Author Archives: grantatrade2011

Double glazing for your home is great ideas

There are so many reasons to get double glazing: the improvement in energy efficiency, the better looking home, the lowered maintenance and improved home value. But some homeowners are still a little reluctant to take the plunge and invest in double glazing perhaps because of the myths that they may have heard. If you have been put off buying double glazing, take a look at the following and see if we can put your mind at rest.

You need planning permission

The only time you will need to get planning permission for double glazing is if your home is listed or you live in a conservation area. In this case you should speak to planning officers, but an actual planning application may still not be necessary. You should also speak to the leaseholder if you live in a flat.

White UPVC windows go yellow eventually

The new style of UPVC windows use much better technology than the older ones and therefore are designed to retain their colour. This high quality material will stay white (as long as you keep them clean!)

Double glazed windows are more easily broken into

Some double glazed units are built with the beading on the outside allowing would-be burglars to pop out the window and enter your home. All you need to do to avoid this is to choose windows that have indoor beading. Most modern windows are built this way now.

Secondary glazing is just as good

Studies have shown that secondary glazing is not as efficient as double glazing. It will work to keep your home warmer but is prone to condensation and other issues.

It is impossible to find decent double glazed sash windows

These days there are specialist manufacturers who are making excellent double glazed sash window units. These look almost the same as the real thing and will allow you to keep your Victorian or Georgian home toasty warm. You may pay a little more, but they are worth it.

Double glazing windows will just condensate

You can expect to get condensation on most windows in the winter time but with double glazed units there is often a trickle vent included and this allows a small amount of air to enter reducing condensation to almost none. You may eventually find condensation inside the window between the panes. This is easily fixed by replacing the window pane. This only happens after many years.

As you can see there are a number of misconceptions going around when it comes to double glazing. But most of them really are nothing to worry about. If you have any further concerns just talk to a double glazing expert and they will be able to set you straight.

The reason of home improvements can be so expensive

But they are much cheaper than moving house. With estate agents charging anywhere from 1% to 5% of the sale price of your home and stamp duty a huge chunk of money, the cost of moving house can easily reach above £10,000. For that you can have a small house extension, a new kitchen and bathroom or a new conservatory or garden room. Even if you need to add to your mortgage, at today’s interest rates the cost is very low.

The planning process is so long

But planning permission is not always needed. In the vast majority of cases you won’t need to apply for planning permission at all. As long as your extension, loft conversion or conservatory is within permitted development for your area then you can carry on without telling anyone (except for building control). The rules may be different if your home is listed or in a conservation area so always do your homework, but for that extra space you need the process could be very simple. If you do need planning most councils will approve within 12 weeks, so not a huge amount of time to wait.

There are so many cowboy builders out there

But there are many who are not. Don’t be frightened by the stories you see on TV – most builders are doing good work and have excellent reputations. It is up to you to take the right steps to find the right builder for your job. That means taking the quotation stage seriously and doing your homework on the builder – including visiting their clients and following up recommendations. If possible talk to neighbours and friends who have had work done to find out who they used.

Building work takes so long and is really messy

But a good builder will minimise this for you. The building process can be time consuming if it is done correctly, so be reassured that no shortcuts are taken if it seems to be going on longer than you thought. Also, get a timetable from your builder of how long they expect it to last. They should also be able to tell you to what extent you will be affected in terms of mess and access to your kitchen, bathroom and if electricity or water will be turned off. If you know in advance, it is much easier to deal with.

Consultation Scheme

The vast majority of conservatories and small extensions built these days will not require planning permission due to the permitted development rules. However those that are larger than average will need to go through the planning permission process.

To give a little more breathing space to builders and homeowners the government has introduced the Neighbour Consultation Scheme in a bid to allow larger extensions without the need for planning.

The Neighbour Consultation Scheme was introduced as a sort of interim measure for rear extensions to be built that are larger than those currently allowed under permitted development, but without homeowners needing to get full planning permission. It is in place for a period of six years only from 2013 and work must be completed by 30 May 2019.

