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Is buying a house in a flood risk area worth it

Buying a home can be a long and arduous process, and you could be forgiven for thinking you should immediately reject anything in a flood risk area. At first glance, it seems like it might be a lot of hassle or cost too much to insure, leaving you with a home that is poor value for money, and which you might struggle to sell on in the future. However, with The Environment Agency estimating a staggering 1 in 6 properties being at flood risk in England alone, you may find that your options are somewhat more limited than you had initially hoped.

How to find out if your home is at risk

You can check online if your potential new home is in a flood risk area, by entering the postcode on the Environment Agency’s flood maps. You should also speak to your estate agent or seller to ask if they are aware of any history of flooding in the area, as it is their duty to disclose this information. It’s also worth talking to the neighbours, and ensuring your conveyancing solicitor will carry out a full investigation for the specific property and not just the general postcode area.

Whilst it’s important to check for historical flooding of the area, you should also check to see whether the local authority may have since installed any flood defences or barriers, as this could have a huge impact on decreasing the risk, and preventing further damage.

Risk

With climate change an ongoing threat to the planet, the risk of flooding in the UK is only going to continue to grow. Obvious high risk areas are defined in close proximity to rivers, lakes, and large bodies of water, which are prone to bursting their banks during heavy rainfall. Properties near to coastlines are also at risk of high tides and large waves. A rarer phenomenon is ‘groundwater flooding’, where the water comes up through the ground to the surface.

But the fastest growing risk is the ‘surface water flooding’ that occurs after a big storm. Climate change is causing storms to increase in regularity and severity, and the subsequent heavy rainfall is likely to get even worse.

Insurance

However, help is at hand to deal with the risk. A collection of insurance companies have worked with ABI (the Association of British Insurers) to establish Flood Re; an initiative which helps an estimated 350,000 homeowners across the UK to take out affordable insurance if their home is considered to be at a significant risk of flooding. The premium is based on the property’s council tax band, and insurers can place the flood risk part of the home insurance policy with Flood Re at a capped price.

Prevention

Whilst it’s impossible to entirely eliminate the risk, there are many ways in which you can safeguard your homeagainst potential flood damage before it happens. Simple measures you can take include avoiding carpets in rooms on lower floors, and placing plug sockets higher up on the walls. If you have a garden, you can install drainage areas or water gardens to bear some of the potential surface water burden.

Both the Met Office and the National Flood Forum provide extensive advice on protecting your home from damages, but it’s also recommended that you enlist the services of a professional flood risk and drainage surveyor to advise you on what procedures might be best suited to your particular property.

Is it worth it?

The advantage to buying a house in a flood risk area is that it will probably be more affordable than buying elsewhere, so it’s really a balancing act between the money you would save on the purchase versus the money you would need to spend on insurance and preventative measures.

If you can make peace with the fact that you may have a few sleepless nights when the weather is bad and there’s a chance you may have to deal with the worst consequences, then the pros probably outweigh the cons. Equally, there is also always the possibility that the local authority may install their own flood defence system and decrease the risk to the area, meaning you could end up getting a good return on your investment in the long term.

Source: By Claire James

Tenants: How to Live in Peace with Your Landlord

A tenant/landlord relationship can sometimes be like that between cats and dogs. It is an owner occupier relationship, which can become vexed if agreements are not respected or honoured, or if a bad behaviour become intolerable.

While the landlord owns the land or property, the tenant is entitled to occupy and use the land subject to payment of rent and good behaviour. The relationship between land and tenant is contractual, thus its terms cannot be altered by either party without the agreement of the other party. The parties are bound by the terms of the agreement.

In this piece, we are going to inform tenants about what they should know and do in order to avoid troubles, especially legal battles with their landlords.

Written Agreement

Every tenant no matter his status or location in Nigeria has the right to an agreement. Agreements, on the other hand, can be oral or written. However, it is advised that agreements between both parties are written because what is written is written and can always be presented as references. The tenant is expected to go through the agreements thoroughly before signing. This will aid both parties to outline their terms and conditions. Tenancy agreements are to contain in details the names of a landlord and his tenant; as parties to the tenancy agreement.

