Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the weather’s got colder, many of us have turned the heating on already – and probably won’t be turning the thermostat down until after February!
Although energy prices are falling, the average family still spends over £1000 a year on gas and electricity, which is no small sum.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to cut your energy costs without shivering all winter. If you want to keep warm without breaking the bank, here are five top tips.
Maximise your radiators
How many of us have our sofa up against the radiator in the living room? It might be keeping the back of your sofa toasty warm, but the heat won’t get much further than that. Moving furniture away from the radiators, even just a few inches, lets the heat circulate through the room and warm it properly, as well as saving on damage to your furniture.
To make your radiators work even harder, consider investing in radiator panels; reflective panels you put behind a radiator to reflect more heat into the room – these really do make a difference: using them on every radiator in your house can cut your heating bills by as much as 15%! And if you don’t fancy buying them, you can achieve a similar effect by lining the wall behind your radiators with tin-foil.
Stop losing heat
You may already use draught excluders to keep heat from escaping under doors, but what about your windows? Even with double glazing, thin curtains or blinds can let heat out. Consider replacing yours with a heavier option to keep the warmth in the room, or line them with a thermal lining – a cheap fleece material will do.
And curtains aren’t just for windows! Try placing them over external doors for extra draught exclusion, as well as a bit of interior design flair. However, don’t keep curtains or blinds drawn in the day, as sunlight will warm your rooms up naturally.
Don’t heat what you don’t need
If you have a spare bedroom or second bathroom that’s rarely used, turn radiators off in those rooms, and shut the doors to them so that heat from the rest of the house doesn’t escape into them either. It might be unpleasant if you have to nip in to find something, but it’ll be worth it for the savings!
Additionally, if you have radiators in the halls or corridors of your home, these can be turned down slightly – if not shut off altogether – as you’ll only ever be passing through them for a couple of minutes at a time.
Professional home insulation can be costly, but DIY loft insulation is relatively cheap and simple. Foam insulation is cheap, and three 8inch rolls should be enough to give most lofts a decent layer of insulation. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, and wear protective clothing and goggles to stay safe, though.
Another part of your house to insulate is the hot water tank and pipes. You can buy a jacket for the tank and foam tubes for the pipes, both of which are easy to fit, and will keep the heat inside the pipes – so it heats the water, not your airing cupboard.
It’s all about timing
It’s a basic tip, but putting the thermostat on a timer is a great way to make sure you’re only heating the house when it’s needed. Set the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up and 20 minutes before you get home from work, and you’ll feel toasty 24/7 without having to think about it.
Additionally, try to keep the heat setting at 18C – this is the temperature that most of us should feel warm in a jumper and jeans, and ensuring your heating doesn’t go above this temperature often will save you cash. If it seems too cold at first, try bringing the temperature down 1 degree every few days until you’re acclimatised.
Liberty is writing on behalf of Lifestyle Blinds.
After a long hard life of working and bringing up kids, all most of us want from our retirement is a little bit of the good life.
Some nice views, friendly neighbours and plenty of opportunities for day trips and activities are all we ask for from a retirement property – in addition to top class facilities, high end fixtures and great staff.
If you’re looking for the perfect destination for your golden years, here are five of the best spots in the country for the older and more discerning members of our nation.
With breathtaking views, picturesque villages and friendly locals, it’s no wonder that North Yorkshire, and Skipton in particular have been voted the best place to retire to in the UK.
The result comes from findings put together by the government’s National Wellbeing Programme, and categorically show that retirees are shunning big cities in favour of the warmth and tranquillity of small town living.
Boasting miles of beautiful coastline, historic cities and plenty of sunshine, Dorset has been a firm favourite among retirees for many years.
As a result, developments are springing up in the best locations across the country – have a look at McCarthy & Stone’s Google+ Profile or website for all of the latest projects.
Like Dorset, Devon has more than its fair share of rugged countryside and spectacular beaches, both of which play a large part in tempting retirees from across the country.
Small cities like Exeter make excellent retirement destinations thanks to their proximity to the sea, wealth of facilities and community atmosphere.
The stunning countryside of the Lake District is enough to tempt people of all ages to relocate. And if you’re looking for a spectacular setting for your retirement, this could be just what you’re looking for.
