Does ‘Building Regulation’ apply to internal alteration within my home?

This is one of the major question home owners ask when planning to make alteration to their home for various reasons such as open plan living, bigger kitchen, knocking down internal walls etc.

Yes – Building Regulation is most likely to apply. 

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The UK building regulations specify the forms of alteration that amount to ‘material alterations’ and are therefore ‘Building Work’, taking account of the potential for the proposed work to adversely affect compliance of the building with specific requirements, such as: if your project involves alterations to the structure of the building (e.g. the removal or part removal of a load-bearing wall, joist, beam or chimney-breast); if fire precautions either inside or outside the building may be affected; or if it will affect access to and use of the building. On the assumption that the regulations do apply, all the work involved in the alteration must comply with all the appropriate requirements.

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You should always be aware of the fact that although the work involved in a building project may not amount to building work and consequently not be subject to the building regulations, there are other statutory regulations that it may be subject to. If the proposed project could result in a dangerous situation or damage to your own property or that of your neighbour, it may also result in your own and/or your neighbour’s building no longer complying in some way with the building regulations.

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What does UK business want from PM Boris Johnson

With an 80-seat majority, there is little doubt that PM Johnson will be able to get his party policies and campaign promises through the UK parliament without delays. This might be good or bad for UK businesses, time will tell.

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The major concern now for business is;

  • Get Brexit done

Getting Brexit Withdrawal Agreement through UK Parliament, paving the way for the UK to leave the European Union and negotiate a trade deal which will be the focus for businesses.

The prospect of an end to three years of to and fro over the issue is welcomed by the deputy director general of the CBI, Josh Hardie.

“Just the fact that we have a government with a strong majority and a mandate actually provides the opportunity to bring a bit more certainty,” he said.

But as the prime minister’s opponents were at pains to point out during the election campaign, the UK could still leave the EU without a trade deal at the end of next year unless a trade deal with the EU can be struck in record time.

Mr Hardie said British businesses would like see maximum alignment with the bloc, describing a relationship of frictionless trade very similar to EU membership, but the new government has promised an arms length arrangement, with the UK outside both the EU single market and the customs union.

Mike Cherry, the national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said Brexit could provide an opportunity for British firms to expand into other overseas markets such as the US, Canada and Australia. But the UK’s relationship with the EU remains the first item on the agenda.

  • Improving Infrastructure and investment

Mr Johnson welcomed the election result with a promise to “repay the trust” of voters in the north of England who swung behind the Conservatives, many for the first time in their lives.

There is an expectation that the previous Conservative government’s Northern Powerhouse plans will get further backing. The Times has suggested the prime minister could be planning to pump as much as £80bn into projects in key northern seats in a bid to cement his new voters’ support.

“The Conservative manifesto recognised the role for vital infrastructure in supporting the economy, from Northern Powerhouse Rail to gigabit broadband.See the source image

“The Government now should go further and give clear backing to HS2 and Crossrail 2, as well as reaffirming support for airport expansion at London’s airports, putting in place the key building blocks needed to enable our regions to grow together.”

That kind of spending may help boost the UK’s flagging growth rates, says Yael Selfin, chief economist at accountancy firm KPMG.

She says “public spending will need to do the heavy lifting” when it comes to dispelling the cloud of uncertainty around an EU deal but it will take more than that.

“The new government must also turn its attention to some of the longer standing challenges facing the UK, such as poor productivity and declining regional opportunities, to help secure a better long term future, while addressing the challenges and opportunities presented by new technology and climate change.

 

  • Effective Immigration policy

Mr Johnson has pledged to introduce a points-based immigration system that would sort migrant workers into three categories.

The first tier, entrepreneurs, investors and people who have won awards in certain fields, would receive fast-track entry under the system.

Meanwhile, skilled workers, such as doctors, nurses and other health professionals, who have a confirmed job offer, would be placed in another category, with those eligible for an NHS visa also receiving fast-track entry and reduced fees.

For low-skilled or unskilled workers, sector-specific rules would be put in place, enabling British firms to fill gaps where UK workers cannot be found.

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But the plans have come under fire from business leaders who have said the proposed policy is too vague and would affect their ability to plan for the future.

The CBI’s Mr Hardie said while a points-based system could work if designed to respond to the needs of the economy, but more detail would be welcome.

Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, the governing body of London’s financial district, said Mr Johnson should bear in mind that services were “the lifeblood” of the UK economy but relied on “attracting, retaining and developing high quality talent”

  • Reform of Business rates

Boris Johnson has pledged to reform business rates, which have been blamed for tough times on the High Street, with well-known chains shutting stores across the country over the past few years.

