Artificial Grass Installation Cost Guide (Updated for 2019)

When people hear about artificial grass and the benefits of using this type of ground covering, they often think of professional football fields or sports stadia and believe that it is too expensive and way out of their league.

In fact, for the average domestic lawn or concreted area, the cost of artificial grass can be very affordable. The method of application is simple even if you have some basic gardening or DIY skills, but if this type of work is beyond your capabilities there are many professionals who will be able to provide you with a luxurious artificial lawn.

Firstly let’s get the jargon correct. A layer of artificial grass is known in the trade as “carpet”. Moving on from that, just like any other carpet, there are cheap versions and plush, expensive versions.  So the answer to the question “how much does artificial grass installation cost”, will depend on whether:

  • The grass carpet is cheap or expensive.
  • You lay it yourself or find a contractor to do the job for you.

Cost of artificial grass & installation

Don’t get conned into buying the cheapest artificial grass. Only buy it if it is the type you require. Not only is cheap grass scratchy on the skin, but a cheap grass carpet also comes backed with latex, which deteriorates after being exposed to seasonal temperature changes and heavy rain. There are many types of grass carpet designed for use in a multitude of applications depending on wear and appearance. If you want an overview of the different qualities then have a look at the three typical types selected here.

Comparison Table (turf type x cost per m2 + labour charges)

Artificial turf type Turf description Pile Length Cost /m2 (incl VAT) Labour

/m2 (approx)

Luxury (top of the range) Very realistic. Four different colours interwoven together 40mm £25 £60
Mid Range Pleasing to look at. Two-tone pile. Feels real 30mm £23 £45
Low Quality Three tone colour mix 25mm £16 £30

You can see that artificial grass cost per metre installed by a contractor would be about £35 to £85 plus extras depending on the quality of the turf and the skill of the contractor. Other factors that can alter the overall cost include:

  • Location. Where you are in the country. London will always command a premium.
  • Make sure that the contractor has easy access to the area being covered and has space for a skip if needed.
  • Try to wait for a relatively dry period before having your artificial grass installed.

Labour & material prices of artificial grass

There are other costs outside the expected ones of buying the grass carpet. The following gives you an idea of the extra purchases involved:

  • If you are laying artificial grass on soil, you will need to hire a waste skip in which to put the existing real turf and any rocks found underneath the grass.
  • You will need to import topsoil to level off the existing ground
  • Unless you are laying artificial grass yourself you will need to hire outside labour. It is best to hire a professional grass carpet installation contractor.
  • There may be special tools you can hire to make it easier to lay
  • Jointing Tape (each roll is 3m long). Calculate how many rolls you will need based on the lengths of joints.
  • Jointing adhesive. One tube covers 3m. Calculate how many tubes you need before you buy them and make sure you have enough.
  • Geotextile Weed Membrane Sheet. Good as an underlayer as well as controlling weeds. Comes in 4m width.
  • Kiln Dried Sand. Use this to infill the lawn after laying.

This table summarises the approximate costs of extras needed.

Extras Cost Notes
Skip Hire £220 each
Topsoil £30 Per tonne
Labour £300 to £600 for 10m2 lawn 1-day labour by specialist installer. £30 to £60/m2
Jointing Tape £1.00 Each 3m roll.
Joint Adhesive £6.00 Each tube (covers 3m)
Geotextile Weed Membrane £1.00 Per m2
Kiln Dried Sand £5 20kg

The method of laying artificial grass carpet is relatively simple but needs some attention to detail. Depending on the surface on which you intend laying the carpet choose the appropriate method in the FAQ section. Once the ground is prepared, follow the manufacturer’s instructions or use the following guidance notes for laying artificial turf:

  • Paying attention to the joints and the direction of the blades, unroll the turf rolls. Depending on the effect you want to achieve either have the blades all facing the same way or reverse the direction in alternate rows. Let the turf settle overnight so that the edges and corners don’t wrinkle or curl.
  • When you come back to your artificial turf, you need to fix the carpet in place. Raise the edges of two adjacent rows and lay the joining tape to straddle the two edges.
  • Apply adhesive to the tape and press the edges firmly onto the tape ensuring the blades don’t get caught in the glue and that the joints are tight together without overlapping.
  • Use a rake to ruffle the blades to disguise the joint.
  • Trim the edges with a utility knife or fabric scissors and use landscaping pins to fix the turf to the ground. Use as many pins as needed to ensure the turf doesn’t curl or move.
  • Finally, sprinkle the kiln dried sand over the surface and use a brush to work the sand down inside the pile.

Advantages of installing artifical grass

Surprisingly, if you buy a good quality grass carpet, you won’t have many maintenance tasks to do each year. You will only have to occasionally brush the grass and wash it. You will also have to occasionally sprinkle sand over the pile and brush it in. Apart from these few maintenance tasks the following are definite benefits:

  • Less time maintaining.
  • You won’t need a lawn mower or a long grass trimmer.
  • No need to get rid of grass cuttings.
  • A good looking lawn all year round and in all weathers.
  • Won’t need to water the lawn so water charges saved.
  • Children will find it safer to play on. The grass carpet is padded on the underside, the ground will not dry hard in the summer or freeze in the winter.
  • More pet-friendly. Reduced allergies from grass and parasitic insects. If you have pets, choose the correct backing to ensure the grass carpet won’t deteriorate in contact with urine (choose polyurethane rather than latex)
  • Prevents grass and mud from walking into the house.

FAQs

How do you lay artificial grass on soil?

  • Remove all trace of grass, weeds or other vegetation.
  • Level the ground with a plank of wood or a lawn roller.
  • Prepare the sub-base by installing geo-textile membrane.
  • Over the membrane lay about 8cm of fine gravel to aid drainage.
  • Lay about 2cm sand and level it with a plank, sand spreader or a shovel.
  • Install a layer of weed membrane to prevent unwanted weeds taking hold.
  • Unroll the artificial grass carpet, following the manufacturer’s instructions for joining and finishing the edges,

Can you lay artifical grass on concrete?

This is easier than laying artificial grass onto the soil as you already have a firm and reasonably level surface.

  • You can either lay the grass carpet directly onto the concrete or lay a cushioning underfelt layer first for added comfort.
  • Unroll the artificial grass carpet as before, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to lay artificial grass on uneven concrete?

