In praise of unrenovated kitchens and overgrown gardens | Johanna Leggatt

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Our enthusiasm for turning where we live into display homes is making them soulless - and us boring

If you want a picture of marital misery, or perhaps you are a sadomasochist and wish to test the limits of your relationship, then grab your partner by the hand and head to a home hardware store or Ikea on the weekend.

You’ll find scores of like-minded types there. Walking about drearily like they’re in line for the gallows, bickering under their breath about paying through the nose for reclaimed river rocks, and rolling their eyes when one person suggests a Balinese-style gazebo (and fair enough, too).

Related: The gorgeous photos of the derelict properties you still can't afford

Our gardens didn’t have water features or hedging, and no one competed for what estate agents like to dub 'kerb appeal'

Related: Every time I go to Bunnings I feel like I’ve left a little bit of my soul behind | Paul Daley

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Hot Property: Preventing Heat Loss in the Home

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Heat loss is a major concern for every homeowner, no matter what kind of property they live in. The more heat lost, the higher you’ll have to crank up the heating – leading to unpleasantly pricey bills if you want to keep your toes toasty. Knowing the hotspots for heat loss in your house is […]

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#ProjectSpotlight: Orangery with bi-fold doors

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Bi-fold doors have become a major home improvement trend over the last year or so, valued for their modern look and, above all, their potential for views. Once they’re opened wide, they create an access point to the outside world like no other. So if you’ve got the views and want to bring them inside, […]

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#ProjectSpotlight: Ultra-stylish kitchen orangery

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Just because something’s practical doesn’t mean it has to skimp on style. As long as it’s functional, meets your daily needs and your budget, we say the more wow factor, the better. That’s how we feel about kitchens; they’re one of the most – if not the most – practical spaces in a house. It’s where we cook, […]

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#AnglianAnswers: Why is there condensation on my windows?

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It’s time we all accepted it – ‘tis the season for window condensation. Now that summer is well and truly coming to a close, you might start to notice condensation forming on either the inside or outside of your windows. Don’t worry just yet – it’s a pretty common problem, especially at this time of […]

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#AnglianAnswers: What is a composite door?

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If you’re in the market for a new front or back door – or, let’s be honest, even if you aren’t – you’ve probably been offered a composite door, in addition to the traditional options of uPVC, wood or aluminium. You’ve heard they’re great, sure, and incredibly stylish, but what exactly are they? And how […]

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#ProjectSpotlight: Two seaside orangeries

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We’ve talked before about orangeries and their ability to create the wow factor. The lantern roofs, the influx of streaming light, their elegant appearance from the outside and in – there’s something about them that just makes a home pop. So if you had the opportunity to add not one orangery but two, we can’t help […]

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#AnglianAnswers: Do I need planning permission to build a conservatory?

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It’s common among homeowners looking to add a conservatory to their home to consider planning permission one of the biggest stressors. But perhaps what isn’t so common is the notion that securing planning permission can actually be pretty simple, especially when you trust someone like Anglian to build your conservatory, as we can do the […]

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#ProjectSpotlight: Aluminium porch

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When you’ve lived in a property for however many years, adding new home improvements can be a bit of a daunting task. How well will the new fit in with the old? Is a perfect match possible, or more of a pipe dream? We’re here to tell you not only is it possible to fit […]

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One on one with motorbike racer Daniel Brooks

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If you’ve been following our Good to be Home blog, you may or may not have noticed motorbike racer Daniel Brooks’ name come up time and again. That’s because for the last few years, we’ve been sponsoring him as he embarks on his motorcross journey, whipping around UK tracks in Anglian blue. We’ve loved not […]

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#AnglianAnswers: How do I make my front door more secure?

