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Category: Home & Garden

  1. Live in Yorkshire? Sell your home for free!

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    One of the worst things about moving house is all the costs that are involved.  I can’t remember all of them precisely as we bought and sold a house almost five years ago, but just the solicitor fees, estate agents fees and stamp duty totalled in the thousands.  It took quite a chunk out of our sale price, leaving us with less money to do up our new home.  For many these fees can be totally unaffordable and a reason to stop moving house altogether.  For us now it’s certainly off-putting to move home as we first need to consider the thousands of pounds it will cost us and whether that’s justifiable.

    Zero estate agent fees in Yorkshire

    But what if you could eradicate one of these fees altogether? 

    Now you can!  Well, if you live in Yorkshire at least.  The online estate agent Housesimple are launching in the Yorkshire area and for a limited time you can sell your home for free!

    Live in Yorkshire Sell your home for free

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    Sell your Yorkshire home with no estate agents fees

    That’s right, there are no estate agents fees whatsoever if you put your home for sale with Housesimple by the 2nd April 2019.  It’s an absolute bargain and so I just had to share this offer with you.

    Some people pay thousands in estate agents fees and in recent times online estate agents have been combatting this with much reduced fees compared to the norm.  When we were selling, five years ago, we stuck with a traditional estate agent as we didn’t really know about the online variety or know if it would be successful.  Now I would definitely go to an online estate agent first.  Not only are they widely known about now, but you’re essentially getting the same service at a much lower cost.  We’ve since also known friends and family to sell their home using online estate agents.

    Even without the amazing offer for Yorkshire homes at Housesimple ,their usual fee is very reasonable anyway at just £995.  I’m sure we paid double this for a brick and mortar estate agent when we sold our property.  But what’s even better is no fee at all!

    OK, what’s the catch?

    So long as you meet their criteria then you won’t have to pay any estate agent fees.  Here’s the criteria:

    • The property must be in one of the following postcode areas - DN, HD, HG, HU, HX, LN, LS, S, WF, YO; or in one of the following postcode districts BD1 - BD23, NG18 - NG24, NG34, OL14, PE10 - PE12, PE20 - PE25;
    • You must put your property for sale on the market with the Housesimple between the start date and the closing Date. (00:01 am on 17.12.18 - 11:59pm on 02.04.19)

    What’s included?

    • Ads on Rightmove/Zoopla
    • Professional photos and floorplan
    • Negotiations and sales progression
    • Dedicated agent Local expert valuation
    • Easy to use online dashboard ‘For Sale’ board

     

    If you live in Yorkshire or the surrounding areas and are considering selling your home, then check out the postcodes above and see if you could save yourself a small fortune with zero estate agents fees to pay!

     

    More helpful articles when buying a house:

    9 ways to start updating your home on a budget
    Why I won’t use a mortgage adviser again
    My top tips to prepare for a house move
    Is buying a house better than renting?
    3 ways to make sure the house you are buying is in good shape
    Should I stay or should I go. Moving house decisions.
    Why you should check the water pressure when buying a new home

    Live in Yorkshire_ Sell your home for free!

     

  2. Why you should check the water pressure when buying a new home

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    Quite often I answer article requests for quotes all about things to look out for when buying a new home.  I always share the same piece of advice and that’s to check the water pressure!  I rarely see anyone else mention it and that’s probably because it’s not an obvious thing to check when buying a new property.  It certainly wasn’t something we ever thought about checking, but unfortunately this turned out to be a costly mistake when we purchased our first family home.

    Ben, my husband, had owned a home before and it was relatively new and had great water pressure.  I’d previously moved around rented accommodation and sometimes the pressure was OK and sometimes it was bad, but livable.  Even so, I still never thought to turn on a tap when we went for a house viewing as prospective buyers.

    As soon as we moved into our new home we knew that was a big mistake.  I turned a tap on and immediately shouted to Ben saying I think there’s something wrong with the water or the pipes.  It came out so slowly it was ridiculous.  Much to my dismay, there wasn’t anything wrong with that tap or pipe, but the whole house had the worst water pressure I’ve ever encountered!

    Make sure you check the water pressure when buying a new home

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    It was so bad that I struggled to wash my hair in the shower as there just wasn’t enough force to wash the shampoo out of my hair!  Running a shallow bath for our daughter, who was two at the time, took a whopping 40 minutes!

    It was total madness and we had to call an expert out to assess the plumbing and water tank.  It turned out we needed a pressure fed water tank to increase the water pressure as whatever system we had just wasn’t giving us anything more than a trickle of water.  There was barely any pressure at all for whatever reason.  Maybe it was just old and needed replacing, but I’ve no idea how the previous owners, a family of four, managed to get anyone showered and bathed each day!  It must have taken forever!

