important to have vents at both the top and bottom of the conservatory. You will need to remember to close some of those vents when the weather starts getting colder, otherwise you will waste a lot of energy keeping the conservatory warm later in the year.

It’s better to think about ventilation before the conservatory is built, because adding extra ventilation afterwards may be expensive. If you did not build vents and windows into your design, consider getting an openable skylight added, or just keeping the door open while you are using the conservatory. Add a beaded curtain to the patio doors for privacy.

Accessories

There are several simple accessories that can make your conservatory a more comfortable place to spend time. Keep some potted plants in the conservatory to help with moisture, and choose a light colour scheme so that the room does not feel oppressive. Consider decorating the conservatory with a free-standing fountain or water feature because the look and sound of the water will help you to relax and feel cooler.

When you are choosing furniture, opt for soft fabrics over leather, because leather tends to feel sweaty in warm weather, while cotton and other similar materials will make you feel cooler. Wooden furniture is also both cooling and visually appealing.

Another option is to keep a mini-fridge in the conservatory so that there are always cooling and refreshing drinks on hand.  This won’t actually make the conservatory itself any cooler, but it will keep you comfortable.

Once you have got your conservatory set up the way you like it, you’ll find that it’s a great place to spend time in. During the summer, many people use their conservatory as a replacement living room; dining, playing and entertaining in it. With a few changes to the blinds, and a little extra heating, you can extend the use of the conservatory to the autumn too, giving you that extra bit of precious living space for much longer.

 

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sansharma/and https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrjoro/

One home improvement issue that confuses a lot of people is that of insurance for conservatories. If you move in to a building that has a conservatory already attached to it, then any new policy that you take out will include the conservatory, however adding a conservatory to an existing policy is a little more confusing.

Getting an Existing Conservatory Insured

In most cases, existing conservatories are covered under standard home contents and buildings insurance, provided that the conservatory is a permanent structure that is properly constructed. Most insurance companies will treat such a structure as a part of the building itself, so the cost of your conservatory will be included in any building’s insurance. If the conservatory is secure (with proper locks and window glazing) then its existence should not affect any home contents claims related to burglary.   Most insurers will also cover car ports as well, assuming that they are properly constructed.

White Conservatory

Building a New Conservatory

If you are building a new conservatory, you must notify the insurance company before the builders start work. The cost of the conservatory will need to be added to your buildings policy, and this may mean that your premiums increase. Your home contents insurance policy will also need upgraded, in order to cover any additional items that you will be storing in the conservatory.

If you are not planning on spending a lot of money on decorating and furnishing the conservatory then your existing home contents policy may be adequate, however it is worth taking an inventory of all of the valuables in your home. All too often, new home owners take out modest home contents insurance when they move in to a new property, and then fail to upgrade it as they acquire new items. In the event of a flood, fire or burglary those home owners run the risk of discovering that only part of their property was covered.

What to Ask Your Insurance Company

Most buildings insurance policies do not cover damage to your property caused by building work, nor do they cover negligence on the behalf of your contractors, or the theft of any building materials that were going to be used in the construction of the conservatory. A good contractor will offer an insurance backed guarantee, and have their own Public Liability policy, so you should not need to worry about those possibilities. If you have any concerns, talk to the contractors and to your own insurance company for advice.

Conservatory

Keeping Your Premium Low

One of the main reasons that people are so confused about insurance policies for conservatories is that, just a few years ago, there was a lot of news coverage about insurers who were refusing to pay out for burglary related claims if the thief gained entry through a conservatory door or window. The reason for this was that the doors and windows were not secure, so the insurance companies were claiming negligence on the part of the home owner. This sort of thing should not be an issue today.

If you are getting a new conservatory built, then there are several things that you can do to keep the building secure, and also to prevent damage to your property. Things to consider include:

Construction – typically, conservatories are made from timber, PVC-U or aluminium. These are all fairly strong materials so you should not need to worry about a high quality conservatory built by an approved contractor. You can increase the security of the structure by asking for the windows to be installed with laminated safety glass on the inner pane.

