Stamp duty move will help builders, says FMB

Aspinalls builders understands that the new two-year exemption on stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing residential property valued at up to £250,000 will provide a “welcome boost” to builders, according to one industry group.

Responding to the announcement for the 2010 Budget, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said that while the move will stimulate the housing market and demand for new homes, Chancellor Alistair Darling failed to address the “acute shortage” of mortgage finance that is holding back a full recovery.  What a shame that he never read our blog ‘The futures bright, the future’s plastic…and so is your home!’

The power and impact of supply and demand on the property industry cannot be underestimated. This is a long term problem we have in this country and unfortunately not enough is being done to address the serious issues at hand.

The organisation’s director-general Richard Diment warned that despite a commitment to increase lending by partially-nationalised banks such as Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, many people will still struggle to secure the funding necessary to get a foot on the property ladder.

Darling and the Budget

2010 budget

He also expressed disappointment that the Budget speech did not include specific measures to boost apprenticeships, as these schemes are essential to preventing a future skills crisis in construction. At Aspinalls, the quality of the workmanship is our biggest priority because this ensures our customers are beyond satisfied with the job we did, whatever it may be. The customer is putting their trust, and literally their homes in our hands and so we must always treat it with the same respect that we would give to our own homes.

“Any investment in key skills must include creating more apprenticeships, as they are the key to securing the UK’s competitive future,” he said.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as loft conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, plumbing and electrics.

Is my loft suitable for conversion?

At Aspinalls Ltd, we are keen to give the best possible advice to anyone considering any home renovations whether it’s a loft conversion, new kitchen, new bathroom, heating systems, plumbing or electrical. You might ask why this is important to us, and the answer is because we are passionate about the work we do and as a 2nd generation business we have decades of experience. If the knowledge we have can make a positive difference it is worth sharing.

Loft conversionA loft conversion is a big job and one that requires serious consideration. However the fact is not all houses are suitable for a loft conversion. Trying to build something as complex as a loft conversion which will not work is about as good a use of money as £50 notes a toilet paper.

As a general rule the steeper the slope (pitch) the greater the potential living space. Houses built before the 1960’s are easier to convert because roofs were usually constructed from individual rafters (the traditional rafter and purlin roofs). This is ideal for a loft conversion as it usually has a reasonably steep pitch and relatively clear space between the supporting framework.

Since the 1960’s most roofs have been built from ‘trussed rafters’. These are factory assembled triangles which result in a lower pitch with more struts. Converting a roof constructed like this is a more complicated process as it requires timbers to be rearranged or the roof raised.

Although there are no regulations governing height, a minimum height of 2.3 metres is needed over half the floor area to make a conversion worthwhile. As the existing joists were designed to hold up a ceiling, not to support a floor, it will probably be necessary to fit new joists between the original ones and then to screw chipboard sheets to the new joists raising the level of the floor, resulting in less headroom.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as loft conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, plumbing and electrics.

House prices have forced couples to delay marriages and families

North London Builders, london builder, painting and decoratingAspinalls Builders understands that despite the growing need for cheaper homes, house building has fallen to its lowest level since 1923.

Couples are delaying getting married and starting families because they cannot afford to buy their own homes, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by a housing campaign group.

Four out of 10 young adults have said they will not settle down until they can buy their own house. A further 7% of people aged between 18 and 30 said they had put off marriage because they could not afford to buy a property or were saving up for one.

“We are in danger of locking a whole generation of young people out of the housing market because prices are simply too high,” said David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which commissioned the survey of 1,096 young adults who did not own their own home.

“A chronic shortage of new affordable homes has sent prices rocketing over the last decade, well out of reach of the vast majority of first-time buyers.”

Almost two-thirds of those questioned said high prices were to blame for them being unable to buy a house. Just over 40% said banks had refused to offer a mortgage. One in five said uncertainty over the economy was another key factor in their decision.

A record 4.5 million people are on housing waiting lists in England. The federation says rising unemployment and repossessions have fuelled demand for affordable housing during the economic downturn.

Despite the growing need for cheaper homes, house building has fallen to its lowest level since 1923. The average first-time buyer’s home costs around £135,000, more than 4.2 times the average wage. In 1990 the average was around £46,000, 2.5 times the average wage.

The federation has said the government will struggle to build even half its target of 1m affordable homes by 2020 if the housing budget is not exempted from public spending.