The land or house to be rented out ought to be described in details; showing its location and basic features. The duration of the tenancy, the rent payable and the date at which such rent would become payable should be stated. The modalities for reviewing rent price (increment in price) should be included. Before signing any agreement, a prospective tenant is advised to seek the service of a solicitor to break down any unclear terms in the tenancy agreement.

Issuance of Receipt of Payment

The receipt of payment is an acknowledgment from a landlord (or his agent) that he has received rent from a tenant. It must contain the name of the landlord and the tenant, the amount paid and the date of such payment. The property for which such payment is made, the duration that such payment will cover and the signature of the receiver must also be on the receipt. It is an actionable offense to refuse to issue a receipt for rent paid and received. It is your right as a tenant to be issued a receipt upon payment of rent. Where the payment is only a part of the whole, it should also be receipted and same stated. Remember a written agreement endorsed by the landlord before a witness that he has received a rent from his tenant will suffice. No matter how familiar, friendly, corporative and caring your landlord is, please always demand for receipts of your paid rents to safeguard your tomorrow.

Peaceful Enjoyment of Property

When a tenant pays his rent and is issued a receipt, it is the landlord granting him the right to peaceful enjoyment of the property. Once this is done, he determines the entrance, usage, safety and can even sue for trespass against any trespasser; strangers, landlord and his agents. The landlord, however, can supervise and maintain the property generally, but with the knowledge of the tenant and within reasonable hours of the day.

Right to a Valid Quit Notice

A tenant cannot be thrown out of his apartment unless there is a strict compliance by his landlord with of relevant Recovery of Premises Law. Recovery of Premises Law provides that a valid “quit notice” of a landlord’s intention to terminate/quit the tenancy of the tenant must be written and served on the tenant. The amount of time given to the tenant, whether weekly, monthly, yearly, depends on his rent. Thus it is advised that a tenant thoroughly read the tenancy agreement before signing as some might even sign away their rights for a ‘quit notice’. Remember, ignorance is not an excuse in law. A valid “quit notice” must contain the name of the landlord, the name of the tenant, the address of the property occupied by the tenant, the date the notice will commence and date it will end.

Right to a Compulsory (7) Seven Day Notice to Recover Premises

Because the tenant is protected by the Nigerian tenancy law, the landlord cannot just ask the tenant to quit without issuing a Seven Days Notice to Recover. The “Seven (7) day Notice of Owner’s Intention to Recover Premises” is a notice from a landlord’s lawyer notifying a tenant upon whom a “quit notice” had been served and same had expired; that the lawyer will after seven (7) days from the date of the service of the Notice proceed to court to recover the over- held premises on behalf of the landlord.

The above information are important for any tenant who wants to avoid being manipulated or taken advantage of by their landlord. With knowledge of these facts, you can know what the boundaries are for you landlord.

But some tenants are also badly behaved. In order not to trigger your landlord, a tenant is advised to do the following.

– Do not breach the terms of contract.
– Maintain the property, as it is only leased and not permanently transferred to you. Reasonable wear and tear expected
– Pay rent as at when due
– Pay all existing rates and future charges not payable by the landlord by law
– Permit the landlord and his agents to view the condition of the premises and effect repairs in necessary parts of the building during reasonable hours.
– Don’t make any alteration or additions to the premises without written consent of the landlord
– Don’t assign or sublet any part of the property without the written consent of the landlord

Breaking this rules can affect the peace that should exist between a tenant and a landlord.

By Ojonugwa Felix Ugboja

Nigeria’s troubled power sector

  1. Obsolete and dilapidated plants operating at less than 36% of installed capacity are over 30 years old; 48% are over 25 years old and 80% are over 20 years old.
  2. Lack of, and poor maintenance of existing plants and poor managerial efficiency at Generation, Transmission and Distribution sides of the value-chain.

Comparing Nigeria’s electricity consumption per capita with peers and the developed world shows that there is a correlation between access to energy and the cost of doing business as well as the development of small businesses. Current power generation stands at 3,800 Megawatts and the per capita electricity usage is 136 kilowatt/hour. Nigeria’s electricity consumption on a per capita basis is among the lowest in the world when compared with the average per capita electricity usage in Libya, 4,270KWH; India, 616KWH; China, 2,944KWH; South Africa, 4,803 KWH; Singapore, 8,307KWH; and the United States, 13,394KWH.