    It was far too frustrating for me and one of the first things we had to fork out for in our new home at a whopping cost of more than £2000.  Of course this cost was also totally unexpected and not budgeted for so left us very out-of-pocket at what was already an expensive time.

    Don’t make the same mistake as us and always remember to turn a tap or two on when you are viewing a house to check the plumping is up to par.

    Below are some more facts about water pressure, what’s considered normal and what’s not.

    Water pressure - what is right for your home?

    Make sure you check the water pressure when buying a new home

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    Have you ever noticed the pressure of water coming out of your tap is not the same as the pressure in your friend’s house? That’s because water pressure is affected by a variety of different things; many of which you actually have control over.

    However, how do you know what the right water pressure is for your home?

    What is water pressure

    In layperson terms water pressure is simply the amount of flow that comes out of your tap; a trickle means your pressure is low and a stream that blasts across your sink can be considered high.  Ours was definitely a trickle, but now it’s a full on blast!

    Water pressure can be measured in bars, PSI or head.  PSI is pounds per square inch, which sounds like quite a strange unit of measurement for water coming out of a tap! The average home will have water pressure between 30 and 80 PSI. But just because it arrives at your house at 80 PSI this doesn’t mean that the pressure at your taps will be the same.

    It is a good idea to reduce the pressure if your water pressure is at the top end of this scale or higher. High water pressure will place a huge amount of stress on the joints and washers in your water system; potentially resulting in one or more of them blowing. The result will be a leak which could be serious. You'll want to make sure you always have a number of a professional to hand for these sorts of situations, so it's worth finding a local plumber that you can rely on.  If you live near Sydney then click here for professional advice.

    To check if the water pressure for your own home is between 30 and 80 PSI if you have any concerns, or if you’re just curious, you can use a pressure gauge or you can call in the professionals to measure it for you!

    Reducing high water pressure

    If the pressure is near the top end of the scale then the easiest solution is to fit a pressure reducing valve. Ideally this should be fitted where the mains supply enters your home; this will ensure it reduces the pressure everywhere in your house.

    If your pressure is in the middle of this range but you have pressure sensitive appliances, you can always install the valve just before the specific appliance.

    Increasing the pressure

    If you’re on a mains supply then your first step will need to be to contact the water board. They will need to test your water pressure and confirm whether it is within the acceptable range.

    If it isn’t, they probably have a leak or some other issues in the pipes and will need to locate and resolve the issue.

    If they say the pressure is within the acceptable range but you want more pressure then you may need to add a pump to your system. This will suck the water in and force it into your pipes at a higher pressure. You should be able to adjust it to get the exact level of pressure right.

    You may find that the pressure at the mains is different to the pressure inside your home; this will indicate blocked pipes. You’ll need to take a look at the age of your system; it may be time to upgrade the pipes.

    I can’t remember exactly what was wrong with ours, but we called out the professionals and chose to have a pressure fed water tank installed which totally did the trick!

     

    More helpful articles when buying a house:

    9 ways to start updating your home on a budget
    Why I won’t use a mortgage adviser again
    My top tips to prepare for a house move
    Is buying a house better than renting?
    3 ways to make sure the house you are buying is in good shape
    Should I stay or should I go. Moving house decisions.

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    Why you should check the water pressure when buying a new home

  3. Inexpensive hard floor ideas that look authentic

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    When it comes to floors in the home and being budget friendly, hard floors are always the winner for me.  In our home we only have carpet on the stairs and landing; the rest of our home has hard flooring throughout.  Personally I find it so much easier to clean, especially with two young children.  It doesn’t stain, it doesn’t soak up spills and it doesn’t get dirty – unlike carpets.  Now, I would love a carpet one day, don’t get me wrong.  I love the soft feel of carpet underfoot.  But that will be in my very own private no-shoe adult room one day in the future! 

    Unfortunately with kids and pets, my experience of carpets has only been one of frustration as they get dirty so quickly, are a pain to have to clean with a carpet cleaner and kids food constantly stains or mushes into the piles!  So hard floors it is –to both save my sanity and because in the long run I believe it is a cost effective and longer lasting option.

    Inexpensive hard floor ideas that look authentic

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    Many people think that hard flooring is an expensive option, but I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be.  Whilst we all might want a real wooden oak floor or solid marble tiles, the reality is that our purse strings might not stretch quite this far.  So instead, much to our dismay, we have no choice but to opt for cheaper floor options.  Once upon a time that might have meant settling for something that was so obviously cheap, but nowadays there are plenty of affordable flooring solutions which actually look just like the real deal.

    So chin up! Let’s explore in this blog post some inexpensive flooring ideas that look totally authentic:

    Engineered wood flooring

    If you want a floor that truly resembles a real hardwood floor, then you’ll want to consider engineered wood flooring from Lifestyle Flooring UK.  This flooring option is a wood floor that is made from several glued together layers of plywood.  It is very strong and stable, in fact possibly even more so than real wood as it doesn’t warp or shrink with changes in temperature.

