The Rise of Multigenerational Living in Rickmansworth

You’re standing at a window, but instead of staring at your reflection your eyes meet with those relatives that you are longing to hug and just spend some physical time with.  This year, with all its rules and constraints, has torn us apart, but also brought us closer together in many ways.  Who would have thought that spending time with the ones we love would be seen as a luxury?  It’s because of these forced separations that many families are now reconsidering how they live, which is why we have seen a sudden rise in, and demand for, multigenerational living in Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, Chorleywood and the Loudwater, Sarratt and Loudwater areas of Hertfordshire.

Coming together

You may be surprised to discover that around a third of homes in the UK are now classed as multigenerational.  This is not just older family members moving in with a child and their family due to ill health, or children living at home longer to be able to save for a deposit, or simply because they are unable to afford to live on their own.  What we are also seeing at Trend & Thomas is different parts of a family joining together to purchase a property that will give them independence but also security and support.  The separation this year has required has certainly impacted on many, driving them to make big decisions about how they wish to spend their future.

Need to consider

We can completely understand why so many families are wishing to buy a multigenerational home, but it is essential that you consider a number of things before choosing a property for this purpose.  Living together will no doubt bring a wealth of joy, but it can bring its challenges too.  Making sure that the property can meet all of your needs for will only aid the success of your new lives going forward.  So what should you be looking for when seeking a multigenerational home in our corner of South West Hertfordshire?

Privacy and independence

Just because you are bringing your family together, doesn’t mean you don’t all want and need your privacy and independence.  Each generation will be set in their ways, and each will bring their own set of requirements for what space they need.  Will you be sharing a kitchen and mealtimes? Or do you want the choice to eat when you want and be able to cook in your own space, but have a kitchen big enough for those days when you come together? Not every home will have two kitchens when viewing, so look for potential.

It can often be the little things that get overlooked, such as having your own front door and space for all your cars. And do you want an annex that is completely separate, or an area of a house that provides some privacy?  Everyone wants and needs their own space, it’s a necessity – somewhere you can relax that is just yours, but knowing you are only a few feet away from your loved ones will be a blessing too. 

Before you start looking for a new home, come together and talk through all your needs, areas each party may feel they can compromise on, and what is absolutely essential.  Remember, not all of you may be able to view the property physically, so having clarity before you start can prevent friction as you move through the process.

It is always advisable, on a viewing, to look at a property not for what it is, but what it could be.  Doing some work or tackling a conversion of an existing structure will probably be required, so have an open mind – your vision could create the most beautiful and versatile home that meets all your needs. 

Think about tomorrow

When you are thinking about the requirements of your new home, also consider what you will need in the future.  As we know, your needs will change, children will grow, families may get bigger, people get older.  How will this home suit your needs in the long term? Will it still give you the space you need?  Will it be a benefit or a hindrance should health deteriorate and mobility decline?  Do the living spaces provide room to entertain? Who isn’t wanting to have a party for their friends and family when this crazy time is over?  But just because you’re living together, doesn’t mean you’ll particularly want to party together too.

Just as the interior of your home is important, so is the outside space.  People often forget this when purchasing a multigenerational home. Can each generation have a little space for their own?  Maybe

Stir Up Sunday Recipes

This Sunday is known by some as Stir Up Sunday – since Victorian times it was the day that families would get together in their homes and stir up the Christmas treats that needed a little pre planning. 

So……as we are all stuck at home a little more than maybe we like this year…how about tackling your own Stir Up Sunday 2020 style?

We’ve researched the easiest recipe we could find for a Christmas cake you can make this weekend.  Cleverly giving you enough time before Sunday to get the ingredients in and plan your baking session.

This is a James Martin recipe and it sounds pretty easy for Stirring up on Sunday – basically simmer the fruit and wet ingredients then add the dry…and let everyone in the family give it a stir and make a wish!

We are going to give it a go…

Easy Christmas Cake Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg mixed dried fruit (use a mix of raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries, cranberries, prunes or figs)
  • zest and juice 1 orange
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum, plus extra for feeding
  • 250g butter softened
  • 200g light soft brown sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 100g ground almond
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  • STEP 1 Put 1kg mixed dried fruit, the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 150ml brandy or other alcohol, 250g softened butter and 200g light, soft brown sugar in a large pan set over a medium heat.
  • STEP 2 Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Tip the fruit mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 30 mins.
  • STEP 3 Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Line a deep 20cm cake tin with a double layer of baking parchment, then wrap a double layer of newspaper around the outside – tie with string to secure.
  • STEP 4 Add 175g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, ½ tsp baking powder, 2 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cloves, 100g flaked almonds, 4 large eggs and 1 tsp vanilla extract to the fruit mixture and stir well, making sure there are no pockets of flour.
  • STEP 5 Tip into your prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake in the centre of the oven for 2 hrs.
  • STEP 6 Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes in it with a skewer and spoon over 2 tbsp of your chosen alcohol or tea/fruit juice. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin.
  • STEP 7 To store, peel off the baking parchment, then wrap well in cling film. Feed the cake with 1-2 tbsp alcohol every fortnight, until you ice it.
  • STEP 8 Don’t feed the cake for the final week to give the surface a chance to dry before icing.
  • In place of alcohol you can use tea or fruit juice but use less to stop it from getting soggy.