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It’s October, and you know what that means – it’s National Home Security Month! That’s why this month, we’re bringing you #AnglianAnswers that are all devoted to improving your home’s security, so stay tuned for our top tips. That brings us to our first #AnglianAnswers of the month, where we’re focussing on a prime area […]

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#ProjectSpotlight: A transformative solid roof

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It’s a complaint we hear all too often – my conservatory is too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. So does that mean this is just an issue all conservatory owners are destined to face, and we should just resign ourselves now? Not if Anglian has anything to say about it. Our […]

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Our favourite autumn home trends

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We’ve all been enjoying the heatwave, but sooner than we think autumn will be upon us and we’ll be settling in front of the fire with a warm mug of hot chocolate. As the bright shades of summer turn to deep autumn tones, it’s time to swap patterned cushions for warm knitted blankets and throws, […]

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Pot luck: the paint recyclers who put leftover litres to good use

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It’s all profit and gloss for the Brits who do exactly what it says on the tin

Rare is the DIY dilettante with the foresight to know they are never going to use the rest of that paint they stashed in the shed after doing up the living room. Who hasn’t kidded themselves that they really are going to touch up all those grubby spots with the leftovers in years to come?

With an estimated 50m litres of paint going to waste each year in the UK (that’s enough to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools), we are all guilty. No wonder the average home is thought to have at least 17 half-empty pots gathering cobwebs under the stairs.

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Can I trust a website for a reliable handyman?

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We are looking for someone to do some home repairs for my elderly parents

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

In search of a handyman for my elderly parents I’ve been looking at various websites that promise “trusted” workers. Has anyone found a site that delivers good tradesmen, or should I ask the neighbours instead?

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Homebase cuts 300 jobs as more store closures loom

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Third of head office roles axed as new owners reportedly consider closing up to 80 stores

Homebase is cutting 300 jobs at its Milton Keynes head office amid speculation that up to 80 stores will close after its takeover by the restructuring specialist Hilco.

The loss-making DIY chain was bought by the owner of HMV for £1 in a deal agreed in May after its previous Australian owner, Wesfarmers, pulled the plug on a “disastrous” venture into the UK.

Related: Tell us: do you work in retail and are affected by redundancies?

Related: I won’t cry for Homebase, but I fear for our high streets | Stephen Moss

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Want to avoid cowboy builders? Here’s how to find a reliable one

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We examine how the main websites that list tradespeople measure up

Forget sun, sand and sea. For many, this summer will be all about skips, cement and the builder’s drill. For those planning home improvements, the key question will be where they can find a reliable tradesperson.

Some 45,000 people called Citizens Advice last year seeking help with their home improvement and maintenance problems, and the Federation of Master Builders estimates cowboy contractors cost the UK economy £10bn a year.

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Homebase sold to Hilco for £1 putting jobs and 60 stores at risk

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Acquisition of DIY chain ‘an unbelievable disaster’ for Australian group Wesfarmers

Homebase has been sold to the restructuring specialist Hilco, the owner of HMV, for £1 as the DIY chain’s Australian owner pulls the plug on its disastrous venture into the UK, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

Wesfarmers, which bought the business for £340m two years ago, said it was offloading the entire 250-store Homebase chain, which has a workforce of just over 11,000.

Hilco’s UK division, set up in 2000, has been involved in a long list of retail restructures from HMV and BHS to Woolworths.

Related: ‘Homebase is the most disastrous retail acquisition in the UK ever’

What is a company voluntary arrangement?

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'A pool in the basement is a clear marker of wealth': how the super-rich are digging down

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In London’s richest boroughs vast subterranean enclaves are being carved out over several floors to house cars, wine, saunas and private nightclubs. How did underground living – once associated with poverty and disease – become an investment scheme for the uber-wealthy?

With its eclectic fusion of Regency and mythological motifs, Havona House stands out amid the stucco-fronted Victorian townhouses in Notting Hill’s Pembridge Villas. The newly built mansion’s mock neoclassical columns and the limestone carvings of Greek deities on the facade reflect the roots of its owner, property investor Costas Diamantopoulos. Stepping inside the 8,600 sq ft (800 sq m) property, which is on the market for £25m, you are confronted by an array of opulent features, including a free-floating stone staircase, hand-blown glass pendants and marble en-suite bathrooms.