Sometimes concrete may be textured or be uneven, in which case the surface will need to be levelled. This includes laying grass carpet onto paving slabs

  • If the concrete needs levelling, it will need to be swept and washed before using a self-levelling compound. Wait until the self-levelling compound has dried and fully cured before proceeding.
  • If required install an underfelt padded layer for added comfort.

To Conclude

In the long term, fitting artificial grass is not as expensive as you might think. You will enjoy the many low maintenance benefits mentioned earlier and have a soft and padded surface that looks really good. In fact, it will look just as healthy in the middle of winter or during a drought as it would if you had been feeding and watering real grass regularly for years. Although the cheaper artificial grass carpets may feel synthetic, it is very difficult to distinguish between the expensive and high-quality ones and the real thing. Choose the grass type you require depending on your needs and your budget and look forward to many years of a hassle-free lawn.

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A Guide To Central Heating Installation Costs

Older properties do not have central heating, they have either old-style electrical storage heaters or solid fuel fireplaces. These are inefficient and cost a lot more to provide enough heat to make the modern home comforts. Most homes in the UK either have mains gas piped directly to the property or have bottled gas, LPG or heating oil delivered by a road vehicle. This is then stored on the property and burned in a boiler to run a central heating system. The type and cost of heating installations will always depend on the size of the property, the fuel you use and what type of boiler you have.

The typical central heating installation costs for a fairly standard 3 bedroom house in the UK will average around £4,000. The average cost of gas for heating and hot water in the typical house is about £550 per year.

How much does central heating cost?

The traditional methods of heating are electricity, heating oil, gas or solid fuel and are the commonest types available because the technology is well known and understood. If you have electric central heating, the electricity is used to heat up an element inside a water reservoir. The other types operate by burning fuel in the presence of oxygen to provide heat which is then used to increase the water temperature. There are other non-traditional types of heating available, although in their infancy, show great promise both in economics and efficiency. These modern types are Solar, Ground Source Heating and Air Source Heating. They work by harvesting background heat from the sun, ground and the air respectively and through a series of heat exchangers transfer the energy to stored water.

The following table shows a comparison between the costs of selected fuel types. All costs are approximate and will vary over time due to market fluctuations.

Fuel Average cost
Electricity 15p/kWh
Mains gas 4.7p/kWh
Heating oil 7p/kWh
LPG gas 7.5p/kWh
Bottled gas 15p to 35p/kWh
Air source 4p/kWh
Ground source 3.5p/kWh
Coal 6p/kWh

You can see that the cheapest traditional fuel is mains gas at about 4.7p/kWh. This article will be concentrating on mains gas central heating and the cost to buy and install the system.

Fitting a gas central heating installation into a home, either new or upgrading an existing installation is not something that is suitable for a DIY project. By law, anyone who works on gas central heating boilers must be registered with Gas Safe and be on their register. “Which? Magazine” runs a competent traders scheme. Visit their website Which? Trusted Traders for more information on finding a Gas Safe registered heating engineer.

When a heating engineer plans and designs a central heating boiler installation, he or she must match the boiler size to the local climate, house size, number and size of rooms, and the number of radiators. This means that to be properly balanced each installation must be custom designed to suit the house and its location.

 

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Central heating installation for a 3 bedroom house

For a typical three-bedroom house with two storeys, the complete new central heating system cost will be about:

Item Cost to supply and install
New condenser boiler £950 to £1,800
Set of radiators (say 9 radiators) £1,200 to £1,600
Water tank (if needed) £200 to £300
Miscellaneous parts & labour £200 to £300
Pipework £1,000 to £1,500
Total £3,550 to £5,500

*These costs are an estimate of the average prices prevalent at the time of publication.

You can expect to pay a lot more if your system is unusual or custom-built. For the simple example shown here, you will be charged about £200 per day for a heating engineer and approximately £100 per day for a labourer. Although the gas central heating installation costs seem very expensive to buy and install, the subsequent low running costs of the fuel will more than compensate for it, making it one of the cheapest types of central heating around.

Typical factors affecting the cost of new central heating systems include:

  • It will be colder in the North of Scotland than in the West of Cornwall.
  • House size: A large house will have longer pipe runs between radiators and therefore more heat loss. A large house will also need a larger boiler and probably a different type.
  • Room size: A large room (tall) will have more unusable space resulting in wasted heat. A large room will also need larger radiators.

Central heating grants available in the UK

The UK government wants to reduce the United Kingdom’s carbon footprint and the incidence of fuel poverty amongst the poorest of the UK’s inhabitants. They have set up a free boiler replacement scheme, to help lower-income citizens who cannot afford to buy a new and efficient boiler themselves.

The idea of the free boiler service is to target those who live in their own homes, social housing and private rentals and who qualify for certain government benefits. It offers them the chance to have an interest-free boiler replacement or repairs and upgrades to their existing heating system to make it comply with modern requirements.

The UK Government’s Affordable Warmth Obligation offers ways for householders, those living in rented accommodation and who qualify for certain government benefits, to make their homes more energy-efficient. It includes the cost of repairing or replacing a boiler to bring it up to modern energy efficiency standards. Private landlords with low-income tenants may also be eligible to receive help too.

If you are a tenant and live in a social housing property that has an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G, you may get finance to help with the purchase and installation of a modern heating system. The Energy Performance Certificate Register (EPCR) is there to help you find out your property’s energy efficiency rating. If you find it too complicated to use then you can ask your Housing Association or landlord. The Simple Energy Advice website gives advice on all kinds of energy efficiency improvements from draughtproofing, installing a new boiler, to cavity wall insulation. It also gives information on the type of home energy grants that are available to help with heating costs and equipment installation costs.

So who is paying for this?

  • Innovative new designs from the country’s largest boiler manufacturers make boilers more energy efficient.
  • Energy suppliers install boilers free of charge for tenants and homeowners that cannot afford to buy their own.
  • Most boilers will be completely free to eligible householders and landlords and they are under no obligation to pay back their boiler replacement grants.

Also, check out our full guide on central heating grants in the UK.

Zoning heating controls & energy savings

Zoned heating is all about separating out the areas of your home that need different ambient temperatures. For example, a living room will need to be heated differently to a bathroom, bedroom or hallway. The amount of heating required will always be a function of its purpose and whether it is in continual use.

