Archive for the ‘home’ Category

6 great ideas to ensure an eco-friendly house move

Sunday, August 30th, 2015

6 great ideas to ensure an eco-friendly house move

Green moving van illustrationimage

When I had to relocate because of a change of job, the first thing that crossed my mind was the amount of ‘stuff’ I would need to move. All the things I’d collected over decades would now need to be moved across the country, all the way from my seaside home to the bright lights of the big city. Being conscious of the environment, I could see my carbon footprint being mapped across the country; and that got me thinking about how I could reduce it. I could do nothing about the journey itself, but I knew I could control some aspects of the move. Thus, how and what I packed became a mission to be eco-friendly with the move, and here are a few of the ideas I came up with to help me on my eco-friendly removal adventure.

Garage sale of various house contentsimage

Reduce the load

Perhaps the best way to make your move friendlier to the environment is to make sure you move as little as possible. I took this opportunity to clear out all the things I had been hoarding for years, and recycled everything else. Usable items (I didn’t want) I either sold (actually paying for the move), or gave to thrift shops or local schools. By reducing the amount to be moved I cut down on the packaging required and reduced the need for excessive transportation. This was the perfect first step.

Room contents being packed upimage

Calculate your removal needs

Once you have finalised everything that is going to move with you, you will need to know how much packaging and the transportation capacity you will need. To do this, I simply called one of the most reputable removals companies in Brighton and organised for a home visit from my final choice. I explained my packing plan, and they gave me an estimate of the number and types of boxes I would require; and even offered to supply them. They also estimated the minimum square footage I would need for the transportation, and thus ensured that I left the least possible impact through transportation emissions.

Parcelled up carboard boxes on a pavementimage

Generate your packaging

As I was planning well ahead, I now had the opportunity to find the packaging I would require without buying new. The average number of boxes used in a household move is an incredible 60 boxes (check out this great infographic on recycling moving boxes) so I wanted all mine recycled or reused. I asked everybody from friends to local shopkeepers for their boxes, and found an ample supply. I also collected wooden crates and as much paper as I could too. All of it would be used for my final pack, and I could recycle it all again later.

Roll of Geämi paperimage

Environmental packaging ideas

A friend had told me about using alternate packing materials, so I did a little research and found some great alternatives I could use. To separate individual items in boxes I used a lot of paper, the clothes I was moving anyway, and my towels and bedding. When it came to packing up my furniture, to stop scratching and dents, I found a great alternative to bubble wrap, and used a product called Geämi paper, which is a fantastic green option. I really did feel that that taking control of my packaging choices helped me with my environmental moving crusade.

Eco cleaning productsimage

Cleaning products

Another way I tried to stay eco-friendly with my move was through my choice of cleaning products. I generally only use green products anyway, but in the massive clean-up that took place before my move, this was even more important.

Wickes energy-saving tips infographicimage

A lifestyle change

No matter how hard you try, a move like mine will have an impact, but all is not lost because of the move. To make up for the damage you have caused, you should take a look at the way you manage yourself in your new property. Now is the time to think about insulation, lighting, and heating options; and how you can reduce your energy use in the future. Take steps to reduce your energy consumption now and you can be forgiven for the damage your move may have caused.


Why 2015 is the best year to buy a house

Sunday, May 31st, 2015

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For sale signs

Buying a house can be a pretty daunting prospect. It’s a process that is expensive, stressful, tricky to get right and long-winded. Yet, despite all of that it’s still something many of us want to do. The safety and security of a permanent roof over our heads makes buying a house an attractive prospect – and the prospect of investing in something tangible makes the hassle financially worthwhile. So, with many people wanting to make that step into home ownership, what makes 2015 the year that they should take the plunge? What about people looking to move up the ladder too?

Stamp duty illustration

Stamp duty

One of the changes all buyers can benefit from in 2015 is those made to Stamp Duty. Brought in in December, these rules make a difference to the up-front cost that you’ll need to bear. Previously you had to fork out 1% of the purchase price in Stamp Duty on properties between £125,000 and £250,000 and 3% up to £500,000. Under the new system you still pay nothing below £125,000 and then above that you pay 2% of the cost over and above that figure, i.e. if your house is £130,000 you now pay 2% of £5,000, instead of 1% of the full cost, or £100 instead of £1,300. In Scotland the duty was rebranded as the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and although it operates in a similar way it carries no charge for the first £145,000 of the cost.

Monopoly board showing Mayfair


As with any decision there are push and pull factors when it comes to buying a house. One thing that may well ‘push’ you into buying a house this year is the increased cost of renting. The price of renting is rising to a point where the cost far outstrips the amount you could be paying towards your own bricks and mortar – with more than a quarter of landlords plotting above-inflation rent increases during this calendar year.

'Help to Buy' logo


If you’re renting then chances are you can afford the mortgage payments, but it could be the deposit that you’re struggling with. The good news is that there are a whole host of schemes on offer during 2015 that can help you to overcome that hurdle. Check out the latest home buying schemes information to see how Help To Buy, Right To Buy and NewBuy all work. Essentially, Help To Buy sees the government stepping in to provide a loan – refundable on sale of the property – so that you’ll only need a 5% deposit. Right To Buy aims to help social housing tenants and NewBuy looks, as you’d expect, at freshly constructed properties.

Red Monopoly houses on pound coins


Forget the squabbling of the political parties; for house-hunters, the economy is in a relatively good shape to take the plunge in 2015. Low interest rates mean there are some excellent sub-2% deals out there and a host of options on fixed and flexible rates. It’s a competitive mortgage market and that’s a good sign for the buyer. Price increases have slowed – at least outside London – too, making this a steady year to invest.

Rising rents, falling Stamp Duty, a relatively stable economy and support schemes all mean 2015 could well be the ideal year to dip into the housing market.


Home survey: Money well spent

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

'Home suevey: Money well spent' blog post banner

Home survey wordle

Despite the fact that real estate in Sydney is a significant long-term investment that could impact a buyer’s finances for decades, many prospective home-owners baulk at shelling out for a professional surveyor to examine the property before the sale is completed. This is an unnecessary risk at best and a disastrous error in judgement at worst, as home damage that may be invisible to the untrained eye can cause unforeseen calamity long after you’re left holding the deed.

An expert eye

Surveyors are trained to spot existing as well as potential issues with an uncommon level of detail. Once the 2-3 hour examination of the interior and exterior of the property is complete, the surveyor will provide a thorough report on the various aspects of the home, including structure, plumbing, electrical equipment, and other amenities.

During a surveyor’s report, minor defects, major defects and safety issues will be categorised and detailed to you. You will also find out which items need repair and replacement as well as those that should be monitored for future wear. Home surveyors can even inform you of routine maintenance that should be performed based on the amenities in the home, which is information not even the seller may possess.

Survey contingency

One of the most useful discretions that having a home surveyed before buying affords you is the ability to back out of an offer if significant issues are discovered during the assessment, even after an otherwise enforceable deal is reached in principle.

The survey contingency is a vital resource after an offer has been accepted. Without this protection you may be legally bound to pay the seller a penalty fee or even the full purchase price of a home once an agreement is reached regardless of what issues may later arise.

Your options

If issues are discovered during a home survey, you can choose to ask the seller to fix them at their expense, to reduce the purchase price, or to provide a cash credit at closing to be applied to the cost of repairs. This is where surveyors truly earn their keep, as without the survey your options would be extremely limited and you would likely be responsible for the cost of any repairs necessary before you can live in the home.

It is advisable for all home-buyers to have a survey conducted prior to exchanging. A survey is an investment of time and money, but one that could pay for itself many times over if significant issues are discovered.