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Granite Building Warranties Ltd has recently arranged the latent defects insurance for two new high-quality, 2500 sq ft houses near Bury St Edmunds. Construction commenced in mid March 2021. We are now pleased to be at DPC on Plot One, with foundations being poured on Plot Two.
The images above and below (1 & 2) provide a very good example of block and beam flooring; demonstrating how it fits structurally on the foundations to create the solid ground floor, enabling a minimum 150mm gap below to ensure ventilation to the sub floor. This is a recognised building method, quick to install and used extensively in construction. Image 3 shows an example of shuttering, where deeper foundations have been used. Image 4 shows completed strip foundations poured and ready for brickwork.
The houses are being built by regionally renowned Maple Building Services Ltd. Construction is due for completion in November 2021, and will be retained by the owner as long term rental investments.
Gable End Wall: A gable end wall is the triangular section of wall supporting two sides of a sloping roof. The phrase may also be used to describe the whole of the end wall of a building which includes a gable (Source: Surveyor Local).
On most modern houses, the roof tiles or slates extend over the top of a gable end wall. There is then some form of weatherproofing added between tile and brickwork to stop the ingress of rainwater. Bargeboards are often fixed to the horizontal timbers (or Purlins) of the roof when these rest on the top of the wall.
Gable end walls may also rise above the roof line. In this case, Flashing must be inserted to seal the junction of the roof tiles or slates and the inner surface of the wall. Gable end walls rising above the roof line may be finished in a slope; following the slope of the roof, or as stepped, corbel or Dutch gables. The wall should be capped or finished in such a way that rainwater runs off and cannot penetrate the wall.
Because gable end walls rise above the level of the main walls of a building, they are susceptible to damage from high winds. This should not be a problem when they are properly braced. But if suffering from a lack of lateral restraint, the following damage can arise:
On properties where the gable end wall rises above the roof line, the top of the wall should be finished in such a way that rainwater cannot permeate the wall. A coping or brick detail will suffice. If this finish decays or cracks, then water and frost action can severely damage the wall.
A structural survey will show any apparent defects caused by any of these problems, and suggest possible remedial action. If the surveyor considers that any gable end wall is not properly braced, then bracing can be inserted in the roof space. If a wall has already suffered damage, it may be necessary to rebuild the wall as well as installing bracing.
An investigation by Property Week has identified that London’s local planning authorities are sitting on at least £1.29 billion in unspent developer contributions.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 contributions are made by developers as part of the planning process; to be spent on local infrastructure to help mitigate the impact of development on the area.
Previously, in 2019, Property Week found that 63% of the money local authorities received from developers between 2013 and 2018 had not been spent. And it seems the trend is continuing.
The sums involved could be much higher. Local authorities are required by law to publish Infrastructure Funding Statements (IFS) by the end of 2020. But, one in five failed to do so, and of those that did, a third provided incomplete information.
Barry Jessup, director at the developer First Base, complains that this collective failure to spend the money is breaking promises made within the consent of the developer and the local authority to the community regarding how the development can benefit the community. But, developers have no control over whether the promise is kept by the local authority when the money is handed over. Such a large amount of unspent money shows that CIL is not achieving what it was supposed to do.
Local authorities, in their defence, state that they are saving money towards large infrastructure projects; rather than spending it on piecemeal improvements. To ensure the funding is available to complete such projects, funding needs to be collected over a number of years. This is understandable, given the complex nature of large infrastructure projects. But it doesn’t take into account why many have not allocated the money in their IFS. The reasons for not spending the money may be acceptable. However, there is no excuse for not allocating it to the various projects it is intended for.
As the local authorities are now required to publish an IFS each year, the scrutiny these figures are under will increase. So, it will be harder for councils to justify why they are keeping such enormous sums in reserve.
Following the budget last Wednesday, an extension to the Stamp Duty holiday was announced. It will continue for a further three months, until the end of June 2021. This will enable buyers more time to complete their sales and potentially save up to £15,000 on Stamp Duty Land Tax.
In order to prevent the ‘cliff edge’ scenario, a tapered scheme will come into effect until the end of September 2021; for properties up to the value of £250,000. After this, the duty will return to the original threshold of £125,000.
