Monthly Archives: September 2012

How to give your home extensions the wow factor

Many homeowners decide on a home extension in fact in the current housing market many are choosing to add home improvements rather than move house. Even Sarah Beeny has launched her new TV programme based on extending homes rather than homes people have bought to improve. The most important thing is a good design spend time looking at what your home needs and how you can add design features that will not only look good but add real value to your home. There are many items that you can add that although they may raise the build costs slightly can offer really good value as they will give your home that wow factor adding to the actual end value. The top items on many home owners wish list are bi folding doors and items like Juliet balconies. You can always tell the best value add on as many new build property developers opt for this as the cost is outweighed by the added value. You can also add items like recessed mirrors with clever but inexpensive lighting to make dark hallways or landings seem bigger and lighter. Even down to your choice or bricks many home owner just leave this up to the bricky to chose but a poor brick match or roof tile match can actually reduce the value your home extension adds. In wrap around home extensions where the main extension is at the rear and a section is added to the side to add a utility room and downstairs toilet clever design can transform your home extension from average to amazing. Look at making the ceilings follow the roof line often called warm roof design. This not only adds a sense of space and quality but it allows you to add roof windows that can make a downstairs toilet light and airy rather than feeling cramped and looking like an added on afterthought. These type of wrap around extensions can really sort out the design issues of many semi detached and detached homes that were built at a time when extra toilets where not considered as important. Let’s face it if you have potential buyers looking at two properties they will probably opt for the one with the down stairs toilet. Many home buyers are also looking at energy efficiency for their new home as energy costs are rising, so consider adding extra insulation to other areas of your home when adding a home extension. In fact the building regulations are set to change in April of next year and it is thought that they may force home owners planning a home extension to add energy efficient extras to their existing home as part of the building process. Home buyers love items that will save them money things like water harvesting, log burning stoves and under floor heating are always popular. Take the time to consider how windows and other details will match the existing structure. Even down to how gutters, facias and roof finishing looks can make a real difference to the end look of a home extension. So make sure your building contractor will take the time to get these details right.

What do I need to do before I alter my shop or office?

Many business owners move business premises or open new businesses and are looking to get the most from their new buildings and fit out budgets. There are many things to consider when opening a new business so here are a few of the items that business owners can overlook. First you will need to see the existing asbestos register all commercial buildings are duty bound to have a register that details the presence, type and locations of any materials in the building fabric that contain asbestos. If you do not have one you are not only potentially putting employees and the public at risk you are also breaking the law. The good news is that you can get an asbestos surveyor to carry out a survey relatively quickly and they are a lot less expensive than potential fines or decontamination. The second vital certificate is a fire safety certificate this can be obtained by contacting a fire safety risk assessor and getting a survey underway. You will also need to get the electrical and gas safely checked if these certificates are not available or you are making alterations. If you are making alterations you will probably need the works to be pasted by the local authority building control department or a similar local building control contractor. Check what arrangements or alterations are required for a disabled access again this can require a separate survey. Finally particularly with commercial buildings it is a good idea to get them checked out by a structural engineer if you plan alterations or have concerns about previous alterations or any existing building defects. Your surveyor or a good competent building contractor should be able to advise and recommend the various professionals required to make sure your commercial property redevelopment is completed properly. People are often afraid to undertake structural alterations as they fear the costs however these can often be less than expected and make your building far easier to use or sell from making it a worthwhile investment.

Heavy rain time to check your house?

Heavy rain can affect several areas of your house from the roof down to the drains, and often heavy rain can highlight the areas of your house that need some attention. So work from the top down, check the pointing, flaunching and lead flashings around your chimneys. Check for any broken tiles or slipped slates on your roof and have a good check around the gutters make sure all the gutters are clear and check if there are any leading joints. These can cause further damage and lead to issues with pointing and introduced damp which can cost more money to resolve. Poor pointing can also cause damp patches and contaminate the plaster with hydroscopic salts meaning that it must be removed and the area treated with anti sulphate solutions and re plastered. Heavy rain can also increase issues with rising damp and wet rot to timbers in the roof structure, floor and ceiling joists. Drains can also leak and become over whelmed with runoff water during periods of heavy rain. Again not keeping your drains in good condition can lead to more sinister and serious problems by undermining your foundations. This can lead to the need for major structural repairs and structural solutions like underpinning and pile foundations. If you have any concerns about any issues with your property it is always best to seek some good advice from an expert like a surveyor of get some free advice from a good competent building contractor.

How to design a self build?

Many self builders use an architect to design their self build but even your architect will require input and guidance from you on what type of property you want. With so much technology and options now available it is easy to get the details wrong. This is often the case when self builders mix up various design options many heating and insulation systems. Many self builders opt for S.I.P panels these are structural insulated panels and mean that a house can be erected very quickly. They are also excellent for air tightness (no drafts) and thermal efficiency. However the heating system and air tightness needs to be well thought out often they are fitted with Mechanical Heat Recovery Ventilation usually just called MHRV’s. The options for these types of systems or air source heat pumps mean that there is often no need for a mains gas supply. With this said some SIP’s houses are better fitted with trickle vents on windows and the use of negative ventilation heat recovery. This works by taking air internally from rooms and extracting the heat and then this heat is used in a thermal store to provide heating through either radiators or under floor heating. The issue is often that with so many new and changing options for heating systems a combination of the wrong mix of technology for heating, ventilation, air tightness and thermal efficiency can leave these technologies fighting against each other. It is also the case that you can waste yourself build budget on items that do not represent good value when wrongly combined with other systems. So what is the answer well it is the job of a mechanical and electrical engineer to specify these items but the best person to advise on these is someone with environmental building qualifications as they will take a holistic approach? They can take you through the options so when you talk to your architect you can present the basic concept of how you want your house to work. Then they can use their skills to match up your design requirements with the best building techniques and material products to accomplish the specifications you require for heat loss, air loss and budget requirements.

Will house prices go up?

The property market has been short of good news over the last few years but could 2012 mark the turning point for the housing market? There have been several pieces of encouraging news this week, firstly the base rate has remained the same. Secondly the government has announced a targeted policy for housing and construction. Thirdly the land registry has released data showing a monthly increase in house prices of 0.8 percent. For those who study the property market there has been interesting news from Northern Ireland one of the worst hit areas by the property slump. The top end of the Northern Irish property market is showing signs of recovery. With all this positive news even the most pessimistic of property pundits are being forced to revise their forecasts. This is good news for the construction industry, home owners and property developers. There is pent up demand from many house holders to either buy or sell their homes many wishing to invest in home improvements or house extensions. In previous years when they have seen the price of their main asset dropping and had concerns over the wider economy they have been reluctant to commit to spending on home improvements and house alterations. Now that many home owners feel more confident that UK house prices are set to go up they are looking to improve their homes to get the maximum benefit from the increase in house prices. House extensions can often add more value than they cost to build with house prices increasing these increases in house values are compounded. Considering that the government has relaxed the planning guidance and rules for home extensions. We look set to see an increasing number of skips on our streets and building contractors picking their jobs. The number of builders and trade people in the UK has dropped dramatically as many have left the industry as contracts and building work levels have reduced. So as the construction and property market starts to recover those building contractors who have had the skills to weather the challenging economic conditions will be increasingly busy. Building contractors will also see their workloads increase as the property market recovers. Most home owners carry out building work either prior to selling their home or when they buy a new home. So now is the time to secure those last few property bargains before the market turns and find a good builder before they are booked up.