Why Not take Advantage Of The Current Interesting Times


Why not take advantage of the current "interesting" times?

With interest rates at their historical lowest in many decades, now could be an ‘Interesting’ time to spend those funds sitting in your bank earning very little interest.

Not to waste money of course, but to invest in a bigger and brighter home which will undoubtedly increase further in value when the inevitable recovery in house prices comes along, as you know it must and eventually will!

Equally, if you’re considering a loan to extend or revamp your home, now is a good time to secure the funding before interest rates go up, as it is being predicted that they will, possibly in May.

A loft conversion, extension or a revamp of the kitchen or bathroom can add value to your largest asset and save you the stress of searching for and going through the lengthy process of house sales and purchase, not to mention the actual move.

We’re not saying that having work done on your existing home won’t involve some short-term upheaval, but that’s where we come in.

At Footings Direct we do everything to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

We can manage the whole project for you from the initial design stage through planning permission (if needed) and ensuring your plans comply with building regulations.

Then, once you have a feasible plan, we will manage the whole project for you, from talking to any neighbours who might be affected, to ensuring the supplies are ordered and delivered as they are needed and carrying out the work to the highest possible standards.

What’s more we offer a guaranteed fixed price contract in writing, with no hidden extras.

Interested? Why not give us a call for an initial discussion of what you have in mind and an idea of likely costs so that you can take advantage of the current low interest rates.

Checks Perform Home Cold Snap


After a period of cold weather what should you check on your home?

After several years of fairly mild winters, seriously cold weather with freezing temperatures, snow and ice can be a shock.

It can cause damage to buildings that you might not easily spot, so once the milder weather begins these are the vulnerabilities that are worth checking and fixing before they deteriorate further and cause more expensive damage.

Burst pipes are obvious at the time, since they usually result in water leaks, so they are easily spotted and not something that you are likely to delay in getting fixed.  However, it might be wise to check in areas around the site of the leak for longer-term damage, such as loose plaster or hidden issues under floors.

Roofs:  Snow lying on a roof can be heavy and once a thaw sets in the snow starts to slip and it can dislodge tiles.  On flat roofs it may be worth also checking that it hasn’t seeped under the felting and cause less visible damage perhaps to ceilings.

You can also prevent winter damage problems with some simple precautions.

If you are going to be away during severe, frost conditions it is advisable to leave your heating on to prevent pipes icing up then bursting when they thaw out.

For the future, you can build in some protection for which there are sometimes Government grants, such as for loft insulation and for eco-backed cavity wall insulation.

If you want to control electricity consumption more efficiently, and ensure your home is protected from damage due to electrical faults, you can install a new consumer unit (fusebox). It is worth checking whether you are eligible for financial help.  Grants of up to £500 may be available for a new unit on your main home only if you qualify.

Thinking Summer Project


Happy New Year – thinking about a summer project?

We wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

If you’re thinking about having work done this summer now’s the time to get in touch with us.

We can advise on all aspects of renovation and extension work from planning right through to completion.

Watch this space for more developments currently in the pipeline at Footings Direct

Merry Christmas


We wish all our customers and friends a

Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

When the weather’s cold and the days are short it is always good to have something to look forward to. Many of us use the holiday to relax, refresh and plan ahead for the coming year. 

If you’re thinking about a loft conversion, an extension, or maybe a new layout for the garden, renovating or refurbishing your home this is the time to consider what you want.

Footings Direct offers a full range of services from design right through to project management and building to suit your needs and your budget, so if you have any questions please do call or email and we will be happy to help.

Contact us here

Outgrowing Home Dont Move


Outgrowing Your Home? You Don't Have To Move

Family circumstances change over time particularly as the children grow, adding their share to the accumulating possessions that take up space, as well as perhaps needing somewhere private to entertain friends or to study.

Or it may be that an elderly relative can no longer live independently and you are considering having them live with you.

When a simple declutter is no longer enough to create more space you might assume there is no option other than to move.

But is that really true?  Could you instead extend your existing home?

What to consider when comparing a house move with extension

In both cases there will be some disruption and it may continue for some time.  The typical house purchase and move, without any hiccups, chains and other complications takes five months from offer to completion. 

However, the disruption continues after the move, from the time spent in notifying all sorts of authorities of an address change, to the unpacking and the often necessary calling in of various trades to sort out issues that might be revealed once the house is empty.

Costs are another factor. Solicitors’ fees, mortgage brokers’ fees, agents’ fees, stamp duty, removals companies, paying off the final bills on the former property because of the time lag in transferring utilities, council tax and the like.  It can all mount up and can be anything between £10,000 and £20,000.

Then there is the location, the schools, amenities, the social networks and facilities that may be lost.

The advantages of staying put and extending

While there is no denying that there will be disruption if you decide to stay put and extend an existing home, the money invested will add value to your property.