Reforming Nigeria’s electricity market without a positive change in fundamentals is another critical factor.

Since reforming the sector, it seems that the new players are rather slow in their reaction to a lot of the capacity issues in the industry. Ordinarily, one would have expected that with the privatisation of the electricity market, the new industry players would be in their Capacity Upgrade Phase and would have started rolling out innovative offering with a consequent improvement in the delivery of value to electricity consumers, but funding seems to be a major problem.

Another problem is the slow pace of putting together the requisite industry structures.

The structure of the market is the missing link.

While one would have expected that the industry would pull together in order to ensure the smooth take-off of the Transitional Electricity Market (TEM), the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Gas Supply Aggregation Agreements (GSAA) and Gas Transportation Agreements (GTAs), which would have unlocked the potential of the market, on the contrary, what we are witnessing is the slow take-off of the broad industry structures which would have helped ease out the old order and deliver the kind of game-changing dynamics we witnessed upon the liberalisation of the telecoms market.

But, one question that is left unanswered is: Between government and the operators, who is to blame?

Even though government has not been up to speed in helping to oversee the transition from policy to practice, truth be told, the quality of players in the game is hindering envisaged progress. My take on this matter is that we got the power reforms wrong from the licence bid stage.

Source: By Bolaji Okusaga,

ICPC Alarmed Over Multi-Billion Naira Abuja Estates Abandoned by Owners

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), is alarmed at the rate owners of multi-billion naira housing estates in Abuja abandon their property the moment the Commission initiates investigation into their ownership status.

Chairman of the ICPC, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye who made the disclosure in Abuja on Monday, said the development has become a great worry to the ICPC and other anti-corruption agencies in the country.

Owasanoye, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Dr. Esa Onoja, also raised concerns over illicit financial flows abroad estates springing up every day in different locations in the Federal Capital Territory.

The ICOC chair spoke as a special guest at a Forum of Special Anti-Corruption Situation Room, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA).

According to him, in many cases where Non-Conviction Assets Forfeiture proceedings are initiated against the numerous sprawling estates, nobody comes forward to claim ownership.

He explained that the ICPC has initiated a number of Non-Conviction Assets Forfeiture proceedings, in line with Section 17 of the Advanced Free Fraud Act.

Owasanoye added that Sections 37 and 38 of the ICPC Act also empowered the Commission to initiate such proceedings in court where there is suspicion that such assets were proceeds of crime.

Where nobody comes forward to claim ownership after publication of Temporary Forfeiture Orders from the courts, the assets become the property of the Federal Government.

The ICPC boss however, could not immediately provide the number of such Abuja assets so abandoned by their owners, saying it’s a big problem that required information from members of the public.

“We feel that citizens should provide information and after providing information, to act as witnesses. The current administration has a very strong and viable whistle blowing policy.

“Over N.5tn has been recovered through this policy. But a lot more information is required. If we can only get just 25 percent of what has been stolen and if that money is deployed to education, health, security, I think we would be on the road to joining other nations that our citizens will like to fly to and use their resources”, he said.

Owasanoye enjoined Nigerians to stop seeing corruption as a “victimless” crime, saying, “When funds meant for health, education, security, housing etc are diverted and end up in private hands, we all feel the impact”.

Also speaking at the event, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Garba Abari said the anti-corruption war was being waged at all levels of government.

Abari said citizens owed it a duty and responsibility to key into the anti-corruption campaign of the government, stressing that the cumulative effects of corruption are felt by the generality of the citizenry.

“We must rise to demand for transparency in governance, to demand for accountability and begin to hold people accountable against all manners of infractions”, Abari said.

Head of HEDA’s Human Right project, Olanrewaju Suraju bemoaned the huge resources in foreign exchange the country had lost to corrupt practices in the oil industry.

Suraju cited the case of the controversial OPL 245 issued to Malabu and how the Federal Government lost billions of dollars to unethical practices by past government officials.

He said “What we have done before now is to have taken a legal action compelling the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to revoke the OPL 245 licenses issued to Malabu on the strength that it was issued by Dan Etete while serving as a Minister of Petroleum Resources.

