It is common knowledge that the UK housing market is in a slump. As the recession deepens and the economy shows little sign of major recovery, home-owners and property developers are staying put until house prices increase.
Among these people, the more astute will realise that increasing the value of the property now can save hundreds and perhaps thousands of pounds in the future. Indeed, a loft conversion is a popular choice of extension generally because the work is usually fairly routine for experienced and professional builders.
However, those home-owners who are thinking of waiting until the new year before they begin their loft conversion should take note that, as things currently stand, the VAT that would be paid on building work and materials will revert to 17.5% on the 1st January 2010, whereas the current rate is just 15%. Whilst this may not seem like much, the savings would typically be around £150 to £300.
Obviously, the scale of the loft conversion will dictate the level of savings, but it is also important to remember that building materials and labour costs can be significantly reduced during a recession as firms become more competitive to stay afloat. On this note, it is always useful to source builders by word of mouth.
Nevertheless, a loft conversion will add valuable space to the home that will invariably add thousands of pounds on to its future sale price. Furthermore, in consideration of the fact that many home-owners are forced to remain in their properties until the housing market recovers, adding space to the home can breathe new life into living conditions. Indeed, whether it’s a study or a spare bedroom, a loft conversion can make all the difference.
It is no secret that the UK housing market is on its knees, which has impacted economies all over the world. Consequently, home-owners and property developers find themselves in the unfortunate situation where they simply cannot afford to sell their homes at today’s prices because the market prices are so low.
This is also negatively impacting on potential buyers who are finding that properties are becoming harder to acquire. Notwithstanding these very real and pressing concerns, however, there is at least one good thing to come of this situation.
Indeed, home-owners and property developers are investing more into their houses in order to improve the future sale price when market conditions recover. Furthermore, many of these developments are tailored towards meeting the carbon emission and renewable energy targets set by the Government. Thus, the recovery of the UK housing market could arrive at a time when houses generally have become a whole lot greener and, therefore, a whole lot more investable.
Renovating a home in an eco-friendly way can be as simple as ensuring that doors and windows have double glazing fitted and that lofts are fully insulated in addition to cavity walls, through which plenty of heat can be lost. By reducing the wastage of energy in these ways, home-owners are also able to reduce their annual energy bills.
Nevertheless, greener home improvements include the installation of solar panels, which harvest renewable solar energy before converting it into electricity for home use. If a surplus of electricity is produced then this can be sold to the National Grid for even greater financial benefit. In summary, home improvements are popular at the moment and none can be more beneficial than those that will help the environment.
When the time calls for a spot of home improvement, many people assume that this means breaking open the tins of paint that have been stored in the garage for eons and throwing out all the old fixtures for newer replacements.
However, a little home improvement can be no more taxing than a good clean. One of the principal reasons for redecorating the home is that it tends to conceal all the dirt that has accumulated over the months, which ought to be cleaned rather than pasted over with fresh paint.
Nevertheless, despite a good spring clean, the home can continue to amass dirt and dust very quickly, irrespective of routine cleaning efforts. Thus, it is necessary to identify and understand the predominant causes of excessive grime and dust in order to be able to effectively clean them regularly.
The kitchen is perhaps the best place to start as, aside from bathrooms, this is where the concentration of bacteria tends to be at its highest. Furthermore, it is important to keep kitchens clean for obvious health reasons. Cleaning efforts should focus on key areas of the kitchen: the sink, work surfaces, oven and fridge.
Sinks should be wiped down with an anti-bacterial agent after every use, whilst drain cleaners should be used every fortnight to ensure that pipes remained unclogged and relatively sterile. Kitchen surfaces should be wiped regularly with warm water and washing-up liquid. Bicarbonate of soda is excellent for cleaning ovens, although a little elbow grease is usually necessary.
Finally, routine cleaning throughout the home can be made easier by vacuuming or dusting curtains, ceilings, light fixtures and even walls – these are key areas in which dust builds up and goes unnoticed.
When the British summer is in full swing and the weather is sunny, thoughts of winter tend not to be at the forefront of the typical person’s mind. Indeed, a hot summer is all about enjoyment: basking in sunshine, trips to the beach, eating ice-cream and relaxing in the great outdoors. However, in these difficult economic times it is also important to spare a little thought and energy on how best to survive the winter.