Costs will include advice and design fees to architect, planning consent and builders’ fees.  Comparing the cost of extending to moving by adding the cost of the proposed works to the existing property value and the cost of buying the space ready built will help. Generally staying put and extending will work out cheaper as well as adding value to the property.

Finding an experienced and well-known local builder, who can act as project manager and steer you through the whole process is crucial and a good investment.  Their advice will be invaluable and ensure there are no costly errors.

Another critical factor in favour of staying put and extending is that you retain control. Moreover, you will end up with exactly what you want, where you want it, which is rarely the case when buying another home, leading to additional costs in having work redone in the new home to suit your needs and taste.

On balance, we at Footings Direct would advise that if your house has the potential for extension, whether by adding a conservatory, converting an attic or a basement you will get a better deal, that is exactly to your requirements.  You can remain in a location you know well and like, your children will be able to stay at the same school and maintain their networks…..

….and while there will be some disruption, it will not be the disruption that can come when home moves are delayed where there is a long chain of buyers and sellers.

Planning Extension Next Summer


Planning An Extension For Next Summer? Now's The Time To Start Planning

Many people do not realise how long it can take to get all the paperwork for an extension or loft conversion finalised.

While next summer may seem a long way off it is wise to start the preparations during the autumn and winter to be sure of getting work started on time.

Among those who will need to be engaged will be architects.  They will require time to talk through your plans and produce designs.  Often this will involve consulting with engineers, party wall surveyors and others to ensure what you have in mind is feasible.

All of this will take time, for the professionals to inspect your property, produce reports and identify any difficulties that may mean ideas will have to be modified before design work can be completed.

Once the architect has produced the designs, you will need to get properly-documented permissions from various authorities.

Planning permission needs to be given by the local authority. This may mean that planning officers have to consult with neighbours and they must, by law, publish the proposal to allow time for objections, and if necessary negotiations, before the councillors can vote to approve or reject your planning application.

Bear in mind that most local authority planning committees only meet once a month and usually take eight weeks to approve from the date of submission.

You will also need to comply with building regulations. Regulations nowadays cover a wide range of applications. Check this website for more details:  https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects

So, if you want your dream extension to be completed on time, the advice is to allow between six and nine months beforehand to get everything in place.

The build is the easy part, look sharp and get your plans underway.

Help Your Builder To Help You Part 2


Help Your Builder To Help You Part 2

Alongside all the official permissions and paperwork needed for an extension or a loft conversion your builder will also need to know how you see the completed job.

For the homeowner, arguably, this is the “fun” bit, but if you want the result to reflect your unique tastes and style, finishes, colour schemes, bathroom or kitchen furniture may require advance planning, especially if it is likely to take a while for suppliers to fulfil orders.

It will help if you start a scrap book and fill it full of design ideas, for items like doors, door furniture, light fittings and styles, so that your builder can understand the style and look you are hoping to achieve.

It is also a good idea to allow time in case any of the products you have ordered should prove to be faulty or damaged when they arrive.

Ask your builder about sanitary-ware and internal tile procurement early in the build, especially if you are looking for items that are likely to be limited edition, in unusual colours or have to be made to order. So, adequate time needs to be allowed if these items are to be ready on site early to avoid any delays once work has started.

Request or arrange kitchen designs prior to the build commencing. Establishing a clear design early will always assist your builder in implementing infrastructure, such as placing pipework or wiring and power points.

Remember, design changes can create unnecessary costs, so you need to be confident that what you have chosen will produce the effect you want once the job is complete.

Inform your insurance company of the proposed works. Although your builder will have all the appropriate Insurance cover you are still required to inform your insurance company.

If you are unsure of any aspect of the build or process ask your builder. We welcome intervention and are aware some terminology can be confusing.

The better informed you are the more confident you will feel.

Help Your Builder To Help You Part 1


Help Your Builder To Help You - Part 1

Adding an extension, or a loft conversion to your home can be a lengthy and complex process, so the last thing you need is a delay when you think everything’s ready to go.

In this first of a two-part series, we look at some of the formalities that need to be completed before your builder can start work.

The first step is to apply for planning permission and it is imperative to involve an architect with local knowledge at an early stage.  Most architects will be familiar with what is permitted or not in a particular location, this expertise will ensure designs and drawings will be warmly received by the local planning authorities.  The planning authority’s concerns will be about the effects of your proposals on any neighbours, on traffic, if applicable, and on whether the proposals will blend well with the current setting, particularly where the buildings are of historical value, whether or not they are Listed.

However, the architect’s drawings and subsequent plans are not all that may be needed. If you have a tight timescale you can also instruct the architect to start producing Building Regulation drawings and obtain calculations from a structural engineer to speed up the process before planning approval is granted.  Building Regulations cover the specifics of the build such as materials, drainage and fire prevention.

It may also be necessary for you to collate a list of your infrastructure requirements, such as electrical and plumbing applications if they are needed.