A James Martin recipe

And below is the recipe we used to create this cute Christmas village…

GINGER BREAD CAKE RECIPE – by Nordicware.com

  •  2 3/ 4 cups cake flour
  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger
  •  1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  1/ 4 teaspoon ground cloves
  •  1/ 4 teaspoon nutmeg
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1 cup sugar
  •  2/ 3 cup brown sugar
  •  1 cup butter, softened
  •  4 eggs
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  1 1/ 4 cups milk

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 160 degrees C. Grease and lightly flour pan; set aside. In medium bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking powder; set aside. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and butter. Beat 3 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping bowl often. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low. Blend flour mixture into sugar mixture, alternately with milk. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading batter slightly up onto the sides of the pan. Place pan on baking sheet and bake at for 55-66 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool upright in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan onto cooling rack and cool completely. Cake can be dusted with powdered sugar or decorated with frosting and candies.

Floorplans

What a difference a floorplan makes when selling your home in Hertfordshire.

Oh the days when we could wander around a shop with carefree abandonment. Yet here we are in the Covid era, having to adapt and change from the norm.  The property market is very much open but, as you’ll know, things have changed. Nevertheless, buyers are abundant and eager to view your home any way they can.  From photographs to videos, they soak it all in, trying to visualise every inch of your property. There is one key item they are all keen to digest, and yet not every agent in Rickmansworth feels it necessary. Let us tell you what a difference a floorplan makes when selling your home.

Is it essential?

It always amazes us at Trend & Thomas that not all agents see the importance of a floorplan. They take the time to take photographs to show the interior of the property, they may even focus in on period features, but what this cannot do is give a buyer the facts.  It’s easy to misjudge the size of a room based on an image – too much or oversized furniture can make a room seem smaller, a shot taken in flattering light and the room looks spacious and empty.  This is where the floorplan takes over, the actual size of the room can’t be distorted by furnishings and camera angles, the facts and size of the rooms are laid bare for all to see.

Room sizes are one benefit of the floorplan, but it isn’t just the space a property provides that appeals to potential buyers, the layout is also important.  Initial virtual viewings before buyers are able to physically view a property, are fantastic in these unusual times and give a good alternative, but when reviewing whether the property is for them, buyers can sometimes get confused about the layout, which is why the floorplan is crucial.  It gives them the clarity they need and helps to bring that potential offer even closer.

Does it work?

What we have noticed is how focused buyers are on finding a property that accommodates their lifestyle.  Having spent so many hours in their homes this year, buyers are absolutely clear what they want and need from their next home.  A separate workspace is often on the must-have list, but how far away is this from family spaces? This is obviously essential should there be a need to self-isolate.

Is there an area that brings the family together? A place to cook where a careful eye can watch over children whilst they are doing their homework?  The desire for a wonderful space to entertain, when we can, is at the forefront of people’s minds, we can see the longing to fill homes with loved ones and laughter being a priority when normality returns.

Is there potential?

It can be hard to view your home as anything but perfect, but just as you’ll be wanting to make your mark on your new home, buyers will be wanting to make theirs on yours.  Buyers’ eyes are full of imagination and creativity and they may see opportunities that you never envisaged; the floorplan is key to them envisioning the potential of your property.

Whether buyers have viewed your home physically or virtually, it can be hard to accurately recollect the true size of rooms and where they are positioned.  Working from the floorplan, buyers can start to knock down walls, open up spaces and create new ones.  It is this scope for potential that grabs buyers’ hearts and keeps niggling, and when this happens you know you have them hooked.

Positioning

Just as potential is a consideration for buyers, so is positioning, and where each room is located can be a deciding factor.  There has been an increase in the number of families who are looking for homes that can accommodate an extra family member, whether that be a parent or grown-up child. Can your property provide them with some privacy?  Those with young children may wish to have bedrooms close together rather than on separate floors, and prefer the bathroom to be close by. 

What it offers

The floorplan isn’t about what your property offers you, it lays out the facts to enable buyers to begin to explore what it can offer them.

Not having a floorplan hinders buyers’ decision-making, as without the facts they can be relying on assumptions. This is what your floorplan offers them – the facts.  Never underestimate the importance of a floorplan when selling your home in Rickmansworth.

If you’re curious what your home is worth, contact our team at Trend & Thomas on Ph 01923 773 616

A Crafty Garden Workshop

Who dreamed of a Garden workshop during Lockdown 1? Somewhere to indulge your creativity, ‘Work From Home’ in peace or just escape the house for a change of scenery!

Becky & Wendy of I Do Handmade

We discovered Rickmansworth based craft company, I Do Handmade during Lockdown 1 and discovered they had done just that – created a Craft Cave/Studio in their garden. We thought it was a perfect opportunity to check out their gorgeous Workshop and ask a few questions that you might want answered if you are considering your own.

Run by mum and daughter duo Becky and Wendy, I Do Handmade stocks a range of creative craft kits, all designed to help people switch off from the world. 

I Do Handmade’s Block printing kits

When Becky was recently faced with the challenge of a pandemic, preparing for a new arrival and juggling running a business from home, Becky explored the option of building a craft workshop / office in her garden. We caught up with Becky to check it out and ask some questions that might help anyone else considering the project.

Becky’s gorgeous completed Garden Workshop by Garden Summer Houses

How long have you been considering a Garden Workshop? Was it just lockdown that prompted you or had you been planning it anyway?

As our tiny little business has grown over the last 7 years, I’ve always dreamed of having our own dedicated space to work in. To date I’d been packaging up craft kits from my dining room table and using any cupboard or shelf I could find around the house to store all of our stock. 

