HomeOwners Advice and Prospective Home Buyers

Did you know that just 107650 homes were registered as completed with the UK Government during the period 2010/11, less than at any time since 1923! During 2011/2012 the number of housing completions registered was 117440. There is some good news though, as 181,000 new homes were built in 2014/15. (source: www.theplanner.co.uk) As the government continue looking for new ways to fast-track planning applications things should continue to improve on the numbers side. Update: March 2016 - Data released by the Department of Communities and Local Government shows that number of major applications being processed swiftly by local authorities is also at an all-time high with a record 81% decided within the required time.

There is evidence of widespread dissatisfaction among home owners over design standards. A quarter of new home buyers are refusing to buy new-built homes complaining that they are simply too small. Britain now has some of the smallest single room flats in Europe and our houses are lacking in up to 1/5th of those build in Germany.

Internal layout, storage and small rooms are forcing more buyers to buy older homes making this the best time ever to re-decorate and modernize older homes for the housing market. The "Green Deal", a reduction in solar PV fitting costs and some of the best deals on double and triple glazing to ever have been available will ensure that older houses continue to rise in value.

Modified on 09/03/2016

Why Make FairTrades Members Your Trusted Tradesmen?

Welcome to the FairTrades Home owners web site. Whether you are looking for a tradesmen to fit a new kitchen, remodel your sitting room or build a conservatory, we hope that FairTrades.co.uk will be all you need to find that perfect contractor in the coming years!

Why Use A FairTrades Registered, Vetted and Trusted Tradesmen?

The public's awareness for the need to find trustworthy tradesmen has grown over the past few years, giving rise to many new professional, consumer friendly trade directories such as HomePro.com and FairTrades.co.uk. As a home improvement trade association must strongly emphasize that Rogue Builders are the exception and not the norm. FairTrades is making every effort to work closely with building and home improvement industry professionals, highlighting both the great work and excellent business ethics the many home improvement professionals listed here provide the UK home owner.

Safely Tackling A Home Improvement Project

Most people are able to perform a few basic DIY tasks, such as nailing down a loose floorboard perhaps, or repainting a room or two.

But it is safe to say that some are more comfortable with a drill, hammer and nails than others.

Some of the biggest DIY disasters come when people go beyond their natural skills and end up trying to tackle jobs they cannot do. For example some people might easily be able to put in a new kitchen or bathroom. But if your DIY skills end at being able to put up a shelf, you would be better off calling in the experts to get the job done.

A good way to figure out whether you have the skills to tackle a certain job is to first find out what skills will be needed. For instance a new bathroom installation requires a range of different skills, not least plumbing, tiling and electrical. A kitchen requires many of the same skills too! If you do not feel competent or you are not legally allowed to complete a task, then you are better off calling in a qualified plumber, carpenter and electrician to help you. You might still be able to do some of the work on your own, such as tiling and decorating for example, so you can still save money by not hiring tradesmen for those jobs. But you should know where to draw the line. Remember, safety and your sanity are at stake. Here at www.FairTrades.co.uk we have a qualified tradesman for every home improvement project.
Modified on 25/07/2014

What is the Difference between Double and Triple Glazing?

Double glazing units have two panes of glass within a highly specialised uPVC frame whereas Triple Glazing incorporates three panes of glass. Different countries have different needs and here in the UK current double glazing replacement windows are considered to be more than efficient enough for our current needs. Currently the Building Regulations require newly installed windows to have a U-value 1.6 or less.

Double glazing windows absorb about as much heat as they let out while triple glazed windows absorb just a little less heat than double glazed windows will.

Modified on 10/26/2012

What are Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's)?

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's) give information on how to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your energy costs. All homes bought, sold or rented require an EPC which is valid for 10 years. To recap, an EPC is required when a building is built, rented or sold. An EPC must be obtained from an accredited assessor who will not only make the assessment on your property but also produce the certificate. If you're selling or renting out a domestic property or commercial building, you must get an approved Domestic Energy Assessor to produce the EPC. The EPC needs to be available to potential buyers as soon as you start to market your property for sale or rent. See click here

An EPC becomes public knowledge and can be found at The Domestic Energy Performance Certificate Register, home owners can however keep their EPC details private if they opt out. To opt out click here In Scotland, you must display the EPC somewhere in the property, an ideal place would being in the meter cupboard for instance. For more details on EPC's click here where you can also find information on finding an accredited accessors.