Your builder will need all these details in order to estimate what may be involved and provide you with a reasonably accurate quote.

Once you have appointed your builder, they will need copies of A1 drawings of your plans, which can be provided by your architect.

It is also important to talk with your neighbours to minimise their inconvenience while the work is being carried out.

Having the neighbours’ agreement is crucial if, for example, scaffolding may be needed and may have to be placed on their property. For loft conversions, if you and they have a party wall you will also need a party wall agreement before work can begin.

Parking can be a fraught issue when building work is going on and while your builders will do their best to avoid inconvenience to neighbours, inevitably the work will mean more vehicles in the street.  If your home is in a restricted parking area you should ensure that you get at least two dispensation permits from your local council and additional day permits.

Also, before they start work, make sure you tell your builder of any other concerns the neighbours may have. Most builders would prefer to at least meet your immediate neighbours and talk through any problems or fears they may have before they start on the job.

Choosing The Right Contractor


Choosing the right contractor for work on your home

For a homeowner finding the right building company to complete an extension or loft conversion can be difficult if they have little experience of building work or builders.

Construction companies can be involved in a project from the very beginning, but more usually, they are appointed once the client has planning permission.

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) represents small to medium-sized builders, contractors and house builders across England and Wales.

In order to maintain the NFB’s high standards members must provide business and financial references, be VAT registered (if applicable), have public liability insurance, be CITB registered, and adhere to a strict Code of Conduct in their relationships with clients.

The endorsement of the NFB means a builder that is a member is considered reliable, honest, and trustworthy. Members are expected to adhere to the highest standards and best practice in the industry. However, in the rare instance that a member comes under investigation, the NFB will be thorough in its enquiries. If they are found to be in breach of the code of conduct or found to fall short of its standards, the NFB has procedures in place to expel or remove the member from membership.

The NFB has a list of tips on its websites for finding a builder that is right for the job:

It can be found here: http://www.builders.org.uk/find-a-builder/

The advice includes asking for recommendations from family and friends who have recently had work done. Then make up a shortlist of possible builders.

It also advises that you check how long they have been trading and what experience they have in the work you need completing.  It is also worth asking for references from other customers who have used the company.

The NFB warns that even if a builder claims to be a NFB member you should check with the association to ensure they are indeed a current member. Their displaying a NFB badge on their documents is not enough.

Obviously, you will want quotes from at least three companies and these should give full details in writing of what they will cover and what they cannot.  The more details you can give the builder of the jobs the better and your specification should include start/completion dates, security, costs of work and materials.

The quotes should allow for site maintenance, clearance and material supplies. You should not need to pay upfront or a cash deposit, unless you request specialist building materials or the job is likely to take a long time to complete.

Another tip is to avoid a ‘VAT-free’ deal – You will not have a valid contract if there is no proof of payment.

Once you have made your choice it is important to agree payment terms clearly in writing with your builder.

Finally, are they offering a guarantee on a large-scale job? If it is a new build you will need a guarantee on the property. Equally importantly are they insured both against property damage and personal and public liability to protect you and the general public in the event of an accident or injury? 

Loft Conversions Think About The Neighbours


Loft Conversions - Think About The Neighbours

A loft conversion can be a cost-effective way of adding more space to a home, especially for those who either cannot increase their mortgage commitments or who really love their current location.

Generally, loft conversions are favoured by people who live in older semis or terraces.

However, it will pay to do the homework not only because it is important to ensure that the additional work will not compromise the building’s structural stability but also because they invariably involve resolving party wall and possibly privacy concerns between neighbours.

Step One – do the research

Most loft conversions will need to project out from the roof space, so it is advisable to seek advice from a structural engineer to find out whether the idea is feasible given the roof structure. 

Often, also, party walls between adjoining properties do not necessarily align with the boundaries on lower floors and it may be necessary to negotiate over boundary lines.

While planning permission may not be an issue, the work will need to conform to contemporary building regulations. Getting an architect to produce a professional design should take care of all this.

Even if there are no protections such as listed status or location in a conservation area, two things that need to be reconciled are the owners’ desire to bring their property up to modern standards and the need for the design to be sympathetic to the environment and age of neighbouring buildings.

Step two – talk to the neighbours

There will inevitably be some disruption while the work is being done. The builder will be working in a confined space and will need access to do the job. For example, there may need to be scaffolding on the neighbouring property.

While the builder may be anxious to get on with it, time spent in communication with the neighbours before the job starts will avoid aggravation later, especially if there is little contact or communication between neighbours.

It is worth spending time and effort on getting the communication right.  This can be the most important part of the preparation and a key to completing the job smoothly and efficiently. If the relationship between neighbours is not great, this is something best handled by the builder.  Reassurance and building a rapport, ironing out noise, access and parking issues make all the difference to a successfully-managed conversion.