Category: house (8)

Given the nature of the UK property market, it is easy to see why home owners are keen to add as much value to their home as they possibly can. While there are many ways in which you can make your home look better or feel more comfortable, it can be harder to add genuine value. This is why it is best to listen to the property experts before investing time and money into home improvements.

As you would expect, different experts hold different opinions on what will provide most benefit when adding value to a home. This can seem frustrating to some but it means that homeowners have a number of options to choose from and they can choose an option that best suits their budget or the current condition or layout of their home.

An extension

There is a wide range of possible extensions to choose from, which makes it difficult to note a price for this level of work. Extensions can range from two-story improvements that practically double a house in size to adding a small single story room.


A loft conversion

Given that adding an additional bedroom to your property is said to add an additional 9-10% of value to your home, converting your loft into a bedroom is a great choice for many people. If you are currently only using your loft for storage or no purpose at all, it makes sense to convert it. You need to make sure that converting your loft doesn’t impact on any other living space in your home, but if it doesn’t, you can expect to get a good return on your investment.

Again, the variances involved with loft conversions means it is difficult to state a price you should be paying for this work. A minor loft conversion can cost around £15,000 while many people will expect to pay between £20,000 and £40,000 for a larger conversion.


An additional bathroom

Having an en-suite or additional bathroom can add a lot of utility to your home and property experts predict that an additional bathroom can add 6% to the value of your home. Depending on the size of the room or the materials being used, the cost of a new bathroom can range from £2,500 to £7,000 and beyond depending on your choice of fittings and labour.


An improved kitchen

Kitchens have been consider to be a key aspect of making a home more attractive and adding value to your property of late. There has been a greater acceptance of the fact that the kitchen is the hub of family life, making it an important part of the home. Studies suggest that the average cost of a new kitchen comes in at around £8,000 but a new kitchen can add around 6% value to your home so often this can be seen as a good investment if you were considering selling the property in the coming years. A new kitchen, bathroom or extensive will help increase the level of sale ability to your property too.


A Conservatory

While a conservatory will minimize the amount of space that you have in your garden, it provides you with an additional room. This is also a very pleasurable room which means that there is a lot of benefits to be gained from adding this style of extension. You can expect a good standard of conservatory to add around 5% to the value of your home while the cost of a conservatory can be anything between £4,000 and £10,000 if not more in some cases depending on the size, shape and design.

If you are looking to upgrade the standard of central heating, you can expect to pay around £3,500 and the expected impact on value is likely to be around 5%. This may be one of the more cost-effective ways to add value to your home but it is a decision that every property will need to make. Some of these options will impact on your day to day life more than others, which means you need to think about any impact on your family or home life while work is being carried out.

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Preparing your home for viewers, or “staging” as it’s called, is important. It will not only ensure your property is sold faster, but can potentially add thousands of pounds to its value

Declutter – but don’t depersonalize

  • Get rid of all the excess stuff that has accumulated in every nook and cranny. Put it in storage or give it to a friend
  •  People need to be able to envisage what the property would look like if they were living there. People often find this difficult, so make it easy for them to see all the fantastic living space you’re offering them
  • Don’t make it look like a generic hotel; leave some personality. Apart from anything else it gives unimaginative buyers suggestions as to what they might do
  • People are often buying into a lifestyle as much as a property. Show them the attractive side of your lifestyle
  • Consider removing any bulky furniture that makes the room feel small and replacing it with smaller furniture

A fresh lick of paint

  • Giving your walls a fresh lick of paint, neutral paint will make your home seem lighter and bigger
  • It will enable the viewers to more easily imagine how they would adapt the rooms to their needs
  • It will be easier for the buyers to move in and use the rooms immediately than if the walls were still bright purple or lime green
  • Create a good first impression – give the front door a new coat of brightly coloured paint