“This is actually against the Constitution as at the time and also against the Code of Conduct which prohibits an office holder from superintending over a process that he will benefit from.

“What the law says in that situation is that such benefits should actually be recovered by the government. So we have gone to court to get an Order of Mandamus to compel the Attorney General to revoke the license.

“What we have seen is that $1.1bn that was paid as bribe to officials of Nigeria/ENI was what was supposed to have come to Nigeria as part of the profit that was calculated and paid in advance to oil companies, individuals and public office holders.

“So monies meant to provide for health and education was actually paid to private individuals to buy jets and luxury apartments outside the country”.

By Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja

Buying an energy efficient home

When buying a home, there’s a lot to think about – but that should be no excuse for ignoring energy efficiency.

While room sizes, storage space, what the neighbourhood’s like and for families, proximity to local schools will naturally be high on the agenda, it’s important to remember that energy bills are going to be with you for the long-term.

A recent study from Zoopla suggested that the average British homeowner moves home every 23 years, so this should make it even more of a worthy consideration. Investing in an energy efficient property provides protection against future turbulence in energy markets.

You should thinking seriously about what the fabric of the building is going to give you. That means in terms of economy, but also comfort.

Check the certificate

The first place to start when looking at a home’s energy efficiency is its Energy Performance Certificate, or EPC. When any home is sold, it legally needs to be made available. Our handy guidelooks at the EPC page by page and highlights all the important bits.

It provides information on the home’s energy efficiency band (rated A-G, with A the best) estimated energy costs, provides an overview of its existing features like insulation and heating system, as well as letting you know what level it could be brought up to with improvements.

For those investing in more of a ‘project’ home, this is crucial, as it will give you an idea of what improvement costs you might want to factor in to your decision-making ahead of buying.

energy efficiency performance certificate with keys to flat or house

Do your own energy audit

While the EPC lists building features, there are key areas to check up on when visiting a property. Firstly, insulation. You can see for yourself that what’s said to be there is indeed there, and also take a look at the age and wear and tear of loft insulation.

Leaking roofs and gutters can help water enter walls – so if the property has insulated cavities, also check that gutters are clean and there’s no staining on exterior walls.

It’s also well worth checking the windows. High-quality double glazing would be the best option, but proper sealing to cut cold draughts is a good basic quality to look out for.

 

The type of thermostats that are installed is also important. Thermostatic radiator valves, a rogrammer and a room thermostat, when controlled properly, can save £75 a year in a typical 3-bed, gas-heated home, a saving that certainly stacks up over the years. If the property doesn’t have them, that’s another potential cost to factor in – but you may want to go further and install smart heating controls that can be operated from your smartphone.

Beyond these basics, it’s worth considering homes that have renewable energy features. The most likely renewable technology you might encounter are solar PV panels. They reduce your electricity bills while bringing in modest payments from the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme.

It’s worth checking a few details, however, such as when they were installed. This will impact the FiT you receive – plus older panels can become less efficient over time. You also need to make sure the ownership of the panels is transferred to you with the house, to make sure you can get FiTs. Usually, they’re considered to be ‘fittings’ so would by default be included in the sale.

An efficient home – the universal choice

Whichever life stage you’re at and whatever piques your initial interest, comfort and long-term savings are things that make a serious difference throughout your stay in a property.

For those making aesthetics high priority, the interior may look stunning, but if the rooms are full of draughts, it’s going to be difficult to fully appreciate that.

Perhaps there’s big spaces and plenty of storage for a growing family – but if those spaces are going to prove difficult to effectively heat without breaking the bank, that’s room that comes with a serious cost.

If you’re choosing a home for retirement, there are different considerations. You may want to downsize, you may want to move to the country or even by closer to the high street. But there may be money issues to consider: your income might have dropped in retirement, or you may want to use as much of what’s coming in as possible for hobbies. This makes it all the more important to make sure your home doesn’t guzzle your money, while leaving you shivering in three jumpers in the winter time.

Energy efficiency could be factor in mortgages

If you need any more persuasion to take energy seriously when picking your home, there’s a possibility that mortgage providers could be open to lending people more to buy energy efficient properties.

