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buying a home

Buying a Home: A Step by Step Guide

 

Purchasing a new home can be an incredibly stressful event. After all, it places third behind bereavement and divorce as the most stressful events we face in our lives. It’s not hard to see why either, especially when you take the amount there is to do into consideration. This guide takes you through the six stages of buying a home, detailing everything you need to do throughout the process. Hopefully, you will be able to use this guide as a checklist for buying a home, as well as helping to prepare you for the process.

 

Do You Need to Move?

Considering how stressful the entire buying and moving process is, you should carefully consider moving home. Some of the most common reasons people move are as follows:

  • Need more space
  • Dislike their neighbours
  • Dislike the area
  • Want a change of scenery
  • Want to get out of rented accommodation

If you are moving because you need more space, you should first decide if any of the other criteria on the list apply to you. If not, then consider extending your home instead. This tends to be a cheaper and less stressful process, even if it does tend to take longer. Sometimes an extension is all you need to improve your home, giving you more space without all the hassle associated with buying a new home.

 

The Steps to Buying Your New Home

If you are adamant about buying a new home, however, then there are six main stages that you need to complete – none of which are necessarily quick or easy. Here are each of them, in detail, for you to go through.

 

Step One: Find a Property You Can Afford

The first thing you need to do is assess your budget and determine what you are able to afford in terms of purchasing the house and the cost of the mortgage/bills every month. Make sure you take changes in your financial situation into account, and how you will be able to cope with these payments if something goes wrong. After all, your savings will not just cover the mortgage fees, but also things like stamp duty.

The first thing to do is check your credit score. Lenders are going to be looking at this, so you need to make sure it is up to scratch, and see if there is anything you can do to improve it. You can also check it for any errors and apply to have these rectified. A bad credit score is very likely to be rejected, so make sure you know what you are dealing with before you progress.

buying a house checklist

You also need to choose a mortgage that is right for you. Many people choose to go with their bank, but you can often find better deals when talking to the estate agent. This is because they usually have a mortgage broker that they will recommend to you.

Once you have found an offer you like, you can agree to a mortgage in principle. This is what tells you how much a lender is likely to offer, and the interest you will pay. You may have to pay a fee to reserve the mortgage product you want, which can cost up to £250.

Provided you have passed all of the relevant checks, you are now free to progress to the second stage of the buying process.

 

Step Two: Make an Offer

So, you have found the home of your dreams. It is within your budget, and the mortgage has essentially been agreed. Now you are ready to make an offer. Usually, you will do this through an estate agent, and often it is acceptable to start your offer price at around 10% below the asking price.

People often get confused about estate agent fees at this point in the process. When you are buying a home, you don’t need to pay estate agent fees on top of your purchase price. You only pay fees for the home that you are selling. These fees are only usually between 0.5% and 3% plus VAT, so it’s not a massive amount.

buying a home - finding a solicitor

Step Three: Find a Solicitor and Surveyor

Your solicitor is the person who handles all of the legal paperwork and filings. Some people choose to hire both a solicitor and conveyancer, but you will save money hiring someone who is able to do both.

You solicitor will always tell you how much you will be expected to pay before they start work, and you should expect to pay an upfront fee before they get started. Usually, this will be a 10% deposit that will be taken off the full amount after completion. Expect to pay up to £1,500 for their services, as well as 20% VAT.

Your solicitor will also submit searches to the local council in the property’s location. This check is to see if there are any local or planning issues that might affect the overall value of the property. You can expect this to cost up to £300.

The surveyor, on the other hand, surveys the property. This means they check the home thoroughly for any problems that could affect its overall cost. There tend to be two surveys – the valuation and property surveys.

The valuation survey is carried out by the lender. This is to ensure the property is worth the amount you are planning to pay before your mortgage is approved. However, this is not an extensive survey as it will not look for and try to uncover any damage or issues with the property. You can still expect to pay up to £1,500 for the service, however, depending on the value of the property. You may also get it for free, depending on the mortgage deal you selected.

The property survey is one that is commissioned by you. Many people neglect to do this, but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have found that, on average, buyers who don’t get the right survey find themselves faced with £5,750 worth of damages and repairs after moving in.

As it is going to be your property, it is worth paying a decent price to have a good and professional surveying job completed. Plus, it can really help you in terms of price negotiation. For example, if it is found that the property will need £5,000 worth of repairs, you can ask the current owners to lower the price by that much to make up for it.

Here are the three main types of survey that are available:

  • RICS condition report: This is a basic survey, as well as the cheapest one available. If you are buying a home that is in good condition, or one that has been newly built, then this is probably the best option to go for. No advice or valuation will be provided with this type of survey, and you can expect to pay around £250.

 

  • RICS homebuyer report: This is a much more detailed survey than the one above, and it is most suited to homes in reasonable condition. They look at the inside and outside of the property thoroughly so that they can note any damages or issues, before providing advice and a valuation. You can expect to pay a minimum of £400 for this service.

 

  • Building or structural survey: Of the three types, this is the most extensive. It is suitable for all properties, but is especially handy of you are buying an older building, or ones that look as though they might need some extra care and attention. Advice and a valuation will be provided at the end, and you can expect to pay a minimum of £600 for this type of survey.

 

Once this stage is complete and you have planned the type of survey that you will require for your home, you can move onto the next step of the buying process.

buying a home - having a survey done

Step Four: Finalise the Offer and Mortgage

Once the survey stage has been completed, you might want to consider renegotiating the offer that you made on your new home. There are two main reasons why you might want to go through with this:

  • The lender may have valued the property at a lower price, thus leaving you with a shortfall. This means that you won’t be able to match the asking price or what you were originally intending to offer.
  • Your survey may have uncovered issues with the property that will be expensive to fix. With this new information, you can try and renegotiate the price based on the estimated cost of repairs.

Once you have reached this stage, you may start feeling the pressure. This is because it is at this stage that things often become incredibly stressful. At this point, delays and issues could arise for a multitude of reasons, including these ones:

  • The seller decides to withdraw the property from the market (which they are entitled to at this stage)
  • The seller decides to accept a higher offer from another buyer. This is also known as gazumping
  • Your mortgage application could also be rejected at this stage

If things start to go wrong, make sure you communicate regularly with your solicitor and estate agent. Even though things may seem to be going badly, you would be surprised by how often things turn around when the lines of communication are kept open. Don’t give up after a bad turn because things could still go right for you.

