Can’t Afford A New Driveway? Park On Your Grass!

Cost effective ways to make use of grassed areas for parking and more

You may wish you could make use of grassy areas around your property without going to the expense of having a new driveway or hard standing area built. The problem of course with parking on grass is it soon wears and, whether during dry or wet conditions, grass can soon look unsightly once cars and other vehicles have driven or manoeuvred on it.

Also, you may only require a temporary parking or hard standing facility so may consider the expense of a new driveway inappropriate for occasional use. Help is at hand in the form of the following effective and flexible solutions.

Grass reinforcement

You can select from various grass protection and reinforcement options depending on your requirements; Suregreen grass reinforcement products are a good starting point.

Ground protection mats

A good, basic way of protecting grass and offering flexibility in that the more parking or pedestrian access you require, the more mats you can add.

Made from a lightweight and durable plastic, the mats can be interlocked when more than one is used and they feature anti-slip surface patterns on each side and can handle the expansion and contraction caused by hot and cold weather conditions.

Grass protection mesh

Available in various types depending on the demands likely to be placed on it, grass protection mesh reinforces the grass to enable it to withstand heavier use without rutting and wearing.

The mesh is placed over the existing grass and fixed in place usually with steel U pins. A certain amount of time needs to be allowed for the grass to grow and become entangled and cover the mesh before first use, but once established the hard wearing mesh should last a good 15 to 20 years.

It will eventually disappear into the grass providing a natural yet heavily reinforced surface to help protect the grass by redistributing loads and protecting the root structure.

Another benefit of grass protection mesh is it won’t affect the natural drainage of water through the grass, so adheres to Sustainable Drainage Solutions (SUDS) standards.

Rubber grass mats

Suitable for protecting access ways from wear, and popular around children’s play areas for protecting grass and providing grip, these rubber mats are fixed by steel pins and sit on top of the grass providing protection and grass reinforcement as it grows though the apertures of the mat itself.

They’re made from recycled rubber and, along with foot traffic, can accommodate wheelchairs and pushchairs and are suitable for use in contoured areas. They can be used straight away or left for a time for the grass to grow and ‘entangle’ with them, but if used immediately cable ties securing each mat to one another should be used.

So, there are plenty of options at various price points depending on your needs; you can make use of that grassed area without having to go to the expense and possible upheaval of having an entirely new driveway built.

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Extending Your Home With A Conservatory

The advantages and considerations of this popular home improvement

Adding a conservatory to a property is commonly recognised as a worthwhile home improvement from the points of view of adding to the enjoyment and comfort of your home and increasing its value. The advances in conservatory construction and glazing options means the days of a basic structure ‘bolted on’ to a property and only useable on warm days are long gone.

Enhancing value

The Office of National Statistics say we spend over £30 billion a year on home improvements, and when the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) surveyed its members to find out what home improvements added most value to a property, a conservatory was in the top four.

Generally, property commentators and professionals say a well designed and constructed conservatory can add between five and ten percent to the value of a property. The ‘well designed and constructed’ part is vital; a basic ‘one size fits all’ design that doesn’t complement the property could actually put potential buyers off.

Having one designed and built by experts such as Yorkshire based Caulfield Conservatories gives you plenty of design options and the ability to have a conservatory tailor made to your needs and to blend in with the property and surrounding land such as the garden.

On that point, be careful of impinging too much into the garden area. Good sized gardens are a big draw for potential buyers, so don’t let your new conservatory eat up too much of this space.

Improving your living environment

A new conservatory can add a new dimension to your property in terms of adding extra space, extra light, improving ambience and making more of your garden.

Extra space

A conservatory can compensate for lack of space or a need to create some for a specific purpose. For example, if someone works from home a conservatory can make for a pleasant working area with natural light – maybe year round if the area is heated.

Some use the conservatory as a dining area – especially pleasant on warmer evenings.

The conservatory can act as a general ‘den’ area for children and adults alike; the flexibility of using tablets, computers and other devices on wi-fi makes this option even more appealing.

Extra light and improved ambience

By using the same flooring as the room that gives onto the conservatory, it can form part of an integral space that draws the eye giving the impression of a larger overall area.

Conservatories make the most of natural light so yours could make a previously darker area of your home lighter and airier – and making more of natural sunlight makes a space far more pleasant to spend time in. In certain acute cases of ‘dinginess’ you may even find you require electric lighting less often.

Make more of your garden

Conservatories are often used to make a natural segue from living to garden space as opposed to the definite boundaries when one isn’t present. Careful conservatory and maybe garden design means the garden can ‘meet’ the conservatory so you feel like you’re in the garden when you’re inside the conservatory. Large glass areas with the minimum of framing – possible thanks to advanced design and construction techniques – can really enhance the feeling of the garden surrounding you.

Choose carefully

Consider your property type and style and how much of your garden or the land you can ‘give up’ for a conservatory. Ensure you choose a reputable and experienced conservatory company; a good outfit can help design and construct one that blends in with your property and enhances its value.

