Michael Fyffe

Truuli complete Vertical Rush skyscraper challenge

It felt so amazing to reach the top. It’s fair to say we were all exhausted and had totally underestimated the effort involved – this was worse than a sprint, worse than a marathon… And worse than giving birth! (just kidding ladies).”

Michael Fyffe – Truuli Property Expert

“Well done to my colleagues who took part in this fantastic event. The money is still rolling in and we would like to thank everyone who has donated to this great cause so far.

Michael Fyffe – Truuli Property Expert

Shelter would love your support; please donate by clicking the JustGiving link below.

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House viewing tips and tricks

It’s essential that you make the most of a property viewing to ensure that you’re as informed as you possibly can be when it comes to making an offer

The average viewer spends 20 minutes viewing a property before making an offer, Don’t remember the things you should have looked for after you have left.

1. Is there damp?

The main giveaway signs are a mouldy smell, flaky plaster, and watermarked walls or ceilings. It sounds obvious, but make sure you look closely near the ceiling and around the skirting boards. Another clue might be if the room has just been repainted – possibly covering any damp

2. Is the building structurally sound?

Big cracks are what you are looking for – but you should expect some hairline cracks. Look especially around where extensions join, end-of-terrace walls, and bay windows, all of which can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house. You’re looking for issues now that you can ask the homeowner or estate agent about and then ask your surveyor to investigate later. But you can only look for what you know; a chartered surveyor with years of experience is trained to spot risks and know what needs attention. For more information on whether you need a surveyor see What sort of survey should I have?  

3. How much storage space is there?

Storage space is a valuable but often overlooked asset. Where will you keep your vacuum cleaner, towels, spare linen, and boxes of junk? Is there room for cupboards or shelves to be built in? Especially in newly built houses, storage space can be scarce.

4. Which way does the house face?

In winter, during a cloudy day or at night, it is difficult to tell the difference between a north and south facing house or garden – but in summer it can make the difference between a home that is full of light and warmth, and one that is frustratingly dark. Your favourite plants might notice too, and protest by dying. Don’t be shy about taking a compass with you to the viewing – you might have one on your phone. With bi-fold doors all the rage, be aware that in moments of sunshine the solar gain can make the room unbearably warm, so try to visit and spend some time in that room when the sun’s out.

5. Are the rooms big enough for your needs?

We’ve heard of new build home developers putting smaller furniture in rooms to make them seem bigger. Be warned! Assuming you won’t be buying all new furniture as soon as you move in, will your existing furniture fit?

Buying a new build home? Get a snagging surveyor to check eveything is up to scratch

6. Have you been fooled by staging?

Cleverly placed mirrors, strategic lighting, delicious smells, cosy fires, and fresh licks of paint are all tricks sellers use to make their home more appealing. It’s nice to feel you can move straight in without having to do a thing, but try to remain objective. And if their furnishing make the space, take photos and ask what they are leaving behind. Perfect light fittings, for example, can take an age to find and replace!

7. Do the window frames have cracking paint? Is the double-glazing intact?

The state of the external window frames is a great indicator of the state of the house – if people have invested in and looked after those, they are likely to have taken great care of the rest. If you can easily push your finger into wooden window frame, they are usually rotten. If there is condensation between double-glazed window-panes it means that they are faulty. New windows need to be installed by a registered approved inspector so you should get a FENSA or similar certificate, which often come with guarantees. Ask if this is the case.

8. How old is the roof?

Replacing a roof is an expensive business, and newer roofs have a life expectancy of only 15-20 years, depending on the materials

Also, if the property has a flat or nearly flat roof, check out the material with which it sealed. Nowadays a membrane is used and is better than asphalt and gravel, which can leave seams and edges unsealed

9. Are there enough power points and what condition are they in?

Dodgy wiring can be dangerous, and rewiring your new home can be an expensive business. Also check out the fuse board – often an indication of the state of the wiring but a survey will confirm if it needs replacing. Having enough plug points is apparently a big selling point in our increasingly gadget driven world so worth taking note on the way round.

10. Is the plumbing up to scratch?

Run the taps to check the water pressure. Ask if the pipes are insulated, and ensure they are not lead which would have to be replaced. Do the radiators actually work? How old is the boiler? If the hot water tank is situated in the roof it is probably an old one, and may have to be replaced soon

11. Is the property adequately sound-proofed?

If the sellers have the radio or television on ask for it to be turned down to ensure that you can’t hear your neighbours’ every word.

12. What’s the attic like?

People often ignore the attic, but it is an important part of the house. How easy is it to access? Is there much storage space? Could it be converted into extra rooms? Is there insulation? The latter can make a huge difference to your bills and general comfort in winter.