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But that could take time, according to Mr Cherry from the Federation of Small Businesses. Just a review of rates could take up to five years, he said.

At present, business rates are based on the size of a firm’s property as well as revenues, in most cases.

 

But Mr Cherry said the tax was charged “before you even turn over your first pound, let alone make any profit”.

Mr Hardie from the CBI said the business rates system was “fundamentally broken” and urged “radical reform”.

For many firms, especially in the retail sector, reform of business rates, which they have been calling for for several years, remains the top priority.

Source: BBC News

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Residential Property: Why is energy efficiency important?

Energy consumption is the amount of energy used up by a process, system or appliance – or by a country, person or business. Energy efficiency or conservation simply means using less energy, or even none at all.  Energy efficiency is playing an increasingly vital role in our lives, for three main reasons:  Environment, Health and Economy

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Major Benefits of energy efficiency

  • Significantly reduce your utility bills

As a homeowner, energy costs can make up a significant portion of your recurring monthly expenses. With energy efficient appliances and home upgrades, you can save anywhere from five to 30 percent on your utility bills. Energy efficient appliances consume less energy throughout their service lives without sacrificing quality, and are an excellent way to save on your energy expenditures.

  • Insulate yourself from rising energy prices

Utility residential energy rates fluctuate seasonally and annually, but have risen steadily in the last decade. This trend is likely to continue into the future. In addition to cutting your monthly energy bills now, conducting energy efficiency improvements on your home helps to insulate you from the financial impact of unpredictable sharp energy price increases that could happen in the years to come.

  • Energy savings tips help you easily cut costs

Energy expenses are often thought of as a fixed cost of owning a home or business, with reductions only possible through pricey renovations. However, you can easily reduce your utility bills through simple energy conservation behaviors or small energy efficient purchases. Programmable thermostats, advanced power strips, and energy efficient lighting can decrease your energy expenses with almost no effort on your part.

  • Earn a great return on your investment

Energy efficient purchases should not be viewed as an expense, but as an investment with utility savings that add up over the service life of the product. Savings can offset the initial price premium on energy efficient options, and offer a significant return in comparison to conventional, non-efficient alternatives. Furthermore, the return you pocket through savings will only increase over time as energy prices continue to rise.

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  •  Increase your property value

In the property market, energy efficient homes frequently sell for a higher price than standard homes with comparable features. Every project that increases your home’s energy efficiency adds a fraction of its cost to the final selling price a appeal. In addition, private residences with High Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating have been proven to sell at a premium compared to similar homes in the area. Coming with expectations of reduced utility bills and fewer repair bills, energy efficiency is an attractive feature in any home purchase.

  • Enhance your quality of life

By optimizing your energy use, you can increase the comfort of living in your home and, in many cases, see notable health benefits. When you conduct energy efficient measures, your home will be warmer, drier, and properly ventilated, which lowers the risk of illnesses and mold growth. Energy efficiency also prevents the buildup of indoor pollutants, a major concern in areas with high radon emissions. In fact, the financial benefits of energy-efficient buildings yield a benefit-cost ratio of over 4 to 1, and 75 percent of those benefits can be attributed to health advantages.

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  • Protect the environment and comply with legislation

Energy efficiency is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and to comply with the UK legislation and carbon reduction target. Homes were responsible for 19 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions in 2016, and implementing energy efficiency measures in your home can significantly reduce your emissions contribution. The typical household can reduce its energy use (and by extension its greenhouse gas emissions) by 25 to 30 percent by investing in more efficient energy consumption. Energy efficiency help to reduce climate change and the impact carbon emissions and other pollutants have on the environment.

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Safety at Home: Carbon monoxide kills

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, colourless, non-irritant gas, killing 50 people each year in the UK and making hundreds more seriously ill.

CO poisoning occurs when gas-fired appliances such as boilers, cookers and fires are not operating correctly. With research indicating that nearly a quarter of UK homes have one or more defective gas appliance, it is vital your appliances are checked regularly.

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If your boiler is more than 10 years old or has been infrequently serviced in the past, you really should get it checked by a Gas safe registered engineer. Fitting a European standard certified audible carbon monoxide alarm is a vital second line of defence after having  your appliances safety checked. It is essential that your alarm is marked with the EN50291 safety standard and with the CE mark.

Vital signs and symptoms to look out for CO poisoning include:

  • Sooting and staining on or around your gas boiler or other gas appliances.
  • Excessive condensation in the room where an appliance is installed.
  • A lazy, yellow-orange gas flame instead of blue.
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea and can be mistaken for flu, a virus and even food poisoning.
  • Breathlessness
  • Lost of consciousness

For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning visit http://www.hse.gov.uk

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Experts links Killer diseases such as cancer to air pollution in UK

The UK’s failure to meet World Health Organisation standards limiting the amount of ultra-fine particles in the air represents a major danger to health that is only now being recognised, experts claim.