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Efficient Electric Heaters Save Money

Consider Tubular Heaters as Affordable Alternative to Central Heating

If you have a smaller home, then tubular heating could save you a fortune in heating costs. Try one out from as little as half a pence per hour of warmth!

Recent stories in the media have warned homeowners about the rise of fuel costs in the coming months. Scottish Power, for instance, has announced that it will be increasing its standard domestic gas and electricity prices for 1.1 million customers from the end of March. This amounts to an average of 7.8% or £86 being added to the typical annual household fuel bill. The energy provider’s rival Npower also added an additional average of £109 to over 1.4 million homeowners recently.

Naturally, the companies are citing “rises in energy wholesale markets and compulsory non-energy costs” as legitimate reasons for the price hikes. However, this does little to ease the concerns of the average consumer, whose main concern is finding the money to keep their homes warm, particularly during some extremely cold winter periods.

Introducing Tubular Heating

While there is no denying that central heating is an efficient investment for many properties in the long term, some households may benefit from the use of tubular heating, particularly for short bursts of time. These convenient and reliable aluminium heaters offer a low-wattage output of around 150W per foot. They are typically wall-mounted and provide a steady background heat which make them ideal to use in smaller spaces. Tubular heaters can often be found in areas such as the garage, greenhouse, or behind appliances such as fridges or freezers that fail to operate if they are too cold. However, the economically-savvy are now realising that tubular heaters could be the perfect heating solution for those with smaller living quarters, such as a 1-bed flat, bungalow or studio apartment.

Prevent Allergies

Tubular heaters don’t tend to dry out the air in the same manner that central heating with convectional radiators do. This means that allergies such as eczema and asthma are less likely to occur if you use a tubular heater. Similarly, the latter are excellent at de-misting windows and preventing mould and dust mites from forming within the home. A lack of these also contribute to less likelihood of allergy triggers.

Cost of Tubular Heating

Depending on the energy charge which is being used, it is possible to heat your room up from as little as half a pence per hour when using electric tube heaters. In comparison, central heating prices vary, but Which estimates that the average household in the UK spends around £609 on it per year, so going tubular could save you a fortune in heating costs.

If your property doesn’t yet have central heating, then it can be an expensive commodity to install, often setting homeowners back somewhere in the region of £3000-4000 for labour, a gas boiler, radiator parts and pipework supply. If the property has not yet been connected to the gas mains, then this will be an additional cost.

Instead, you could trial using a tubular heater, or even a set of them in various rooms in your home for as little as £16.34 per appliance. Safety guards are also available as an accessory to protect you from the direct heat source. Why not try one out today and see how much money you could save on your fuel bill next winter?

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Selling Your House? Be Sure Building Work Was Signed Off

Have the Right Approvals in Place to Avoid a House Sale Disaster

Selling your house is stressful enough without finding out that the whole deal could fall through because you are missing a crucial piece of paper.

Anyone who has bought or sold a house will know about the seemingly limitless forms, reports and sundry pieces of information that conveyancing solicitors demand. Often, they seem to ask for them moments before exchange of contracts, and invariably the one piece that is missing is the one that could make or break the deal.

This is why Balgores Estate Agents urges every one of their property sellers to make sure they have the right paperwork for any and all building work that has been carried out the moment they list their property for sale.

Planning consent

The majority of major alterations require planning consent from the local authority, and if you have had any such work done on your property, prospective buyers will, of course, want to see that it was approved correctly.

If the consent documents are lost, you can usually get a copy from the local council for a nominal administration fee, but it is better to do this as early as possible. The last thing you need is the added worry of furiously trying to get hold of a piece of paper at the eleventh hour in order to exchange contracts.

Building regulations

Even if building works or improvements did not require planning permission, they will still need building regulations approval. This is a certificate stating that the work meets the essential safety regulation laid down by the government.

The Competent Persons Scheme allows authorised individuals (such as builders, plumbers and electricians) to sign off their own work. This means that when they finish the job, they issue a Completion Certificate, confirming that the work complies with the applicable regulations.

It is important to hang on to these Certificates, as copies are not held by the local authority.

Missing approvals

If you are missing any of the necessary approvals, there are a number of steps you can take. Firstly, it is important to discuss the problem with your solicitor as early as possible, so that any potential issues can be ironed out before they can endanger the sale.

Where a Building Regulations Certificate is missing, it might not be an issue if the work was carried out some time ago, as regulations have changed over the past 10-20 years.

If a certificate is definitely needed but not present, then it is impossible to get one retrospectively, as the building inspector would need to assess the work from the very beginning. In this situation, the best solution is to obtain building regulation indemnity insurance, which will pay out in the event that the works have not been carried out correctly. Cover is relatively inexpensive – a basic policy for a £500,000 house costs around £175.

Absent planning permission is potentially a bigger problem. If it emerges that your building work needed planning approval but was done without it, you should think twice before approaching the planning authorities retrospectively. Even a speculative telephone call could trigger an inspection and result in a demolition order, so speak to your solicitor before you do anything else.

Photo by Holland And Green Architectural Design via Flickr CC Licence.

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