Alarms – Extend your home’s burglar alarm to include the conservatory. If you have CCTV, try to have at least one camera covering the area around the conservatory. It is also a good idea to install a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector – especially if you will be using free-standing heating to keep the conservatory warm in the spring and autumn.

Doors –  A lot of home owners choose to keep the existing external doors from the rear of the house when they install a conservatory. This is a good idea, because it offers an additional layer of security. If you decide to remove the current external door and replace it with a patio-style door, make sure that you use reinforced doors, and that the glass is secure. Toughened safety glass is actually surprisingly easy to break open with a sharp tool, without making a lot of noise. Laminated glass is much more expensive, but offers better security.

Windows – Make sure that all of the windows in the conservatory are lockable. If you do not plan on opening some of the windows, consider screwing them shut. If there is an automatic opening roof vent on top of the conservatory, screw a grille to the underside to prevent enterprising thieves from prising the vents open.

Maintenance – Your conservatory will need to be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Failure to look after the conservatory could cause mold and mildew to build up, or allow damp to take hold in your home. This sort of damage, if caused by lack of maintenance, may not be covered by your insurance policy.

Another thing to consider is the kind of items that you keep in the conservatory. Consider using blinds or net curtains to prevent passers by from looking inside the conservatory while it is not in use. Keep the amount of items in the conservatory to a minimum, and do not leave valuables such as laptop computers or portable gaming devices lying around in plain view in the conservatory.

Every insurance company has its own rules, so before you purchase a policy you should always read the terms and conditions. If you are planning on having building work done in your home, do not assume that your existing policy will cover the new work. If you fail to notify the insurance company that your property has been altered, then your policy could become invalid, and that is not something that you want to find out at the last minute, when you need to make a claim.

 

A Brief History of Conservatories

The first conservatories were built in the 17th century and were used to preserve tender plants during the winter. The earliest conservatories were made of wooden panels, rather than glass, and simply offered basic protection from the elements.  Most early conservatories were used to protect delicate potted plants, but in Northern Europe more sophisticated conservatories were created to preserve orange trees. These conservatories, called Orangeries, were large brick or stone structures with tall vertical windows.  Orangeries kept the delicate orange plant warm and dry, and allowed Europeans to grow their own oranges, leading to the fruit becoming something of a status symbol in Europe.

One of the earliest significant mentions of the conservatory appears in the Elysium Britannicum,  which was written by John Evelyn, a contemporary of Samuel Pepys. He described the structure as having wreathed columns and Corinthian capitals.

The first conservatory to be built in Britain was one for the Oxford Botanic Garden. Shortly after this, another conservatory was built in the Physic Garden in Chelsea. In 1825, renowned architect John Nash designed four conservatories for Buckingham Palace. Sadly, those structures are no longer at the palace, but one of them, the Architectural Conservatory, has been moved to Kew and is the oldest glasshouse in Kew today.

Nash Conservatory at Kew Gardens

 

Styles of Conservatory

Architectural styles have changed a lot over the centuries. There are three styles of conservatory that remain popular today. They are the Edwardian inspired conservatory, Victorian style, and Georgian style. These conservatories would suit not just a period building from the same era, but also most modern homes.

 

Edwardian Conservatories

The Edwardian conservatory has a luxurious and lavish look. It features strong, bold lines and a relatively plain, gabled design. Edwardian conservatories are popular because the simple rectangular or square design maximizes the amount of available floor space, making it both visually appealing and incredibly practical.

The Edwardian era began in 1901 with the death of Queen Victoria and the succession of Edward to the throne. This era saw a massive change in architectural paradigms. Building an Edwardian conservatory is just like adding an additional room to your home, offering functional and aesthetic benefits as well as being a wise investment for the day when you come to sell your home. The Edwardian style is versatile and can blend with almost any other school of Architecture.