    It’s also easier to install than real wood as each piece doesn’t need to be nailed down, but has click together joints meaning those who are quite savvy in DIY can install this by themselves.  My husband and I were able to lay our entire house with click together wooden effect flooring.

    Inexpensive hard floor ideas that look authentic 2

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    Luxury vinyl flooring

    When I first think of vinyl flooring, I simply imagine the sheet vinyl flooring we always put in our bathroom.  It looks pretty terrible and it wears through quickly too.  However, there is so much more to vinyl flooring and in particular there are ranges of ‘luxury’ vinyl floor tiles that can look as real as stone, marble, slate, concrete and more.  Some brands not only look like the real thing, but even have the texture too. 

    Not only is luxury vinyl flooring much cheaper than choosing the real thing, but they are highly durable and long lasting with some brands offering a 20 year guarantee.  And, if that’s not enough to convince you to reconsider vinyl flooring as an option, you can even get get vinyl flooring that looks just like an authentic wooden floor.

     

    Luckily, nowadays, there are lots more options when it comes to affordable flooring for the home that looks like raw materials, but is actually a copy.  Opting for a replicated floor doesn’t mean you are opting for less quality either.  As I mentioned with the engineered wood flooring, it can even have several benefits over a real wood floor so should definitely be considered when you are looking into floor options for your home.

     

    Related blog posts

    Wood flooring on a budget

    The benefits of wood style hard flooring for your home

    Collab

    Inexpensive hard floor ideas that look authentic

  4. 5 ways to save time and money in the garden

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    Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby, or it can feel like a chore. Either way, it doesn’t have to be as expensive as it can first seem.  Sure there are lots of gadgets you can get nowadays and the gardening aisles in your local DIY stores are overflowing with tempting products. But, if you’re on a budget or wish to be a little savvy with your garden expenditure, then here are a 5 ways you can save money in your garden.

    5 ways to save money in the garden
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    Consider artificial grass

    Artificial grass from a supplier like New Lawn is becoming more commonplace nowadays as people realise not only the amount of maintenance and time this will save them in the garden, but also how much money it can save.  As the grass is artificial it will not grow, so you won’t need to invest in a lawnmower.  You’ll therefore use less energy to maintain your garden as you’ll not need to buy fuel or use electric to power this lawnmower.  Just imagine  never having the hassle of mowing the lawn again!

    Sow direct from seed

    When growing your own vegetables there are countless apparatus available to you such as starter seed trays, propagators, grow lamps and so on.  The idea being you sow your seeds indoors in tiny sections of a starter tray, then move these into a larger pot , then eventually move outdoors.  Whilst you can grow like this, it’s usually a lot of faff and to be honest, you’ll be spending a lot of money on various trays and pots when you really don’t need to.  Many vegetables are perfectly fine to be planted directly outdoors and will thrive.  I simply plant my veg directly in the soil, cover with fine mesh netting until they have grown a couple of inches, and then remove the mesh and off they go (or grow!).  To save money by planting directly outdoors, simply opt for easy to grow summer varieties and hardy winter vegetables.

    Plant succulents

    If you want to opt for something that requires very little maintenance, then opt for succulents in your border.  Not only are they unusual and instantly add interest, but they will save you a ton of money on water!  These plants are designed to withstand harsh conditions in deserts and thus need very little attention or watering.  Plus they are slow growing, so you’ll never need to expend energy cutting them back!

    Make your own compost

    Buy a compost bin or build a simple square structure at the bottom of your yard to start a compost heap.  Compost can be pretty compost when purchased from gardening centres, but it’s so easy to make your own from your left over scraps of food.  Plus, it’s sort of free!  You were going to throw this food away anyway, so now you’re using waste to create something that you would otherwise need to buy.  You’ll also save time and energy on making trips to the store to buy compost when you need it.  Win-win.

    Raid your recycling

    Instead of buying plant pots and seed trays when you need them, start keeping plastic packaging from your kitchen such as takeaway trays and margarine pots.  These make perfect seed starter trays if you stab a few holes in the bottom.  Cardboard egg trays also work perfectly for this and they can even be planted directly into the soil when the seedlings are ready to go outdoors, and the cardboard will naturally rot away.  Spray old tin cans in colourful paints for unique plant pots.  The possibilities are endless if you let your imagination run wild.  You’ll be helping to create a more sustainable world by reusing items and generating less waste.

    There we have it.  Five ways you can begin to save time and money in the garden.