Approximately three quarters of a million house purchasers will have saved themselves the tax by the end of the scheme. This has prompted a small, short term property boom.
According to Zoopla, the majority of these purchases were under £500,000. Therefore, no Stamp Duty will have been payable, saving an average of £4,660 per sale, or a collective £2.8 billion.
The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) is calling on the Government to either permanently increase the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 (at a cost of £3 billion to the Government) or abolish it altogether. The latter is a highly unlikely scenario!
But for many, the continuation of the stamp duty holiday, along with the anticipated introduction of the 95% mortgage scheme, should help to provide a lifeline for the housing market. It is expected this will keep property prices buoyant in the short to medium term.
The details of the new Government backed mortgage scheme were announced in the budget last Wednesday.
Boris Johnson has been talking about his “Generation Buy” scheme for some time. With lenders having virtually removed all 95% mortgages from their lending lists during the Covid crisis, it has become almost impossible for those with only a 5% deposit to purchase a property.
The pandemic has hit young people and their economic prospects very hard. First-time buyers in particular, with no equity to carry forward in a house move, and facing the most stringent affordability tests on mortgage applications, are finding it increasingly difficult to meet lender’s requirements.
This initiative is designed to persuade lenders to provide mortgages to first-time buyers and existing home owners who only have a 5% deposit. The Government will offer lenders the guarantee they require to provide mortgages covering the remaining 95 percent.
Despite the scheme being available to all customers, it is thought to be most keenly anticipated by first-time buyers. The scheme will be available for properties up to £600,000. Rightmove calculates that the national average asking price of a first-time buyer property is £200,692. Based on this, a five per cent deposit would be £10,035, compared to a 10 per cent deposit of £20,692. The Stamp Duty holiday is also a great help to buyers.
The majority of mortgage lenders will currently let you borrow up to 4.5 times your annual salary. The average salary in the UK is circa £29,000 pa; which leaves many falling short of the necessary funds.
The scheme will be very useful to those on higher than average salaries, but without savings. Boris hopes that the affordability criteria from lenders will be adjusted going forward due to this new initiative. House prices in regional areas, rather than cites, where prices are more in line with earnings, will probably be best served by the new opportunity.
Have you ever heard the expression: “The rich get richer when times are hard?”.
Whilst the world was suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic, with economies in recession and unemployment rising; this is certainly the case with the owners of the Tech Giants in 2020.
The leaders behind America’s biggest technology companies added nearly £250 billion to their fortunes last year. This equates to £29 million per hour between them.
Technology disrupter Elon Musk has made the biggest gains; adding an astonishing £94 billion to his wealth in 2020. Meanwhile, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos added £54 billion to his fortune; but pledged £7 million to help fight climate change this year.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and boss of Facebook, added £17 billion to his fortune. Whilst Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft in 1975, and has to be considered one of the most credited technology innovators of our lifetimes, wealth rose by a modest £13 billion. He has donated millions of pounds to fund the vaccine for Covid-19 which will no doubt be gratefully received.
We can only hope for some kind of normality in the coming months, otherwise these four individuals will be even richer by the end of the 2021!
A dormer is a part of a building projecting from the sloping roof, typically housing a dormer window.
Dormers are usually constructed to provide light and additional headroom for rooms constructed in the attic or loft of a house. They are often constructed in connection with an attic or loft conversion.
Dormers may be roofed in a variety of ways, including:
Dormers can suffer from problems if they have not been properly constructed; or if the original roof trusses have been weakened when a dormer has been inserted into an existing roof. Problems can also arise with ingress of rainwater at the junction of the dormer walls and the sloping roof. But, a survey report should indicate the existence of problems if there is visual evidence of them.
An eyebrow window is a type of dormer window inserted in the roof of a house. This type of window has no vertical sides, and instead the top of the window frame is gently curved. The roof-tiling then follows the line of the curve, so that the roof appears to have been lifted over the window. As a result, this gives such windows their characteristic and attractive eyebrow shape.