Our LENDERS research, alongside a number of partners including Nationwide, conclusively proved the link between better energy performance and higher disposable income – income that raises the opportunity for a slightly bigger loan. The findings are being taken seriously by the mortgage industry, so it’s definitely something to watch out for in the near future.

Source: By  Gary Hartley

5 vital areas to note in building management systems

Demand for building management systems (BMS) is on the rise as the need for automation of security and other systems in buildings and large construction sites around the world grows.

Recent technological advancements in the building and construction industry, as well as the growing use of internet of things (IoT) technology in building automation systems, added to increasing demand for energy-efficient systems and the growing penetration of smartphones in building automation, are all playing a role in fuelling the growth of the BMS industry across the globe.

So says Glenn Noome, director at Smart Integration, an Ulwembu Business Services organisation, which is itself a South African black-owned management consulting and ICT services company. Noome explains, “A recent survey by Radiant Insights, ‘Global Building Management System Market Size, Status and Forecast 2025’, stated that there are several additional factors influencing the ongoing BMS market growth.

“These include cost efficiencies, the increasing adoption of building management systems within both the commercial and residential spaces, simplified building operations, and lower maintenance. Furthermore, favourable government initiatives and schemes to promote energy-efficient and eco-friendly buildings are expected to offer numerous growth opportunities for industry players and vendors across the globe, says the study.

“In South Africa in particular, the recent resurgence of load shedding has meant that both companies and individuals are more focused on energy efficiency than ever before. Thus there is a growing demand for a method of managing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and lighting systems in particular – due to their power hungry nature – more effectively, and BMS can offer just this.”

A significant focus area for Smart Integration, the organisation has drilled down into the holistic requirements of BMS, outlining five vital areas, namely: data and fibre installations; utility solutions; security, access control, lighting and CCTV; monitor and control centre; and fire protection.

1. Data and fibre installations

Data and fibre installations are the cornerstone of BMS, says Noome. “The IP-based network forms the base infrastructure for most other BMS subsystems,” he explains. “These include CCTV, access and lighting control, telephone and alarm systems, as well as boardroom solutions, which are all IP-based systems that need to run on a stable, cabled backbone such as fibre or copper.”

2. Utility solutions

“Companies minimise and manage their utility (water and energy) consumption for two reasons,” explains Noome, “and these are to reduce costs, and to support their corporate sustainability and environmental responsibility initiatives. These boxes can easily be checked by utilising smart water and electricity meters, alternate energy solutions, controlled lighting systems – and even blind control to minimise heat from the sun in the office or working environment.”

3. Security, access control, lighting and CCTV

“For local businesses, security is obviously a top priority. A CCTV surveillance system can deter, monitor and record activities within the premises that may include theft, intrusion and harm to persons. The system is able to raise early alerts to enable the correct response. In addition, footage can be used in criminal cases that may result from these activities, and used to identify the perpetrators.”

4. Monitor and control centre

Noome clarifies that remote monitoring and reporting capabilities should be used to support the centralised management and control of the building and the related activities within the physical environment. “Data gathered and analysed can provide useful information for clients to identify trends, reduce false alarms, monitor and manage consumption of energy and water, and make prudent management decisions that support optimal security and effective building management,” he says.

5. Fire protection

Fire prevention, detection and suppression is a must in any populated environment. Fire protection systems must be designed, tested and inspected according to the applicable regulations, codes and standards to ensure safe working and operational conditions even in harsh environments.

“Building management systems are installed with the aim of creating secure, reliable buildings by giving access to the control and monitoring of activities such as ventilation, lighting, power control, data and fibre installation, data centre management and control, fire and security systems, lifts, plumbing systems and so on,” says Noome.

“The greatest advantages of BMS include efficient management and controlling of energy consumption, central and remote monitoring of the building, facilitating the safety and security of data, the stimulation of internal comfort conditions for the occupants of a building, and facilitating a longer life span for the building in general. At Smart Integration, we note the recent technological advances in the building and construction industry and anticipate a growth in the BMS arena moving forward,” concludes Noome.

Source: Bizcommunity

6 Reasons to Invest in Green Roofs

A green roof — also known as a living roof, eco-roof, vegetated roof and rooftop garden — has economic and environmental benefits that can offset its initial cost and required maintenance.

