Category Archives: Home and Family

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 the 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 mould. 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.

Biomass planning requirements

When it comes to renewable energy, biomass is one of the most efficient and energy saving options you can choose. You can choose a system that will both heat your home and provide hot water, all while producing very little carbon into the atmosphere. If you choose to install a system as part of your extension work, you should be aware that there may be some Planning Permission requirements.

What is biomass?

A biomass boiler provides heat to your home via a burner that runs on wood pellets. In some cases this burner can also be used to burn household waste and even food waste. The energy produced is fed into the home where it is used to heat radiators, underfloor heating and hot water. It is incredibly efficient as the carbon produced is less than that absorbed by the tree during its lifetime. In this way it is considered carbon neutral.

Will I need planning?

If the biomass system work is entirely internal and uses existing flues or chimneys, you will most likely not need Planning Permission. If your flues and chimneys meet permitted development rules then you should also be OK. However there are exceptions as follows:

  • If your chimney or flue extends more than one metre above the highest part of the roof
  • If your building is listed or in a conservation area – internal changes may also need to be approved
  • Flues in conservation areas must be fitted away from public view

An outdoor shed or building

You may decide to house your biomass boiler away from your main extension and this building could require planning permission. This is especially the case if the extension has already used up your permitted development rights in terms of space. If the shed is small and you have plenty of space in your garden, you are likely to be OK. But your builder should certainly bear in mind the requirements before work progresses.

The age old question about new house

Should I stay or should I go? It’s a common dilemma for homeowners looking to upgrade their living space. On one hand, you could sell up and move to somewhere better, or alternatively spend the money improving your existing house. Should I sell my home and move into the one that best suits my needs, or shall I just improve the home I am in and turn it into my dream home? It really is a tricky one and not least because there are pros and cons on both sides. You need to consider a huge range of questions before making this choice and the answer may still not be clear.

The question has been even further complicated by the recent vote in the UK to leave the EU and its somewhat unknown effect on house prices. The Nationwide reported recently that house prices saw a slight rise of 0.5% in July 2016, but that they felt that the EU decision could reduce demand overall. This rise compares to more than 5% in the previous year. If house prices were to fall this could seriously affect your choice about whether to sell or improve.

The pros and cons of selling

  • If house prices are falling, you may be able to get the house you want at a cheaper price. If you are downsizing this might work in your favour. But of course you will receive less for your home
  • You will be able to choose the exact home that suits your needs, but there may be a lower supply as house prices will be depressed
  • The costs of selling (fees, solicitors etc) may be less than the costs of extending
  • Banks have become very averse to offering mortgages – so getting an increased one may be tricky
  • The work is already done and you won’t need to live with the mess and disruption of home improvement work
  • You may find it hard to sell your home in an uncertain market

The pros and cons of improving

  • You already know your home, the area and your neighbours – those things won’t change if you stay put
  • The costs of improving may outweigh the increased value of your home – especially if Brexit really takes hold of property prices
  • You may not be able to afford to improve your home to the extent you would like
  • Getting a loan may be cheaper than ever due to very low interest rates – so improvement may actually be easier than increasing your mortgage
  • You get to improve your home to suit you – not the previous owner

Whether Brexit has influenced your decision or not, this is still a hard choice. But if you are fully informed, you can at least be sure you took the right choice for your personal needs.

Kingspan under floor insulation

When there is winter and snowfall there is a necessity for the room heating system. Whatever heating system is put there is a good effect if there is insulation. To increase the effect of the under floor heating system it is better to use Kingspan under floor insulation.

Not only the floor but the whole room is warm with this insulation. The consumption of electricity is reduced to get lesser utility bills. This insulation gives a good performance. It is fiber free and thermoset insulation. This rigid core has the foil of low-emissivity insulating coating on both the sides. The insulation is for the concrete on one side and the suspending ground on the other.

  • Heat Resistant and Does Not Allow Heat to Pass-through

Thermal insulation is the property used for warming the room quickly. It has the capacity to resist the compression of normal foot traffic. It is light weight helping to handle it easily while installation. The material used is rot resistant as it is in between the layers of concrete and ground. There are different thicknesses of insulation available in the market. It is better if the thickness of insulation is more. The engineers decide the type of insulation necessary for the building. It mostly depends on the height of the finished floor level. There are many holes in the insulation which are mainly meant for allowing water or vapor through. If these holes are not present then there are chances of the water to get collected under the flooring.

  • Adhesive to Be Used

The adhesive used for fixing the insulation depends on the texture and material of the floor. For cement floor water based adhesive is necessary. It is better to fix the wooden flooring boards properly before the adhesive is applied. If the insulation is put properly the whole room is warm and ready for the cold climate.

Insulating may be a bit costly but there is a lot of utility bill savings. Without insulation, the room heaters take a lot of time and electricity for heating the room. This forms a barrier between the inside and outside surfaces of the room. The room heat cannot escape out and thus keeps it at a particular temperature for a longer time. It suits with any type of flooring and thus many people are benefitted by this. Once installed, this stays for a long period and there are not much maintenance issues. The room heaters temperature can be controlled.

  • Easy to Install

Kingspan under floor insulation temperature can be reduced or increased according to the convenience of the people of the house. It is easy to install as professionals do it very easily. There are many types of insulation in the market. It is better to investigate, about the thickness, effectiveness, and many other factors to get the perfect temperature effect. If the features are not understood properly then we cannot purchase the correct insulation. If not understood then it is better to meet the shopkeeper and explain about the type of room and the number of people in the house. He can give the correct suggestion about the type of insulation to be used.

