Barn or bungalow, cottage or cave, farmhouse or flat… an Englishman’s home is his castle. But what’s the state of affairs elsewhere? We’ve scoured the globe for the most enchanting abodes in existence, judging them not on their financial worth, but on their personality, presence, timelessness and ingenuity.
1. Pretty Beach House (Australia)
Dubbed “Australia’s most intimate and luxurious guesthouse”, the Pretty Beach is an idyllic getaway for you and your loved ones. With no TVs, time stands still. In fact, you’d be wise to check out some gift ideas for her before you go, taking something to read against the backdrop of ancient Bouddi National Park and infinity pools! We’re enticed by the laid-back personality of this home built of mud bricks and hand crafted timber posts.
2. Gary Chang’s Apartment (China)
Gary Chang’s apartment is only 105 square feet, making it the smallest home on our list. Using hydraulics, Gary’s design enables the walls to move to create 24 individual rooms and a great deal of storage. We think this home meets our definition of ‘greatness’ as it acts as an example of innovation at a time when Hong Kong’s population is struggling with an ongoing shortage of space.
3. Jacob’s Ladder, (England)
Jacob’s ladder just so happens to be Kevin McCloud’s favourite house in Britain – and with good reason. It has unparalleled personality, constructed from cedar, glass and steel, and is nestled modestly into surrounding woodland. Its creator, Architect Niall McLaughlin, explains its magical presence by stating that “…it sits in a gap in the trees and we felt like it was a window in the woods”. Sounds dreamy!
4. Bohumil Lhota’s Roundabout House (Czech Republic)
Bohumil Lhota’s home has been referred to a cross between “a Hobbit’s home and a building from Star Wars”. The dwelling moves up and down, and can rotate on its side to follow the sun. Granted, it’s not the most luxurious house on the planet – but it does have adequate living quarters and a swimming pool. By building it underground, Lhota’s home maintains a stable temperature all year round. So why has it made our list? Well, it blends design of the past and future, has tons of personality, and thoughtfully considers energy usage in a way that conventional homes rarely do.
5. Lake Wakatipu House (New Zealand)
This home is an absolute knock out. Set against majestic mountains, this house doesn’t just sit respectfully within its environment: it becomes it. The use of sharp lines, subdued colour and natural textures give this home a presence and timelessness that rivals even its highest snow-capped neighbours. It’s our favourite.
6. Tower Studio (Canada)
Tower Studio is a dark, twisting, three story home situated on a stretch of rocky coastline in Newfoundland. From the exterior, the thirty-two-foot structure is perplexing…. it appears to ‘buckle’, leaning forward and backwards as it reaches up towards the sky. Inside, however, is completely whitewashed, bright and minimal. So why’s it made it to the great list? As well as being ecologically sustainable, it prompts discussion: it’s quizzical, unique and impossible to ignore.
In recent weeks we’ve looked at many easy and inexpensive ways in which you can encourage buyers for your home and increase its value. Tidying your garden, painting your front door and de-cluttering are all good ideas but what about those major jobs such as extensions, loft conversions and conservatories? A recent survey by estate agents Savills told us exactly what to do if you want to make a major difference to the market value of your home. Here are the top five findings.
- Loft extension
The key to most of these methods is in creating extra space. A loft which is otherwise left empty or used for storage can be perfect for an extra bedroom or a home office.
It is claimed that converting your loft space can add between 10% and 20% to the value of your home depending on the total size of your property and on the area. In London, for example, where extra space is highly desirable you could expect to receive the full 20% increase on a future sale price.
- Side Return
The first question to ask here might be ‘what is a side return’? In Victorian times, this was the area outside the home that led from the door at the side of a house and out into the back garden.
Some viewed it as wasted space and had the kitchen extended to make a larger kitchen area or even to add a dining room if feasible. Many older properties in the UK still have a side return and by converting it, Savills estimate that you can add around 10 to 20% to your property in financial terms.
