For most self-builders, keeping within a tight budget framework can often become a task in itself in terms of ensuring every last penny is used to achieve the best value for money, regardless of the nature or size of a project.
From the offset, this requires a diligent, pre-planned approach on where to spend and not to spend, dependent on personal priorities. For some, for example, the obvious inclination might be to spend less on the initial construction elements of the building that are often less notable upon completion, say the building materials, and splash out rather on the aesthetics.
However, it is important to remember that even some of the most seemingly basic features of a modern home can have a big effect on the overall appearance and appeal of a property, so choosing the cheapest option might be a false economy.
Take, for example, the consideration of driveways, garages and garden surface layouts. Typically, a driveway and/or garage area will be the first thing that a visitor will see upon entering a home and will be the key to making a good first impression before they even get to the front door, yet it can often be neglected as a lesser priority on the budget list.
Equally, the importance of a well-designed and maintained garden cannot be overlooked, with some estimates suggesting it could add so much as 20% to a property’s value1. But this is not just about maintaining a lawn: footpaths, steps, walkways and key surface areas need to be carefully planned and easily maintained to ensure ease of navigation and create a welcoming feel.
In terms of these types of exterior applications, a key role lies in paying due consideration to the main use of material – cement – in selecting the most suitable option for each application.
Inherently, however, still widely perceived as a commodity product with little in the way of innovation, cement is often purely a cost-based purchase. As such, a self-builder or keen DIY-er might typically turn up to their local merchant and ask for the cheapest or most widely used cement product, giving little thought to its individual properties and potential benefits.
Yet, this is missing a trick. As recent years have seen the global cement industry continue to reinvent itself, we continue to see the introduction of everything from the use of better materials to fulfil more sophisticated specification requirements, through to the emergence of low-carbon options to deliver optimised sustainability.
Thus, to disregard this new age of cement innovation and the wide range of application-specific solutions now available means builders and renovators could be missing out on benefits that include improved performance, ease of application and general added value.
At Aggregate Industries this year alone, for example, we’ve recently launched three new high-specification packed cement products specifically designed to fulfil a range of emerging customer requirements and make their lives easier.
This includes our new 40N strength High Performance Concrete which offers the perfect solution for forming the base for domestic garages and driveways, alongside our 15N strength Instant Concrete which is ideal for garden sheds, greenhouses and domestic footpaths and steps that require quick setting. With no mixing required and available in 20kg bags, both products are quick, easy and ready to use – making the lives of busy builders and DIY-ers as hassle-free as possible so that they can get on with other jobs in hand.
The final new high-spec product, Premium Cement is a 42,5N cement made from a higher specification material, specially designed for applications that require extra strength such as steps, paths, concrete bases and repair and maintenance projects. In using this product, customers can rest assured of an exceptionally long-lasting solution which will past the time of time.
Of course, choosing an application-based cement can mean extra time spent on researching the market – and a marginally higher price. However, most merchants will be able to advise customers to ensure they are getting the absolute best product for the job – and with benefits that could include ease of install and a more durable overall finish, the likelihood is that that little extra spent will pay dividends in the long run.
Ultimately, it may sound obvious, but a well-designed drive or back garden area could make all the difference to self-builders and DIY-ers seeking to add maximum value to their home. Thus, as the core product involved, the case for choosing the best possible cement product for the job – often of which may only cost slightly more but make a huge overall difference – is surely a concrete one?