Fix and clean

  • Make any minor repairs necessary – holes in walls, broken door knobs, cracked tiles, torn or threadbare carpets. Many buyers want to move in without making changes, so allow for this
  • Clean everything until it sparkles. Get rid of limescale, clean and repair tile grout, wax wooden floors, get rid of all odours, hang up fresh towels. This will make the place more appealing and allow viewers to imagine living there
  • Tidy up the garden: cut bushes back, clean the patio and furniture of lichen and dirt, and cut the grass. While this doesn’t add much value to your home it makes it more likely to sell as people visualise themselves using the garden

Update the kitchen

  • The kitchen is the most valuable room in a house. It is worth the most per square foot and can make the difference when buyers are unsure
  • Consider refacing your kitchen cabinetry. This is much cheaper than installing new cabinetry and often as effective
  • Upgrading kitchen counter tops is expensive, but can add serious value
  • Declutter the surfaces and just leave a bowl of fruit out. Take out any bulky appliances
  • Consider upgrading the plumbing fixtures and white goods, but keep in mind that while that could make your property sell faster, you will be unlikely to recoup their full value


Light and airy

  • Wall mirrors make a room look much bigger and lighter. Consider putting some up, especially in smaller rooms or hallways
  • Clean windows inside and out, and replace any broken light bulbs. Making the place feel light and airy makes rooms feel bigger and the property more attractive
  • Ensure that you have lamps on in any dark corners
  • Putting a soft lamp in the bathroom can create a warm glow

Light a fire

  • If it’s a cold evening, or even chilly day, light your fire. Consider burning some pinecones for the delicious smell. This will make your home feel warm and inviting. If you don’t have a fire then ensure the fireplace is clean


Make it look pretty

  • Make sure the windows are properly dressed with blinds or curtains as naked windows make a place feel impersonal and run down. Buy some cheap ones (eg from Ikea) if necessary
  • Plants and flowers bring colour, life and light to a room and also smell wonderful. So does that fruit bowl on your kitchen counter

Get the right smells

  • Bad smells are the single biggest turn off for prospective buyers. Don’t just cover them up, fix the source of the smell. Clear drains, wash bins, open windows, air the kitchen from old cooking smells, get rid of furniture that is embedded with cigarette smoke, and wash any grimy bed sheets
  • If you are a smoker, place bowls of vinegar around the house and leave out for three days. Though the vinegar will smell when you open the windows it will disappear quickly taking a most of the stale cigarette smell out with it
  • Conversely, good smells can make a property feel like an alluring home. While it might be impractical to bake fresh bread, cakes or brownies for every viewer that visits your home, you could perhaps brew some fresh coffee


Showing the property

  • Have us to get on with selling the property so you can get on with your life.
  • It’s our job to know what things to say to any potential buys helping to make your property sell as quick as possible for the best price.

Obvious conversions

  • If there are any obvious conversions – adapting the garage into extra rooms, or going up into the loft – and you have some spare cash, why not take advantage of this cash cow rather than letting the new owners make easy money out of improvements. You should usually recoup your money
  • If you don’t have enough spare cash to make the conversion, consider getting planning permission anyway

Twice as many home owners in the UK support the new 3% stamp duty surcharge on additional homes as oppose it, despite loud opposition from landlord groups, new research shows.

Some 47% support the extra charge which was introduced on second homes and buy to let properties on 01 April while 18% are against it and believe that it supports first time buyers.

The results of the poll show that overall concerns about stamp duty have fallen dramatically since the reforms in 2014.In 2014, some 64% of UK adults believed that stamp duty was a serious problem but in 2016 that has fallen to 52%.

Supporters of the stamp duty surcharge on second homes believe the measures are a good way to level the playing field between those buying a home to live in and those making an investment purchase.

‘The buy to let market is slowly destroying the overall housing market and making affordable properties less available for those wanting to own a home as their principal place of residence,’ said one survey respondent.

