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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Homes: how a rodent infestation turned out to be a blessing in disguise

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Rats under the floorboards are every home owners’ worst nightmare, but not for Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman had a rodent problem: rats run wild in her north-west London neighbourhood; she once came across one tucking into the cheese and crackers she’d left out for lunch. The only solution, she was told, was to rip up the floorboards and fill the recess below with concrete. “We were quoted £10,000, so we thought we may as well spend a bit more and reconfigure the entire downstairs, which was dark and damp,” says Kinsman, founding editor of boutique hotel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith.

She approached an enthusiastic local studio, Rise Design, which did the lot: created a bright kitchen/dining room overlooking the garden; a book-lined, black-painted TV snug; a downstairs loo and shower room; and a revamped hall and front room. “Once we’d factored in fixtures and fittings, we ended up paying well over £100,000,” Kinsman says. “We’ve remortgaged up to our eyeballs, but it’s been worth it. We essentially have a new house.”

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Bathstore accused of using cowboy fitters who damaged properties

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Dream bathrooms turned into nightmares for two customers who say they were forced to sign off on shoddy work

Two women who each paid Bathstore £5,000 to install new bathrooms in their homes have claimed the retailer used cowboy builders who caused leaks and damage to their homes – and then tried to intimidate them into signing off their shoddy work.

Nicola Milburn from Gravesend in Kent said sales staff had promised that it would take five days to install her dream bathroom, but instead it turned into a nightmare of leaking toilets, botched pipework and failed promises. Milburn, who works in property management, said having the work done was “the worst experience of my life”.

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I returned a bathroom sink to Aqva but it claims it arrived damaged

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It delivered the wrong colour unit so I sent it back at my expense. Now it won’t refund my £600

I bought a £600 bathroom sink unit from aqva.co.uk. The wrong colour item was delivered so I returned it at my expense.

Aqva emailed to advise that it would not offer a refund as the product was damaged, but I have photos showing that it was in good condition when I returned it and the courier company has confirmed in writing to me that the retailer signed that it had been received in good condition.

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Kiev pensioner turns scruffy stairwell into a gilded palace

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Vladimir Chaika has spent years installing ornamental plaster mouldings and art reproductions in a Soviet-era block of flats

From the outside, number 11A is a drab block of flats like any other in Troyeshina, a scruffy Kiev suburb of identikit Soviet-era housing. The entrance door is daubed with graffiti, the ground floor hallway dingy and depressing.

But exit the lift between floors six and eight, however, and the contrast with the grey, snowy winter outside could not be greater. The stairwell has been plastered, gilded and ornamented so it resembles a Tsarist palace more than a Khrushchev-era block of flats. Set in gilded frames, reproductions of the Mona Lisa and other well-known portraits stare out. Cherubs and ornamental flowers adorn the ceiling; set amid the swirling plaster are colourful vistas of desert islands fringed with palm trees.

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Consumers caught out as UK firms furnished with crippling copyright laws

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The replica designer furniture market has become a huge industry, but a rushed change to the law has plunged it into chaos

The website of Voga, Britain’s foremost replica furniture importer, boasts that the firm “was created to make great design accessible to all”, before adding: “The greatest mid-century furniture designs are back where they belong: in your homes.”

Except they’re not. They are in fact in a warehouse in County Kildare where, unless the UK customers who ordered them travel to Ireland to collect them, or pay a third-party delivery firm to do so, they will be resold or destroyed.

