Monday, 23 October 2017

Flood risk removed - read all about it!

We’re polishing our fingernails and feeling really chuffed with ourselves. The story about our elevating house, which we recently obtained planning permission for, has hit the headlines in the national papers.

Press stories about the elevating house appeared in The Times, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and Metro.

The beauty of the elevating house is that it can be jacked up ahead of any flood waters, to avoid the home flooding. This means that the house can be built on land which has up until now been unavailable for development. The additional cost of the elevating system beneath the house can be offset by the relatively low prices for flood-prone land.

Some of the headlines were great – 'Hopping home could be floody brilliant' exclaimed Metro, while the Times said Larkfleet Homes is ‘raising the roof (and the rest of the house with it)'. The Daily Mail said that an 'elevating house is how to give house prices a lift'.

The elevating house is cool because it can just about remove the risk of flood damage to homes. This means that more land across the country can be approved for future home building. This will help to tackle the ‘housing crisis’ that is being caused by the demand for new housing far exceeding the supply.

It’s great to get national recognition for such a fantastic idea. Let’s hope that the tests live up to the hype.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Make your kitchen the heart of your home

The weekend is nearly here and National Baking Week is drawing to a close. So, we thought ‘wouldn't it be a good time to get the family together and start baking’.

National Baking Week was started by a group of baking brands to encourage us all to bake at home. And baking together can help you turn your kitchen into the heart of your home.

Baking has become increasingly popular over the past few years. You’ve only got to think of Bake Off and the lovely Nadiya Hussain to raise a smile.

There are lots of reasons why baking is good for you. Baking stimulates the senses and can help you to make others around you happy – especially when you present them with that yummy lemon drizzle cake or chocolate Swiss roll you’ve been lovingly working on. Baking is also good for well-being and mindful because it’s both creative and meditative.

You can create some fantastic memories for you and your family through the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of baking in your kitchen. From shopping for the ingredients, preparing and mixing to baking and eating, every stage of baking can create memories. You never realised that baking a tray of muffins was so powerful, did you?

Baking with children can help you find some valuable family time. The youngest members of the family will love decorating biscuits — just make sure that they are wearing an apron first! It’s great family time and everyone can get involved - choosing the recipe, buying the ingredients, weighing out the ingredients, mixing, stirring, lining tins, kneading dough, washing up or simply eating – there is a job to suit everyone.

Just like any art and craft, baking can be a merry mess-making activity. This is all part of baking but the mess made is easy to clean up, especially when you all do it together.

Don’t be put off by kitchen disasters and remember – enjoy it! Don’t worry if your bread or cakes haven’t risen. Just turn them into bread crumbs and make a bread and butter pudding instead.

Whatever you bake and whoever it’s for, enjoy the process and the result. The smiles you will generate may surprise you.

Don’t get stressed, let it be an entertaining escape from the pressures and stresses of life. Make your kitchen the heart of your home – somewhere for some proper homemade family time.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Enjoy the park life at Gretton Valley

Looking for a new home in the East Midlands, close enough to town for shopping and entertainment, but within easy reach of countryside amenities? Missed out on the Gretton development first time around?

Well, now is your chance to grab yourself a new home in Gretton Valley as Phase 2 of our eco-friendly development launches.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, young couple, a growing family or starting a new chapter in your life and downsizing, Gretton Valley has a high-quality value-for-money home for you.

Phase 2 of our exciting development offers energy efficient, one, two, three, four and five-bedroom homes ideally suited for anyone looking for a new home in rural surroundings.

Gretton Valley is located within the 1,200-acre Priors Hall Park development, set in beautiful parkland close to the village of Weldon on the outskirts of Corby, Northamptonshire. Living here, you can experience the best that rural village and town living has to offer. Whatever your day-to-day living needs, a new home in Gretton Valley can deliver.

Is the school run sapping your time and energy? Gretton Valley is close to pre-school, primary and secondary schools in Priors Hall Park, less than a mile away. There are further education options just down the road in Corby, so whatever stage your family is at we have got you covered.