The small market town of Kendal makes the ideal retirement destination, giving residents easy access to the countryside and a picture postcard setting.
If it’s calm and tranquillity that you’re after, look no further than Norfolk.
This peaceful and relaxed part of the country has been a haven for the elderly and retired for years, with few hills, friendly locals and great scenery just waiting to be explored.
Reaching retirement can be an exciting time in your life, giving you the opportunity to relocate to your favourite holiday destination or move closer to friends and family.
And with a wealth of great value and high standard retirement developments across the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice when the time comes.
The city has always been synonymous with success. Property investors, hedge fund bankers and young CEOs have always lined the streets of the city centre, along with trendy bars, fine dining and modern apartments.
But, is the city changing? Urban regeneration and strategic development has meant that the centre of the city has expanded, and an explosion of modern apartments can now be found in new corners of the centre. As with any surge of residential investment, it is soon followed by a boom of leisure and entertainment facilities. As this trend has continued in major cities across the UK, it has brought a huge choice of properties – and the city centres are slowly but surely expanding, making them the perfect spot for young professionals looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.
A lifestyle option
Besides the benefit of being able to own your own home, there are plenty of other reasons why city centre living is ideal for first time buyers. Being in an exciting location, especially an up-and-coming quarter of town, within walking distance to work, close to friends and in the heart of the action, is great for a twenty-to-thirty-something professional.
Looking at two-bed semis in the suburbs is what many first time buyers do, without considering the alternatives. This is because many believe they are automatically priced out of the city centre. However, a quick look at current house prices shows that the difference is minimal. Average prices in Manchester show that an apartment in the central region costs £136,881, whereas a terraced property in the Trafford suburb costs £126,748. Similarly, a two-bed central apartment, again in Manchester, can be bought for £115,000, whereas a two-bed terrace in Stretford (a suburb four miles from the city) costs £129,950. For very little difference in cost, you can have the centre on your doorstep.
If the mortgage repayments seem a little steep, get rid of the car (and expensive parking fees), rip up the annual train ticket, and walk. After all, you’re paying to have the vibrant centre at your front door, so you may as well enjoy it.
The benefits of a modern home
A modern, city centre apartment may not be to everyone’s taste. But, even if you considered it a temporary option – a short-term investment that will help you fund the period property of your dreams – it is still an affordable and beneficial option for most.
A modern home will most likely need less renovation, and far less alterations. This can save a small fortune as many older houses (especially affordably priced ones) suffer from damp, poor insulation and require general updating and improving.
Heating bills will be cheaper in your modern apartment, both because they are smaller, and due to the fact that most apartments are built with energy efficiency in mind. Many apartments are serviced or managed, taking a weight off your mind, and any exterior problems, issues or damage, are covered by someone else. It’s also often possible to buy a furnished new-build home, or buy a furnishing pack from landlords and agents, again saving you money on the initial costs of moving in.
If you work and play in the city, you should live there, too, and now, thanks to an abundance of city centre properties and urban regeneration, the city is a lot bigger – making a central apartment the ideal home for first time buyers.
Author: The Hub offers spacious and stylish apartments, located in the heart of Manchester city centre. A shared equity scheme and competitive prices makes it the ideal choice for first time buyers.
The commercial property sector is showing signs of recovery in the UK, with the market witnessing its sixth consecutive increase in the month of October. According to Investment Property Databank Ltd, the average value of offices, industrial properties and shops increased by 0.6 percent between September and October of 2013. This is good news for owners who saw a total return of real estate value and rental income reach a rate of 1.1 percent.
The increases aren’t just located in the capital city either. Industrial units across the country are currently growing in value at a stable rate; however, the real success stories are being seen in the South East. The returns on commercial property here have actually outpaced the growth of the sector in central London.
Commercial property for sale
Property agents are seeing commercial property reaping the benefits of economic growth. For example, office buildings witnessed a 0.9 percent increase, while warehouse values grew by 0.8 percent. Even the value of retail properties have seen signs of recovery with averages rising by 0.3 percent. Considering the recent trials and tribulations of the high street this is good news.
The increase in value of commercial property foots the overall trend seen in the job market and industrial sectors. Manufacturing and construction sectors grew last month, while British services increased at a quicker rate than any other time in the last 16 years.
