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Orangery vs. Conservatory

When shopping around for a new extension to your home, you may have come across the two different terms “Orangery” and “Conservatory”, but what exactly is the difference?

Orangery

The word orangery might make you picture a place that you’d find oranges growing, and you’d be partially right!

The term was first used in the 16-19th centuries within the wealthy and elite of society for a building within their grounds that housed citrus trees to protect them from the cold. Eventually citrus fruits began to grow in popularity and become more readily available to buy, so the orangery buildings became home to exotic plants and shrubs when they were no longer needed.

As it was typically the wealthy that had orangeries, older structures are typically large, elaborate buildings. Today, however, it is not uncommon to see smaller orangery buildings attached to their homes.

Conservatory

This is probably the most recognisable term of the two.

It seems that conservatories came about as a consequence of orangeries, with the distinct difference that conservatories were considered an attachment to a home, rather than its own separate structure like the orangery, and for the purpose of protecting and encouraging the growth of shrubs and herbs rather than exotic fruits.

At first, the use of glass was to aid the rapid growth of the plants within the extension, but as it was a direct extension of the home, people began changing their usage of a conservatory to be an expansion of the living space of their home, rather than solely for the use of storing and protecting plants.

So, what is the difference now?

Even though there is very little difference to modern usage of an orangery and a conservatory, it is beneficial to know the differences that do exist.

Orangeries do tend to be larger and feature a lot more brickwork than a typical conservatory. They often feature large sloping “atrium” style ceilings with pillars. As they are so large, a lot more planning and designing needs to be done, as well as the possibility of planning permission before a build.

Exterior Of House With Conservatory And Patio

However, the heavy use of brickwork rather than the frames of a conservatory make it a lot easier to customise an orangery for each customer, so if it is a unique build that you want, designers will be able to adapt buildings to your specifications.

The interior of an orangery has a lot more elegance and class about it. Rather than following the interior of the house, the brickwork is on show, and the large windows and high glass roof emphasize that this is a luxurious building.

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As they are mostly brick based, the aesthetics of an orangery do tend to fit in well with the brickwork of an existing house, while still remaining a private room as opposed to the open space a conservatory gives.

Conservatories tend to act as a complete addition to the house; keeping the design features such as the colour of the frames as similar to the existing house as possible to maintain some form of uniformity. They are usually used as “sun rooms” to let as much sun in as possible, and allow an excellent view of the garden, while you are in the comfort of your own home.

If you are still unsure as to which structure will fit your needs, and you are looking for conservatories in Stoke On Trent, FAB Systems are here to help! For more information on how you can get the most out of your conservatory, contact us by calling 0800 066 5644 and speak to one of our experienced team.

How To Add Value to Your Home (Infographic)

When you are a homeowner, it is extremely important that you know the best ways to increase the value of your home. In the fluctuating market, it can be tricky to sell your home for the right price, but by taking extra care with your home improvements, you can increase your property’s desirability and value. In our latest infographic, we will show you some of the best ways to achieve this, leaving you with a beautiful property both on paper and in reality.

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At FAB Systems, we know how to help you get the most out of your property with our stunning conservatories, windows, roofing and more. For more information, visit our website today or contact us by calling 0800 066 5644.

Going Green: Easy Ways to Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly

In 2015, everyone wants to make their home more eco-friendly. With fears about carbon emissions becoming even more prominent and energy bills increasing year on year, we’re all looking for easy ways to go green.

As a leading provider of UPVC windows in Stoke on Trent, at FAB Systems we want to help you achieve a home that is more energy efficient, helping you to save money as well as saving the planet. Here are some easy ways that you can make your home more eco-friendly.

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Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating will make your home feel luxurious, as well as helping you to reduce your carbon footprint. Underfloor heating is far more efficient than radiators, as it will generate heat more evenly around your home.

This will mean that you avoid having radiators constantly churning out heat that you don’t need, and you also won’t have a mixture of hot and cold temperatures around your home. Underfloor heating is particularly well-suited to bathrooms.