Size restrictions

The current permitted development rules state that rear extensions can be up to 4m – but these new rules have doubled that to 8m for detached houses and from 3 to 6m for terraces and semi detached buildings. Obviously this applies to homes where no extensions have previously been built.

The maximum height is 4m and maximum eaves height must be a maximum of 3m if the construction is within 2m of the property boundary.

Other restrictions

There are already a number of restrictions in place under permitted development and your extension will need to comply with those too.

  • Your extension cannot cover more than half the land surrounding the house when it was built. Remember that this includes any extensions or additions added since it was built
  • The materials used should be similar to those used in the existing house – or in the case of conservatories, it should be sympathetic
  • No verandas, platforms or balconies are allowed – you will need separate planning permission for these
  • No chimneys, flues soil pipes or antennae are allowed on the building
  • Your home should not be in a conservation area or be listed – these homes will need planning permission

The Neighbor Consultation Scheme Process

If you choose to have one of these larger than average extensions built and you want to avoid full planning permission, you must follow the recommendations regarding neighbor consultation. This process is quite detailed but is less onerous than the planning process which can be lengthy and expensive.

The caused internal damp problems

When you had your cavity wall insulation installed, you probably were excited about all the benefits. After all, the Energy Saving Trust suggests that you could save as much as £275 a year on your energy bills from having this type of work carried out. But has it become a nightmare for you because of damp issues? If so, you are probably wondering what on earth you can do to correct the problem. Millions of people are discovering that the insulation they had installed (often free of charge under government schemes), in the hope of reducing energy costs, are actually now having the exact opposite effect, causing damp and mould problems.

How can wall cavity insulation cause damp?

First of all, it’s worth noting that not all damp problems are caused by faulty cavity wall insulation, and equally not all cavity wall problems will end up causing you issues with damp. Despite the fact that most people’s cavity wall insulation will continue to provide them with energy and efficiency savings over it’s lifetime, unfortunately some installations can result in serious damp problems.

Cavity wall insulation is designed to do one thing; to insulate the cavity in your wall. Insulation material is pumped into the cavity between the outer brick of your house, and the inner brickwork. The type of material used for the insulation does vary, but essentially it serves the same purpose – which is to increase the insulation of your cavity – therefore reducing the transfer of energy between the inside and outside of your home. For the insulation to function effectively, the cavity must remain dry. If the material used to insulate your wall does get wet, then this can transfer moisture to your inner walls, causing mould and damp problems.

If you have cavity wall insulation but are not currently experiencing damp problems, then it is wise to try to protect your walls against the ingress of water, which could result in damp problems. One of the most common reasons for cavity wall insulation to fail, is simply due to outer brickwork being in poor condition. If you live in a particularly wet or windy area (for example on an exposed coastline), you should consider that you may need to ensure that your wall is regularly maintained, repairing any lose grouting or badly eroded bricks before they cause bigger problems.

What can I do?

If your home is affected by damp following the installation of wall cavity insulation then the only solution is to have the wet insulation removed or extracted. This is a job that needs to be carried out by a qualified and experienced contractor and can be costly. Your contractor will open the holes in your outer wall that were in place for the installation and use a vacuum pump to suck out the insulation. They may also need to use high pressure hoses to dislodge it. If you have solid wall insulation the process will be more costly as parts of the wall may need to be removed.

Your contractor will be able to tell you if you should consider having the insulation re-installed. If your walls are correctly repaired, then this might be suitable but you should be fully convinced that your home is not at risk of further damp issues. The Telegraph have recently reported on an increased volume of cases of wall insulation going bad, and we echo their concerns that there may be many more houses that will require their insulation to be removed.

How will I pay for the removal?

This is a tricky one and no clear answers seem to be available at the moment. You may feel that your guarantee will mean that the company that did the installation is liable, this isn’t always the case – but it should certainly be your first port of call. If you went through your energy supplier, you could also contact them for advice.