13. What’s the area like?

  • Are you near a pub or bar or kebab shop that becomes rowdy in the evening?
  • Can you walk to shops to get a pint of milk, or do you have to drive?
  • Is it easy to get to public transport?
  • Are there noisy roads or train tracks nearby?
  • Are you underneath a flight path?
  • Is there a local dump in smelling distance?
  • Are you near a school that makes it impossible to get out of your drive at school run time?

And most importantly, does it feel like you could make it your home?

If you do like a property, arrange another viewing for a different time of day, and scout out the local area a bit more. If you can, take somebody with you who might be able to notice things you don’t.

Homeowners Told To Plan 7 Month Ahead For Home Improvement Projects

Homeowners must plan up to seven months ahead if they want a successful home improvement project, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Existing research from the FMB revealed that consumers should expect to wait at least four months’ for a quality builder to be available. However, the FMB’s latest research reveals that when this notice period is combined with the length of time various home improvement projects take to complete, homeowners will have to wait a total of:

  • Seven months for an extension;
  • Six and a half months for a loft conversion;
  • Five months to paint the entire interior of your home;
  • Five months for a new bathroom;
  • Five months for a new kitchen;
  • Five months to convert part of a master bedroom into an en-suite;
  • Five months to convert a cupboard under-the-stairs into a downstairs toilet; and
  • Just under five months to remove an internal wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “A successful building project requires careful planning and our research gives clear guidance to consumers on likely timelines. Not only do homeowners need to consider how long a project takes to complete, they also need to remember how long they should expect to wait for a quality builder to be available to get going on their project. If homeowners want to work with a good builder, they should be expecting to wait at least four months and as a general rule, the larger the project, the longer the wait. When looking to appoint a builder, alarm bells should ring if they say they can start next week. Experienced and professional building firms are booked up far in advance and it’s always worth waiting for these firms if you want a stress-free experience and a quality finish.”

Berry continued: “To bring this to life, if homeowners want a new extension fully completed in time for Christmas 2019, they should be contacting builders for quotes by May at the very latest. If you want your new kitchen installed by the start of the summer, you should be getting in touch with builders now. We’re urging homeowners who are keen to crack on with their renovation project to start getting in touch with prospective builders as soon as possible. We always recommend that homeowners ask for recommendations from family or friends, and ideally from those who have completed a similar project to the one you’re planning. If no personal recommendations are forthcoming, approach a professional trade association like the Federation of Master Builders. New members are thoroughly vetted, and their work independently inspected, before they’re allowed to join. This gives consumers assurance that they’re working with a quality building firm.”

Berry concluded: “Refurbishment projects don’t come cheap and it’s worth protecting yourself as much as possible to ensure a positive experience. Ask for references from the builder’s previous clients and if possible, speak to them directly about the builder. Furthermore, always use a written contract and never pay for the whole project up-front. If a builder is reluctant to use a contract, and demands a disproportionate amount of money up-front, alarm bell should sound. Professional building firms do not work in this way. In the longer term, we need to end the cowboy builders’ reign of terror once and for all. Currently, anyone in the UK can set themselves up as a builder and start offering their services to consumers and this is why there are so many dodgy outfits. We’re calling on the Government to introduce a licensing scheme for builders so that consumers know that all building firms have a basic level of skill, competence and professionalism.”

Most new homeowners will want to carry out some form of modification to a property either prior to moving in, or immediately upon moving into their new home. Our recommendation is to always ask at least three builders to quote on your requirements and don’t just go with the cheapest quote. Look at the breakdown of costs, if some seem a lot cheaper than others ask how they will achieve it for the price without cutting corners. We would also advise checking the portfolio of any builder or workman/woman you are considering instructing to carry out works on your home.

Truuli Property Expert – Michael Fyffe

Here’s Why Croydon is proving to be the perfect place for first time buyers

“First time buyers in Croydon to save £2.1million in less than a year”

The Croydon Advertiser reports that first time buyers in Croydon have saved more than their counterparts across London. This has been mainly thanks to changes in stamp duty laws, allowing these homeowners to get their foot on the property ladder with savings.

A total of £2.1million was saved by people buying their first home in Croydon since November 2017 when the changes were brought in.

The First Time Buyers Relief (FTBR) on Stamp Duty transactions have allowed Londoners to save an average of £4,300 when buying their first property.

How First Time Buyers Stamp Duty Relief works

If you – and anyone else you’re buying with – are first time buyers of a residential property you can claim relief:

·         on purchases which are made on or after 22 November 2017

·         where the purchase price is no more than £500,000

You then pay the cost of:

·         0% on the first £300,000

·         5% on the remainder up to £500,000

If the purchase price is more than £500,000 you can’t claim the relief and must pay the standard rates on the total purchase price.

Further guidance about Stamp Duty Land Tax: relief for first time buyers is available.

To claim First Time Buyers Relief, enter relief code ‘32’ in the SDLT return.

