Posts filed under ‘Guest Post’
Not all home improvement projects add value. Some can make your property more saleable (quicker and easier to sell), but they won’t necessarily increase its sale price.
Put simply, the amount you spend on a project won’t necessarily add the same amount to its value. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you think about improving your home.
The main thing you need to bear in mind when trying to add value is to avoid overdeveloping. All properties have a ceiling price – your property can’t command an asking price that’s significantly more than the other properties on your street.
Potential buyers with a £500,000 budget are unlikely want to live on a street where all the other houses are worth £250,000.
If you have a small two bedroom house, excavating a mega-basement will make the property bottom heavy, so remember that any additions should remain in proportion to the original structure. Look at the other houses on your street to understand what projects your neighbours have been granted planning permission to carry out. You’ll then realise what’s likely to be possible with your property.
In many cases it’s more cost effective to turn a two bedroom house into a three bedroom house than it is to invest in a new property with an additional bedroom.
There are two options if you want to create more rooms – the cheapest is to reconfigure the floor plan, or you can opt to add more living space with an extension or conversion.
Reconfiguring the upstairs floor plan is a cost effective way of creating more bedrooms. A builder will be able to re-design the floor plan to make the most of the space available. You can hire a builder via Rated People to install a partition stud for around £800. Providing the rooms created are of adequate size, and the space in the original ones hasn’t been overly compromised, a well thought through reconfiguration can add value to your property – a three bedroom property is likely to be valued £30,000 higher than a similar two bedroom property.
Converting loft space is also a relatively cheap way to increase the number of bedrooms, as well as the living space in your home. In many cases a loft conversion is considered permitted development so you won’t require planning permission.
However, listed properties or those in conservation areas will require permission and local interpretation of the regulations can vary, so it’s worth clarifying with your local planning authority before you commence work.
You’ll need a minimum ceiling height of 2.3 meters to make a loft conversion viable, typically the steeper the pitch of the roof the better suited it is to converting. Loft spaces are best used for extra bedrooms, if you choose to install bathrooms the cost will be pushed up.
You should consult a builder about the configuration, especially if you plan to include bathrooms as locating these close to existing plumbing will reduce the cost of the project. A basic loft conversion with Velux windows will cost from £10,000, up to around £30,000 for a more complex project with Dorma windows.
Any project that adds square footage is likely to add value and recently the trend for open-plan living has increased the popularity of single-storey kitchen extensions. Kitchens sell houses so this is a good area to spend money and add value. A basic single-storey extension will cost around £10,000, in most cases this type of home improvement falls under permitted development so planning permission isn’t required.
If you also want to increase the number of bedrooms you can opt for a double storey extension.
Prices start from £20,000, which considering the increase in value between a two bedroom and three bedroom house, will make it £10,000 cheaper to build an extra room than to buy a property with an additional bedroom, and that’s before you add on the costs of moving.
While reconfigurations may solve the financial problem and hassle of moving up the ladder to increase the amount of bedrooms, if room size is compromised this type of project can’t guarantee increasing the sale price. On the other hand, adding living space with a well thought out conversion or extension nearly always adds value to a property.
To get an expert’s opinion visit RatedPeople.com and find a quality tradesman in your local area who can help you with your ideas for reconfigurations.
How to avoid burst pipes and failing heating systems in winter via Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers
Ahead of the expected cold spell during the winter months, ‘Plumber to the stars’ Charlie Mullins gives his expert advice to home owners on how to protect their property from winter conditions.
The Pimlico Plumbers founder said: “The winter weather can be very troublesome for homeowners who have not taken the necessary steps to prepare their house for the cold. By following these simple steps homeowners will significantly reduce the chance of encountering problems such as burst pipes and heating systems that cannot handle the adverse conditions.
“Not only will homeowners prevent problems but they will also reduce the amount they spend on heating their home in the long run.”
Charlie’s top tips:
1. In these freezing conditions it is crucial to keep your water moving so that pipes don’t freeze up – running your taps every now and then will help to prevent freezing and could save you a hefty plumbers’ bill.
2. Another great tip that people just don’t think of is keeping your loft hatch open a few inches to let warm air into your loft or roof cavity where your water pipes are, which will help no end in keeping water from freezing.