- A new kitchen
In the case of a new kitchen, you aren’t actually adding any square footage to your home but you are making better use of the space inside. A transformed kitchen can be stunning and comes in at third place in the list.
However, while it may add 5 – 7% to your property value, it is claimed that the initial cost of your new kitchen is rarely, if ever, claimed back on a future sale.
- A new bathroom
A bathroom is arguably the one place in the house that will be redecorated in accordance with the new owner’s tastes. It is also widely claimed that the thought of upgrading such a room is likely to deter prospective buyers.
Restyling your bathroom can therefore encourage a sale and it’s also claimed that it can add up to 5% to the final figure.
- An en suite bathroom
This represents the ultimate in luxury and convenience and more and more buyers are adding an en suite bathroom to their list of requirements.
If you have enough space in your main bedroom then you could consider adding the extra room for your own use and when the time comes to sell, you may find that you’ve boosted your property value by up to 4%.
The Bank Holiday weekend is almost upon us and a survey carried out by HSBC suggests that over 50% of us will be staying at home to carry out some of those DIY jobs that we’ve been putting off since the beginning of the year. A significant percentage of those people will be working around the house with a view to selling their property and there are many small and larger tasks that are known to help achieve a quicker sale.
If you believe the weather forecast, we are certainly in line for the type of weather that suits indoor DIY but what are the jobs that will carry most value when it comes to selling your home?
The 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey shows a list of jobs that property experts believe will add value to your house, while it also indicates how much importance individual homeowners place on those tasks.
As far as the experts are concerned, de-cluttering space is the most vital job by far with 93% claiming that this task made a bigger impact on potential buyers than anything else. In contrast however, only 71% of property owners felt that this was necessary.
This is just one area where experts and individuals disagree and it shows that there are many popular misconceptions over which jobs are vital to the vendor. It even seems in some cases that property owners are still falling into the clichéd traps of putting out fresh flowers and brewing fresh pots of coffee.
One of the key elements that HSBC stress is the importance of first impressions and there are many jobs that can be done right now that will have a tangible impact on any potential buyer.
“Many householders spend the Bank Holidays on DIY projects to help boost property value and saleability. However it is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a quick sale,” said Peter Dockar, head of mortgages at HSBC.
The front of the property is simply vital in regards to those crucial first impressions so aside from the front door itself, if you have an immediately visible garage door then this should be looked at. Door furniture is important too and if you have tired finger plates and letter boxes, they can be easily and cheaply renewed.
Fences and gates are other areas that experts believe will aid a successful property sale and above all, the HSBC survey highlights the disparity behind those expert views and the ones held by the homeowners themselves.
If you want to achieve a quick sale at a price to suit, the results of the survey should certainly be considered by any vendor.
This is a sponsored article from Harveys, The Furniture Store.
People have long held a love affair with the balanced style defined by Scandinavian design. Its characteristics of airiness and space make it an exceptionally livable interior scheme, whilst at the same time it remains accessible thanks to its simplicity. Since spring is here, what better excuse can there be to embark on a Scandinavian makeover for your interior?
Scandinavian style isn’t a matter of whitewashing the walls to within an inch of their life, and neither is it an attempt to obtain design magazine levels of perfection. It is about finding your balance of chic, practical living. Follow the fundamentals of colour, aesthetic creativity and harmonious furniture, and you will soon be relaxing in your own small slice of Stockholm.
Unless you have unresolved issues with hoarding, switching to Scandinavian is easier than you might think. Remember, this is not minimalism. There is no need to de-clutter for no good reason. Think equal parts busy and equal parts quiet. By all means parade your collectable thimbles or that set of match programmes from the 1961 season, but make sure you juxtapose against pastel shaded walls or display in spacious cabinets.
Light pastel shades and white walls are not essential parts of the Scandinavian look but they help. Going gentle on the partitions means that the bold colours and patterns are liberated to pop in bursts elsewhere. Once again it is that equilibrium between quiet and busy.