This “living roof” is an extension placed above a typical roof surface. A green roof can also be at ground level over an underground built structure.

The components of a green roof include: a root repellant barrier, a drainage system, filter cloth, a lightweight growing medium and plants. All of these are placed above the waterproof membrane of a flat or shallow-pitched roof surface. An edge treatment of metal or plastic is typically installed to separate the vegetated area from the edge of the roof.

Instead of soil, the growing medium comprises shale and/or slate (approximately 50%) that is super-heated to produce a lightweight, engineered mixture that captures the nutrients in rain to sustain the plants. Other materials in the growing medium include sand, clay and sanitized compost. The drainage layer holds the rainwater for plants to absorb. Any overflow runs under the assembly to the roof drains.

The components can be installed individually or in a modular system of trays that are pre-grown at a nursery.

Potential Benefits of Green Roofs 

  1. Reduce stormwater runoff: Runoff carries trash, pollutants, fertilizers and pet waste into rivers and streams, and raises nutrient loads that damage aquatic life. More than two dozen major U.S. cities have regulations to reduce runoff through green infrastructure, including green roofs, that include monetary incentives such as rebates, cost-sharing and tax credits.
  2. Combat the urban heat island effect — e.g., why standing on the sidewalk next to a high-rise in summer is uncomfortable compared to walking through a forest. In fact, Chicago City Hall’s award-winning green roof averages 7 degrees cooler than surrounding roofs, and as much as 30 degrees cooler in the summer.
  3. Reduce utility costs: The plants and growing medium serve as an insulator to moderate indoor temperatures in both summer and winter. Climate zone, siting and building configuration affect the extent of energy savings, which can be in excess of 70% in some buildings.
  4. Improve air quality: The rooftop plants trap particulates from chimneys and vehicle exhaust. In combination with the growing medium, the plants also lower noise levels, reduce electromagnetic radiation and suppress fire potential.
  5. Protect the roof surface: This can extend the life of the membrane and reduce waste through fewer replacements.
  6. Improve well-being: Multiple studies have found that plantings and gardens, especially in urban areas, can improve people’s physical, mental and psychological well-being. Even if the green roof is experienced only visually through the windows, people can have lower stress and improved job performance.

Green roofs are more expensive than conventional roof finishes and have ongoing maintenance requirements. Yet in comparison to the costs of building new and replacing old gray infrastructure (underground piping and storage) for runoff reduction alone, the costs of green roofs and other green infrastructure technologies can be much less.

It is important to weigh the benefits, construction costs and maintenance requirements to determine if a green roof makes sense for your next project.

Planning a Green Roof

First, why create a green roof, and what is its intended use? Is it to meet a local stormwater regulation, to create an amenity space, to grow food, to provide habitat for urban wildlife? Depending upon its purpose, design and planning elements will follow and align with its use.

Green roofs come in two types: extensive and intensive.

Extensive green roofs include:

  • A growing medium of less than 6 inches deep. Because they’re shallower, they cost less to install and weigh less.
  • Almost exclusive installation of sedums — low-growing succulents with lateral root systems that are extremely hardy in both wet and dry conditions

Intensive green roofs include:

  • A growing medium of more than 6 inches deep, which can support a wider range of plants, including grasses and perennials
  • Greater cost for labor and materials, and more maintenance, because of increased weight

Engineering of the roof structure must account for added weight. A 4-inch extensive green roof typically adds 30 pounds per square foot to the roof load capacity; however, intensive green roofs may add 60 or more pounds per square foot.

Defining access to the roof in the design process is critical for the construction phase and future maintenance needs as well. Contractors need to plan for delivery, staging, and transport of materials to the rooftop, as well as rooftop safety provisions for installation.

Source: By NAHB

Property sales in the UK have remained steady in 12 months to March 2019

Property sales in the UK are stable, largely unchanged in the 12 months to March 2019, the latest official figures show while non-residential transactions were up for a second month in a row.

The data published by HMRC show that sales of properties above £40,000 reached 101,830 in March 2019, up 1.4% month on month and 6.8% higher than the same month in 2018.

Non-residential property transactions increased by 8.9% between February 2019 and March 2019, and is 9.7% higher than March 2018.