The material that you need for house

The fact is that your front door is the first part of your home that visitors will see and many of us want to choose the most attractive door to make the best impression. But should you be basing your choice on how the door looks, rather than how it performs? Probably not – because choosing a pretty front door might be something you regret in the long term. Follow our tips on buying the best exterior doors for your home so that you can trust your door will do everything it needs to do and more.

The material

This factor is probably the most important of all considerations when buying your new door. While a solid wood door may look lovely you should be aware that if it gets wet, it will swell and as it dries it will shrink. This continual change in size will mean it is frequently sticky and gaps will appear letting in draughts. These doors are best for doors that are very much under cover and not exposed to wet or cold. For a wood look you can choose a composite door which will have fewer of these issues and it will need very little maintenance – unlike wood. UPVC is also a good option, but they can be unattractive – but you will have no trouble with them becoming sticky or draughty.

Glazing

Do you want your door to have any glass? You should be aware that any glazing will inevitably mean that you more draughts around the door, however glazing can be very practical for seeing who is outside and for letting in light. You may prefer to have double glazed windows to each side of the door and a peephole instead. This is certainly down to preference as the best doors are still very secure even with glazing.

Security

No matter what type of door you choose you need to ensure that it has excellent security features. That means installing a good lock (even a double lock if necessary) or choosing a door that comes with the best lock you can afford. Some of these will have bolts that are at the top and bottom and some will have self locking mechanisms. Be aware that some doors can be manipulated through the letterbox to be opened from the outside unless you double lock them from the inside.

Colour
You can choose almost any colour for your door and one advantage of choosing a wooden door is the fact you can repaint it any time you like. Many of the plastic or composite doors are made in white which is a very safe option, but for an attractive look to the front of your home, try a colour such as green or red.

Roof lights or skylights

When you decide to get your extension built you will probably choose your doors and windows based on whether they fit in with your existing home and by how thermally efficient they are. You may give very little thought into whether these choices will affect your requirement for Planning Permission. But if you make the wrong choice you may find yourself having to go down that route.

For the vast majority of cases, you will not usually need to apply for Planning Permission for the doors and windows on a permitted development extension. If the extension itself has been carefully planned to avoid planning then you are normally home and dry. If you stick to the following rules, your chances of needing planning are greatly reduced.

  • You are simply repairing or maintaining the existing windows – you may do this as part of a general refurbishment during your extension build
  • The new doors and windows look similar to those already on the house
  • Side windows are made from obscured glass, if they face towards neighbours
  • Upper windows need to be at least 1.7 metres above floor level or non-opening

Roof lights or skylights

If you want to add a skylight to your extension you can normally do so without the need of Planning Permission as long as they protrude no further than 150mm beyond the roof slope, they are no higher than the current roof and the adhere to the obscured glass and opening restrictions detailed above.

When will I need Planning Permission?

In some cases, your new extension may not be eligible for permitted development because it is too large or your home is listed or in a conservation area. If this is the case you may need to apply for Planning Permission that will include some restrictions on the type of windows and doors used. This will also apply if you live in a flat.

Building regulations

Doors and windows, whether replacement or new are almost always subject to buildings regulations approval. These rules ensure that you meet the regulations surrounding thermal performance, safety, air flow and fire escape rules. If you use a builder who is part of the Competent Person Scheme, they will ensure you comply with the guidelines and will be able to provide a certificate to show the work was carried out correctly.

Solar panel battery storage

Are we seeing a second revolution in terms of solar panels? Solar panels saw a huge surge in interest in the last few years – mostly due to the excellent feed-in-tariff returns. However in recent years the returns available on this investment have considerably reduced and solar panel installation levels have predictably reduced at the same time. But could battery storage systems be the start of a new surge in solar panel interest and are they really worthwhile?

Solar panel battery storage

One of the main drawbacks of solar panels until now has been the fact that it was impossible to store the energy produced during the day for use at night. This issue was offset by selling the unused daytime energy back to the grid at a profit. Now that this this profit has been significantly affected by changes in the feed-in-tariff, consumers are getting a worse deal. However that could be about to change with the introduction of a battery storage system that could allow consumers to save the energy produced during the day for use at night, rather than selling it to the grid.

Tesla – leading the way

Tesla is already well known for their electric cars and now they are looking to provide battery storage systems for homes that have solar panels. They are selling the concept as a way to go off grid and to contribute to the country’s energy issues by selling off unused and stored energy from your solar panels. For the first time consumers can have solar power at night and make the most of the natural power of the sun.

These lithium based batteries have already proved themselves to be incredibly efficient and economical and once installed require little or no maintenance. The batteries are even connected to a smart system that will work out the best way to use the power generated, when to store it, when to sell it and when it is best to use grid power.

Are they available yet?

Not quite, but they are expected to be available for sale during 2016. Tesla is not the only company that is looking into this technology and it is expected that there will be quite a bit of competition. So prices are likely to tumble as the technology becomes more widespread.

Will this lead to a surge in solar panels
It could. The introduction of battery storage could give solar panels another route towards improved sales. The feed-in-tariff is hardly worth the installation costs, with it now taking upwards of 25 years to pay off solar panel installations. Battery storage could allow those who love the idea of going off grid a real option. Once that was not available before and it may even provide a small income as well. That sounds like a win win.