In May this year, my husband and I found out we were expecting a lockdown baby. All very exciting but it was quickly pretty clear we’d need to do something to help prepare for having a second child in our home. We looked into moving house, but it wasn’t feasible so we explored the option of building an office in the garden.

Did you have an idea in your head of what you wanted before you started or did you start with a blank page and make decisions as you researched it?

It felt a bit overwhelming not knowing where to start. When you begin to google, there are so many options! We needed something permanent and not ‘shed’ like, so began searching for  outbuildings and I started to see different styles and options available.

Who did you use to build the Garden Workshop – did you get lots of quotes or use someone that was recommended?

We contacted three companies we found on google and Facebook, and ended up going with Garden Summer Houses as they were able to provide everything included in the price e.g paint, plastering, floors, electrical sockets, lights etc. This made it feel much easier for us, our DIY skills are not our forte! The company create a similar look and feel with every build they do and you personalise it with the options you want as you go. I highly recommend them.

What was the process of having it built like – did it happen during Lockdown and therefore were you waiting on materials to finish it?  Did you change the plans you had for it at all midway through?

It was towards the end of lockdown we got in touch, they came around to discuss the options and gave us a quote and they then began building in August. The physical building took 10 days from start to finish, they worked 10 hours a day and it went up so quickly! Unfortunately it was during the 37 degree heatwave we had, but I cannot fault them at all, the builders worked so hard despite the sweltering weather. Luckily all the shops had opened up again so materials and tools was available. Since the building has been finished, myself and my husband have been slowly using any spare moment, building flat pack furniture and decorating it.

How was the budget management of the build – Did you manage to stay within the kind of budget you had set or did you spend lots more or even lots less!?

The good thing about the company we used was that they offered a price for per square metre which included everything e.g lights, doors, plug sockets, paint, floor etc. So we knew the price right from the start, and it didn’t go over.

What utilities does it have, power, water, heating?  Did you insulate it and if so do you recommend it?

The option was there to have anything we wanted, we opted just to have electricity. It’s been fully insulated, but it’s definitely been chillier since Winter’s begun! Investing in a solar heater is our next task!

What base did you have put down for it?

It was built with a wooden frame, then filled with concrete and was built up from there.

Did you have a plan for how you wanted to furnish and decorate it when it was built.  Did you have help or do it all yourself?

The Workshop now all beautifully furnished and styled by Becky

It came plastered, painted with flooring, lighting and sockets, so the room was literally ready as soon as it’s finished. We chose to have it all white to help try and make it look as big as it could, as I knew I would be filling it up with a lot of stock and packaging for all the craft kits we sell. The general plan was to have as much storage in there as possible but I was worried it would look like a warehouse. So I left some space to make a few things ourselves to make it feel a little more homey – like the copper shelf, upcycled book cases and backgammon coffee table.

All that useful storage space plus working areas are a huge benefit to I Do Handmade

How do you feel now you have your lovely Garden Workshop…what affect has it had on your work/life balance?  And on the business in general?

It’s definitely created more space in our home as we moved a lot of boxes out there, so it’s improved our standard of living. Also having a toddler and a baby on the way, it’s created a little sanctuary where I can do what I love, being creative in peace!

Are you territorial of your lovely new space or do you allow others in occasionally 😉

The plan was for my husband to have the option to work there too if he needed to work from home. But it’s slowly become my own little space that I have decorated with my own crafty bits and bobs….things he calls clutter! 

What advice do you have for people considering a Garden office/workshop?

If you’ve got the space and money I definitely recommend it. Our garden was quite small but we made it work with the space available. 

Something I’d recommend – the building was much taller and visually bigger, than we imagined, especially in our tiny little garden. I would recommend drawing out the space with physical markers showing the footprint and height, to help anticipate how it will look, especially if you have a small garden or are overlooked by neighbours. 

How do you see the Garden Workshop benefitting I Do Handmade in the future as we hopefully come out of our COVID restrictions?  

Having an actual space to work in has not only helped improve packaging/stock keeping processes, but it’s also created a fab new space for us to film tutorials and videos showing people how to make things. We’d love to help inspire more people to try something new, by switching off from the world and get creative, so having the ability to film is definitely going to help going forwards.

Now tell us about your wonderful craft kits including the brilliant Christmas Wreath kit, because we are doing an Instagram and Facebook Giveaway for this one!

Christmas Wreath Kit Giveaway

All made and packed in our new office, we create craft kits to help people discover the benefits of getting creative. From mindful macrame, to calming crochet, to a fun block printing kit great for all the family to do together, there’s even an advent calendar kit you can make in time for the 1st December. The kits make thoughtful gifts for loved ones for Christmas too. 

To celebrate the launch of our range of Christmas craft kits, we’re giving away a Christmas wreath making kit which comes with real foliage and greenery and all the festive accessories you need to have a fun afternoon making your very own unique Christmas wreath for your home. 

To enter, head on over to both Trend & Thomas and I Do Handmade on Instagram or Facebook and follow the instructions to ensure you are in for a chance to win the festive kit.

And for those of you considering your own Garden Workshop, Garden Summer Houses has a current offer:

If you want to explore the option of having an outbuilding in your garden, Garden Summer Houses  are currently offering free window blinds for your new garden building, to anyone who mentions Trend & Thomas when they enquire. To take advantage of this get in touch via their website.

Thanks Becky, Wendy and Garden Summer Houses – lots of useful ideas and advice.

