The Hidden Factors of Renovating your Home

The Hidden Factors of Renovating your Home

Everyone loves renovating their homes. Whether it’s to turn our property into our dream design, or to sell for added value, we are always trying to improve our space. We even find ourselves glued to our television screens watching for tips as the likes of the DIY SOS team and George Clarke renovate properties to a high standard!

Photo By: Arizona Tile

However, it’s not always as straight forward as thinking of the work you want to do and running with it. While tasks such as replacing your roof or having solar panels fitted are safe to crack on with (although speaking to your council is still good practice), others aren’t. In certain cases, you will come up against factors which can grind your thought process to a halt and prevent it from becoming a reality. Here, we will look at the hidden factors of house renovations.

Is your home a listed building?

When you bought your property, you should have been told if it was a listed building. If it is, then chances are you will struggle to carry out any planned work without a fight. It is actually a criminal offence to simply go ahead with any work without the authorisation to do so. If you are unsure whether or not your property is a listed building, you can check at British Listed Buildings.

Photo By: Michelle Dirkse Interior Design

Electricity

Sometimes, work you plan to carry out will mean moving your electric meter and fuse box. However, you must make sure you don’t move it yourself. Why? Yep, you guessed it; this is also illegal. Usually, if it’s a move of less than 15 centimetres, this can be carried out by your energy supplier free of charge. But for larger-scale moves of over three metres, your local distribution company would have to move your mains supply before the electricity meter can be placed elsewhere. If this is something you require, make sure you book the relevant appointments to avoid long delays.

Notify your neighbours

With some work, you must notify your neighbours of your project thanks to the Party Wall Act of 1996. This occurs if you share a wall with another house and your work may undermine the structural integrity of the wall. Tasks such as fitting shelves and replastering aren’t included in this Act, however, if you were looking to undergo more extensive work it is something you must adhere to.

Although this seems like a very formal approach, it’s important to provide a ‘notice’ to your neighbour which outlines your prospective work. Present this to them alongside a copy of the Act two months before you intend to carry out the work. They will then have 14 days to raise any concerns they may have and provide written approval or rejection. Doing this will cover you if anything turns sour with said neighbour. If they do reject your proposal and it’s impossible to come to some form of agreement, you will be required to assign a surveyor who will then determine what work can be carried out.

Photo By: Red Door Homes, Inc.

Loft conversions

Often, to create more living space, people look at converting their lofts. However, make sure you get the correct building regulations approval. This is required to ensure there is sufficient structural strength to the floor, while also making sure that the existing roof and the structure’s stability isn’t jeopardized.

In many homes, the timber joists that form the floor of the loft space won’t be sturdy enough to support significant weight. This could cause issues if you plan to turn your loft space into a spare bedroom, for example, and without official planning meeting set regulations you could run into a host of problems. Perhaps surprisingly, any work that you carry out could indeed hinder your future sale if you don’t get the appropriate permission and paperwork. In some instances, you will be required to revert the property back to its former state if you haven’t gone through the correct channels when carrying out the work.

Besides your timber joists, you may also want to update your skirting boards and other moldings. You can consider installing skirting board covers if you do not have the time to tear out old skirting boards. This is a smart trick to save time, and money in the long run.

Garage conversions

Unlike loft conversions, you generally aren’t required to seek planning permission if it’s not your intention to enlarge a garage and increase the size of your home. If your sole purpose is to use the space for personal gain, then you should be able to carry out your intended work so long as you complete the work thoroughly and to the correct standard. However, it’s important to note that planning permission must be sought if you are looking to convert the space into a separate house.

Extensions

Extensions are ever popular in the world of renovations. However, not everyone understands the impact it may have on your property. For example, have you considered the impact an extension will have on your current boiler? Adding extra space will mean there’s an added demand on your hot water system and, in some cases, your boiler won’t be able to cope. Make sure you factor this in to any plan. You must also get building regulation approval – even if you don’t need planning permission due to using permitted development rights. In some cases, you may also need to pay a Community Infrastructure Levy, so it’s important to check this out prior to conducting any work.