Modified on 11/08/2014

I want solar pv panels, where do i start?

Today, many home owners want to save money on energy costs and to make their property more eco-friendly. However, with an increasing array of products and technologies on the market, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to begin… We have a short guide to help you -

FREE SOLAR GUIDE - where to start

Modified on 27/01/2015

Are there any benefits to installing Solar PV anymore?

Solar energy is a renewable resource and there is plenty of sunlight to go around. In the long run it can repay the cost of installation via the ‘Feed in Tariff’ and the income from the Feed in Tariff is currently tax free.

FREE SOLAR GUIDE - where to start

Modified on 27/01/2015

What costs can I expect with a Solar PV Installation?

Deciding to go solar will undoubtedly cost the average home owner between £4,500 and £14,000, although usually this initial cost is usually repaid over time in the savings made on energy bills. It is critical to remember that the cost of the panels can vary greatly between high quality efficient panels and far cheaper less efficient ones. More established manufactures are likely to be around for longer and are a better choice for home owners if they are willing to pay just a little more. Don't forget that the cost you are quoted also includes your solar inverter, or PV inverter, which converts the variable direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel into a utility frequency alternating current (AC) that can be fed back into the electrical grid. The quality of this equipment is also directly linked to its price, so as with all things, consider your options and weigh up the price vs your long term expectations. Your solar installation company is best able to advise you on your best option.

FREE SOLAR GUIDE - where to start

Modified on 11/08/2014

How do I make my Home more Energy Efficient?

If you are considering all the ways you could make your home more energy efficient, Double or Triple Glazing is one of the first things you should look at updating, along with cavity wall insulation and roofing insulation. Only then does it make sense to consider a Solar PV installation. For more information click on the link below.

Making your home more energy efficient

Modified on11/08/2014

Why is it important to inform your insurer of home improvements?

Due to stricter mortgage lending criteria and an ever increasing stamp duty, more of us are opting to make home improvements and build extensions rather than to buy a new house. Home improvements are also on the increase due to the contemporary need for a higher standard of living and improved surroundings as well as higher competition amongst neighbours.

Whilst we all know that making improvements on the home many increase its value, those in the know have become aware that in the main, people don't let their insurers know this. Furthermore, whilst some structural changes may not affect the price of a property, if you don't tell you insurers about the work you may not be covered in the event of damage to your home.

A survey has been done by surveycompare.net which shows that around 26% of us don't inform our insurers of building or improvement work done on our homes. Admittedly, phoning the insurer is perhaps the last thing any of us think of after having work done on our homes which can make life stressful and chaotic.

Of those who took part in the surveycompare.net survey, 21% weren't aware that they needed to speak to their insurers and 3% didn't get round to making the call. The final 2% of those people polled who didn't call their insurers avoided the call for fear that a large premium would be applied to their insurance policy.

In fact only changes which increase the value by over £10,000 will see a change in their premium and it may not be that significant in term of financial cost. Being left uninsured due to neglecting to call your insurers on the other hand may carry a much higher financial burden. It is worthwhile checking out which insurers will give you the best premiums when they know what work is being done.

Modified on 11/20/2012

Should You Get Double Glazing or Triple Glazing?

Since double glazing is better at keeping the heat in and the cold out than single glazing, surely it stands to reason that triple glazing is even better. Perhaps, but is the increased performance worth the additional investment?

Making your home more energy efficient

Modified on 27/01/2015

What is secondary glazing and does it work?

Secondary glazing helps homeowners reduce heat loss and cut the draught from older windows while an instant and welcome noise reduction from busy roads and homes or flats near to schools, bars and outdoor sporting facilities at a fraction of the cost of double glazing.

Secondary glazing has come a long way since the 70’s and todays secondary glazing products offer a multitude of options to home owners who either cannot afford the cost of double glazing or live in listed buildings where the replacement of the original window is most often cost prohibitive or simply not allowed.

There are many secondary glazing systems on the market; some include vertical or horizontal sliders, or hinged and un-hinged screens. The options are endless and well worth investigating. Due to the large variety of secondary glazing units on the market; home owners will now find that almost any type of window can be fitted with secondary glazing.

