Monthly Archives: March 2012

Zero VAT rate on alteration to listed buildings just a distance memory

The chancellor has cut the zero vat rates for alterations to listed buildings at a time when many in the property and construction industry are looking for VAT cuts on all building alterations. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors are amongst a growing group of organisations and leading individual calling for cuts in VAT for all property alterations. Improvements to existing housing stock offers a greener alterative than new build properties. Many older properties can be converted and renovated into high standard, energy efficient homes and a cut in VAT would encourage more green renovations. These property renovations are a key step to improving the energy efficiency of the existing UK housing stock and preventing wasteful demolition and unnecessary new build developments.

Perfect time for a home extensions and outside living?

Spring has arrived and many people are starting to think about outside living, so how is the best way to bring your garden into your home. One of the best ways to achieve this is though large openings with bi-folding or sliding doors. To create a large opening or knock through rooms it is simply a case of inserting a RSJ or steel beam. This requires permission from the local authority building control department in the form of either a full plans building regulation submission or a building notice. Once you have the opening in place it’s time to choose your doors, the main options are aluminium, UPVC or timber in soft or hardwood. The increased light and feeling of space can transform even a modest house or room into a bright and light space. With some home owners taking out both internal and external walls it can transform small boxy rooms into one large family living space with lots of light and views over the garden. You may also require the services of a structural engineer who for a few hundred pounds can allow you to indulge in the most contemporary designs and home extensions. Modern contemporary home extensions can be finished in a mixture of traditional brick, stone, coloured renders or cedar cladding. The contrast of modern finishes against a traditional building with clean lines, glass and sharp coloured render finishes can create an impact that will be the envy of family and friends.

Continued increases in rents drives better yields and buy to let recovery

New data released from the Lloyds Banking group shows continuing increases in monthly rents with the average rent rising from £682 to £716 in the last year alone. The rental market in London is also showing no signs of slowing with the average monthly rent in London at an eye watering £1212. This shows London average rents rising at well over five percent per year. Many cite the high costs of home purchase and the large deposits required to buy forcing many to stay in rented property. With the end of the stamp duty holiday it looks like the upward pressure on rents will continue.

House builder’s profits jump by 69% as margins and volumes improve

Britain’s fourth largest house builder has released figures for the first half of their year showing a jump in profits by an incredible 69% to just over forty million. The firm sold just short of two and half thousand homes an increase of 5.3 percent. The real uplift in profits came from the increase in the sales prices achieved, with an 8.5 percent increases in sales prices. House builder’s profits are continuing to increase as the fall in land prices after the property crash is now filtering through to plots sold. Many developers are increasingly showing an appetite for increasing their land banks. Improvements to the availability of development funding have also meant that margins are improved as borrowing costs are reduced.

Budget closes corporate property purchase to avoid stamp duty

The chancellor has been looking to put an end to the practice of people buying large high value residential property through companies to avoid paying stamp duty. The chancellor has announced that properties purchased in a “corporate envelope”, will be subject to 15% stamp duty. This should put an end to people avoiding the tax using this tax vehicle. The chancellor issued a strict warning that those looking to circumvent stamp duty tax would be dealt with swiftly, without warning and retrospectively in some circumstances. The practice has seen properties transferred into the ownership of off shore companies where the taxes are far lower than those in the UK. This and other measured to tighten up on tax avoidance schemes have been his leverage for the reduction in the top rate of income tax from 50% to 45% which has been blamed for top business performers avoiding UK residency.

New builds increase in the states with the UK to follow?

House build starts in the US have stabilised around a three year high with the number of building permits rising, these are the equivalent of the UK planning permission applications. Building contractors in the US broke ground on just below seven hundred thousand new homes which follow predictions and forecasts from US economists. In some areas Washington particularly the number of building permits hit the highest level since 2008, this is seen as a good indicator of the future performance of the house building sector. There is also an increasing level of interest in the number of distressed properties available for purchase at discounted rates with interest increasing from serious private and institutional investors. This will only serve to increase the sales prices of US homes leading to the beginning of the revival of the US house building and property sectors. Interestingly unlike the UK the increase in new builds is for multifamily occupancy homes like apartments and town houses which have lost favour with developers and lenders in the UK. This also benefits the wider economy with material supplier’s subcontractors and interiors companies increasing sales. It is unsurprising that there is increased demand when it is possible to obtain mortgage funding in the US at a 30 year fixed rate of 3.87 percent. Using the income to property price ratio it is becoming clear that the average US family can now afford the average US house a sure sign that the market is set to continue gains. It is often said that what happens in the US will “come across the pond in 18 months”. So the question is will the UK housing market follow the US’s lead?