“Croydon is one of the more affordable boroughs in London, with some of the best transports links to the City, Canary Wharf and the West End. The highly-anticipated £1.4billion Westfield Croydon development has moved a step closer and the area has a high number of new build developments such as Innova and Leon House. A combination of the Help to Buy Scheme and Stamp Duty Relief for First Time buyers are helping some Londoners achieve the dream of home ownership and Croydon is in prime position to capitalize.” Truuli Property Expert, Michael Fyffe

Win a £50 John Lewis Gift Card with Truuli

If your home is in need of some autumn love then we have a fantastic competition for you. We are giving away a £50 John Lewis gift card!

John Lewis is a favourite amongst home owners looking for products to help them with a spot of DIY or general home decor.

Whether you want something for your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or garden; John Lewis will have the product for you. Head over to our twitter page @truuli and retweet one of our promotional tweets to enter.

Good Luck!

Truuli.co.uk competitions have the following Terms and Conditions (see below). If you have any questions regarding our competitions, please contact our marketing department at marketing@truuli.co.uk.

Terms and Conditions

  • The prize on offer in this competition is a £50 John Lewis gift card
  • There is one gift card in total
  • Only one entry applicable per username
  • Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and must be a resident of the UK
  • The competition is not open to employees associated with Truuli.co.uk, their immediate families or associated companies
  • Prizes may not be transferred to any other person and there are no cash alternatives or alternative prizes available
  • Winners will be randomly selected from all valid retweets or new followers on Twitter: mention tweets do not count
  • The competition winners selected must respond within 7 days of confirmation to claim their prize
  • The decision of Truuli.co.uk is final and no correspondence will be entered into
  • The competition end date is Wednesday 31st October 2018; Truuli.co.uk reserves the right to close the competition early

Truuli takes on Shelter’s Vertical Rush Tower running challenge

Child homelessness in England is at the highest level since 2007
Some children live in housing that’s making them ill. Many are missing out on a decent education. Others suffer chronic insecurity, shuffled from place to place in temporary accommodation.

Access to decent affordable housing must be at the heart of any strategy for improving the life chances of children and young people and reducing child poverty.

Shelter are on the front-line providing services to families at their time of need and we would like to do our bit to support their efforts.

Vertical Rush 2019

  • 932 Steps
  • 42 Floors 
  • 1 epic experience

Shelter would love your support, Please donate by clicking the JustGiving link below.

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Sky News Reports UK is facing five housing crises at once

Sky News research suggests government plans to build hundreds of thousands of new homes is unlikely to solve the housing crisis.

The UK is facing not one but five concurrent mini housing crises – each with dramatically different consequences and solutions, research from Sky News finds

They are:

:: A supply crisis: The traditional housing crisis most often referred to by politicians, with not enough homes to fill the demand

:: An under-occupation (distribution) crisis: In many parts of the country there are more than enough bedrooms for every potential household, but many of those bedrooms are left empty in big homes, pushing some potential homeowners out of the market.

:: A demand crisis: With some areas of the country facing weak income growth and a slow local economy, there are many regions and towns with more homes than buyers.

:: A quality crisis: For many homes, the big problem is neither supply nor demand but the state of the building. Much of the country’s accommodation has fallen into disrepair.

:: An affordability (access to credit) crisis: In many regions buyers are struggling to get onto the ladder because they simply can’t raise the necessary funds. Meanwhile in some areas cheap credit for the well-off has pushed up house prices disproportionately.

Great article from Sky News with some fantastic analysis on the range of issues currently affecting the UK property market. It’s great to see some commentary on various locations within the UK as opposed to comments attempting to diagnose the market as a whole. As detailed in Ed Conway’s article, there are different issues affecting various areas such as Ceredigion, Blackpool, Liverpool and Thanet; where we reported in a recent article (regarding the rental sector) that a high proportion of homes are old and in disrepair.
 
As reported within many parts of the UK – albeit most commonly London and the South East – the market is determined by how easily and cheaply prospective purchasers can borrow funds rather than by measurement of actual housing needs. Second homes are very popular with many budding investors who now look at buying family homes with the intention of applying for HMO licences.
 
Interestingly enough and despite all the current scaremongering taking place with regards to Brexit, demand for properties in London remains extremely high. Whilst we are most certainly in what industry professionals call ‘a buyer’s market’, there are still many properties having sales agreed within a short time of entering the market. In this situation, vendors price their properties competitively in relation to others, rather than opting to market with the agent that provides the highest valuation.

Michael Fyffe,  Truuli Property Expert

The Responsible Gas Safe Renting Guide

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas that can kill quickly with no warning, as you cannot see it, taste it or smell it.  

Follow these few simple checks to keep you and your family safe.

