Category Archives: Home building

Make a date with DIY this spring!


Regular readers might remember our January round-up of home, garden and building show dates for your diary. With the show season now well underway, it’s time for Part II – so here are the must-visit events in April, May and June!

The Gadget Show Live, NEC, Birmingham

Now in its seventh year, the Gadget Show is the perfect way to round off the Easter holidays! With the chance to see, try and buy the latest in cutting edge technology, this event showcases the best of British innovation, as well as staging gaming tournaments and talks and shows in the Super Theatre.

April 7-12, adults £25, children (5-12) £20,

The RHS Flower Show, Cardiff

Spring will well and truly bloom at Wales’ premier flower show, with gardening tips from Royal Horticultural Society experts, exciting family activities and, of course, thousands of plants! Talks and demos will take place in the theatre, whilst the show will be split into three main themed areas – plants, people and places. The RHS Flower Show takes place in Bute Park, just outside the walls of Cardiff’s historic castle and with the largest number of ‘champion’ trees in any public park in the UK.

April 17-19, RHS members, £7.50, public £8.50 (two under-16s free with every paying adult),

The Cornwall Home & Lifestyle Show, Wadebridge

Cornwall’s only home, garden and living exhibition, at the Royal Cornwall Showground, brings together the best products and services in interiors, homeware, gardens and architecture. The 150+ exhibitors include renewable energy firms, letting agents and food and drinks vendors, and there’ll also be a health and wellbeing zone. And, if you book online in advance, it’s free!

May 2-3, free in advance or £3 per person or £5 per couple on the door (children free),

Grand Designs Live, ExCel Centre, London

The show of the year for fans of the long-running C4 series (not to mention presenter Kevin McCloud!), this huge event has it all. The interiors hall has inspiration from every room in the house, from essential kitchens and bathrooms to luxury games room. In the Grand Village, visitors can take in unique and innovative architecture and see the latest in eco-friendly design, whilst experts, celebrities and real life Grand Designs case studies will share their experiences in the Grand Theatre.

May 2-10, from £12 (under-15s free),

All Energy Exhibition & Conference, SECC, Glasgow

After 14 years in Aberdeen, the UK’s largest renewables show for professionals is moving to Glasgow during the city’s Green Year. Featuring more than 450 suppliers and with more than 400 high-profile speakers, the exhibition includes a Sustainable Cities Zone, a number of conference theatres, a Meet the Buyers ‘share fair’, where developers will explain what they look for during their tendering processes, and an Energy Storage Visitor Trail. And don’t miss the Low Carbon Transport Zone, where visitors looking for personal or company vehicles can take a ride in a number of display cars.

May 6-7, free to register in advance,

The Homebuilding & Renovating Show, SECC, Glasgow

The second of seven Homebuilding Shows throughout the UK in 2015, this Glasgow date comes hot on the heels of the All Energy Exhibition and in the same venue. It’s an essential date for anyone planning to create their dream home, either from scratch or by remodelling or extending an existing property. A one-stop shop of ideas and advice, this show includes inspiration for gardens and has experts from Homebuilding and Renovating magazine ready to answer your questions.

May 16-17, from £8 in advance,

RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea, London

garden-showThe RHS staged its first ‘Great Spring Show’ in Kensington in 1862, before moving to Chelsea in the early 20th century. Since then, this world-renowned show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital has become the place for horticulturalists to exhibit, with displays becoming increasingly inventive year on year. 2015 marks the return of award-winning designer Jo Thompson, who is creating a romantic retreat inspired by the writing room of author Vita Sackville-West. Prince Harry’s charity, Sentebale, will also create a garden, whilst the RHS Discovery Zone in the Great Pavilion is a great place to head to with children. They can even turn astro-biologists courtesy of ‘Rocket Science’, a project with the UK Space Agency encouraging youngsters to plant rocket seeds that have been to the International Space Station!

