5 Top Tips For Being A Happier Renter

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Nobody dreams of renting a house forever - but if this is the situation you're in, you may as well make the most of it, says Abi Jackson.

Whether you’re a fully-fledged member of Generation Rent, or a family for whom the property ladder is still a step out of reach, renting can sometimes feel frustrating.

It’s your home – except, well, it’s not really, is it? Somebody else is the boss of it, which – while there are some pros to this – means there are plenty of less than ideal cons, too.

But, as somebody who’s been renting for two decades, I’ve learnt (often the hard way) that there are certain things you can do to help make living as a rent-paying tenant the best it can possibly be.

Here are my five top tips…

  1. Be on good terms with your landlord/letting agent

When you’re looking for a place to rent, remember you’re vetting the people you’ll be renting with/from, as much as the property itself. Mutual trust and respect, and an ability to communicate, will count towards a lot.

There might be times when things go wrong and need to be fixed, fast. A broken toilet/tap/boiler, for instance. The good thing is, where a plumbing disaster due to wear-and-tear or technical issues is concerned (or any similar scenario), your landlord will be picking up the bill. The sometimes not so good thing is, you’ll be relying on a third party to sort things out. Now, this doesn’t automatically mean you’ve got a headache on your hands, but it might be a bit of a nuisance – and you’ll be doing yourself a big favour if you get on good communication terms with your landlord/letting agent from day one, rather than waiting until something ‘goes wrong’ to make contact.

  1. Streamline, streamline, streamline

It’s often said that our European cousins are much better at the whole renting game than us, being far more likely to rent their ‘forever home’, while us UK renters might find ourselves moving a lot (I stopped counting at 13), and it sucks. The good thing though? You’ll get so sick of packing and unpacking and losing money to removal vans (and cramming all your worldly belongings into one small bedroom, if you’re sharing a house), you’ll reach a point where you just don’t care for ‘stuff’ any more. Marie Kondo ain’t got nothing on me: I saw the light after move number 11 and waved goodbye to clutter for good. Do yourself a favour and get strict about the ‘stuff’ you let into your life. The next move will be a lot easier and, without even really trying, you’ll be living a less consumerist lifestyle – and will have more money to spend on experiences (tick, tick, tick).

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  1. Give yourself reasons to get out of the house

Live in a shared house? No matter how great your housemates are, there will be times when you desperately wish you could afford your own place. Plus, self-comparison is part of the human condition, and if there are moments of mild (or severe) despair, when you’re wondering how you’ve not managed to bag that mortgage yet, while everyone around you is upgrading their kitchen – you’re not alone. Until that day comes for you, though, you need to make the best of the situation you’re in now – and embracing life outside your four walls can play a big part in this. Make dates with friends, join a club, go for walks, volunteer in your local community (no seriously, try it). Your life will be richer, your mental wellbeing will benefit, and you’ll find yourself seething about coming home to an already-occupied sofa a lot less.

  1. Make your bed king

You might not own the bed frame, or the walls around it – but that does not mean you don’t own the right to a decent night’s sleep. Good sleep is the foundation of so many thing (your health, your work performance, your overall zest for life and all the people in it) – so prioritise it and do your best to make it happen. Renting doesn’t have to mean putting up with a crap, wafer-thin mattress or not-quite-right bedding. If your landlord doesn’t feel the same way, save up and invest in the best mattress you can afford (it’ll be some of the best money you’ve ever spent), and a pillow you look forward to sinking your head into every night. Treat yourself to some fabulous bed linen too; as far as ‘home purchases’ go, you can pick up some great designs at reasonable prices, and you’ll get way more pleasure from it than a TV upgrade.

renting-tips, homes-in-hampshire, homes-to-rent
  1. Find ways to get personal

One of the most frequently-cited phrases among us long-term renters: ‘I just want to be able to hang whatever pictures I want on the walls!’ There’s a general assumption that landlords don’t want tenants to make their house too much of a home (by banging nails into walls, that sort of thing). Have you actually asked your landlord about this though? There’s no harm in asking.

Even if nails are out, there are lots of other ways you can personalise a space without permanently affecting the actual walls or structure. Get creative and remember that little touches can make a big difference. Everybody needs some home comforts, even if it’s just a throw from Matalan, a few coloured utensils in the kitchen that feel more like ‘you’, or a stack of books on the coffee table that light a spark every time your eye catches them. You may not be putting down permanent roots in this property, but right now, it’s home – so don’t underestimate the importance of making it feel that way.

If you want to find our more information about renting through McCarthy Holden, then call the lettings team on 01252 622550 or follow https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/letting/ 

How To Turn Up The Heat With The Tropical Homes Trend

interior design photo

For a different house interior design, birds, wildlife and foliage all star in the latest decor must-haves. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to style them up.

Hot weather may make you yearn to escape to a tropical paradise but if that’s beyond the budget, you can easily create your own exotic sanctuary.

Combine vibrant shades and bold palm prints with a sprinkling of tropical touches – it’s one of the easiest ways turn up the style dial in your interior, and add a little sizzle to your space.

So, put away your passport and pick one of these sun-kissed looks…

Wing it with tropical birds

“Exotic birds – parrots, flamingos and toucans – are winging their way into our homes, as they’re the perfect way to introduce the colour we’re craving, to give rooms a punchy personality,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, style advisor for online interiors specialist, Wayfair. “Why not flirt with this feathered trend with bold bed linen, cushions, wall art or some eye-catching glassware?

“Alternatively, give an unloved space (such as your downstairs loo or the inside of a cupboard) a quirky makeover, with a striking splash of flamingo or parrot-decorated wallpaper, ” she suggests.

Walk on the wild side with animal prints

“Opting for safari-themed homeware is another sure-fire way to make your interiors grrrr-eat!” says McCowan Hill.

“As well as walking on the wild side with animal images and faux heads, add some bold contrast with bold zebra stripes for a pouffe or chair, and dress a floor with fur print rugs.”

interior design photo

Pick a leafy pattern

“Lush leafy patterns are another easy way to bring this hot summer look home, because palms are evocative of far-away destinations,” notes McCowan Hill.