The group has called on the three main political parties to grant housing the same “untouchable” status as health, education and crime fighting, and to protect it from spending cuts in order to address what it says is a crisis.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as loft conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, plumbing and electrics.

What could your Loft Space Open up for You?

What could your loft space open up for you?

North london builders, loft extension, painting and decoratingA loft conversion can be tailored for many different purposes. While many people just want an extra bedroom and maybe an en-suite, others find it solves very different problems. It’s certainly cheaper than moving home if you need slightly different accommodation options.

Working from home courtesy of a converted loft office

Maybe your boss has agreed that you can work at home. Where else can you find the quiet space you’ll need for an office with desks, files, computer and IT peripherals? A cloakroom would be a good idea too, and a new bathroom is always handy when you have a houseful.

Create an artist’s studio in your loft conversion

For an artist, a bespoke loft conversion can bring a studio into the home. There are many ways with windows and skylights to make the most of the light in your high spot, and the views from the top of your house could be really inspiring.

Extend upwards and create a kids’ playroom

Are your children growing older and noisier? Wouldn’t it be great to have a separate room to store all their toys and be available for them to take their friends and play computer games or make mayhem without interfering with your tidy house? In the evenings it could turn into a favourite quiet place for them to do homework, or sit and read or dream.

An entertainment room in your roof space

If you prefer your living areas downstairs to be free of television, why not put it in your loft conversion and furnish a comfortable space around it? Or you could buy an extra set to keep up there and have no more disagreements about what you’ll be watching tonight! You could even put in a large screen and a small bar to keep the men of the family out of the pub when the football is on.

Loft conversion studio flat

Perhaps your children are already grown and want to be independent but can’t afford their own home yet? What about having a small studio flat above you with a shower room and a little kitchenette? That could also suit a lodger and even make money for you.

Don’t forget that your bespoke loft conversion may be more acceptable to the town planners than a full blown extension and could therefore give you an easier ride. It may not even need planning permission at all; depending on where you live and exactly what you want to do.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, extensions, conversions, kitchens, bathrooms, heating and plumbing.

Aspinalls top tips for new kitchens!

Aspinalls Builders top tips for new kitchens!

It has been said that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but have you ever worked out how many hours you spend in your kitchen every day? Even more revealing, how much of that time is spent on unnecessary work caused by poor design?

Here are five simple tips to ensure that you have a kitchen that does the work for you – not the other way around!

  • Focus on true value
  • Eliminate risks
  • Don’t compromise
  • Get professional advice
  • It’s all in the layout

Focus on true value

Smart consumers now realise that the value isn’t merely the benefits gained minus the price paid. It’s the benefits less ALL the conditions you have to meet in order to gain those benefits. Price is only the first condition to be met.

So if you get a bargain-priced new kitchen, but you have to work twice as hard to make it work at all, or it begins to fall apart, where are the real benefits? (Peace of mind will certainly not be one of them.)

The intelligent consumer saves money where it genuinely counts: on the mass-produced components of their kitchen… like appliances, fittings, floor coverings, paint, wallpaper and tiles.

They refuse to compromise on either quality or value-for-money when it comes to the critical design and construction aspects of a new kitchen.

Eliminate unnecessary risk

It makes no sense at all to accept unnecessary risks of any kind. You need to be in control of the creation at every stage, from design to construction and the final kitchen installation.

At Aspinalls we help you achieve this control by providing you with reliable information, constant communication, and a qualified and experienced workforce.

Refuse to compromise on quality

Don’t be fooled by the notion that quality costs more. It’s usually the other way around. Poor quality doesn’t last. You have to work harder to offset the deficiencies as things fall apart and it robs you of any lasting enjoyment.

You end up having to replace or repair things in a very short time. Any savings you gain by cutting quality are false. The old saying “quality remains long after the price is forgotten” is just as true of poor quality at a cut price.

Get the best professional advice

There is a huge amount of advice that can be found on the internet about getting a new kitchen. By spending a little bit of time researching your new kitchen you will become more knowledgeable and the likelihood of unforeseen problems can be reduced. From start to finish there should be no real confusion or any surprises.

There’s a lot more to successful kitchen design than just style. It’s the things you can’t see that make the real difference between delight and despair when it comes to actually living with your new kitchen from day to day.