A difficult moment when transforming the interior of one’s home, comes when it is time to confront your soft spots. Whether it is the creaking old rocking chair in the corner or the well-loved armchair in front of the flat screen, sometimes things have to go. At this point a trip to the furniture store is the quickest way to cheer yourself up as you choose your next comfort companion.
Keep the key characteristics of Scandinavian design in mind when it comes to looking at new sofas and chairs. Large and bulky is out, contemporary and clean is in. Pick a suitable colour to match the scheme of your walls and your sofa will become a focal part of your living room.
Your home’s assimilation into a haven of contemporary Northern European living does not stop in the living room though. With some creative decorating, the kitchen can follow. Wooden worktops add a rustic effect, high stools create contemporary flair and exposed metal will cool the whole room.
Finish with a flourish of personal touches. Employ your own decorative aesthetic brand remembering the Scandinavian penchant for peculiar sculpture, weird wall hangings and oversized clocks. Or just make do with a pastel striped rug thrown across varnished floorboards.
Scandinavian countries often top the charts for standard of living, just think, with a simple North European makeover you might begin reaping the benefits too.
If you are thinking about doing some major renovations in your home that require a sledgehammer and a party wall, then it might be wise to know a little bit about the Party Wall Act and the legislation that determines what you can and can’t do within your home.
The Party Wall Act 1996 actually came into force in 1997 and comes into effect if somebody is planning on completing works on a relevant structure. The term ‘party wall’ doesn’t always mean the wall between two semi-detached properties. It covers the following instances:
A wall forming part of only one building but which is on the boundary line between two (or more) properties.
A wall which is common to two (or more) properties, this includes where someone built a wall and a neighbour subsequent built something butting up to it.
A garden wall, where the wall is astride the boundary line (or butts up against it) and is used to separate the properties but is not part of any building.
Floors and ceilings of flats etc.
Excavation near to a neighbouring property.
As with any DIY or major projects that might affect your neighbours, the polite thing to do is to let them know what you plan to do in the hope of reaching a friendly and amicable agreement. Resorting to mentioning or enforcing the law should be the last thing on your mind in the early stages of planning. Even if the work requires a notice to be served, it’s always best to informally discuss what you intend to do and to consider any comments or reservations your neighbours might have. Friendly discussions at this stage might cause you to rethink your plans and amend them before serving a notice.
What party wall works don’t need permission?
There are many minor works that can be carried out to party walls without any notice being served or permission being granted. Typically, this type of work includes:
Putting up shelves and wall units
Electrical rewiring works
What party wall works do need permission?
The Party Wall Act was enforced to ensure that all work that might have an effect on the structural support and strength of a party wall or that might cause damage to a neighbouring property, be notified. A good rule of thumb if you are not sure what effect works might have is to seek advice from your local Building Control Office or a professional architect or surveyor.
You must serve a notice if you plan to carry out any of the following works:
To demolish and/or rebuild a party wall
To increase the height or thickness of a party wall
Insertion of a damp proof coarse (either chemical injection or a physical dpc)
Cutting into the party wall to take load bearing beams
Underpinning a party wall
Excavations within 3 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavation will go below the bottom of the foundations of the neighbouring building
Excavations within 6 metres of a neighbouring building where the excavation will go below a line drawn 45° downwards from the bottom of the foundations of the neighbouring building
Serving a Notice
Once you are sure that the work you intend to carry out falls under the Party Wall Act, it’s time to arrange a notice to be served. This must be issued to all affected neighbouring parties. The notice must include the following information:
The owners of the property undertaking the work
The address of the property
The names of all the owners of the adjoining property
A description of the proposed work, usually a single line giving a brief description
The proposed start date for the work
A clear statement that the notice is being served under The Party Wall etc Act 1996
The date the notice is being served
If the notice is for excavation work, then a drawing showing the position and depth of the excavation must be included
The process of serving a notice under the Party Wall Act is as follows:
The person intending to complete the works must serve a written notice on the neighbours or owners of the adjoining property no less than two month before the intended work is due to comments. All neighbouring parties must be informed. Each neighbouring party then has 14 days to respond in writing giving consent or showing dissent – if a party chooses to do nothing within 14 days then the notice will be automatically put into dispute. No work may commence until all neighbouring parties have agreed in writing.