“For a fresh take on this summer favourite, choose a classic print with a tropical twist, and accessorise around it. That way, you can ramp up the effect to suit your taste. Metallic touches will add a hint of luxury, which will contrast well with a pared-back setting.”

If you really want to create a sultry atmosphere, wall specialists Pixers has a fab Art Illustration With Palm Tree Doodle mural, £301 (though prices start from £29), which would have real impact on a feature wall in a living area.

interior design photo

By Gabrielle Fagan, Press Association

8 Reasons To Get Solar Panels On Your Home

house with solar panels

Could your property value be enhanced and the house become more saleable be with the benefit of solar panels and reduced energy bills? Putting property values top one side, in this article by Lisa Salmon (Press Association), she examines some good reasons to consider a solar panel installation.

Sunlight is free, so why not harness its energy through solar panels on your home?

Most people would love to save money on their domestic energy bills, and the summer is the ideal time to do it.

And that’s not just because you don’t need the heating on. It’s because all that sunlight is producing huge amounts of energy, which can be harnessed if you have solar panels on your home.

While a decade ago solar energy provided virtually no power, around 840,000 homes in the UK now have solar panels – also known as photovoltaics (PV) – and the renewable energy source regularly generates around a fifth of the country’s electricity for hours on summer days. The spell of hot, dry summer weather has helped break several solar power-generation records, and recently even very briefly eclipsed gas power stations, as the UK’s top source of electricity.

However, the solar energy boom may already have reached it’s peak, as solar panel installations have flatlined recently because financial incentives for householders to get them installed have been slashed dramatically, and will stop completely next year with no sign of a replacement scheme.

But green campaigners desperately want solar power to keep its foothold in the energy market, and point out there are still many reasons to consider installing solar panels on homes.

property roof with solar panel

1 Solar panels can save you money

The Energy Saving Trust (EST), an independent consumer body which helps householders and businesses save energy, says the amount saved depends on several factors – where your home is, what direction your roof faces, how big a system you install, when you install it, and how much of the energy produced you’re able to use yourself. For a typical 4kW system in the south of England, you could make around £275 a year in feed-in tariff generation payments and export payments.

Use the EST’s online Solar Energy Calculator (energysavingtrust.org.uk) to assess what financial benefits you may get from installing a solar PV system.

You’ll also save on electricity bills, says the EST. The amount you save depends on how much energy you use in a day when your solar panels are generating energy. If you’re usually out all day, you’ll only save around £90 a year on your bills. However, if you tend to be at home, you could save around £220 a year. Including the benefits from tariffs, this would give you a total saving of around £365-£495, depending on your lifestyle.

Caitlin Bent, home energy expert for the EST, says: “Solar panels are most suited to people who are at home a lot during the day, who can really take advantage of using free electricity when the sun is shining.”

2 You get paid for energy you produce

As well as saving on electricity bills, you can make money in two other ways with solar panels. Firstly, through the feed-in tariff, you’re paid for every unit of energy you generate. The feed-in tariff will close to new applicants in April 2019, although payments will continue for 20 years from the date of installation for those who invest in solar panels before April.

Secondly, you can make money via the export tariff, through which you’re paid for any energy you don’t use but send back to the grid. However, because export isn’t metered for domestic properties, the government assumes you’ll export 50% of the energy you produce. This means regardless of how much you use, you’ll be paid for 50% of your generation.

3 You’re helping to save the planet

Solar electricity is green renewable energy, meaning it doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save around 1.2 to 1.7 tonnes of carbon per year. The EST says: “By generating clean, green electricity you reduce your home’s carbon emissions. Plus, any solar energy you don’t use will be fed into the grid, so it can be used by someone else.”

4 Costs have fallen

A typical 4kW solar PV system now costs around £5,500 – £6,800 on average, according to government figures. When the feed-in tariffs began in 2010, costs were as high as £12,000-£14,000.

5 You can store solar energy on batteries

Batteries can now be purchased by householders to enable them to consume rather than export their solar electricity, which makes more financial sense.

6 It’s possible to use solar tiles if you prefer

Solar tiles are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. However, a system of solar tiles will typically cost about twice as much as an equivalent panel system. Therefore, solar tile systems aren’t normally as cost-effective as panel systems, and are usually only considered where panels aren’t appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

7 They’re low maintenance

Solar panels require relatively little maintenance, but you may need to wash the surface occasionally, and make sure trees don’t begin to overshadow them, to make sure they continue working at their most efficient. Debris is more likely to accumulate on ground-mounted panels, and roof panels that are tilted at 15 degrees or more will be cleaned by rainfall. Panels should last 25 years or more, but their inverter is likely to need replacing at some point sooner, at a cost of about £800.

8 They come with a guarantee

“The performance of solar panels will degrade slightly over time,” says Bent, “but most come with a guarantee of at least 25 years.”

If you are a house buyer looking for a home with solar panels, why not undertake a property search from our home page

Country House For Sale In Odiham Preview

Property For Sale In Odiham Hampshire

Our Odiham branch will be showcasing this country house next week, so here is a preview.

This is a substantial house of immense character in grounds of around 6.5 to 7 acres (not yet checked or measured), now available on the open market for the first time in over 40 years.

Originally designed by the renowned architect Herbert Pool for his own occupation in circa 1935 and extended in the 1950s, the generous proportions of this home extend to about 4,600 sq. ft. with the added benefit of the principal rooms enjoying a southerly aspect over the beautiful grounds to the rear.

Within this significant space there is a self-contained wing with a potential family room / staff quarters.

This property is set in beautiful park like grounds, brushing shoulders with lovely Hampshire countryside and less than a mile from the picturesque village of Odiham, rich in period charm with local shops and restaurants.

property photo rear elevation

The impressive oak front doors open lead to a fine reception hall, where the main stairs lead to the first floor. There is an elegant drawing room with wonderful views over the grounds to the rear, a morning room which opens onto the terrace, a substantial dining room, a garden room, and a kitchen/breakfast room with a converted gas-fired four door AGA and electric Neff oven and Neff ceramic hob. There is a seating alcove. Beyond the kitchen there is a secondary staircase to the first floor. A door leads to the former servant’s quarters with a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom.

