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Self builder working on site
Finance, Regulations and Laws

Help to Build Scheme Makes Self Builds Easier Than Ever

The UK government has recently announced a new scheme beginning in the summer of 2021 that grants £150 million in funding to self-builders across the UK, called the help to build scheme. This comes in the form of an equity loan from the government. It’s designed to help lower the required amount for a mortgage deposit and opens the door to bespoke self-build properties across the UK.

How Self Builds Work

Self builds are a great way to create a perfect home for a range of different potential homeowners. They give you the opportunity to create a home designed completely around the owner, meeting every need and preference without compromise, budget aside.

Contrary to their title, however, self builds don’t actually have to be built by you. It is simply a term used for a home that is built holistically rather than buying a prebuilt home. You can undertake work yourself, or work with any number of professionals like architects, builders and developers to bring it to life.

The self-build process generally comes down to a few different, costly areas, which are the land, the build materials, and the labour or specialists used to build it. Planning is also a big consideration alongside the land, however, the whole process can be run through with an architectural provider or developer.

How a Self Build Mortgage Works

Because of the nature of self builds and the process that is carried out in order to complete one, the mortgage to have one is quite drastically different from a standard mortgage seen on the property ladder. Self build mortgages have their own specific category and must be applied for uniquely to have one in place.

To get a self build mortgage, chances are, you’ll need a solid plan that can be provided to the provider, showing them the process that you plan to carry out. They will then be able to get an understanding of what you are trying to do and see that it is viable, and then, lend you the money.

Unlike typical mortgages again, the lending is much different for a self build, although the required deposit still ranges anywhere from 5-20+%. The money for a self build, because of how the process works, is usually released in increments or in arrears, rather than an upfront payment. This means that you get regular bouts of money to take you through each individual stage of the process, helping you stay on budget and moving forward safely.

How the Help to Build Scheme Works

Getting down to the help to build scheme itself, it works in a very similar way to the help to buy scheme loan. That means that the government are on hand to provide up to an estimated 30,000-40,000 homeowners with an equity loan to secure their help to build mortgage.

The government provide equity based loans adding to your deposit in the idea of reducing your mortgage, lowering your interest rates, and allowing you to access the self build process quicker than saving for a mortgage.

The loan is of course repayable to the government, but for a likely much lower rate than a mortgage lender would provide, and IF it is anything like the help to buy loan, then this will have a delay in interest similar to the Help to buy’s 5-year wait. Moving on from that, it will have an interest rate of 1-2% which increases annually in line with the value of the property.

More information is needed on the scheme when it launches to confirm this, but it’; s highly likely based on the help to buy.

What Help to Build Means for Homeowners in the UK

So with all of this in mind, what does this mean for UK homeowners? Well, generally, it means that self builds are more accessible than ever, just like typical house buying is through the governments help to buy schemes.

This scheme makes it easier than ever for people to get mortgages with a lower deposit, allowing them to create their own perfect home without having to go through mass provided large scale developers or older, existing properties.

Another beauty of self builds is the fact that the buy and build costs for a self build will likely result in a property that is worth a sizable amount more than the cost to build it, even with everything include it. That sets you off to a great start in terms of equity and a huge boost to the property ladder.

A downside could be argued to be the stress and difficulty of a self build, since it’s such a complex project without an architect or specialist project managing your build for you. There’s also the possibility of issues arising or going over budget. All of this can throw a few spanners in the work.

Whatever your viewpoint, the Help to Build scheme will provide an interesting new route to the property ladder and could well result in more individual and high-quality housing being created across the UK. That’s hard to argue with.

Loft Conversion in the process of being built
Common Questions

How Long Does A Loft Conversion Take & What is The Process?

Loft conversions are one of the most common home improvements that take place in the UK, and to get one, it’ll take around 3-4 months in total for the average homeowner. Thousands of people choose to have them done every single year, and it makes sense They add value to your property, increase living space, and have the potential to improve your quality of life tremendously. Before getting one though, it is only natural to wonder how it all works. That’s where understanding the stages of a loft conversion, the process behind it and the time it all takes is so great to know.

The Loft Conversion Stages of Progression:

The loft conversion process generally falls into 5 stages, each of which can only happen once the last is completed. They’re all relatively basic and can be carried out by one firm or company if required, or, split up by each stage. It completely depends on what’s easiest for you.

1. Designing The Loft Conversion (2-3 weeks)

The first step is to get your initial design carried out. This can be done any an architect or architectural designer and is where the initial concepts come into place. It will account for the size and layout of your new loft conversion, as well as the facilities inside it. You can then decide if it’s going to work for you or make some amendments, depending on the things that matter the most to you. That may well be things like materials, layout options or even price.

2. Planning (Where Necessary) (6-12 Weeks Dependent on Level Required)

Once you’ve reached a point with your design that you’re happy with, the next step in your loft conversion progression is with planning. Full planning is usually not required for a loft conversion, so bear that in mind, but if it is, it takes around 8-12 weeks to be achieved. Even if full planning isn’t mandatory, however, it does mean that you’re still able to affirm permitted development rights or receive a certificate of lawful development (with takes 3-6 weeks). While that isn’t necessary for the work to be carried out, it will save you a huge amount of hassle when it comes to insuring your home or selling the property and being able to prove that everything is above board. It’s something we would always recommend.