You can expect to save around 50 percent of the energy you would save from double glazing when fitted correctly. A two centimetre gap is recommended but if you wish to ensure that noise reduction is maximised FairTrades Association recommends that you discuss this with your installer to ensure that you buy the best suited glass for this. There are several laminated glass options for improved sound reduction as well as acoustic laminated glasses. Acoustic glass not only provides insulation for noise but also has safety and security properties. Bear in mind that not all secondary glazing is the same, always consult a professional glazing company when you purchase any glazing product and insist on an installation certificate and an insurance backed guarantee from your installer.

Modified on 12/4/2012

Should I renovate my property before putting it on the market?

The housing market is suffering its second downturn in recent years, with prices fairly static and many homeowners finding that it is taking them longer to sell their house than they had initially planned.

Did you that around 180 000 home buyers benefited by taking advantage of the two year long stamp duty holiday (March 2010 to March 2012).

But with that said this is a very broad statement. Some areas in the UK are not experiencing the same problems as others, with property prices in some areas remaining steady. It is still however the case that newly renovated properties are more desirable than those requiring a lot of work. Double glazing, conservatories and solar pv panels are a great way for homeowners to make their property stand out. A property with double or triple glazed windows and solar panels ensures better energy efficiency and reduced electricity bills for prospective buyers. This fact is certain to get a buyers attention!

It is still possible to sell a property that needs a considerable amount of work doing to it to be brought up to date. But you should be aware that you will have to reduce your asking price to make it more appealing to potential buyers, eating in to your profits.

Selling a property is definitely more difficult in the current economic climate, however, it is not impossible! Put in some work to make it more appealing. Even a small investment in improving the homes appearance is going to be better than trying to sell a home in need of care and attention. Consider all your options before putting your property on the market to maximise your opportunity to make a sale. If you do this you may end up getting a better deal - and in this market that would certainly be a good thing.

Modified on 11/08/2014

Rogue Trades Alert by TrustMark

With all this wet and stormy weather around the UK, TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality mark for tradesmen, is urging home owners to be aware of rogue traders offering to do property repair work and to only use reputable and honest companies.

Stuart Carter, Head of PR and Marketing at TrustMark, said: "Whilst rogue traders operate throughout the year, there is likely to be an increase in their numbers following extreme weather conditions involving high winds, a cold weather snap and floods. Bogus property repairers often trick people into paying high prices for unnecessary or shoddy work so I would advise consumers to be extra vigilant and only use reputable and legitimate tradesmen. Never agree to have work done by somebody who turns up uninvited on your doorstep."

"TrustMark was set up six years ago to signpost consumers to good quality and trustworthy firms and to help home owners select a local tradesman with confidence. With more than 20,000 licensed trades searchable on our database by postcode, we are able to help people find a good quality firm enabling them to get the best job done at a fair price. We want to give people a better-informed choice of tradesmen and if things don't go quite right, to provide a clear and easy to use complaints procedure to resolve any problems."

Below is a check-list that offers some simple steps for householders to repair their property following weather damage:

  • In the first instance check with your insurance company to see whether they have a procedure for dealing with damage as a result of the weather.
  • If you do need to find a tradesman to do work, get quotes from two or three local firms and be specific with a detailed, clear brief of the work you want done.
  • Ask friends and family for a recommendation and check the TrustMark website at www.trustmark.org.uk to ensure that the tradesman is registered for the particular
    trades you require.
  • Use a firm that has a fixed address and uses a landline phone number. Be very wary of those only willing to give you a mobile number.
  • Don't just go with the cheapest; consider your ability to communicate with the firm and their quality of their work.
  • Only pay for work that has been done and do not pay in advance. Ensure that you obtain clear invoices of the work carried out and ideally pay by cheque or credit card.
  • If materials need to be bought in advance by the tradesman, it is reasonable that the customer is asked to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses.
  • Always use a written contract as it offers you protection should anything go wrong.
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value and ensure these are made in writing before the work is done.

TrustMark is the only scheme supported by Government, industry and consumer protection groups. It has the support of many partner organisations, including the Trading Standards Institute and Citizens Advice which are aiming to raise standards within the industry and provide greater protection for householders in their search to find local, quality tradesmen.