However, if everything has gone to plan, you can contact your lender or mortgage adviser to move on with the mortgage finalisation. Usually, there is a fee for this service of up to £2,000. You can have this added onto the mortgage, but remember that if you do you will be paying the interest on it for the lifetime of the mortgage.

Once you have received your binding mortgage offer, the lender must give you seven days to think about it. This gives you time to compare it with other mortgage deals to make sure you are getting the right one for you. However, if you are positive that the mortgage being offered to you is the perfect one, you can give the go-ahead any time before the seven days are up.

It is important to remember that before you and the seller exchange contracts, you can back out of the purchase at any time. It is better that you pull out if you feel that you will not be able to afford the property in terms of repair costs or over the long run, so don’t feel ashamed about doing it. You may, however, lose some money, depending on how far through the process you are.

Once you have decided that this is the right choice for you, and your mortgage has been finalised, you can go ahead and start the next stage of the buying process.

 

Step Five: Exchange Contracts

If there are no problems or delays, you should now receive the contract to complete your sale. Signing this legally binds you to the purchase. Before you sign it, however, make sure you go through it carefully with your solicitor so that you understand each part.

You need to make sure you agree with what the sellers are leaving behind, and also ensure that all of your questions have been answered suitably. If you have any issues, make sure your solicitor has them ironed out immediately to help things continue running as smoothly as possible.

Once signed by both parties, you and the seller are committed to this stage of the buying process. The seller may ask you for a holding deposit at this stage of the process, usually only up to £1,000, to ensure that you are showing serious intent to follow through with this process.

Once the contracts have been exchanged, moving dates can be discussed and negotiated so that both parties have adequate notice. You will also need to purchase building insurance at this point to cover the structure of the property. Get your insurance sorted at the very beginning to avoid any shocks and disappointments.

Once this stage has been completed, you can move onto the final (and most exciting) one.

house keys handed over

Step Six: Completion

Completion is the most exciting, and most expensive, stage that will be carried out. It is when you pay off all of the money you owe, and you get to move into your new home. There are several things that need to be done in the final steps that lead up to full completion, and this stage lists them all.

The remaining money that is owed on the property will be paid. It will be transferred from your solicitor’s account to the seller’s solicitor. As some of the money will come from the mortgage provider, you can expect to pay a telegraphic transfer fee. Usually, this will cost up to £50.

You may also have to pay a mortgage account fee. The lender charges this fee for setting up, maintaining, and closing down your mortgage account. It is often added to the mortgage itself, which means that you will end up paying interest on it. As a result, it is often a good idea to pay for it up front. This usually costs up to £300.

During this stage, you will also need to pay the remainder of the bill for your solicitor. As a reminder, this typically costs a total (including the deposit) of up to £1,500 plus 20% VAT. Make sure you get this paid off early on as it is an important bill to settle.

At this point in the process, you solicitor will also register the sale with Land Registry for you. This covers properties in England and Wales. For properties in Northern Ireland, it will need to be registered with Land and Property Services. For properties in Scotland, it needs to be registered with Registers of Scotland. The cost of this process largely depends on the price of the property being purchased.

You will also need to pay your estate agent once the completion stage has been reached if you are also selling your home. If you are only buying, then you don’t need to worry about this point. This fee will have been agreed from the outset. Typically, it is a percentage of the purchase price, plus 20% VAT. Generally speaking, the percentage will be no more than 3%, and some agents will offer a percentage as low as 0.5%.

Stamp duty is also something that buyers need to take into consideration. Homes that cost more than £125,000 will require you to pay stamp duty. You will have 30 days after the completion date to pay the fee that is incurred by this tax. Your solicitor will arrange this for you most of the time, taking a good part of the stress away.

There are a number of stamp duty calculators online if you want to know roughly how much you will be expected to pay. If you are purchasing a second home, or one that you plan to rent out, you will need to pay an extra 3% on top of the regular stamp duty band. Make sure you take this into consideration when you are planning how much you are likely to spend.

If you are using a moving company to help you get all of your belongings to your new home, a top tip is that it is cheaper to move on a weekday than it is a weekend. The price will vary depending on how far away you are moving, but you can expect to pay a minimum of £300 and anywhere over £600. Make sure you get a lot of quotes and compare them before you decide on a company to use.

Now that you have paid all outstanding funds and moved in, you can finally relax in your new home. It’s not easy, and it can be very stressful at the time, but at least you have been able to find yourself a wonderful new place to live. Next up is a bottle of champagne while you plan your housewarming party and get those boxes unpacked.

 

To Conclude

Hopefully, our guide to buying a new home has been useful to you and given you a lot of information about what the process entails. It is not always an easy task to undertake, but it once you find yourself in your new home, you can breathe a sigh of joy and relief. Just remember to keep yourself incredibly organised, and to try and stay calm during the process.

If you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear them. Feel free to drop us a message in the comment section below to let us know what you thought of our step by step guide.

selling your home

Selling Your Home: A Step by Step Guide

Selling your home and moving house is not an easy task to undertake. In fact, it is listed as one of the most stressful experiences you will have in life – below divorce and bereavement. There’s good reason for that as well; it can be a real strain both financially and emotionally. However, it doesn’t have to be a complete mess; you can make the process a little easier for you to handle. Our step by step guide to selling your home breaks the process down into 15 simple steps that you need to take when you go to sell. Plus, we have a handy checklist so that you will have everything you need to get started. Take a look, and start planning your big move.
 

Your Moving House Checklist

 

  • Make sure you have a list of the tasks you need to do on hand. Check off completed ones
  • Keep an eye on maintenance issues and get anything that is damaged fixed
  • Gather business cards from multiple agents
  • Gather business cards from multiple solicitors
  • Get rid of your clutter before you go to sell
  • Get an inspection/survey before you sell your house, so you know about any issues
  • Always be prepared and start organising the move as soon as you decide you want to sell

selling a house checklist

15 Steps to Selling Your Home

 

#1 Deciding If You Should Sell

The first thing you need to determine is whether or not you should sell your home. This might seem bizarre, but it is actually an incredibly important stage in the process. After all, there are several vital factors that you should be taking into consideration.

The first of these is why you are thinking of selling your home. Are you looking for more space? If so, have you considered making alterations to your current home? Things, like building an extension, converting your unused loft space, or even digging out the basement can lead to a more spacious home. It is often cheaper as well, and often less stressful.

You should also consider the changing house prices. Prices that are rising rapidly may affect your budget in a negative way and leave your house on the market longer than you expected. Similarly, declining house prices may leave you with a less than ideal price.

