I have recently been on my travels, this time to the States. Everything is done differently wherever you travel to. The States epseically so. Of course they have everything bigger – houses, roads, weather. Especially weather! I was given a tour around a city that suffered desperately badly with hurricanes two years ago. Several fatalities, and thousands of folk lost their homes and everything they treasured. It turns out that flood insurance is not an option on normal home insurance as it is here. The government there has implemented a separate scheme that families are encouraged to pay in to. Many don’t because they feel they’re not on a flood plain. This is what happened the other year – most of the losses were not covered by standard their standard insurance and they’d ignored the government scheme. Their insurance does cover all rain/water damage from above coming down but not for flood damage coming up from below. Bizarre but true.
Secure Your Home ProperlyGetting your home to be safe and secure is something we all want - there are lots of different ways to ensure your home remains secure and an ideal way is through a CCTV camera or set. A CCTV camera allows you to monitor movements around your home and can provide invaluable footage of breakins, burglaries or criminal damage. This evidence can be used by the police and the courts service to arrest and charge the perperator. Without CCTV, many break ins go through with no charges as there is little to no evidence to find the people who did it. Getting a CCTV system set up is relatively straightforward these days, with wired and wireless options available for different sized properties.
I live on an attractive housing development – built in the early 2000s. There was a bit of resurgence in the confidence of house building and we were happy to buy into this selection of 4 and 5 bedroomed detached family homes. One thing that appealed was that although the very nature of housing estates indicates that more than one house has to be built, unlike after the war, when mass house building was carried out through emergency needs, today’s estates could have some finess and attractive points. The superb brickwork is one feature. The side wall of the house behind my back garden is a true work of art. If I’d not seen them actually laying it row upon row, all neatly and very quickly, I would honestly have thought it had been manufactured in one huge block and then cut to shape! There is no ugly bit sticking out or mishapen areas – all the bricks are from the same colour batch and not a single patch of white salty deposit has appeared since 2001. Hurrah
Oh gosh, the number of times I’ve been round the outside of my house in very bad weather, just keeping fingers crossed that the gutter doesn’t detach itself again, or that the pots on top of the chimney pot do actually stay put – they look for all the world as if they’re ging to topple in the next gust. Years ago I lived in a late Victorian inner terrace of three houses. The guttering was always a mute piont – because it was a terrace, the cast iron guttering and wooden fascias ran along the entier length across all three houses, with holding clamps at regular intervals. One winter we had very serious snow for many weeks. It was so heavy and didn’t thaw, so eventually my father knocked on doors and got the other owners to
One of the most daunting things that someone has to endure is finding themselves alone after many years of marriage or partnership. That other person is always a comfort to have around in a time of crisis – like when the house starts falling apart around your knee caps and you consult with each other over what to do about it. . . . . Suddenly having this responsibility all to yourself is worrying, but it doesn’t have to be the as bad as all that. Engaging the services of a property management and maintenance company will ease this burdon considerably. By discussing with them the jobs you know your partner used to handle themselves or you did together, they can advice the best and most economical way to keep on top of the same tasks. Safety is a issue too – leaving jobs to the professionals makes so much sense – and it will only enhance the value of your property.
When we look around our properties – in my case, evey few years, it’s important to note carefully the condition of things that can actually fall off and cause damage to people and other properties. I had just such an incident recently – we’d had really seriously bad gusty conditions over a period of three weeks and the entire width of my back fence blew down, squashing several of my favourite shrubs and some of the neighbour’s behind it. I wasn’t entirely surprised because it has stood come rain or shine for most of the last 17 years! After initial panic, I got my act together and went online to this brilliant property maintenance company. They sent their fencing contractor round to see me and within ten minutes, he had sized up and quoted 4 different choices. I selected his recommended medium price to include parts, labour, clearance of damaged stuff and taxes. Very good service so far.
There has been all sorts of grumbling in the media about the lack of affordable housing throughout the UK but particularly in the big cities. Much of the rental stock is held by very unsavory and unscrupulous landlords who let their properties sink into deplorably unkempt and unsafe condition but still rent them out for really high rent. This sort of behaviour tarnishes the industry and it needs a good honest property management company to really get hold of the properties and restore them to usable condition. A new idea is to take a larger building and make several individual cohabitant sleeping/living rooms with own private shower room but with shared kitchen and utility facilities. One I know includes weekly cleaned community areas, shared garden space and compliementary WIFI. Along the lines of student accommodation, in hard pressed areas, this shceme is aimed at reducing the housing burden for young working professionals.
We’re heading towards that time of year again that makes most of us get all fluffy and soppy – Christmas and the new year period. This year it’s been even nicer for me as I’ve been involved in helping a chum with a sprawling country house to run her b & b business, more along the Air bnb lines. She’s had the most wonderful selection of house guests too and they all willingly pay up the very reasonably priced fee. The building itself dates back to 1730s and has only had one or two building additions since. She consults a property maintenance agency for all matters – they don’t overcharge and always check with authorities over every project. The major works have to passed by the local planning office that deals with Grade I properties – they are experts of course and know exactly what is permitted and what is not.
When we were very small, our parents used to regularly take us to Pagham in Sussex – staying in one of a set of old railway carriages that had been turned into holiday chalets. I clearly recall the bunk bed arrangment in one section – because the ceiling of the carriage was domed, the top bunk was a bit snug and was daunting at first. The rest of the accommodation has gone in a blur of mismatched memories. I do remember there was a verandah along the front – with steps up in the middle to the door of the carriage. I lso remember the windows had catches to allow you to slide the glass panels open – with the top section dropping open only a little way. We never had very hot summers in those days and yet I recall our bedroom feeling unbearably hot and stuffy at night. Probably because I was consigned to that top bunk!
I was entertaining a chum who lives in the very nicest part of a home county – he knows his odd little 1930s bungalow would be worth a couple of hundred thousand in most areas but because of the location in that particular town, he is on to a real winner. Hoever, when he and his soon to be lady wife looked at the strangely unadorned little place way back in the early 1980s, they could just about afford the front door and a bit of the kitchen. This was before the revolution in house peroperty values and the madness that now surrounds any plot of land bigger than a dustbin store. This chap paid £70K for the unpreposessing pad when similar places elsewhere were about £60K. With only the minimum modernisation and expansion up into the roof space, in 32 years, it’s now worth £875K compared to only £350K elsewhere. Incredible !
I have a chum who lives on a wonderfully hot, sunny mediterranean isle. A jewel of a place and her villa is some 40 km above the main town, in the lower mountain regeion. There are many attractive properties scattered around – a few near enough to each other to constitutue being called a village and other remotely set into the side of the mountains. Each one is owned by a family somewhere – usually a grandaughter of one of the village elders. The rather smart rule there is that property and land is passed down through the female side of families. However, in order to stop whole swathes of land being sold off to developers for the next crop of second homes and holiday villas, the older generation leaveland to three or four daughters, knowing the complex inheritence rules put them off trying to disentangle it all. A good agent and solicitor over there are a must.