The amount of unemployed people in the UK is currently dropping as more businesses find their footing and start to flourish. The number of jobless people actually declined to its lowest numbers since 2009 during 2013’s third quarter. Recent figures showed the unemployed amounted to just 7.6 percent in the UK.
Commercial property for rent
Investors looking for an opportunity in the commercial sector should consider buying now. Prices are still low enough to find a bargain, but increases in average value show a great deal of promise, which may allow you to reap a decent ROI in the not too distant future.
You will find a variety of commercial estate agents online at RegionProperty.co.uk. This is an online search facility that allows you to browse commercial buildings from across the UK. Here, you can find a wealth of property for commercial purposes, from office buildings to warehouses and high street stores, both for sale and to rent.
RegionProperty.co.uk allows you to filter results using the simple navigation facility to browse by:
- Number of rooms
- And much more
If you are a relative novice in the commercial property field, it helps to gain advice from financial lenders and expert estate agents regarding commercial mortgages and property insurance for businesses.
Forecasts for 2014
Reports are positive for the commercial property sector looking to the future, with stronger investment demand for offices around the world forecast for the coming year. A report by Knight Frank – the independent property consultancy – says transactions across the world for commercial property totaled US$224 billion in the first half of this year. Investment activity has improved by 11.7 percent compared with last year. The organisation expects capital values to rise by around 5 percent between now and the end of 2014.
My partner and I recently bought our very first house; we were so pleased to get onto the property ladder! The journey to get there wasn’t completely stress free though as there were a lot of things to think about, and plenty of hurdles to jump through. We’re still not able to relax completely in our home as we have some more renovation work to do – we bought a 1970s semi-detached property that looks like it’s never been updated since then! It’s all worth it in the long run though; we can do all the decorating we like, build an extension, have a pet… So even with the struggles, I urge you to push on if you’re in a similar position and want to buy your first home. Hopefully my own tips will help you on your way; here are my top picks…
Getting a mortgage
Unless you’ve had a sudden windfall, it’s likely you’ll be getting a mortgage to fund your property purchase. There are many providers and rates, so you’ll need to compare the market to see what works best for you. In order to get a mortgage, you’ll need to raise some cash for a deposit. The amount you’ll need will differ depending on which mortgage you go for, but will usually be at least 5% of the property price. If you are looking to buy in the next couple of years, figure out how much you’ll need to save each month in order to reach your target.
Picking a property
When the process to get your mortgage is underway, you’ll be able to look at properties that match the budget you’ll have once it’s fully agreed. I looked at property aggregator sites online and then contacted the individual estate agents to arrange viewings. It’s true, you’ll generally get a feeling when the house is right, but don’t get too swayed by decorations or furniture as all of this can be different when you move in. If you love two properties, create a list of the benefits and let your head decide which one wins overall.
Getting legal advice and assistance
When you come to making an offer on a house, it can be very helpful to have the assistance of a brilliant legal team. My advice would be to do some proper research into this area rather than going with the 1st property lawyers you stumble across. You’ll want to build a good relationship with your solicitor and their team as it could help to get the process moving more quickly. You should also enquire about whether they can help you with a survey of the property as you don’t want any nasty surprises when you move in.
Finally, when it comes to moving day itself, try to stay calm. You’ll need to collect the keys and make sure your removals company can get in to the new property to unload your belongings. I won’t lie, it’s pretty exhausting, but it can be made easier by remembering little things like labelling a box with kitchen essentials such as your kettle and tea bags, as well as making your bed as soon as you can. My last tip is to have a pizza delivery number handy as you won’t feel like cooking your own dinne
GREEN is the colour of choice for new homes. Movie star Leonardo di Caprio is building an eco home on his own private Caribbean island. Julia Roberts and George Clooney too are green devotees. Brad Pitt has been involved with constructing several in New Orleans. Even Manchester United footballer Gary Neville is trying to build an eco home in the hills outside Manchester.
The reason green, eco or sustainable (the words are used interchangeably) have become the new luxury is for many people a combination of our growing awareness of climate change (images of polar bears stranded on melting ice flows is potent), and a general groundswell of opinion that we need to be just a little more aware of how increasingly scarce are natural resources are becoming.