Are you in negative equity? If the answer to this is yes, then you need to determine if you can afford to sell your home. You should also consider if you are better off renting the home out as opposed to selling it, something which could prove profitable in the future.

 

#2 Looking at Finances

Next, you need to figure out your financial situation. This is also a key aspect of preparing to sell your home. The first thing to do is let your mortgage lender know that you are making plans to sell your home. This helps them to prepare for the legal paperwork that will be required to do so.

While you are notifying the mortgage company about this, you also need to find out how much your outstanding mortgage is and if there are any early redemption penalties. After this, you need a rough idea of how much your house is worth so that you can calculate how much you will be left with after paying the mortgage.

If you are purchasing a new home, you also need to determine how big a mortgage you need in order to do that. Make sure you get a few estimates from mortgage lenders before you go to sell. Similarly, it is important to remember that in the early stages all the pricing will be approximate, so don’t hold any of them as solid figures.

You will only get a precise cost for your mortgage when you have agreed on a completion date and exchanged contracts. Make sure you plan the financial aspect carefully to avoid any unnecessary stress and disappointment.

small family home for sale

#3 Deciding If You Should Rent While You Wait

This is something that people rarely think to consider. Yes, renting can add to the overall cost of selling your home and moving house. However, it can reduce the pressure to find a new home and move out. You won’t be rushed into buying a new home that is not ideal, and you also won’t have to sell your house at a low price because you have found the home of your dreams.

One of the great benefits is the fact that you will be able to break out of the housing chain, which is much more attractive to buyers. This means that you are the only two people relying on the sale, there is no chain of buyers and sellers that are waiting for everyone else to accept offers and complete. You see, with a chain if something goes wrong for one link, the whole sequence of purchases and sales collapses.

 

#4 Finding an Agent

This can be a tricky step, especially when it comes to choosing who to go with. You have three options for this stage. You can find a local agent, an online agent, or you can sell the home yourself.

If you choose to go with a local agent, you will need to do some research. Go and visit as many as you can, talk to family and friends about their recommendations, and surf the web for reviews and customer experiences.

You can even use an estate agent comparison website to find the best one for you. You can also use multiple agents to sell your home if you choose to do so. This can give your home wider coverage on the market and attract a larger number of potential buyers, although it will cost you more in estate agent fees.

You will also need to agree on a fee with the estate agent for selling your home. Generally, you should try to aim for 1% plus VAT with a sole agent. Of course, you can also go with online agents (they also take fees). They are becoming increasingly popular, so it’s worth taking a look at what services they are offering alongside their lower fees.

With regards to selling your home yourself, it is something that is definitely possible. However, it requires a lot of hard work, planning, and organisation. Not to mention experience. It’s not a task for the fainthearted, and it will certainly add to your stress if you are inexperienced.

 

#5 Setting Your Price

Now you have to set the price for your home. This part can be tricky, but it’s important. Make sure you get several estate agents to come and value the home, that way you will have a good price range to work with. You should also take the time to research the market, so you have a rough idea of what other homes in your area are selling for.

Don’t always go for the highest valuation that you are offered. Remember to take your market research into consideration. You should also note that the majority of buyers will be looking for a 5-10% discount on the price, so bear this in mind when you are coming up with a price you are happy with.

 

#6 Finding a Solicitor

Now you need to have a solicitor and/or conveyancer lined up and ready to get started. These are the people that will handle the legal work for you so that the ownership of property can be transferred. Talk to family and friends about their recommendations, but also make sure you look online to find good local firms.

Make sure you decide which firm you want to use before you accept an offer on your house. Of course, you cannot instruct them until a sale has been agreed, but it is good to have them ready. Next, you should ask for an estimate when it comes to costs. Typically, you can expect to pay between £500 and £1500 for their services.

Your estate agent will likely recommend a firm to you, and you should definitely get a quote from them. However, make sure you compare this quote to other firms as there is usually a pretty hefty referral fee attached to the one you were recommended. It’s something to watch out for.

preparing your home for sale

#7 Preparing Your Home

Staging your home for viewings is essential. It should look like a show home, with things like children’s toys and pet beds tucked away and out of sight. This makes your home more attractive to a buyer, and it can both help to sell your home faster as well as make it more valuable. People like to see a home as they imagine it – perfect and ready to move into.

Make sure you give it a few touch ups here and there. A splash of paint, doing all those little DIY jobs and removing any potentially off-putting odours. One of the top tips that people give is that you should bake the morning of the viewings. That way your house has a fresh and homey scent to it that will attract the viewers and help them associate your home with positive things. Fresh coffe brewing and fresh flowers always help too.

 

#8 Filling Out the Paperwork for the Buyers

You will have a good chunk of paperwork to fill out for the buyer. You will also need to make sure you have things like past planning permission forms and the environmental impact check form ready for them to view as well. The paperwork will also let the buyer know everything about the property, as well as further information with regards to the actual sale.

 

#9 Accepting an Offer

Once you reach this stage, you have been given an offer. Something useful to note is that the estate agent is legally required to pass all offers on to you, no matter how ridiculous they may sound. If you are not happy with the offer you have three options:

  • Decline it there and then
  • Wait for a better one to come along
  • Instruct the estate agent to negotiate a higher price

Once you are happy with an offer, you must formally accept it. You can then instruct the estate agents to take the property off the market and list it as sold. It is important to note that an offer is not legally binding once you have accepted it. You can back out or accept a higher offer if it comes along. Just remember that this can be distressing for the buyer.

 

#10 Negotiating the Draft Contract

The next stage is worked out between you and the buyer. You have several things that you will need to organise and discuss so that it works out well for you both. Here they are:

  • The length of time between exchange and completion (usually 7-28 days)
  • What fixtures and fittings will be included and how much extra they may cost if not included
  • Any discounts due to issues raised by the survey

The middle point is a good one to remember. Buyers may want to purchase some of the furniture in your home, and you are allowed to sell it to them during the process. There is a separate section in your contract where you list what is staying and what can be left behind/sold. For example, you could sell them the fridge/freezer for an additional fee instead of taking it with you, especially if they are integrated into the kitchen units.

 

#11 Exchanging Contracts

At this point, everything becomes legally binding. You are legally committed to selling them the property, and they are legally committed to buying it from you. It is still possible to pull out at this stage. If you do, then the buyer’s deposit will be returned to them. Bear in mind that you may be sued for the inconvenience you caused them and also breaking a legal contract.