There is another organisation that may be able to help, if you aren’t getting anywhere with your installer – that’s the Cavity Installation Guarantee Agency (CIGA). If your Cavity Wall Insulation was guaranteed by CIGA (if it is then you would have been given a certificate by your installer at the time of installation, or from the previous owner if you have purchased the house with insulation in place), then their website states that they may be able to cover the cost of removal if the insulation has failed within the 25 year guarantee period. CIGA state that your installer must be notified of any problems as soon as possible, and that CIGA may then be contacted if the matter is not resolved satisfactorily within 2 months.

If neither your installer or CIGA can help, then your last report may be to contact your home insurer, as this type of damage may be covered under your buildings insurance. This is especially the case if the insulation has been affected by flooding or unusually poor weather.

The rules set out by your Council

Will I need planning permission?

In almost all cases the answer to this is yes because extension work carried out on a flat does not come under Permitted Development. Permitted development essentially states that work carried out on a house that extends it by a set amount does not require Planning Permission. But when it comes to flats the rules are different and planning is almost always needed.

This is especially the case if your flat is part of a listed building or is in a conservation area. In fact if you start work on a building that has special historical character without permission you could be committing a criminal offence. So checking with your planning office is essential before you do anything.

Why do I need Planning Permission?

The main reasons for flat extensions needing planning permission is the fact that your neighbours will inevitably be affected, due to their proximity to your property. Not only will the your property and the extension impact on their property, but the work being carried out will affect their day to day living. Noise, mess, parking issues and people in and out of the building throughout the day will be bothersome to them – so they need the chance to understand what is happening.

The building structure and look will also be affected – possibly impacting on their own property value. This is a very valid concern for your neighbours and one that may require you to compensate.

Building Regulations

Any extension built on a flat will also need Building Regulations approval. This regulatory service ensures that the work carried out meets government requirements on buildings of this type. The Buildings Inspector will attend the site at regular intervals throughout the project to check on work and ensure that all work is carried out to the right specifications.

The following categories will be taken into account when it comes to your extension planning application and regulations.

Doors and windows

Your doors and windows may need to look the same as others in the building and will need to meet the energy conservation levels required by your Council. Planning permission for doors and windows will be required if the building has special characteristics.

Drainage

If you share drainage with your neighbours you should always clarify ownership before you start any work.

Electrics

Usually this is not a planning concern – but you should check if you live in a listed building. However if electric work forms part of your extension you should include it in your planning application.

Walls/floors

Those in listed buildings or in conservation areas should seek advice before doing any work. This is especially the case if cladding is going to be used. In other cases Planning Permission is not needed for this type of work. The levels of insulation and soundproofing will also need to be checked.

Roofs

If your extension is affecting any part of the roof you may need to apply for Planning Permission related to that change.

The Party Wall Act

If your new extension is likely to have any impact on the internal or external wall or floor of any other flat or maisonette in the building you will need to advise your neighbour of the work. Work on foundations in flats or maisonettes is also subject to this Act. The Party Wall Act 1996 was brought in to reduce the number of disputes occurring between neighbours when work is carried out and it lays down the requirements of the builder and homeowner regarding party walls.

  • You must give the neighbour notice of the work
  • They have the opportunity to object or ask for changes

The Act lays out all the rules that must be adhered to when working on a party wall and the circumstances where a neighbour can object or even ask for work to be restricted or stopped.

Planning permission for a garden wall

When you decide to build an extension on your home there’s a very good chance that there may be additional garden landscaping work that will need to be completed, to fit in with the change of shape. In particular you will want to erect a fence or wall between your home and your neighbours that will accommodate the new addition. In most cases planning permission won’t be required, but there are some circumstances where you should double check with your council.

You may/will need Planning Permission if:

Your fence, gate or wall will be more than 1 metre high and is next to the road or footpath.
Your fence is over 2 metres high and is erected anywhere on your property.
Your deeds suggest that you are not allowed to erect fences, gates or walls on your property.
You live in a listed house or in a conservation area.
The fence, wall or gate shares a boundary with any other property that happens to be listed.

