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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.

 

couple-move-into-new-home

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 like DS Carriers Glasgow 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.