Can UK Green Mortgage help climate change?

The UK has set itself a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but that will be a challenge for the housing market.

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As things stand, domestic housing accounts for nearly 20% of the UK’s carbon emissions. At the same time, there are few ‘green’ mortgage products and even fewer that have been set up to fund making homes more energy efficient.

This matters, because upgrading current buildings will be what helps cut emissions.

According to the UK Green Building Council, around 80% of the buildings that will exist in the UK in 2050 are already constructed.

Few of those are energy efficient. Based on the government’s energy performance certificates (EPC), most of the UK’s housing stock is in the middle, ‘D’, band.

Top of the list in making housing more energy efficient is cutting fuel use. Around 10% of the UK’s carbon footprint comes down to heating – mostly domestic heating.

In principle, green mortgages that help homeowners manage the cost of boosting energy efficiency should be widespread and keenly priced.

In May 2020, the Green Finance Institute published a report on financing energy efficient buildings.

This cited “growing evidence that favourable financing terms can be achieved on securities that have an environmental or social impact label or certification”. 

But only three lenders in the UK currently offer green mortgages – Barclays, Ecology Building Society and Nationwide.

Chris McHugh, our Director of the Centre for Sustainable Finance, describes the UK green mortgage market as “a cautious beginning”.

“The eligible customer base, property types and notional amounts are limited. The price incentives for borrowers appear to be small or non-existent.”

The UK green mortgage market

Indeed you can count the number of green mortgage lenders on the fingers of one hand.

Ecology Building Society and Nationwide both offer lending for green home improvements. Ecology is a very small firm specialising in green finance including sustainable builds. In 2019 it lent £43.5m across 308 sustainable properties and projects.

However, compared to many other mortgage lenders, it’s relatively expensive – with a current standard variable rate of 4.1%.

Nationwide Building Society is a much bigger player with around 12% of the UK market. It  offers preferential rates on green improvements for loans up to £25,000, but only for existing customers.

Barclays has around 8.6% of the UK mortgage market. It does offer green mortgages for “energy-efficient new-build” homes provided by “partner suppliers”. But it doesn’t have any plans to offer mortgages for green home improvements in the near-term.

Lloyds, which has the biggest overall share at nearly 16%, announced in January that it plans to launch green mortgages, but did not give further details.

Right now, lenders may be cautious about broadening their green mortgage offerings as demand is likely to have been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic

“There are far more pressing matters on consumers’ minds,” says John Somerville, our Head of Regulatory Relationships.

“With all green properties and loans, there’s likely to be an extra cost and more underwriting. The appetite to jump through those hoops will be strongly diminished for some time to come.”

Source: The London Institute of Banking and Finance

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Building a garden wall as feature

Most gardens would benefit from a bit of hard landscaping, especially if the material used is beautiful and natural eg natural stone. Get some inspiration and ideas by visiting your local garden centre.

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Small walls, either built in stone or brick, are incredibly versatile in the gardens. They are specially useful for creating raised structures such as raised beds, which make it easier to plant and weed; brick barbecues; or raised water features. However, they can also be used to divide areas of a garden, or if you have a terraced area, they are vital for retaining soil.

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Home Improvement: Is size everything?

Whatever your home improvement project is; whether you’re extending up, down, side or within, size and the use of space is vital to achieving the best design and improvement.

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To get the best home improvement, why not take a drive around your local area to see how other people have done it? Keep an eye out for properties similar in structure to your own and make a note of what to do and don’t want to achieve. Look at houses from your local estate agent, online and property catalogues. Also use your dog walks, jogging and evening walks as research trips.

Most homes are extended at the back, but you can consider extending upward,  downward or sideways depending on planning permission and building regulation. The exterior appearance and size of your property will have an impact on its value and appeal.

Extensions, conservatories, porches, driveway, garages come in all shapes and sizes, from standard to premium design and space. Just make sure it is in keeping with the aesthetic of your home and that you consider the orientation – taking into account its proximity to surrounding trees, outbuildings and neighbouring properties and how much sunlight it will get during the day. For example a north-facing conservatory can suffer from lack of sunlight and bump up your heating bills.

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Struggling UK estate agency Countrywide in talks with LSL over a possible merger

Countrywide and LSL Property Services have said they are in talks over a possible merger which could create the UK’s largest estate agency.

The news comes after several years of losses at Countrywide and a difficult time for the sector.

Countrywide owns the Hamptons and Gascoigne-Pees brands while LSL owns Your Move and Reed Rains.

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The firms said that talks were ongoing, but there could be no certainty that an offer would ultimately be made.

If the merger talks – which were first reported by Sky News – lead to a deal, it will create a combined group worth about £470m with 14,000 employees.

Countrywide reported losses of £218m for 2018, compared with a £207m loss a year earlier, and it said last year that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit had been hitting business.

Recent surveys have suggested that the UK’s housing market is starting to pick up after a long period of sluggish activity.