Although underfloor heating is commonly associated with new build homes, it can easily be installed in any property, helping you to reap the rewards of a warmer home, lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

Smarter Windows

One of the best ways to make your home more eco-friendly is to install smarter windows. UPVC windows will help you to reduce your carbon footprint and lower your energy bills, using precise glass technology to reap the benefits of the natural heat provided by the sun.

Solaglas EcoClear helps you to work towards a greener home in two key ways. The Planitherm glass works to capture warmth from direct sunlight, allowing your home to receive sufficient natural heat and instantly saving you money on your energy bills. Its insulation technology then stops this heat from escaping, as well as that generated by your radiators.

By installing smarter windows, you can also add considerable value to your home, making UPVC windows an excellent choice for your home with multiple benefits.

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Eco-Friendly Appliances

If you want to minimise the size of your carbon footprint, installing some eco-friendly appliances can work to significantly reduce your carbon emissions and even save you money on your energy bills.

With some clever shopping, you can develop your own green kitchen. On the current market, you can purchase eco-friendly fridges, freezers, dishwashers and washing machines, as well as small appliances such as kettles.

You can also work to reduce your energy output by swapping all of your light bulbs for energy-saving alternatives, which will give off a similar amount of light energy, but use up less electricity.

Making the swap to energy-saving, eco-friendly appliances around your home may seem like a big change, but by making these alterations you can significantly reduce the amount of money you spend on energy bills, and more importantly make a contribution to saving the planet.

Solar Panels

The sun provides us with entirely free, sustainable light and heat energy every day, and if you install solar panels in your home, you can benefit even more from this.

By installing solar panels, you can ensure that the energy supplying your home is completely sustainable, as well as being able to watch as your energy bills are replaced with payments from National Grid, who purchase excess energy generated in this way.

Solar power technology is now more innovative than ever, and if you are concerned that it could destroy the aesthetic of your home, you needn’t worry. Solar panel specialists can now conduct the installation in a way that will affect the look of your home as little as possible.

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We hope you found our tips for creating an eco-friendly home helpful. If you are considering going green, FAB Systems’ UPVC windows can help you save energy from the moment they’re installed. For more information, contact us today by calling 0800 066 5644.

Ultimate Port of Call: The Benefits of a Carport

In some areas, a garage is a ubiquitous and necessary part of the home. It’s more than just a storage space for automobiles, but also where we can store, y’know, everything else from tools and old Christmas decorations to paint cans and chest freezers.

 

The original need for garages came because, back in ye olden days, early models of cars were prone to rust. And some didn’t even have roofs. So getting your car indoors and out of the vicious elements of weather was absolutely crucial. Thankfully, that’s not quite so important in these modern times; cars are a lot more durable. And with that has come the rise of the carport.

There are tons of advantages to getting a carport, rather than installing a garage. And we’re going to take a look at the pros now, starting with…

 

Cost

Building a garage which adjoins your property can be a pretty expensive venture. But getting your hands on a carport for your home will be far cheaper – probably around half the price of a garage.

 

Unregulated

A garage is typically subject to planning permission and other regulations, due to the fact that it’s a structural building. That means it’ll also need to be fire-proof too. Since a carport isn’t covered in the same way, it doesn’t require planning permission.

 

Convenience

It’s not just seriously convenient in terms of constructing a carport. It’s also convenient when parking your car. There are no garage doors to crank open, or automatic key-fobs to point at precisely the right angle in order to gain access. You just pull up and park inside. Easy!

 

Protection

Ok, you may not need to insulate your car in the same way that owners of the Model T had to, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave your vehicle totally unprotected. A carport offers awesome protection from the rain, sun and snow, keeping your car secure from the harsher weather.

 

Versatile

Sure, you could park your car under your brand new carport, but it’s not an absolute requirement – and no-one’ll tear it down if you don’t. Just like a garage, a carport can be used for multiple activities. Fancy lounging out in the shade on a summer’s day, or inviting your friends and family over for a barbeque? Then the carport’s got you covered.

 

Extension

Even if you have a garage, you can still make full use of a carport. Building one just outside of your garage means you’ll instantly benefit from the extra space this yields, particularly if you have more than one car.

