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TOWN EXPANSION – WHAT IS NEEDED TO RETAIN COMMUNITIES

Additional HousingAdditional Housing

Of late, the current Government has implemented a building spree across the Country, and in short, the relevant District Councils have been instructed to provide additional housing to push the housing stock numbers up and to kick start the economy to try and build our way out of our current recession.

What are the effects of this?

This has two major effects; firstly the obvious, that the construction industry will move forward and generate work and economic stability, promoting industries to produce more goods and give the ability for the Country to start to move out of recession.  Secondly, is that swathes of building estates will sprout up across the Country which may be at the expense of communities.

community 2

Smaller developments such as housing numbers of 15 and below, would be of benefit to smaller towns and village   communities as they would bring families to the community who would use the local services such as shops, pubs, bus routes, schools, churches, village halls, and may in fact give these the ability to re-generate and move forward with the injection of the growth of the community.  In some cases the downside might be that larger settlements that have gained consent for 50 houses and above on the perimeters, will in fact just increase the size of the existing community, but as that community has limited resources to start with may drive the town towards a commuter settlement.

The Government have applied the Localism Bill of late and this is for communities to feed in at the bottom, giving guidance to any new development on how it can be integrated into the local economy.  A District Council would look to the Parish Council for their input to make a better settlement following consent.

Resources

Due care and consideration should be given to settlements for the increase of resources such as expansion to schools, expansion to Doctor’s Surgeries and Health Facilities and injection into the community buildings, such as village halls, town halls and libraries that would encourage new residents to integrate with the existing community, by providing the facilities that are adequate for the increase of housing numbers.community

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Becoming a New Landlord?

Property to Let

painterHow Do I prepare My Property for Letting?

This is a question asked by many new landlords when I first meet them. When planning a refurb, or merely preparing a property ready for the open market, it is difficult to find the right level to aim for.  How you present a property largely affects and influences the type of tenant that takes it.  If the property is scruffy or grubby you will normally find that the ‘fussy’ tenants discount it completely.  You will therefore end up with tenants that are not so fussy about their surroundings, which is not ideal.  You may have heard of the saying ‘scruffy property, scruffy tenants’.  On the other hand if a property is in good order, with up to date fittings and presented in a clean condition, then you will find it will appeal to the more fussy tenants.  These are the tenants you want as they will end up looking after your investment in a much better manner.  Tenants also do tend to stay longer if the property is comfortable to live in.

Don’t over-do your propertykitchen

Many landlords also make the mistake of over-doing their property.  It is key to make sure a refurb is planned in line with the type of property and with consideration to the typical group of potential tenants it would appeal to.  For example, a two bedroom maisonette in the centre of town is likely to appeal to a young couple or single occupant.  This does not need a high end finish. A mid range finish will suffice in this instance.  If you were renovating a large detached family home, the expected finish would be for a higher standard and specification and this would be appropriate to the market you would be aiming for, typically a professional couple with children. It is also important to ensure the fittings you install are of a good standard, as cheap fittings never last. You need something that is fit for purpose and will withstand wear and tear.

I see many landlords getting this wrong and we can help with any level of advice you may require, even down to managing the entire project for you.  For assistance please call Sue on 01608 665473 or Michael on 01789 206760.

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Advantages of Contract Administration (The Hidden Extras)

Contract Administration

Contract administration has always been an important part of any construction project but has been neglected over the years, and the recent economic decline has brought contract administration under project management to the forefront once again. In the past, small extensions may have been undertaken by local builders for the private client, for a word of mouth sum, of which as the project proceeded hidden extras appeared and the contract cost would inevitably end up 30 or 40% more than the original quotation. Now that we are in the current economic downturn, the general man on the street is more cautious when proceeding with building works and investing his hard earned money. Controlled contract administration on site, as detailed below, will help stop these hidden extras from occurring.

Following the selection of a competent Builder with a winning tender, the project will proceed and will be based on a contract specific to the construction industry, the more common of which is a JCT Contract.

The JCT Contract

JCT

The JCT Contract is a formal document that sets out the works that have been quoted for. This includes all of the specific detailing, the pricing, how the contract will be paid for at specific points, and that requests for payments from contractors will be valued by a professional, checked against the original tender and verified as acceptable before any payment is authorised. This in effect will stop the contractor taking money up front.

