Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODDIY -

THE AN­NUAL builder’s hol­i­days start on De­cem­ber 15, so if you need pro­fes­sional build­ing help, ask now be­fore you end up pay­ing ex­ces­sive hol­i­day rates.

So with the hol­i­days beck­on­ing, I thought we’d do a walk around the house to make sure ev­ery­thing is se­cure be­fore you take off.

If you have a builder on site, try to be pa­tient be­cause it may be im­pos­si­ble for him to keep all his prom­ises. Staff start to dis­ap­pear, ma­te­ri­als be­come scarce and sub­con­trac­tors are over-ex­tended. It is prob­a­bly bet­ter to en­dure un­fin­ished work than have it rushed and badly fin­ished. In­sist that all rub­ble is re­moved and that un­used ma­te­ri­als are ei­ther re­moved from site or stored neatly. En­sure that all keys or re­motes you may have is­sued are re­turned.

If you are not in the house while the build­ing is go­ing on, en­sure that the nec­es­sary se­cu­rity mea­sures are in place to min­imise the like­li­hood of theft. Also check the builder has in­surance, and that your in­sur­ers have been fully no­ti­fied of the sit­u­a­tion.

As we are now well into the south-easter sea­son, give the roof an­other once-over to check that ev­ery­thing is well se­cured. Make sure that all over­hang­ing trees have been cut back from gut­ters and are not block­ing any alarm beams.

Check that your alarm sys­tem is work­ing – many peo­ple do not set their alarms daily and sud­denly find out at the last minute there is a prob­lem. Re­mem­ber to no­tify your re­sponse com­pany that you will be away and give them the rel­e­vant con­tact num­bers. Con­firm that the back-up bat­tery is in good con­di­tion and will func­tion de­spite power fail­ures.

Don’t for­get to check the con­di­tion of bat­ter­ies which may run other items, such as timers, smoke de­tec­tors and ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems.

Af­ter a great break, you don’t want to come home and dive into a green swim­ming pool, so check that the pump is work­ing prop­erly, that the right chem­i­cals have been added for the pe­riod, and that the timer is set for longer than usual.

If you use gas for cook­ing and heat­ing, en­sure sup­plies are switched off at the tank; for safety’s sake dis­con­nect the cylin­ders. I’ll look at gas in­stal­la­tions in more de­tail in later col­umns – the reg­u­la­tions are chang­ing all the time. Re­mem­ber, an il­le­gal in­stal­la­tion will in­val­i­date any in­surance claims.

Check that all door locks and se­cu­rity doors are work­ing. Lock room doors be­hind you, re­move the keys and ei­ther take them with you or leave them with a neigh­bour. Have all bro­ken win­dow panes fixed and check that all win­dows close prop­erly and that the catches work.

If your gar­den is wa­tered by a well point or bore­hole, turn the wa­ter off at the mains, or switch off all stop­cocks and en­sure that all taps are off – many homes are flooded while peo­ple are away.

Once ev­ery­thing is switched off, check that the wa­ter me­ter is not turn­ing; this is the best method of check­ing you have no leaks.

Fi­nally switch all un­nec­es­sary elec­tric­ity off at the dis­tri­bu­tion board. Where cir­cuits are live, un­plug all ap­pli­ances from the plug sock­ets – an item left on standby is live, and this to­gether with an over­loaded adap­tor is one of the largest causes of do­mes­tic fires.

Re­mem­ber the old faith­fuls: en­sure some­one col­lects your post, picks up news­pa­pers and takes the rub­bish bin back in.

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