May 19-23, from £24 for non-RHS members,

Salvo Fair, Henley-on-Thames

This outdoor show at Fawley Hill is a mecca for homeowners with an eye for all things vintage. The UK’s largest architectural salvage fair, it’s a treasure trove of home and garden antiques, industrial products, upcycled goods, reclaimed material and retro items. New for 2015 is ‘Tiny Salvaged Spaces’, an exhibition of summerhouses, wagons and shepherds’ huts. Note that Friday, June 26 is trade day.

June 27-28, £8 in advance or £9 on the day, or £29/£32 for a family ticket,,_architectural_salvage_and_reclaimed_materials_fair_in_Henley_on_Thames.html

Main image courtesy of the Homebuilding & Renovation Show 

Bathrooms and kitchens top home renovation list

install-kitchenFitting new bathrooms and kitchens are the most popular property renovation projects, a survey has shown, whilst homeowners are also adding value by knocking through rooms, converting cellars and giving their garden a makeover.

Almost half the homeowners who have carried out a major home improvement in the last three years have installed a new bathroom, closely followed by nearly four out of 10 who have opted for a new kitchen. A third of homeowners have modernised their boiler or central heating system, whilst seven per cent have added an extra bedroom.

But with nearly half of those surveyed admitting they didn’t inform their home insurer about the work carried out, property owners are being warned they are at risk of invalidating their cover if they don’t update their policy details.

The home improvement research, commissioned by Home Insurance, found that the top 10 renovation projects were:

  • Fitting a new bathroom, 44%
  • Fitting a new kitchen, 39%
  • Installing a new boiler or central heating system, 33%
  • Carrying out a garden makeover, 28%
  • Building an extension, 16%
  • Knocking through rooms, 11%
  • Fitting solar panels, 11%
  • Converting the attic, 10%
  • Adding a bedroom, 7%
  • Converting the cellar, 6%

The survey also found that 22% of homeowners are extending or improving with a view to staying in their property for at least three years, whilst five per cent are carrying out the work with view to selling their home within the same timeframe.’s Ben Wilson says: “As well as making your home a nicer place to live, a major renovation project can add to the value of your property and household contents.  For example, when modernising a kitchen with new cabinets and worktops, many people will also buy a new cooker, fridge freezer or other appliances and furniture, increasing both the value of their property’s rebuilding costs and household contents.  So, you’ll need to review your insurance to make sure that you’ve got adequate cover for your new investment.

“Also, if your renovation involves scaffolding or removing doors or windows for any length of time, your property will be less secure, so your insurer may increase your premiums to reflect the increased risk while the work is being carried out.”

Homeowners are also advised to brush up on home insurers’ rules regarding unoccupied properties.  “Most policies stipulate that if you leave your home unoccupied for a period of time, typically exceeding 30 or 60 days*, then your property will not be covered for certain events including theft, malicious damage and escape of water,” adds Ben. “There’s no standard definition of ‘occupied’, so, if you’re planning to live elsewhere during refurbishment works, it’s essential that you talk to your insurer first to make sure you understand the implications.

“Most home insurance policies don’t cover tradesmen or their work, so you should always check that they have their own insurance in place.  It’s also wise to check that they are qualified to carry out the work and registered with a recognised governing body.”

For more information on home improvements and your insurance, read’s handy guide.

Main image courtesy of Do It Yourself Kitchens


Make a date with DIY!

diy-showsWith the new year now well underway, thoughts are turning to all those home improvement projects put on hold over Christmas. If, like us, you have big DIY or building plans for 2015, you might be in need of a little inspiration – and where better to get it than from the many home shows coming up!

Throughout the year, DIY Advice Online will be rounding up details of our favourite home, building and lifestyle events in the UK, starting with the winter months ahead. So get your diaries at the ready and start planning your year of DIY!