For further information about TrustMark, visit www.trustmark.org.uk

Information About TrustMark | Also see for more information about TrustMark Accreditation

1. TrustMark is the Government endorsed not-for-profit quality mark for tradesmen. It is an independent scheme owned and operated under license from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
2. TrustMark's website has an easy to use UK wide postcode search facility, which provides details of more than 20,000 licensed trades and has the largest database of accredited tradesmen in the country.
3. All TrustMark firms' technical skills have been independently checked through on-site inspections to ensure a high quality of workmanship and trading practices. TrustMark is the only scheme that requires qualified inspectors to do these visits, so that technical competence is checked as well as business practices and customer satisfaction.
4. TrustMark firms work to Government endorsed standards and are able to offer insurance backed warranties and deposit protection, as well as operating a user-friendly complaints procedure.

Modified on 27/01/2015

Should I Buy A Property for Sale That Has Free Solar Panels

Most home owners and prospective home buyers have by now heard about the free solar panels deals that have are available form solar installation companies. The idea is that the solar panels are installed for free by an installation company, in return for receiving the feed in tariffs paid out for generating the free energy they create. The householder saves money on their energy bills while the installation company picks up the feed in tariffs.

It now seems as if these panels could cause problems when it comes to selling a property with the panels installed. Homeowners who have installed panels according to such a deal could find it rather difficult to sell their homes, according to advice given by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Furthermore prospective home buyers have been warned that if they make an offer against a home with these panels installed under a free scheme, they could find their mortgage is rejected on such a property. Ideally any free installation scheme like this should be done in accordance with advice from the Council of Mortgage Lenders. But problems have occurred even in cases where such advice has been taken.

The problem has arisen because the installation company effectively owns the roof on which the panels have been installed. This ownership period triggers a problem when the homeowner wants to sell. While some leases have what is known as a buy-out clause, it can still lead to a required payment of thousands of pounds to be released from it. As a trade association we strongly recommend that you look into this question further and make a decision based on your mortgage lenders recommendations.

Modified on 12/7/2012

Are Solar Water Heaters As Good An Investment As Solar PV?

A lot of people are familiar with seeing roofs dotted with solar panels in their local area. But while the vast majority of these panels turn the sun's energy into usable electricity, not all of them are designed for this purpose.

Some panels are designed to use the heat from the sun rather than the light. This is how they are used to heat the water in your home so you get ready made hot water, in a sense, rather than having to heat it by some other means. The water, once heated, goes into a tank and stays there until you need it.

But if you walk around your neighbourhood you probably won't see too many of these installations as compared to solar panel arrangements for providing electricity. They cost several thousand pounds to install and they won't provide all the hot water you need in your home. Most people find they can get around half of their needs met in this way. Of course it depends on how good you are at using water. If you are careful you may do better than the average 50%.

In short it can take a while longer to recoup your investment in a solar water heating system.

Modified on 12/7/2012

There Are Many Small Unfinished Jobs Around The House. What Should I do?

Every homeowner has them, those small jobs that never seem to get done. This could be anything from cleaning out the gutters to nailing down a loose floorboard to fixing a leaky sink. But because they're small they tend to get put off. We think they'll only take a few minutes to do (true, in most cases) and that means we continually put them off.

But the problem with doing this is that little problems can often lead to bigger ones if they are not dealt with in a hurry. That leaky sink could turn into a bigger leak causing damage to the sink cabinet. The blocked gutter could lead to rainwater coming down the walls of the house and causing problems there. The loose floorboard could become looser still, and possibly even be a tripping hazard.

As you can see there are plenty of good reasons why it’s best to tackle those small jobs as and when they come up. It will also help you to ensure you are able to keep your list of small jobs down to a minimum. In doing so you can reduce the odds of any of the smaller DIY jobs becoming larger ones, because you will get into the habit of tackling them on a regular basis.

You’ll also find you get confidence from doing this because you will get more experienced at doing all manner of bits and pieces like this. Your home will look better for it too.

Modified on 12/7/2012

Can I Transfer a Certificate of Warranty Insurance to the New Buyer When I Sell my Property?

Yes, subject to terms and conditions of your policy. There is currently a fee of £100 to do so. The fee could change at any time so please call HomePro Insurance to confirm eligibility and cost first. You will require your policy details when you call. Thank you.