 

Flexibility

Where are you likely to find a garage? At the side of a house, right? But with a carport, you can place it pretty much anywhere on your property – so long as you can, y’know, actually park your car under it.

 

Multiplicity

You know which vehicles you can typically store in garages? Cars. A small van or truck too, depending on the size. And that’s about it. Carports aren’t limited to just the standard family saloon though. Caravans, trailers, bikes are all good to go. You could even stash a boat in there too, if you fancy it.

 

Value

It’s not just garages and gardens which add value to your home. A carport will also bump up the valuation, so it’s not just a great way to store your vehicles, but also a great investment for the future. That’s pretty handy if you’re looking to sell your house.

 

Reckon a carport could be for you? Then we can definitely help. Our carports are made of the highest possible quality, tough, durable and come in a range of sizes. As premium suppliers of carports, garage doors, flat roofing and double glazing in Stoke on Trent and beyond we’re your one-stop shop. So why not contact us on 0800 066 5644 for a free quotation and see how we can help you?

Energy Saving Tips and Tricks

Taking steps to increase the energy efficiency of your property, and reduce your energy consumption, will not only help the environment, but save you money on the cost of your energy bills too.

So here we give a quick guide to some handy energy-saving tips and tricks, perfect for making your home more energy-efficient.

Change Your Lights

Replacing traditional light bulbs with more energy efficient alternatives, such as LED lights, which typically use 10 percent of the energy of a typical light bulb, will allow you to make some substantial energy savings. Make sure you remember to turn lights off when you’re not in a room too!

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Switch Off and Save

Make sure to turn off your appliances and gadgets when these are not being used and don’t be tempted to just leave them on standby. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average household could save up to £80 a year, simply by remembering to switch off appliances, rather than leaving them on standby.

Be Careful with Your Shower

Whilst modern power showers can be a great home luxury, it might surprise you to learn that one of these can use the same amount of water in a five-minute period, as it take to fill a bath. Energy-efficient shower heads and faucet aerators can be a great compromise. These will reduce this amount of water delivered by taps and shower heads, whilst still allowing you to enjoy a refreshing shower.

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Draught-proofing

Draught-proofing your home is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to save energy in your property, but is often overlooked. According to the Energy Saving Trust, savings of up to £55 a year are possible.

You can take steps to draught-proof your home, by blocking off any unwanted gaps that allow cold air into your home and warm air to escape out. Not only will this save warm air, meaning you’ll require less energy to heat your home, it’ll help keep it nice and cosy too.

Draughts can be found anywhere where there are accidental gaps in your home that lead outside. There are a number of key areas in your home where draughts could potentially be lurking, such as around your windows and doors. Where practical, try sealing windows, doors, loft hatches and any pipe work that leads outside.

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Insulation

Up to a quarter of your home’s heat is lost through the roof. Hence, insulating your loft is a simple and effective way of reducing both heat loss and your energy bills and you could ultimately save up to £250 a year. Loft insulation can be effective for at least 40 years and during this period should pay for itself many times over.

It’s recommended that loft insulation should have a thickness of 270mm. Hence, it’s worth checking to see whether you have any existing insulation in your loft and if so, how much.

If you find that your loft already has some insulation, but this falls below the recommended 270mm, then it can also be worth topping this up, so you can make some further savings on your energy bills.

Double Glazing

All properties lose heat through their windows too. However energy efficient glazing, such as double or triple glazing, can help keep your home warmer, quieter and more comfortable too.  Significantly, energy-efficient windows will also save you money on the cost of your energy bills too.

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Hopefully this quick guide will help you to make some energy savings in your property. Here at FAB systems we’re a leading supplier of double glazing in Stoke on Trent and can help you to improve the energy efficiency of your property.

For more information about our range of products and services, please don’t hesitate to contact us today, by giving us a call on 0800 066 5644 and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.

How Do Conservatories Work?