Solid results delivered by UK Commercial Property Trust

The Guernsey based commercial property giant has delivered impressive £53million pounds of profit for the 2011 period. They produced these figures party because of good acquisitions and an enviable void rate of 3.4 percent down from 3.6 percent in the previous year. They achieved this while only booking £5 million pound portfolio uplift. Their portfolio is valued at £1.052 billion increasing 9 percent on the previous year’s holdings, with a net asset per share value hovering over 77 pence per share. They are well liked in the industry because of their low borrowings and a strong war chest of a cash facility. The company has performed well in the various key performance indicators of this type of Property Company. With good acquisitions, a high rental collection, low voids and an impressive tenant base.

UK consumers more confident that house prices will rise

There has been a jump in the number of UK consumers that are expecting house prices to rise in 2012. Research carried out by the Building Societies Association has shown a large jump in consumer confidence in the UK housing market. Figures show that 41 percent of UK consumer’s questions now believe that house prices will rise this year. This has jumped from a third three months ago, those surveyed in the South East were the most bullish with over half expecting to see house price rises this year. Results for those looking to join the property ladder showed that there largest concern was job security with twelve percent citing stamp duty as a barrier to home ownership. Even the slightest sign of improved sentiment in the housing market is usually a precursor to increased activity in the property sector. The first signs of increased lending with higher loan to values mortgages has also increased confidence in the housing market for both consumers and property surveyors.

Underpinning building foundations causes and repairs

There is an increase in the need for underpinning as there has been a period of unusually dry weather in recent times. There are several main causes of structural building defects that require underpinning as a remedial structural repair. The main causes are poor substrate the ground condition and type under the building, poor construction techniques the building has been badly built. Drains and trees are also often culprits of the need for underpinning. Defective drains cracked damaged drains with displaced joints can cause leaking underground often undetected for years which washes away the soil or substrate below the building. Trees can also affect footings when they grow larger or are removed causing land heave. The two most common foundation solutions are traditional underpinning and pile foundations. Traditional underpinning is when the existing footings are excavated usually in one meter linier sections and back filled with concrete. This is a gradual, slow and costly solution to defective building foundations as it is very labour intensive much of the work often being hand dig. It also requires a certain degree of experience, there has been instances in the past where inexperienced contractors have caused the collapse of buildings during this process. The second option is pile foundations these use various “rigs”, that dill and install the piles that are in turn used to support the existing or new super structure. Again this is not an easy or cheap option, the most important thing is to seek the correct professional advice. A good structural engineer will only cost a few hundred pounds but could potentially save you thousands of pounds on unnecessary structural building repairs.

Do I need a building contract for my home extension or building project?

Many home owners are concerned that they will get what they want and the quality they desire for their home extension or building project. The most important thing is that you do have a suitable level of documentation for the type of home extension or building project you are undertaking. With even a small home extension project it is important that you have enough detail in the building quotation or building tender document. It is no good starting a fifty thousand pound project with a single A4 page quote that says build as drawing. The more detail you can specify from the outset not only are you more lightly to get what you want at the price agreed. You will also find that your building contractors will be able to quote “like for like” the last thing you want is beautiful oak windows to then find your contractor had priced for MDF window boards. That is exactly the type of detail that can trip up a client or leave the building contractor faced with a difficult conversation. There is various documentation that is used in a building contract, a schedule of works, this outlines the various components and the installation or construction costs. The preliminaries, specification and workmanship document details the finest details of finishing and the relative specification for each trade and professional construction project section. The other document that is often used for a building contract is a JCT or joint contractual tribunal building contract of which there are various types from DB (design and build) through to more simple JCT contracts like Minor Works Building Contract. These documents when used correctly are more than sufficient to cover most domestic building works contracts.