The research also found that some feel there has been a shortage of homes available for first time buyers and this will make it harder for buy to let investors competing to purchase similar properties.
It found that there are some anti buy to let feelings, a sense that buy to let may have been inflating house prices and pricing out local residents in some areas. Some also feel that those able to afford to buy a second home or to buy a property for the purpose of letting it out and making profit should be able to afford to pay higher stamp duty on their purchase.

Those who oppose the stamp duty surcharge on second homes suggest the policy could have unintended consequences such as the surcharge being passed on to tenants in the form of higher rent. Comments also indicate that they feel the government is making another tax grab or that the policy is anti-enterprise.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, thinks that the British public believe that homes are for living in and not speculating with. ‘The stamp duty surcharge might be bad for landlords but it will allow more young people to realise their dream of owning the roof over their head,’ she said.
‘This is why we initially called for the tax system to differentiate between aspiring homeowners and property investors. However, we must see the money raised ploughed back into building more affordable housing,’ she added.

Who’s been chewing holes in food packets and leaving tiny brown pellets lying around? Sounds like the work of a cheeky little mouse.
Mice live in family groups and come out to feed at night. Although they look sweet and innocent, you really don’t want to share your home with these small rodents as they carry fleas, ticks, mites and diseases such as salmonella and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which could make you and your family very unwell indeed.
Mice aren’t fussy where they urinate or excrete and if they’re running around your food and crockery cupboards they’ll contaminate everything inside, so if you’ve discovered a mouse in your house it’s time to take immediate action before they make you ill and start breeding at an alarming rate.

How to get rid of mice

Keep mice at bay by taking food off their menu, sealing up mouse holes and keeping your home clean and clutter free. Read on for our step-by-step guide on how to get rid of mice, for safe and humane ways to remove them from your home…

Bin contaminated food

Wearing disposable gloves, bag up and bin any contaminated food along with the gloves, then wash your hands. Don’t forget to empty your inside bins every one or two days to stop the mice going after any goodies lurking inside, and keep your outside bins as far away from your home as possible.

Storing food

Store away your food in sturdy air-tight containers (not plastic bags) and in sealed cabinets, if possible.

Seal up gaps

Mice can fit through a gap, the width of a 5p coin, so carefully seal any holes found under doors, under the skirting board, in the floorboards and in brickwork. Pay particular attention to any holes that appear around your storage cabinets and the gap around the plumbing in your cupboard under the sink.

Wash up

Soak any contaminated crockery or cutlery in very hot water for five minutes before draining off, then give them a thorough washing in hot, soapy water, or better still, in the dishwasher. Next wash contaminated fabrics on a 50°C – 60°C wash, followed by a hot tumble dry.

Clean up mice droppings

Never vacuum or sweep up mice droppings as the disturbance sends contaminated particles up into the air, which you could breathe in. Here’s how to clean up mice droppings safely…
• Wearing disposable gloves and preferably a face mask, spray the droppings with disinfectant or a specialised rodent cleaning spray.
• Use anti-bacterial wipes or paper towels to pick up the droppings, then bag up and bin them along with the gloves.
• Wash your hands and put on a new pair of gloves. Disinfect the whole contaminated area with more anti-bacterial wipes or with a clean cloth and rodent cleaning spray. Next rinse and dry with paper towels.
• Bag up and bin the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.

Use natural mice deterrents
You should notice a drop in mice activity after cleaning up, storing away food and sealing up gaps, but just to make sure the cheeky rodents don’t return, it’s best to follow up your hard work by using mice deterrents.
Mice deterrents are most effective when they’re placed in high-activity areas, which you can determine by looking out for mice droppings and the black smears they leave as they rub against surfaces. You’ll also get a whiff of their ammonium-like urine. Using a florescent tracking dust is also a good way to gauge the mice activity going on around your home.