Moving House Indicates Buy New Home And Box

#12 Moving Out

You are free to move out whenever you want, even on the day of completion. Of course, it may be wiser to move out before that so that you have less stress and can relax a little more, particularly if it is a large house with lots of possessions or if you are moving a long distance to your new home. Remember that at the time of completion the house must be in the condition agreed to in the contract, which includes all the fixtures and fittings.

The buyer and estate agent may come to visit you between the time of your moving and the completion to make sure that everything is in order and going smoothly. Usually, they will let you know they are doing this but not always, so remain vigilant and keep on top of things.

 

#13 Completion

This stage is when the property is officially handed over to the buyer and changes ownership. At this point, you will accept the payment and hand over the keys to the property. It will take place on a date that was previously agreed and usually around midday. Most agents tend to have the same rules for the completion of a sale.

On the day of completion, the money is transferred, and any deeds for the property are also transferred between the solicitors and conveyancers on each side. They will then proceed to register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry, making everything official.

At this point you can take your first sigh of relief as the hardest part is over. You’ve moved, completed, and now you only have two steps left.

 

#14 Paying Off the Mortgage

The mortgage company will have given your solicitor/conveyancer a precise outstanding amount for your mortgage, ready for the day of completion. They will pay the money off for you now that the buyer has transferred the funds. Your legal team take a good chunk of the stress away, so you don’t have to worry about it. It also allows you to start settling into your new home without too much weight on your shoulders.

 

#15 Paying Your Solicitor

Once the completion has taken place, you will receive an account from your solicitor/conveyancer. This will detail their costs and disbursements, alongside the sale price of the house and redemption of the mortgage. If you are buying and selling at the same time, then they are able to settle both transactions at the same time, including paying the stamp duty on the house that you are purchasing.

This is great to kill two birds with one stone effectively. As a side note, it could be useful to know that there are sometimes discrepancies that will entitle you to a small refund. However, these are not particularly common.

 

#16 The Bonus Step

The most important thing to do is try to relax and enjoy the process. Sometimes the easy way may be more expensive, but it will be better for you physically and mentally – especially as you still have to physically move. Make sure you stay organised and look forward to your new home. Make sure you keep yourself feeling positive and excited for the next adventure.

 

To Conclude

Hopefully, this guide has been able to provide you with a little more insight into the world of buying and selling homes. Moving is not an easy task, and the selling process can be a long one. However, it is important to remain positive and proactive throughout the process. With hard work, a good mindset, and professionals around you to help, you’ll be in your new home in no time at all. Make sure you follow each of the steps above carefully so that you can experience and easier and more relaxed process.

What did you think of our step by step guide? We love hearing from you so let us know in the comments below.

buying your first home

Advice About Buying Your First Home

The property market in the UK is still shaky – after what initially seemed like a recovery a couple of years ago prices in the usual property hotspots have seen falls in recent months. And there are still parts of the UK which never even experienced the recovery and are still suffering the effects of the long drawn out recession that is supposedly over now. The recovery in those areas could be a long time coming.

But whether you are buying in the more buoyant south-east  or anywhere else in the country one of the best ways to afford your first home is to find a place that needs some TLC and get it at a low price. Many homes are reasonably priced simply because they have dated décor but have no other problems. These are the ones to go for because re-decorating is relatively straightforward and relatively cheap; at least compared to re-wiring or new central heating or new windows.

Buying a home that doesn’t present well means you can get it for a good price and make improvements to bring it up to date without spending too much. The chances are your first home may be small but it will be the first step on the property ladder and, anyway, small homes can be very cosy and bijou.

But before you start house-hunting you need to know how much you can afford because there is no point looking around at desirable homes just to find they are all out of your reach financially. So take a look at your savings now or how much you could realistically save in the next 6 months to a year then talk to a bank or other lender about your chances of securing a mortgage. Remember that borrowing money now is all about how affordable the debt would be to you. It is no longer possible simply to work on multiples of your salary.

As affordability checks by banks and other lenders have become more stringent so it has become harder and harder for first time buyers to raise a big enough home loan to buy even the smallest apartment in some areas. Some of the options that people are reverting to include:

  • Moving in with parents for a year to save more money
  • Moving to a cheaper location
  • Borrowing money from parents
  • Using no credit check loans to raise money for the deposit

Sometimes parents will act as the guarantor on a guarantor loan to help raise the deposit when they cannot or are unwilling to lend the cash to their offspring. This way they help reduce the risk in the eyes of the lender but the young person buying the home is responsible for making the loan repayments. For those determined to get on the housing ladder there are always options but they often require tough decisions such as taking on a large amount of debt that could affect your lifestyle or moving to a new area away from family and friends.

In the end it is a very personal decision whether owning your own home is worth these sacrifices. It will depend on your personal situation, including relationships and career development. Those young people who are at the start of a career that could lead them to much higher incomes within a few years may be more willing to take the risk of borrowing a lot now, knowing the strain of the debt will ease significantly in the relatively near future.

Whatever you decide to do with regard to buying your first home the best bit of advice I was ever given was that you will know when a property feels right so don’t ever buy somewhere if you find that you are persuading  yourself it will be OK.

Moving Insurance Cover

Moving Insurance Cover When Relocating

Have you ever known anyone that’s moved, and something got damaged? And the first question that the customer has is, my stuff is insured – I have moving insurance cover, correct? And the mover says, well, no sir, it wasn’t. And you’re thinking, well I paid you.

Well, there are a couple of different options when moving, that a consumer should be aware of. When you move locally, you have, in many states, what we call 50 cents per pound per article liability. In general, intrastate is a little different, it goes 60 cents per pound. And again, if you’re moving long distance, it would also be 60 cents per pound. These are all general liabilities that a licensed professional mover has to give you as required by law. By law, movers must offer two types of coverage on interstate moves: Released Value Protection and Full-Value Protection. We will attempt to simplify the terminology by further explaining each type of coverage.

Having insurance eliminates customers’ stress by providing them with the appropriate insurance for their household goods. Different options can protect customers’ goods for a single item damage or loss, or for a catastrophic occurrence to an entire shipment.

The insurance agency explains that Released Value Protection is set at $0.60 per pound and is offered by the moving company at no additional cost based on regulation stipulated by the Department of Transportation. This protection plan means that you will be reimbursed for all your belongings at $0.60 per pound. It’s important to note that such a coverage plan is not enough to fully protect your belongings.

The other type of coverage, Full-Value Protection is based on your valuation (valuation: the designated dollar value of your shipment) of the contents being transported. The cost is based on the movers’ rates, as listed on their tariff. Keep in mind that when it comes down to it, Full-Value Protection is more secure, yet Released Value Protection is lighter on the pocket.