The master bedroom with triple aspect windows is approached past a dressing room with an extensive range of wardrobes. There are six further bedrooms, one of which is currently fitted as a study.

property for sale hall photo

In location terms this is special, and benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3 / M4 motorways, and of course towns such as Farnham, Reading, Guildford and Basingstoke. Odiham Common is nearby as well as some excellent walks into the adjoining countryside and along the Basingstoke Canal providing wonderful towpath walks.

Telephone 01256 704851 for more details or to a arrange a viewing.

Odiham High Street View
Photo by John Joe

Property for sale in Odiham preview

Property for sale in Hampshire.

If your leaving #London or any other city to escape to the country, then do take a look at this property preview of a character home set in rural Hampshire; due to the open market soon with an anticipated guide of £1.1m.

Located on the outskirts of Odiham Village and surrounded by open countryside, this is an attractive converted and extended former stables, which occupies a plot of approximately an acre.

The Stables was converted by the current owners 25 years ago, and the photos and video created by John Joe showcase this beautiful four bedroom detached family home which has an abundance of character throughout, including exposed beams and brickwork as well as wood burning stoves in both the main lounge and family room.

kitchen photo

Upon entering the property you are met by an entrance hall which provides access to the living room and family room, both of which are double aspect. At the back of the property is the spacious country fit open plan kitchen/dining/family room with double doors leading to an outside patio area and the generous grounds. There is also access to the downstairs cloakroom and separate utility/boot room with side access to the garden.

Upstairs there are four bedrooms, with the master bedroom benefitting from an en-suite bathroom, and a family bathroom. All bedrooms have built in wardrobes and there is additional storage on the landing with a linen cupboard and space in the eaves.

The property is accessed via a double five bar gate which takes you through to the gravel driveway providing parking for a number of vehicles. There is also a detached double garage which has the added benefit of an office space on the first floor.

garden view

The private garden is mainly laid to lawn with a number of mature shrubs and trees, as well as an area of orchard. There is a large stone patio area, ideal for alfresco dining, which is the perfect place to take in the adjacent countryside views. Additionally there is a summer house and a shed that is located next to the greenhouse and vegetable patch.

Odiham is ideally located for access to London via Hook mainline station along with M3 access via junction 5. There are a number of shops and restaurants, a thriving cricket club and tennis club with excellent schools also on offer. Nearby towns such as Farnham, Fleet, Basingstoke and Reading are a short drive away and provide further shopping and recreational facilities.

Contact our Odiham branch on 01256 704851

photo property for sale hampshire odiham

The Grow-your-own Perks Of A Heatwave

Fewer Pests, Earlier Crops And Tastier Pickings! As allotment holders struggle to keep their crops watered, expert Mike Thurlow offers 7 plus points about home-growing in a heatwave.

garden-drought-heatwave-tips-property-hampshire

The long, dry summer may have been a struggle for allotment holders battling to keep up with watering – but hot weather is also keeping some garden nuisances at bay.

As National Allotments Week beckons, horticultural expert and allotment holder Mike Thurlow, of the National Allotment Society, says there are some advantages of a hot, sunny summer to ‘grow your own’ gangs nationwide, provided you keep your crops well watered.

1. Fewer aphids

“The heatwave seems to have slowed the insect population down. On the open ground, there haven’t been as many aphids. We had a short burst of greenfly earlier on in the year, which came to nothing, and not much since then,” he observes. “Just be aware that aphids have a second burst of activity towards the end of summer, so be prepared.”

2.Slugs have gone underground

“We haven’t had as many slug and snail problems this year, as they’re likely to have gone underground, but once it cools, there will be more, so you need to be vigilant when the rain arrives.”

slugs-gardening-property-hampshire

3. Less blight

If you water erratically, your tomatoes may still succumb to blossom end rot (where they turn brown at the base and split). But the dryness of the weather will prevent blight, says Thurlow, because blight thrives in humid, damp weather, when the spores become mobile.

Water your crops directly at soil level, taking the rose off the watering can if necessary, and give tomatoes and other plants one good soaking that you know will last a couple of days. When watering potatoes and tomatoes, try to keep the foliage as dry as you can.

4. Earlier crops

Gardeners should be enjoying the fruits of their labour earlier than usual because of the heatwave, he says. Harvest your crops young before they bolt (set seed) and produce flowers, which many of them will be doing early because of the hot weather.

“If it looks good enough to eat, then cut it, because the next day it might run to seed,” Thurlow advises.

5. Cut and come again

If you cut crops early, some may return for a second harvest, he predicts.

“Peas may have gone to seed prematurely, but if you cut them down they will regrow, so it may be worth considering leaving them in the ground – which you should do anyway, as they are a nitrogen source – but once the cooler weather kicks in and you keep the watering going, you may well catch a late crop.

garden-peas-property-hampshire

“With brassicas – such as broccoli and winter cabbage – if you cut them and leave the stump in the ground, you get little florets coming off those. Then come October, you might have four little cabbages coming off that stump.”

6. Tastier crops

Provided watering is kept up, sun lovers (such as peppers) may have a more intense flavour, says Thurlow.

“We may notice that we have more intense flavour in some produce, because they’ll ripen in the heatwave.”

7. Early sowing opportunities

“Start sowing early varieties of carrot, beetroot and lettuce. Water along a drill incorporating seaweed in the water. You never know how long it will be until the autumn weather.

Plants which you sow now – brassicas such as spring cabbage and some kale – may have enough time to become established if the warm weather continues, to see them through winter.

Other plants such as Florence fennel, which would normally be sown later in the season, could be sown now and, although smaller, the bulbs may be ready by late October or November.

gardening-fennel-summer-2018

Prioritise crops which will take you through the winter. Brassicas will have been stressed with this weather – Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale and winter cabbage. If you have crops which normally take longer to mature, harvest them while they are young.