3. Keeping your heating turned on low when you are out or even when you’re away for a few days or longer. It doesn’t have to be high at all, just 5 or 6 degrees C will do it, but once again if water stays above zero it won’t freeze.
4. Make sure your lagging (thermal insulation) is up to scratch: people think it’s too late to do anything about this now but the forecast says there’s at least a couple of weeks of this weather to come, and his will help keep things warm and save real money.
5. Another winner is to have your loft and cavity walls properly insulated – hot air rises so it makes sense to keep the heat inside the building – remember you paid for it so don’t let it get outside as it puts more strain on your boiler and uses up more expensive gas replacing the heat.
6. Regular servicing of your boiler and radiators: since the recession we have noticed an increase in emergency call outs as people try to save a bit of cash by cutting down on things they think are not important. But it makes so much more sense to spend a little getting your heating system up to scratch. Aside from the safely aspect, It will last longer and will perform when you most need it to.
7. Have a timer installed on your heating system: this will save you money by not running things at full temperature all the time, but at the same time give your house a little boost every now and then to keep things from getting too cold and giving you the sort of expensive problems you can experience when your pipes freeze up.
8. Having thermostatic radiator valves fitted to all your radiators to control individual room temperatures will give you the ability to switch heat off completely in certain parts of your house, thus reducing your fuel costs further, while keeping things roaring where they are needed.
An eco-friendly property has many benefits, writes Morris Homes’ managing director Chris Lilley.
As energy prices continue to rise, finding a property that is energy efficient is moving higher up the list of priorities for buyers who want to minimise their monthly payments, writes Chris Lilley, managing director of Morris Homes.
In addition to wanting to reduce living costs, buyers are also becoming more socially aware of the impact that their choices are having on the environment. From choosing more eco-friendly cars to diligently recycling household waste, we’re all aware of the need to reduce our energy consumption.
The UK’s largest carbon village in Peterborough - Vista – was launched to help identify new solutions for building homes that are not only environmentally friendly, but are stylish and affordable for buyers. The development was recently named as the Best Low or Zero Carbon Initiative at the Housebuilder awards.
Inside, the properties at Vista look no different to any new home. They’re spacious, light, warm, comfortable, and designed around modern lifestyles.
However, under the skin of the properties is a range of energy-saving technology designed to reduce carbon emissions by 74 per cent compared to a similar sized property and help buyers save up to £310 per year on their energy bills (based on final As-Designed SAP calculations and British Gas energy prices in January 2013).
For example, every home has solar panels to generate electricity, a rainwater harvesting system to provide water for flushing toilets, and an advanced boiler that recovers and recycles waste heat.
The commitment to the environment continues outside of the properties, with a dedicated composting area, bicycle storage and recycling facilities installed at every property to encourage residents to live a more sustainable lifestyle. There are also 2.7 acres of public gardens and wetlands around the development to reduce the impact on the biodiversity of the site.
To help residents further reduce their carbon footprint every buyer also receives a £250 voucher to buy a bicycle, or a six-month bus pass.
All of these measures will also help towards the Government’s target of reducing carbon emissions from UK homes by 29 per cent by 2020.
Vista was launched last year, and the first buyers have now moved into their properties. Buyers have already told us that their energy bills to date have been dramatically reduced compared to their previous homes.
We’ve now moved on to the next phase of the site and have recently launched a selection of four-bedroom homes to encourage families to move to Vista for a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
It is often said that moving is one of the most stressful things we do in life. But while it’s an unavoidable necessity for many of us at some point, a good proportion of us make some avoidable mistakes writes Mark Prout, managing director of London removals specialists Aussie Man & Van.
Here are his top 10 mistakes people make when moving home – and how to avoid them:
1) Packing late wreaks havoc with your nerves and leads to broken objects and damaged clothes. Always plan to get the packing finished so that you have a good buffer between the day you finish and the removal day.
2) Book your removals firm as soon as you’ve got your moving date. If you don’t, you may find everyone is booked up, particularly if you are moving on a Friday, towards the end of the month or during the summer. You could do it yourself and hire a van but while that may be the cheap way of doing it, it’s time-consuming and backbreaking work.