So, if you’re planning on knocking down a party wall or arranging underpinning, you’ll need to consider the Party Wall Act and everything it contains. Being on side with your neighbours is going to help a great deal with the notice process and will hopefully help you to achieve project completion with no problems.
There are many reasons why you might want to consider building a house extension. If you’re looking to upsize, but don’t want to or can’t move right now, an extension can be the perfect solution. Building a home extension is also one of the best ways of adding value to your home especially if you add extra bedroom space. When you do come to sell your home, you will find you make a great return on your investment. Before you go ahead, it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can about the process especially planning permission. Many people have jumped ahead too fast and been scuppered by planning permission regulations so read our quickie guide for more information.
Planning an extension can be challenging. Planning permissions is one of those essential aspects of building a house extension and you really don’t want to overlook it. If you do, it WILL end up in disaster and could result in your extension being pulled down or condemned. Why not take a look at our planning permission guide instead and do things the easy and correct way?
The Benefits of a House Extension
Lots of people are taking on home improvements these days and a house extension seems to top the list. There are some great benefits to choosing a house extension. Not only do you gain extra space and add value to your home when you come to sell, but if you really couldn’t bear the thought of moving, an extension allows you stay put and avoid the upheaval and stress of that moving home brings.
A Little Bit About Planning Permisson
We’ve all seen some of the eyesores that people refer to as their extension. Large concrete monstrosities are thankfully a thing of the past thanks to tighter planner permission controls. It’s important that your extension not only looks good, but that it fits in with the style of other houses in your immediate area. An extension built without the right planning permission can lower the value for your home and those around you and can result in the demolition of your extension.
The following planning permission regulations apply in the UK:
Terraced, semi-detached and terraced houses require planning permission if the house extension is to cover in excess of 70m² or 115% of the total volume of the property.
You will also need to get planning permission if your property extension is going to sit higher than the highest point of your house.
Planning permission is required for all Grade II listed buildings.
All apartments and maisonettes required planning permission for extensions.
If you plan to increase the volume of your property by more than 115 cubic metres or if you plan to build within two metres of the boundary of the property, you need to seek planning permission.
Before you commence any work, we recommend that you contact your local authority’s Planning Office to find out more about the process and to discuss your plans. Once you know what is involved you can start your hunt for a builder and get down to business!
You may have considered building your own home yourself or know somebody who has taken the plunge. More and more people are starting to take up the challenge in a bid to build their dream home and a more efficient living space.
A study conducted by Norwich and Peterborough Building Society has revealed that one in three people in the UK would think about building their own property in the next five years.
The research has shown what could be strong demand for more self-build projects in the near future with 12% of those questioned saying they would consider undertaking the project in the next 12 months.
So, what’s the big attraction with self-build? It seems the most important draw is the freedom to design and build a home to meet the needs of the individual. Around 25% also said they liked the idea of self-build being cheaper than buying an established property of the equivalent size and location.
One fifth of those questioned also said they were attracted to self-build because they could build a much more energy efficient and environmentally sound property.
Richard Barker, mortgage manager at N&P, said: “Self-build is a market with huge potential which could have many benefits for those willing to carry out a self-build project.”
N&P said that those who choose to enter the self-build market are usually ardent property developers or those in their 50’s who have significant funds to build their own homes.
The National Self-Build Association reported that over 15,000 people choose to build their own property in the UK each year and that the market is worth around two billion pounds which equates to 1.4% of the mortgage market in the UK.
