What a Drain Survey Could Uncover

If you have never had your drains checked, it is something that is well worth considering. For people that live in older properties with drains that have not been serviced for many decades, a full survey could uncover a number of potential issues which, if not attended to, might cause serious problems in the future.

If you are the sort of person who would rather spend a few hundred pounds now than a few thousand pounds later, having your drains inspected by a team of professionals makes good sense  and in the event that nothing untoward is discovered, you will at least have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your underground pipes are in excellent condition.

 

A Drain Survey Could Reveal Several Issues

If you have no idea what sort of problems can be uncovered by a CCTV drain survey, this section is especially for you! I had no idea that such surveys could be so illuminating until I consulted a drains expert late last year, but I’m glad I went to the trouble of having one done on my property.

·         Accumulation of Waste Material – Over the years, our drains can take a lot of abuse. Cooking oil, leftover food, and other waste that routinely ends up travelling through domestic drainage systems can accumulate on the inside walls of pipes and eventually cause serious blockages. A CCTV drain inspection can pinpoint potential blockages due to such accumulations and alert the homeowner to the fact that their drains need cleaning sooner rather than later.

·         Wear & Tear – Local construction, minor earth tremors, and subsidence are possible causes of cracks in drainage pipes so it is a good idea to have your surveyed if you have not yet done so. What start out as minor cracks can become much bigger over time and , in some cases, lead to partial or total collapse of the affected pipes. This is often the case when tree roots grow through small cracks, making the damage exponentially worse.

·         Bad Planning or Implementation – Even if you live in a newer property, it may still be worth having your drains surveyed. In some cases, building contractors have been known not to follow drainage plans properly and in other cases, the plans themselves have turned out to be fundamentally flawed. In either event, the mistakes that were made could cause you big problems in the future: problem that, if you have a survey done, you may be able to avoid quite easily.

 

Although my experiences are limited to local companies, I believe that a drain survey in any part of the country should be the same as a drain survey so your experiences are likely to be broadly similar to mine. With this in mind, I recommend only considering well-established, local firms with an excellent reputation. There are many good firms in all areas of the United Kingdom so finding one that operates in your part of the country should not be very difficult.

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Gas Boilers: The Economical Choice Gas Boilers: The Economical Choice

There are a number of different options from which new homeowners can choose when installing central heating systems these days. Alongside the traditional types, such as those centred on oil and gas-fired boilers, are more exotic choices such as wind turbines, solar panels, heat transfer pumps, and biomass boilers. This extra choice does make deciding what type of equipment to purchase and install a little more confusing than it used to be but if you are looking for the most economical option, you shouldn’t overlook good old gas.

Gas Boilers Still have Plenty to Offer

Just because your neighbours are having their front garden excavated in preparation for the installation of a new ground loop and ground source heat transfer pumps, it doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. Renewable energy solutions may be inherently cooler than those that rely on fossil fuels but they are not always the best choice. A modern condensing gas-fired unit still has plenty to offer:

  • Relatively Low Emissions – The CO2 emissions from a gas-fired boiler may be higher than those produced by a ground source pump or a biomass boiler but they are still less than half what an equivalent electric burner would produce. This means that you can still make a contribution toward the lowering of carbon emissions, without investing a large sum of money in alternative energy equipment. Replacing your existing unit with a modern, more efficient model that produces even fewer emissions its predecessors is a good place to start.
  • Familiar Technology – Both you and the engineers that install your new gas burner are likely to be more familiar with its workings than with heat transfer pumps or wind turbines. This familiarity will probably make the installation process less of a hassle as well as making it easier for you to spot any problems that may occur with your new appliance in the future. While a move to a newer technology may be desirable at some point in the future, now is not necessarily the best time for you to make the change.
  • Affordable Cost – Although there are various government incentives in place, which are designed to encourage people to switch to renewable energy sources by reducing the cost of doing so, efficient combi boilers are still likely to cost less to buy and install when everything has been taken into account. Even if this is not the case, the hoops through which early adopters have to jump discourage a significant number of people from investing in renewable energy heating equipment. Opting for an affordable gas-fired solution is often the easiest and one of the cheapest choices available.

While I am far from an expert in these matters, I have spent a considerable amount of time weighing up the pros and cons associated with gas-fired central heating systems and those that rely on a sustainable energy source. Judging by the facts I unearthed, gas may still be the best alternative for a significant percentage of homeowners in the United Kingdom.