Lockdown 2 – our Procedures

The property market is fully operational during this new Lockdown and in line with Government guidelines and in order to ensure the safety and well-being of both our staff and clients during these challenging times, Trend & Thomas have strict COVID policies and procedures. 

We can carry out Viewings and Appraisals with the confirmation that none of our staff or clients are:

  1. Displaying flu-like symptoms now or within the previous 14 days
  2. Have not been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19

Prior to the Viewing or Appraisal the occupier will:

  • Open all internal doors and turn on lights and where possible open a window for an hour prior to the viewing
  • Vacate the property for the duration of the viewing or appraisal

During the Viewings and Appraisals, clients and staff will:

  • Wear masks and use gloves or antibacterial gel where required
  • Will avoid touching any surfaces and these will be wiped down afterwards if necessary by our staff
  • Will maintain social distancing
  • No more than 2 Viewers will attend and no children under 11

Our office will be staffed but closed to visitors unless where an appointments has been made. We will be working from the office and from homes for the sake of safety for all.

Please message us if you have any queries.

We spoke to local writer and legendary baker about how this year has altered her time in her kitchen…

By @helenshomebakes

Like the rest of the world, my domestic life changed dramatically during lockdown and continues to adapt daily ever since.  Like millions of others forced to stay safe at home, I used the time to learn new household skills and perfect old ones.  While some people took up running, others got on their knees and paid close attention to their gardens. I joined thousands of amateur bakers who finally took the plunge and gave sourdough bread a go.

Helen’s sourdough starter nurtured perfectly

After all, what did we all have to lose? It was the perfect time to start a baby –a sourdough starter, which needs lots of love and attention. Like a Tamagotchi, but with much better rewards.  It really is like having a newborn… stinky, needs lots of nurturing, and cannot be ignored for very long. But don’t let that put you off – the results are worth it, I promise!

My kitchen smells of freshly baked bread most days and, even better, I can gift loaves to my friends and neighbours. I have always enjoyed baking, and love to spend the day in my newly-renovated open-plan kitchen whipping up meringues, stirring chocolate ganache and swirling icing on cupcakes.

As Covid-19 kept us all inside our homes, it gave me the perfect opportunity to experiment with new recipes, be bolder in the kitchen, and adopt a carpe diem attitude.  So what if a recipe went wrong? I had lots more days ahead of me to get it right. (I’ve had my fair share of baking disasters!)

Baking gave me the focus I needed when everything around me was, let’s be honest, a little bit scary. And, for me, cake is the ultimate comfort food. My dream date would be an afternoon tea at a fancy venue. In fact, a good coffee and walnut cake would be my last meal on earth if I was giving a bit of warning…

Whether it was baking cookies with my two daughters to distract them, or batch-baking brownies for food parcel drop-offs to friends, cooking during lockdown relaxed me.  I’ve always been a feeder. I love cooking and baking for others. After all, I can’t eat all the brownies myself, can I?! When the government first announced lockdown, I felt saddened that I wouldn’t be able to bake for my friends and their children, something that gives me great pleasure.

However, as the rules eased, I realised I WAS able to continue doing so, as long as I was careful and kept two metres apart when delivering the goodies.  At Easter, I enjoyed baking chocolate cupcakes for my favourite people, topped with chocolate bunnies. Not only was I very popular with the kiddies for at least the two minutes it took them to gobble the crumbs down, I was also able to have a brief socially distanced chat during delivery.  It was my way of spreading a bit of joy when everything seemed uncertain and there didn’t seem to be much to be joyful about.  Those friends of mine who hadn’t already jumped on the sourdough bandwagon also got freshly baked loaves delivered to their doorstep. The best way to perfect a sourdough loaf is by making lots of them!

Helen’s Easter Gifts for lucky local friends

I found spending time at home with very few trips outside wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. I was surrounded by my family, and lucky enough to have a nice house with a garden. But I was usually in the kitchen!

This week alone, I have made a Mars Bar cake, salted caramel and peanut butter slices (very posh Snickers basically), a gluten-free lemon and almond polenta cake, and a baked chocolate cheesecake for a man who doesn’t like desserts.  A new favourite discovery was an apple, cinnamon and ginger cake made with a crop of eating apples a kind friend gave me from her own harvest.  

I also tried making Turkish pide bread for the first time, too, and the results were delicious. Check out the recipe below, it’s perfect for baking novices, and delicious slathered in hummus or dipped in a soup. Traditionally eaten during Ramadan, it doesn’t need long to prove and doesn’t need much expertise.

Next week I’ll be rustling something up with some rhubarb given to me by my sister-in-law… I’m thinking a rhubarb and vanilla buckle will do the fresh vegetable justice. Before lockdown, I thought rhubarb was a fruit as it’s so often cooked, sweetened and combined with other fruits as a dessert. Now I know my veg from my fruit, thanks to hours of pouring over cookery books in my house during lockdown.

Also this week, I’ve cooked a huge spaghetti Bolognese which would feed the whole of Hertfordshire, and a Moroccan lamb and lentil harira (from Leon’s Happy Soups, but I’d call it more a stew) which until this week I’d never heard of.  In case you haven’t yet been introduced to a Moroccan harira, it’s a zesty, fragrant tomato-based soup with chickpeas and lentils. Perhaps I would never have tried such a time-consuming recipe – it took at least three hours on the stove to make the lamb tender – before lockdown.

