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Category: Home & Garden

  1. Were you mis-sold your mortgage? If so, you may have a claim.

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    You’ve probably heard all the noise about claiming back your mis-sold PPI, but did you realise you may also have been mis-sold your mortgage and could have a claim?  It’s a new one to me, but after some digging it seems some people have been poorly advised and not treated fairly by their lender, adviser or broker.  In this blog post I’ll take a look at why people are making mortgage claims and whether you may have a case. 

    Were you mis-sold your mortgage If so, you may have a claim.


    How people were mis-sold a mortgage

    Ultimately people were sold a mortgage deal that was not right for them.  It was not the best choice for their individual circumstances and results in them paying more than they need to.  The broker or adviser may also have recommended a product that generated themselves a higher commission instead of choosing the best deal for their client.  If a mortgage isn’t suitable for a customer and the risks weren’t adequately explained, then it was probably mis-sold.

    Mis-sold mortgage examples

    There are a lot of different ways a mortgage could have been mis-sold.  Here are some examples:

    Interest-only mortgages

    Though these are cheaper at first glance, with cheaper repayments, they will actually cost more in the long run.  If you are recommended an interest only deal then your adviser or broker should have shown the comparison between interest only and a capital repayment mortgage.


    If you were advised to self-certify and not provide proof of your income, or even state it was higher than it really is, you may have borrowed more than you really should have.  This could have been so your broker received a higher commission and would not have been the correct advice to you.

    Debt consolidation

    If you were advised to move all your debts, such as unsecured loans, to your mortgage, but you weren’t advised that long term you’ll be paying back more by increasing the debt duration and interest.  The monthly payments were lower, but the amount of debt owed was increased.  If this was not properly explained then you were incorrectly advised.

    Your mortgage end date is post-retirement

    Many lenders will not lend a mortgage post-retirement as income may considerably drop and it’s too risky.  Did your adviser tell you the mortgage will run into your retirement?  Will you have substantial income to continue with mortgage payments in retirement?

    Subprime mortgages

    A subprime mortgage is for those who have a poor credit rating and history who cannot get a regular mortgage.  If you were recommended this type of mortgage, which has higher interest rates and fees, yet your credit rating is fine, then you were misinformed.

    High broker fees

    Were the brokers fees unreasonably high?  Or perhaps they added their fees to your mortgage without your knowledge?  They should have explained their fees (and commission) to you.

    How to claim

    If you believe you are due compensation then you’ll need to contact the company who you believe mis-sold the mortgage to you.  This could be the company of the lender, adviser or broker.  Write a letter outlining the reasons you believe the mortgage was mis-sold and ask them to investigate your complaint.  They must investigate within eight weeks.  If you haven’t heard back after eight weeks or you’re not happy with the response then you have six months to ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to step in and investigate your complaint. 

    Alternatively, if you don’t want the hassle, you may choose a claims company to process the claim on your behalf.  They’ll take care of all the correspondence and will fight for your compensation.  They understand all the legal jargon and can talk you through the process.  They’ll also be able to assess whether you have a claim in the first place.  Choose a no-win no-fee company so you have nothing to lose.

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    Were you mis-sold your mortgage_ If so, you may have a claim.



  2. Features my dream home would have

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    A hot topic of conversation in our home is our home!  We moved here four years ago and though it was the second home Ben had bought, it was my first.  I moved in quite naively with rose tinted glasses, not realising the extent of the work that needed doing to update our home and make it our own.  Four years later and we’re still working our way through lists of home improvements.  To say I’m a little over it is an understatement.  Whilst Ben would happily potter around making things and fixing things in the home forever more, I’d rather the house be finished so we can get on with our lives and spend our disposable income in other ways.

    It’s so difficult to decide what to do.  Do we move home?  Do we stay here?    The thought of starting all over again fills me with dread.  If we were to move then the home would have to be near perfect, or we’d have to have plenty of money upfront to modernise it to our taste.  If we stay here, then we need to work out a way of making the home work for us.  Truthfully, if we could go back in time then I wouldn’t buy this house.  But perhaps that’s just part of the learning curve and being my first owned home, I can’t expect to get everything right the first time!

    If money was no object, here are the features my dream family home would have:

    Features my dream home would have

    Image credit

    Tall ceilings

    Our home is a chalet bungalow.  This means the downstairs is like a bungalow with really low ceilings.  Ben and I are quite tall and it makes me feel quite enclosed downstairs.  I can reach the ceiling from standing on the floor!  I think some people would find this cosy, but I find it claustrophobic.  My ideal home would have tall ceilings throughout and large sash windows to flood the room with light creating an open, airy, spacious room.