What if i just want to remove a fence or wall?

Planning Permission is not needed for the removal of walls or fences or for when you are replacing those that are already there. But you must not replace them with anything higher. However if you live in a conservation area you may need permission to alter the look of your fence or gate.

Bushes or hedges?

Usually Planning Permission will not be needed for hedges unless your deeds include a covenant that restricts them. This might be the case if they were to restrict the sightlines of drivers or pedestrians.

Building regulations

While needing Planning Permission is rare for gates, walls and fences, you may need building regulations approval. In particular this applies to the Party Wall Act which states that shared fences and walls should come under its remit. Additionally your walls or fence should be suitable for its purposes and correctly constructed to prevent collapse. Buildings regulations officers will want to check masonry walls to ensure they will not pose harm to the public (or to yourself!).

While this may seem like more red tape when it comes to building an extension, getting the look of nearby walls and fences right will ensure that the overall look and feel of your new home will be exactly as you had dreamed.

External wall materials for new house

The building of an extension is certainly going to alter the way that you home looks and part of that process is adding external walls that work with the existing structure, but also possibly changing the existing wall cladding to give a more attractive overall look. In most cases your exterior walls will be exempt from planning permission, but there are cases where planning will be required.

  • If you live in a listed building or in a conservation area you will almost certainly need planning permission
  • If you want to clad your new or existing walls with stone, pebble dash, render, tiles or plastic and you live in an area of outstanding beauty or a national park you will need to apply
  • In all other cases you still need to ensure the cladding or wall covering you choose must be in keeping with the existing style

Building regulations

Changing the look of the outside walls of your home may not always need building regulations approval – but the addition of new external walls as part of your extension probably will. Building regulations use a set of rules to determine if approval is required:

  • If more than 25 percent of the exterior walls are re-built, re-rendered, re-clad or re-plastered then evidence of correct insulation will need to be supplied to building regulations inspectors
  • If new external wall cavity insulation is inserted into walls you may need them to assess this
  • Generally your new walls should be built using the cavity wall system as this provides a better thermal load. Buildings regulations will be checking for this. Solid walls will need special insulation to make them passable
  • Wall loads are also incredibly important and will be checked. If your new walls are holding up upper stories or the roof they need to comply with loading rules and possibly having lintels installed
  • Weather resistance rules and thermal resistance rules are also taken into account
  • Your walls need to meet fire protection rules also and existing walls may need to be upgraded as part of the work to ensure compliance

Planning an extension for your house

Enhancing your home with a new extension is a great idea, but you might want to take the opportunity to make it even better by adding solar panels to the roof. After all, you will now have a large space that needs to be heated and more roof space to accommodate the panels. Doing it all at the same time can be a great idea and even save you money in the long run.

For the most part solar panels do not need Planning Permission, but you may find that your home is subject to some of the restrictions that currently exist regarding the installation of solar panels on the roof. These restrictions are as follows:

  • The solar panels should be positioned so that they do not have a visual impact on the area or the external appearance of the building. Ideally this means putting them on the back of the house
  • The panels should be removed when no longer required
  • The panels cannot protrude further than 200mm from the roof slope and cannot be installed any higher than the highest part of the roof (but not on the chimney!)
  • Panels cannot be installed on a listed building or within the grounds of a listed building
  • Solar panels cannot be installed on a designated monument site
  • Panels installed in conservation areas cannot be fitted to the front of the house or building
  • Permission must be sought from the leaseholder for installations on flats and the management company must be informed

While you will not need Planning Permission if you fit into the above criteria, you will still need Building Regulations approval. The electrical work, the load capacity of the roof and the registration of the builder will all need to be checked. The installer needs to be registered under the Competent Person Scheme or your panels will not be eligible for the feed-in-tariff.

