I see many properties when I walk arond my local town which still has its midlands industrial roots very much in evidence. Although none of the shoe factories are producing anything these days, in the late Victorian period and right up until the late 1990s, there was a very strong shoe and boot making presence in the towns around here. There are still one or two pockets of activity, in canalside mills and factories. The old brick mills left behind have been snapped up for residential purposes. There are one or two which have been repurposed for small starter units and in fact a few co-operative ventures have taken over some prime locations. Keeping the heritage alive has been difficult for some – who cannot understand the appeal of the old factory life. Some folk are happy for it all to be swept aside. This is sad and niaive – after all, todays students learn so much from being schooled in a modern environment.
When you take the keys to your first property the excitement level is unbelievable. There is the furniture to get in – that sofa handed over by Granny and the spare sideboard from down the road. It’s so easy to get swept up in a whirl of activity of curtain hanging and furniture placement that simple things can sometimes get left aside.
When my family moved from an older house into a brand new one in the 1960s, there was much the same euphoria – this time though we had fitted carpets and central heating – oh such treats. Although the houses were of different generations and the latter was very up to date with lots of ‘mod cons’ the need for constant home maintenance didn’t change much. The guttering still needed regular checking. Some of these are still regular bugbears even today but there are agencies that will come on a regular basis to sort these out – for a reasonable fee.
Needing to find out what the suspcious banging and scraping noise was down the side of my house after the latest of a series of storms, I found to my horror that part of the guttering had detached itself and was swinging listlessly. I look around the rest of the house at all levels, but especially up at gutter height. The old & unused satellite dish was still clinging firm, despite being precariously located. I made a note of other possible problems areas and came on line to the property maintenance gang They had been inundated with calls for help. Being an old customer of theirs, I was offered a slot fairly swiftly. Access is limited but negotiations with my neighbour for the erection of the ladder round his side meant a quick reinstallation of the gutter took place by someone who really knew what he was doing and he checked the rest of the guttering. Phew!
Keepi ng a hand on property maintenance is now beginning to get irksome – when I first moved to this house many years ago, it was spanking brand new. Straight off the production line as it were. True we had a couple of snagging problems that needed urgent sorting out, well before the standard 6 months settling in period. As in having to get the chaps back to reseal the bath – they’d sealed it without bothering to fill it with water first. That had the result of making the bath sealant come away from the base of the tiling the first time we actually filled and used the bath as it dropped down centmetres with the weight of the water and the body soaking it up. There was also the unfortunate matter of the porch ceiling falling down after two days – they’d just lain the ceiling panel on lathes under the pitched tiles – but if slipped and fell down with an almighty crash almost at the first wind.
How we manage our property is an individual matter of organisation and expenditure. When there is a stock of properties to manage, say a whole raft of ‘buy to let’ in a portfolio, the only sensible way to maanage the constant demands of property upkeep, repairs, decorating and legal safety affairs is to use a property management agency. They have the expertise, resources and manpower to carry out the work in fixed phases so that each property has the basics seen to on a very regular basis and the extras, such as decoratorating and refurbishment, on a more programmed approach.
The trouble with leasing out property is the variable nature of tenants. Soe are fantastic, caring for your property as if it was their own, others tend to be far less kind and almost because they are paying rent, sometimes in a bad situation, they won’t think twice about trashing your proudly owned flat or house.
There are so many different facets to property management. Firstly we have just the outside to deal with. i.e. all the pointing work, ensuring no gaps exist between the outer bricks. Then there are the gutters, fascias and soffits around the roof line. These can come down with sometimes tragic results when the gusty weather gets up. One of our houses had a major problem with cast iron gutters – it was a victorian mid terrace . . . not easy to fix when you have a couple of houses either side that share the massively heavy and complex gutter and downpipe system. We also had trouble with the chimney flashings – those little flaps of roof materials that is waterproof and sits below the roof tile to and is pulled up around the edged to stop any water ingress. This is where a property maintenance company is worth it’s weight in gold. An annual contract is so worth while.
Our modern houses are so much simpler to plan and construct than the huge family homes of the 1700s. I take that period as an example here because I’ve recently revisited a well established heritage house where I’ve volunteered as room steward for several seasons. for that task there is obviously a certain amount of history to be learned by heart – in the hope that we may engage the interest of visitors. The Hall I’m referring to replaced a tudor family estate house – shame they were so rich, the owners just replaced it and pulled the old one down! The palladian hall is perfectly proportioned with exactly the right number of windows either side of the front door. The entrance hall is painted in Lancaster Pink, sounds strange, suggesting at first theshade of ladies’ corsets, but it is deliciously warm and very inviting to the visitor. The amount of work needed to keep the Hall from deteriorating is a full time job in planning, funding and orchestrating for the Trust’s team – calling on experts at every step of the way.
I have an elderly friend who has been used to living in some rather nice houses over the years. Her husand was a jobbing builder when they married and he then formed small building company with his brother and cousin. It helped that another older cousin was already a successful local architect. There’s a world of difference in being a builder if you have to pay a huge amount to engage an architect. Having one in the family can bring much greater success in that there’s a natural family understanding and a combining of thoughts. Very often siblings work very well together too – in design and decor, there is a general appreciation of the project finer points and it’s as if they work with one mind. Again with projects one can concentrate on the design side and the other on the build requirements or one can design a thme and the other will be good at procuring the actual product to bring it to fruition.
The maintenance of a building can sometimes present major headaches which are not considered adequately during buying. My partner and I lived in a selection of flats for many years – until we too could aford to buy a complete house, of our own. The flats belonged to our italian landlord and his wife who had inexplicably managed to buy up huge swathes of the old town, in a relatively short time. Their portfolio were all old and not having funds to spare, they did all the ‘doing up’ work themselves for many years. The wife was very good at shinning up a tall ladder, no fear of heights for her. Once her husband was up on the roof of whichever property they were working on, she would be up and down the ladder prviding him with supplies of roof tiles, buckets of fresh roof mortar, flashing materials, whatever. They were a truly excellent eam of building owners, maintainers.
Here are a few tips for best results if you’re contemplating decorating your office space.
Pick out features. If you have a period office, perhaps in an old building, you’ll want to pick out some nice features in the room to make a cool statement! Fireplaces (even if not used anymore) are super cool to have as a central focus, and draws the eye of visitors to create a great talking piece. You might have beams or even really high ceilings, in which case, use them to your advantage!
Choose high quality tools – you will thank us once it’s done! If you decide to use cheap paint or cheap tools, not only will the end result not look as good, it certainly won’t last as long. High quality paints are formulated to last and usually have a stronger pigment, meaning you don’t need to slap on layers and layers of paint to get an even finish. Best plan: Get a professional in. If in doubt about your decorating ablities – always get a pro in to do the hard work!