The Government is now looking to increase that figure to 50,000 homes annually across the next few years by launching a number of initiatives to make self-build more appealing.
Barker said: “It’s definitely a tall order for the government, but it does have the backing of the National Self Build Association, which has the same goal.
“In addition, Housing Minister Grant Shapps is also looking to open up self-build to more people and is holding working groups to discuss how to finance it. This should all help towards boosting the market.”
If you are interested in building your own home we’ll be publishing a guide later this week that will tell you how to get started, the pitfalls, the advantages, and details about costing.
Research released by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is showing that more and more homeowners are choosing to improve their homes rather than face the uncertainty of putting their home on the market. The studies revealed that 48% of chartered surveyor estate agents reported that the current slump in the housing market is causing homeowners to carry out renovations and DIY projects to their existing homes. Adding extra bedrooms or a new bathroom or kitchen were popular renovations of choice as was the restoration of period features.
However, RICS does warn that the cost of improvements is not necessarily going to be covered by any increase in the property’s value. Homeowners are advised to avoid over-valuing any improvements made or to expect high returns. It’s important, especially in the case of extensions for example, to ensure that the new accommodation is balanced and in keeping with the rest of the property. Most areas have a ceiling price to consider too. Basically this means improving a poor property in a good location could give better returns than improving a good property in a poor location. RICS advises checking out prices of houses with additional bedrooms before you go ahead with any renovations so you know exactly how much value you could be adding.
So, which improvements add the most value? Well, before you consider monetary worth, it’s a good idea to consider how the accommodation will benefit you seeing as you could be staying put for a long time to come. Think about what you would want from a new property and whether you could carry out suitable renovations to your current property. Obviously, extending the garden is usually out of the question, but there are lots of other improvements you can make.
Adding bedrooms is by far the best way to increase the value of your home and could increase the current value by up to 11%. When considering an extension to your property it’s a good idea to consider the proportions of your home and to avoid cramming in more bedrooms for the sake of it. Remember, you will also lose a great deal of outdoor space and renovation works will usually take a long time and cause a great deal of disruption, but the returns could far outweigh any inconvenience caused.
Opening up space within your home could also be a good move. Kitchen-diners are just one of the ways you could improve the interior of your home and more and more buyers are looking for practical uses of space that allow more natural light in. Just don’t get carried away and start knocking down walls as you could potentially lower the value of your home with one swing of the hammer!
Fitting central heating is not the most exciting of improvements, but it could add a whopping to 13% to the value of your property. Central heating is also going to benefit you hugely if you are to be staying in the property for a while. Investment in a high-efficiency boiler is also a good idea and will attract ‘green’ buyers in the future and also look good on your home energy report when you come to sell.
If you have a limited budget then there are other improvements you can make that won’t break the bank. For example, creating off-road parking could add thousands onto the value of your property, but could cost you as little as £650. Kitchen and bathroom improvements are also ways you can increase the value of your property and there are ways you can carry out these works on a budget or with DIY projects.
David Dalby, Professional Groups Director at RICS said “Most properties provide some potential for expansion and improvement, but we would advise people to think about how much they are investing and their key motivator before undertaking major projects. It is important to think about the style and age of the property before undertaking any works – remember, what appeals to some people may not appeal to others. Costly disappointments can be avoided by prior planning and research. RICS advise that whatever you decide to do with your home you should seek professional advice and ensure all works are carried out by qualified contractors.”
It can be a struggle to sell a property, improvements or not. If you really believe your home to be unsellable, Channel 4 would like to hear from you. A new series is in production that aims to solve common property problems and get the nation moving. Why not get in touch? You’ll have access to property experts who will bring in genuine buyers and more interest in your property than you ever thought possible!
Interested? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org – 0141 427 6081 or email@example.com – 0141 427 6074.
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! firstname.lastname@example.org