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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.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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.