Older central heating installations made do with one thermostat usually placed in either the living room or the hallway (the warmest or the coldest part of the house). This governed the temperature for the entire house. If you were unfortunate enough to have the thermostat in the hallway, usually one of the coldest areas, then the boiler was continually being asked for more heat with the result that the other rooms suffered and received more heat than was needed. If the thermostat was in the lounge and stayed warm because it was the place where most people congregated, it meant that less heat was called from the boiler and the bedrooms did not receive enough heating to be comfortable.

The solution to this problem is to have TVRs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves). These are valves sited on each radiator and can be set according to the desired temperature of the room. The valve opens and closes automatically depending on the room temperature.

Zone-Controlled Heating is great for larger houses where different rooms need different temperatures or where the house needs varying heat emissions from the same boiler. An example of this is underfloor vs wall radiator heating. Underfloor needs to be set at a lower temperature for a longer period whereas radiators need instant and higher heat output. The big advantage of Zoned Heating is that you heat a room to its set temperature without wasting heat in unused rooms.

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Electric central heating system vs gas

There are many advantages to having gas central heating:

  • A modern condensing gas boiler is highly efficient, some are even more than 90% efficient. Although expensive, these boilers will give a quick return on your investment by using the gas efficiently.
  • Replacing an old boiler with a modern and efficient condensing boiler is an easy task for a qualified heating engineer.
  • Fuel does not need to be stored at your property. Gas is piped directly to your property. This is less of a fire hazard and less chance of environmental spills.
  • If the boiler needs servicing or repairing, a Gas Safe Registered heating engineer will be able to do the work and issue a certificate.

There aren’t just advantages to gas central heating, some of the disadvantages include:

  • Gas is not a clean or sustainable source of energy. It is a fossil fuel that produces carbon dioxide as one of its combustion byproducts.
  • The UK purchases some of its mains gas from other countries so the prices are dependent on price fluctuations around the world.
  • If you haven’t had a central heating system before, installing the radiators and pipework can be expensive and will be disruptive if you are living in the property at the same time.
  • Connecting mains gas to your home can be expensive if the pipework isn’t already in place.
  • Service mains gas boilers annually to keep them working as efficiently as possible.

How do we use heat more efficiently?

Make sure your home is fully insulated to efficiently use the heat from your new gas central heating system. Installing cavity wall insulation, 270mm of loft insulation, double or triple glazing and insulated external doors will all go a long way to reduce the need for a large output central heating boiler.

You can also reduce heat losses by making better use of the heat you have. Conventional radiators are notorious for wasting heat. If you are renovating your home, consider the feasibility of installing underfloor heating in all rooms rather than wall mounted radiators. Underfloor heating makes far better use of the available heat and allows you to purchase a smaller heat output boiler.

With wet central heating, you have the same water recirculated around the radiator and pipework system over and over again. In time, a layer of sludge builds up which coats the walls of the pipes and radiators. This reduces heat flow efficiency and water flow. Make sure that the central heating system is regularly maintained and the pipework is thoroughly flushed through. You can ask advice from your local heating engineer on the interval between flushes.

Make sure the boiler is regularly maintained and serviced to keep it operating in top condition.

Another thing to do, that is not really a way to reduce costs, but is probably even more important is to fit a carbon monoxide detector in the room in which the boiler is stored. Although a modern boiler is almost foolproof, it still pays to monitor the exhaust gases and ensures they don’t end up in the living accommodation.

Central Heating Intelligent Controls

Intelligent controls or ‘Smart Thermostats’ are heating controls for different rooms that can be set up using a programmer at a central position or can be set up remotely from a phone, tablet or laptop without even being home.

Programmers are central controls that allow the user to specify times the boiler turns on and off and the temperatures supplied to each room. It also allows sharing of heat between hot water supplies and room heating.

To Finish

Gas central heating is probably the most efficient and cheapest of the traditional methods currently available. Ensure you have your system installed to comply with the current building regulations by a qualified heating engineer.

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How Much Does it Cost To Change A Door Lock?

The cost of a multi-point lock, or a similar brand, for use in a uPVC door is likely to cost in the region of £35-£50.

However, you should also factor in the labour cost of using a professional locksmith.

This will be dependent on your location, but you can expect to pay anywhere between £75 and £120 for replacement work, with a reputable company.

Cost to Change a Cylinder

For a reasonably skilled DIY practitioner, changing a cylinder lock should be a relatively straightforward task, meaning you would only need to factor in the cost of the lock itself for the job.

For a good standard cylinder lock, you might expect to pay anywhere between £30 and £80 dependent on the type and quality.

If you do call upon a locksmith, then this type of job is likely to be charged in the region of £50 – £70.

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Yale lock

Traditional Yale locks are a version of the cylinder lock (known as a rim cylinder) and have been the standard in many UK homes for many years, although these days their dominance is very much challenged by the Euro lock.

Cost to Change a Yale Lock

There can be quite a variation in the prices of Yale locks should you look to buy from your local Hardware supplier or DIY store.

Costs can range from anywhere between £15 and more than £100, depending on type and quality level. For peace of mind for longevity and security, you should not really be looking at locks for less than £40 in this range.

If you require the services of a locksmith, they are likely (subject to regional differences) to charge a call out rate somewhere in the region of £70 – £100.

Bolt (Latch)

There are two types of bolt/latch lock. These are:

  • Dead Bolt – By inserting the correct key into the lock cylinder the bolt will engage and slide into place within a slot in the door frame. A deadbolt is considered a very secure option as the lock can only be released by using the key itself. These locks are typically used as secondary security on a residential front or back door.
  • Spring Bolt – These are the types of locks you might often find on a hotel room door or similar. They comprise a small clip that keeps the spring-loaded bolt in place. When you move the key in the lock, the internal mechanism causes the clip to compress and unlock the bolt. When the door closes, the spring is released, causing the bolt to reengage and lock the door.

Cost to Install a Deadlock

If you are planning to install a deadlock yourself, then the cost for the unit itself will be anywhere between £25 and £120, although for a mid-range, reliable lock you should be paying in excess of £50.

If you’re not confident of replacing the lock yourself, then a locksmith is likely to cost you in the region of £70 – £100 for the work.

