How to have a disaster free Christmas…

How to ensure your Christmas is full of festive fun, not a disaster, by building and valuation surveyor Frank Davey, based at Allman Woodcock in Norwich.

JB_2_FRANK_DAVEY.JPGThis time of the year, my electrician likes to be fed up to the gills, have a beer and fall asleep in front of the TV and it takes a crane and a shed load of cash to get him to fix a fault on Christmas day. My plumber is even worse, and turns his phone off. So I try not to need them over the festive fortnight.

We all know that things go wrong at the worst possible time, but a bit of preventative maintenance can stop the rot before disaster strikes. Don’t try electrical or boiler work yourself, it is at best illegal and at worst can kill, but I would suggest that any niggling fault you have at the back of your mind is attended to now. Make sure the cooker is serviced, the Christmas dinner is a big test. How about getting those gutters cleared whilst you’re about it, better than have them fall down on your relatives, and the chimnies swept before the annual (chimney) fire. And either make sure the grandchildren can’t reach the bolts on the bathroom door, or that you can open it from the outside.

There are things which you can do yourself if you’re careful, not least in throwing away the stretched extension lead, refixing the carpet which is waiting to trip granny or de-rail the turkey, or replacing the outside light which went last summer (yes, like me you should have done it then when the weather was nice). Don’t delay, when you rip off the ball-cock trying to replace the loo washer you’ll need plenty of time to find a plumber to replace the complete unit.

Did you know mice will chew plastic electric cables? Eventually they bite all the way through and-hey presto- dead mouse, but before then bare cables are a safety risk.

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If you have a cat, also keep a humane mouse-trap, well baited.

Smoke alarms are a must, test them and replace the batteries when necessary. Mine go off with the daily burnt toast (all of them, they’re linked), at least I know they work.

If you are going away over Christmas don’t forget the security arrangements and cat sitter. If you want to work for me, turn the heating off rather than down, and leave the water turned on. It’ll be next Christmas before the house dries out if the pipes burst…..

Most of all have a safe, happy and pleasurable Christmas, in whoever’s house it is you are staying. Me? I think I’ll find a nice warm place with someone else to do all the cooking, so which pub is it to be this year? Where’s the mistletoe?

Frank’s on 01603 610243 or email

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