Moroccan Harira

In fact, I know lots of people who didn’t want to go near their kitchen after a long day juggling childcare, work and a myriad of other concerns. Conscious of supporting local businesses, and eager to have a quick and yummy meal at the end of the day, many people ordered takeaway.  As tempting as it was some days, I found planning meals and cooking from scratch something which kept my mind calm.

It’s probably worth mentioning here that I stopped working in March when the schools closed to support and home school my daughters, so I had plenty of time on my hands to craft meals for the family.  Unlike other skills which might not stand the test of the time – I’m talking about you Ms Sewing Machine – cooking and baking is something that needs very little investment apart from time and willingness.  Improving your culinary prowess or starting from scratch with cooking is simple. There’s plenty of cookbooks to suit every palette, budget and diet.

Best of all, you always have a scrumptious dish or cake or soup to enjoy as a reward.  It also helps that our house was only recently renovated, so being in my kitchen is an absolute pleasure. And if I don’t have a cup of tea close by, there’ll surely be red wine.

With the bifold doors open on to the garden (that’s the husband’s job), and music blaring from the Sonos (sorry neighbours), there’s honestly no place I would rather be than staring into the glass door of my Rangemaster oven seeing if my cake has risen. Nothing beats the smell of a slow-rising sponge in the oven.   

Favourite recipe books have included Great British Bake Off winner Edd Kimber’s new One Tin Bakes and, obviously, anything by Nigella Lawson.

The icing on the cake, pun very much intended, would be if I looked half as gorgeous as Nigella while in the kitchen. Sadly, I usually have food smeared down my jeans, a filthy apron, flour in my hair and various burns up my arm. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cooking is all about getting messy, getting stuck in, and giving it a go.

Many people tell me ‘they are not bakers’ but, honestly, that’s so not true! Anyone can follow a simple recipe; anyone can give it a go. Start with a brownie or a simple traybake.

So what did I learn and lose in lockdown?

I learnt to nurse a sourdough starter, to try new things and not to be afraid of a complicated recipe. I am much more confident in the kitchen. I lost some freedom, for a short time, but gained so much more.

Helen’s Sourdough

By the way, it’s not just baking I tried to perfect, I am brushing up on my rusty Spanish and have bought more houseplants than is probably sensible for a woman whose fingers are far from green.

Don’t get me started on the sewing machine though…

Recipe for Turkish pide bread (makes two):

Helen’s Turkish Pide – perfect for dipping in hummus!
  • 1 teaspoon or 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 200ml warm milk
  • 200ml warm water
  • 50ml vegetable oil (more for greasing)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 600g plain flour, sifted
  • sesame seeds
  • nigella seeds

1. Heat oven to 230 degrees. Combine yeast, milk, water, oil, sugar, salt and egg white in a bowl and whisk until combined.

2. Sift in flour and stir, before turning out onto a floured surface and briefly kneading until soft and smooth.

3. Brush a bowl with oil. Place dough in the bowl and lightly coat with more oil. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.

4. Knock back the dough and knead briefly before dividing into two equal pieces with a knife to form two even sized balls of dough. Place dough balls on two pieces of baking paper on baking sheets and let rest for five minutes.

5. Flatten the dough with your hands into a round pizza shape (but not as thin). Using oiled fingertips, make indentations on the surface in the traditional pide style (see picture). The idea is you can tear chunks off once baked.

6. Brush with egg yolk (diluted with a splash of milk if necessary), and sprinkle with seeds to your taste. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven. Yum!

Stamp Duty

Are you on track to sell your home in Hertfordshire before the stamp duty deadline?

When Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the temporary stamp duty exemption back in July, there was excitement in the air.  Those who had been thinking of moving in a few years started to have discussions on whether they should do it sooner. Families who had felt like the walls were getting smaller around them during lockdown began to dream of more space. But are you on track to sell your home before the stamp duty deadline on 31 March 2021?

Where should I be?

If your home is already on the market, you are on your way. Remember, it normally takes 12 weeks from when an offer is accepted before you complete on your sale, but there are exceptions to this.  If you haven’t listed your property yet, you need to do so as soon as possible – at Trend & Thomas we would suggest in the next few weeks – to ensure that you can move without the additional costs of having to pay the stamp duty tax.

Listing your home is one thing, finding your next one is another, so don’t wait to list your home, you can be actively viewing properties while buyers are viewing yours.  The more you can do to actively help your sale and purchase move forward, the greater the chance you will be relaxing in your new abode without fear of the approaching deadline.

What is the exemption?

The Stamp Duty Land Transaction Tax is tax that is payable when you purchase a property over £125,000 or, if you’re a first-time buyer, over £300,000.  There is now a temporary holiday on stamp duty, which means you will pay nothing for any property up to the value of £500,000, which means you have more pennies in your pocket when you move. 

For example, if you sold your home for £400,000 and it was your main residence, prior to the stamp duty holiday you would have had to pay £10,000 in stamp duty tax –  now that bill is zero!

It’s no wonder that we have seen an influx in sellers throughout Rickmansworth, Croxley Green, Chorleywood, Sarratt, Loudwater, Harefield, Uxbridge and even Buckinghamshire, when the cost of moving home is reduced by such a large sum.  This has opened the doors for many sellers who may have been struggling to raise the additional funds required for moving home.

What can you do?

Let’s start at the beginning, with choosing an estate agent. There are many to choose from locally, as you know, but before you rush into a decision, please do your homework.  Remember, you’re on a deadline, so look at which agent is selling homes – not listing them, but selling them.  Contact those agents you’re interested in as a buyer, this will show you what the experience will be like for any potential buyers for your home.  Are they taking all your information, listening to what you’re looking for, and providing you with properties that may be of interest?  Ask questions, challenge them on their service, and you will know who you think is the right fit to sell YOUR home.