3. Building Regulations & Structural Calculations (3-4 weeks)

After you have planning permission or certificate of lawful development in hand, the next stage of the process is to get your building regulations in check. Your regs and structural calculations will be carried out to ensure the safety of your build, which will then make sure that you have approval from Building Control. That can be done using a private body, or through your local authority, but is essential for a legal build to take place.

4. Getting a Builder (1-4 Weeks)

Once you have your building regulations, the only thing left to do is find the person or company that you want to undertake your project. You need to find a builder that you trust and feel comfortable with for your project, and that matches your standards too. It’s always wise to find the best quote that fits your requirements and making sure that they aren’t going to do a bad job. Builder’s may well have a busy calendar aside from your build, however, so it isn’t uncommon to have to wait a few months for the work to begin. This all depends on which builder you hire and where you’re located, too.

5. The Build (8-12 weeks)

Finally, all that’s left is the build itself. The build is relatively easy to live with since the work is occurring in your roof but do remember that people will still be in and out of your home and that there may well be a lot of noise in the home too. It’s hard work after all, but it’s very short-lived and only takes around 8-12 weeks from start to finish in most cases. You can also hire a project management service to help in the build and sure the highest quality of work and most efficient build without any issues or money pits, but that’s all down to personal preference, especially with smaller projects.

How Long Does a Loft Conversion Take?

The loft conversion process from start to finish typically takes around 20 weeks. That’s including every single stage, and assuming that there aren’t any huge delays or that you don’t have to wait more than a couple of weeks for your chosen builder to start the project.

Loft Conversion timeline

The Design – 2-3 weeks

Planning / Permitted Development / Lawful Development – 10 Weeks

(Full Planning, up to 12 weeks | Permitted Development or Certificate, 6-8 Weeks)

Building Regulations + Structural Calculations – 3-4 weeks

Builder Selection – 2 Weeks (Depending on time of year and location and availability)

The Build – 8-10 Weeks

Hammer and nails in bad builder work
Common Questions, Regulations and Laws

How Long is a Builder Liable for His or Her Work in the UK?

In the UK, a builder is typically liable for their work as long as their contracts dictate. That tends to be 1-2 years. Outside of typical contracts in a broader sense, the legal limit would typically be 6 years, in line with the Limitation Act, 1980.

Despite these outlining factors though, there are variables at play when establishing the time frame that your particular project will be held to if you choose to seek compensation for poor, faulty or simply dangerous work carried out.

The Contract of Work

The first place to start when establishing how long a builder is liable for his or her work in the UK is with the contract that is in place during the project. It is always advised that before any building work takes place on your property, both you and your builder are in agreement and signed a contract. That’s for the legal safety and clarity for both of you, both before, during, and after the project. Project management often begins with this service for that very reason.

With a contract signed between parties, you have the option to include an agreeable period of time that the builder will have to be responsible for their work within reason, even after snagging and hand over. Typically, this is between 12 and 24 months. As long as it is mutually agreed and, in the contract, it can be negotiated. This is always the place to look first if you’re already trying to rectify poor workmanship.

The Limitation Act 1980

For claims of a breach of contract between a client and a builder, which precisely what would be looked at if the builder hasn’t provided the quality of work agreed upon, then the limitation act of 1980 would be the place to head next. This states that claimants have 6 years to make a claim and have a chance to get some money back or have the work rectified.

There’s also the alternative route of negligence rather than a breach of contract. This also has a 6-year limit in the majority of cases. In either case, there can still be factors at play that extend this window, however, so make sure to still explore your options. If the issue was intentionally hidden, for example, the time doesn’t start until you could have reasonably discovered the issue. That’s just one of many. Legal advice may be advised, but it’s all dependent on your situation.

What About When There Was no Contract?

If there is no written contract between you and a builder, you may well have a verbal contract in place, although it is not something that’s advised. A verbal contract is met if you agree on the services to be provided and the numeration for those services, but to be upheld in court should any issue arise, the verbal agreement needs to have terms, such as payment terms in particular. A solicitor or legal professional would need to be contacted for more advice.

Industry Standards and expectations

In the construction industry, it isn’t uncommon to see and to expect a certain standard of quality. This is why in most cases, builders and organisations will provide guarantees on their work, often around 10 years, which is used to put clients’ minds at ease and ensure the highest quality, as it’ll be them at a loss if not.

In reality though, although this can be a useful and good sign of quality, it can also be difficult to use. Builders, especially cowboy builders, can often use things like bankruptcy or closing a business to avoid fulfilling these agreements.

Preventing Issues with Builders Work Quality

All in all, avoiding a problem when it comes to homes and buildings is often the better way of facing an issue. Learning how to avoid these problems is essential. Looking for builders that are members of certain institutions such as the Federation of Master Builders, or other such organisations can be wise. They add an extra layer of protection to the matter, but nothing is ever certain.

