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.

Trend & Thomas asks, Is OnTheMarket.com InTheMarket?

You may have heard the rumble of activity amidst the online property portals open to Estate Agents recently and we wanted to give you our summary of the situation and how it will affect our clients and marketing plans.

Last Monday saw the arrival of a new online portal called OntheMarket.com

This poZoopla logortal does a very similar job to the existing market leaders Rightmove and Zoopla with one very large difference – this portal is owned and operated by a consortium of Estate Agents. Emerging quite simply because Agents were tired of the duopoly of the big players causing mounting fees and very little in return. The fees were increasing, functionality was not improving and Agents felt duped that they were losing control of their marketing choices.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 21.35.47For this reason the concept behind OntheMarket.com was excellent. An advertising and marketing choice created by Agents, for Agents with hugely reduced fees in comparison to the existing portals & potentially providing much needed competition to the market with the hope it would reduce the stronghold of Rightmove and Zoopla.

All admirable goals and we support the concept wholeheartedly. Trend & Thomas not being shy of a little competition to the market…with 6 Estate Agents in the High Street it’s not a game for the faint-hearted! However, in order to shake things up, OnTheMarket.com had one very serious condition – in order to join, benefit from hugely reduced fees and gain shares in the burgeoning company – you had to drop one of the other main portals – Rightmove or Zoopla.

The arrival of OnTheMarket.com has been a long term process and we have been watching the development of the portal over the past 12 months along with the reactions of Rightmove and Zoopla, other Agents, the press and most importantly, the public.

OnTheMarket.com launched last Monday and we have watched the week with interest.

Our findings after week one:

  • OnTheMarket logoNot enough budget to provide TV Advertising to match the competition
  • Not enough budget to ensure market leading functionality
  • Not enough diversity of properties listed to make it the go to portal for buyers, tenants.

So after a year of research and debate Trend & Thomas would like to announce our 2015 advertising and marketing decision – we will be staying with Rightmove & Zoopla.

Despite the great shake up OnTheMarket.com can give the industry and the attractive reduction in fees, we have come to the decision that the best interests of our clients are foremost and the giants of Rightmove and Zoopla have much bigger budgets, better current functionality, more exposure to the public and more back end support to fix issues and develop future technology.

While we herald the success of OnTheMarket.com we don’t feel it will currently give our clients & their properties the best advertising and marketing exposure. For the time being it will actually reduce the number of people being exposed to their property. From our research in this first week of OnTheMarket.com there is over 80% more online activity via Rightmove alone in our local area, than there is via OnTheMarket.com

We will continue to monitor developments and report any updates and news to you, but for now we are staying with the market leaders for the sole benefit of our clients.

OnTheMarket is not currently InOurMarket – but you can help us with our research by answering our poll:

Moving your Furry Friends without Fuss!

Retrievers & suitcases

Dogs are packed!

Looking to move home soon and worried about how your furry family members are going to manage?  We’ve a few pets of our own amidst the team at Trend & Thomas and a few clients facing this predicament soon so we thought we’d put together some helpful tips & suggestions.

Battersea Dogs’ & Cats’ Home carried out a survey of over 1,100 pet owners & nearly half admitted that their biggest concern about moving house was how their pets would react – that’s more than double the number of people who were worried about forgetting their new keys!

Although we do everything we can to minimise any moving stress it is well known moving house can be tough and this extends to your pets too.  Try our suggestions for keeping your pooches & purry ones chilled:

KItten in boxPRE – MOVE

  • Create a little ritual or routine for your pets in the days or even weeks before Moving Day that you can continue after the move.  Playing, brushing, walks at regular times pre and post move will make them more at ease with the change.
  • Don’t wash your pets bedding, blankets or toys before the move – let them absorb as much of the pet comforting smells as possible for making the new place smell the same.
  • Your pet will undoubtedly pick up on the sense that things are changing and they may worry they are not included.  Reassurance & attention is important pre-move.
  • If your pet is comfortable at a family or friend’s place letting them stay there while the move is taking place could reduce anxiety.  Kennels or catteries for a few days are an option you might want to consider too.

Moving Day

  • Clear one of your rooms early & use this to keep your pet in for the entire moving day.  Put in all their toys and bedding along with food and water.  Lock the windows & doors and put a huge sign on the door so no one let’s them escape.  Cats are particularly good at realising something is up and decamping to a hiding spot only they know about.  Not what you need when the new owners/tenants are walking up the front steps!
  • Don’t feed your pet for three hours before leaving the house (but provide plenty of water) – minimises unpleasant travel accidents!
  • Plan the travelling in advance.  Travel crates can be hired from Vets and if it’s a long trip, plan Hound in moving van stops for dogs to stretch their legs, relieve themselves and have a drink.  Cat’s too if it’s a terribly long trip.
  • Vets may offer sedation for Dogs if you are really concerned – Cats don’t do well on sedation but chat to the professionals if you are overly concerned.
  • Once at your new home – get your pets settled in a quiet secured room quickly.  Have their bedding, toys, food and water installed before they arrive and give them some time to settle in and sniff around.
  • Small regular meals for the first week will give you more contact with your pet.
  • Don’t leave them alone for too long on the first few days.  They will need reassurance and comfort and get that routine kicking in asap.   Same time for feeding, play session if they are up to it, brushing, petting etc.
  • Territory is big for Dogs & particularly Cats.  They may urinate to mark their territory – try not to be too hard on them initially as frustrating as it is. Make sure you’ve packed one of the biological pet scent neutralisers!  Keep familiar smelling items nearby and provide chews for Dogs so they don’t start on the furniture!
  • You can help cats by gently rubbing a soft cotton cloth around your cats face to pick up their personal scent from their glands and rub this over furniture at the cat’s height in the new home. Repeating this daily can help to build up the scent making them feel more secure. Don’t worry – human noses can’t smell it!

