Home Improvements

How Much Are Home Improvements? Depends Who You Are…

Many of us rely on tradesmen to help us build our dream homes, whether that be building a new conservatory, painting and decorating or fitting a new bathroom. Lots of us are clueless when it comes to understanding what’s involved in the work we ask our tradesmen to do, meaning we readily accept their quotes.

So, do quotations really differ depending on who you are, or where you live? We gave a middle-aged woman, a middle-aged man, and an elderly man a list of 90 plumbers across 9 English counties. We asked them to call listed plumbers to obtain a quote for fitting mixer taps in their kitchen.

Fitting a mixer tap is usually a straightforward job for a plumber. With the plumbing already in place, it’s a case of swapping the older tap, for the new tap.

So, how much did quotations differ?

Differences by Region

London emerged as the most expensive for this particular job at £85. That may not come as a surprise, given that Londoners are used to inflated prices. The West Midlands was the second most expensive at £70. Those in the North West are in luck if they need the services of a plumber as it was cheapest at £63. This was followed by South West at £64.

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Quotes for the work varied across all regions, and in some cases, the range was quite extensive.

While London had the most expensive overall average, the difference between the lowest and highest quotes was just £7. This means that London plumbers are the most consistent when it comes to quoting, which I guess is good news. In contrast, there was a £20 difference between the lowest quote of £55 for the male caller and the quote of £75 for the elderly caller in the North East.

Ok, so calling a tradesman might cost you more money depending on location, we can live with that. But let’s take a look at how quotations vary depending on the caller.

Male, Female and the Elderly

Our three callers contacted the same plumber over a two-month period, asking for a quote for exactly the same job. We analysed quotes obtained by our three callers to find the average for each, and the results were concerning.

The average price across all quotations for each caller was as follows:
Male: £62
Female: £71
Elderly: £75

So, the male caller managed to obtain the cheapest price overall. He was charged nearly 15% less than the female caller and 21% less than the elderly caller. But was this the case in every region?

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Unfortunately, it was. In every single region apart from one, the male caller was quoted the lowest average price. London was the only exception, with the female caller receiving a lower average price by just £2.

The elderly caller fared the worst in 7 out of 9 regions, levelling with the female caller in the West Midlands.

Male VS Female

Now that we’ve established that the male caller obtained the cheapest quotes, we wanted to find out the worst offending region for overcharging women. We did our sums and figured out the percentage difference between the average price for males and females.

We can reveal that plumbers in the North East are the most likely to quote different prices based on gender, with a 53% increase between the male and female caller.

Male VS Elderly

When it comes to overcharging the elderly, the North East is the worst offender once more. The Elderly caller was quoted 36.36% more than the male caller in this particular region. The North West was the second worst offender, charging 27.27% more, followed by the West Midlands with 27.1%.

Lowest VS Highest

The range of quotes for the male, female and elderly caller varied significantly.

Lowest Quotes

For the female caller, the lowest quote was £40 and this obtained from a plumber in the North East.
The lowest quote for the male caller was £45. Plumbers in the North East, East of England, South West and North West all gave this price.
The most modest quote given to the elderly caller was £50 and this was obtained from three plumbers based in the North East, East of England and West Midlands.

Highest Quotes

The highest price given was £120. The quote was given by a plumber in the North East to the female caller and by a plumber in London to the elderly caller.
£90 was the highest price given to the male caller and that was quoted by a plumber in London.

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Of course, we acknowledge that plumbers and other tradesmen might not be able to give a precise quotation up front, without seeing the work in question. However, it does seem from our research, that on the spot quotations favour men over women and that the elderly pay the highest price. How much do your home improvements cost? Well, the data suggests that it depends on who you are.

Methodology

The aim of this study was to investigate the extent in which costings in the plumbing industry can vary depending on location and the caller. Anchor Pumps acknowledges that quotations will vary depending on region and the way in which a quote is calculated. For example, if the plumber charges a flat hourly rate or whether they charge by job type.

In total, quotes were obtained by ten plumbers for 9 different areas of England. Plumbers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not included in the study. Each plumber was contacted on three separate occasions across a three-month period. First by a female caller, secondly by a male caller and then by an elderly caller. Each caller requested an over the phone quotation for the same job.

The Request: A new mixer tap installation to be fitted in the kitchen, a straight swap with the plumbing already in place.   

Please note that there were twenty-two additional plumbers who stated that they could not provide a quote over the phone without inspecting the work via a photograph or in person. These were not included in the study as no upfront quote was provided.

Quotes included in the study do not include additional VAT.

Below are quotes obtained for each region. The overall averages have been calculated to the nearest whole number.

If you would like to discuss the study, please email apmedia@gmail.com for further details.

London

South East

South West

West Midlands

East Midlands

East of England

Yorkshire

North East

North West

6 Steps for a Bathroom DIY Makeover

Bathroom DIYEveryone loves to complete a bit of DIY around the home in the new year, it gives you something to do in those boring winter months! When thinking about where to start your next project, have you considered the bathroom?