Social butterflies are catered for, with a range of entertainment options on offer ranging from quaint country pubs where you can enjoy a drink next to a roaring log fire to smart restaurants where you can tuck into a gourmet meal. There are numerous other establishments where you can meet up with old friends – or get to know some new ones. Theatre and movie fans are sure to be impressed by the Corby Cube: a striking civic hub housing a 455-seat theatre and cinema complex.

For the more active among you there is a wealth of sports and leisure facilities nearby. Parkland and play areas are great for the kids to play in. Golfers can enjoy a round at the Priors Hall park Golf Club while adrenaline junkies can get their fix at Adrenaline Alley in Corby or enjoy high-speed action at the nearby Rockingham Raceway.

Whatever your lifestyle, we have a home to suit you.

Call our team today on 0785 171512 to start your new park life.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Protecting your garden against early frosts

The evenings are drawing in and it’s nearly time for the clocks to go back - not to mention Halloween. Now is the time we all start thinking about hunkering down for the winter.

The end of October used to be when you could expect the first frost on the ground. Even though we are very aware of the effects of global warming there is still a chance of early frosts in dry weather. The Met Office chaps say it happens when high pressure leads to clear night skies.

Frost can damage your plants and make your new garden look unsightly. A real Halloween fright for the garden, in fact.

Frost causes the water in your plants to freeze which damages the cells in the plants. Damaged plants can become limp, blackened and distorted. Where plants face the morning sun problems can be made worse because rapid defrosting will cause the cell walls to rupture.

So there's science in this - not just evil Halloween spirits. And if there're is a rational scientific explanation there is bound to be some rational scientific action you can take to ward off the Halloween effect.

Here is a handy list of things you can do to protect your valuable plants from the effects of early frost.
  • Cover trained plants or tender plants growing in the ground with a fleece-covered frame.
  • Cover bulbs, corms and herbaceous plants that have been cut back with a layer of manure, leaf mulch or straw.
  • Grow tender plants in pots so that they can be moved indoors or into a greenhouse when the weather gets worse.
  • Cover low growing plants from wet weather with plastic or glass cloches.
  • Choose frost-proof outdoor containers so that they don’t crack. Move them into a green house or shed if the weather is likely to be particularly bad.
  • Dig up annual plants that are unlikely to survive the winter and throw them on the compost. This will give you more time to deal with other jobs that need doing.
  • Watering plants before a frost will insulate the roots.
  • Cover plants that are in the early-morning sun with sheeting to shade them from the sun’s rays to so they don’t defrost too quickly.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A knotty problem

There is one name that can strike fear into the hearts of even the boldest house buyer. It’s the name of a plant – Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica).

This non-native plant is extremely invasive. Serious structural damage has been recorded to buildings, hard-standing walls and drains.

In fact, Japanese Knotweed is so damaging that many mortgage lenders will not give you a mortgage if you have it on or near the property you are hoping to buy.

Even if lenders will provide you with a mortgage they will require you to implement a significant management and removal plan which could include chemical treatment or excavation to completely remove all traces of the plant. Either way, this may well prove to be a lengthy and costly undertaking.

Because it is such a recognised risk to property, Japanese Knotweed is governed by legislation. Under the terms of the revised Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, you could be issued with a community protection notice to force you to control non-native invasive plants on your property. You could face a fine of up to £2,500 if an unreasonable lack of action to control or remove the knotweed has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those nearby.

The spread of Japanese Knotweed is also governed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to cause it to grow in the wild, and can be construed as an offence to knowingly allow knotweed to spread from your property. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Duty of Care Regulations 1991, Japanese Knotweed material and material contaminated with knotweed must be removed to a licensed landfill site for disposal, accompanied by appropriate waste transfer documentation.

So, what can you do if you are unlucky enough to have the weed on your property? The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has an information sheet which you can download here.

RICS has also partnered with the Property Care Association to establish the PCA Invasive Weeds Control Group trade group for Japanese Knotweed specialists. It is a list of reputable consultants and removal contractors whom you can turn to for help with your knotweed problem.

Where a known or suspected presence of knotweed is highlighted a specialist survey should be carried out to establish the risk and provide advice on a solution.