“One of the major difficulties now is going to be your overwintering crops,” says Thurlow. “You need to get them into a position where they will survive the winter without running to seed.

“It’s not too late to sow spring cabbage. Just have a go. If the heat continues, we may have enough growing time left into the autumn where we can get plants into a condition where they will survive the winter.”

National Allotments Week runs from August 13-19. For details visit nsalg.org.uk.

Find out if your garden is adding value to your home, with a free no obligation valuation and market insight this summer.

11 Ways To Give Your Garden a Burglar and Thief proof Makeover

curtain-planting-a-garden-property

Designers have teamed up with the police to create the ideal ‘crime prevention garden’. Hannah Stephenson finds out more.

You may have locked your doors and windows, installed a burglar alarm and prompted neighbours to keep a watch over your home while you’re on holiday – but have you considered how the style and design of your garden could help deter thieves too?

At this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (on until July 8), designers Lucy Glover and Jacqueline Poll have a crime prevention garden that is both stunning and secure, a collaboration between crime prevention initiative Secured By Design with Capel Manor College and the Metropolitan Police.

The striking urban garden features green security measures, such as columnar trees and prickly plants, but also a calming atmosphere and soft relaxed planting, including beautiful perennials and grasses.

“Some 75% of all burglaries across the Met are via a rear garden. Those with criminal intention are looking for opportunity,” says PC Leslie Gipps, a Designing Out Crime Officer with the Metropolitan Police.

“What we do in Secured By Design is put in those layers which make it harder for the criminal to spend any real time trying to break in. They will just leave that garden and go for one that’s simpler.”

Want to add some crime-preventing layers to your garden? Here, the garden designers and Met officers recommend 11 ways to help deter criminals from targeting your property…

1 Prickly plants

Create a hedge of prickly plants, such as Osmanthus, pyracantha or berberis, next to boundary fencing, which can act as a layer to deter thieves.

In the crime prevention garden, the designers used Osmanthus heterophyllus, a shrub with sharply toothed leaves (similar to holly) under the windows, Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea, with stems that bear spiky spines, and pyracantha, a dense spiky shrub which is great grown as a hedge. Pyracantha will grow in any soil and is fast-growing.

2 Green screens

Boundary fences can be the first line of defence, and a good bet is a wire mesh which you can adorn with ivy or other ‘green screen’ – these look pretty but also act as a good deterrent. After all, a wire fence is unlikely to take someone’s weight.

Gipps explains: “By attempting the fence, thieves would draw attention to themselves and possibly leave their DNA behind. They know that, and can see it from the other side of the street. So it’s crime prevention through environmental design.”

burgular-proof-property-metal-fence-and-prickly-plant-in-hampshire

3 Dusk-’til-dawn lighting

Install dusk-’til-dawn low-voltage lights to ensure visibility in the garden at night. Stone effect solar lights will provide additional lighting and sculptural interest throughout the garden. “If your garden is lit through the hours of darkness, people with criminal intention don’t want to come into a lit environment,” says Gipps.

Householders often ignore sensor lights, thinking they’ve been set off by a fox or a cat. “Ten-watt LED lights are fine. We prefer white LED lighting, but you can choose a less bright option,” Gipps adds.

Gravel around the house

Gravel is noisy when walked on, so having it around your property means you can hear any uninvited visitors approaching the house. It also alerts dogs.

gravel-is-noisy-when-walked-on-so-a-good-property-burgular-deterrant

5 Curtain planting

“The aim is to have rich colour in the garden but not big solid shrubs that somebody can hide behind, so ideally grasses and other plants you can see through,” says Glover.

Light planting, such as grasses and ‘curtain planting’ with Verbena bonariensis and Sanguisorba canadensis, allows the homeowner to see through the planting.

6 Narrow trees

If you want to include architectural interest, use columnar-shaped trees, which are more difficult for intruders to hide behind and also difficult to climb.

7 Roses

Thorny roses can be used to great effect by training them over pergolas and other supports, which thieves might otherwise climb. The designers used rotating bars on their pergola to prevent thieves climbing. Roses will also give you scent and colour.

roses-burgular-deterrant-in-garedn-design

8 Green roof

Consider a green roof on your shed featuring spiky plants. The designers have planted a swathe of sedum on their shed roof, interplanted with aloe, a sharper specimen. Any intruder putting their hands on the shed roof would get a handful of prickles.

9 Shed security

Don’t leave tools outside, but also make it difficult for thieves to gain access to the shed, where you store them. Gipps explains: “The typical garden shed will come with a cheap padlock. We advocate that you have two locks – one a third up, the other a third down – with robust hinges and secure high-quality padlocks. You need robust hinges, coach-bolted through the fabric of the door.”

10 Secure garden pots

Thieves also use garden pots to break windows to gain entry. The best way to stop this is by using really heavy, large pots which are very difficult to lift. Keeping your plants well watered will help keep them heavy too.

11 Mark your property

Put your own forensic code on your garden items. Gipps recommends SmartWater (www.smartwater.com), a near-invisible, traceable liquid which gives your equipment its own unique forensic code, allowing items to be traced back to you, and the criminals back to the crime.

The code is registered to your home and stored on the SmartWater database. Once applied, it lasts for a minimum of five years, enabling stolen goods, if recovered, to be more easily identified and returned to the owner.

Latest Video Tour Of Luxury Berkshire Property

The Property

This wonderful property is presented to an exceptional standard and provides around 4,000 sq. ft. of luxurious space, enclosed within distinctive architectural styling.

McCarthy Holden are renowned for producing high end video productions for special properties in and around Finchampstead Ridges near Wellington College, so it’s no surprise that this beautiful property got that special added marketing bonus.

There is hundreds of acres of National  Trust land on the doorstep of this property, providing access to wonderful woodland walks nearby, yet this location benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3 / M4 motorways, and of course towns such as Wokingham, Reading, Bracknell and Basingstoke.