Customers can also choose to upgrade their coverage if the common plans don’t appeal. Customers can ask their moving companies for other valuation or insurance options provided by third party insurance entities. Sometimes they will be surprised to discover other options that are more fitting.

Now when you are moving internationally you would actually purchase an insurance certificate from an insurance company and there’s a fine line in a court of law between liability and insurance and most people think if the movers damage something then it’s insured to its full value.

When in truth the reality is a mover has a liability of the actual cost of the item meaning that there can be no sentimental value. A case in point is a photo album, although it’s everything in the world to you, it has no cash value. So from a liability standpoint you want to think in cash value.

There are some third party providers out there that offer full value insurance coverage if you needed to cover items of sentimental value and the likes. Another good starting point would be to check with your homeowners insurance, and see if you’re covered. There may be an option to purchase an additional rider on the homeowners insurance. This might save you money if doing it this way versus buying it from your moving company. If for instance your movers dropped a TV- let’s say it a 27 inch TV, at 60 cents per pound or we can even say 50 cents per pound, that TV may weigh 50 pounds, you would have $25 of liability coverage provided by law. But say if you had purchased additional replacement coverage, that TV would be covered at the full value of what you bought it for.

So those are a couple things that you should consider when you decide what to select for your liability coverage. You should make sure that you understand the risks and coverage before the movers start moving you. Once your move is started, it’s too late to make that decision. You need to make it just before your movers start. And if you’re unsure, always ask your relocation consultant. That is what they’re there for – to walk you through the moving process, and make sure that you have the proper protection.

Bottom line, there are plenty of options when it comes to selecting the right type of coverage. It’s important to do some research and ask questions in order to ensure that you purchase the best, most thorough insurance policy.

 

Author Bio:

Andrew Morgan is a moving and relocation consultant and you can obtain more information about the moving industry on the blog of his website yourmovingservice

Removal Company - ask questions when moving house

7 crucial questions to ask your removal company

Anyone who has ever moved house knows how stressful it can be. A big part of that stress is the time it takes to find a good removal company at a decent price. How do you know you’re getting value for money? How do you know the company will do a good job? When comparing different removal companies, the following key questions will give you the answers you need and make your choice far easier.

1. “How long have you been in business?”

Fly-by-night man and van movers offer cheap prices, but little else. After all, it’s easy for someone to borrow a friend’s van and set themselves up as a removal company.

Ask how long the company has been around. The longer that is, the better the chance they know what they’re doing.

That said, professional and skilled companies do spring up all the time. Even if a company hasn’t been trading long, a professional looking website shows you they’re more serious about their reputation. Check for contact details on the site, especially a physical address.

2. “Do you have any customer referrals?”

Any good company will have a ton of happy customers they’ve moved. Ask to speak to a couple of customers from within the last three months. All good, reputable removal companies recommend that people do this.

So don’t be shy. Pick up the phone and see how good that company really is. If they can’t – or won’t – give you any details, forget about them and move on to the next.

3. “Do you have any accreditations?”

Although the UK removals industry is not regulated, there are a number of industry bodies that exist to spread best practice. The British Association of Removers (BAR) is the biggest fish. It’s been around since 1900 and has a strict code of practice that its members have to follow. The organisation carries out regular audits to ensure their standards are being followed.

As well as the BAR, there’s also the Alliance of Independent Movers (AIM). And for international moves, look out for the Federation of European Movers Associations (FEDEMAC) or FIDI (Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux).

Industry accreditations alone are no guarantee of better service. But any company that is a member of two or more of these bodies is serious about good customer service. You can find the relevant logos on the removal company’s website. If in any doubt, do a search for that removal company on industry bodies’ websites too, as companies do occasionally claim membership that they’re not entitled to.

4. “What’s the value of your Goods in Transit insurance?”

Any good removal company should have public liability insurance and goods in transit insurance. You’ll want to check the value of their goods in transit insurance, in the event that any of your belongings are damaged during the move.

Smaller companies may have insurance that covers damages of £15,000 all the way up to £2 million. Larger companies will usually be covered for even more. If you have anything valuable to move, you’ll want to check their insurance is enough to cover you.

5. “Do you charge a waiting fee?”

OK, so you’ve just exchanged contracts and you’re due to pick up the keys to your new property at 10am on moving day. So you book a removal company to be ready to move by then. Excellent. There’s just one problem…

According to the vast majority of home removal companies, keys are NEVER handed over on time. Most morning handovers tend to drag on and on and on and… you’ll finally get the keys that afternoon.

Some companies charge a waiting fee, but many others do not. Removal companies cite this single factor as the number one cause of stress on moving day. So be sure to ask.

6. “Can you do a deal on packing?”

Yes, you might want to economise. And packing your goods yourself is one obvious way to do this.

However, if you pack yourself then you’re less likely to be covered by your removal company’s goods in transit insurance. This is because the company needs to know what condition your belongings were in before being packed and moved. If they don’t, then your item may have been damaged before they even got there. Your chance of an insurance payout from them in these circumstances is pretty much zero.

So, ask how much they would charge for them to pack for you. Then ask if they can do you a deal or discount. You’ll be surprised how many companies will go for it. Especially if you’ve also asked question number 7…

7. “When are your least busy days?”

Everyone wants to move at the same time, and that drives removal companies mad with frustration. The flipside of this is that there are times when they are less busy and you’re more likely to get them to agree a discount.

Avoid moving in June to August if at all possible. That’s when prices are highest. January and February tend to be cheapest. Many companies will offer lower rates in the winter as standard. Even then, ask which days they’re least busy, and then see if you can negotiate an even lower price. Most removal companies will go for it just to get the work.

And, as mentioned in point 6, remember to ask if they’ll do a deal on packing for you as well. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much you could save just by knowing the right questions to ask!

Founded in 2013, buzzmove.com is a comparison site for home and office moves that allows customers to compare fully-insured and trusted removal companies in one place.

taking in a lodger

Could You Clear Some Space For A Lodger?

Since the changes to the tax threshold for having a lodger changed earlier this year, spare rooms have become potential gold mines for anyone willing to take in a lodger. Here we look at utilising that spare room for some extra cash each month.

Your spare room no-doubt has the potential to be anything you want it to be. A new office, a spare room for when friends and family come to stay, your own private gym, a music room, even your very own yoga studio. But what if your spare room could offer you more than additional space for activities you rarely use it for? What if your spare room could offer you the ability to make some extra cash? Would you be willing to part with that extra space if the price was right?

