Give Your Home a Refresh this Autumn

Say goodbye to summer’s lethargy and have a sort-out at home. It’s time to channel that back-to-school-feeling for domestic good!

Original article first published on Houzz

Jo Simmons, Houzz Contributor

Even if your school and uni days are far behind you, there is something about September and October that always feels new and purposeful. The summer is over and the streets are full of young people bustling off to school each morning and adults settling back into a working routine. OK, so you no longer need to organise your pencil case and cover your textbooks with wallpaper, but you can still channel this new-term energy by whipping your home and yourself into shape, ready for autumn. A touch of targeted tidying, some clever organising and a few small lifestyle tweaks should help you start afresh.

 

Take care of yourself
Growing children need new shoes and clothes at the start of an academic year and while your feet may not have gone up a size over the summer, this could be a good time to book in for any key health appointments. Is it time for an eye check? Are you overdue at the dentist? Perhaps you just need a haircut! Channel the new-term feel by booking health reviews, check-ups or personal grooming sessions now.

 

 

Overhaul your diet
Don’t wait until New Year to start a new healthy-eating regime. After a summer of rosé and holiday food, now is a great time to rethink what you eat. Injecting some new, healthy dishes into your tried and trusted repertoire will perk up the shorter evenings and help to ensure everyone in the family is fighting fit and able to cope with school, work and the coming sniffle season.

 

 

Prepare the garden for autumn
Clean and store garden furniture safely for the winter. Leaving wooden chairs out in the rain can damage them and shorten their life, while chairs with any metal detailing can rust. Pack up your barbecue, too, and take down any summer bunting that might not survive the winter. Now is also a good time to hang bird feeders, as the weather grows colder and our feathered friends find their food supplies drying up.

 

 

Look at your lighting
Before the clocks change and we plunge into winter, take some time to think about your lighting. Over summer, we are able to overlook any deficiencies in our lighting, but come the shorter days these become more obvious. Use your new-term energy to tackle lighting now, before autumn fully arrives and you lose impetus. Dealing with domestic problems outside the season when they are most apparent is the smart thing to do, so using that logic, get any roof repairs, draft-exclusion work or insulation done now, ready for when it will be truly needed.

Welcome winter with new lighting products

Blitz a junk drawer
Every home has one, and it could be anywhere in your house (although the kitchen is the usual suspect for harbouring a junk drawer). This space supposedly holds kitchen utensils, stationery or underwear, but in fact it’s become a wilderness of junk, containing everything from elastic bands and takeaway menus to dead batteries and odd socks. Time to take action.

Discover 9 ways to deal with clutter in your home

 

 

Bring winter clothes out of storage
If you have stored winter clothes in boxes over the summer, think about getting them out of storage now. This gives you time to check over your jumpers, scarves and coats to see if any need dry cleaning before the cold weather arrives. You can then whizz through your wardrobe and store any seriously summery clothes away, too.

 

 

Service your bike
You might remember to service the car once a year, but how about your bike? Servicing it will ensure it’s safe to use and can prolong its life, so direct some new-term zeal towards your two wheels. If your children are cycling to school, perhaps after a summer of not using their bikes much, it’s a good idea to get their bikes serviced, too.

 

 

Ditch what’s out of date
Have a new-term tidy up, but give it a focus, too. Chuck out any expired medicines, lotions or bath products. There will be a use by date on medicines but apply common sense with less serious products. If you haven’t used that tube of foot exfoliator this summer, you probably never will. Bin it! Take the same approach with make-up. Old make-up can harbour bacteria and lead to eye infections, so check the labels for how long each item should be open and in use for, and ditch accordingly.

Discover more bathroom ideas

Go back to school yourself
Many adult education colleges are still enrolling for courses, so if you have always wanted to improve your Spanish or learn how to throw a pot, see if you can book onto a course now and go back to school this autumn. Failing that, set aside some time to enjoy learning at home. Create a list of books you have always intended to read, or go online for suggestions. The broadsheet Sunday supplements and review sections often have lists of the best new books – these could become your autumn reading list.

 

 

Purge the dodgy plastic
Bulky plastic containers are essential for food storage, but many of us are guilty of keeping too many. So have a plastic cull. Ditch any containers that are stained, smelly, distorted or without a lid. Pare down your collection of old takeaway curry containers, too. One or two might prove handy; a whole stack of them will not.

The benefits of using a BAR-certified moving company

When moving home, you want to be confident that your removal company can be trusted to meet your needs without any issues. Whether you’re about to undergo a small, local move or are shipping a large household overseas, assurance that your goods are in safe hands will be paramount.

For over 100 years, The British Association of Removers (BAR) has promoted excellence within the removals industry, awarding membership only to reputable, professional and safe British removal companies.