    At the moment we have a living room-diner which is the wrong way round if you ask me!  I’d rather a cosy carpeted living room, perfect for us adults to snuggle up and watch a film in the evening.  Then I’d have a large kitchen-diner with a family room.  This would be the hub of the home where most time is spent cooking, doing homework, eating together, playing and so on.


    I’d love an annexe in the garden which can be used as a guest room, but mainly as a second income source to rent out for short holiday lets.  I’d love a property we can make money from too as renting out a room or outbuilding can provide a really decent extra income.


    Our last home had an ensuite and I really miss it.  Ben isn’t so bothered, but I hate having to go across the hall to another room in the middle of the night.  I’d much rather have a door off our bedroom for those late night trips!  I also love how an ensuite is totally private and not used by guests.  My very own private bathroom.

    Downstairs toilet

    One of our main requirements when house hunting was a downstairs toilet.  If there wasn’t one then we made sure there was space to fit one.  In four years of living here this hasn’t happened.  I didn’t realise our planned location would mean installing a Saniflo and based on other friends and family member’s experiences, we don’t really want to go down this route.  This means we are sharing a small upstairs bathroom between four of us.  It’s getting quite cramped and an extra loo would really make a massive difference.

    Separate office

    We have a garage conversion which is currently the playroom and my office.  I’d love to separate the two so I have a private work space that I can shut myself away in and ‘go to work’.  It’s fine when the kids are at school and nursery, but when they are here it’s impossible to work if I need to.

    Utility room

    Aah, I bet a lot of parents wish they had a utility room!  I’d rather keep the muddy boots, toys, paints and so on in a separate ‘messy area’ that is not where I prepare food.  It would also be great to have a space dedicated to our mountains of washing that I can close the door on and it not be in my kitchen or living space.  I’d also double up the space as a boot room.


    I think a porch is a nice way to enter a house.  Somewhere to step out of the rain and off the street.  It’s also the perfect place to hang coats and stack regularly used shoes so as not to clutter up the house.

    We definitely have quite a list of requirements if we do move house again!

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    Features my dream home would have


  3. Use Your Home To Finance Your Family Holidays

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    Homeowners are the first to notice the increase in house-related costs, from energy bills to everyday shopping, without mentioning the council tax rise that is likely to hit most families in the UK from April 2018. In other words, it is difficult to think of your home sweet home without considering the costs that it incurs. However, there are ways in which you can let your home finance your family time, such as helping you to pay for future holidays. How does this work? With a lot of planning, organisation and savviness!  But here are four methods you can employ to make money out of your property.

    Use Your Home To Finance Your Family Holidays


    Save money on your energy bills

    A lot of families struggle to keep on top of utility bills, especially as most energy suppliers in the UK have increased their invoices on the past months. If switching didn’t help to cut down the costs, then it’s time for mindful energy consumption. You can encourage positive habits within your family by teaching your children that their behaviour can have a positive impact on the bill. Additionally, you can also implement little changes, such as switching to LED bulbs with, as they can save up to 70% on your yearly energy consumption. Finally, now that the warm weather is back, you can bleed your radiators to keep them effective next winter.

    Cut your grocery shopping costs

    It might sound unbelievable, but you can save a fortune by establishing a more sustainable lifestyle when it comes to food. Indeed, you can save up to £1,300 a year by growing your vegetables, according to the National Allotment Society. Additionally, if you choose to build a coop in your garden, you can get your own supply of fresh eggs all year round and more than enough to sell to your neighbours too.

    Rent a room to exchange students

    Did you know that you could host foreign students and earn a tax-free income in the process? Under the Government’s Rent a Room scheme you can earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year from letting out a furnished room in your home. You can, of course, earn more than this, but you’ll have to pay taxes on it. You can get directly in touch with school and university for exchange students to be part of their list of approved hosts – your room will need to pass the inspection standards first. As you provide accommodation for someone who is standing only temporarily in the UK, you need to ensure that the bedroom is habitable and properly furnished, including spare bedding, towels and curtains.