Looking over a longer period the data shows that a fall in transactions starter at the end of 2007 which coincided with the housing market slump and financial crisis. Prior to this, sales had risen steadily, peaking in the middle of 2006.

The December 2009 peak was associated with the end of the stamp duty holiday, during which the lower tax threshold was raised to £175,000. The peak in March 2016 is associated with the introduction of higher rates on additional properties in April 2016.

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at online estate agent Yopa, pointed out that activity last March was hit by the Beast from the East weather pattern, and so an increase on last year’s figure was to be expected.

‘Overall, the first quarter has been remarkably consistent with the previous five years, showing that activity in the housing market has not been dented by the current political and economic uncertainty,’ he said.

According to Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal and General Mortgage Club, a stamp duty holiday for downsizers would help to boost the market. ‘While existing home owners remain largely undeterred by the current political climate, with just 12% of those who had plans to buy in the next six months delaying their decision, it’s clear there are still other barriers preventing people from achieving their home ownership goals,’ he said.

‘The continued support we’ve seen from the Government to help those lower down the housing ladder is to be welcomed, but if we are to increase property transactions, this means helping those at the other end too. A stamp duty holiday for last time buyers, for example, would enable these borrowers to move to more suitable, freeing up larger homes often in school catchment areas for growing families,’ he explained.

Source: Property Wire

Why Builders Must Improve Building Standards In Abuja – FCDA

ABUJA – The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), has stated that if Abuja, the Sub Continental capital, is to be accorded its pride of place, then it must meet internationally recognized building standard.

The authority also reiterated its determination to ensure the delivery of world class public and private buildings, with exquisite interior and exterior ambiance expected for healthy living.

The Executive Secretary, FCDA, Engr. Umar Gambo Jibrin gave this assurance while declaring open a seminar organised in conjunction with Creative House at the Authority’s conference hall, recently in Abuja.


According to him, this exhibition is the Authority’s modest contribution towards the promotion of optimum standards and international best practices in all aspects of the building industry.

“Much more, it serves as a forum where participants can offer innovative solutions and options to knotty interior challenges being faced in various building types.

“The theme will provide a suitable platform for a one-on-one interactive among stakeholders in the building and also sensitise on the need and benefits of defining interior spaces with accent pieces and treatment through practical demonstrations.”

Speaking on space definition, the FCDA boss said space definition is all about taking responsibility for the spaces we occupy by expressing ourselves with the things that mean most to us personally, professionally and socio-culturally. This is natural instinct.

“This exhibition is apt and timely as we all live, work and play in spaces. When we take responsibility for these spaces, we derive a psychological settlement and calmness that is subtle yet profound enough to affect our wellbeing and productivity.”

The Executive Secretary, who was represented by the Director, Public Building, Engr. Emmanuel Oluwadamisi said”Externally, they could be colours, columns and fixtures like doors or other forms that embellish and give character to both the structure and cityscape, silently speaking volumes about the individual, establishment or community.”

Narrowing to interior spacing, Jibrin stated that, “accents are generally used to aesthetically pull your spaces together for a personalised and yet functional ambience which enhances our general wellbeing and productivity, creativity and imagination.”

Jibrin therefore, called on all relevant departments and agencies to also carry out similar trainings so as to “add value, richness, little colour, painting and artwork”, adding well as deepen the knowledge of space definition and aesthetics, hence the beauty of Abuja.

Meanwhile, Anthony Osigwe, the Director in the Department of Public Buildings, while speaking earlier said that the seminar was the 30th in the series, adding that it transformed into an exhibition in 2016 and has continued to make improvement and innovations.

He underscored the importance of space definition in designing and called on the stakeholders to always come together and work together for the progress of all.

Similarly, the Chairman of the Capacity Building Committee who doubles as Deputy Director, Public Buildings, Ademo, in his welcome address said that the objective of the programme, which was to bequeath a capital city comparable to the best in the world.

In ensuring the development of a modern city and society, in line with the dreams of its founding fathers, Ademo pledged they would remain open to new relevant technologies to achieve the best for the FCT and the country.