If your neighbourhood has been affected by basement developments, or you own one or have been involved in their construction, and have experienced any of the issues in this story or similar, we would like to hear from you. Share your story with us by using our encrypted form and a reporter may contact you to discuss further.


Why is Thumbtack blue now?

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We’ve had the same brand for 10 years but Thumbtack has radically changed — it’s now a much smarter, easier tool for our customers and pros. Here's how we did it.

A mountain to climb to get Everest to resolve our window issue

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Our latest double-glazed windows don’t match the previous ones it installed and I can’t seem to get the problem rectified

Before Christmas my wife and I ordered double-glazed windows and bifold doors from Everest. This followed a previous order of windows for half of the house fitted last July.

When the new order came in early March, it became clear that the windows did not match the ones supplied nine months ago and the bifold doors did not fit.

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‘Homebase is the most disastrous retail acquisition in the UK ever’

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Australia’s Bunnings caught out by ‘complexity’ of British home improvements market

It’s an Aussie institution in crisis after aggressive management led to disgrace and embarrassment overseas. It also knows a thing or two about sandpaper.

This is not the country’s cricket side, but Bunnings, the Australian DIY retailer, that set out to conquer Britain by revamping Homebase but ended up writing off A$1bn (£547m) after a catalogue of major mistakes.

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Boring chore? Airtasker or TaskRabbit could help – at a price

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Two services that allow users to outsource everyday tasks are launching in the UK, but are they destroying workers’ rights?

It’s like Uber, but for the household chores you can’t face doing yourself: from assembling flat-pack Ikea furniture, to cleaning your home, to sorting out problems with your computer. You go online, list the job you want doing, then others on the site bid to do the work.

It has already taken off in Australia, where Airtasker claims to be sorting out 1.4m household jobs a year, earning “taskers” AU$240m (£135m). This month Airtasker is spending about £20m launching in the UK, handing out £35 coupons to help pay for the first task.

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Cold at home? Here’s how to beat the winter chill

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Britons’ homes are among the draughtiest in Europe. You can change that this weekend

If you’ve been struggling to keep your home warm this week, you are far from alone. UK homes are some of the least well insulated in Europe. But experts say a few simple DIY changes can dramatically improve the internal temperature. The concept is simple: stop cold air coming in and prevent warm air from escaping. This will save you money on your utility bills as the existing heating system will need to work less hard. Here’s what you can do this weekend.

Floorboard gaps

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Is your wood stove choking you? How indoor fires are suffocating cities

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A wood stove emits more harmful air particulates than a diesel truck. Does their newfound popularity in cities threaten to wipe out progress in reducing air pollution?

  • A modest proposal for solving the air pollution crisis: a worker smog bonus

Emma Meaden loves to sit in her north-west London flat, her dogs napping at her feet, watching the flames dance in her new wood stove. When she first moved in, she lit a few fires in the old-fashioned fireplace – but it was a poor way to heat her sitting room and she was intrigued by the stoves she’d seen at friends’ homes in the country. Along with the savings on heating and the ambiance, Meaden liked the idea that wood was a renewable fuel – one that, she supposed, would shrink her carbon footprint. “I’m always trying to do the right thing,” she says.

Like Meaden, many Britons have embraced the cosy, hearth-and-home feeling of burning wood. The government has helped propagate the notion of wood as a renewable fuel that saves money and the environment alike – an image that stove manufacturers have happily seized upon for their marketing campaigns.

Yet another stupid decision – in the same way they myopically pursued diesel, they have...

What’s Trending Now: February 2018

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February may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s still a great month to get stuff done. Here are some of the most popular projects in February on Thumbtack — and the average national cost you can expect to pay.

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