We don’t know which orders to stop since there is no list of which designs qualify for copyright

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Useful alternatives to the man drawer | Letters

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Man drawers | The year of the unexpected | Ominous prophecy | Orgreave | I, Daniel Blake | Warming signs

I agree with Tim Dowling (Can you do these 10 annual jobs in just one day? G2, 1 November) about the naming of the “man drawer”, an essential part of any household with or without a man, and previously known by me as “that drawer in the kitchen”, a name which everyone recognised. However, the contents of mine are now dispersed in a pocketed device hanging on my utility room door, admired by passing tradespeople as a good solution, and making it easy to find anything.
Penelope Stanford
Longfield, Kent

• As 2016 is clearly becoming the year of the unexpected – Leicester City, Brexit, Boris as foreign secretary and in all likelihood, President Trump – I’m sticking a tenner on Ed Balls to dance his way to victory. Stranger things have happened.
Ian Grieve
Steyning, West Sussex

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Mortgages available for nuclear fallout shelters - archive, 28 April 1980

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28 April 1980: Building societies are happy to lend money for the building of fallout shelters as they have had a spectacular revival this year

Building Societies are trying to ensure that some of their customers will be left come the nuclear day of reckoning.

The majority of major societies, it seems, are quite happy to lend money for the building of fallout shelters. Such buildings have had a spectacular revival this year.

Related: If nuclear war broke out where's the safest place on Earth?

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Why is the quiet life in Britain reserved for the rich? | Mary Dejevsky

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Celebrity complaints about building disruption hog the headlines. But with regulations not fit for purpose, the rest of us have to suffer in silence

Critics of the royals have found another stick to beat the Cambridges with. Residents of their select corner of London are reportedly up in arms over plans for a double-storey extension beneath the Orangery at Kensington Palace, citing the noise, the pollution and the general inappropriateness of the whole idea. Defenders of the scheme insist that it is about making more space for the duke and duchess’s charity staff, and improving facilities for visitors.

High-profile planning disputes, especially about so-called mega-basements in the capital – because that is where the payback from additional space is greatest – have become a feature of the city landscape.

There are supposed to be air quality and noise controls, but they are lax compared with most European standards

Related: Council planners like me could solve the housing crisis - if ministers let us

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9 Essential April Projects

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The days are getting longer and the sun is starting to shine. Time to enjoy life! Still drowsy from the long winter hibernation? Get out of your winter shell and back into the swing of life with these 9 essential April projects.

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Patio Party Pleasers: The Mint Julep

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Dust off your outside furniture—patio season is here. The weather is warmer, the days longer, and weekend get togethers migrate from dining room tables to outdoor decks. To help you get into the open-air state of mind,

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Survey: Small Business Optimism and Hiring Reach Historic High

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Economic optimism among small business owners soared to a record-setting peak this month, reaching its highest level since March 2015. And with this optimism comes growing headcounts—34 percent of the 3,468 of small business owners we surveyed reported that they had either hired or attempted to hire one or more new employees in the last three months.

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Sod it: Californians turn back to grass lawns as drought shaming ebbs

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The state’s punishing drought saw neighbors scorned and water-guzzling lawns ripped up. But turf-industry insiders say grass is making a comeback

Yumi Wong adores the latest addition to her southern California home: a lush, emerald lawn.

“It just looks much nicer with all the green. It feels clean and peaceful,” she said on Tuesday, padding across the 2,800-sq-ft grass expanse. “I thought about artificial turf but I just wanted the real stuff back.”

Related: On the hunt for 'moral breaches' with California's foremost drought-shamer

Related: When in drought: the California farmers who don’t water their crops

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Is a remortgage or second charge mortgage right for home improvements?

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Say you need £30,000 for a home extension, we look at the pros and cons, and which deal will be most cost-effective

While many homeowners dream of the day they will be mortgage-free, growing numbers of people are opting to take out a second mortgage. And they’re using the money to finance everything from home extensions to IVF treatment.

According to the latest data, so-called second charge mortgage lending is galloping ahead and has leapt to its highest level since 2008. During the year to 29 February, £887m of second mortgages were taken out by homeowners. That’s 36% up on the year to February 2015, and more than three times the £293m of second mortgages in 2011-12.

Related: Home truths about remortgaging to pay off other debts

If you need to borrow a small amount of money, you are better off going for an unsecured product such as a personal loan

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