    Related blog posts:

    7 ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle
    Important Reasons to Choose Organic (other than your personal health)
    How to save money and future proof your garden
    6 easy ways to save money around the house (and be eco-friendly)

    5 ways to save money in the garden

  5. Setting up a successful business space from your home

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    With rental and property prices changing constantly; it can be difficult to find the right place to run your business, especially if you’re already a busy mum. Due to uncertain times, many people are choosing to save themselves the cost of renting, or paying another mortgage, and running their businesses from home, whether it’s their full-time job, or an exciting side hustle.

    By keeping your company within your property, you’ll save commuting costs, and won’t have to pay additional bills on a space that doesn’t belong to you.  There are even some bills you can class as a business expense when you work from home.  I’ve been self-employed for six years this month and currently have an office at the end of the children’s playroom.  Ben has just set up a home business and has a workshop at the bottom of the garden!  

    There are, however, some things you should consider before taking the plunge, and turning the place where you live, into an office, workshop, or studio.

    Setting up a successful business space from your home

     My walking desk/office set up at the end of the children's playroom!

    All you need

    You’ll need to scope out your house, garden, or land (you lucky thing), for the suitability of running your company, and it will depend on what your business is. Office-based work is probably the most straightforward, as a room or area within your home can easily be converted into an office space, using a desk and appropriate shelving. To separate your home life from your work; you might want to consider setting up your business in the garden by using, or building, a dedicated room to work inside. By keeping your work removed from family life; you’ll be able to concentrate professionally at the job in hand, throughout your time “at work”. 

    This is definitely something that would be great for me as currently my office is a third of the playroom!  I thought it was a great idea at first so I could be near the children when they are playing, but it’s actually impossible most of the time to get work completed if they are here as they can see me and want my attention.  A separate area, if you have the space, is definitely recommended.

    For companies that manufacture goods; you’ll need to think about the scale of your operation and how much you’ll be producing. Any machinery will have to have ample room to be used correctly, and you’ll need adequate storage for your items. It’s worth investing in all the tools needed, both physical and digital, so that you’ll have all you need from the get-go. 

    Even if you’re a maker, like Ben my husband is, the importance of organised admin and digital marketing cannot be undervalued. Yes, he needs a workshop to make, but he still needs a space and tools to be able to promote his wares digitally as this is how he can get a sale in this day and age.  And, of course, there is admin to deal with, whether that is emails, uploading listings or documenting income and expenditure.  He still needs a space to be able to work digitally too.  Make sure you scope out the best template management or social media platform system to make things easier for running your business; find what suits you and your business so that you can begin to thrive.

    Separation is key

    When you run your own business, it can often consume every part of your life, especially when you’re working on it from your home.  There is always something to be doing with regards to your business, new ideas popping into your head constantly, emails to respond to and work to be getting on with.  The problem is you work at home and you could therefore always be working and thinking of work!

    Therefore, it’s crucial that you’re able to switch off and enjoy your family life after the working day is finished. Having a separate space to work on your property is the best way to switch off, as you can lock up and leave everything in there, away from the house. If you have a work environment inside the home; try to remove as much as possible from the rest of family life, by locking doors and turning off any phones and computers.

    If, like me, your work space really is in the middle of family life (who thought a playroom-office was a good idea again?!), then you need to try to set clear boundaries between work and life.  I admit, I still struggle to do this on busy days, especially as I like to stay on top of my work and get things done promptly, but I do try to have working hours that I stick to.  I usually work when the kids are at school and then again when they are in bed.  I also take weekends off, most of the time.  When I work every day I feel all consumed by my business and don’t give my children the quality time they need, so by taking the weekends of I can at least give them my full attention for two days of the week without my head stuck in a laptop. 

    It can definitely be a struggle to take time off when you’re setting up a business and it demands all your attention and time, but it’s best to set some clear rules about when work time is and when your own life time is!

    A quiet space

    You’ll also want to be able to drown out (most) of the noise when you’re working on something important or during unusual hours, such as when the kids and husband are home. This factor will again stress the importance of separation, so make sure it’s a focus when you’re designing the space.  If I do have to work when my children are home then it’s quite impossible if they are being noisy and I need to concentrate, especially as they are usually in the same room as me.  A separate room where I can shut the door would be ideal – so do consider this if you are setting up your own workspace.  

    Ben’s workspace is great as it is at the bottom of the garden, away from our home and noisy family life.  I’m sure he can much better separate work and life compared to my setup.  Of course, mine is lovely and peaceful in the day when the children are at school and nursery, and Ben is at work!

    For more on the importance of switching off from your business, take a look online for some inspiration and tips or check out my running a home based business blog posts or my work-life balance blog.

     

    Related blog posts

    5 tried and tested ways to make money as a UK stay at home mum
    How to deal with overwhelm as a work at home parent
    Tips to stay healthy if you work from home
    How to manage your time effectively when working from home
    Managing life as a full time working parent

    Setting up a successful business space from your home