Most of us have a soft spot for the conservatory. Even if we don’t all have them ourselves, there’s something very relaxing about settling down in a warm conservatory over the summer months, and enjoying a bit of well-earned ‘me time’. However, have you ever stopped to ponder exactly how a conservatory works like it does? On the one hand, it’s a very simple answer, but more people than you’d think don’t understand why it works out so well. It pretty much just boils down to the high school science topic that is the greenhouse effect, so here are a few details to refresh your memory.

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Not THAT Greenhouse Effect

First up, this greenhouse effect is not the same phenomenon that everyone thinks is leading to global warming. We’re not talking about gases in the atmosphere here. It’s pretty confusing that the two processes share a name, but the actual stuff we want to talk about is different to the bad old news that is melting the polar ice caps. Just making sure you knew!

Absorbing and Trapping Heat

Fundamentally speaking, a conservatory is broadly the same as a greenhouse; you just want people to be comfortable in there, rather than plants. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given the fact that some of the earliest conservatory buildings were actually designed to cultivate citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, or sometimes other exotic plants that were brought to the UK on global trade routes.

In simple terms, a conservatory absorbs the sunlight, but doesn’t then let it out again, resulting in a building that retains every last little ounce of heat. The effect is also exacerbated by the angle of the sun’s rays, which allows a lot more radiant energy to enter the conservatory that might otherwise be normal. The trapping of the heat is achieved by the double glazed windows, which is exactly why modern technology has made the idea of a conservatory in the UK more practical than ever before.

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Ventilation and Insulation

Just like true greenhouses, conservatory builders need to pay close attention to both ventilation and insulation. As you might expect, an environment that is designed to trap heat can risk becoming very humid and the like, and so ventilation is always going to be needed. This can be easily achieved in numerous ways, but insulation is perhaps even more important, and, in colder climates, was perhaps what caused conservatories to fall out of favour somewhat after their ‘golden age’.

Trapping all that heat is well and good…providing there is something to trap! In the UK, we know all about dreary winters, and our summer months aren’t always much to write home about either, and historically far too much heat was lost through the covering of a conservatory building. As we’ve already mentioned, the advent of double glazing has solved many of these potential issues, but sometimes other measures need to be called upon too. Many people in the UK want to be able to use their conservatories all year round, and such habits often need a helping hand (or two).

You’ll have probably gathered that double glazing was a pretty big invention in terms of the practicality of the conservatory, and here at FAB Systems we specialise in providing this essential form of insulation not for only your conservatories, but also your entire home too. When it comes to double glazing in Stoke on Trent, we’re the go to supplier, and our prices are as competitive as they come. If you’d like to upgrade your glazing today, then don’t hesitate to contact us today by calling 0800 066 5644 and we’ll be happy to help.

Looking Through Time: The Most Famous Conservatories in the World Ever (Part Two)

In our previous post, Looking Through Time: The Most Famous Conservatories in the World Ever (Part One) – we highlighted three of the most unique and aesthetically beautiful conservatories of the past.

From The Great Conservatory, to The Big Sleep and Belle Isle – these conservatories really are amongst those crafted of sheer beauty, with many considered more renowned today than the day they were built. However, what about others?

As specialists of conservatory builds, we’re always on the lookout for a little design inspiration, and thoroughly enjoy seeking out examples of both domestic and grandeur designs that’ll inspire us in our works.

So, as promised – let’s have another look through time with the final instalment of the most famous conservatories in the world, ever! Enjoy.

The Eden Project, Cornwall, England

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The Eden Project in Cornwall is considered one of the most famous conservatories of modern day, and has been crowned the world’s biggest greenhouse in the Guinness Book of Records! Home to over 1million plants, the complex is dominated by three adjoining artificial biomes – the Rainforest Biome, the Mediterranean Biome and the open-air Outdoor Biome.

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Constructed in a 160 year-old dormant clay mine, the impressive domes consist of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated plastic cells, and are supported by steel frames. Each biome holds various plants and species from all over the world, and is open to the public all year round!

