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.

Property News

A house in Hampstead has had its asking price slashed by a staggering £35 million and is now on the market for a mere £65 million!

As one of the most expensive houses in Britain, which was built in 1910 for Mr William Park Lyle of Tate and Lyle fame, it boasts 14 en-suite bedrooms, a huge wine cellar, pool, sauna, gym and even a panic room.

The house is also incredibly hi-tech, it features smart technology which enables you to switch on the lighting and heating from your ipad.

Home automation, which is already a big hit in the US, is set to become the next big “must have” item for the technology loving home owner with the ability to control many items around the house from your smartphone or tablet.

Planning news

 

The owner of an 8 million pound home in Notting Hill, London, had his plans for a new extension rejected after a petition was signed by over 20 people.

One of the people who signed the petition was celebrity Ruby Wax, Miss Wax has described the plans for the extension to be “revolting”

The property that borders the communal garden which was used in the film Notting Hill, had its plans turned down by the planning committee because the upper floor designs were “inappropriate” there may also have been plans to build under the pavement, to house a gym!

Weather warning – High Winds

 

The met office has issued a weather warning for high winds across the UK today with inland gusts reaching a predicted 65mph in places.

Strong winds can cause damage to your property in a number of ways, blowing tiles off the roof, falling trees damaging roofs and in extreme cases an up-rooted tree can cause damage with it roots effecting your foundations and drains.

Once the wind has died down have a good look around your property for signs of damage especially the roof area, also check inside your loft space for any tell tell signs of movement or daylight. If you suspect there is any damage to the roof get a quote for repairing it from a reputable builder who will carry out a full risk assessment before climbing onto your roof as roofs can be dangerous places especially on windy days!

The Conservation Vent Grille

Whilst trawling the internet for a suitable vent for a tumble drier that would be sympathetic to the Victorian beauty of the property we were quoting to work on, I came across a company called “Cast iron air brick company” they had an ideal solution for our problem in the shape of the “The Conservation Vent Grille”

A grille made from 100% recycled iron, It is capable of excepting both 4” and 5” ducting and comes in either a black gloss finish or red oxide primer ready for you to add your own colour.

As well as the vent grille this company manufacture a huge range of cast products such as cast air bricks, coal hole covers, cast soil vents and many many more, but don’t take my word for it, check them out for yourselves at www.castironairbricks.co.uk

Are ministers going to ease planning restrictions?

The growth and Infrastructure bill was amended by the House of Lords last month which may lead to councils being given the right to opt out changes to planning rules.

The idea, which was announced last year, is to relax planning rules which would allow an increase in the size of a single story extension to 8 metres on a detached house and 6 metres for other houses without planning consent.

Some MPs are saying the planned changes are a “recipe for disaster” and will cause disputes between neighbours.

If the bill is passed when ministers vote later, it could give the building trade a huge boost and could create much needed jobs but at what price?

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

Bedroom Tax

 

Labour MP Frank Field has urged council landlords to take action against the “grossly unfair” changes that are due to be made to housing benefits, even going as far as telling them to “brick up doors and Knock down walls”

If you were thinking of undertaking some “re-modelling” of your property and are tempted to “knock down a wall” be sure to employ the services of a qualified structural engineer before taking the hammer to the wall, and always consider what re-modelling your house could do to its future saleability and value!

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.