Ground Floor

The impressive reception hall sets the scene for exploring this luxury property, with high specification indicators such as the French polished internal oak doors, skirtings, architraves and a bespoke oak staircase, French polished with handmade architectural metal balustrade.

Additional ground floor accommodation includes a significant kitchen/family/dining room, a fine living room, a dining room, sitting/tv family room, study, a substantial gym room, cloakroom and a utility room.

The Optiplan kitchen is complemented by a granite work surface, natural stone flooring and under cupboard and plinth lighting. Features and appliances include three  Villeroy and Boch white ceramic sinks, a Rangemaster Cooker with Extractor Hood, Samsung USA style Fridge/Freezer with ice and water, a Bosch fully integrated dishwasher and a Caple built in wine cooler. Best of all the stunning kitchen opens directly into a wonderful breakfast garden room with vaulted ceiling and the benefit of views over the grounds to the rear.

First Floor

On the first floor there is an impressive landing. There are five bedrooms, three with an en-suite.

The vast master bedroom suite benefits from a fine range of built in bedroom furniture with soft close doors with French polished wood finish. The luxurious en-suite bathroom and shower room features a distinctive Edwardian style bath tub, a shower cubicle, a wc, bidet and pedestal wash basin. The property benefits from heating by way of a gas fired condensing Worcester Bosch boiler, with radiators.

Grounds

To the front of the property there is a sweeping driveway with two electronic gated entry / exit stations. To the rear of the property there is a vast natural stone patio leading to tree fringed formal gardens.

Location

The property is located about 5 miles to the South West of the charming market town of Wokingham.  There is excellent schooling in the area including Holme Grange, Luckley House, Yateley Manor St Neots,, and Wellington College which is less than a mile away, Heathrow Airport is about 35 miles and Farnborough Airport is about 11 miles distant. Private aircraft facilities are also available at Blackbushe Airport (about 6 miles).

Contact our Hartley Wintney branch / Telephone 01252 842100 for further details.

Video Tour Of Period Property, New to The Market Today

This distinctive period property is a landmark Grade 11 Listed family home, known locally as The Cat, which offers a wealth of character which is equalled by the history surrounding the property.

The property went on sale today with the Odiham branch of McCarthy Holden, who created a presenter lead video to showcase this fine home.

Accommodation is generous and offers four double bedrooms, plus two bonus rooms on the second floor, four well sized reception rooms and a kitchen with separate utility room. Outside the garden wraps round the house and offers a large patio area with historic well, vegetable beds and various flower and shrub beds. There is a large wooden workshop with double door access for vehicle access. There is a detached  double garage power and light and workbench.

There is access to wonderful walks nearby including along the Basingstoke canal, yet this location benefits from ease of access to London, Heathrow and the M3  motorway, and of course towns such as Farnham, Reading, and Basingstoke.

 The downstairs accommodation offers flexible use and is currently set up to offer a dining room (a dual aspect room with door leading into the garden, inglenook fireplace with beam over, beams to ceiling) a snug with fireplace and log burner, a study, a sitting / living room (in the oldest part of the property with a wealth of character features including exposed beams and a charming fireplace), a farmhouse style fitted kitchen with Aga and a utility room with cloakroom and w.c.

 The upstairs accommodation is generous and well laid out, with the master bedroom benefiting from an adjacent en-suite shower room. There are four spacious double bedrooms, all with built in wardrobes. There is a family bathroom on the first floor. In addition, there are two bonus rooms on the second floor which have been used as bedrooms from time to time. Through half of the first floor are stunning wide elm floorboards and exposed beams to wall and ceiling.

North Warnborough is an area that was held by King Harold before the Norman invasion of 1066, and today, North Warnborough consists of a conservation area, bounded by Mill Corner in the north and The Street in the south. Most of the village’s 40 listed buildings lie within the conservation area. The Cat is in the centre of the conservation area and is within close proximity of The Millhouse and North Warnborough Green which has the ford and gives access to the canal and extensive walks.

The property is located about mile from the charming village of Odiham. There is excellent schooling in the area including Mayhill, Buryfields and Robert May’s.

Contact McCarthy Holden in Odiham to view – by phone 01256 704851

Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Home Office

Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Home OfficeA calm and stylish space can boost productivity and look good, as entrepreneur Liz Earle tells Gabrielle Fagan.

Millions of us now spending some, if not all, of our time working from home. And one of the joys of working in your own space is that you’re the boss when it comes to design and ambience – so you can escape dull desks and bland decor and kit out your own personalised sanctuary to suit your taste.

Entrepreneur and beauty and wellbeing expert, Liz Earle, has teamed up with blinds and curtain specialist Hillarys (hillarys.co.uk), to reveal her own home office and simple but effective tips to help you conjure a stylish work area of your own, where you can be happy as well as productive.

“It’s a quick and easy strategy for creating the perfect space, or could be used for an existing office makeover, which could be just what you need to reinvigorate your home-working life,” enthuses mother-of-five Earle, 54, who lives on a farm in the West Country. “There’s undoubtedly a whole host of benefits to home-working, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective, whether that’s because you’re escaping the daily commute or because you’re able to spend more time with the family.”

Read on to discover Earle’s approach for creating a calm and stylish home office…

1. Work with the light

“Put your desk in front of a window; plenty of natural light is the holy grail, as it’s known to significantly help increase energy, creativity and productivity,” advises Earle. “Wood or faux wood Venetian blinds are perfect for home office windows as they filter light, which will minimise glare on a computer screen and the slats can be adjusted to control light levels when the sun moves round during the day. Go for function but don’t forget about style. Roman blinds soften the look, and a pretty botanical fabric brings a lovely feel of nature into the room.”

Make your office more eco-friendly2. Make an eco desk choice

“Make your office more eco-friendly with a desk made from reclaimed scaffolding boards and simple trestle legs,” Earle suggests. “Scaffolding boards can be picked up cheaply from a salvage yard, and the beauty of doing this is that you can design your desk according to your space and needs. Make sure there’s room for a task light and desk accessories.”

