Are You Eligible For Help To Buy?

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With us hopefully going to be buying a house for the first time before the end of next year, there are many things to consider. How much of a deposit we need, what help there is in place, what type of mortgage we want, what type of house we want, the location. There is literally so much to think of that it can be a little overwhelming at times!

Ellison Thomas aim to help with this and have created a handy resource for first time buyers. They have also put together this infographic too that helps you work out whether you are eligible for help to buy.

We have previously tried to purchase a home but it all fell through so we will, in fact, be first time buyers. Back then we weren’t eligible for Help To Buy as we had opened and paid into ISA’s but this time around, we should be so will definitely be seeing what help we can get with the scheme.

The road to buying has been a long and bumpy one but hopefully we will soon be in our very own property, one that we can call our own. With the help to buy scheme, this should make our journey even easier! We are still very low on funds when it comes to a deposit but should hopefully receive some inheritance that will help us. Whilst we are waiting a little while for our credit scores to get a little better and increase our chances of getting a mortgage, we will be moving some into another account so depositing into a Help To Buy ISA makes total sense. I’ll keep you updated on our journey as it continues!

Are you going to be a first time buyer? Are you eligible for the scheme?

I Have House Envy…

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I am not going to lie, I think we get a rough deal when it comes to houses in the UK. Sure, you can get some lovely houses – we’ve got some absolutely beautiful houses in my village with stunning surroundings. But when I look at the houses you see on American and Canadian TV shows and documentaries, I am in awe.

They seem to have much more space and generally tend to look much more visually appealing than the houses we have in the United Kingdom, don’t you think? In the UK, homes average 1063 square feet whereas homes over there tend to average twice that. Many of our houses are terraced or semi detached, many Canadian homes are detached.

Something I also love about Canadian houses is the decking. So many houses seem to have it – I have seen some great examples such as mississauga landscaping. You may wonder why I have been researching Canadian houses – well, emigrating to Canada has been something Steve and I have discussed for years. His grandfather was Canadian and it is somewhere Steve has always wanted to live, even if just for a little while. We’ve been discussing our perfect house and decking is something we definitely want – who wouldn’t want to chill out on their deck whilst watching the kids playing on the front lawn?

We are obviously going to want to get the best for our money and what we could get here in the UK for our budget is totally out done by what we can get over in Canada – even more reason to consider the move over there even more strongly. We struggle to find decent properties over here in our county that suit our needs, that doesn’t seem like it would be as much of a problem in Canada – most properties we look at seem to fit our needs.

Is it wrong to have house envy though? Is it wrong to say that I prefer the way houses look in a different country to where I live? I don’t think it is – surely it is something to aspire to, don’t you think? Do you ever look at houses abroad and wish you could live in one of them, just like me?

7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Interior Decor Professional

Homeowners hire interior decor experts for various reasons. Some want to remodel or redecorate their homes, while others just want to transform some specific areas of the house. Since everyone cannot be design-minded or able to afford the time to design their property, hiring the services of an interior design professional is the best choice. With so many options for decor experts flooding the market, it is not surprising for you to get overwhelmed and find it challenging to choose the one that will cater to your needs the best.

If you want to seek the assistance of an interior design professional for your upcoming house project, it is imperative to select a candidate who will offer you all-inclusive services. Needless to say, getting the right person for the right job can draw a line between a painful and a pleasant experience. With that being said, here are some questions that you must ask prior to selecting an interior decor expert:

#1. What is the structure of their business?

Interior decor professionals organize their businesses in different manners. Most of them will work on a room-by-room basis, whereas there are few designers who exclusively handle whole-house projects. When hiring a decor expert, you will want to pick someone who is versatile and flexible enough to take care of your requirements.

Ask to see previous work samples and the latest portfolio and evaluate if the candidate will be able to live up to your expectations. You would want to work with someone with great communication skills, who can comprehend your ideas and needs to deliver the expected result.

#2. How much will they charge you? Are there going to be any additional cost?