Strike Plate

This type of lock mechanism involves the lock attaching to the frame of the door, which holds it in place when locked. This involves a metal plate, screwed to the frame, with the bolt latching into a small hole, usually referred to as the box.

In the section below we will explore how you go about making the change, and the different types of locks we would typically find in use in a UK property. Also, given the increase in the use of uPVC door locks within UK homes, we’ll examine replacing and the cost for changing these.

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The Obvious Importance of a Secure Lock

Locks are pretty important.

I think we can all agree on this, can’t we?

We might all crave living in a Utopian world where doors can be left open without care or worry, safe in the knowledge that our belongings will remain unharmed and untouched.

Sadly, that’s not the way of the world.

Locks provide an essential component of our security at our homes, our offices and other properties. And, a door that either doesn’t have a lock, or has one that’s broken or weakened in some way, poses a risk to the security of your home, your possessions, and the safety of you and your loved ones.

Furthermore, failing to repair or replace a faulty lock can have some pretty costly implications. If you examine the details of your building and contents insurance, the odds are you will find clauses that indicate your duty to ensure that you are taking due care to secure your property.

A door that doesn’t lock might, therefore, become a reason for an insurer to dispute paying out should you become the victim of crime.

Other Reasons for Changing Your Lock

Your lock might be working fine, but there are other reasons why you might consider changing it.

Such as:

  • Lost keys – if you’ve lost your keys and you have no spares, then changing the locks on your door might be the only solution. Or maybe you’ve lost a key that has your address on it (not really a good idea, but who knows). This then poses a security risk that might necessitate a change
  • You’ve moved into a new house – It’s amazing how many people when moving into a new home, retain the locks used by the previous owners. Do you know these people? Can you trust them? Are you sure they handed over all the keys? Are there other people you’re unaware of who have keys to your property?
  • You’ve been burgled recently – If you’ve recently been the victim of crime, you’re likely already feeling vulnerable. Can you be sure that the security of your existing locks, even if they remain in use, have not been compromised in some way?

uPVC Door Locks

There’s a number of reasons why uPVC doors have increased in popularity over the last decade or two. One of these reasons is the multi-point locking system that is built-in, providing a high level of added security on your doors.

The multi-point locking mechanism found within a uPVC door lock will comprise of a combination (or perhaps all) of:

  • Deadbolt
  • Latch
  • Hook bolts
  • Compression bolts

Most of us are familiar with the locking procedure for a uPVC door, in which the mechanism is engaged by first lifting the handle before turning the key to activate the locks.

Such is the complexity of the locking system; these door locks provide exceptional security. However, with so many components and moving parts, over time they can start to fail (although you should expect to get at least ten years out of a standard lock).

Should you have a problem or fault with the lock then first you might want to identify the manufacturer, as this can inform you of next steps in terms of repair or replace.

Common brands such as Yale locks, Winkhaus or Fullex might have their logo or brand name on the lock itself. If it’s more difficult to identify then you should speak with a professional locksmith.

While it is possible to change these locks as a DIY project, using a locksmith can be a prudent option as you really want the job done to the best standard for your peace of mind.

Types of Traditional Door Lock Mechanisms

Cylinder

The cylinder lock has a series of pins, spring-loaded contained within, that move when you insert the matching key. As you move the key deeper into the cylinder so the pins move to cause the locking bolt to open.

You can buy single and double cylinder locks. The difference between the two kinds is that with a single-cylinder, there’s only room to insert a key on the side. On the other side, there’s a knob that locks the door by twisting.

Double cylinder locks, on the other hand, have keyholes on both sides, meaning that the door can only be fully locked by using the key on either side.

Common Types of Door Lock

There are a range of different door locks that you might need to consider when it comes to changing, repairing or installing on a new door.

These are:

Door Knob Locks

Very common in UK households, the doorknob lock is often found on both interior rooms and front doors (with a front door they are commonly used in conjunction with a deadbolt).

The locks will have knobs on both sides of the door, with the locking mechanism contained with the knob.

Handle sets

These types of locks comprise a keyed or twist lock on one side (the interior), with a handle to open on the other. Using a deadlock mechanism, they are often used for aesthetic as well as security reasons as they can come in a range of ornate designs.

Hand Levers

Typically found on internal doors, be it bedrooms or even closet areas, they comprise a simple handle lever and a twist knob lock.

Providing only a minimal security barrier, they are ideal for shutting off inside rooms temporarily as they can be easily and quickly released, but not a good option for external security.

What to do When Your Locks Need Replacing

If you have a door lock that needs replacing for any of the reasons that we’ve already mentioned, then you really shouldn’t delay in getting the work done. It could cost you money and jeopardise your security if you do.

In many cases, the changing of a lock can be a fairly straightforward job.

For instance, replacing a cylinder or deadbolt lock can be achieved pretty quickly utilising no tool more complicated than a standard screwdriver. Simply remove the screws holding the outer casing and internal mechanism from the door, then slot the new lock into the hole space, screwing back up.

However, if you’re replacing a Yale lock then things can be a little fiddlier so it might be more appropriate to call a locksmith. After all, you want it to be fitted correctly and the last thing you need is to install incorrectly and have a lock that doesn’t work as you need it.

The same can be true for some of the more complex multi-point locks for modern uPVC doors.

If you’ve any doubts, then call in the professionals as it really is imperative that any replacement work is carried out exactly right.

Conclusion

Door locks need replacing if they become faulty, or if you have recently moved into a new property, suffered a burglary or lost your keys.

If they’re not replaced, then you are putting your home and property at risk and jeopardising the terms of your home insurance policy.

The good news is that replacing a fairly painless task, and generally not too prohibitive in cost.

More simple locks can be changed in a short time by yourself or, should you need the services of a locksmith then you should be able to find a reputable professional in your locality who can come and get the job done. Naturally, taking this route means you’ll pay a bit more, but you will have the peace of mind that your door lock has been changed correctly and that your home has the security you should expect.

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How Much Does it Cost To Board A Loft?

The cost of boarding a loft will depend on quite a few factors.

  • Do the water pipes need insulating?
  • Do electrical cables need rerouting?
  • Do you need more loft insulation?
  • Do you need StoreFloor supports?
  • What area do you want to cover?
  • Are you fitting a new loft hatch and ladder?