Getting outside again

  • Dogs will need to be taken outside from Day 1 but preferably on their lead and definitely only ever supervised.  Take them for a short walk locally and return them to their food bowls and bed with lots of attention and reassurance.  Ensure your new garden is securely enclosed early in your moving process.
  • Cat at windowCats should be kept indoors at the new place for at least two weeks according to the Blue Cross.  Letting them bond with their new home and learn new scents and geography.  When it’s time to let them outside again, the Blue Cross suggests withholding food for 12 hours so the cat doesn’t stray far and is watching for signs of feeding.  It’s useful to have taught your cat a feeding signal – tapping their bowl or rattling the food bag work a treat!
  • Take the cat out for a short period, let them explore a little then call them indoors for feeding, repeat this each day with longer periods and further exploration until they seem at ease with the new surroundings.
  • Worth investing in one of the ID collars (that snaps open under stress) with name address and contact number – in case they do get lost.
  • If your pets are micro-chipped, ensure the Company that holds your data has been informed of your new address.
  • If you have moved near to your old home pets can return to old haunts particularly cats. Ensure no one at your old address encourages them & ask new owners & old neighbours to make sure they do not feed your pets!
  • Commercial preparations are worth a shot, Felliway, anxiety drops etc – but check with your Vet.
  • And remember to register with a new local Vet if you are new to the area.

Vets near Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Croxley Green & Watford

Chess Vet www.chessveterinary.co.uk

Medivet Croxley Green www.medivet.co.uk

Park Veterinary Centre www.parkveterinary.co.uk

Moving home is an exciting process for humans but it takes us a while to master the new locks, find light switches in the dark and remember the loo is on the left in the middle of the night! Pets have similar issues and just need a little time to settle in and feel at home again – but like you, they will!

Cat & Dog sleeping

Home Sweet Home at last!

Why is an Estate Agent like a Wedding?

 

I recently read that 28% of young people now turn down their parents’ money for a wedding and use it for a deposit on their first home instead. Smart I thought and it made me aware of two realities:

1) Owning your own home takes diligent saving and tough but savvy decisions.

2) Buying a home is right up there with a wedding in our priorities.

While number 1 is a harsh reality it is not a huge leap on from our parents and grandparents day…a house is expensive and if you want one you generally have to work hard.Weddings like Estate Agents?

But number 2 got me thinking. If that dreamed of first home is as important to most people as a wedding then this is also why it is so important to instruct a trustworthy, honest, effective and exceptional agent to help you with that purchase much like you choose a special venue, glorious outfit, delicious meal and the best beverages you can afford! Would you arrange your entire wedding online without seeing the dress or suit, meeting the Vicar or Registrar, tasting the food, visiting the staff at the venue?  I don’t think so.

Wedding cake for Trend & Thomas Estate AgentsWhether you decide to spend £500 on your wedding in a pretty tent in a nearby field or you book the Grove and have fireworks at 11pm – not many would leave it all to an internet database search and zero ‘person to person’ contact.  So don’t make the same mistake when buying or selling a home.

I should know, we organised our wedding for 90 guests in 3 weeks! Dress, Suit, Venue, Registrar, String quartet,Flower girl Summer food, booze, DJ, marquee…It wasn’t shotgun honest!  But it was pretty intense and in no way could I have left that to an online service despite the obvious time pressures. People need to be met, your needs discussed, your plans understood and your best interests put first.

That is why we know an Estate Agency cannot operate as an online business and why we believe in our personally devised business model for Trend & Thomas.

We know we need a base and in our case a prominent Town Centre shop/office, we need to be available to meet with you at convenient times for you – early until late and often 7 days a week for us, we need to visit & understand the home you are selling or the home you wish to buy and we need to ensure the behind the scenes processes and procedures are carried out in the most effective and advantageous way for you.

Impossible to achieve if we’ve not met you and you are simply a series of data on a website. A bit like the Registrar mistaking your ex for your fiancé because she or he has never actually met you both, Joy Division’s ‘Love will Tear us Apart’ being played during your first dance because the DJ on a whim thought it would be funny, or the photographer capturing tipsy Aunt Gloria’s dress stuck in her knickers for his Twitter followers because he doesn’t really care about you as people.Trend & Thomas House Sold board

Selling or Buying a new home are as important as your Wedding Day so don’t leave it to an online search, use a recognised full service Estate Agent like Trend & Thomas to ensure you get the most from the experience financially, emotionally, much like a marriage made in heaven!

We can’t help you with a wedding sorry but if you are considering buying or selling a home soon, which part of the process worries you the most? Please let us know so we can make sure we cover that in our services too.