So, how, you might ask, do our homes have an impact on melting ice flows? Well, our homes account for 25% of the CO2 – a greenhouse gas – emissions that scientists say is contributing to irreversible climate change. The effect is not only melting ice flows but rising sea levels, increasing outbreaks of drought and famine, and some say the upsurge in other natural phenomena like tsunamis.
For some of us the issues are a little less high blown. In these straitened times, simply saving a few hundred pounds a year on your heating and electricity bills is a big incentive to make one’s home more energy efficient. Inexpensive ways to reduce bills, lessen CO2 emissions and create a more pleasant temperature include laying more insulation, and choosing energy efficient appliances.
When it comes to new homes – either in the UK, or overseas – and whether you are buying a permanent home, a holiday retreat, or building up your investment portfolio, sustainable design and build represents the future of global property. The sustainably built homes of today are stylish, beautifully finished, invariably with warm and light spaces for living – and in many cases they look just like a conventional house.
Those who understand this philosophy when buying a new home are in an enlightened and beneficial situation. Their homes will have cleaner air and a more pleasant temperature for comfort and well-being; if the paint and furniture is made from non-toxic materials it’ll be better for their health and their children’s too. So, not only is there a feel good factor, there’s a beneficial long-term legacy to leave the next generation.
This article was contributed by Gordon Miller, sustainability and communications director of Sustain Worldwide
Sustain Worldwide’s member developers are creating many of the leading sustainable homes, communities and resorts in the UK and worldwide where you can purchase permanent, second/holiday, retirement and investment properties – places where you want to buy a home, and build a life.
Sustain Worldwide +44 (0)20 7754 5557
Hope you enjoyed reading my previous article on first impressions, the first of my Interior Design tips? So now on to my next tip!
So we’ve spruced up the entrance and made a fantastic impression, undoubtedly they’ll be buying!! However, we now need to continue this feel around the rest of the home, so let’s move on to the family/living room. This is also a very important area, as it will most probably be a main area of interaction for anybody that moves in, so it is vital that it is also looking its best and sending across the right “vibe!”
Let’s begin with the furniture. Is it old and dated; do the legs to the coffee table wobble; is the settee there from when you first moved in…years ago? If so, then it definitely needs to be changed or updated in some way. Nobody is attracted to old and obsolete…maybe shabby chic, but even this is an acquired taste! There are many options that you could go for. For example, you could reupholster pieces yourself if you’re feeling brave enough? There are also options of hiring some great pieces of furniture and after shopping around you can find some good bargains out there. Or maybe you want to buy the furniture for your new house a bit earlier and use that? But I would be careful with the last option, as you may end up loving the new living room too much and decide against leaving!
Next, think about the colour palette, is it warm and inviting? I generally feel that living rooms should have a warm and cosy feel, especially if they are the main room if the house where the family tends to collect. So choose colours that are inviting and neutralise the space, but this does not mean that the space has to become magnolia and boring. Maybe go for soft blues and browns and a few cushions or well-chosen accessories as accents to liven the place up.
Make sure there is room to breathe. After living in the same space for a while we all have a tendency to “collect” things together; thinking they look good, but in all honesty they need to be put away! So make sure that the space is clutter-free, I don’t think this can be said enough! This includes re-thinking what is on the mantle piece and side table; and anywhere else you may have added that basket of faux flowers from your anniversary or those coasters from Spain! Another way to ensure that the space is breathing is thinking about the way furniture is arranged, is it inviting and open, or does it close the space? Think about how you would walk through from one end of the room to the other?. Try to space things out and don’t have too many obstacles, as this is likely to close the space and make it appear smaller than it may be.
Finally, make sure the windows are clean and dressed nicely; nowadays you are able to pick up a pair of curtains and pole for great prices. A pair of worn out curtains is definitely not a way to attract a new owner. When buyers are visiting put the lights on or keep the curtains open, ensure that the space is feeling bright and airy.
There are many more tips and ideas that can be incorporated within your space. For more information, and a friendly chat about what Sav Design is able to offer, do get in touch.
Savita Kalia is the principal interior designer at Sav Design, an interior design firm offering a variety of commercial and residential services. Life is too short to be badly designed, contact Sav Design today!
Never judge a book by its cover …or not?