It’s all in your kitchen layout

When you boil it all down, the ultimate difference between a great kitchen and an ordinary one isn’t the finishes or the styling. It’s the kitchen layout — whether it eases your work load, streamlines your work flow and helps you achieve satisfaction and enjoyment.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, extensions, conversions, kitchens, bathrooms, heating and plumbing.

The futures bright, the future’s plastic…and so is your home!

Aspinalls Builders has recently learned about a whole new approach to building homes. This new method goes some way to solving the huge problem of managing the mountains of rubbish we throw away. The latest use of recycled plastic is building family homes.

A company is building three-bedroom houses with frameworks made entirely of recycled waste. And this is all yours, complete with new bathroom, new kitchen and plumbing, for £42,000 – although you will have to provide your own land.

Plastic homeThe homes are made from 18 tonnes of recycled plastic in Swansea. They are fire and waterproof and stronger than concrete

Each house is made up of 18 tonnes of recycled plastic trash that would have been destined for waste tips across the country, which equals 9,000 old televisions or about 7,200 desk top computers.

The special plastic is almost four times as strong as concrete and insulation around the house twice as well, enabling house-holders to cut their heating bills in half.

In addition it is fire, storm and wind proof and, being made of plastic, is naturally waterproof.

The firm, Swansea-based Affresol, uses material that cannot be recycled any other way, to make panels that bolt together to create low carbon homes.

Any plastic, from old patio chairs and tables to building fixtures and fittings, are ground down into small granules that are then fused together in a chemical reaction to make Thermo Poly Rock (TPR).

Managing director of Affresol, Ian McPherson, believes the company is solving the country’s housing and recycling problems at the same time.

On first impression a plastic home might not sound that appealing. Visually a plastic home doesn’t sound great but this has been carefully thought through. Each house can be clad in brick or stone and the interior can be plastered and the painting and decorating is like any other home

Father-of-two Mr McPherson, 60, said: ‘the materials are stronger and lighter than concrete. They are waterproof, fire retardant, do not rot and have great insulation. We estimate the life of the houses at more than 60 years and after that they are recyclable.’

‘We believe there is tremendous potential for this new product particularly with the growing focus on carbon reduction, low energy affordable homes and sustainability.

‘At the moment about 50 to 60 per cent of all plastic is recycled – we take the other 40 to 50 per cent and use it to make something really useful. Individuals can buy houses from us or developers can buy in bulk. This is a new kind of prefabricated house which helps the environment as well’.

‘As a country we put far too much waste into landfill and this goes some way to helping solve the problem of all our rubbish. It’s exciting to build something new out of things we throw away.’

The company has launched a range of eco-friendly homes and portable factory units with £140,000 of backing from the Welsh Assembly Government.

Affresol aims to have a pilot scheme of 19 houses built in Merthyr Tydfil up-and-running in the next few months once they receive accreditation from the Building Research Establishment.

And within three years their target is to build 3,000 homes – mainly for the social housing market – each year using 40,000 tons of waste

There would be a wide variety of homes with a typical construction cost of a semi-detached about £40,000 to £50,000- and taking just four days to erect the framework.

The company claim the eco-friendly homes, like the detached show home at its factory on Swansea West industrial park, could revolutionise the building industry.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, extensions, conversions, kitchens, bathrooms, heating and plumbing.

Planning a loft conversion? Top tips for success!

With the cost of moving home running into many thousands of pounds, it’s not surprising that many families are opting to move up instead of moving on.

A loft conversion is certainly a job for the professionals, but if you get it right you not only gain a fabulous light-filled space, you could also get a handsome return on your investment when you sell. According to the FMB (Federation of Master Builders) a loft extension can add up to 15% to the value of your property.

Can you stand up?

Is your loft suitable for conversion? The easiest way to tell is to see if you can stand upright at its highest point, as this needs to be at least 2.3m. Even if you can stand up, a dormer window extension will maximise headroom throughout the space. Planning requirements often mean that this is put at the back of the house so it doesn’t change the house’s appearance from the street. For this reason, roof windows are commonly used at the front to provide light and ventilation.

Don’t get into hot water

Most people convert their loft to add an extra bedroom and bathroom to their home. The layout will largely be dictated by the position of the staircase and plumbing arrangements for the bathroom, as it can be difficult to put the bathroom at the front of the house as you have to run a soil pipe to the back of the building where the existing bathrooms and toilets are situated. You’ll also need to consider the hot water and heating system. The boiler may not be capable of heating the extra space or providing enough hot water for the extra.