Edwardian style conservatory

Victorian Conservatories

Queen Victoria’s rule was a long one, but the period that is referred to when we talk about Victorian conservatories is the second half of her reign. The removal of the “glass tax” resulted in a dramatic shift in the design of conservatories, giving architects and homeowners more freedom to play with different designs. In 1856, steel production improved and steel became a popular building material. The construction of Crystal Palace catapulted conservatory designs into the public eye, and made them popular with the upper classes.

Crystal Palace Conservatory

Victorian conservatories are sharp, elegant and stylised. They usually have steep roofs, gothic designs, and feature lots of wrought iron as well as intricate detailing including lots of asymmetrical shapes. They are popular with owners of period homes, but if the right materials and detailing is chosen they can work well with almost any property.

 

Georgian Conservatories

Georgian conservatories are much simpler than Victorian conservatories. King George I ruled during the early part of the 18th century, and during his reign architecture evolved gradually, improving on established British techniques and also drawing on inspiration from Greek and Roman architecture, as historians from the period learned a lot about Greece and Rome during George’s reign.

Edwardian Style Conservatory

Georgian design is quite stark and simple. The red brick house is the most iconic Georgian design, and conservatories featured white stone trimmings and white-painted woodwork. Georgian buildings were large and gracious, and the grandeur of the period is clearly visible in the way that the conservatories are designed. The imposing nature of this design, however, means that it looks best when it is added to a building from the same school. Adding a Georgian conservatory to a more modern, less imposing building would probably look disjointed. Of course, there are exceptions, and a “Georgian inspired” design with softer lines or on a smaller scale could suit a modern property.

 

What does the future hold?

Architecture and design has come a long way since the 17th century. We can now shape and mould glass and other materials to create any design that we can possibly imagine. Conservatories are still in demand, however, because while we can build almost anything, we cannot control the weather!

One of the most interesting conservatory designs is the Eden Project. The Eden project could be described as the world’s largest artificial rainforest. It is, essentially, a giant conservatory that makes its own microclimate, including jungles and waterfalls.

Gardens by the bay conservatory in Singapore

Another fascinating conservatory project is the Gardens by The Bay in Singapore. This conservatory project is particularly interesting because it was built on 101 hectares of reclaimed land. It is made up of three different garden domes, each with its own design and ecosystem. The South Garden features tropical horticulture, the East Garden has a water theme, and the small central garden links those two and allows visitors to enjoy a scenic walk from the city centre to the east of Singapore.

Today, small conservatories are easy to build and affordable for most homeowners. A well-built conservatory that looks out over an appealing garden can add a lot of value to your home. If you want some additional living space and would like to invest in something that will provide long term value to you and your family, as well as make it easier to sell your home, then a conservatory is a great choice!

 

Photo Creditshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nash_conservatory_7047r.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edwardian_conservatory.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crystal_Palace.PNG

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cloud_Forest,_Gardens_by_the_Bay,_Singapore_-_20120617-05.jpg

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevecadman/

Household chores such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and maintenance are an essential part of everyday life. We all need to eat and have a safe and clean home to live in.

But it’s undeniable that nobody enjoys housework! So why is it that we spend so much time doing it? 67, 680 hours of our lives to be precise! In a recent poll created by Passion For Homes, cleaning the oven was voted the worst house hold chore with 38% of participants voting for it. 20% voted for cleaning the toilet, 9% voted for cleaning the fridge, 3% voted for dusting and polishing and 1% voted for hoovering.

So why is it that we spend 347 days of our lives cleaning when we clearly hate it so much? That’s nearly an entire year of our lives spent doing something we don’t want to do!

If you were to stop all housework with the time you would save you could sail around the world 23 times, run 28, 377 marathons (although that would be extremely tiring!) or even travel to the moon 823 times!

Which would you rather be doing?

To find out what other amazing things you could be doing if you packed in the housework take a look at our latest infographic below.