Get the price right

When choosing an estate agent, don’t be lured by one who is suggesting they can sell your home for a higher price, unless they can prove it with recent sales.  Getting your price right from the start, a price that is realistic in the current local market, is paramount to ensure that you sell your home quickly and for the right price.  Pricing correctly in the first few weeks you hit the market is the key to clinching a quick deal.  Do not be tempted by the shiny suited agent who promises you the over inflated price only to tell you to reduce it weeks later.

What we want to make you aware of at Trend & Thomas is that the longer your home is on the market, the harder it can be to get the price you want.  Typically, you will see the most viewings during the first 20 to 30 days, and those potential buyers will be serious and ready to move. Now we are undertaking virtual viewings, this period is much shorter.  You want to attract more buyers not less with a price that is not realistic, so listen to our expertise, we don’t want your home gathering dust, we want it sold and you in your new home before the March deadline.

Don’t delay

If you’re wanting to move home in Hertfordshire and are taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday, come and chat with our team as soon as possible.  With just one call to us on 01923 773 616 you will be on way to seeing your house sold and enjoying the beauty that your new home offers by early next year.

Link here to a Stamp Duty Calculator

A little Domestic Science – What’s it like to be a First Time Seller?

We often hear about First Time Buyers but what about First Time Sellers – Here’s some Domestic Science for how to approach your first Home Sale.

Do you remember the excitement you felt when buying your first home? The moment it caught your eye, the viewing when you fell in love, and the joy as your offer was accepted…  Your first home in Rickmansworth, Chorleywood or Croxley Green we are sure, has brought you much happiness over the years, but has the Chancellor’s announcement of temporary changes to stamp duty got you thinking?  Maybe lockdown has uncovered some frustrations in your home which you hadn’t noticed before, or a desire for more or less space has got you searching for a new abode.  You have bought a home before, but selling a property is a whole new kettle of fish, which is why our team at Trend & Thomas has put together some essential advice for first-time sellers in WD3.

What’s your motivation?

Homes have a sneaky way of tugging on our heartstrings, they can draw you in with those features that you first fell in love with, and it can be hard to let go.  But if you’re making the decision to move, it’s good to focus on your reason why.  If you’re looking to take advantage of the temporary stamp duty changes, you know that you have only a few months to get moving.  When you focus on the benefits of what you’re looking for in a new home, it’s easier to walk away from your old one.  You will need to make decisions along the way to benefit your sale, and if you’re all loved up, it makes those decisions that much harder.

Reality check

You will probably have undertaken some work on your property over the years, you may even have extended or put in a new kitchen or bathroom.  As such, you might have some ideas about your home is now worth, but are you right? It’s the current property market in Rickmansworth, Chorleywood and Croxley Green areas that determines the value of your home right now, so it’s worth doing some research to see if now is the right time to sell your property. 

By using tools on the property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla you can see those houses sold recently, and the sales price they achieved. Please bear in mind that this is only a guide, as there are many factors that are taken into account when valuing a property including the condition and presentation of the home.

Do the numbers add up?

A desire to move is only the first step, as you need your finances to work too.  The world in which you bought your first home is very different to the one we are currently living in.  Yes, the raising of the stamp duty threshold may give you some breathing space, but there are many other things that you need to consider.  What is the situation with your mortgage? Are you able to transfer, or would you be required to pay penalties? You also need to budget for the other costs, such as legal fees – remember, these will be higher as you will have a purchase and a sale this time, as well as other expenses including your Energy Performance Certificate and moving costs.

Get your home ready

Before you start calling estate agents to value your property, you have some work to do.  If you’ve already been having a nosey online to see what properties could potentially be your future home, you’ll know that some instantly grab your attention and others… Well, you swiped that quick you can’t even remember what they looked like.

You now need to look at your property through the eyes of potential buyers. By taking a step back you can make the changes that will transform it from being your home, into a home for sale.  Buyers want to walk in and be able to see themselves living there – this can be difficult if it’s still screaming of you.  A clean, organised, simplified and elegantly styled home will always win with buyers who want to be able to just walk into a property and make it their own. 

Get your Hertfordshire home on the market

Your home is your biggest asset and yet many sellers don’t take the time to really research who they should entrust with selling it.  Invite a number of estate agents to offer you a valuation on your property, and don’t be afraid to ‘interview’ them for the job.  At Trend & Thomas we always welcome the opportunity to show you our worth and explain why we are the best agency to sell your home for the best possible price, with the least amount of stress, in the time scale that suits you.

When valuing your home, we have a strategy in mind to ensure you achieve the best possible sales price. But this is just the start; you need to feel confident that the estate agent you choose will be proactive throughout the sales process, so you know what’s happening when and can prevent any delays.  Read your contract carefully, what are you being tied into?  Have you asked for recommendations from family and friends? How have they made past clients feel – check their reviews.  You need to choose the right agency for you and your home.  Trend & Thomas Google Reviews can be read here.

Prevent delays

Do you remember when you were buying your property?  There may have been times you were itching to know what was going on, frustrated that it was taking too long, and if time was dragging maybe a doubt or two could have popped into your mind.  Delays are dangerous for property transactions, which is why making sure you have things in place ready for when they’re needed can be a huge help.