As the government eased up on the amount you are allowed to receive, tax free, in return for housing a lodger in April this year, spare rooms right across the country became potential gold mines for their owners, especially in sought after and expensive rental areas in our major cities. You are now allowed to earn up to £7,500 tax free per year from anyone lodging in your home.

There are currently millions of homes with spare rooms in the UK (many with more than one spare room as adult children have left home but the parents remain in a large family home), so millions of people just like you have the opportunity to make some extra money for relatively little effort. Many lodgers these days are professional people working away from home during the week so if you are lucky they will only be there mid-week and the place will still be all yours at the week-end.

What would put you off taking in a lodger?

lodgers roomClearly it is a bit of an effort clearing out the spare room. Most people chuck clutter into their spare room without a thought, and the job of clearing it gets bigger and bigger and bigger as time goes by. Have you ever opened the door to your spare room planning on sorting it, and decided you will do it another day because it is just such a mammoth task? The answer is probably yes, and you have probably done that several times too over the past year. A spare room in the UK tends to be a spare room for guests that maybe come once every year, or never. A casual storage room with a cross-trainer you never use, a keyboard for that band you never started, and a rack of clothes you’ll never wear, or a complete clutter room full of broken things you plan to fix one day. It could house presents you never really wanted, and impulse buys that were immediately regretted and pushed to one side. When space is at such a premium in so many parts of the country, and when you paid thousands extra for that extra room when you bought your property, isn’t it a shame that it isn’t really valued or utilised at all? In some areas an additional bedroom can add £100,000 to the purchase price and in really upmarket areas it can add much more.

Taking in a lodger

If you want to earn £7,500 tax free by taking in a lodger there are some rules you must follow. Your home has to be your main home and you have to won it (or, at least, have a mortgage on it), you have to live there a certain amount of time because if you’re simply renting your home out you’re under the buy to let rules which are different and have different tax implications. If you do look into the details and decide that housing a lodger is for you, then your very first step is going to be decluttering that room – and this time you will have no excuses. It is much less of a laborious task when you consider the financial reward you will have at the end of it – that might just be the impetus you need. Here are some tips to help you declutter that spare room in preparation for your new money-making scheme of taking in a lodger:

  • Put the time aside – there’s no point in doing it little by little if you know that you will keep putting it off. Put aside an afternoon, evening or weekend (if you need it) and commit to spending that time clearing the room out.
  • Set everything up ready to do the job – get cleaning products, get bin bags, boxes, set up self storage, clear space in the garage – whatever it takes to get the job done
  • Be ready to make some tough choices – you will need to be honest and accept that hoover is never going to get fixed, that keyboard is never going to get played, and that ugly dolphin statue is never ever going to get displayed – be tough so you can get rid of more
  • Have places for everything to go – everything you get rid of will need a new home, whether that is self storage, the bin, or charity shops – ensure you have an idea of the different places items will be going to so you can package them accordingly
  • Make some money while you are at it – why not carboot or sell online any items of worth? This could make you the cash you need to spruce the room up ready for its new tenant

 

Remember that you will need to do extensive research before setting up a lodger in your home. Look into the legalities, insurance, financial rules and also the impact it will have on your home-life before going ahead. If it doesn’t work for you, perhaps you could still commit to clearing out that room so at the very least you have additional space to utilise.

 

 

Fragile Sign on packing box

Choosing The Right Boxes When You Move House

When you move house it is important to pack your items properly to ensure they get to your new home in one piece. Below we look at packing boxes and what to put in them.

 

Using the wrong packing materials to pack your items is a really bad idea. It will just add stress to what is an already tricky process. Choosing the right packing materials is really, really important, particularly if you value your possessions, which most of us do. From the size, to the material, there is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing the right packing materials.

Little Boxes

Little boxes are great for packing things like food from the kitchen, and smaller gardening tools. Things like books are also better packed into smaller boxes because they are less likely to get damaged, as they can be in bigger boxes. Anything particularly heavy like tins, books and glass or stone ornaments should be packed into smaller boxes to make them easier to carry and to ensure the cardboard is more likely to hold the weight of the items as well.

Middle-Sized Boxes

A medium box is going to be able to hold a lot of different items such as gadgets from the kitchen, pots and pans, lamps, childrens toys and bulkier soft items like quilts and pillows. Remember to pack the heavier items at the bottom and the lighter items at the top, to avoid anything getting crushed.

Big Boxes

Big boxes are best used to pack items that are light, or that won’t fit into anything smaller. If you are packing something large like the TV (if it doesn’t have its original box) remember to stuff out any gaps to hold it still, and to secure the box, labelling it so people know to be careful with it. Larger boxes tend to be used best for things like bedding, big soft toys, towels and lighter ornaments.

Unique Boxes

If your items are going a long way, you may want to get a special unique box ordered for items that require special protection. Perhaps you have an ornament, sports equipment or art worth a lot of money. If you do, then it is worth investing in a unique box able to house and protect the item adequately.

Plate & Glass Boxes

Certain boxes come with special sections for plates and glasses so you don’t have to worry about them moving around. If you have an expensive set of dishes or glasses, this is certainly worth considering. It is also a great idea if your items are going into self storage because it will keep them safe and separate for their time in storage.

Remember when sourcing your boxes there are companies that offer them for sale, or you can get free ones from the supermarket or any shop that uses cardboard. Banana boxes are a great choice as they are so strong and come with lids. Whatever you do remember to always:

  • Clearly label boxes (especially if they are going into self storage)
  • Properly wrap items inside the box
  • Clean items that need cleaning before they go in the box
  • Use a strong packing tape to secure the box once it is shut
  • Never risk making the box too heavy as it could fall through at the bottom

 

 

Happy Packing!

 

moving to london - some tips

5 Great Tips To Help You Move To London

Moving to London can be hard. In this post we look at 5 great tips that will help make your move easier, so you can look forward to enjoying this vibrant and exciting place.

 

Moving to London can be hard, but you can do it with some preparation. And you do need to do the preparation because London does have its own special rules, and if you aren’t aware of the nuances that come with moving to the capital you could find yourself struggling a little. That being said it is perfectly possible to move smoothly and happily to this cultured, exciting place. Plus it is totally worth it for the sheer vibrancy of the life everybody lives here. So, here are 5 great tips to help you move to London:

 

  1. Look for a place while you find a place

It isn’t easy to find a well priced place to stay in London, but it is possible. Be flexible and ready to compromise and you will succeed. Find a place to stay while you look and you will find it easier to find a permanent place because you can be visiting potential let’s everyday if you want to.