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How bad are renting conditions in the south west How bad are renting conditions in the south west?

Pretty bad, according to the latest report from housing charity Shelter who say local councils in the region have received 27,000 complaints about landlords in the last four years from renters. The figures suggest that 45 per cent of renters are living in bad housing which is damp, cold, dangerous or in a bad state of repair.

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Families should never be forced to live in a place where their health and well-being is at risk, so the fact that nearly half of those renting privately in the south west are living in bad housing is shocking. Across the region, we hear from parents trapped in unsafe properties owned by landlords refusing to carry out their responsibilities, posing serious health risks to themselves and their children.

“There is some excellent work being done by some local councils in the region but we’re calling on those that have yet to sign up to our Evict Rogue Landlords campaign to join us and protect renting families.”

Meanwhile in Scotland, the Electrical Safety Council (ESC), Shelter Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland, and the Scottish Association of Landlords, has written an open letter to Margaret Burgess MSP calling for more to be done to address the poor conditions and safety hazards experienced by those living in the private rented sector in Scotland where teh private rented sector has double in the last decade.

Renting vs Buying in London
Rents have risen fastest in south London over the past three months according to Benham & Reeves whose figures show rents in Greenwich have gone up 11% over the last 12 months and 9% in nearby Bermondsey, Southwark and the South Bank.

“Greenwich’s growth isn’t a huge surprise to us,” said Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham & Reeves Residential Lettings, “It is a beautiful part of London with great transport links to the City and Canary Wharf. Until recently, it has mainly been viewed as a part of London that is great for families but with a number of new developments being built around the Greenwich Peninsula area, younger people are now flocking to the area.”

Indeed, the latest research from London rental portal Rentonomy, suggests that the monthly costs of buying a home with the government’s new Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme will be significantly more expensive than renting across most of London.

The research is based on 2 bed properties and indicates that the monthly payments on standard HTB repayment mortgage terms will exceed rents in all but two of the 33 local authorities of London.

Director of Research David Butler says he does not expect the scheme to cause rents in the capital to fall. “The higher monthly cost of buying with the scheme in most of London is only part of the story. When you also factor in the high costs of actually buying a house, the ongoing maintenance and the shortage of properties currently on the market, it’s hard to foresee huge numbers of Londoners leaving the private rental market.”

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Home Decoration and the DIY Impulse Home Decoration and the DIY Impulse

Redecorating your home is one of the most exciting projects you can undertake. It involves nearly all the senses and, if you decide to handle the project yourself, will put all your creative instincts to the test. But is that wise? Certainly there are many dedicated DIYers who feel they’re perfectly qualified to undertake a home decoration project on their own. But I always try and remind the independent minded that their home is their largest investment. As such no major alterations, upgrades or additions should ever be undertaken on the home without professional input.

Why You Should Hire Professional Painters and Decorators

While innumerable television programs tout how easy it is to do everything yourself the fact is that not everyone has the temperament of the craftsman. You could wind up doing more harm than good to your home by trying to convince yourself you’re something you’re not. If you’re contemplating a large scale decoration project it’s in your best interest to hire professional painters and decorators. Here’s why.

  • Expertise – Highly trained decorators spend long hours focusing exclusively on what makes different decorative elements click. They have comprehensive knowledge of materials, colours, textiles, wallpapers, upholstery and more. It would take the average homeowner years to gain a similar depth of knowledge. Take advantage of what the decorator knows. Your home will thank you for it.
  • Time – As mentioned trying to gain the same knowledge as a skilled decorator could take years. Even reaching a level of competency will likely take many hours of concerted effort. If you have months or years to invest in getting your home redecoration project right then my hat’s off to you. Good luck! Most people however, would like to see a professional result in a reasonable amount of time and that’s not going to happen if you do it yourself.
  • Cost – If you don’t know where to get quality materials for the best price you could wind up grossly overpaying. If you don’t know where to get special treatments made to complement the decor you’ll again likely overpay. If you don’t have a working relationship with the paint supplier you’re going to pay more for that as well. When you start to add up all the ways you could overpay you begin to realize how cost effective professionals decorators can be.
  • Finished product – When it comes to major redecoration projects it’s simply not realistic to think that you could achieve the same results as a team of experienced painters and decorators. After your many months (or more) of work you may create something that looks okay. It may even look pretty good. But the odds that the fruit of your efforts will be able to stack up against the work of a seasoned pro are slim.