On each interim payment there will be an Interim Payment Certificate given, verifying that the payment can be made and stating a retention of that payment, that will be paid partly at the end of the project and partly six months following the end of the project to ensure there are not any defects that require to be put right. If these defects are not put right within that period, the remaining payment will be retained by the client.

Hidden Extras…………..

We all know about the inevitable list that appears at the end of the contract, that the contractor may surprise you with, which lists all the additional extras that were not quoted for, but have been done and the contractor now wants paying for. Sometimes these extras can add up to large sums of money which have not been budgeted for, that the client has not been made aware of and was unaware that they were going to be invoiced additionally for. If the work is being undertaken under a JCT contract this can be avoided as any additional works that are requested by the client or that are required by the contractor due to unforeseen circumstances must be firstly quoted for by the contractor, verified by the contract administrator, and signed off by the contract administrator and the client, as an acceptable quotation to undertake that additional works. If that additional works is not signed off, then it will not be paid for, and this will be at the expense of the contractor.

At the end of the project, the retention that has been taken from each payment will be partly paid back to the contractor for completing the project. We then enter into a six month period – the rectification period where if any of the contractor’s works is defective and requires to be finished, the contractor will be notified and requested to come and put the defect in good order. On the satisfaction of these works the remaining percentage of the retained money will be given to the contractor. If the contractor neglects the additional works, and does not rectify any defects in that period then the retained money will not be paid to him, and will be used to pay another contractor to put these in good order.Contract

When setting out on any construction project it is always advisable on any size of scheme to have a contract in place to protect you and the contractor in terms of payment and additional costs.

Don’t be caught out with the hidden extras.

 

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CIL Update November 2013

CIL News

In April and May of 2013 the Government undertook a consultation process to establish ways in which CIL can be reformed. Since being introduced in 2010 the scheme has fallen under some criticism, so in a bid to iron out any creases that have occurred in the early years the Government have consulted a variety of organisations which have been affected by the legislation in order to make improvements to make its operation as fair, transparent and efficient as possible.

In response to the consultation the Government are amending the legislation in a number of ways including:

  • Allowing credit where changes to proposals have been made since the levy on a site has been paid. This applies to any incomplete site which and has already paid the fee
  • Exempting highway agreements relating to the trunk road network from the Regulation 123 infrastructure list
  • To help to encourage bringing empty buildings back into use  the vacancy test has been extended from being in use for a continuous 6 month period of the last year, to a continuous 6 months within the past 3 years
  • Allowing developers to pay ‘in kind’ by providing infrastructure on land other than the development site in order to implement improvement of local infrastructure under a shorter timescale, and ensuring these payments ‘in kind’ are not subject to EU procurement limits
  • Excluding residential extensions, annexes from the levy
  • Giving self-build homes relief from the levy to be reviewed after a period of 3 years to ensure this is not abused by advertising the properties on the local market after completion
  • Not amending the consultation period of the draft charging schedule at 4 weeks as it is more appropriate to allow local authorities to use their own discretion

Subject to Parliamentary processes changes should come into effect by the end of January 2014.

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Changing the face of the High Street

Hope to revitalise deteriorating High Streets

highstreet

After the publication of the Portas Review in 2011 and the Grimsy Review in 2013 it is hope that the extension of permitted development rights will make better use of unused buildings in town centres and the countryside.  The loosened planning rules hope to revitalise deteriorating high streets and breathe fresh life back into our rural communities.

The proposed changes will allow existing retail property to be converted into residential, making use of uneconomically viable retail locations, stopping unused buildings falling into disrepair and aiding with securing local housing stock. In addition retail premises will be permitted to change into banks and building societies, allowing for more consumer choice and this increase in choice will hopefully creating a more financially stable local society. However in order to maintain retail presence in high streets these changes are specific for property which falls below a 150m2 threshold, and is subject to prior approval.

The Greater flexibilities for change of Use consultation ran for a ten week period which ended in October 2013, The Department for Communities and Local Government is yet to publish the results of the survey.