Indeed, the summer will undoubtedly be over before the recession ends, so many home-owners must take stock of their predicament that has seen them unable to sell their property due to deflated market prices. Until the economy recovers, it is important for home-owners to concentrate on what they already have and, in doing so, a little home improvement is often seen as a useful way of increasing the home’s value for the future.
Home improvements for the winter can also be cheaper to carry out in the summer. Labour and materials tend to inflate according to what is in season, whilst when there is a large availability of work prices tend to become more stable. In other words, there may be an increased chance of buying and installing products such as an underfloor heating system at reduced rates during the summer.
In respect to underfloor heating systems, reducing the initial outlay on such systems will pay huge dividends later as they tend to be far more efficient than traditional radiator installations. Moreover, underfloor heating can be installed under virtually any type of flooring and heats the most important areas of a room without causing cold draughts. Thus, installing underfloor heating during the summer may turn out to be a very wise move for home-owners.
A relatively simple method of updating the look and feel of a kitchen whilst also improving basic functionality is to replace old taps for new. Indeed, modern tap designs offer a range of practical and aesthetic benefits over older style taps, which not only impact on the look of the sink area but also affect water pressure.
A replacement tap can breathe new life into an area that is often overlooked as being utilitarian, when in practice a visually pleasing tap installation can significantly improve the kitchen space.
Before purchasing a new tap from the local hardware store, it is important to consider how it should be mounted on the sink. In this respect, the traditional options are wall, worktop or sink mountings, and which of these will be chosen is a matter that largely depends on the existing sink elements and whether the buyer is willing to make changes – or even buy a new sink. Indeed, if is often easier to obtain the desired look by replacing the whole sink unit.
Nevertheless, a change of old for new taps will usually involve the introduction of monobloc taps into the home. These describe taps that include the faucet and levers in a single unit, which means that they only require a single mounting. Generally speaking, monobloc taps are the way to go as they offer considerably more functionality than traditional pillar taps.
They also come in a range of styles, including swan-neck taps, chrome taps and spray taps, which comprise a retractable hose or spout that is perfect for rinsing food or washing draining areas. In summary, although it may seem like a minor feature of the kitchen, the tap can affect both aesthetics and functionality.
According to the Mirror, Homebase and B&Q are literally at war! As we get progressively deeper into the summer, the leading DIY rival firms are going head to head for your business! This is fantastic news for consumers, as if it ends up anything like the Supermarket wars, we could see the rival firms slashing prices in a bid to get feet through their doors!
Lets take a look at similar items from the warring DIY warriors, and see who comes up top!
If you are looking for a cast iron Chimenea for your garden, who can give you the best deal? Well, a Maya Cast Iron Chiminea with an antique bronze finish will set you back £69.99 from Homebase. Whereas B&Q can offer you a Baha Black Cast Iron Chimenea, for only £59.98! A saving of just over tenner!
But, in many ways it may just come down to convenience (or cost of petrol to get there), take for example the Flymo Micro Lite Electric Hover Mower. Homebase have it priced at £34.99, and from B&Q? It is £34.26! Similarly, a 12ft Trampoline, complete with enclose, is currently priced at £182.81 from B&Q, and £174.99 from Homebase.
And, as we customers keep hoping that a price battle will heat things up, it seems that in a bid to keep cool, the rival firms are matching like with like! For example, B&Q have slashed the price of their Globe Modern Ceiling Fan with Brushed Steel Effect from £103.00 to £67.98. This is seemingly to keep in-line with a similar product from Homebase, as the Monaco 4-Blade Ceiling Fan in Chrome is available for £64.99.
In the midst of a recession and flagging housing market, which has seen average house prices slashed to the extent that home-owners can no longer afford to sell up and property developers forced to hold on to their portfolios, giving the home a makeover can seem a waste of money.
However, carrying out home improvement during a recession offers at least two significant benefits: first, materials are often cheaper in a weakened market; and second, developing the home will invariably increase its future sale price after the market has recovered.
Alas, home extensions can cost tens of thousands of pounds and even a simple home makeover will cost money, which is one thing that most people will have less of during a recession. Nevertheless, a home makeover does not necessarily need to cost the Earth. Indeed, a spring clean and a fresh paint job can achieve similar results to a complete redecoration, so there is not always a need to worry about costs in order to give the house a makeover. Thus, there is perhaps no better time than the present to undertake a belated spring clean.