The two-day event, which had two segments -presentation and exhibition, was attended by many staffers of several departments under the FCDA and FCT Administration, including the departments of Engineering, Mass Housing, Urban and Regional Planning, Survey and Development Control, among others.

By Toyin Adebayo

Key trends that will shape home design in 2019

There are a number of trends that will continue to shape home design in 2019 and beyond. For both home owners and architects there is a keen focus on sustainability, wellness, smart homes and the comforts of technology, indoor-outdoor living, artisanal features and, from a functional space perspective, laundry rooms.

Sustainability and wellness architecture

An important, fast-growing trend in the building industry as a whole is health – both of the planet, which is encompassed by sustainable practices, and of its occupants, which is termed wellness architecture. We are more connected to nature than we think. The sheer fact that we are part of the animal kingdom makes us inextricably linked to the plants, animals, air and water around us. We are healthier and happier when we have access to nature, be it a pot plant or a forest.

According to architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith, this philosophy is influencing residential and commercial design, building products as well as real estate developments. Think of all the estates that have incorporated the natural surroundings into building plans, benefiting the longevity of biodiversity as well as the health of the residents.

“Sustainable materials have become a priority for professionals in the building industry and coupled to this there is a noticeable shift towards including healthy materials that don’t cause harm to planet nor people. Materials that are toxin-free and have little or no impact on the environment are making their way into the house framework. In fact, Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom is busy with the construction of a ‘green’ house, which will serve as a prototype going forward,” explains Grant Wheeler, director of business strategy, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

 

Resilient design

According to Architrends, adding to the sustainability trend is a growing awareness towards resilient design. Resilient design is a response to climate change and encompasses the practice of insulating buildings for energy efficiency, fitting solar panels for generating electricity and adding filtration systems that conserve water.

“Weather patterns are changing with some areas experiencing severe drought while others experience high temperatures and humidity. This reality provides even more reason for home design to incorporate features that add to the efficiency and comfort of a house,” says Wheeler.

The automation of homes has fast become a trend and is high up on the must-have list of many individuals who are in the process of building a new house. A home automation system can control lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances. It can also control home security such as cameras, access control and alarm systems.

“The inclusion of an automation system, where you can switch on the oven and disarm the alarm system remotely, while you’re driving home from work, is becoming an important element to consider when designing and building new homes,” says Wheeler.

Indoor-outdoor living

The seamless movement between indoor and outdoor continues as a strong trend with design becoming more innovative and bolder to allow for greater comfort and enjoyment of this type of lifestyle. Think sliding glass panels that slide into the wall to completely opening the indoor living area to the patio and floor tiles that work both inside and out to create one continuous area. Outdoor kitchens are also becoming a desirable home feature.

“The indoor-outdoor residential lifestyle is a favourite amongst many South Africans and many prospective home buyers look for this type of home and will pay more for it. This type of design allows you to enjoy the great weather as well as the added square meterage when entertaining guests,” says Wheeler.

Incorporating artisanal fixtures and features

Adding elements created by local artists and artisans are simple and effective ways of personalising a home. In 2019, the move towards incorporating natural materials such as stone, copper, concrete, granite and wood into a living space creates a serene, organic balance. A stone slab used as a feature in an entrance hall, wooden slats separating two living areas, doors accentuated with sheets of copper – they’re all features that bring warmth and individuality to a house.

Laundry rooms

According to the latest What Home Buyers Really Want (2019 edition) survey from the National Association of Home Builders in the US, amongst the most wanted home features are energy saving elements such as insulation and whole house green certification and, in terms of space, laundry rooms.

People want the comfort and utilitarian ease of a separate laundry room. Not only to do the washing, but to store apparel that is out of season, hang tog bags and even have an area to wash the dog.

“A dedicated laundry area stems from the desire for a small room that is conveniently located near the kitchen or an entrance so that muddy rugby boots can be pulled off and rinsed and the crumbs from last night’s dinner party can be brushed off the table cloth before it goes into the washing machine. Every house needs a messy room where all sorts of washing up is done and the laundry room is it,” explains Wheeler.

The home owner’s need for form, function, beauty, comfort and sustainability will continue to evolve, and with innovation in all these areas, there are lots of new, exciting developments to look forward to.

Source: By  Veruska De Vita

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