Make sure that you get an illustrative idea of what services you are receiving for your money. You might live under the impression that informing the designer about your final budget will include all the redecoration services, but the professional may arrange the project differently. Incidentals such as air conditioners, additional light fittings and so on may not be included. Therefore, it is important to always learn about the itemized costing and then sign the final agreement.

#3. Do their services come with a warranty period?

All authentic interior decorators offer a standard warranty time frame that offers amenities if something breaks or needs fixing. While looking for a design professional, always check your prospect’s warranty period and what area it covers. You might think that it is not an important metric, but an uneven floor and cracked tiles will need an expert’s attention.

#4. Can they provide you with a mockup design?

Almost every professional interior decorator will show you a three-dimensional mock-up of a specific room that needs the most remodeling work. This should provide you with a sign of their commitment and dedication towards your home project. Often the interior decor expert might ask for a minimal fee to display a mock of the interior design incorporated with actual furniture pieces, wall colors, rugs, and etcetera. While this might appear to be a costly decision, it offers you an insight into the entirety of the design before making the final investment.

#5. What if you want to make some changes to the virtual mock up?

It is a true rarity for interior decor professionals to be able to design a “dream property” for their clients right from the onset of the project. For this, the clients might suggest making some changes to the mock up or the design draft. The best way is to establish well-defined communication with your potential design professional and make yourself involved in the design project to ensure that you and your designer are both on the same page.

There is no set of rules that explain the number of changes you should be able to suggest, after all, it is your home. Nevertheless, you must acknowledge your designer’s expertise and do not think of them as magicians who can perform any changes that you want. Also, revise your ideas and styles carefully, as last-minute modifications can lead to more inconvenience to all parties involved in the project.

#6. Is aquarium decoration included in their service package?

Finding the right interior decorator for your house will need some discernment. This involves the designer’s ability to offer you cheaper alternatives to expensive custom designed pieces. Most of the professional designers collaborate with aquarium decorators who can custom make a whole range of artificial plants that will increase the aesthetic value of your home. Moreover, the faux plants have many benefits including low-maintenance cost, realistic and almost natural appearance, as well as, their capability to last long. Apart from that, most property owners are opting for this additional service because they come in all shapes and sizes, and can be relocated easily. Hence, if you are looking for design elements that will compliment your home decor, faux plants are the best go-to option.

#7. When can you move back in?

Renovators have the expertise to provide you with an approximate time period it will take to finish your project. They will calculate the required time for the project based on the previous similar projects they managed and the extent of your interior decoration work. If you are restricted by time and have to enter your house within a particular date, always inform your professional designing right from the beginning of the project so that he or she can work accordingly. Furthermore, you must understand the fact that things can often take a bit longer to proceed due to climatic changes and public holidays that can impact the project period.

Concluding Thoughts

Finally, it is necessary to understand the way an interior decor expert works. Research on the interior designing industry, select some of the profiles and narrow down the list with the help of the questions above. Asking these questions will make sure that you get the best person to manage the interior designing project of your property.


How to Keep Your Home Safe This Summer

With the holiday season soon approaching, it’s likely you’ll be leaving your home in search of sea, sun and sand. With this in mind, I spoke to PlumbNation about the best way to keep your home safe this summer whilst you’re away.  Smart home technology has moved on leaps and bounds in recent years, and thankfully there are some brilliant security gadgets to choose from. With a bit of planning and a few low-cost updates, you can enjoy full surveillance control over your property without always having to rely on the neighbours!   

Install a burglar alarm

Just the sight of a burglar alarm can deter a criminal away from your property. Thieves are looking for the easiest time, so a bells-only alarm is a great option for homes in heavily populated areas. These alarms will sound a loud noise when triggered – attracting you or your neighbours’ attention to the house to scare off the intruder. For more isolated homes, dialler burglar alarms are a more suitable option and contact you or nominated friends & family when your alarm goes off. This allows someone you trust to investigate the issue further.

Trick of the Light!

Interior lighting is a great way to prevent intruders from targeting your property. Timer light switches work by turning your lights on and off at certain times of the day to give the impression that you are still at home. If burglars think you’re on the sofa watching the telly, then they’re much less likely to try their chances! Plug-in timers tend to be the cheapest and easiest option for lamps, however Hive Active lightbulbs can be controlled from your smartphone and allow you to set a schedule for them through the Hive app.