Cost of Boarding Out A Loft & Insulation

For the purposes of this section we will only be dealing with the number of boards and their associated costs.

A typical semi-detached loft space in the UK will have an area of between 40m2 to 50m2.  Although this can be done quite simply by someone who is used to DIY projects and has the correct tools, a professional and labourer (it is a two-man job) will cost in the region of between £1,000 to £1,500 including materials.

Always get two or three quotes from professionals before you decide who to employ and remember that there may be other factors such as access and headroom that will make boarding out your loft even more difficult. If you need other work done at the same time such as the loft ladder, hatch, insulation and support legs mentioned earlier it will be cheaper and more efficient if you get them all done at the same time. Something that may take you months while working only at weekends in your spare time will soon get done if you employ a professional.

You really don’t know how much loft or attic flooring is needed until someone climbs up into the loft and measures the available space. Remember that you don’t have to lay loft boards over the whole of the floor area, just do those parts that are easy to reach.

Why do I want to board my loft?

If you want to make a living area or a home office or even somewhere to set up a model railway, you will have to strengthen the floor considerably. Remember that laying loft floor boards will give you a better storage area it will not provide a floor for walking on.

Remember when you are in the loft that the lengths of wood you are standing on are there to support the ceiling down below. These are called ceiling joists and in a modern house are designed to carry a load of 25kg per m2. In older houses, this load may be even less so be careful. An average person weighs about 64kg (10 stone) and all that weight is concentrated on the area provided by your feet. If you want to use a loft for working or playing in you will have to strengthen the floor to support a minimum of 150kg per m2, that is six times the weight supported by a loft storage area. You can see therefore that the purpose of boarding out a loft is only to provide a platform for storing light objects such as empty suitcases or the Christmas decorations, nothing else.

That isn’t to say that you can’t have a model railway or a home office in the loft, but you will have to strengthen the supporting floor timbers considerably before laying a floor. You will have to notify the local planning authority and find out if planning permission is required. You will also need to have a Building Regulations inspection to ensure all the necessary work has been done to comply with the regulations.

Loft insulation considerations

Let us assume that we aren’t turning the loft into an office, a playroom for the kids or anything else that needs to have the flooring strengthened. Depending on the type of roof design we have, the downstairs ceiling joists we intend to cover up will probably be of a depth somewhere between 50 to 100mm. There will also be some insulation between the joists too and unless the house is brand new this will probably be fibreglass of about 100mm deep. It may be deeper and that is great because the more insulation you have the warmer your home will be. In fact, at present, the Building Regulations recommend an insulation thickness of about 270mm. This is great too, but what happens if you intend laying boards on top of this?

  1. The fibreglass will be compressed, expelling the trapped air from between the fibres, rendering the insulation useless.
  2. The compressed fibreglass will push against the plasterboard below resulting in the ceiling billowing out and cracking or even working loose and falling into the room below.
  3. The compressed fibreglass will prevent air circulation and cause condensation on the plasterboard ceiling.

The obvious answer is to increase the height of the joists to make room for the required thickness of insulation. DON’T DO IT!

Unless you can somehow support the new, thicker joists on something that will transfer the weight down the external walls into the foundations, you will find that the there is even more weight being supported by the ceiling joists. Wood is very heavy and this combined with the weight of the flooring and any storage items may cause the ceiling to collapse.

How to support loft flooring?

The most important thing to say when fitting flooring into your loft or attic is to ensure that the insulation is not compressed. Therefore, the only other way to fit flooring is to raise the flooring above the insulation. There is a  system of supporting loft flooring called ‘StoreFloor’ from LoftZones. There are other board lifting systems available such as Loftleg and Loft Storage Stilts but StoreFloor is the only raised loft decking system that has the necessary BBA certificate for use in buildings in the UK. To put it simply it is a system of lightweight steel supports that fit to the existing joists with screws and provides enough clearance to raise the loft boarding over the insulation. It gives enough clearance for 270mm of insulation plus an air gap to allow fresh air to circulate freely preventing condensation. An advantage of using StoreFloor is that it can be done in sections meaning you don’t have to clear out your loft before starting the job. It also works with all types of insulation, from insulation boards through fibreglass to loose granular insulation. For full instruction on how to install this system it is better to visit the website.

How about electrical cables and water pipes?

Let’s take these separately as there are two different problems.

  • Water pipes. There is no problem covering water pipes with insulation as we want the pipes to be kept above freezing point and covering them with 270mm of fibreglass will do that job perfectly. However, laying that amount of insulation and having floorboards will make the loft space a bit colder so if any of these pipes are exposed above the flooring, they will need to be lagged with lengths of pipe insulation. These are hollow cylinders of foam that slide over the pipes and must be tied in place. Pipes also need to be left accessible for future maintenance work. It is always worth drawing the route of any pipes and electrical cables onto the top of the floorboards using permanent marker pen so that an electrician or plumber knows exactly where the services are.
  • Electrical cables. Electrical cables have exactly the opposite problem. They mustn’t get too hot. The surface area of each electrical cable has been carefully calculated to prevent the cable overheating by allowing the correct amount of heat to escape from the surface. If the cable is covered by 270mm of insulation, then it obviously won’t be able to lose the correct amount of energy and may overheat. On cables servicing lighting and standard electrical sockets, this usually won’t be much of a problem but if there are appliances such as electric showers that need heavy duty cables, then this might become a problem. Ideally, all cables should be rerouted above any insulation so that they are not covered but if this isn’t possible then an electrician must inspect the installation to see if it is safe. Remember that working on a high current appliance like an electric shower is classed as ‘notifiable work’. You must inform the Building Control officer and any work must be done by a qualified electrician.

Chipboard Flooring

Ok. We have finally got there. Although the only reason you started reading this was to find out about laying loft boards, you will surely agree that you needed to know all this other stuff too.

What can we say about chipboard flooring? Firstly, you can buy large sheets of chipboard but these are far too large to carry from the front garden, up the stairs and through the loft hatch. In fact, you would have to cut them to size while still in the garden. This is obviously far too much trouble when you can buy flooring grade chipboard that is ready cut to convenient sizes and has a tongue and groove profile along the edges so they can slot together.