Do yourself a favour. Do your largest investment a favour. Do everyone who would have to live through months of disruptions a favour: Don’t do it yourself.  Call in professional painters and decorators to handle your home decoration project. In the end you’ll be glad you did.

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Britain’s home value hotspots Britain’s home value hotspots: How much is my home worth?

Homes in the UK’s most highly valued postcode area are 637% more expensive than homes in the lowest valued postcode, according to new data from FindaProperty.

For the first time ever, FindaProperty.com has used its new home valuation tool to find the average values of homes around the country according to their postcode areas, revealing a huge geographical disparity between homes in the south and the north.

The valuation tool uses a statistical model to come up with an estimated home value by looking at factors including Land Registry sold prices, historical price movements, property size, location and what comparable properties have recently sold for.

Homes in the West London postcode area of W, which include parts of Kensington and Chelsea, are the country’s most expensive and have an average value of £793,426, according to the list, which ranks the 120 postcode areas in England and Wales by value. This is almost £100,000 ahead of the next most expensive postcode in the UK – London’s SW area, taking in parts of Westminster and Richmond – where homes have an average value of £695,475.

At the other end of the spectrum, homes in Motherwell, Scotland, in the postcode area of ML, including Lanark and Hamilton,  have an average value of £107,706 and are more than six times less expensive than homes in the most expensive postcode area.

The top of the list is dominated by postcodes in the south with London postcodes taking up the first five positions on the list. Homes in Kingston Upon Thames (KT), which includes Surbiton, Epsom and Esher, is in sixth position with an average property value of £459,289, while London’s N postcode is in seventh position and Slough’s SL postcode area, which takes in properties in Gerrards Cross, Marlow, Maidenhead and Windsor, comes in as the ninth most valuable area.

Homes in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, in the postcode area HG, are the most highly valued homes in the north of the country and ranked 27 on the list with an average value of £278,190.

These average home values are fascinating because they give us a snapshot of how our neighbourhoods perform compared to the rest of the country.

But what about specific information on the property we call home?

In a perfect world, to value a home ourselves, we’d  start by with local property market knowledge – how much have similar homes sold for recently; what are the prices being asked for them now?

But, this all takes time to research, which isn’t something most of us have a lot of.

Property websites have seen this gap in the market for home valuations and are fast developing newer and more accurate ways to help homeowners, and wannabe homeowners, get a handle on specific home values.

The latest tool has just been launched by FindaPropety.com and brings together official sold price data from the Land Registry with other titbits of local market intelligence to generate an estimated value for individual properties.

And who wouldn’t want access to this information, especially as it’s free and instant?  In a fragile property market, knowledge really is power regardless of whether you’re staying put or not.

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How to buy a property at auction How to buy a property at auction

Buying at auction is an exciting way to purchase a property. If you’re lucky, you may even bag a bargain.

It’s not as nerve-wracking for first-timers as you might think – one twitch and you’ve bought a mansion in Mayfair – but you must do your homework. Have you visited the property? Have you conducted due negligence? How will you make your bid known?

To help you answer these, and other important questions, Savills Auctions has drawn up an essential guide to buying property at auction.

Searching for the right property

Buying at auction should be a quick, simple and stress-free process. Once you have identified the property you are interested in from the catalogue or a property search, view it at one of the published open viewing times. No registration is necessary for this, but contact the auction team beforehand to check that the property has not been withdrawn or sold prior to auction.

Conducting Due Diligence

Before the auction, it is important to obtain the legal pack, which you can download from the auctioneers’ website. We also recommend you get a solicitor to check it. If you require a survey, get your surveyor to contact the auctioneers directly to arrange access. Finance services are also available in advance of the auction.

Cross-checking the catalogue with the addendum information is important as it will form part of the contract. A copy of the addendum will be available on the day of the auction.

The auction

We strongly recommend that you make every effort to attend the auction to bid personally. However, if you are unable to attend, you can bid via proxy or telephone by prior arrangement. Unless you are bidding by proxy, internet or telephone no pre-registration is necessary.

At the auction the auctioneer will announce each lot and invite any bids. You can make a bid by raising your hand or catalogue. The auction rooms can be full so it is important that you attract the auctioneer’s attention for your bid to be counted. The auctioneer will regulate bidding increments and the property will be sold to the highest bidder. The auctioneer will not take any questions from the floor once the auction is in progress. If you have any doubts about what you are buying, best advice is not to bid.