Modified on 3/25/2013

Understanding Public Rights of Way

They are open to anyone who wished to use them and can consist of roads, tracks or paths. Found in and around towns, the countryside and many private property, especially farm land. Public rights of way must be kept open and useable. There are footpaths, bridleways (you may travel by foot, horse or bike, restricted byways (no travel allowed with motorised vehicles allowed) and byways open to all traffic.

Modified on 7/3/2013

Rule changes on UK Mortgages Started April 2012 by the former FSA (Now the FCA)

New rules on mortgages in the UK have been introduced with the focus on affordablity for the borrower, and verification on the part of the lender, to ensure that lending is responsible. Lenders will therefore need to give potential homebuyers better advice before a mortgage can be granted. Lenders need to complete their plans to ensure that they meet the new requirements when they formally come into place in April 2014. The FSA (Replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) April 1, 2013) began the Mortgage Market Review back in in 2009.

It is important to note that that higher LTV (loan to value)loans to first time buyers have not been banned and nor have interest only loans, with the critical focus rightly remaining on affordable said Peter Williams, executive director of The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA). The most noticeable improvement will be that home buyers will no longer will be permitted to rely on an assumed rise in house prices to repay the initial mortgage loan at the end of the agreed term. They will need to prove that they have an adequate savings plan in place or a pension payout or investment in place to make the final repayment and this must be agreed before interest only mortgages will be approved.

Modified on 10/26/2012

What Is The Green Deal? How Can The Green Deal Help Me As A Home Owner?

The governments green deal scheme now live: Quite possibly the most ambitious national improvement programme in 80 years. The "Green Deal" is unnecessarily complex and for this reason FairTrades strongly recommends that you use a well know advisor during the early days of this scheme being launched.

Under the Green Deal, both home and business owners will be able to invest in loft and cavity wall insulation, lagging, double-glazing, radiant heating, and energy efficient taps and showers along with another 35 other energy efficiency measures, at no upfront cost. The improvements that are carried out under the Green Deal will be paid for through loans that are repaid through their energy bills each month. The scheme attaches the loans to the property being updated, so future buyers of the property will take over the repayments in the case of a sale. Wether this is a good or a bad thing will only be known in the years to come, but the loan repayments should be offset by energy savings, reducing any anxiety such a a loan would normally cause prospective buyers.

To prevent the expected future cost savings exceeding the anticipated cost savings projected at the time of the initial green deal loan being taken out the" Green Deal" finance is attached to the properties energy meter and therefore offering the consumer some protection.

Since this new scheme started on Monday 1st October homeowners and businesses are now able to register to have their properties assessed for the "Green Deal". Initially, only the most needy will be able to get immediate help. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Those members of the public and business sector who wish to receive funds towards their energy efficiency improvements will have to wait for the second phase of the programme, due to start in 2013, when the required legislation for the "Green Deal" finance plans is finally expected to be in put in place.

British Gas, the Green Deal Advisor Association, Mark Group and the National EPC Company have all so far been approved to carry out "Green Deal" assessments.

Modified on 10/26/2012

How to clear blocked drains and far more

Baking soda is one of those all round miracle products found in your kitchen. Not only is it a vital ingredient when baking cakes but it is also used to relieve heartburn and acid indigestion by many. Baking Soda is also great for cleaning old car battery terminals and because it is such an effective cleaning agent, many also use it to scrubs away oven grease and stains. Now there is an added benefit for you to enjoy. Baking Soda is just as great at absorbing odours. You can use baking soda to prevent nasty odours escaping from your sink. Simply pour a small amount of it down the drain followed by a quick blast of hot water and enjoy a fresher smelling kitchen sink. If you want to freshen up you car, pour some baking soda in the ash trays and after a few days your car will start smelling fresh again.

Vinegar is a fantastic condiment found in your kitchen. Vinegar is acidic. Vinegars main ingredient is acetic acid, this can not only remove rust but acts as a solvent to remove organic build-ups of food and other materials in kitchen sink drains. Pour one cup of vinegar down the drain and leave it to work for between 30 and 45 minutes. Then pour some very hot water down the drains to flush the pipes.

Modified on 13/01/2016



To date, we have insured £4,547,656,874 worth of UK home
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