3. Invest in a great chair

“As tempting as it sounds, dragging a chair from the dining room or a stool from the kitchen is a false economy,” Earle warns. “An ergonomically designed chair may not give you the designer feel you had in mind – but your back will thank you for it!  You can always pretty it up with a cosy sheepskin or throw.

“Don’t hunch over a laptop – set up a computer monitor at eye level and use a separate keyboard, ergonomic mouse or track pad. Rest forearms on the desk while typing and invest in a simple foot rest to ensure you sit with legs at a comfortable 90-degree angle to the floor.”

TIP: Try to do simple stretches and strength moves regularly throughout the day. You don’t necessarily need equipment – try out chair yoga which can be done while seated.

4. Get crafty with accessories

“It needn’t cost the earth to decorate your office. Charity shops and car-boot sales are perfect hunting grounds for quirky, vintage pieces, or you could indulge in some DIY creativity,” says Earle. “Cover plain cardboard box files with wallpaper or fabric for a fabulous bespoke look. A pin-board, made from a wooden picture frame, foam and fabric, is a great way to display photos, to-do lists or other information you want to see at a glance.”

TIP: Schedule things in your diary that make you happy, not just work tasks.

5. Bring nature into your space

“It’s been proven that plants in the workplace can reduce stress levels and increase productivity,” Earle points out. “Aside from these health benefits, plants are a cheap and cheerful way to add decoration and bring the outdoors in. I opt for green, leafy plants like ferns or ivy, avoiding cacti whose spikes can create the opposite of a relaxed feeling, or flowers with a strong scent, which can be distracting or irritating.” And if caring for real plants doesn’t quite work out for you, there are great faux options available these days, so you can still get that calming, leafy look.

Whether selling or letting, at McCarthy Holden we see first hand how much demand there is from home buyers to find that perfect home working space6. Conceal the clutter

“But remember, the more stuff you add to your desk, the more your brain has to keep track of,” adds Earle. “Working in a crowded space can be mentally exhausting and distracting, even if you don’t realise it. Get creative with storage. I’ve used soft, floaty voile curtains to disguise a shelving unit.”

7. Create an uplifting display

Finally, treasured photos that spark joy, and meaningful sayings to keep motivation levels up, make an ideal finishing touch. “Pictures and photographs can be a great way to inspire creativity and a feeling of wellness,” says Earle. “Pick out three or four that are significant to you and make sure those are in your view.”

Conclusion

Whether selling or letting, at McCarthy Holden we see first hand how much demand there is from home buyers to find that perfect home working space, and top tips numbers one, six and seven are spot on, perhaps with the addition of inviting your favourite cat or dog into the highly productivity space.

 

Small Spaces Big Ideas: 7 Secrets For Making The Most Of Every Inch

Small Spaces Big Ideas

Interior designers and award-winning bloggers, Athena Bluff and Amy Brandhorst from Topology (topologyinteriors.com), have joined forces with Habitat, in a mission to help the nation maximise the space in their homes.

While there’s nothing anyone can do about the bricks and mortar and actual dimensions of your property you live in, their seven home hacks could help you make the best of the space available, meaning rooms feel larger.

Read on for their space-enhancing secrets…

Hack #1: Shine a light

“Ensure you have multiple light sources within a room to maximise light at night,” says Bluff. “You should aim to have around six light sources around the room, which will ‘replace’ natural daylight and allow light to flow through the space. Enhance the effect with mirrored surfaces, which will bounce light around. Those and metallics, which  reflect warm light,  will create a sense of more space.”

Hack #2: Be free with flooring

“An easy trick for floors to is to continue the hallway flooring into your small room. Creating a visually unbroken flow of space will make it appear as though it’s one big area, and creates an illusion that the floor is expanding,” points out Bluff.

Hack #3: Create colour harmony

“Try painting walls, skirting boards and door frames all the same colour. Painting them different colours can actually break up a space and emphasise the shape and (small) size of the room,” says Brandhorst.”If they’re all the same colour, they’ll blend into one and make the room appear bigger.”

Create colour harmony

Hack #4: Make a great reflection

“Hang a mirror opposite a window. It’s simple but extremely effective – both in terms of cost and visual impact,” suggests Brandhorst. “The mirror will reflect natural light and instantly brighten up your space, as well as making it appear larger. If you’re feeling creative, play around with different shapes or multiple mirrors to reflect as much light as possible. More light equals more sense of space.”

Hack #5:  Choose multi-functional furniture

“Opt for dual usage furniture that can be folded or expanded to suit your needs,” says Bluff. “If there’s only two of you most evenings, opt for a folding table which, with an extension, turns into a four-person dining table for entertaining. Check out sofa bed options, which can easily turn a sitting room into bedroom for guests. Always consider storage in items like ottomans, pouffes, trunks, coffee tables. If there’s a design that also hides clutter (the enemy of small spaces), choose it!”

Hack #6: Embrace the dark side

“This is one for the brave! Don’t be afraid of going dark in small spaces,” advises Bluff. “It may sound counter-intuitive, but dark shades – navy and grey – can actually disguise the perimeters of a room and blur boundaries which extend the space, so don’t feel you can only use ‘Brilliant White’ to achieve a sense of more space. Walk on the dark side – trust us, it works!”

Hack #7: Work the walls

“As you don’t have a lot of floor space to play with, think upwards and make use of walls instead,” advises Brandhorst. “Floating shelves, clothes hooks, wall-mounted magazine racks and bike hooks will allow you to store things like folding chairs, or display belongings without cluttering the floor. Make use of dead space, such as corners, and have wall-mounted shelves.”

Athina Bluff and Amy Brandhorst of Topology Interiors will be hosting special workshops at Habitat’s Tottenham Court Road store in London on February 24. For tickets, further hacks and inspiration, visit habitat.co.uk/smallspaceliving

U.K. Manufacturing Industry Delivers ‘solid’ Growth In December

manufacturing up

Activity in Britain’s manufacturing sector has eased from a near four-and-a-half-year high, but still stumped up “solid” output and order growth in December.