Last month, a survey of property professionals reported an “uplift” in sentiment in the housing market following the general election.

Sales expectations had “risen sharply”, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said, with the number of house sales rising in December for the first time in seven months.

The most recent survey from the Halifax found the market continued “to show signs of improvement”.

The lender said it had seen “a pick-up in transactions with more buyer and seller activity consistent with a reduction in uncertainty in the UK”, although it added it was “too early to say if a corner has been turned”.

Source BBC News

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Use of technology for your building projects

Building projects is now very much linked to the use of computer generated materials. This does not mean to say that your project will suffer if you do not use computers and computer-aided material. However, one of the major problem with producing material by hand is that it takes a long time, and if you need to update or amend something it can become quite tedious. Another problem is that if your writing is not clear it may be misinterpreted.

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Advantages of using technology

  • information can be produced and sent electronically
  • Save time and speed up communication.
  • Ensure orders and specifications are clear and done in good time
  • Can be easily stored, retrieve and resent
  • Can be sent to multiple recipient at the same time
  • Saves resources and cost
  • environmentally friendly

To get the best of technology, it is worth pointing out that with the advancement of technology, digital cameras are now widely available at very reasonable prices. It is worth investing in one even if you do not own or use a computer. Alternatively you can use your mobile phone if it has a good digital camera. You can take and store hundreds of pictures of your project and documents without having them processed or printed. This may be vitally important in the event of any discrepancies and clarifications. If there is a problem or situation that is of urgent concern, the pictures can be sent electronically. This gives the person at the receiving end a visual aid and therefore action may be taken more quickly.

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TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

What is the first thing people do after moving into a new home?

Moving into your first property can be a long, complex and emotional process. For some, it can take a while to finally settle into their new home.

According to a recent Zoopla survey, the majority of people need from one week to a month after they’ve moved in to feel like they’re in a place they can call home:

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First things first

When it comes to settling into their new homes, people divide their time between the practical and the fun.

More than a third of respondents (37%) gave their property a deep clean on the day they moved in, while a fifth (19%) decided to set up council tax and utilities. Impressive organisational skills.

However, it’s not all work and no play. One in five respondents (20%) skipped cooking and ordered takeaway on their first day and another one in four (25%) got intimate with their partners:

Zoopla asked over 2,000 people, both existing homeowners and first-time buyers, to find out

What do people do on move-in day? 

  • Give the property a deep clean – 37%
  • Get intimate with a partner – 25%
  • Order a takeaway – 20%
  • Set-up council tax or utilities – 19%
  • Have your first argument – 10%
  • Entertain family – 7%
  • Make home improvements – 7%
  • Entertain friends – 4%

Source: Zoopla Property News

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Suspended mystery property with no access on sale for £100

A property has gone on the market for just £100, but it is shrouded in mystery as no-one knows how to get inside.

The 12sqm room is up for auction next month and comes with a flying freehold, as it has no structure beneath and is suspended in a passageway between two other buildings.

The room is in a row of historic buildings, some of which date back to the 16th century, but it appears to be sealed from both sides and there is no other access.

Victoria Reek, auction manager for William H Brown’s East Anglian auction centre, selling the room in Nene Quay, Wisbech, said it was one of the most unusual lots she had ever come across.

She told the Cambs Times: “There is no way in or out from the outside, we have been instructed to sell it and we’re starting the price off at £100.

“We think it would make an ideal store room for a market stall holder but it gives you no access rights, it really is just a room which at the moment, you can’t get into.

“We do come across all kinds of interesting lots like this in Norfolk but this is probably one of the most unusual.”

The room is being sold by Fenland District Council along with a number of other pieces of land, it has had in its portfolio for years.

The auction takes place on Thursday, February 20 at Dunston Hall Hotel in Norwich at 11.30am.

Source: Mirror

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What is Practical Completion in the building industry

The term ‘Practical Completion’ is a term use in the building industry at the end of a building project which is often open to interpretation. The issue of whether a building project has achieved practical completion has long been the source of many disputes within the building industry, both in the commercial sector and, in particular, the domestic sector.

Many standard form of Contract that are used in the building industry rely upon the issue of a Certificate of Practical Completion to trigger the release of funds at every completed stage or end of the project.

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Given the importance, the standard forms used throughout the industry do not define practical completion. They generally leave the matter to the discretion of the client, contract administrator, architect, engineer, supervising officer, etc. The Preparation of a comprehensive specification/scope of works is paramount to minimising the risks of misinterpretation, although the risks will never be fully removed.

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Practical completion of any part of the work should be seen as the work having been completed to a ‘set’ standard where the client can take possession of the works and use then as intended. It is important for both parties (client and contractor) to use common sense when agreeing on practical completion. On the one hand the contractor or builder should make every effort to complete the work to a satisfactory standard, and on the other the client should exercise some discretion on the finished product. That is not to say that poor standards should be accepted, but that some materials, such as bricks, timber, etc., can vary in colour or dimensions.

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