While renovating your property can result in an amazing end product, getting to the final stage can be hard work and have many obstacles. For any work you may be thinking of carrying out, it’s important to carry out thorough research before you start so that hidden costs and issues don’t creep up on you.

Is Britain’s Infrastructure Ready for Extreme Weather?

Is Britain’s Infrastructure Ready for Extreme Weather?

The mild, if slightly cold, weather that Britain is famed for is beginning to feel like a thing of the past. After the intensity of the Beast from the East in 2018, followed by one of the hottest summers on record, it’s hard to know what to expect next!

Photo By: Rachel Laxer Interiors Ltd

According to the long-range weather forecast produced by scientists at UCL, the UK is in for yet another extreme winter. The average temperature is predicted to dip 0.5 degrees below previous, frosty years. Some claim that this will be one of the coldest winters in decades. As we attempt our commutes through blizzards and black ice, it will become ever-more difficult to ignore the extremities that climate change is bringing. It isn’t just snow that is becoming a nightmare for British infrastructure: floods and heatwaves do their fair share of damage too. Is our infrastructure prepared for the inevitable difficulties? Or have we failed to think far enough ahead?

Snow

Considering the frosty predictions for winter 2019/20, we need to ready our infrastructure. During the harsh winters of recent years, the UK transport system has faced extreme difficulties. From icy roads to exposed direct current indicators and flashover faults, the cold weather can cause severe damage.

In response to this, a cold weather plan was established in order to outline what to expect and how best to prepare over the increasingly cold winters. Local authorities are now better equipped than ever to grit roads and prevent black ice as a result of this. For the transport sector, forward planning is key. Transport planning advice plays a major part in ensuring that infrastructure schemes take into account all environmental considerations at the design stage to help to mitigate risks.

Photo By: REES Architects

Heatwaves

Hot summers have been so rare over the years, that a mere glimpse of sunshine has Brits outside in shorts and t-shirts. But in recent years, the temperature has been on the rise and these pockets of sun seem more common. Although we love the opportunity to get outside, the hot and dry weather actually has a damaging effect on our infrastructure.

Dry weather is a major contributor to cracks and potholes in roads, which can cause serious problems for drivers. In addition, heatwaves can cause railway systems to overheat, as the temperature of steel rails can reach 20 degrees higher than the air around them. Therefore, consistent temperatures of 30 or even 40 degrees could lead to extreme over-heating of rail tracks. As a result, the metal on the tracks will expand, which puts them at risk of buckling. In extreme circumstances, this could derail trains.

Another issue caused by hot weather is the expanding and sagging of electrical lines. This is yet another factor that could cause serious disruptions to train services, and the lines might even be pulled down. The only way that the rail systems can combat these dangers is to impose more severe speed restrictions. Although this may cause delays over hot periods, it is the safest way for the transport system to operate.

Photo By: Karen Rogers at KR Garden Design

Floods

As has been proven time and time again in recent years, there are many areas in the UK that are not well equipped to cope with flooding. Another direct result of global warming, floods are becoming more and more common in the UK, and the Environmental Agency has told flood planners to “prepare for the worst”. In a recent consultation on flood strategy, the agency claimed that “for every person who suffers flooding, about 16 more are affected by loss of services such as power, transport and telecommunications.” Evidently, the UK’s infrastructure needs to keep improving, as floods are only going to worsen in the future.

In relation to this, the Environmental Agency advised that all public infrastructures need to be made flood-resilient by 2050. We also need to start considering the long-term rather than the immediate future. As part of this advice, they encouraged people to start considering potential flooding while building new homes, rather than just reacting to the damage when it occurs. When constructing something new, whether in the public or private sector, a flood risk assessment should always be carried out by the building services engineering company. These assessments identify flood mitigation measures and provide advice on what actions should be taken in the event of a flood.