Category Archives: Domestic

What’s the cost of a house extension?

The price of a home extension can vary massively dependent on, not only the size of the extension but the level of finish you require in regards to such things as kitchens and bathrooms.

The starting point of any good home extension project is to employ the services of an architect to help you plan exactly what you want to create. A good architect will listen to your list of requirements and “must haves” and then explore what is possible within building regulations. The architect will then produce a first draft of the proposed drawings for you to peruse and discuss.

Once you are happy with the design and the plans have been passed by the planning office it’s time to get some quotes, I would recommend you get three quotes so you have an idea of the minimum and maximum prices.

It is important that you know the level of involvement you want with the project, do you want to manage the project yourself, which could save you money, or do you want to employ a main contractor so you have one point of contact for the project who is dealing with every element of the build from foundations to finish.

It is also important to have an idea of the level of finish you require if your extension is to include a kitchen, utility room or bathroom. The price of these products vary enormously, you need to have an idea of what proportion of your budget is to be spent on these items, this process can help you decide how much you want those granite worktops or expensive taps on the bath!

Always allow for some contingency money in your budget for any unforeseeable problems or extra works you may require whilst the build is in progress and if none arise, maybe you can have those fancy bath taps after all!

Home repossessions fall

A report by The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) states that the rate of repossessions in the first quarter of the year was down by 17% compared to the same period last year.

Around 8000 properties were repossessed in the first three months of 2013 and The CML report that a fifth of those were buy-to-let properties.

In a separate report by The CML shows that the buy-to-let market is growing, the first quarter accounting for over 13% of the mortgage market.

The rise is being attributed to low interest rates and continued employment with The Bank of England today announcing that it will hold its record low benchmark rate at 0.5pc continued growth is predicted.

Gas Certificates

A survey which was recently carried out by the housing charity Shelter in conjunction with British Gas, has shown that around 1 in 10 landlords and letting agents are not having an annual gas safety check carried out despite it being required by law.

The law requires a gas safety certificate to be issued annually for a rented property. A gas check helps identify gas leaks and faulty boilers which may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and even explosions.

Don’t put your tenants at risk.

James and the giant price tag!

The house in which Roald Dahl was born has been put on the market. It was built by his parents in Llandaff, and was named Villa Marie – but is now known as Ty Gwyn.

The house has been put on the market for £1.45 million, so a keen fan of the much loved children’s author would have to dig deep into their pockets or be the owner of a chocolate factory!

Don’t throw your money down the drain

The sun is out again and the forecast for the bank holiday weekend is good. You may decide that it’s time to get out into the garden and start digging out for the new patio or decking you’ve been planning all through the cold dark winter, but before you fire up the breaker on the old concrete base you need to remove or start swinging the pick axe, have you considered what lies beneath? Be sure to check where the drains run and check if any other services, Gas, Electric, Cable TV, you don’t want your budget spending on costly repairs!

Smoke Alarms – Push the button!

In the UK over 80% of the population own smoke alarms, but statistics say that 1 in every 8 of the houses attended by fire and rescue services, the smoke alarm failed to preform, in most cases it was down to a missing or flat battery.Statistically most fires start at night so without a working smoke alarm your chances of survival are hugely reduced.The Governments advice to “Push the button! Not your luck” is sound advice which only takes seconds to do and could save your life.If you don’t have a smoke alarm, buy one today! Prices start around £5 and it could be the best £5 you ever spend.If you have a smoke alarm, check it now! Always keep a spare battery in the drawer and mark a date in your calendar or set a weekly reminder on your phone to “Press the button!”If you need any advice or help with your smoke alarm call your local Fire and rescue Service, they’ll be happy to help.

Sun Tunnels

Do you have an upstairs room that is starved of natural light?

Have you considered the installation of a sun tunnel?

The sun tunnel increases the amount of natural light even on a cloudy day, the reflective surface of the tunnel make it as light inside your property as it is outside, meaning you may not need to turn on the light so often therefore reducing your energy bills.

One of the many advantages of fitting a sun tunnel rather than a roof light is that the flexibility of the tunnel between the roof and the ceiling allow you to have the tunnel fitted where you want it rather than being governed by where the timber structure of the roof is.

The most common areas to have a sun tunnel fitted are bathrooms, stairs and landings because they are traditionally areas which have a lack of natural light

Electrical Earthing Requirements in Domestic Properties


In the United Kingdom there are three main types of Earthing protection for domestic properties’


The first and most effective are called “PME” (Protective Multiple Earth) systems. These are also known as TNC-S systems.

These systems incorporate the earthing cable and the Neutral conductor to the substation in order to provide a path for any current in the event of a fault.


The second type of system is known as a TN-S. These systems rely on the outer sheathing of the electrical supply cable to carry fault currents to earth.

These systems are not a good as the PME systems as if the outer sheath of the electrical supply cable to the property becomes damaged, the fault current cannot flow to earth.


The third type of system is called a TT system. This type of system is not that effective in dealing with electrical faults. The system is connected to an earth rod generally located external to the property.

The problem with TT systems is that when the earth dries out over prolonged dry periods, the area surrounding the earth rod will crack and expand, therefore the rod is not always in good contact with earth.

The Three systems derive their name from the following:

T Being Earth

TT = Earth Earth, i.e. the earth cable connected to an earth rod.

TNC-S = Earth connected to neutral “N” combined in the ground “C” but separate in the property “S”

TNS = Earth and neutral separate


It is recommended that if you have a TT system in your property  ie an earth rod outside,

You should have it upgraded to a TNC-S PME supply, as it will probably not carry the correct current in the event of a fault.

Homeownership falls



Government figures released today show for the first time since the mid-80s homeownership has fallen.

Whilst still over 14 million of us are home owners, it is still the lowest proportion at 65% since Margaret Thatchers “Right to buy” proved to be so popular, a scheme where the tenants of council owned properties were encouraged to buy the house they lived in at a discounted rate.

Home ownership peaked in 2003 when the rate had risen to over 70% but that number fell over the following 4 years as credit became harder to obtain and property prices increased which also priced potential buyers out of the market.

This has forced more and more people to enter the rental market which is shown in recent figures showing a higher demand for rental properties. Once in the rental market, renters tend to feel trapped as they are unable to raise the 20% deposit required rather than the typical rate of 10% to get on the property ladder.

There has however been a rise in the number of mortgages approved since the Governments “funding for lending scheme” was rolled out last year and a number of lenders reducing their rates.