• Peppermint oil masks the scent of food and mice don’t like the smell. Put a couple of drops on to cotton wool balls and place them strategically around your home such as under kitchen cabinets, in storage cupboards and next to doors. Replace the peppermint balls every week.
• Growing mint plants at home also helps to deter mice.
• Mice will avoid any areas where cats are present and they are put off by the scent of cat urine, so placing a used cat litter tray near mouse holes will stop them coming back.
• Mice detest the high-frequency sounds of ultrasonic waves, so try using this deterrent method for two weeks.

Use humane traps

Can’t stand the idea of using those old-fashioned mouse traps? We can’t either…
Killing mice is cruel, has a negative impact on the ecosystem and can actually be counterproductive if you’re trying to oust them from your home. Killing off an entire family of mice removes the competition for food and gives other mice free rein to move in and start a new family in or around your home. Furthermore, using poison to kill mice is dangerous for pets and children and some mice have built up a resistance to poisons such as warfarin or arsenic, therefore we don’t recommend the use of anti-rodent poisons.
However if you’ve taken all the above steps and the mice just keep coming back, try using a humane mouse trap to catch them…
• You can buy humane mouse traps and cages which can catch and hold up to 15 live mice at a time. Lure them in with a dab of peanut butter, chocolate or something you know they like, then release them in the woods or in a field at least two miles away from your home.
• Catch mice in a bucket lined with chocolate and create steps leading up to the lip of the bucket, which they can climb up and into, but they’ll have no way of getting back out.
• Set up a cardboard tube mouse trap at home. Balance a cardboard tube over the end of the table and place a bucket directly underneath. Tuck a little treat inside the hanging cardboard tube end and if a curious mouse enters, the tube will eventually tip into the bucket, trapping the mouse.
Mice are put off by the scent of other mice so set your traps in low-activity areas and move them around frequently for the best chance of catching one, although handling the traps too often can put mice off too.

Get a cat

If you’ve always wanted a pet cat now could be the time to get one. Cats are natural-born mouse catchers and could help you control your growing mice population at home. And when your lovely pet brings you a mouse-shaped present, don’t forget to dispose of it safely; Wearing rubber gloves, spray it with disinfectant before bagging up and binning it in your outside bin.


Spend less time cleaning and more time having fun. Remember how when the kids were little and you seemed to be forever cleaning up endless Lego? You probably imagined that by now the house would always be immaculate and housework would be a doddle. Except somehow it didn’t quite work out like that! The good news is there are simple strategies that can help you to make lighter work of the housework.
Clean as you go along

Housework doesn’t seem like such a big number if you keep on top of things. Don’t let dishes pile up in the sink, do your washing regularly, always put things away straight after using them – all obvious stuff really but easy to forget in the daily rush!
Get a routine going

Ever heard the expression about jobs expanding to fit the time available? If you have a set schedule for when you clean, and allot yourself a set amount of time for each task, chances are you’ll get through it quicker than if you just do things on an ad-hoc basis.

Get organised

Set aside an hour or so to go through your cleaning cupboard, sorting everything out into categories and chucking out anything ancient, so that you don’t waste precious time looking for what you need.
Recruit your cleaning team

Get the whole family involved in the chores. Your partner could be King or Queen of The Bathroom Clean, for example, and with a little gentle persuasion even teenagers can usually be coerced into helping out.


Treat yourself to the best kit

Choose multi=purpose cleaners that’ll make your life so much simpler. Similarly, it’s best not to put up with appliances that aren’t up to the job. A new vacuum cleaner may seem like an indulgence, but if it stops you having to waste time going over the same bit of carpet again and again and again, it’ll quickly earn its keep.
Be methodical

Start at the door to each room and then clean in a circle from top to bottom. This will help you avoid missing a spot or cleaning the same bit twice.
Have a no-shoes-indoors policy

Most of the dirt around the house is brought in from outside on the soles of your shoes. Put slippers out in the hallway for your guests. Give it a go and you’ll quickly see a big difference!