The Southern Home Show, Alexandra Palace, London

Start the year in style at the Southern Home Show, returning to the Ally Pally for the second time. Covering interior design, DIY, self building, renovation, energy efficiency and gardens, the show is a chance for visitors to take part in workshops and seminars, find products such as power tools, hand tools and building equipment and get tips from the experts. You can even bring along your plans and drawings to the advice area, whilst kids can get stuck in to their own DIY workshops! Jan 30 – Feb 1, £8 (children free),

The Listed Property Show, Olympia London

If you live in a listed building, this one’s for you! Here you can chat to conservation officers, property regulations experts, planners and architects, as well as source specialist builders and suppliers of things such as windows, doors, paint and flooring. And don’t worry if you live up north – there’s another show in Harrogate in March! Feb 14-15, free (register online), / @Listed_Property

The Caravan, Camping & Motorhome Show, Birmingham NEC

camping-showOk, so it’s not a home show exactly, but you might be surprised at the array of ideas you can glean for your home and garden here, not to mention inspiration for the outdoor lifestyle! Held during half term, this massive show is staged over several of the NEC’s huge halls and includes plenty of activities such as rock climbing, dog agility displays and discovery zones to keep the kids happy while you canvas opinion on essential outdoor style! Feb 17-22, from £7 (children free), / @CaravanCampShow

Wilton House Antiques Fair, Wiltshire

This independent and renowned annual fair is the one to visit if you like period pieces. From furniture, paintings, maps, silver, porcelain, glass, clocks and collectibles, your home will certainly stand out from the Ikea crowd if you invest in a unique antique or two. With more than 40 top class, vetted dealers setting up stall in the cloisters area inside the main house and in the old riding school, experienced buyers and novices alike are welcome. Feb 27 – March 1, £5.50,

Ecobuild, Excel London

This trade event is the UK’s largest built-environment show and is packed with interactive and innovative attractions, live demos and brand new products and techniques. Speakers in the Nature and Built Environment Hall include experts from conservation trusts, the British Bee Keepers’ Association and the Grass Roof Company, whilst visitors can even earn a spot to pitch their eco retail solution to Marks & Spencer! March 3-5, free (register online, no under 16s), / @Ecobuild_Now

First Time Buyer Home Show, Business Design Centre, London

You can only dream of DIY if you’re yet to put a foot on the property ladder, but this show can get you started. Home-owning hopefuls can get free advice from housing associations, lawyers, credit check firms and home builders, and although the experts on hand do tend to be a little London-centric, there is also information on first time buying outside the capital. TV property expert Nicki Chapman will chat to first-time buyers about their experiences, and there’s £5,000 towards a deposit up for grabs too! March 7, free, / @firsttimebuyer

Vintage Home Show, Victoria Baths, Manchester

Do you think kitsch is cool? If your style is old style, make a date with Discover Vintage’s next show, where there’ll be 50 fabulous stalls selling everything from furniture and lighting to ceramics and textiles. With items from the 1930s to the ‘70s, you’ll be sure to pick up timeless treasures to make your home the envy of the street! March 15, free, / @VintageHomeShow

The Homebuilding & Renovating Show, Birmingham NEC

homebuilding-showWhether you’re planning to build your dream home, add an extension to your current property or remodel your garden, this show is a one-stop shop of advice and bright ideas. The show features thousands of products on display, more than 500 specialist businesses, a planning clinic and experts from Homebuilding and Renovating magazine on hand to answer questions. Visitors can also book a free one-to-one consultation with an impartial expert at The Advice Centre – but hurry, as these slots are extremely popular! March 26-29, from £12 in advance, / @MyHomebuilding

Ideal Home Show, London

It’s hard to believe, but this year marks the 107th Ideal Home Show! And, as befits the grand duchess of all home shows, the IHS has home improvement ideas, garden gadgets, terrific technology and heavenly homeware bursting from every room. Celeb experts include Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, money saving expert Martin Lewis, TV presenter and campaigner Katie Piper and gardening god Alan Titchmarsh, whilst there will be lots of food and drink-related attractions and even a catwalk and daily fashion shows! And with the show returning to its original home, where it was launched by the Daily Mail way back in 1908, it’s sure to be one of the most special events yet. March 20 – Apr 6, from £12 in advance, children free (ticket required), / @ideal_home_show

Main photo: Steve Burden