To be a member of BAR, a moving company must meet a range of stringent criteria and undergo regular inspections to check that their employees, processes, facilities and vehicles all meet the highest standards set out in the BAR Code of Practice.

Customers choosing to work with a BAR-certified moving company can rest assured that their move will be handled with the utmost care and attention. In the unlikely event that any issues arise, the BAR’s advice and conciliation service to help resolve the matter.

Choosing a BAR-certified removal company guarantees the best possible service, giving you peace of mind throughout your move.


To find out about moving home with a founding member of the BAR; contact Pickfords for expert local, national and international packing and removals. Click here for a quote or find out more.

Questions to ask when choosing a removal company

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When preparing to move home, you want to make the whole process as simple as possible. The best way to streamline your move is to enlist a professional home moving company. But with so many removal companies available, how can you know which one you should ask for help?

Once you’ve made a shortlist, ask each company the following questions to help you find the best possible company to carry out your move:

Are you members of the British Association of Removers?

The British Association of Removers (BAR) is an organisation dedicated to promoting professional excellence throughout the removals industry. All members must adhere to the BAR Code of practice, which requires the highest standards of service, materials, vehicles, warehousing and training. Working with a BAR member provides assurance of a high quality, reliable service.

What insurance do you offer?

A removal service provider should offer some form of insurance, giving you peace of mind that your belongings will be protected in transit. Different providers will offer different forms of cover, so make sure you find out what cover you have access to before making a decision.

How will you pack and secure my belongings?

If somebody else is packing and transporting your prized possessions, you want to know they will take the same level of care and consideration that you would. Don’t be afraid to ask about the packing and moving processes they will use with your belongings.

Can you give me more information about the moving process?

It will be useful to know how many people will be working on your move, how long it is estimated to take, what time the crew will be arriving, and whether somebody from your home needs to be there.

Do you provide national and international removals?

Some home moving companies only offer local moves or moves within the UK. If you’re moving outside of your local area or even to a different country, check that your removal company is experienced in moving customers to your chosen destination.

Membership of the BAR Overseas Group or the FIDI Global Alliance  are strong indicators that the company provides a high standard of overseas moving services.

How long have you been in business?

One of the best ways to be sure that you are working with a trustworthy and reliable removal company is to ask about their history. If a business has been around for a long time and built up a loyal customer base, you can be more confident that they will be able to handle your requirements.

Do you offer local storage services?

If you need to store some of your belongings during the removal process, a removal company with a storage centre near you makes it far easier to access your goods whenever you need them.

How decluttering can help you sell your home

Sofa Set

If you’re looking to sell your property, you’ll want to do everything in your power to increase the chances of finding a buyer. One significant way to maximise interest in your home is by ridding it of clutter: all that unsorted paperwork, children’s toys, clothes and shoes you no longer wear, old CDs, DVDs and books; anything that might be a distraction to potential buyers at the viewing stage.

So how can declutting help you sell your home?

 1. Potential buyers will picture themselves living there

One thing that can throw people off when looking round a property struggling to visualise themselves living in it. You may have spent years accumulating all manner of knick knacks and possessions that make your house feel like a home, but if the abundance of ‘stuff’ prevents viewers from picturing themselves in the space, this may harm a potential sale. On the other hand, a tidy home with visible floors surfaces will help prospective buyers to see themselves living there.

2. It helps showcase the property’s best features

Decluttering allows your property’s best features to shine through; freeing your viewing space of clutter will help potential buyers to notice elements of your home that might be a tipping point in the buyer’s decision-making process.

At the same time, it stops buyers from wondering if there are any serious issues hiding beneath the clutter, or thinking that the home doesn’t have adequate storage space, which can be high on their list of priorities.

3. It demonstrates the potential of each room

After accumulating more and more belongings over the years, your may find your storage space has started to run out, and that certain rooms in your house have become inadvertent storage rooms, such as that study you no longer use, or a child’s bedroom after they have left home.

Removing the clutter from these rooms allows prospective buyers to see them used for their original purpose, and gets them thinking how they might utilise them if they purchased the property.

Pickfords: helping you declutter

If you’re looking to sell your home but have a problem with clutter, Pickfords can help. As part of our declutter storage service, we arrange for a removal team to visit your home and help you to pack unwanted items before delivering them to one of our storage facilities. Once you have moved to your new home, our team will safely transport your belongings back to you.

If you are looking to remove clutter more permanently, Pickfords also provide a clothes collection service in partnership with Clothes Aid, raising money for the NSPCC by collecting your unwanted clothes and shoes to be recycled.

Moving a car overseas – what you need to know

One of the most common questions we are asked by people moving overseas is ‘can I take my car with me?’

