eekoh

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  1. Probably. Either strategy needs effective government regulation to keep the focus on quality of service & infrastructure rather than the vested interests of shareholders or union politics. Also I think if employees feel like they’re being treated fairly and not exploited or worked to death to fund ‘fatcat’ bosses they'd be less likely to form militant unions.
  2. I think we'll struggle to develop really good systems designed to improve service for consumers or fully address 'green' objectives without either nationalised power generation or incredibly strict regulation, which the Conservative government seems reluctant to do. I'm not wholly against privatisation (and we're kind of stuck with it for the foreseeable future anyway) but in a free market its inevitable that private companies driven by profit will only do the minimum required to meet their service level agreements or political/legal obligations.
  3. @Raks Noticed this topic is a few months old so I was wondering how you’re getting on with your UFH and how it has performed? (I’m considering a similar retrofit install to an older property)
  4. At the price we’d be buying for there would be good scope to gain on resale value later. UFH is probably the biggest cost that isn’t necessarily essential (we could reinstate the existing radiators after plastering) and the cost will be one consideration on whether we do it. What I’m looking into now with materials & specifications is to inform that decision. The house is fairly typical construction for this area, I’ve rented 4 different homes with similar construction since moving here and several friends either have done or are in the middle of renovations so I am reasonably familiar with the issues of living in and working on stone houses. The house isn’t a complete wreck and has full mains services. It would be basically habitable with a good scrub down and a skip for the old carpets, so we could do a slow & steady program of refurb room by room after we move in. But while it’s empty initially and we have cash available it gives us an opportunity to consider some bigger things (like upgrading the heating) which could make it a better home but would be more difficult to do later on.
  5. @scottishjohn demolition is not an option, we’d want a totally different sort of plot for a new build. From what I can see it’s plastered directly onto the stone, no sign of lathes on the bits that have broken away. Structurally seems in generally good condition, room sizes are mostly fairly big apart from box room on middle floor. From the decor it appears to have had a lot on money spent probably in the 80s but nothing much since. External (lime?) render is intact, internal plaster deteriorating fairly rapidly since it’s been empty. @Triassic yep, wool is quite bulky and also fairly expensive. I want to find out more about the hemp fibre products, they look good so far. possibly still expensive tho. @Temp it will have been empty for approx 1yr so we wont qualify under that scheme. I think we’d probably do at least some of the basic install ourselves and then contractors for the plumbing & electrics commissioned and screed.
  6. @Ferdinand I'm not in any way set on sheeps wool, that was just one of the most frequent things that seems to come up on searches for breathable insulation. Of the products I've seen so far I'm actually leaning more towards the hemp fibre stuff as there is a local firm that works with it and from what I've read so far its very good on both thermal and acoustic insulation. @AliG Its got 18" thick stone walls so seems unlikely to me that there would be any rapid variations from external temperatures and UFH is used very effectively in stone barn conversions so why wouldn't it be suitable for a stone house? The constant heat output is better for keeping damp at bay than the alternating high heat / low heat, on/off approach of radiators, though I do take your point about needing to ensure a high enough heat output to warm the place adequately. I'm also aware that a suspended timber floor is probably less efficient than a solid floor as we wouldn't be able to use the same depth of screed, though the info I've found so far on Hempcrete screed suggests that you can get good performance from shallower depth than you'd need for concrete. Insulation is another aspect that I'm looking into, the whole solution will need to be a balance between heat input and insulation to reduce heat loss. I've got a bit more investigating to do working out where that balance would be with this place. There is existing external render which I think is Edwardian (identical appearance to another local building with known materials), which would be lime based though clearly will need checking as non-breathable render would create damp problems. We'd also be using lime or hemp-lime plaster for the interior so that would contribute a bit too.
  7. So it looks like I may be going for a renovation rather than conversion / new build - there's an old house come up locally that my partner and I can afford and if we're successful at auction in Feb we'll need to get straight on with the work to minimise the time we need to keep our rented house so I'm attempting to spec & cost some of the work beforehand. (Also it'll be useful for any future project if we don't manage to get this place.) Its a stone cottage over 3 floors and as it needs a full refurb it gives us the opportunity for a 'blank slate' approach to the heating system. We're thinking of wet system UFH throughout - ground floor is partly solid and partly suspended timber (over a small cellar), upper levels are obviously suspended timber floor. Also we'd retain existing open fire (or replace with log burner) for extra 'instant' heat in downstairs living room. Solid stone walls so everything needs to be breathable to avoid damp problems and this is the main point where I'm looking for some advice. Lime (or possibly Hempcrete) seems the obvious choice for screed. Breathable insulation materials - so far options seem to be sheep wool or plant-based fibre board (wood / hemp) Does anyone have any recommendations or comments either pros or cons for any of these materials? Wool seems to be only soft rolls rather than boards - can you fix UFH pipes to these? Could you put lime/hemp screed directly onto wool? Do I need a solid fibre board for the suspended timber floors to maintain the weight-bearing load? (Not sure exactly how different a screed would be compared to floor boards in this respect) Thanks for any advice / comments.