The recommended flooring panels are purpose made for boarding out a loft. The boards are moisture resistant and are 18mm thick, 1.2m long and 320mm wide. Just the correct size to get through a standard loft hatch without too much trouble.

By the way, it might be a good idea to fit a new loft hatch and ladder while we are working on the loft. New loft hatch doors are fully insulated and the ladder will make it so much easier to carry those items back up into your new storage area after the floor is finished. But working on a loft ladder installation is a task that needs its own article so we will leave that for another time.

The loft flooring boards we were talking about previously usually come in packs of three or five boards. DIY stores often have special offers when selling loft flooring so have a look around at the various stores before you decide on one specific brand. Remember that all loft flooring boards should be the same size so it won’t matter if you mix and match from various brands. The boards have a tongue along one long edge and one short edge and a groove along the other two edges. This means that the boards will slot smoothly together and strengthen each other along the joints.

Start laying the first board at 90 degrees to the direction of the joists. (if you are using the StoreFloor System follow the instructions given by the manufacturer). This means that each board will be laid across a number of joists. Cut the board to the correct length so that it finishes halfway across the width of the joist. Continue doing this until the boards reach as far as you want them to, remembering each time to end a board halfway on a joist so that the joint is supported. Carry on with the next board run slotting together the tongue and groove on the long edge and cutting the boards to length to join on a joist. Each time the board goes over a joist, drill pilot holes in the board and fit screws near both edges to hold the board firmly in place. Do not use nails because the vibration from the hammer will damage the ceiling below. Carry on covering the floor with boards until the entire area is covered.

To finish

Fitting floorboards in your loft will give you lots of storage areas for those items that you only use once or twice a year. Ensure that the new boards don’t interfere with the efficient operation of the insulation you will already have in your loft and remember that the new space is only for storage not for a model railway or a home office. Do the job properly taking into account all the points mentioned here and you will have a useful storage space that will give good service for many years.

How Much Does Pest Control Cost?

The question, “how much is pest control for mice?” is difficult to answer definitively. Mainly because the pest control cost varies with what the professional finds. A good pest controller will survey your property for signs of other pests as well as mice because they are all attracted by food and shelter. He or she will prepare an extermination plan depending on the findings and give advice on ways you can prevent pests from returning. He will then lay the traps. Good pest controllers will return after a specific time to see if the problem has been solved.

Average pest control prices will vary depending on which pest is being targeted and the level of infestation, however, the price for laying four poisoned bait traps for mice will cost about £100 including the survey. You can buy rodent poison a lot cheaper and do it yourself but you will miss out on the exterminator’s specialist knowledge, his survey and his extermination plan. If you don’t fix the cause you will have a mouse infestation again.

If you live in an ‘at risk’ area, it might be better to ask the exterminator about a monthly plan. For a set amount each month, the exterminator will visit regularly and keep on top of any infestation you may have. Check with your local exterminator for advice on this. Always get three quotes for the work and ensure the contractor is a member of the British Pest Control Association. Look on the UK government website for further advice on pest control.

If you see a mouse scampering about your house, there are three things that might be going on:

  • It may not be a mouse in the first place.
  • It may have just come in from outside because of the cold or because it is hungry.
  • It may have been in your home for a few weeks, in which case it isn’t alone and there is probably a nest hidden somewhere.

You may be surprised that the problem may be any of these and in fact may not be a problem at all. Firstly, before we start talking about getting rid of the supposed infestation, let’s just talk about those possibilities and try to squeeze some more of information out of them.

By the way, if you decide that you have an infestation, there are many pest control products available for the DIY exterminator. But if you have tried and failed to solve the problem, the local pest control guy doesn’t cost too much to hire.

When is a mouse not a mouse?

The only real problem that humans have is with the House Mouse (or Mus musculus). There are many animals that may look like a house mouse but if we look deeper we can see that they are an integral part of the natural countryside and don’t really want to be in our house in the first place. So what else might this “mouse” be?

  • The vole. This is a rodent like a mouse but lives in fields, by water and in woodland. There are four species native to the UK, the Water vole, field vole, bank vole and the Orkney vole. They usually live for about 3 to 12 months but some of the larger species live for up to 18 months. They mainly feed on fruits, seeds, roots, small insects and nuts. Water voles will also eat frogs and tadpoles.
  • The shrew. This is not a rodent but is related to the mole and the hedgehog. They look very much like a vole and there are only four species native to the UK. It eats insects, slugs, snails, worms, spiders
  • Field mouse. These are the most common species of mouse in the UK and live in woodland, rough grassland and gardens. They eat seeds from trees and plants, snails, berries, fruit, nuts and fungi. They are nocturnal and sleep in burrows during the day. Their main predator is the owl. Because they sometimes live in your garden they could find their way into your home. Usually, this is by accident and only really occurs if there is a spell of very cold weather. Don’t worry though because this mouse will get back outside again as quickly as it can, where it can find its food.
  • Harvest mouse. This is the smallest rodent in Europe and makes its nests from woven grass in patches of long grass. It lives in grassland, reed beds, hedgerows and woodland. The harvest mouse feeds mainly on seeds and nuts but sometimes eats worms, insects and snails.
  • Yellow-necked mouse. This lives in areas of southern England, areas o the Midlands and parts of South Wales. It feeds on seeds, nuts and small insects.
  • House mouse. Of course, the small furry rodent you see in your home might be the House mouse. Unlike the other species of rodent, already mentioned the house mouse has a very strong odour and you will certainly know if it is sharing your house with you. The house mouse likes to live with humans because we tend to leave our food lying around. Although you might think that cheese is their favourite food, you would be wrong. They actually prefer to eat cereals but if there is nothing else they will eat almost any food. The main problem with the house mouse is that if they get into your food store they will leave their droppings and urinate around the place and contaminate everything. Unlike its other relatives, the house mouse likes to live with humans and relies on us for food and shelter. Mice also like to gnaw on electrical cable insulation so can sometimes be a cause of electrical fires.

Do they attract other pests?

If you have mice, then you are probably leaving food waste around the kitchen and not cleaning up after a meal. If this is the case, then you will probably have other pests too. Cockroaches, ants, houseflies, bluebottles, fleas and other nasties. All of them will gladly collect our leftovers or will live on the animals that do. There is no need for us to suffer from this. There are many cheap pest control products that we can buy from DIY stores, supermarkets and online. In the UK, we don’t have too many different pests and those we do have are not actually poisonous except for certain stinging or biting insects. The majority of pests are those that cause problems by contaminating food supplies, spreading disease and those that are just a nuisance. As we are talking about mice in this article, we won’t spend too much time on the other pests except to mention the most commonly encountered ones and give a general idea of what we are up against.