It’s all in the planning

There are also structural considerations. New beams will be needed in the roof and in the new floor to take the floor weight and strengthen the roof when the existing rafters are removed. If you live in a terraced or semi-detached house this work will probably require a Party Wall agreement with your neighbours. This refers to walls, ceilings or floors which are shared with other properties.

The good news is that planning permission is not always necessary, but as with any extension work, you should contact your local planning office and ask if the work can be done within what is known as, permitted development. If the house hasn’t been extended since 1948 this is likely to be the case, but you must find out in advance. Even if your house has not been extended since 1948, you may be next door to a listed building. In some areas this means you will need permission for any changes which affect the appearance of neighbouring listed properties. If planning permission is required and you don’t apply, the authorities can make you remove the extension and return the building to its original state.

All loft conversions must meet Building Regulations. Your architect and structural engineer should be up to date with these but it is best to submit full plans to your local authority building control department so they can advise on any changes needed before work begins. One of the key areas when adding another storey to a property are the fire precautions required. Upgrading the fire resistance of existing ceilings and doors is usually necessary. Building Regulations require high levels of insulation, which will keep your extension warm in winter and prevent overheating in summer.

What on earth do you want?

A loft conversion is a major job and you will need to get architectural plans drawn up. Make sure you know what you want so that you can brief your architect. Are you considering more than one room? Do you want to include a bathroom and if so are you content with a shower or do you need enough space for a bath? What are the rooms to be used for? Have you thought about storage space?

At this stage it is also worth spending time thinking about lighting and other electrical requirements – if you are going to use the loft as a study you are likely to need more electrical sockets, for example. Make sure they are experienced in loft conversion work. Even if you have to compromise on the layout due to structural or cost considerations, many obstacles can be worked round if you really want a particular design.

If you are using a building company specialising in this work they may supply drawings, but you may prefer to use an architect to prepare them and ask three builders to quote for the job against these plans. This will give you a better idea as to which company offers best value for money. But remember cost and value is not the same thing. Check out the builder, look at previous work and talk to past clients to find out if they were happy with the quality of their jobs and the way in which they were carried out.

Protect yourself

The cost of the job will vary depending on its complexity and where you live. A straightforward loft conversion for a three bedroom Victorian house in London will start from £30,000 whereas the same job in Lancashire would be around £20,000. If you are investing this much it makes sense to insure the work. MasterBond is an insurance-backed warranty that doesn’t cost the earth – just £150 per £10,000-worth of work – but does provide the extra reassurance you need if something should go wrong while work is in progress and for 10 years afterwards.

Use the professionals

Getting a recommendation from friends and relatives who have had a loft conversion is a great starting point. But be sure to ask any builder how they will access the loft for the early stages of the work. A good builder will erect scaffolding and bring in all structural materials through the roof. By the time they cut the stairwell out and install the staircase, the new room will be structurally complete and ready to be plastered. Some companies cut costs by taking everything through the house, but this can cause a lot of damage and aggravation.

Contacts

Federation of Master Builders (FMB) – http://www.fmb.org.uk/

Local Authority Building Control – www.labc-services.co.uk

RIBA – (Royal Institute of British Architects) – www.riba.org

RIAS – (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) www.rias.org.uk

RICS – (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) www.rics.org.uk

Heating and boilers – Gas Safe – http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

Top tips for lofts

  • Do contact your local authority building control and your local planning department to get a full understanding of the rules and regulations
  • Do get in the professionals – you will need an architect and structural engineer, plumbing and heating advice and at least three quotes from reputable builders
  • Do consider a warranty, like the FMB’s MasterBond, to protect your investment
  • Do make sure your builder and designer explain any changes necessary to your existing house to upgrade its fire precautions
  • Do be flexible – you may need to compromise on the position of roof windows and dormers, for example.
  • Don’t ignore a party wall – you may need an agreement with your neighbours if you are affecting it in anyway
  • Don’t rush your decisions, plan carefully this is an important investment
  • Don’t expect this to be over within a week or two – however good your builder is – this is a major job and it will inevitably be disruptive for a while.

Aspinalls Builders Ltd is an experienced family run business. We are London builders who offer a wide range of London building services covering areas such as conversions, extensions, brick work, plastering, painting, decorating, extensions, conversions, kitchens, bathrooms, heating and plumbing.