  8. Most of what I've found from my research suggests that allotments do count as agricultural land use, and would not require permission for change of use. Same with orchard, it isn't a leisure/amenity land use, its the growing of foodstuffs and therefore agricultural. Small areas of general woodland can also be planted on agricultural land, though there is a cap on the size of area beyond which it becomes forestry and requires change of use. In fact the first thing that comes up with a google search of 'can I plant trees on agricultural land' is a Farmers Weekly article from Aug 2018 extolling the benefits of doing just that. You can't use an allotment as an extension of a garden so lawns or ornamental flower beds that would count as leisure use are out, but that's not what I'd want to do anyway. There are circumstances where growing flowers could be agricultural - e.g. for natural dyes, essential oils, cut flowers for sale. From other forums, where people have run into problems is where the plot has been adjacent to an existing garden and its been a bit less clear that it isn't an unlawful expansion of the garden or in some cases they've just thought that they own it and can do what they like without paying heed to the land use classification. Nature reserve is something different, and that was perhaps a misleading term to use in my original question. There are plenty of wildlife friendly things that can be accommodated within agricultural use without any official classification as a 'reserve'. Anyway, whatever I might use the land for in the shorter term, there remains the question of whether it would be feasible to get a portion of it included within the local plan at a later date and thus converted to residential rather than trying to prove a viable business to get a tiny dwelling consented under agricultural permissions. I have no desire to build (or live in!) a housing estate and they might not be interested in something as small scale as one or two dwellings, but it does seem plausible that such an approach could work within the current planning policy framework. Something to investigate further at least. If I could afford to buy a small farm it would be so much simpler!
  9. Yeah, I need to read up a bit on exactly what is permitted on agricultural land but I think growing fruit & veg should be allowed as they are foodstuff rather than ornamental and also beehives for honey. And lots of farms have native species hedgerows, set aside areas, species rich meadows etc - in fact there are environmental stewardship schemes to encourage farms to include more of this sort of thing so that should all be feasible too. You don't need to farm in a big commercial way for it to count as agricultural use, the bit where you'd need to prove its a viable business that needs you to live on site is if you're aiming to get consent for a dwelling on that basis alone. But what I'm considering is slightly different - at the Local Plan review the council would typically be actively seeking additional residential land and if the whole parcel was put forward by the likes of Barratts, Bellways, Wimpy etc they'd probably couldn't say yes fast enough!
  10. Yep, I'm aware of uplift etc. Its still far more feasible financially than buying a residential plot of the size that I want. I'd actually be perfectly happy to maintain most of my plot as agricultural. Unfortunately, there is very little provision in current English planning policy to create a new small-holding style development.
  11. So there's some farmland come up for sale at the edge of the town where I live. I'd very much like to build in or close to this town, but plots are hard to come by because its not very big and its surrounded by farmland. I could afford to buy a couple of acres (if the vendor is willing to split the land parcel), though as its agricultural clearly I wouldn't get permission to build a house on it in the shorter term. But what I was wondering is whether there is an opportunity to play the long game here the same way that a commercial developer would. Its adjacent to the settlement boundary and access is at the end of an existing residential lane so in theory, when the LPAs local plan is up for review in a couple of years time I could propose it for allocation as residential and they would have a perfectly logical and policy-friendly way of altering the official land use to permit a dwelling. Until then I could use it basically as an allotment, orchard and nature reserve (part of our longer term plan anyway if we can get a plot big enough) because that would count as agricultural land use and I could also probably get consent to build a barn. Anybody have any experience of this approach? Does it sound like a completely stupid idea?!
  12. Wow, that really is a horror story! I take your point about being certain of your exit and I do feel for those folks, but seems they were already in a financial pickle before they went down this route (poor credit history and facing imminent repossession of a property) so turned to it in desperation rather than making a well-considered investment decision. Their lender sounds rather like a loan shark too rather than a reputable investment firm! For me its a very different situation, a loan would be a tool to facilitate getting a project started and only if it stacks up within the overall project budget and schedule - there is no way on earth I'd ever let anything financial get that out of control. I wouldn't be committing to that level of borrowing, I never 'just sign' without understanding the repayment terms and there would most definitely be a planned exit, either repaying it in full with a self-build mortgage or just selling the land - which would be a disappointing outcome, but infinitely better than spiralling debt.
  13. @lizzie The finance will totally depend on the type of project. For some types the deposit will be sufficient to get a self build mortgage, but there's a particular one that I've found where the planning consent has lapsed so isn't immediately mortgageable. For this one it would be the bridging finance that makes it feasible because without it I wouldn't have sufficient capital to buy the plot, even though once I've renewed the consent the figures appear to stack up fine for a mortgage.
  14. @Ferdinand Yeah I've seen the interest rates are higher than other types of loans, but as I'd only be looking for 50-60k even if I keep it for the full year the total cost is only about £5k, which isn't huge in the grand scheme of things. From my internet research so far lot of the bridging finance companies don't even do loans that small, though their max figure is millions! @lizzie If I had that much equity available I wouldn't be looking for bridging finance! (I live in a rented place with my partner now and I'll get about £50k cash some time in the next month from sale of my old house, which is the deposit for this project.)
  15. While lending criteria may change over time, you're absolutely right that your project isn't going to get anywhere if you can't afford to build the design that you've got permission for. If you know that you'll need a mortgage to finance the build then it definitely seems sensible to work out the approx figure you might be able to borrow and get a rough understanding of the typical lending criteria. This is one of the things I've been doing over the last few months because the mortgage figure affects the total project budget available, which in turn affects how much I can spend on buying the plot.