So, consider this…before:
Selling your home is always a challenge and can take some time. To help sell the property it is always a good idea to give your home that final piece of love and attention. The more effort you put into making your home look nice, the more money it will sell for. Try and look through the buyer’s eyes, investigate every corner and think of how you could make it better and more attractive.
Home staging is becoming ever more the norm and is often needed in today’s demanding property market. With the pressures of meeting buyers’ high expectations it is important to concentrate on the overall look and feel of your home and ensure that it is not only appealing to the buyer, but also inviting.
There is nothing worse than going into a home that is full of clutter, which has been left to its own devices. Over the coming weeks I’ll be providing tips to help sell your home and get it off the market – so book mark this blog or sign up to recieve my tips by email.
Helpful Hint 1: I know we are always told never to judge a book by its cover, but be honest how many times have you seen something and immediately made a judgement? It is quite common for people to form an opinion of some sort within the first few minutes of seeing something, be it a property, person or a pair of shoes!!
So ensure that the entrance to your property is tended to, be it a garden or a corridor. Make an effort to get rid of unwanted rubbish. We are all hoarders of some type and just need that extra push to de-clutter¦ believe it or not you will feel lighter and maybe slightly liberated!!
So get rid of those weeds in the front garden and give it a good sweep. Pick up the mess from the corridors and create an atmosphere of calm, welcoming your new guests. Small entrances can be tricky, but adding a long mirror and additional lighting automatically tricks the eye into seeing more. Another way to add more depth and space is to add a small console table at one end; this draws the eye forward again creating the illusion of more space. As the eye is being drawn to this table it would be a good idea to add a simple accessory such as a tasteful flower arrangement or vase. Leaving the entrance ticked off of your list!!
Now consider this…after:
Consider the impression that the two pictures above would give a potential purchasor. The key is to make that initial impact and create not just a ‘good’, but a fantastic impression.
I hope you enjoyed this article and are looking forward to the next helpful hint! In the meantime please do not hesitate to get in touch for personal advice from Sav Design.
Savita Kalia is the principal interior designer at Sav Design, an interior design firm offering a variety of commercial and residential services. Sav Designis a young company fresh with new ideas and old, ensuring that all client needs are fulfilled. Life is too short to be badly designed, contact Sav Design today! email@example.com
Ever since the property industry made its first bold steps online, the possibilities offered have been a gift for sellers and buyers alike. From basic search to widgets, from Google Maps integration to social media engagement, pioneers in the property world have seized upon digital developments to reap the benefits of their “revolutionary” vision. But how much of this has truly been revolutionary?
Every so often, we’re promised a real game-changer, but in almost all cases the changes are superficial and the game seems to stay the same. Recently, there’s been a lot of excitement over both Google and Tesco venturing into the industry. Again, we were led to believe this would herald a new era in online property sales. Again, we were disappointed.
For as long as the big players in the property world (old and new) invest their time and money into window dressing, we will always fail to address the issues that really need our attention: significantly reducing the stress and hassle people experience when buying a home, making the whole process quicker and easier, restoring trust in estate agents, dragging intimidating property auctions into the 21st century, and ending gazumping forever.
These issues cut to the heart of what matters to buyers. They should also make us question how we, as an industry, use the Internet not to simply promote properties but also to close the deal.
This is what I had in mind when I created Click to Purchase – a transactional platform that enables people to buy property online at the click of a button or via real-time auction. There’s no excessive haggling or negotiating. No recurrent visits to the agent’s office. No back room deals after an offer has been placed. As soon as a bid is accepted, the contract is immediately exchanged online. It’s like e-commerce for property.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I was told “no-one will ever buy property online”. But the platform has already been active in the commercial market for several months. During this time, it has generated sales in excess of £15 million and thrived despite the financial squeeze. There is obviously a hunger for this kind of innovation from buyers and I’m now hoping for this success to be shared across the residential market.
Very soon, all estate agents across the UK will have the option to invite their customers to buy via Click to Purchase. Now, I believe this really is something special. A game-changer. Dare I say, revolutionary?
Author Biography: Neil Singer
Neil Singer has worked in the commercial property industry for over 25 years. In recent years he has been inspired by the power of the Internet and its use in business. His passion for applying new technologies to traditional processes led him to create the Click to Purchase platform. Please visit the Click to Purchase website (http://clicktopurchase.com) and follow him on Twitter.