If you’ve had your bathroom for a long time, there’s a good chance it will have started to look a bit worn and washed out. You should give it a nice and thorough clean, but if you still feel like the room looks a bit stale, why not challenge yourself to a bit of DIY to spruce up the place?

Stack those shelves

Is clutter a big problem for you? If so, you might want to consider building some floating shelves. It’s a great place to start putting your towels and toiletries to bring a bit more order to a messy bathroom. Some nice oak or marble shelves placed on top of each other can really help with storage in your bathroom, while helping with the overall look of the place.

For anything too heavy, wicker baskets are draw are a great option here to put them out of sight and out of mind, but easily accessible.

Look into a mirror

Adding a mirror to a room will instantly brighten up any room and give the illusion of a larger space, and the bigger the mirror, the bigger the difference. A full-length mirror could add a massive amount of depth to your bathroom (at least visually). You could also get some mirrored cabinets, which will help by adding some much-needed storage to your bathroom.

Think about your bath/shower

The centerpiece of anyone’s bathroom: your bath and shower. If you’re going to spend the most time in the bathroom in either of these, you want them to offer a relaxing vibe. There are minor changes you can make yourself that won’t cost you an arm and a leg or take too much time.

One thing that will make a big difference is improving your water flow; this is not as complex as you might think, simply upgrading your shower pump will make a massive improvement to the flow of water! Most manufacturers offer advice on their websites for installation, with videos and ‘how to’ guides.  

Making minor cosmetic changes such as fixing or replacing broken tiles, regrouting or even cleaning dirty grout can also make a significant difference to the overall look of your bathroom!

Tap into potential

Nobody ever thinks about the taps in their bathroom, but there are actually so many sleek and stylish designs for the faucets in your home nowadays. Our favourite has to be the taps that come with a waterfall feature. If your budget allows, investing in some brand new taps can give a bathroom a chic new look and it’s not as difficult as you think to replace them. You can look at this handy guide to give you all the information you need to complete the task yourself.

Consider a new throne

We’re all used to the standard white toilet seat, but just because it’s the norm doesn’t mean yours must be. Jazz it up a bit and go for something with a bit more identity, whether it be a different colour, style, or simply get a new toilet seat lid – after all, not all DIY ideas need to be so drastic.

Accessorise to your heart’s content

A lot of the time your bathroom might only need a few ‘finishing touches’ – this is the time when you can start experimenting with accessories. Even little things like a new bathmat, soap dispenser or glass jars to put your toiletries in can really brighten up a room and make it feel vibrant. A great idea to add some freshness to your bathroom could be to include a houseplant, which won’t even need much looking after as it’s already in a moist environment!

How to Get Rid of Mould in Showers!

How to Get Rid of Mold in Showers!

Mould in your shower room can be a real problem. Not only does it look unsightly, but it can cause serious health problems if left unchecked.

Mould can appear because your bathroom is humid and not well ventilated, so try to air out the room by opening a window frequently. This will allow fresh air to circulate. If the problem persists, consider using a dehumidifier.

Mould frequently appears around showers, sinks, baths and toilets – in fact, anywhere where moisture accumulates. Make sure you have no leaking taps and that any shower pumps are functioning correctly. Keeping unnecessary moisture to a minimum by promptly mopping up any spills will also inhibit the growth of mould.

Regular cleaning will also inhibit the formation of mould. Give bathmats a regular wash and invest in a mould-proof shower curtain if you use one. Make sure any products are wiped down and stored after use so they don’t remain in your shower, creating conditions where mould can grow.

If mould has taken hold in your shower, there are several methods you can try to get rid of it, either using household products or off-the-shelf mould-cleaning solutions. Whatever you use, remember to always wear gloves to prevent any irritation, and always read the instructions carefully.

Brilliant Bicarb

Check in your baking supplies and you’re bound to have some bicarbonate of soda. Bicarb can be an effective mould cleaner – just mix one cup with one teaspoon of washing-up liquid and enough hot water to make a paste. Work the mixture into the mould – an old toothbrush can be very effective – and then rinse off.

Try Bleach

You can buy bleach sprays in the supermarket. Or you can make your own by mixing one part bleach with two parts of water in a spray bottle. Spray on to tiles and allow to dry.

Now spray again and scrub with a brush. Rinse with water and repeat until the mould has gone. You may need to regrout if you can’t get rid of all the mould, so use a product with a mould inhibitor.

An old toothbrush dipped in bleach can be an effective way of removing mould on grout lines and in hard-to-reach places.

Kill Mould with Hydrogen Peroxide

Yes, the stuff the hairdresser users for your highlights can make an effective household cleaner. Many people prefer it to bleach, as it’s environmentally friendly. You’ll need 3% hydrogen peroxide for cleaning away mould.