  • Ant pest control. There are DIY products available that are useful for an isolated problem. If you see a load of ants swarming all over the marmalade spoon after breakfast and carrying the food away, then you have a large infestation and you need to find professional help. Pest control services have access to chemicals and other methods as well as specialised knowledge that will definitely get rid of them.
  • Flea pest control. Fleas like to live on warm-blooded hosts. They get their next meal from the host’s blood, not from the food we eat. Unfortunately, their hosts do. Fleas tend to jump from host to host, so if your pet cat or dog likes to pick up flea ridden mice and bring them home as a gift for you, then the chances are that your pet will be carrying the fleas as well. Before you know it your home is jumping with fleas and they are everywhere. Fleas in your home are a difficult infestation to solve and will need a systematic DIY extermination plan to make sure you don’t miss anywhere. It is easier to hire a pest control professional who will work with you to rid your home and pets of fleas.
  • Cockroach control. There are about 4,600 species of cockroach of which about 30 like to live near humans. Out of these about 4 species are actually pests. Cockroaches prefer to live together in groups near where they can find food. Our houses are ideal because they love eating the same food as we do. They are not easily exterminated by DIY methods but respond to specific insecticides containing hydramethylnon fipronil, and boric acid. They tend to keep out of sight so if you see one or two you know that you have a large infestation lurking in the shadows. Call in a professional at the earliest opportunity.

What other damage do the pests do?

Apart from actually seeing the little blighters running around the place, how can we tell if we have a mouse infestation in our homes?

  • Mice are very active at night so you will hear them scratching around under floorboards, inside walls and above ceilings.
  • Mice leave their droppings wherever they go so you will find small black pellets about the size of a rice grain in the kitchen and other places around the house.
  • Gnawed holes. Mice will gnaw through packets of food such as rice or cereal boxes. They also damage furniture, wallpaper and like to shred paper for their nests.
  • Unpleasant odour. Can you remember what a pet shop smells like? That smell is mainly caused by mouse urine. It is an unpleasant musty smell that you will notice right away.
  • Missing pet food. If you have cats, you will often find that mice will steal and hide dried cat food pellets for consumption later. This happened at my house a few years ago. Our cat would sit and look at an armchair all day long. I eventually moved the chair, only to find a little pile of dried cat food and a few mouse droppings. Now, why didn’t the cat catch the mouse?

What can we do about mice?

It is always better to deter pests from setting up home rather than removing an infestation. It is a lot easier too. Although pest control prices are not too expensive, and if you have an infestation they are worth every penny, it is still money leaving your bank account that would be better left where it is.

Some of the ways to deter mice:

  • Get a cat. Although having a cat in the house didn’t help us (as I mentioned earlier), most dogs and cats will hunt mice and they are fully aware of this. Hopefully, they will give your house a wide berth if you have a cat.
  • Sonic repellents. There are high pitched sonic deterrents that give off a sound that mice don’t like. These are available from DIY stores and online. If you use one continuously, however, the mouse just gets used to the noise and ignores it like we would background music. It is better to buy one that changes the frequency every now and again.
  • Seal the holes. This is not very easy to do as it involves searching through your house and closing up all tiny holes that a mouse can use to access your property. They can crawl through holes larger than 6mm. Most common access areas are where the pipes come through the floor into the kitchen, but as these are often behind or below kitchen units it can be very hard to reach. Don’t assume that this will solve the problem because they can always walk in through the door!

To finish

Pests in the home are not only a nuisance they are also a health and hygiene problem too. Mice are one of the commonest pests to be found in the UK, but make sure they are mice before you exterminate them. Although you can use many DIY methods to get rid of mice, contact a professional who will be able to exterminate them humanely and work out if there is a specific cause attracting the mice and whether you have other pests sharing your home.

How Much Does a uPVC Front Door Cost?

Unlike wooden doors, the uPVC double glazed doors cost very much the same, whether they are for the front, side or rear of the property. The reason for this seems to be that they are all constructed in the same way. This also seems to account for the fact that side panels are almost the same price as doors.

The prices  for uPVC doors and the various accessories available for customisation depend on a number of factors:

  • Door cost. The average uPVC door prices range from around £250 up to £400. As stated earlier front doors are approximately the same price as back doors as are glazed panels.
  • Colour range. White is usually the standard colour for uPVC doors but other colours are available including a number of imitation wood patterns. Additional colours will add about £150 onto the basic price.
  • Glass panels. The type of glass panel you choose will affect the price of your door. Remember that glass panels are double glazed as standard but triple glazed will increase the price by at least £30. The four basic types of glass are: clear; decorative; opaque and safety. Within these four there are many subdivisions. Different glass choices will increase the cost by anything from £50 to £150 depending on size and type. Remember that the Building Regulations require certain size panes in certain locations to be safety glass. Ask a professional if you aren’t sure.
  • Door grids. Decorative uPVC grids can be fitted onto a glass panel to simulate Georgian or other style windows. These will push the door price to the higher end of the price scale.
  • To have additional insulation within the door may cost an additional £20 to £50. Draught sealing tape will be £5 to £10 extra while warm edge spacing bars will cost an extra £10 to £15.
  • Accessories and door furniture. There are many accessories you can choose from. These include letter plates (£10 to £25); spyholes (£10 to £15); door knockers (£15 to £20); custom sills (£10 to £15).

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uPVC Door Fitting

If you watch an experienced professional carpenter installing an external door it will seem like a piece of cake. He or she will know exactly which tool to use for doing a certain task and will use the tool properly. Although a carpenter can hang an external door in a few hours, it is a fiddly job for the amateur and needs many different tools, as well as heaps of patience. If you have had experience with hanging external doors then, by all means, have a go, but remember that you will have to finish and make the property weathertight and intruder proof by the end of the day. There is another factor you must consider and that is that an external door is regarded as a “controlled fitting” and comes under the control of the UK Building Regulations. In practical terms, this means that you have two choices.