Where is all paperwork for your property?  Can you quickly lay your hand on Gas Safety Certificates, documents related to any building works, and even your deeds?  Don’t wait to be asked, put them to one side as soon as you can, and you’ll be helping your sale to move swiftly and smoothly.

Think before you accept

An offer is more than the figure being offered, it’s also tied up with the situation of the buyers, so before you get excited and accept in haste, ask questions.  At Trend & Thomas we will negotiate on your behalf and will always get a clear picture for you of the situation of each buyer  We use an external Financial Advisor to qualify each potential buyer and ensure they have the finances in place that they say they do.  Are they a first-time buyer like you were? The joys have having someone with no chain should never be overlooked, but can you match your timescale for moving?

Choosing a solicitor/conveyancer

Just as you took time to research which estate agent you should use, the same must apply to choosing a solicitor/conveyancer to manage the legal side of your sale and purchase.  You want one that can act swiftly, will keep you informed at every step to stop frustrations creeping in, and will fight your corner to ensure that everything is in place.  We can make recommendations and obtain quotes for you so you know what costs are involved in advance – cheaper isn’t always better. 

Decisions

Every decision you make when selling your home in our corner of Hertfordshire will impact on your experience, and we want to ensure you have a great one. At Trend & Thomas  we are always here to offer advice, so if you’re thinking of selling, why not come and chat to a member of our team?  Pop in and bring your mask or call us on 01923 773 616 or go to the Valuation request page of our website found here.  We look forward to guiding you through the selling process with professionalism and kindness.

Home Extensions – New rules are ahead. Can you benefit? Permitted Development chat for Hertfordshire.

The government has made a number of announcements recently, including a new law which is expected to come into effect in September.  This will enable you as a homeowner in WD3 to add two storeys to your property, and you won’t even need planning permission first.  This means if you have been looking to extend your home, it may give you an alternative option. But can raising your roof raise the value of your home?

The detail

Currently, the changes will only apply to those who own a detached property built between 1948 and 2018, but if that’s you, you will be able to increase your living space upwards by two storeys up to the maximum height of 18 metres.  Speaking about this Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It will mean that families can provide much-needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows or family members return to live with parents and children.” 

Although you may not be eligible to take advantage of this new law, there are other changes you can make to your home without obtaining full planning permission. 

Kitchen Extension

You can extend up to four metres at the rear of a detached home, or three metres behind a semi or a terrace house. However, the extension must not take up more than half of the outside space and the materials used need to be in keeping with the original house.

Side Return Extension

You can do this without planning consent if you are not building higher than four metres, or more than half the width of the original house.

Going Up

You could have the potential to extend upwards via a loft conversion. Loft conversions are known to be one of the most popular UK home improvements and, if done correctly, have the potential to add value to your home; they can also add extra space which you as a family may be in need of.  But adding value may not be the deciding factor for you.  You may have already boarded your loft and have been using it for storage – over lockdown, you may have started to use it as an actual space, such as an office or even a bedroom, but is it legal? 

Permission

It’s worth taking professional advice from an architect or builder before you start, but most loft conversations will not require planning permission, as they tend to fall under permitted development.  Permitted development is a set of conditions your proposed conversion needs to satisfy, such as the height and roof materials used and the amount of additional space you are creating, keeping the space you create to no larger than 40 cubic metres for terrace houses or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.   It’s also worth seriously considering the look of the loft and keeping it in line with the architectural design of your home, as something disjointed could make your property less appealing should you wish to sell.

Consider

As we have stated, any works on your loft conversion will need to comply with building regulations; this is to ensure that all works have been done properly and your loft is structurally sound, fire safe and reasonably insulated.  To comply as a ‘sellable room’ the doors used will need to be fire-resistant and you will also need mains-powered smoke alarms.  Have your floor and beams been strengthened? This will raise the floor level and so reduce the ceiling height – can you actually stand up?

Other things to consider are to ensure that the space has been insulated sufficiently to keep the noise between rooms to a minimum.  Stairs are always a huge consideration, as this could mean losing or reducing the size of a bedroom; will access to this new room be via a bedroom?  Retractable ladders are not enough, as the new staircase has to provide an escape route in case of a fire. It may work for you as a family, but what impact could this have when selling your home?  At Trend & Thomas we are always happy to give you advice on the probable saleability of your home following planned works.

Green deal

Have you thought about the government’s ‘green investment’ package, the “2 million scheme” launched by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak?  Designed to help homeowners make their properties more energy efficient, from September, you can apply for a grant to cover energy-saving projects.  Covering up to two-thirds of the cost, the grant will cover loft insulation amongst many other efficiency upgrades.

Costs and value

To give you a guide, for a ‘room-in-the-roof’ single space loft conversion, costs start at around £15,000, roughly – depending on your plans, the costs increase from there.  Many people seeking to fully utilise this space opt for an additional bedroom and bathroom, making this extra space into a glorious master suite.  Other homes are on the smaller side, and a single use option is the best choice – though that’s not to say that with some clever storage you can’t make it into a multiuse space.

What value could it add? At Trend & Thomas we don’t like giving values as there are many considerations to take into account that are unique to your property.  This is why we always prefer to view your property and your plans so we can give you an estimate, which will be revised once the works have been completed.  Nationwide, however, have undertaken some research which estimated that the value of a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house could increase in value by 20% through the addition of an extra bedroom and bathroom. 