Most UK mortgage lenders will want to see evidence of a commitment by the owner of the property to fund, in advance, a long-term chemical treatment programme against Japanese Knotweed, or provide instant eradication by way of excavation and removal. Chemical treatment can take approximately two to three years to provide effective control of the knotweed.

Even after chemical treatment, the rhizome (root) of the plant can remain dormant for many years. Excavation and removal of knotweed is often preferred. If you can negotiate an instant removal of knotweed by excavation, do so.

A guarantee is often required on any remedial works, with durations of 5–10 years being the norm. A guarantee should ensure that, if there is any recurrence of knotweed growth (as a defect of the remedial works undertaken), it will be treated and controlled at no additional expense to the property owner.

Because treatment programmes can stretch over many years, mortgage lenders will often look for an insurance backed guarantee (IBG) product, such as that provided by PCA IWCG members. This ensures that if a knotweed contractor providing a guarantee goes out of business before the end of the cover period, the customer will be protected by either another PCA registered company stepping in to take on the liability, or a refund of the money left on the contract.

On development sites, Japanese Knotweed needs to be managed and handled responsibly. Any works conducted to control or eradicate the plant should be completed according to the Environment Agency and PCA codes of practice for the management of Japanese Knotweed.

Here is a helpful factsheet that will help you to identify Japanese Knotweed.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Buying off-plan: A quick guide

Have you ever driven around local housing developments and seen queues of people lining up round the block waiting for a show home to open?

It’s becoming an increasingly common sight. More and more of us are looking at buying our next new home 'off-plan' to beat price rises and increasing mortgage costs.

The idea is to get everything in place and fixed so your contract is future-proofed.

Buying off plan is a great way to get a good deal on your new home. Government schemes like Help to Buy are only available on new builds. But don’t get caught out. Here a few steps to consider:

  • Research properties and the developer carefully. Check online feedback from previous developments and make sure images in marketing materials match up with developments already built.
  • When you have found your development speak to your mortgage advisor. Many mortgage offers are only valid for six months. If your build takes longer to complete you may have to reapply for your mortgage.
  • Reserve your home and pay the reservation fee.
  • Appoint a conveyancer or solicitor to deal with your side of the transactions. Sometimes, a developer can recommend one for you and may offer you incentives to use them.
  • Make sure your property solicitor keeps tabs on progress and the development is proceeding on schedule.
  • Arrange your mortgage with your lender. A surveyor will be appointed to value your plot based on the plans and the development specifications.
  • Exchange contracts and pay your deposit.
  • When the property is nearing completion get a snagging survey done.

Reserving off plan can net you some good deals. For example, we’re offering £500 towards legal fees at our Bourne Green development for an early bird reservation.

Remember, it's the early bird that gets the .... er, worm ... doesn't sound much of an incentive, does it? £500 off your fees, though, must be worth considering.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Art’s in the heart.

We all like to look at pictures, don’t we? There’s nothing worse than a room with magnolia walls with nothing to look at. Plain walls cry out for artwork to make them more interesting and the room more comforting and inviting. They are a blank canvass on which you can express yourself.

Buying a new home gives you a chance to project your personality in a fresh new way. Most of us think that as well as livening up our living rooms, the artwork we choose says something about our interests and personalities. So, what do the artwork and accessories you choose to decorate your home with say about you?

Do you prefer figurative, more traditional pictures or something more abstract? According to some studies, if you prefer traditional images you are more likely to be more conservative. You prefer order, predictability and see arguments and debate in ‘black and white’ terms.

If you choose to decorate using abstract images you’re more likely to be a sensation seeker. Those of us who are agreeable and conscientious prefer impressionist style works – images by Van Gough, Monet or Gaugin say. The more extrovert among us prefer cubist style pictures. You’re more likely to be open minded but controversial in your outlook.

If you are a family person you’re more likely to adorn your walls with pictures of your family in art frames that complement the colour scheme you have chosen.

Are you the creative type? If so, you are more than likely to use your own work to create a warm and inviting living space.

You can project any image of yourself that you like through what art you choose. Whatever your personality and interests, there is so much choice available that you will have no trouble personalising your new Larkfleet Home.

The most important thing to remember when you are looking for art and accessories to make your home your own is to have fun!