Ditch the Household Chores and You Could Go to the Moon – An infographic by the team at Stormclad

Embed Ditch the Household Chores and You Could Go to the Moon on Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

Consumer Protection Report header

A new report has been released which compares the different levels of protection that the main consumer protection organisations offer to consumers within the home improvements industry. All Stormclad customers benefit from the unrivalled protection offered by The Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS). See how it compares to other Consumer Protection Schemes here.

How consumer protection organisations match up

 

Stormclad and DGCOS: a match made in heaven!

As you can see from the Herman Report, DGCOS outperform all of the other major consumer protection organisations through their comprehensive cover and that’s why I’m sure you’ll agree that the Stormclad and DGCOS partnership is a great match.

DGCOS and Stormclad
Offering unparalleled consumer protection

This new report on the double-glazing industry compares the protection offered to consumers by 20 different organisations. The Consumer Protection Report details the actual levels of protection enjoyed by homeowners who buy windows, doors and conservatories, in contrast to the protection they think they have from the large numbers of organisations that offer it.

DGCOS accreditation: hard to come by!

The Consumer Protection Report was researched by David Herman, a chartered accountant with many years experience in the construction industry.

“It’s not easy to gain accreditation from DGCOS and in truth only the very best companies do manage it”

THE ACCREDITATION PROCESS : WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?

Each company that gains DGCOS accreditation is subject to an extremely stringent process. All accredited installers must, as a minimum:

CheckPROVIDE CUSTOMER REFERENCES
Provide DGCOS administrators with a minimum of 10 customer references (of installations carried out within the last 12 months) who can be independently approached for quality assurance purposes.
CheckPROVIDE SUPPLIER REFERENCES
Provide DGCOS administrators with a minimum of 3 supplier references who can be independently approached for quality assurance purposes.
CheckPROVIDE HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY
Provide DGCOS administrators with a copy of their current Health and Safety Policy.
CheckCARRY INSURANCE
Carry minimum insurances of a) £5m Public Liability b) £10m Employers Liability.
CheckPROVIDE A WRITTEN CONTRACT
Provide every customer with a Written Contract (to include Terms and Conditions).
CheckPROVIDE A WRITTEN GUARANTEE
Provide every customer with a Written Guarantee.
CheckPROVIDE DEPOSIT PROTECTION INSURANCE
Provide every customer with Deposit Protection Insurance (where a deposit has been taken).
CheckPROVIDE AN INSURANCE BACKED GUARANTEE
Provide every customer with an Insurance Backed Guarantee.
CheckCOMPLY WITH BUILDING CONTROL REGULATIONS
Comply with building control regulations on every installation.
CheckALLOW DGCOS INSPECTORS THE INSTALLATION
Allow DGCOS inspectors to inspect any installation deemed necessary.
CheckALLOW DGCOS TO SEND A SATISFACTION QUESTIONNAIRE
Allow DGCOS to send every customer a Satisfaction Questionnaire.
CheckSUBMIT A LEGAL JURISDICTION
Submit to the legal jurisdiction of DGCOS and the Ombudsman.
CheckAGREE TO ONGOING VETTING
Ongoing vetting by DGCOS inspectors

How does it work?

Every customer is automatically sent a satisfaction questionnaire with a pre-paid envelope. These replies are entered into the DGCOS performance system and results are monitored.

Minimum standards are set in each category and alerts are set off when ratings fall below minimum standards: the system automatically picks up low scores and identifies relevant salespeople and failing fitting teams etc.

These scores are available to view by the installer so that (s)he can make comparisons of performance with the whole membership.

Additionally, there is an annual review of credit checks and public/employer liability insurances.

If you’d like to know more about the service DGCOS offers you can visit their website: www.dgcos.org.uk.

To talk to Stormclad, your DGCOS accredited supplier, call us free on: 0808 271 3892 or contact us online.