Improve or move

If recent weeks have shown you that some extra space is much needed, then you are probably pondering whether you should move or improve.  Extending your home can provide you with the ideal solution, but again the costs and even your home’s structure may be giving you doubts.  Before you make a decision, why not have a look at what’s available on the market at the moment? It may even give you a few ideas for your property.

Whether you decide to stay or go, our team are always here to offer advice and support to help you make the right decision for you and your family.  Call in to our office in Station Road in Rickmansworth but don’t forget your face mask – or you can just give us a call on 01923 773 616.

Shout out to Croxley Green

When putting together sales or rental details for a property we include a paragraph on the location of the property; what is nearby, how far to the station, local schools, shops etc.

We’ve had to overhaul our Croxley Green location paragraphs due to the blooming of the area in the past few years so we thought it was a good time to shout about it.  Croxley Green has come alive with new ventures and openings.  It’s safe to say in the past Croxley suffered from not having a solid High St but this has almost been a bonus, as little pockets of activity have sprung up across the whole area giving it a strong feeling of community and life.  

With several ‘outstanding’ schools and the new Secondary school, Croxley Danes opening, a skate park, numerous fitness and well being studios and some fantastic cafes and shops it really is becoming an idyllic location for families, singles, couples.  We’ve tried to tag everyone we can here on our Instagram post, but please let us know if we have missed anyone making Croxley great.  

Croxleyhall Woods

Not only have the urban areas blossomed, the pandemic has brought the Croxley Moors, canals, River Gade, locks, cycle paths, Croxley Woods and Ebury Way to life with families and friends getting out to ease lockdown woes. Some telling us they’ve experienced these places for the first time, despite living here for years.

Budleia cycle paths leading to Croxley Common Moor
Prints available from www.okaykayleigh.co.uk

We’ve picked a couple of locals to give their thoughts on why they love living in Croxley.  We spoke with the talented Kayleigh of OkayKayleigh, who produced the brilliant image of Croxley Green station for our cover image.  Kayleigh is an Interior Architect in London and has lived in Croxley all her life.  Check out her grid and website, where you can purchase these prints.  There’s also this one of Louvere in Ricky which is how we first spotted Kayleigh’s work.

We’ve also spoken with Hester, a working Mum of two who moved to Croxley from Ricky a few years back and now wouldn’t look back.  Here’s what Hester had to say…

We moved to Croxley nearly 3 years ago and were initially a little apprehensive about moving – albeit from only a mile down the road !

Croxley felt like somewhere that was really beginning to inspire and develop in many positive ways and we were right.  It was perfect for us personally….it is close to the Childrens’ school and the local schools both primary and senior are some of the best available in the area, with the much vaunted Croxley Danes School, opening on it’s new site in September.  Location is perhaps obvious but it really is unbelievably well connected and feeds my need to ‘pop’ into London, with access to the M1, only 10 minutes away and Watford, with all of its new developments, only a 5 minute drive too.  

Croxley itself has a beautiful green and is served well by two great pubs The Artichoke and The Coach & Horses.  There are many beautiful walks – many of which I was unaware of until our lockdown admittedly!  The River Chess is a 10 minute walk away, alternatively the Croxley Moors are 10 minutes in the other direction, aswell as Whippendell Woods and many many more besides.. We have a wonderful tennis club and Chess Valley Rugby club on hand for other sporting pursuits for both children and adults alike, helping to bring the local community together.

The high street is a little dis-jointed to an outsider perhaps but once you become part of the Croxley community, there are many places that serve the area brilliantly.  Many small businesses either established or new that add a vibrancy to the area that is a real draw.  Places such as the brilliant ‘Coffee House & Deli’ on New Road, delicious coffee and cakes, breakfasts and much much more.  The newly opened ‘Green Stores’ on the same road, offering a fantastic range of ‘packaging free’ products.  There is the Perch & Co. for the perfect brunch, on the Watford Road and the new ‘Anchor, Tap & Bottle’ on the same strip, offering Craft Beers, wines and specialist coffees.  The incredible ‘Grocer On The Green’ on Baldwins Lane, with its spectacular range of fruit and veg….’ever tried Pineberries or even know what the are ?!! – well you can there’. These are just a few of the many shops and services that are on hand and all within walking distance if you live in the area.  Not to mention, a choice of parks for the kids, churches and community centres etc etc…  We feel very lucky here to have a country vibe and village feel a stone’s throw from London, it is a real privilege.
What can I say, we have enjoyed every minute of our time here and love living in Croxley, it is an absolute gem and no doubt will only continue to grow and flourish.

And here is Kayleigh from Okaykayleigh’s thoughts on living in Croxley.

I’ve had the pleasure of calling Croxley home for all of my life. So, what can I tell you about my 25 years here? Even though the general population is family focused, I’ve found Croxley also has a lot of offer for the London commuter, essentially it’s the best of both worlds.

Croxley station in fact is one of the few things that hasn’t changed here, not only is it the starting point for my journey into work, it was also a home to some of my family over past generations!

Croxley is more than just a travel hub for commuters into London though, there is plenty of countryside to enjoy at the weekend, from local trail paths, and to the moors, there is so much to explore.

Myself and many others have had ample time to enjoy the outdoors during lockdown and now with the pub gardens open for business, I’m sure we will be adding a few pit stops!

With the future gearing towards working from home, we are in a perfect area to step away from our desks and continue exploring. This is something I intend to do and will continue to use my illustrations to showcase Croxley’s heritage as well as the beloved family homes and small businesses that bond this community.

Well done Croxley!