Since cars are, behind houses, normally the second largest purchase we make it is understandable that you will want to hold onto it where possible. In some cases it is worthwhile, especially in countries where vehicles are more expensive and the process of importing it is not too arduous, but getting a car into certain countries is considerably harder than others.

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The most common way of shipping a car is to use a shipping container. The container will be brought to your home, the car loaded and secured to prevent movement during transit, and this will then travel on a cargo ship and be unloaded at a port in your destination country for you to collect. On payment of the appropriate importation duties and Customs fees, and possibly after a quarantine period depending on country, the vehicle can then be driven away.

In many cases people are moving lock, stock and barrel to another country and so will be taking other domestic goods along with their car. Pickfords provides a service to outfit a container with shelving which maximises the space available inside, protecting both your car and the items being transported. There’s a handy photo album showing this on our Facebook page – check it out at http://www.facebook.com/pickfords.

If you’re exporting a car from the UK, there are a number of stages you need to go through. Firstly, if you’re moving your car out of the UK permanently (or for longer than 12 months) you must notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), and return a completed ‘Notification of Permanent Export’ section from your V5C.

We strongly recommend that your car is cleaned thoroughly inside and out ahead of shipment. For transportation to Australia or New Zealand this is particularly important, as your vehicle will be subject to strict quarantine inspections when it arrives and could undergo additional cleaning (at your expense) if the authorities deem it necessary.

The requirements for shipping cars abroad vary by country, and Pickfords can provide you with the latest information with regard to the appropriate importation permits. In some instances, you may only import your car if you have owned it for at least twelve months, and there may also be a requirement to pass local compliance tests (similar to an MOT in the United Kingdom) before being legally allowed to drive it in the destination country. Customs will need to clear the vehicle and there will likely be duties and taxes to be paid before the vehicle is released. During this time the vehicle will remain in port or at an agent’s warehouse.

In summary, shipping your car can be worthwhile, but it depends hugely on where you want to take it. We highly recommend gaining professional advice on shipping a car overseas as early as possible – it is a complicated process and very costly if your car travels without the correct paperwork to support it. Pickfords moves hundreds of cars across the world every year, so our Move Consultants are well-placed to answer your questions. To get in touch with your nearest branch and find out more, just visit the Pickfords website at http://www.pickfords.co.uk.

Should I use long-term storage or self-store?

Pickfords Van loading_fork lift

Storage is commonly where goods and personal effects are loaded into containers or wooden pallets and kept in a secure warehouse, usually for longer periods.

Firms offering long-term storage often provide specialist packing services to ensure your items are protected prior to going into storage. The container used to store your items should also be sealed in your home for security purposes, and transported to the storage centre for you. 
 
If they do not inventory everything going into storage, make sure you do and keep a record of it for when you need to take your goods back out of storage in the future.
 
Self storage is a more flexible solution for shorter-term storage needs, commonly used when moving home, clearing space, redecorating or extending homes. Self storage is a more convenient, cost-effective solution. 
 
Self storage is commonly offered in units of varying sizes, with a scale of costs according to the size of unit you require. Access can be granted at any time, and elivery/redelivery of goods can either be handled by the customer or by the storage company. 
 
Find out more about Pickfords’ range of storage and self storage options:

Pickfords storage 
Pickfords self storage

Read more useful moving tips in our Moving Advice Centre

Make sure you can get flood insurance

If you’re moving to a low-lying area, flood insurance is something you must consider when purchasing your next home. Water can cause substantial damage to homes and property so make sure you’re adequately covered should the worst happen.

UK Government cuts to funding for flood defence schemes across England and Wales could lead to increased destruction of homes and businesses, the country’s economy, and to coastal erosion.

flood sign

The environment secretary, Caroline Spelman, has acknowledged that the flood risks are rising because of climate change but imposed an annual cut of over 20 per cent on flood defence spending. One in six properties in the UK are at risk of flooding, according to the Environment Agency.

The changes could leave more than 50,000 households unprotected by flood defences. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued a press release in November 2010 showing that the cost of flood damage since 2000 has leapt by 200 per cent. Insurers who were heavily hit by claims from recent devastating floods will “inevitably” seek to increase premiums or refuse cover altogether, industry experts have said.

Owners of properties next to the Thames will be most at risk, but premiums across London could rise by as much as 10 per cent. The insurance industry has pledged to guarantee cover even to those living in flood-prone areas, under the Statement of Principles on Flood Insurance, but this runs out in 2013. Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers has been quoted as saying “The environment Agency has said flood spend needs to double each year just to keep pace with current flooding.”

Read the rest of this post on the Pickfords Moving Advice Centre.