  • Check your Landlord’s Gas Safety Record. By law, your landlord must keep gas pipework, appliances and flues supplied for you to use in good condition. They must arrange a gas safety check of the appliances and flues every 12 months and give you a record of the check.
  • Check any gas appliances you own every year. Gas appliances should be safety checked once a year and serviced regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Set a reminder so you don’t forget at StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • Check your engineer is Gas Safe registered. You can find or check an engineer at GasSafeRegister.co.uk or call 0800 408 5500.
  • Check your engineer is qualified for the type of gas work you need doing e.g. natural gas, domestic boiler. You can find this information on the back of their Gas Safe ID card and the Gas Safe Register website.
  • Check for warning signs that your appliances aren’t working correctly, such as lazy yellow /orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance, a pilot light that keeps going out and too much condensation in the room.
  • Know the six main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning – headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness.
  • Have an audible carbon monoxide alarm. This will alert you if there is carbon monoxide in your home.

Landlords are legally responsible for the safety of their tenants. Landlords should make sure maintenance and annual safety checks on gas appliances are carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

If you’re a landlord, you are legally obliged to make sure:

  • Gas pipework, appliances and flues provided for tenants are maintained in a safe condition.
  • All gas appliances and flues provided for tenants use have an annual safety check. You can set a reminder so you don’t forget at StayGasSafe.co.uk.
  • Maintenance and annual safety checks are carried out by a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer.
  • All gas equipment (including any appliance left by a previous tenant) is safe or otherwise removed before re-letting.
  • A Gas Safety Record is provided to the tenant within 28 days of completing the check or to any new tenant before they move in.
  • You keep a copy of the Gas Safety Record for two years.

Truuli behind Gas Safety Week 2018

Truuli  has pledged its support for Gas Safety Week (17th-23rd September 2018) and will be helping to raise awareness about the importance of gas safety.

The eighth annual Gas Safety Week sees organisations from across the UK working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

This year, Gas Safety Week is addressing a whole range of gas safety matters throughout the week, from tackling illegal gas work to reminding people to avoid DIY when it comes to gas appliances and instead leave it the experts – registered engineers who are legally qualified to make sure your appliances are working safely and efficiently.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive for Gas Safe Register, said: “It’s great to see so many people supporting Gas Safety Week this year to help spread important and, in some cases, lifesaving advice about gas safety. It’s so vital that we help people to know not to cut corners with gas and always ask a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineer to work on gas appliances at their home to stay gas safe.”

Keep up-to-date with Gas Safe Register’s updates and advice throughout Gas Safety Week by following them on social media (Facebook, Twitter @GasSafeRegister and Instagram) and search #GSW18. 

To keep you and your family safe, follow Gas Safe Register’s top tips: 

  • Know the symptoms of CO poisoning; headaches, nausea, breathlessness, collapse, dizziness and loss of consciousness.
  • If you smell gas or think there might be a gas leak, call the free 24-hour national gas emergency number immediately on 0800 111 999.
  • Never attempt to work on a gas appliance yourself, always seek the help of a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer who can work on your gas cooker, boiler or fire in a safe way.
  • ‘Don’t cut corners’ and always ask to see your engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Make sure you check the back of the card, which will state which gas appliances they are qualified to work on.
  • Only employ a suitably qualified Gas Safe registered engineer when having gas work carried out in your home. Gas Safe Register is the official register for legally qualified engineers. You can find a registered engineer in your area by visiting the Gas Safe Register website at www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk or by calling on 0800 408 5500.

Truuli are backing calls for a Property MOT in the private rented sector…

Researchers from the University of York have called for the introduction of a Property MOT, operating in a similar manner to the system for cars whereby the condition of homes are checked on an annual basis.

In summary, the report states that current regulation of the sector is ‘confused and contradictory’, ‘failing at multiple levels’.

The report reveals that conditions of a property worsen the longer tenants are inhabiting, with poor property management being the root cause; affecting both low and high income renters. One in five rented homes at the top end of the market and one in three at the bottom end are currently classed as non-decent. The report warns of a ‘slum tenure’ emerging at the bottom end of the private rented sector due to welfare reforms.

‘Unbelievably, there are currently no minimum standards that properties have to meet before they are let and as a result, millions of renters have to put up with damp, disrepair and sometimes life-threatening hazards,’ said Dr Julie Rugg a leading housing academic at York University.

Pros of a Property MOT:

  • Provide a set minimum standard which must be met by all landlords in the private rented sector
  • Simplify and bring together current requirements for checking gas, electrical, and energy certificates
  • Offer tenants a guarantee before signing a tenancy, assuring the property will be well managed and that standards will not lapse in the future
  •   Afford landlords greater clarity and protection against prosecution

At Truuli we believe the needs of private renters have been ignored for too long and it is time the government introduce legislation to provide decent, secure and affordable homes – particularly for those on low incomes.

Link to full report

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