The closely watched Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a reading of 56.3 last month, down from 58.2 in November, with economists expecting a figure of 57.9. A reading above 50 indicates growth. While output levels from consumer goods producers rolled back, intermediate and investment goods motored ahead thanks to rising demand from overseas.

UK producers enjoyed a healthy appetite from Europe, China, the Middle East and America, helping to drive a further rise in employment.

It means the anufacturing industry churned out an average reading of 57 for final three months of the year – its best performance since the second quarter of 2014. Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said UK manufacturing ended the year on a positive footing.

He said: “Although growth of output and new orders moderated during December, rates of expansion remained comfortably above long-term trend rates. “The sector has therefore broadly maintained its solid boost to broader economic expansion in the fourth quarter. “The outlook is also reasonably bright, with over 50% of companies expecting production to be higher one year from now. “The main growth engines were the intermediate and investment goods sectors during December, suggesting resilient business-to-business demand and capital spending trends, albeit in part due to rising exports.”

Firms were also given a helping hand after input costs rose at the slowest rate for four months. Chemicals, electrical goods, metals and paper were among the products becoming more expensive. Despite sterling’s Brexit-induced slump keeping costs high, around 54% of firms are pencilling in a rise in production for the year ahead.

Samuel Tombs, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief UK economist, said the manufacturing industry will struggle to maintain momentum this year. He said: “UK manufacturers have cut investment since the Brexit vote and are struggling to find skilled workers. As result, work backlogs are increasing quickly and supply chain delays are worsening.

“These constraints will only worsen as the recovery continues, unless manufacturers suddenly ramp up investment. “Meanwhile, the recent rally in oil prices – to 67 US dollars, from just 50 US dollar six months ago – which has been driven by OPEC supply curbs and tensions in Iran, has darkened the outlook for low value-added production. “Accordingly, we expect the recovery in the manufacturing sector to lose its current vitality soon.”

The pound was 0.3% up against the US dollar at 1.35 following the update, and 0.3% lower versus the euro at 1.12. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed last month that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4% in its final reading for July to September this year, rising from 0.3% in the first and second quarters.

However, the UK economy is still struggling to bounce back to levels seen in the final quarter of 2016 – when GDP rose by 0.6%. Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to EY ITEM Club, said: “With December and November surveys from both the purchasing managers and the CBI also robust, the manufacturing sector looks likely to have produced another robust performance in the fourth quarter after expanding 1.3% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter.”

Stamp Duty – A Massive Missed Opportunity on Budget Day

Flagship Budget changes to help young people get onto the property ladder will mainly benefit people who already own homes by forcing up purchase prices, the official economic watchdog has warned.

McCarthy Holden also believe the measures announced today missed an opportunity to improve house availability supply in the short term, by not addressing wider stamp duty changes designed to improve mobility and increase choice and supply.

“The missed opportunity on the stamp duty front is directly linked to the weakness of this Government,” according to John Holden Chairman of McCarthy Holden, “and the mid to top end property sectors are long overdue a stamp duty reduction since the disastrous hike in the stamp levy on larger properties by George Osborne”

“Ever since Osborne significantly increased house purchase stamp duty on more expensive properties, especially over £2.0m., this sector stagnated, tax revenue fell and buyers motivations to move hit rock bottom, which in turn has impacted directly on availability of housing stock. It’s obvious that if there is a healthy top end with motivated sellers and buyer this will feed into the mid to lower end sectors because buyers will have the motivation to move and the supply side of property will increase.”

“Politically Hammond was weak,” continues Holden, “because he didn’t have the resolve to stand up to the inevitable Jeremy Corbyn stance to a reduction in top end stamp duty, however the prospect of a looking after the rich accusation by Corbyn should have been faced down in the greater interest of achieving a supply side and mobility gain with the prospect of increased tax revenue” concluded Holden.

Today Chancellor Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers on properties worth up to £300,000 as part of a giveaway Budget package which pumped an additional £25 billion into priorities like housing, infrastructure and the NHS in a bid to build “a Britain fit for the future”.

But the Office for Budget Responsibility took the shine off the move – which the Treasury says will benefit a million home-hunters by an average £1,660 over five years – by predicting it will push up prices by around 0.3%, leaving many first-time buyers paying more than they would have done without the relief. Forecasting that the change, estimated to cost more than £3 billion by 2022/23, will result in as few as 3,500 additional home purchases a year, the OBR said: “The main gainers from the policy are people who already own property, not the first-time buyers themselves.”

Treasury sources insisted that the measure, which will also apply to the first £300,000 of homes worth up to half a million pounds, would be a welcome boost to first-time buyers, with 95% seeing a cut in the amount of stamp duty paid and 80% paying none at all.

Despite the tight economic backdrop, Mr Hammond announced significant investments including: An additional £15 billion for housing in a bid to reach the target of building 300,000 extra new homes a year by the mid-2020s, an extra £7.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years and another £3 billion to prepare for the impact of Brexit.

So you’re just about to become a first time landlord?

How choosing the wrong letting agent will make you cry…

It happens more often than you think.You might get a new job offer that’s too good to turn down, you may decide to move in with your partner or you may just fancy a change of scenery and take some time out traveling.

The thing is, what do you do with your home? You could sell it, and reinvest the money, although returns on most things are very poor nowadays, as well as taking on a large amount of risk. So why not keep it?

If you keep it, you can either leave it sat empty and have a friend or family member check on it every once and a while, or you could let it out and hopefully make additional income along the way.

This is where doubts start to creep in…this is where becoming a first time landlord really can start you off worrying about your home that you have painstakingly improved and maintained over the years. There are so many horror stories about people renting out their homes from tenants not paying the bills, blocking the drains, decorating in unsuitable colours to running illegal ‘so-called businesses’. The problem is that a lot of dysfunctional, criminal, deranged or antisocial people can, when the occasion demands, give an impression of being an upstanding trustworthy member of society.

Unfortunately, without carrying out the right checks and trying to mitigate the risk as much as possible you may find, to your cost, that you end up with an unsavory character renting out your home.