If you are successful in purchasing a property you will be escorted to the contract room to fill out a purchase slip. You will need to provide two forms of identification. You will also be required to pay a non-refundable 10% deposit of the selling price and an auction administration fee of either £700 (London) or £600 (Nottingham). Personal cheques, debit cards and bankers drafts are all acceptable.

After the auction

Completion usually takes place 20 working days after the date of exchange under the supervision of your solicitor. Please note that properties being sold at auction are sold unconditionally. If you are the successful bidder, you are legally obliged to complete the sale.

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images Where’s the Best Place to Buy a House in the UK

Have you heard of the Middlesrough town? It is this town where you can find the cheapest house. The average home only costs 57,000. What does it say on the other side? There is a shortage of property supply? It doesn’t seem like it or more likely, it doesn’t affect this side of town. Can you imagine 57,000 against the national average of 272,000? must be, ‘hey, it doesn’t matter what life it does on this side’, important thing is, you have your own way of making the best out of your life as there is a survey that reveals Middlesrough town is not that good with employment.

In London, homes are priced at 500,000 on average. Look up! against 57,000. Not a good comparison at all, it’s extreme. The thing is, in London, there are a lot of employment opportunities, so anyone wanting a home in London could be one who is employed in London or one who is seeking employment in London.

Image result for buying a house in UKAs a buyer, it is wise to squeeze and dig deep before deciding whether to buy a property in Middlesrough of London. you should weigh everything before heading to buy.

Whether you are buying a home for investment or an upgrade to lifestyle, the most important thing to know is, where you really want to live. What is the climate you are comfortable with.

Here are some tips to get you into ideal place to live:

The Location

Choose the best part of the country where you want to live in. Consider your ability to be employed by that town or state and make it very sure that the climate is what you like. It is wise to make this decision especially if you want to keep the house in a life time.

Look for the difference of living in a City vs. Suburb and Rural

Living in the City is quite different, you must consider the education of your children, if you want a quite place to stay, if you want just near shopping malls, and more.

Consider the neighborhood

If you are used to with a certain characteristics of a neighborhood, you find a place like it if you will invest in time investigating the place where you want to live, living in a neighborhood who has the same characteristics of the old neighborhood you have is a nice way of keeping yourself at connected to them and you’ll find yourself comfortable.

Safety

For most of us, safety is not a choice, it is a must on the top list priority on checklist for buying a house. It’s not wise to live in a lesser home cost in a place with a high crime rate.

There are a lot to consider when deciding to buy a home. You need to be very careful in doing that whether you’re selling the home later or you’ll keep the home for the family.

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How to buy your first buy-to-let property How to buy your first buy-to-let property

Lettings Director, David Gilson, from College and County shares his top tips for buying your first buy-to-let property.

Spending the last 15 years helping inexperienced prospective landlords take their first steps towards a successful buy-to-let business has been insightful.  Traditionally, investment was all about yield, but in recent years successful Landlords have been exploring a mix of capital growth and yield.  Buy-to let investment can be an exciting and potentially very rewarding but should be entered into with the same care and strategic approach as setting up a small business.

Learn your market

As with any business you need to establish your competition before you set up shop. Target a relatively specific area you are interested in and monitor it using 24 hour Rightmove updates for both sales and lettings listings. Provided your area is a manageable size you should very quickly start recognising street names and price trends.  This will make it much easier to spot a good potential investment when it turns up.

Speak to property professionals

With an estimated 1.5 million landlords in the UK, you probably know someone who is already a property investor and they may be able to give you some valuable tips and advice. Letting agents can also be an invaluable source of information as they are best placed to know the market and to give advice on what’s letting as well as emerging opportunities.

It is a numbers game

Competition for any good investment is likely to be fierce. If no one else is looking and the market seems flat alarm bells should be ringing. I would always recommend ensuring you have found a mortgage and have a clear investment budget before you start looking.  BTL hotspots are a sellers’ market and you are unlikely to be a preferred bidder without all your ducks in a row.  Many of our “professional” landlords have a loan to value of between 40% and 60% but seek independent financial advice to ensure your strategy is bullet proof.

Don’t assume you need to haggle to get a bargain

It all comes back to knowing your market… before offering on any property I would recommend you establish how long it has been on the market and ask the sales agent if any offers have been received. If progress sounds slow then haggle away, however if you are being proactive in your search and attending early viewings you may need to offer at asking price to secure a deal and avoid a bidding war.

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