Project management services like ours are also a good investment when building, since you have the safety that comes with proper contracts, tendered projects and vetted builders, payment control, and regular site inspections that ensure a high quality of work is taking place at all times and you’ll never need to know how long a builder is liable for his or her work in the first place, and that’s always the better situation.

Information provided in this article is not and does not representative of legal advice and should not be used in any way toward this purpose. Speak to a legal professional for more information should it be required.

House frontage
Sustainability

Greener Homes Schemes Available in 2021

In a bid to make the UK greener and ensure comfortable living for all residents wherever possible, the UK has implemented a wide range of incentives and schemes to offer funding and support on varying levels. That may be in the form of grants, loans, or subsidiaries in order to encourage a more environmentally friendly living, and they can all make your living situation easier if you’re eligible to apply.

Home Maintenance:

One of the main areas of interest with greener home schemes is with home maintenance. There are 3 main areas to remember here if you’re looking at making renovations or changes to your property in a bid to increase efficiency and eco friendliness.

Green Homes Grant (Updated: Expires March 31st 2021)

The Greener Homes Grant is probably the most well known about government-backed schemes and is one of the largest areas of interest for eco friendly home transformations. It was scheduled to end in 2022 but has since been scrapped as of March 31st 2021. The scheme basically meant that for a multitude of potential home services such as insulation and window efficiency upgrades, the government subsidised you with a voucher. This voucher would cover two thirds of the cost of your improvement, up to a maximum of £5,000. If you or a member of your household qualify for select benefits, this may also rise to £10,000, and cover 100% of the costs rather than the 2/3rd cap.

Eligible services for the Greener Homes Grant must be initially in the Primary category, such as:

  • Air and Ground Source Heating
  • Solid and Cavity Wall Insulation
  • Under Floor Insulation
  • Biomass Boilers
  • Roof Insulation

These primary measures can also then be accompanied by secondary measures too, such as:

  • Draught Proofing
  • Double/Triple Glazing
  • Heating Controls & Smart Energy
  • Hot Water Tank Insulation

The Maximum subsidy for secondary measures must match the primary at most, too. That means if you spend £2000 on underfloor insulation, you’re then capped at £2000 for any secondary measure should you choose to implement them.

Take a look at the website for any more information

Any eligible applications made before this date are still valid, and it’s very possible that there will be a replacement for is in the coming weeks to months due to it’s underperformance.

ECO Scheme

The ECO scheme is the Energy Company Obligation scheme and is a scheme run by some of the largest energy companies in the UK. It is designed for low income and vulnerable households to allow them to receive various benefits and services to improve their home energy efficiency and minimise costs.

The ECO scheme is designed to cover things like cavity wall and loft insulation primarily, as these are particular problem areas for many households. The energy company helping you with your renovation may pay for the entire cost of the work, or a part of it in conjunction with you. You’ll know this before the work begins, giving you more than enough chances to choose not to proceed at no cost.

Green Deals

The final major home maintenance backed green scheme available in the UK comes from the Green Deal. This is a government backed incentive to help make greener changes, all through financial investment.

The idea here is that the government will loan you some or all of the funds required to make changes to your home’s efficiency. You then pay this loan back through the savings you make from having these changes implemented. If you move before these loans are paid off, then you stop paying the loan too, as you’re no longer benefitting from the savings. It’s a very logical and comprehensive scheme.

Home Energy:

As well as adapting your home to be more energy efficient, there are also schemes in place designed to help specifically with your energy use and running costs on your property. Each of these schemes offers a different range of benefits, too.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

The Renewable Heat Incentive is in place to help aid in the conversion of traditional heat sources to renewable energy. That is not a blanket wide scheme, however, as only these systems are supported:

  • Wood boilers
  • Wood pellet stoves with back boiler
  • Solar water heating
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Ground source heat pumps

The system pays you based on the amount of heat you generate using your system depending on your tariff, and this lasts for seven years from the date that you start your application is agreed to. It’s difficult to determine to the value of the scheme, but to add content, heating a semi-detached house with cavity walls and an averagely insulated loft space by means of a ground source heat pump, you stand to save up to £1500 per year, or 10,500 for the 7-year duration.

Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee follows a similar principle to the RHI scheme, however, in this instance, the payment is generated through the means of supplying power to the national grid. As you generate your own energy through national means, it is more than likely that there may be more than your home needs. In this instance, you will then be able to supply power to the national grid, at which point you’ll be paid per unit of energy for doing so.

The tariffs are applied to systems in place such as solar PV, wind turbines and micro CHP, which are more than applicable to domestic use. The tariff for supplying the energy isn’t a fixed tariff though, so depending on the energy you provide, the amount of it, and the buyer of the energy, you may receive different prices. You can, however, change suppliers as and when you like.

Summary

Ultimately, whether you’re looking to save money on your bills, be more environmentally friendly, or even increase your property value, having a home designed with these features in mind or adding them to your existing property is easier and more accessible than ever before. No matter what your situation, there are ways that these schemes can benefit you and your home