The Princess of Wales Conservatory, Kew Gardens, London, England

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Inside the famous Royal Botanical Gardens, stands The Princess of Wales or Princess Augusta conservatory, the founder of Kew. Opened by Diana on 28th July 1987, the breathtaking conservatory was designed by architect Gordon Wilson, and contains ten computer-controlled climatic tropical zones, all under one roof. The two main climatic areas are the dry tropics and the eight remaining zones, including a seasonally dry zone.

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Regarded as one of the most sophisticatedly designed and impressive builds in the country, the conservatory offers a range of rare, unusual and stunning natural landscapes and elements from floor to ceiling, and, with its stepped and angled glass construction – is an impressively effective collector of solar energy.

Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, USA

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Garfield Park, for starters, is widely considered to be one of the USA’s best kept secrets, and one of the country’s finest botanical treasures. Created and designed as a pleasure ground by William LeBaron Jenney back in 1908, and is now the oldest of three great original Chicago West Side parks. The build occupies approximately 4.5 acres of the 182 acre site, and is home to thousands of wondrous and unique plant and natural species.

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Considered one of the largest and most stunning conservatories in the nation, and is often referred to as ‘landscape art under glass’ – providing breathtaking sights and ‘scapes, whatever the season! It’s also been a popular venue for many weddings over the years! Ah, lovely.

Bicentennial Conservatory, Adelaide, Australia

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Constructed in 1987, the Bicentennial Conservatory was opened in late 1989 as a celebration of the Australian Bicentenary, and has become one of country’s most respected and enjoyed landmarks. Designed by South Australian architect, Guy Maron, it is the largest single span conservatory in the Southern hemisphere and is curvilinear in shape.

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100 metres long, 47 metres wide and 27 metres high – the conservatory is considered a one-of-a-kind build, and its elegant steel superstructure supports the 2,434 metres of toughened glass which forms the walls, doors and roof. Inside the build you’ll find a stunning collection of at risk or endangered rainforest plants from Northern Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the nearby Pacific Islands.

Here at FAB Systems, we’re passionate about design, and understand the importance of both quality and visual design. So, if you’re looking for fascias, roofing or double glazing in Stoke on Trent – we’ve got you covered! For more information or for a free quote, please feel free to get in contact with our friendly and helpful team on 0800 066 5644 today!

Onwards and Upwards – Energy Bills in 2015

Here at FAB Systems, we get plenty of customers coming to us for double glazing in Stoke on Trent when they’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, as few features are more essential for insulation than the right kind of windows. However, people look to reduce energy bills in many different ways, but, according to the latest news, 2015 could be a struggle in that respect.

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The Telegraph reports how numerous considerations like wholesale costs and green incentives are predicted to play a prominent part with regards to energy consumption this year, and here’s a brief rundown of the most important points…

  • Wholesale costs have been falling as of late, but the prevailing attitude is that customers shouldn’t expect to reap any savings. Currently, plans to pass on savings to customers are very much up in the air, so don’t get too excited about a reduction in your bills just yet.
  • There’s been the possibility of an energy price freeze for quite some time, and many analysts are stating that – in a rather curious situation – this price freeze is driving up prices. Until the nature of the price freeze is revealed in the May election, nobody seems willing to cut costs.
  • Competition is always huge when it comes to costs, and, although it hasn’t happened yet, competition from smaller firms is anticipated to drive down bills from mainstream providers. In this particular case, 2015 could well be a time when customers do see improvement.
  • The Green Deal is an example of an initiative that gives people the opportunity to ‘go green’, and green incentives from the government are apparently set to increase. This will reward homeowners with energy-friendly systems, so that’s definitely something to think about.

Clearly, 2015 looks like it could unfold in a variety of directions with regards to energy bills, but, as we’ve already mentioned, one great way to take your savings into your own hands is to pay proper attention to your windows. They’re not the only area that needs attending to, but they are very important when it comes to keeping heat inside your home, and the FAB Systems team is always on hand to help. If you’d like further information about our reliable provision of double glazing, don’t hesitate to contact us now by calling 0800 066 5644.

Going Green – What’s the Deal?