3) Choose your removals firm carefully to ensure they do a good job: ideally get a recommendation from a friend, family member or colleague. Make sure they are members of the British Association of Removers (BAR). www.bar.co.uk
4) Some people forget how much of their life is computer-based. Back up everything to a portable hard drive so that you can access it even via someone else’s computer if necessary.
5) Forgetting to label boxes means that your kitchen materials end up in your bedroom and vice versa. Label precisely and in detail. If your removal company is packing for you, good firms will label each box with the name of the room it is destined for, ensuring the boxes end up in the right place.
6) Work out measurements well in advance. Don’t end up with an item of furniture that doesn’t fit anywhere, and in a worst-case scenario, blocks access into your new home.
7) Don’t disregard insurance. If you break something, it could be a costly mistake. If you are packing yourself, check your household insurance covers damage and breakages in transit. Removal companies will not be able to provide this level of cover unless they have done the packing themselves.
8) Try to get your new home cleaned a day or two prior to your arrival. This isn’t always possible if you are moving in just as the previous owners are moving out but if there is some leeway, it will make a huge difference. It is also good form to leave your old house or flat clean and in good order.
9) Don’t decide to pack up clutter and deal with it at the other end. Declutter before your move and ruthlessly discard things with no thought to sentimentality. It’s much easier then taking it with you.
10) Take valuables with you rather than packing them up for loading onto a van or lorry. First, you might need them quickly at the other end and secondly, you can relax knowing that your passports and jewellery are not stuffed into a large box, unreachable for days.
For more moving advice, contact Mark Prout at Aussie Man & Van www.manandvan.biz
Move house and save money – how does that work? Well we’ve asked Helen Cripps from uSwitch to explain all in this guest post below…
Whether you have already moved, looking to move or about to move in, take a little shuffle away from the boxes or the property research, enjoy a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive and see what the energy experts uSwitch have to say about saving money in your new home…
1. You can save up to £316 just by switching gas and electricity suppliers!
A word of warning – if you don’t shop around, you will automatically be put onto a standard tariff, which can cost an average of £1211 a year, compared with the cheapest online deals which cost an average of a £895 a year. It may be that you have moved to a new area, to a different sized house, or even just next door, either way it’s always worth 10 minutes online to compare gas and electricity prices. Even though it may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of moving mayhem, the potential to save £316 per year really is not. It could be the cost of a removal company for a day, or at least 15 takeaways to help you ease into your new kitchen. At uSwitch all you need is your postcode!
2. While you have an empty space, make it an energy efficient space…
Whether refurbishing or not, the likelihood is that the majority of your belongings are still in boxes and that your new living space is still relatively clear. So now is the time to look at what small changes could be made to your surroundings that will save money in the months to come. Loft insulation, for example, can save you £128 per year. And let’s face it, when is your loft likely to be empty again? The insulation can be installed effectively (in a fool-proof DIY fashion) in under 2 hours! It might be just the displacement activity you’re looking for to avoid unpacking boxes. It’s definitely worth having a scout around to consider what money-saving measures you could implement that are not going to cost a fortune.
3. New surroundings – new habits?
There’s a link between habitat and habits, so moving house is a great opportunity to establish new routines and ditch some of the old ones. It could be a good time for a quick energy-saving makeover. With everything being unfamiliar, you get the chance to make a fresh start, or at least try and re-programme any lazy patterns of behaviour, like the obvious – leaving things switched on.
Here’s what a few appliances had to say…
“Unplug me! If I’m left plugged in I have to keep going. Waste of my energy, waste of your energy! Charge me at work for a couple of hours; you’re less likely to leave me plugged in for too long then.”
Overused Phone charger, Brighton
“Give me more powernaps! If you’re not using me, let me sleep. I don’t want to be logged into Facebook all day.”
Tired Computer, London
“We’re sick of standby! Neither on nor off, we just wait around, tapping our feet like Sonic the Hedgehog and wasting our energy!”
Just married Television & DVD Player, Suffolk
You’re probably now thinking – is my television on standby? Did I switch the bedroom light off? And when did I last check if I am with the cheapest Electricity supplier? Hopefully you have been inspired to make at least a couple of small changes to your home and habits. Time to start patching up that moving-house-sized hole in your wallet.