 

  1. Consider Sharing

Sharing accommodation is a great idea because it is cheaper, more social and enables you to live in a better location in terms of your budget. Plus you get to share bills which saves you money again. If you are concerned about how much stuff you have and how to fit it all in one room, take advantage of cheap self storage in London. A cheap self storage unit will enable you to have easy access to your beloved items whilst you save money on rent living in a cheaper place.

 

  1. Locations Will Determine Rent

living in london near the tubeBe aware that where you want to live will affect how much you pay. This is another good reason searching for permanent residence is better whilst staying in the area because an area you might think is rubbish might actually be quite cool and cheaper, but you need to spend time there to see that.

 

  1. Areas Are Vastly Different

Every area has a different vibe and if you want to enjoy the area you live in, you might want to consider its vibe:

East London

Shoreditch, Hoxton, Dalston, Hackney, Bow, Mile End, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Clapton

Shoreditch and Hoxton are up and coming and super trendy so are more expensive, the same with Dalston. With Hackney it is a bit cheaper although it has no tube. Bow and Mile End is cheaper but quieter. Bethnal Green and Whitechapel are increasing in price as they are up and coming like Shoreditch, and Clapton is cheaper but still developing.

 

North London

Angel, Camden, Finsbury Park

Angel is very expensive as is Camden. Finsbury Park and further that way is cheaper but getting more expensive.

 

West

Notting Hill, Kensington, Shepherds Bush

Extremely expensive, only accessible to those with a big salary.

 

South

Clapham, Peckham, Vauxhall

Clapham is up and coming and very popular with digital nomad types, and most areas within the South are vibrant in terms of culture. All are good for transport and cheaper rent although Clapham is hardly cheap.

 

  1. Be Flexible With Transport

red london buses - travelling in londonBe ready to be flexible with transport because rush hour blocks everything up. Sometimes a bus is better than a tube, but then a tube might be quicker than a bus. Sometimes walking is better than any public transport, and if you’re a confident cyclist, you could burn some calories and take advantage of the ever-increasing cycle lanes across London. In any case, if you use the buses and tubes a lot invest in an Oyster Card because they save you so much money.

 

 

Happy Moving!

 

 

 

 

moving-house-exchanging-contracts

Easy Moving Home Tips

I don’t need to tell you that moving house is a stressful business but there are many ways to ease that stress a little bit that will help you stay calmer in the run-up to the “big day” and also on moving day itself. They will help you to keep calm and stay focused on the task at hand – and before you know it you will be sitting back in your new home with your feet up!

 

 

One of the reasons that moving home is so stressful is that there are so many things to think about and it all happens in quite a short time frame, with so many opportunities for things to go wrong. Buyers pull out of the sale, sellers decide not to move after all, you lose your job just before contacts are signed – these things all happen, if not on a regular basis certainly often enough for us to worry about them.

moving house - my ideal house

Yet it can also seem like one minute you’re casually browsing through RightMove looking at properties in your price bracket and in your preferred locations, and the next you’re getting things down from the loft and packing up boxes – well, I know, not all house moves happen smoothly and quickly but many do and once the ball is rolling it can feel like the whole process is out of your control.

 

If you are lucky enough to be able to afford to have a removals company come in and do all the packing for you that can certainly relieve some of the stress but with all the other costs of moving home most of us try to save money by packing our boxes ourselves. There are advantages and disadvantages with both approaches.

Fragile Sign on packing box

Packing Your Own Boxes:

 

  • This will give you the opportunity to declutter, because moving home is often the only time we ever really have a good clear out of all those things we have been hoarding. It’s much harder to do this if the removers are packing for you – they will just pack everything, including, as I found out on my last house move, my office wastepaper basket along with all the rubbish in it!
  • It will save you money (although not always as much as you would think)

 

Having The Removers Pack The Boxes

 

  • Removals companies are experts at packing fragile or awkwardly shaped items so there is far less chance of anything getting broken or damaged if you let them do the packing. They will arrive with all the boxes and packing materials needed such as paper sheets for wrapping china and glass, bubble wrap and strong packing tape so you won’t have to worry about buying it and making sure you have enough. It is very common to underestimate how many boxes you will need for a house move.
  • Packing boxes takes time when you are not an expert and with all the other things that need organising for a house move having someone else do the packing takes away a huge amount of pressure. I had the removers pack my boxes last time I moved and didn’t regret the cost – I only wish I’d had them pack on previous house moves.

 

So aside from the packing what are the best and easiest ways to curb the stress of a house move? Here are just a few of my favourite tips:

 

Make a list of everything you need to remember

A To Do list will be your best friend when it comes to moving house. It is up to you where and how you maintain that list just make sure you have one – be vintage and keep a hand-written list in a notepad, use you smartphone and one of the many to-do apps available, just use a spreadsheet or notes and actions and reminders in Outlook or another email tool.

moving-house-checklist

List will be really helpful to you but you must keep them up to date and that means keeping them with you (or easily accessible) at all times. So when you have booked a date and time for the removers to come and give an estimate of moving costs you won’t forget, and when you have to start packing boxes, you won’t forget; and your lists will help you with budgeting too as you can write down all quotes for comparison and keep track of costs you have already incurred.

 

Don’t forget to tick off tasks as you go – that’s very satisfying…

 

Pack Something Every Day

Yep, that’s right every day – it is just too easy to put the task off until tomorrow or the next day or the week-end and before you know it you are faced with a mammoth task. Whereas if you do something every day that mountainous task will gradually diminish with seemingly little effort. Set aside half and hour each day for packing – it is amazing what can be achieved in half and hour and most of us can find that extra time o=in our day if we really want to.

 

If you leave packing to the last minute there is a much greater chance of items getting damaged in transit because you rushed the job and there is also much more chance of you just packing everything because you haven’t got the time to sort out the clutter from the things you want to keep.

 

 

Label EVERYTHING

You really won’t remember what is in that large box with the red star sticker on it – trust me, I’ve been there. Make sure you label every box, bag, suitcase as soon as it is fully packed. It goes without saying (but…) you should keep a separate box for all the essentials and valuables: passports, driving licenses, tea, coffee, kettle, mugs, chocolate, duvets and sheets, clearly labelled, of course.

 

It may seem tempting to not label everything but that will just make the job of settling into your new home that bit harder. If the boxes are all properly labelled then the removers will know which rooms they belong in.