Flat winners

The average price of a flat in the UK has risen from £150,749 at the end of 2008 to £237,223, according to the latest research, outperforming all other types of property. On average, people are now paying almost £20,000 more for a flat than for a semi-detached home. A major factor is the rapid increase in flat prices in London – if London is excluded, then terraced homes top the price rise list, followed by semi-detached, then flats, and finally detached.

Flats must recycle water_2_0.JPG
Leaving London

Around four in 10 first-time buyers in London say they are willing to move to a more affordable part of the UK if it means they would be able to buy their first property, which is good news especially for the market in the South East and in towns and cities on the edges of the commuter belt, such as Brighton.

A separate report from Generation Rent says that housing costs are forcing young families out of London, with net migration from the city among thirtysomethings and children under 10 up by a quarter since 2012. It shows two thirds moved to the South East and East of England commuter belt, 12 per cent went to the Midlands, and a similar figure to the North of England.

Home improvement hotspots

People living in Kensington and Chelsea lead the nation in home improvement planning applications with 7.3 for every 100 homes in 2015. The fewest applications were made in Blackpool (0.4 for every 100 homes). Cambridge saw the biggest increase in home improvement planning applications in 2015 compared to 2013 and 2014, up 119 per cent. Overall, the report shows that rural areas are far more likely to be hotspots of home improvement activity than more urban locations. A separate report from Sainsbury’s Bank shows that just over one in ten UK adults has carried out home improvements costing more than £25,000 in the past two years.
First time buyers

The number of home sales to first-time buyers jumped seven per cent between February 2015 and February 2016 to 21,100. The figures show that in February the average deposit put down by a first-time buyer was £29,451, an increase of nearly 15 per cent year-on-year. Unsurprisingly, London remains the most expensive spot for first-time buyers with the average value of a first-time buyer property £314,626, followed by the South East (£211,638). The North East £114,163) and Northern Ireland £99,294) are the two cheapest areas.

New build

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that detached homes in England and Wales were the most commonly sold type of newly built property between September 2014 and September 2015. They account for a third of all new property sales, overtaking sales of new flats. The ONS report shows that a newly-built property was just as likely as an existing property to sell for £1 million or more last year, a big change from five years ago, when new properties were less than half as likely to sell for over £1 million as other ones. In total, the number of homes sold for £1 million or more in England and Wales has increased to over 70 times the level of 1995 – last year, 1.6 per cent of all property sales were for £1 million or more.
Living at home

The most popular reason why young adults say they still live at home is that they want to be with their family. In second place was saving for house deposit, but overall a third had not fled the nest because they simply could not afford to rent by themselves. Indeed, one in five had no fixed rental arrangements, simply helping out when possible and 15 per cent paid no rent at all.


Moving house. The two words that strike the most dread into people, but which also provoke the most envy and excitement. Moving house is variously described as the biggest, most expensive or most stressful nightmare. It’s also described as utterly brilliant and life affirming.

There is no middle way, it seems, in moving house. It is never seen as easy, cheap or quick. Can’t be. This is probably because it is not only costly, time-consuming, etc, but it is also emotional. Deeply. Plus, it is character-defining. Move too far, and you are accused of disloyalty. Go round the corner, you are a scaredy-cat. Move to a mansion. You are getting above yourself. Locate to a one-bedroom flat. You’re a failure.

One truism is that everyone treats moving with great optimism and excitement. At first. Whether you are buyer or seller, it is a huge adventure. The fun starts with the glossy brochure, the online description, the plush environs of the estate agent or even the adrenaline-charged atmosphere of the auction room. Then there is usually a small hiccup, but it wouldn’t be a proper move if everything went smoothly, would it?removalsquotepackingtips.jpg

Moving house is so emotionally fraught partly because it is connected to the idea that your postcode defines your persona. And it, therefore, follows that if you move house, you can change your identity – that you can be this sort of person if you lived here, or that sort of person if you lived there. Whether this is actually true, or not, is almost irrelevant.