Making money from your panels

Don’t forget that adding solar panels to your home will allow you to enjoy the benefits of cheaper electricity bills and the feed in tariff which will help you to claw back some of the costs. So even when you are splashing out on a new extension, you could be making long term investments in your home and the environment. It sounds like a win win to us.

Avoid wall house problems

In recent years, due to government campaigns and free offers, more and more homeowners have been having wall cavity insulation added to their homes. In most cases this is a welcome addition that can save a homeowner as much as £275 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust. But in some cases, it has been shown to cause damp and mould problems and it may even need to be removed.

What is cavity wall insulation?
Most homes are constructed with exterior walls that have a gap between the outer brick and the inner block. This air gap can promote heat loss from the inside and wall cavity insulation is designed to fill this space. Usually an insulation material is pumped into space – a job that should be done by experts to ensure that it no gaps are left and that your home is suitable.

Does wall cavity insulation cause damp problems?
Not always, but if it has been incorrectly fitted or your home is not suitable, it can lead to problems. The consumer company Which? carried out an investigation into wall cavity insulation problems a few years ago and they discovered that some homes are not suitable, but that some installers were not aware of the problem. If your home is affected by the following this may not be suitable for you:

Your outside walls are affected by driven rain or regular rainfall – this applies to certain parts of the UK where wall cavity insulation should not be fitted at all.
Your home is in an unsheltered position and not protected by other houses or tree cover.
Your brickwork is in poor condition with cracks or blown grouting or render.

If these issues affect you, water could penetrate the outside walls of your home and literally soak the insulation. This is then transferred to the inner walls of your home causing damp and mold. The only solution at this stage is to have the insulation completely removed, the outer walls repaired and the insulation re-installed – a lengthy but effective solution.

Should I avoid wall cavity insulation?
Not necessarily. If your installer understands the risks and is able to correctly assess your home, then this type of insulation can be effective. You should check to see that your installer is a member of a body such as the National Insulation Association as this will reassure you that they understand and can assess your home for suitability.

If your home has been built in the last ten years you probably already have insulated walls and therefore won’t need to concern yourself with this at all. In all cases, loft insulation is a universally great idea – so don’t skimp on that.

Buying a House Near Fracking Sites

In a new survey commissioned by House-Extension.co.uk, and conducted by OnePoll, it has been revealed that up to 64% of homeowners would be less likely to buy a house, if it was situated near a fracking site. This is perhaps not that surprising, as proximity to infrastructure developments such as power stations have always been a consideration for house buyers. With news this week that the government has overturned Lancashire County Councils rejection of an application by Cuadrilla to setup a fracking operation, it looks as though Fracking could well be here to stay, with more applications underway for new sites across the country.

In the survey conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of this website, 1,000 respondents across the UK were asked if they would ever consider buying a house near a fracking site, and whether they were for or against fracking if it reduced their energy bills.

Over 64% of respondents said that they would be reluctant to buy a home near a fracking site. In response to the question, 21% said that they were somewhat unlikely to consider buying a home near a fracking site, and 43% stated that they were very unlikely to do so.

When looking into the ages of the respondents, 45 to 54 year olds were most unlikely to buy a home near a fracking site (68%) compared to 59% of 18 to 34 year olds. There was also a higher number of women (63%) who stated that they were unlikely to buy a home near a fracking site compared to 54% of men.

Conversely, when respondents were asked if they were for or against fracking if it reduced their energy bills, 32% said that they were in favour of fracking. This sentiment was almost matched however by 31% of respondents who stated that they were against fracking even if it resulted in lower energy bills.

The age group who were most in favour of fracking if it resulted in lower energy bills were the over 55s with 36%, and the age group least in favour were 35 to 44 year olds with 37%. As with the responses around buying a home near a fracking site, it was again men who were more in favour of fracking to reduce their energy bill with 42%, compared to 35% who were against it.

The results reveal that there are stills reservations amongst Brits when it comes to the subject of fracking, with 64% who would be reluctant to buy a home near a fracking site, but when faced with the prospect of lower energy bills, 32% are in favour of fracking.