In modern use, the fascia (or fascia board) of a building is the horizontal board fixed to the edge of the roof’s rafters, where these form the eaves of a building. Or, with flat-roofed buildings, boards fixed to the junction of the roof and the walls.
Fascia boards may be either made of wood or uPVC; the latter now being popular as it is maintenance-free and does not require painting.
On buildings with sloped roofs, the fascia board stops water penetration into the end-grain of timber rafters. Brackets to support guttering are fixed to the fascia.
Fascia boards on flat-roofed buildings may be necessary to anchor the roofing material, and stop wind and rain penetrating between the roof and the walls. It may also be fixed for decorative reasons.
Flashing describes strips of sheet metal or other impervious material used to prevent rainwater penetrating into joints between different parts of a building.
The most common situations where flashing is used are:
A flat roof is one that is almost level (less than 5 degree pitch) in contrast to a pitched or sloping roof. But, it does have a gradient that allows rainwater to run off. Flat roofs tend to have a shorter life span than sloping roofs, and have a variety of roof coverings (including Felt, Sarnafil, and Zinc) commonly known as a single ply membrane.
You may also be interested in reading our Guide to Floors and Foundations.
In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic and three lockdowns, there have been some surprising statistics to come out of research recently conducted by Hamptons. The pandemic has led to an increase in the number of million-pound first-time buyers, mainly in London.
Hamptons discovered that one in fifty first time buyers in 2020 spent over £1 million on their first home. This is more than double the number in 2019; and looks to be as a result of various Covid related factors. The need for increased space to work from home, combined with the attractive mortgage rates and the stamp duty holiday brought about by the pandemic, have led many who had saved deposits for city flats to look further afield for more space for their money.
Buyers in London are still the most likely to be spending a seven-figure sum. But for first time buyers in the South, the number has increased to one in twenty-five; double that of 2019 and four times that of 2018.
As a result, the average price of a first home has broken the £250,000 mark for the first time. The average price for a first-time buyer in the South is now £360,640, more than double that of somebody buying their first home in the North of the country.
The average age of the first-time buyer continues to rise as well. Many are waiting longer and buying a family home as their first purchase, rather than taking the traditional first step on the property ladder with a flat in the city.
Although the biggest number of first-time buyers spending £1 million or more on their first homes fell within Westminster local authority, three out of the top five local authorities were outside London. 50% of first-time buyers in Sevenoaks, Kent spent £1 million plus on their first home.
Despite a virtual halt to activity in the housing market during the first lockdown in March 2020, property prices rose beyond expectations in the year to December 2020.
Fuelled initially by city dwellers looking to move from small, expensive properties to larger, more rural homes following the first lockdown, there has also been the impact of the stamp duty holiday. Offering an average saving of £4,500 per transaction, this has helped to swell demand.
All parts of the country registered a rise in house prices this year, with the northwest and Yorkshire outperforming London and the southeast. However, sustainability is key and it is unlikely that prices will continue to rise at such a pace in the coming months.
Increasing unemployment due the pandemic is likely to have a major impact. Analysts suggest unemployment in the UK could reach a high of 7.5% by Spring 2021. This in turn will cause a weakening in consumer confidence, and the end of the stamp duty holiday on 31st March is likely to calm the rush to transact that has been apparent in the last few months.
But currently, the market shows no signs of faltering and mortgage applications continue to rise along with the prices.
Key dates for the property market diary in 2021:
|The FCA ban on mortgage repossessions is due to lift.|
|Budget – Rishi Sunak could raise capital gains tax or promise further support?|
|Stamp duty holiday comes to an end.|
Final date for homeowners to apply for six month mortgage payment deferrals.
|Help to Buy scheme changes, with only first time buyers eligible and regional caps being introduced.|
Foreign buyers pay 2% Stamp Duty surcharge, on top of three extra points if they own a home already.
|Furlough Scheme comes to an end, reducing support for up to 10 million people.|
|Office for Budget Responsibility expects unemployment to hit 7.5% in the middle of the year.|
|Government has promised to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions, which could push more landlords out of the market.|
(Source: Sunday Telegraph 3 January 2021)
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