  1. Choose someone to install the uPVC door (and windows) who is FENSA registered. It could be a small or a large company but it is the person who is registered. A FENSA approved installer will be able to give you a certificate to prove that the external door or window has been installed in compliance with the Building Regulations. The certificate will come as part of the job and shouldn’t be charged extra.
  2. Choose someone who isn’t FENSA registered (including yourself) to install the door or window and then get the standard of workmanship checked by the local authority Building Inspector. You will have to pay for a certificate.

Once you have a FENSA certificate, keep it safe with your other documents because you will need it if you decide to sell your house in the future. It is always a good idea to hire FENSA registered professionals to fit doors and windows.

uPVC door installation costs

Installing a new uPVC door is a two-man job and will be charged at no less than half a day, but more than likely as a whole day.

Professional day rates
Carpenter £150 to £200 per day
Labourer £100 to £150 per day
To fit a typical uPVC door
Labour £250 to £350
Cost of uPVC door £250 to £400
Accessories £50
Total £550 to £800

Remember that this is the price to fit a standard uPVC door. If you want a side panel installed then add on an extra £250. The cost to fit a back door will be approximately the same and both installation costs will include removing and disposing of the existing door as well as issuing a FENSA certificate.

Every home needs a secure and hard-wearing external door. Not only do we need external doors to keep ourselves and our personal possessions safe from intruders, but we also need them to keep our pets and children indoors while keeping the adverse weather conditions outside. They are a vital piece of insulation against the cold and wet to help save us money on heating bills.

There are many different kinds of external doors available but by far the cheapest and the best for keeping indoors dry and warm are the uPVC “plastic” doors. If you compare a uPVC door to a wooden external door you will find that uPVC provides far better weather resistance combined with far less maintenance. They will not warp or stick when damp and only need a wipe down with a damp cloth to provide a light surface cleaning.

You can expect a uPVC door to last up to 25 years and the manufacturer’s warranty is commonly 10 or 15 years. They have strong secure locks that are a combination of deadlocks, latches and hooks and usually engage with the frame at three or four locations. They come complete with a frame so if you decide to have a uPVC front door you will have to remove the wooden frame as well.  There are many uPVC doors and frames built to standard external door sizes so it should be no problem at all for a carpenter or even someone with good DIY skills to remove the old door and frame and install a uPVC external door.

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What door styles are there?

You probably already know where you want to put the new uPVC door otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. It could be a front door or a back door or even a replacement set of patio doors. There are a number of different styles available to you depending on the existing layout of your home and which door you intend to replace. If you decide to choose an external door with an inset window, the glass panel will be double glazed as standard or if you wish there is an option of triple glazing.

  • Front door. There are many different styles of the front door to choose from. Cheap uPVC doors are often just as good as the more expensive ones; the additional extras are the only things that really push the prices up. Depending on your choice there are double glazed windows supplied as optional extras. Most uPVC doors come with high-security locks as standard and are often anti-crowbar too. Door furniture (handles, letterboxes, knockers, spy holes etc.) can be customised to suit the style you are trying to achieve.
  • Back doors. The specifications of these are just as varied and as good as for a front door. uPVC back doors tend to have larger areas of glass which of course are double glazed both as clear or opaque and there is an option for triple glazing if you need it. Cat and dog flaps are easily installed so your pets can come indoors or out as often as they want. As with all double glazed back doors, uPVC doors are highly energy-efficient, safe against the weather and have secure, heavy-duty locks and latches.
  • Stable doors. These are a traditional rustic style that allows for two sections of the door to be opened independently or as a single door. Many uPVC stable doors have a galvanised steel core that makes them very difficult to break into. Because you can open the top section while leaving the lower section locked, it means that you can have ventilation without having to worry about small children or pets from running outside. Many uPVC doors including stable doors come with an option for low profile thresholds. This makes them compliant with the UK Building Regulations Part M allowing for easier access for prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs.
  • French doors. These are a pair of side hung doors, both hung in the same frame. French doors tend to be fitted to the rear of the house and provide additional access from the house to the garden. The standard widths for these start around 1050mm and go up to about 2100mm. Heights are variable too with the maximum height being about 2200mm. There are many glazing options for French doors: fully glazed; fully glazed with a mid-rail; part-glazed with a plain lower panel; part-glazed with a moulded lower panel or full glazed with mid-rail and obscure glass on the lower part and clear glass on the upper part. As with all uPVC double glazed doors, the French door locks are just as good as those fitted to single uPVC doors.
  • Patio doors. These have exactly the same functionality as French doors except that they slide in a top and bottom groove. Like all uPVC doors, the locking system is really good offering multiple locking points to help protect against intruders. They come in many different styles so that you can match the existing style of your property. And as with most uPVC doors, there is an option to choose a low-level threshold for ease of using wheelchairs, prams and pushchairs.
  • Bi-fold doors. This type of door consists of multiple doors hinged together and all sliding inside a top and bottom groove. When open, the doors fold back against the side of the frame like a concertina allowing plenty of access room through the opening. They are usually super slim and have more glass and less uPVC than other patio or French doors. These doors maximise the light coming into your home and when open, extend your home into the garden.

Whether you choose a uPVC double glazed front door, back door or one of the extra-wide patio style doors, always check that the glass complies with the building regulations. In fact, all external doors are considered to be a “controlled fitting” which means that they will require consent from the local building authority. The company carrying out the installation will need to be FENSA registered or else you will have to have an inspection by the Building Control Officer. Either one of these will be able to issue a certificate of compliance. If you don’t have one of these, you may have problems with conveyancing when you come to sell the property.

To finish

Having a uPVC door installed to your property is a good idea if your existing door has started to warp, stick and rot. Wood doors and frames will always suffer when they reach their old age. Wood absorbs water and eventually starts to swell and rot and that is the time to change doors. uPVC doors and frames are weatherproof, need very little maintenance, stops heat from escaping and will last for many years longer than a wooden door.

Choose your uPVC door wisely so that it complements the style of your home and doesn’t look an eyesore. Measurements for a new uPVC door and frame need to be accurate and preferably done by the professional who will be installing the door and frame. When they have finally been installed, pay your bill on time and make sure you get a FENSA certificate from the installer to prove the double glazed unit has been installed in compliance with the UK Building Regulations.

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