    Declutter with a profit

    Every house has items that nobody needs anymore. If you want to declutter as part of your spring cleaning habit, you can choose to sell the items you don’t want on or eBay. Items that are in good condition can go at a profitable price. What can you sell? Anything including furniture, used clothes with plenty of life left, books, DVDs, appliances you don’t use, etc.

    There’s more value in your home than you suspect. From saving your money on energy and grocery bills to generating a new income from letting or boot sales, your home can support your finances in more than one way!

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    Use Your Home To Finance Your Family Holidays


  4. A guide to creating a permanent barbecue pit in your garden

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    Many Brits will use a rise in temperatures and just a glimpse of the summer sun as an opportunity to take their cooking outside and enjoy some barbecued food. However, this pastime could be made a lot easier if homeowners make the most of the winter and spring months to create a barbecue pit in their gardens.  Even though I’m practically eating a vegan diet, free of meat, dairy and eggs, I still love a good BBQ!  There’s something so amazing about eating outdoors and cooking food outdoors.  I enjoy grilled vegetable kebabs, slices of meaty aubergine or Portobello mushrooms with a slice of vegan cheese, as well as spicy bean burgers in pitta or a seeded bun.  I’m drooling just thinking about it!

    The one think we’re missing in our garden is a permanent BBQ station.  I love all the outdoor kitchens I see floating around on Pinterest and cool brick cooking stations.  Ben has been quite keen to build one since we moved into our home four years ago.  Below I have a guest post today for you from Flogas, who supply people with LPG storage tanks that can be used to power BBQs.  They will guide you through the process of building the perfect barbecue pit for your garden and the safety considerations which must also be considered:

    A guide to creating a permanent barbecue pit in your garden - vegan bbq

    1.      Get your items

    Here’s everything that you will need in order to build your barbecue pit:

    • Bricks
    • Carpenter’s square
    • Cinder blocks
    • Dry mortar
    • Gravel
    • Grill top
    • Hand tamper
    • Measuring tape
    • Metal braces
    • Metal cylinder or can (if you’re building a metal pit)
    • Paving slabs
    • Shovel
    • Spirit level
    • Trowel
    • Water

    2.      Take plenty of time to plan

    You shouldn’t dive straight into building your barbecue pit before first doing some planning.

    Start by having a think about just what type of barbecue pit you want for your garden. You’ll be surprised how many varieties there are — with this handy guide from DIY Cozy Home helping you find the one that will be perfect for you and the space you are working with. Don’t forget to also consider your budget, as you don’t want a half-finished pit just because you realised during the project that you couldn’t afford all the materials.

    Once you have selected your barbecue pit, it’s time to find the best location to build it. For convenience, you should be aiming to place it close to your dining room or kitchen so you only need to walk small distances with food and utensils once it’s time to grill on your barbecue. Logistically, you should aim for your pit to be at least 15 feet square (3 feet x 5 feet).

    However, safety is also very important when finding a great location for your barbecue pit. Avoid building it in a place where it’s likely that smoke is going to blow straight into either your home or one of your neighbour’s properties. It should be placed away from any overhanging trees, buildings and fences which are at risk of been damaged from the smoke or catching fire. If your home’s outdoor space is vulnerable to high winds, aim to build the pit close to a brick or concrete wall which will work to break the force of the wind.

    There are very important safety considerations when it comes to gas-powered barbecues as well. Refrain from ever making your barbecue pit an enclosed space, such as by putting a tent or cabin around it — with this the case whether the barbecue is lit or smouldering. Be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning once a gas-powered barbecue pit is constructed too. You should stop using a barbecue pit immediately if you begin suffering from a loss of breath, dizziness, headaches or nausea and seek advice from a specialist builder before operating the barbecue again

    Related How to Host the Ultimate BBQ

    A guide to creating a permanent barbecue pit in your garden - vegan burger

    3.      Work on the foundations

    When it’s time to actually get started with building your barbecue pit, the first thing that will need to be focused on is the foundations. After all, the barbecue itself is going to be of substantial weight and will require good foundations to support it.

    Begin by digging a pit that is at least eight inches deep and then clear out all loose soil and stones that remain once the hole is created using a shovel. Your hand tamper should also be used to compact the soil that is at the bottom of the trench and to create a level playing field.

    Next, pour a layer of gravel into the trench that is around two to three inches deep and level this off, again using your hand tamper. You will then want to mix your dry mortar with some water and spread a two-inch layer of the mixture on top of the gravel. Level this mixture out using a trowel, though do this quickly as mortar tends to dry-off at a rapid rate.