Cleaning the home is also a great opportunity to breathe new life into the arrangement of furniture and decorative items. Indeed, a home makeover on a budget will comprise elements of a spring clean that serve to rid the house of clutter in addition to the rearranging of furniture to provide an entirely revamped living space. Room planning can also be made simple at virtually no cost by using scale cardboard cut-outs that include all the rooms of the home and the furniture contained within them, which can be shuffled around to see what works before the actual moving gets under way.
The Times reports (13th July), that the government will shortly implementing ‘feed in tariffs’ to the National Grid. It is thought that by April next year, these tariffs, which have existed in many European countries for some time, will allow customers who have Solar Panels, or Wind Turbines, to feed energy back into the National Grid, and receive cash back for doing so.
Ed Miliband, the Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, stated that the schemes could “help create the clean energy of the future”. It is thought this will come at a price, though, with experts suggesting that the schemes could end up costing households £230 a year on their annual energy bills. The government has reluctantly admitted there will be a ‘bedding in’ cost, whilst the schemes form and grow.
However, those who can afford the ten to fifteen thousand pounds that it costs to have Solar panels installed, will indeed benefit from doing so. Solar panels work by generating renewable energy from light, which is then either stored for use later, or imported into the National Grid. Solar Paneled houses are fitted with two way meter clocks that monitor the amount of energy that is both given, and taken, to and from the National Grid.
It is thought that offering cash back to communities may ‘generate’ the same level of enthusiasm here, as it has in Germany, where whole villages and communities have joined together to install solar panels and wind turbines. Under the “clean energy cash back” initiatives, this has seen villages earning up to fifteen thousand pounds a year. Whether this community spirit exists Britain today remains to be seen.
Jenny Wagner, leading home interior improvement executive for the Examiner.com, has some fresh tips to motivate you to tackle some Home Improvement Projects – now the days are lighter and there is nowhere for your weary house to hide its sins in the summer sun!
Jenny suggests starting with easy jobs (though by no means pleasant ones) such as clearing guttering. Next on her list is painting, both inside and out. We all know that nothing lifts a room quite like a fresh coat of paint (remember that paint is a budget friendly way to give a room a new look), and now its warmer and drier you can really get to it – with no weather interruptions!
Another job that is all too easy to put off during those cold winter months is cleaning the double glazing. Essential for letting light in during summer and winter, heating your house and even killing off mould spores. Use a ready made solution, make your own with vinegar or, as the examiner.com suggests, using dish soap.
The next big job is cleaning your carpets. Essential to get rid of dust mites and any pet (or human) hair, grime and lingering smells. The examiner.com suggests that there is no substitute for a deep steam clean, so if you have not got a steam carpet cleaner, then rent one!
Lastly – tackle those blinds! Sure it may take a whole afternoon, and it is a job better tackled if you take the blinds outside, but at least you can let them dry in the sun. Lovely, fresh and dust free (spray with disinfectant), just the thing to freshen up your home!
Before the budding interior designer picks up a brush and starts slapping magnolia on every wall of the house, it should be noted that creating the perfect home is hard work. Furthermore, whilst creative vision is absolutely fundamental to the success of redecorating, the process actually involves a significant amount of science or technical knowledge.
Indeed, the combination of creative flair and design wisdom is key to producing a home that does not merely look good but which makes a bold and stunning visual statement. In short, this internal ‘wow factor’ is best achieved through precise and deliberate focal points.
In its most simple form, a focal point can be achieved by employing a careful contrast of colours. Because colours behave differently in relation to other colours, it is essential to understand how certain colours react to certain other colours and in certain shapes. For instance, a plain white background will give the appearance of a fresh and open room, which is ideal for those who enjoy the uncluttered look – although is perhaps a touch boring. However, a focal point can be created in such a room by painting a large vivid black or red square in the centre of one of the walls, which would appear more brilliant against the plain white background and elevate the room from the despairing depths of design doldrums.
Other ways to create a focal point include repositioning furniture strategically or installing a large natural/faux fireplace. Moreover, there is arguably no focal point more useful than a large LCD television screen that is mounted centrally on one of the narrowest walls, which truly comes into its own when guests arrive to watch the big game!