Use a dark spray bottle, because hydrogen peroxide becomes less effective when exposed to light, and add a little vinegar to boost your solution’s cleaning power.

Because of its effective bleaching properties, hydrogen peroxide is best for cleaning white tiles. Do a patch test on darker tiles to see whether it fades the colour.

Now spray all over the tiles and leave to work for up to two hours. Ventilate your bathroom, as the fumes, though non-toxic, can be very strong and unpleasant. Then simply wipe down.

Go Natural with Vinegar

Vinegar kills 82% of all household moulds, so spraying surfaces with vinegar once the mould is gone is a good preventative.

You don’t need to dilute it: simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and then spray on mouldy surfaces. Leave for an hour, airing out the bath. Now spray the tiles with hot water and dry thoroughly with a towel.

Vinegar is also extremely effective against limescale. Spray it neat on to any scale build-up, then leave overnight before rinsing.

Use Borax

Borax is a good natural cleaner and insecticide. It’s simple to use – just dilute one cup of borax in one gallon of water. Before you apply it, vacuum the tiles with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to get rid of any loose spores.

Work the borax solution into the tiles with a scrubbing brush, being careful not to dislodge any stray spores as they will rapidly spread to a new location. Now clean off with a cloth and let the tiles dry. For extra security, spray the area with vinegar to inhibit regrowth.

Disinfect That Mouldy Shower Drain

Vinegar is excellent at getting rid of mould in the shower drain – simply pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain, followed by half a cup of bicarb. Leave to work overnight, then flush with hot water. Repeat a couple of times a month to keep the drain mould-free and sweet-smelling.

What to Consider Before Installing a Second Bathroom

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If your entire family can be found queuing up outside the bathroom every morning, it may be time to think a second bathroom. This will not only ease the pressure on everyone’s bladders, but is likely to add value to your home.

There are, of course, a number of considerations, not least of which is space. However, modern bathroom fittings and plumbing solutions allow for the creation of additional facilities within surprising confines.

Do You Have the Space?

Given that the first and most important thing to consider when thinking about a second bathroom is whether your house can accommodate it, you will need to undertake a little research. The good news is that a modern bathroom can be really quite compact, particularly if you are willing to be a little creative.

If you want more than a toilet and a washbasin, of course, your space will need to be larger. A bath requires considerably more floor area than a shower so much depends on your requirements. If you look at the floor plan of your home, you may very well find some ‘dead space’ with which to play, perhaps under the stairs or in the form of a built-in wardrobe.

You may have loft space or even have a basement to convert. It could be that your existing bathroom is huge with the potential to make better use of empty space. Or perhaps your master bedroom is so large that it would sustain the loss of a few feet in order to create an en-suite.

Is Plumbing Really the Priority?

It goes without saying that a toilet, bath and shower need to be plumbed in correctly, in accordance with the applicable building regulations. It is therefore important to take expert advice in locating and designing your new bathroom.

Working closely with professionals from the outset will ensure that you minimise any additional cost associated with extending or re-routing pipework.

All plumbing and any electrical work should be undertaken by qualified professionals who know what they’re doing. Don’t even think about doing such a major job on your own: it’s not a DIY project unless you’re in the trade.

The location of existing hot and cold water pipes, together with that of any waste pipes and soil stacks (vertical pipework which is often hidden in modern homes and which takes waste from the WC to the external sewerage system) are important considerations.

If your house is currently on a septic tank system, you will need to determine whether it will be able to cope with any extra waste.

With modern solutions, including macerator pumps and their associated small bore waste pipes, there is far greater flexibility than at any time in the past.

What Can You Include?

Once you understand any plumbing and spatial constraints, you can determine what is to be included in your new bathroom. Another bath, shower or just a toilet and washbasin? If the floor area will allow for it, you may wish to include all of these facilities. Smaller spaces may preclude a bath, but showers are now available in just about every possible shape and size, some with very small footprints indeed.

How Do You Ventilate?

Another vital consideration is ventilation within your new bathroom. This is particularly important if you are planning on installing a bath or shower. This will require ventilation in order to prevent any build-up of moisture. There are regulatory requirements with regard to the ventilation of bathrooms (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/456656/domestic_ventilation_compliance_guide_2010.pdf).

Your second bathroom may have an exterior wall and perhaps a window which offers some practical ventilation. However, you will also need to install appropriate ventilation in the form of an extractor fan. These come in a variety of forms suited to installation in a window, wall or the ceiling.

How Do You Create a Balance?

If your objectives extend beyond pure utility and include adding value to your home, achieving an appropriate balance is essential. There’s little point in having three bathrooms if you have made dramatic sacrifices in living or bedroom space in order to achieve this.

In the end, it all comes down to what you and your family need from your home. Always remember to do your research first to ensure you’re not about to attempt the impossible. But you will be pleasantly surprised at just how much can be achieved.