 

So every box needs a room label – on all 4 sides – to help out the removers when they are unloading, and a list of what the box contains for your benefit but also so the removers know whether they can stack certain boxes on top of each other. Clearly you don’t want your fragile china and glass in a box at the bottom of a pile of boxes containing heavy items like books or tools.

 

The more detailed the labels are the easier it will be for everyone.

 

Take Time Off Work

Don’t add to your stress levels by trying to move house without taking a few days off work – sure you will want to take most of those days after the move to help you get settled in to your new abode but don’t put yourself under unnecessary stress all for the sake of a couple of days off to help you get sorted before the move. If you are stressed at work and worrying about house move issues you won’t be functioning at full capacity anyway

 

If there is really some work that can’t wait then try and work extra hours well before moving day and get ahead of yourself. Think about putting any work-related deadlines and issues on your list to help plan ahead.

moving-house-exchanging-contracts

Some house moves can be fraught with glitches so be prepared for last minute dashes to the solicitor to discuss contract issues or time to talk to the estate agents to help keep everything running smoothly.

 

 

Set The Moving Date As Soon As Possible

If you are fortunate you may be able to choose the date that suits you best but if you are in a long chain of buyers and sellers, you may have very little choice. Whether the moving date is your ideal date or not, get it firmed up as soon as you possibly can. This will enable you to confirm the date with the movers, inform all the utilities companies of the impending move (gas, electricity, water, phones, internet service provider etc). If you can have all those companies informed well in advance then you have already taken some of the stress off your own shoulders.

 

If you have children or pets you can also book babysitters or childcare for the day and arrange for friends to look after you pets or book them into kennels or a cattery. Remember your stress can rub off on them so try and stay calm when children and pets are around – expend your frustrations at the gym if you must..

 

 

These are just some of my favourite tips to help keep the stress level down when moving house. Serial house movers will probably have plenty more good ideas on how to make a move run smoothly. If you have your own top tip why not share it below in the comments – we always love to hear from people about their moving home stories.

renovating a 1970s home

Remodelling & Extending a 1970s Home

Some good friends of mine have recently moved out of their 3-bed 1970’s chalet bungalow on a neat, if rather uninspiring, estate into a nearby rented house while they are having an extension built and major renovations done to said chalet bungalow. It currently has 2 bedrooms and a family bathroom upstairs under the eaves and another bedroom and shower room downstairs along with a large living/dining room and average-sized kitchen. I say average-sized but, in fact, having been built in the 70’s it’s probably significantly larger than the sort of kitchen you would get in a new build today.

Some reports suggest that kitchens are 30% smaller in new builds now than they were in the 1960’s. A recent visit to a 4-bed new family home makes me think that must be true as the kitchen was tiny and out of all proportion with the rest of the house. There was a master bedroom and en-suite in the loft, 3 fairly small bedrooms and a family bathroom on the first floor and a living room and small kitchen on the ground floor. The living room seemed a fairly decent size but only had living room furniture in it whereas, in practice, you would probably need a dining table in there too as the kitchen was so small – certainly too small to fit in a family sized table. The interior designers who did this particular show home had placed a small round table in the kitchen, but even with the table pushed up against the wall so that 2 of the 4 chairs were inaccessible it looked and felt cramped. And, of course, this limited the amount of space there was available for kitchen cupboards so that house would have the usual new-build problem of simply not enough space and particularly not enough storage space.

new kitchen

Is it just me who expects to see a family home with a full sized dining table at which a family could actually eat a meal and occasionally have visitors over for a meal? I know some other studies have shown that Londoners eat out on average 4 times per week (yes, really) but it would be interesting to know what the figures are for the country as a whole – I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be anywhere near that many times and definitely not for families. Sadly, I suspect that house developers are contributing to the trend of eating in front of the TV. I’d like to think that the major house developers had done their research and this was what people wanted – tiny kitchens in exchange for more bedrooms and bathrooms but I have to wonder how the buyers of those homes feel after a few months living there. And I suspect it has more to do with the very high cost of land in so many parts of the UK and the desire of developers to squeeze as many homes onto the available space as possible. But that’s just me on my soap box again…

 

Although I don’t usually carry a tape measure with me my gut feeling is that 70’s houses are larger than current new homes and stand on larger plots. So back to the 70s house recently vacated for 6 months by my good friends.

 

They are, as I said, having major work done – to preserve the back garden which is not overly large they are, unusually, building their extension at the front and side. The side section will take the place of a narrow, under-used strip of garden and the front section will sit on what is now their fairly large, again under-used front lawn. It makes sense at a practical level but I’m just not convinced it will sit well in the street scape where all the neighbouring houses have large front lawns. But they have planning permission so I’m sure it will look better than I think because I can’t imagine a local authority giving planning permission for something that will look out of place – no, wait, of course I can imagine that – I see examples every day in my small home counties town.

Still I think the transformation of a 3-bed chalet bungalow into a proper 4-bed house will be exciting to see – I do know that the layout will work well and it will end up beautifully designed and decorated, and filled with wonderful furniture, art and objets because my friends have great taste. I envy them being involved in the project – so great will be the transformation that it was close to being just as cost effective to knock the whole thing down and start again – the costs were almost identical but it would have taken longer and the additional rent costs would have pushed them over budget . So a transformation it is, rather than a re-build.

remodelling and improving a home

I used to believe that creating a totally different house on a street of identical houses would mean that you would spend more on the transformation than you would ever recoup in the value of the house but I have seen several local streets over the years be completely changed and house prices leap into another bracket altogether by just such a thing happening. Starting with one brave, fore-sighted owner doing exactly what my friends are doing.

Only recently I was reading about The Bishop’s Avenue in London which has seen almost all the original Edwardian houses torn down over the past few decades and successively replaced by larger and larger contemporary homes and the same is happening in many of the wealthier commuter towns  surrounding London. In Beaconsfield, for instance, I have seen perfectly decent (in fact, very desirable) substantial 5-bed houses torn down to be replaced by 3-storey mini-mansions with 6 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms – who really needs that many bathrooms? Think of the cleaning – even if you aren’t doing it yourself.

So, on the one hand, we have new home developers building ever smaller so-called “family homes” and at the other end of the scale we have people who think that 5 bedrooms and 2 or 3 bathrooms just isn’t enough space. And this is happening in the same areas – I’m not quite sure what that says for the state of the housing market in the UK but there is a huge chasm growing that may never be crossed.