    4.      Create the base

    Now you’re ready to build the base of your barbecue pit. To do this, start placing cinder blocks around the edges of the mortar. A small hole should remain to drain water and any gaps between the blocks can easily be filled using wet mortar. Just be sure to keep removing any excess mortar while remembering that mortar dries off quickly.

    Once the cinder blocks are in place, check that they are all even using your spirit level and check all the corners with the aid of your carpenter’s square.

    After you’re happy with this construction, spread some more wet mortar on top of the cinder blocks and start placing bricks in a side-by-side format on top of them. By using a double layer of bricks, you will instantly strengthen the entire pit. Once again, don’t waste time removing any excess mortar to avoid problems once it’s been given time to dry.

    5.      The finishing touches

    The complexity of this step will depend on which type of barbecue pit you’ve opted for. If you have decided to go for a metal pit, then all that’s going to be required is for you to install the metal cylinder or can over the layer of bricks you’ve put in place and fit the grill top over the furnace.

    Have a desire to create a brick barbecue pit? Then this is the method that you should be working towards:

    1. Apply more mortar and continue to build additional layers of bricks until you reach the height that you’re happy with.
    2. Work on each layer by placing bricks in the corners first and work out from these points.
    3. Once a layer is complete, make sure that you are using your spirit level to ensure the structure is remaining level and your carpenter’s square to check the layout of the corners.
    4. When you reach the penultimate layer of bricks, be sure to insert metal braces into the mortar so that they face inward before applying the bricks (these braces will be essential for holding the grill top in place).
    5. Leave the pit overnight so that the mortar can set entirely and then place the grill top onto the metal braces the next day.
    6. If building a gas-powered barbecue pit, attach the hoses which will supply gas from its supply and seek expert advice to ensure that the gas transfer is operating properly. (As a side note, gas taps must be switched off before you ever change a gas cylinder. Also, only carry out this process in an open-air environment.)


    Once this step is complete, you will have successfully created your very own barbecue pit. All what will be left to do is wait for the first sign of summer to fire up the grill and start enjoying some outdoor dining.


    Related 5 Things You Need To Have a Successful BBQ

     A guide to creating a permanent barbecue pit in your garden


  5. Save Money On Your Loft Conversion

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    Loft conversions are a popular solution for households looking to increase the size and value of their property. The UK property market is tough, with rising house prices making it difficult for homeowners to move up the property ladder. Expanding your home with a loft conversion, however, can be a great way to add another bedroom or reception room to your property - helping you to make the most of your space.

    Save Money On Your Loft Conversion

    While loft conversions can be a great way to add value to your property, they can come at a high price. The following tips can help you save money on your loft conversion to help you expand your home for less.

    Scale it back

    While you might have grand ambitions for your loft conversion, such as an extra bedroom with a full en-suite, your budget might not allow for this at this time. One of the cheapest types of loft conversion is a home office or reception room, or you can opt for a bedroom without the additional bathroom. Remember that you can always opt for the most basic conversion to start with, and add to it later down the line.

    Explore simple designs

    Simple designs can be the most effective for a loft conversion, and they can also be the most affordable. A loft with some carefully places skylights can make a light, open space that can serve many functions depending on what you want from your new room. Take a look at some incredible loft conversion ideas to give you some inspiration on what you can achieve.

    Ask for recommendations from friends and family

    While it’s tempting to jump on Google and find the first builders in your local area, you might find that you get a better deal by asking friends and family for their personal recommendations. Word of mouth is a great way to get affordable recommendations, as well as some assurance that you’re hiring the right people for the job. This is a good tip for choosing a reputable builder and can stop you from hiring a rogue trader by mistake.

    Save money on your supplies and decor

    Another way you can cut money on your loft conversion spend is to look for discounts on your equipment, furniture and decor. You can save money on everything from wall paint to access panel accessories that will reduce your overall spend. Online shopping is a fantastic way to find some bargains, so start hunting around for the best deal.

    Get insurance

    While insurance may seem like an additional and unnecessary cost for your home conversion plans, it could actually save you money in the long run. Loft conversions can encounter problems during their construction as well as once they’re completed, so having the right insurance policy can help you avoid being out of pocket if something were to happen.

    Saving money on your loft conversion can be easy with the right advice and a bit of forward planning. Find ways that you could save on your home improvement plans to help you build your dream home.


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    Save Money On Your Loft Conversion

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