Chatsworth is one of the most beautiful estates in the UK. Located in the heart of the Peak District, this historic home is surrounded by picturesque gardens, peaceful farmyards, and an adventure playground that the whole family can enjoy. The Chatsworth Estate covers more than 35,00 acres of land in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, and, as this statistics-packed infographic shows, that land is full of history and has some amazing stories to tell.

From The Ground Up – Britain’s Favourite Stately Home Restored – An infographic by the team at Stormclad

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While the house and its surrounding gardens are a hugely popular tourist destination today, the mansion has not always been so well loved. In the 1920s, the Great Conservatory in the gardens was demolished because it was so expensive, in both coal and manpower, to run.  The plants in the conservatory had died off during World War II, because coal supplies were interrupted for extended periods of time, so the family struggled to justify the expense of maintaining an empty conservatory. The Devonshire family, who owned the mansion at the time, were on the verge of demolishing the 6th Duke’s wing of the mansion in 1929 as a further cost cutting measure, but they did not get around to doing so. This is good news for the history and nature lovers that travel from up and down the country to visit the Manor and its gardens today.

In 2012, the estate had more than 700,000 visitors, who came to explore the gardens and explore the rooms of the house itself. The history of the original Chatsworth Manor can be traced back to the 16th century, but the building that stands there today includes features from several eras. The original Chatsworth Manor suffered serious damage during the Civil War in the 17th century, and was extensively renovated in the 1690s.

In more recent years, Chatsworth Manor has become an important cultural centre and a popular set for period movies and TV shows. It was used as the set for the 1998 biopic, The Duchess, staring Keira Knightly, and it was also featured in the 2010 remake of Wolfman. The Manor is also featured in the film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, where it is presented as the home of Mr Darcy. This is not such a large leap of the imagination, since it is widely believed that Jane Austen took inspiration from Chatsworth House when she wrote the book.

A visit to Chatsworth house is particularly worthwhile during the Christmas period, when the lower floors of the house are decked out in festive decorations. For 2013, the chosen theme was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The estate was decorated to look like Narnia, and visitors could enjoy an enchanted journey that would take them from wartime London to the forests of Narnia.

If you’re looking for an enjoyable day out in the Derbyshire and Staffordshire area, then a visit to Chatsworth is a great option. The estate was extensively restored in 2012, with more than £14 million being spent on cleaning stonework, reguilding windows and restoring the façade of the house. Visit Chatsworth today to see it in its full glory.

This month we wanted to share with you this rather scary infographic about how burglars are using social media to find out when you are going to be out. As people share more and more information about their personal lives, their possessions and their plans on social networks, it is becoming easier and easier for burglars to use this information against them.
For example excited holidaymakers might check-in at an airport, alerting potential wrong-doers to the fact they’re be away for home for the next 2 weeks. Or would you post a picture of the view from your hotel room letting everyone know you’re in sunnier climes?
Take a look to find out more about how this works and what you can do to keep your home safe!

How Burglars Are Using Social Media

 

One of the best ways to prevent a break in is of course a sturdy door and here at Stormclad, security is our top priority. We take security so seriously that we ensure our doors are thoroughly tested and fitted with our ‘Secure by Design’ handle. Take at this video from an independent test centre of an expert attempting to break into one of our secure doors:

 

Do you ever share your whereabouts on social media? Do you worry about who can see this information? Let us know in the comments below!

The Eden Project opened in 2001 after 2 and a half years of construction. One of the UKs leading tourist attractions, The Eden Project is an extraordinary setting offering visitors a chance to step into exotic rainforests in the gigantic biome – the largest conservatory in the world!    Tall enough for 11 double decker buses and long enough for a traffic jam of 24, the biome is an astonishing, record-breaking build. We put together this infographic to give you an idea of the incredible scale of the Eden Project and it’s famous biomes.

If you’d like to share this infographic on your website or blog, scroll down for the handy embed code!

The Eden Project and the largest Conservatory in the World! – An infographic by the team at Stormclad

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