Studies published this year link the particles to cancers, lung and heart disease, adverse effects on foetal development, and poor lung and brain development in children. They are considered a key threat to health because they go deep into the lungs and then reach other organs, including the brain. But European standards allow the levels of particles in the air to be 2.5 times higher than those stipulated by the WHO.

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Professor Annette Peters, director of the Institute of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, said Europe – and the UK – urgently needs to introduce tougher standards. She said: “Particles are a major and invisible danger to our health, especially in London and our big cities.

The US has a standard of 12 micrograms of ultra-fine particles per cubic metre, while the WHO standard is 10 micrograms.

“We [the UK and EU’s limits] are currently at 25 micrograms per cubic metre – double the US standards,” said Peters, who warned that scientific evidence confirming the threat they pose to human health “has really strengthened this year”.

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“We initially had evidence of the effect on the lungs and heart, but now we also have evidence that it alters the metabolism as well as impacting the brain.

Vehicle emissions are predominantly to blame, but domestic heating systems and industrial pollutants are also factors. “Recent studies from London and our work in a medium-sized community in southern Germany show there really is evidence that the ultra-fine particles go beyond the lungs,” Peters said.

Source: The Guardian 

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COP25 Climate Change: Major emitters disagree over UN deal

UN climate talks in Madrid enter their final scheduled day with divisions emerging between major emitting countries and small island states.

Negotiators are attempting to agree a deal in the Spanish capital that would see countries commit to make new climate pledges by the end of 2020.

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But serious disagreements have emerged over how much carbon-cutting the major emitters should undertake.

The talks have also become bogged down in rows over key technical issues.

Negotiators arrived in Madrid two weeks ago with the words of the UN secretary general ringing in their ears – António Guterres told delegates that “the point of no return is no longer over the horizon”.

Despite his pleas, the conference has become enmeshed in deep, technical arguments about a number of issues including the role of carbon markets and the financing of loss and damage caused by rising temperatures.

Source: BBC News

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Building Project: Things to consider when budgeting

For any building project to become a reality, it must be affordable, even if it is an estimate. The project needs to be financed, whether you have the funds available, or if you need to borrow some or all, every aspect of the project cost needs to be covered.

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The best way of finding out some initial budgeting costs would be to contact your local architect or building contractor, who will more than likely have had recent experience of a similar project, or may be able to introduce you to someone who has. The major thing to take into account is that there are many different types of buildings, and full scope of the work and type of materials needed before costs can be calculated.

For example, particular consideration would need to be given to:

  • Houses built of stone or materials other than brick or block
  • Houses with special design features
  • Houses of a particularly high quality
  • Houses of larger than average size
  • Property with more than two storeys, or with basements and cellars
  • Houses containing hazardous materials, e.g. asbestos
  • Flats, because types of construction vary considerably, as do responsibilities for common or shared parts
  • Houses that fall under listed building categories or are in conservation areas and deemed historic. These will almost certainly have to include materials that match the original in quality and age, or at least made to exact dimensions.

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10 Things that will make you successful

Like it or not, unless you are already successful, you will need to work to achieve success. And even if you are successful you will still need to work harder to sustain your success. The following are 10 things that will help you become successful and sustain your success;

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  1. Vision – Yes, you must have a clear vision and know where you are heading. Your plan must paint a clear vision
  2. Commitment – However good your plan or resources at your disposal, if you are not committed it will be difficult to succeed. You need commitment to implement your plan, manage your resources and stay on course no matter the challenges you face along the way.
  3. Security – As if commitment is not enough, you need security as a foundation to guaranty success. Your security is your assets and it can be physical (tangible) such as a property, valuables, investments or non-physical (intangible) such as Brand-name, contract agreement, exclusive right, permission etc
  4. Cover – You will also need to manage your risk effectively. The more success you have behind you the more you are expose to risk.
  5. Market –  You must know and understand your market and how to excel in your sector.
  6. Skills – You must have the necessary skills required and your CV must read well.
  7. Health – You need strength, resilience and stamina to succeed in life generally. Always keep yourself healthy and fit.
  8.  Love – Love what you do and treat everyone with love. Let it be your driving force and shine through in anything you do.
  9. Courage – You need to be courageous in taking decisions and dealing with challenges.
  10.  Persuasiveness – Whether you like it or not, you will have to sell yourself, product or services and the ability to sell is the greatest asset to succeed in life. Don’t appear to be too clever or aggressive. You will need to practice good customer service and marketing skills.

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