Christmas has come and gone, and with the New Year bearing down upon us it’s perhaps prudent to start planning for 2015. Each area of your life can quite naturally benefit from such forward-thinking, but what we’re going to talk about here revolves around the idea of energy efficiency. As a provider of double glazing in Crewe, we’re obviously called upon pretty often to improve the efficiency of various homes with regards to energy, and, even disregarding the huge emphasis on energy friendly practices that’s going around today, there are plenty of great reasons to start thinking ‘green’.

Going Green

The Green Deal

In the recent news though, there’s been one very important development on this front, and it’s sure to serve as an extra incentive for homeowners who haven’t yet gone big on energy saving measures. Reported in The Telegraph back in mid-December, the so-called ‘Green Deal’ offers a generous amount of cashback for property owners who take steps to not only increase the value of their premises, but also reduce energy bills. A direct attempt to tackle the off-putting costs that come with making a home more energy friendly, this Government Scheme is beginning to gather steam.

How’s it Changed?

In actual fact, the Green Deal was first unveiled back in the summer, but the initial funds were used up within a matter of hours as households leapt at the chance to gain cashback. However, this latest proposal injects literally millions of pounds back into the cash pot, so those homes that applied for a Green Deal assessment back in June, but were unable to take advantage of the scheme, can try once again. With a gradual method of cash release now being used, the hope is that the fund will be able to cope with the demands far more easily this time, thus extending the lifespan of the plan.

Energy Saving Measures

This is obviously great news for those who were holding off upgrading their homes on the energy friendly front, as there is now extra incentive to go forward with those intentions, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for families who were already committed to doing so. Energy saving already pays off in the long-term, but the possibility of the Green Deal now opens up short-term savings too.

Regardless of whether you qualify or not though, it’s highly recommended that you enhance your energy saving plans wherever possible, and rest assured that you won’t be disappointed with the results. Even simple things like better glazing can make a colossal difference, and here at FAB Systems we can supply many such solutions to help in this respect. To find out more about how we can help you, contact us now by calling 0800 066 5644 and we’ll be happy to discuss your query.

Top Tips to Beat ‘Cowboy’ Builders

CowboyHere at FAB Systems, we frequently turn on the TV and see plenty of home improvement jobs that we’d rather forget. Shows like Rogue Traders provide lots of people with entertainment, but they mask a very real problem ; the fact that many traders are doing an incredibly shoddy job. Very often, you can tell such traders from a mile off though, so here are some top tips to help you avoid them:

  • Very often, unscrupulous builders are unwilling to commit anything to writing. Whether this is a quote or an estimate is unimportant; the fact is that you should distrust anyone with such a habit.
  • Suspicious traders will usually offer quotes or estimates that are hugely cheaper than all of the competition. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of a bargain when you see it, but you should ask yourself why they are so much more affordable. You may not like the answer.
  • Cowboy builders are often very keen to begin work straight away. If you’re dealing with a trader who seems to have a mysterious aversion to doing any work for you in the long-term, then we’d recommend that you give them a miss.
  • Rogue traders frequently make claims that they can’t back up. They’ll tell you that they belong to a company or to a trade association, but when you check you’ll soon discover otherwise. Always remember to check a trader’s history whenever you deal with them.
  • You can often spot suspicious traders by observing how they deal with money and financial matters. A common habit is to ask for money upfront, and quite simply you shouldn’t deal with anyone who does this. Even if a legitimate trader needs materials, they won’t ever ask for payment upfront.
  • Following on from this point, ‘cash only’ demands should usually be given a wide berth. Such practices are usually a ploy to avoid paying out for VAT.
  • CowboyYou should always refuse to deal with any builder who won’t give you details of any previous references or customer dealings. Anyone who is so secretive clearly has something to hide.
  • Finally, cowboy builders are regularly vague about how much a job will actually cost. At the best, this means that they’re very inexperienced, but at worst it could mean that they’re one to avoid.

Hopefully, this short list should give you a good idea of the sorts of things to avoid, but if it’s things like conservatories, fascias or double glazing in Telford that you’re look for, why not give the FAB Systems team a call? We’ll always be happy to discuss a project like this, so if you’d like to find out more, please contact us now by calling 0800 066 5644.