Get smart

Smart home security systems are a great way to keep an eye on your property whilst you’re away. The Honeywell Evohome wireless security system connects your phone to a number of security gadgets around the house – instantly alerting you to any disturbance detected.  Simply use the Evohome app to access data from your pet-friendly motion sensors, security cameras, glass break sensors and indoor and outdoor alarms. Alternatively, Ring security is the latest market innovation that offers full surveillance control over your home. Every Ring device features a wide-angle lens, a sensor, a built-in microphone and a speaker. This allows you to see, hear and speak to anyone on your property.

Avoid the tell-tale signs you’re away

Nothing says “I’m an empty home” more than a vacant drive and a pile of letters on the doormat. Ask a friend to remove any junk mail or milk bottles from around your door and have a neighbour park their car on your drive whilst you’re away. If you’re away for over a fortnight, you may want to ask a friend or family member to mow your lawn. An unkempt garden or driveway is a clear sign that no one is home. Last but not least, do not leave a message on your voicemail machine that you are out on vacation. Burglars may call up a house to check if anyone is home.

Opt for a security light

Security lights are a great way to improve the security of your home. Whilst it may not prevent day-time robberies, security lights will draw attention to any suspicious night time activity. This will illuminate anyone that attempts to tamper with your property or vandalise it.

By following these simple tips and tricks, you can relax on the beach knowing your property is fully protected this summer.


Feeding Brussels Sprouts to Dogs

Brussels sprouts are like marmite; you either love them or you hate them. They are a vegetable which divides people worldwide and they are a vegetable loved by just as many as those who despise their very existence. Brussels sprouts are known for their ever-so-slightly bitter taste and strong, pungent smell but, if prepared properly, they can be quite delicious.

#1: Can I Feed My Dog Brussel Sprouts?

As with anything, if fed in moderation, Brussel sprouts are absolutely safe to feed to your dog. As a vegetable which is related to the broccoli family, they are high in nutritional value and are perfectly safe – these little balls of veg-based dispute are very rich in dietary fiber and vitamins, two things which your dog absolutely needs to benefit from a balanced diet and aid development.

In addition to these, Brussel sprouts are packed full of antioxidants, which help promote overall health in both yours and your dog’s bodies; antioxidants fight so-called ‘free radicals’ which are linked to cancer and can damage cells. Antioxidants do this by protecting the body’s cells and stop them from being damaged. Also, antioxidants work wonders to reduce inflammation and improve overall blood circulation.

#2: Do Dogs Like Brussel Sprouts?

Dogs will eat almost anything, and this is no different when it comes to Brussel sprouts; your dog will have no problem with eating them at all. You don’t need to just feed your dog Brussel sprouts, though. Why not mix it up a bit and feed a whole medley of vegetables?

Vegetables, in moderation, are very good for dogs and many pet owners do not feed enough of them. You can safely feed your dog small amounts of other vegetables such as carrot, parsnip, courgette, peas, and spinach, to name a few; most leafy green or mixed vegetables are perfectly fine for dogs.

#3: Don’t Feed Them Raw

Although dogs will eat most things, raw Brussel sprouts are an exception to this. If you are going to try and feed your dog Brussel sprouts, then ensure that you cook them first. Cooking the sprouts makes them much more palatable and easier to eat; your dog is not going to enjoy eating a solid ball of vegetable, no matter what you serve it with.

When preparing Brussel sprouts for your dog, avoid cooking them in large amounts of fat, butter or with seasonings; simply boiling the sprouts in water and allowing them to go soft is good enough. By cooking them in fat, you are eliminating all the health benefits associated with them.

Many pet owners often overlook feeding their dogs vegetables, yet it is something which is completely safe in moderation (as with most things) and can enable your dog to enjoy a whole host of health benefits and get some extra nutrients into their body. Although Brussel sprouts may not be the obvious vegetable of choice to feed your pet dog, it is likely you will have some left over if you ever prepare them (they’re not the most popular vegetable!) and, in this case, there is no harm in having your dog finish them off.