It’s understandable,particularly in the UK, where house ownership is far greater than anywhere else in Europe or the US. And becoming a house owner, providing you have the income, is easily achieved. All you need to do is take a deep breath, do the calculations, and walk into an estate agent. It’s not surprising that estate agents are on the high street in pretty much the same style and number as clothes shops. The style of your house defines you almost as much as your clothes do. And it’s no wonder that there are so many estate agents out there – we all move house, on average, eight times in our lives.

So how do people choose where to go? Obviously some people are obliged to move to a place because of work, schools, or family commitments. Quite a few of us find we are living very near to where we grew up. Many others find we are packing up and going just… because. There is a very strong urge in us all – one constantly milked by the property industry, which is always talking about “your dream house”. It is always sunny, in a dream house. And spacious, and tidy.


Whole industries of books, films and plays, let alone television adverts, have been concocted out of the human search for the perfect nest. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic series Little House on the Prairie, which has never been out of print, depicts a family whose entire life is defined by the various house moves she and her family achieve across 19th Century America. In each instance, they try to build the Dream House, even though they are pioneers staking their claim in a wild, uncivilised land.

More than a century on, moving to fulfil the dream is still a stubbornly resonant ambition for many of us. Perhaps the most seductive reason people love to move house is that it allows the great notion of a fresh start – a fresh lick of paint in new rooms. No matter that the rooms themselves may not be new, and the furniture you are unpacking to put in them might well be your old stuff.

But the aspect will be new, the views from the windows new and the whole delicious sense of starting out anew, is delivered in crate-loads, when you move. The sensation is palpable when you get a new set of keys for that front door with the – as yet – unfamiliar door number. And because it has been so fraught, and stressful, and expensive, the sense of achievement is enormous. You did it. You moved house.

Buyers are told it’s all about ‘location, location, location’ when it comes to making a decision about which property to buy. But new research suggests the reasons why people actually choose a home is a little more diverse.
More than half of buyers buy a property because they fall in love with it and the top three reasons for this are location, price and the garden. But once you have got the location, what often makes people choose one property other another is perhaps something people don’t even acknowledge themselves – and that’s aspiration.’
Potential buyers look around a house and it could be a holiday picture or a book, something they want to do or be, and that often seals the deal – especially when choosing between two houses.

Yes 56%
No 44%


Location 58%
Price 37%
Garden 29%
Interior 15%
Living area 13%
Kitchen 8%
Master bedroom 7%
Exterior 7%
Natural light 7%
Architecturally interesting 5%
Beautifully decorated 3%
Fireplace 2%
Flooring 1%
Walls 1%
Street name 1%

The research found that 56 per cent of buyers make their final decision based on whether they have fallen in love with the property.
Respondents were asked to select up to three reasons why they choose a property. Fifty-eight per cent fell in love with their home due to its location, followed by 37 per cent due to its price. This was followed by those who chose their property due to its garden.
Britain’s love affair with property is built on location. For most people, location is the secret ingredient that makes them fall in or out of love with their home. Brits also love a bargain, which explains why cost was the second most important factor in making someone fall in love with their home. As house prices continue to climb and many first-time buyers struggle to take their first step onto the property ladder, younger buyers are more willing to scout out up-and-coming areas to try and find a bargain to fall in love with.
Unfortunately, not all of those buying a home have the flexibility to pick and choose their ideal location or perfect interiors, especially as demand continues to outstrip supply. Compromise may have to become the buzz word of 2016, as there is little to suggest the situation is likely to ease any time soon as more and more homeowners chase after one property.
Location was also the reason behind people not choosing a property, along with its appearance inside and outside. However, an increasing number are now more constrained by price and have shown more willing to investigate other areas, where the features of the property itself become more important once more. While different buyers all have very different opinions on what will make their perfect home, the phrase I hear more often than not is ‘I have found a property I have fallen in love with’.
Once buyers picture themselves in an area and a particular property where they can build a home, ‘love’ does the rest.’

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