Even if you do carry out the right checks, there is always the chance of things going wrong …way into the time scale of the tenancy. For example, what happens if the tenant stops paying, for no apparent reason? This can really start to cause cash flow issues.

There are also the legal obligations of being a landlord. Falling foul of the law can end up costing you an awful lot of money. For example, failure to comply with gas safety regulations could lead to prosecution and/or imprisonment with fines up to £25,000. Then, of course, there is the legal requirement to put your tenant’s deposit into a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDS) See details about ‘Tenancy deposit protection’ on the UK Gov. website.https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection

So the choice is yours… do it yourself or bring in a Letting Agent to help you.

So what should you really be looking out for in a lettings agency?

There are a few things that your letting agent must cover without a shadow of a doubt. If they can’t help you with these five things…then stay well clear.

  • Processes and measures in place for finding the right tenants
  • Health and Safety – complying with the law
  • Optimising rental income
  • Tenancy deposit scheme
  • Comprehensive tenancy agreement

Accreditations
Choose a letting agent who is a member of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), or one of the professional bodies that support it.

– The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA/Property Mark)

– The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

– The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)

Level of service
Can the agent offer you different levels of service, from full management to just finding a tenant, depending on your requirements?

Do they have professional indemnity insurance?
This will cover the letting agent against the possibility of being sued. Do they also have a client money protection policy in place

Tenancy deposit scheme (TDS)
Can the letting agent deal with this for you? If so, check that the scheme they belong is a government-backed reputable scheme.

Ongoing support
Does the agency undertake regular property visits to check up on the state of the property and the wellbeing of your tenants?
Is there an emergency maintenance out of hours contact number available?

These are just a few of the things you should consider when renting out your home for the first time. However, there is nothing like meeting up with the letting agent, to see what they are like in person. Do they get on with you, how helpful do they seem? How knowledgeable are the staff, and are they continuously being trained (CPD courses) on the latest legislation for example.

Also, check out a post by ARLA on “How to find a good Letting Agent”
https://www.ukala.org.uk/agents/press/releases/how-find-good-letting-agent

Gardening Delight in Autumn Harvest and Apples

At McCarthy Holden we know the added value that comes with a beautiful and productive garden, so top tips from gardening expert are worth having…..

SCARED OF GROWING APPLE TREES? THEY’RE EASIER THAN YOU THINK, SAYS MONTY DON, By Hannah Stephenson

As fruit-lovers celebrate harvest with Apple Days this month, Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don offers tips on how to grow them.Monty Don loves apples. He has around 60 different types at his garden in Longmeadow, Herefordshire, growing in various forms – some are big trees, others stepovers, or smaller trees.

They are among the most popular fruits in this country and yet people have a fear about growing apples, says Monty in his latest book, Down To Earth.

“They somehow feel it has to be a big tree, but it doesn’t. You can grow stepovers or espaliers, you can grow fans or cordons. You can train the fruit to fit your space,” he explains.”People also get very worried about what are actually quite trivial afflictions. It could be a bit of mould on a leaf or a bit of bitter pit in the apple, but by and large apple trees are robust. They don’t need much looking after.”

Some people are also confused by rootstocks, he observes. “It’s moderately complex because all apples are grown on a different rootstock, so the roots of one tree are joined at the graft to the trunk and branches of another tree. The root dictates the size and vigour and shape of the tree, and the bit above the root dictates the fruit.

“So you could have my favourite eating apple, Jupiter, as a dwarf, a cordon or a great big tree, but you’d need a different rootstock for each of them.

“All you need to know is, I want it to be this big, my garden is this size, what rootstock do you have? And a good garden centre should be able to tell you.”

Monty’s tips for apple-growing beginners

1. Find a sunny spot – Apple trees need sunshine and good drainage. Don’t grow grass right up around them. Clear the grass for at least a 1m radius around them until the trees are as big as you want them to be, then you can let the grass grow back up to the trunk. Grass will take a lot of moisture and nutrients they need.

2. Plant more than one – “Some apples are self-pollinating, but you should always plant more than one. There are eight groups of apples, which are numbered solely on when they produce their flowers. Number one is the first to blossom, and number eight the last. “If you have two apples, one from group one and one from group eight, they won’t blossom at the same time and if they don’t blossom at the same time, they can’t cross pollinate. Either have two of the same group or one from either side, so if you have a group three apple, you should either have another from group three or one from group two or one from group four.

“The earliest apples start blossoming at the beginning of April and the latest blossom at the end of May, but the flowers have to be open at the same time to pollinate.”

3. Learn how to plant new trees – “Dig a wide hole no more than one spade’s depth deep, loosen the hole and the sides, but don’t add manure or compost. “Plant the tree slightly higher than it is in the pot or, if it’s bare-rooted, slightly above soil level, so it’s on a tiny pyramid. Firm it in well, so it’s planted in a slight cone, not a well, because more trees die from being over-wet than too dry. “Water it well, stake it and mulch it thickly with either garden compost or wood chippings, to keep the weeds down and the moisture in. You don’t add compost to the hole because you want the roots to grow out into the soil. If you put compost into the hole, the roots will stay and curl around and become almost pot-bound. Roots need to grow horizontally as quickly as possible. “Most feeding roots are within a spade’s depth and horizontal. They don’t go down, they go sideways.”

4. Know when to prune – “If you prune hard in winter, you will get lots of shoots coming back and none of those shoots will have any fruit on them. If you want to reduce the size of the apple tree, do it in summer. If you want to stimulate it to grow bigger, do it in winter. “Almost all apples produce their fruit on spurs and the spurs only develop on wood when it gets to two or three years old.”

5. Get inspired about varieties at Apple Days – “My advice is to go and taste as many different varieties as possible, see what they look like. Use it as an experience to extend your knowledge about what apples look and taste like. When you go to the supermarket, you’re just not going to have that opportunity. Then, if you find an apple you really like that you can’t buy in a supermarket, that’s the one to grow.”

Down To Earth by Monty Don is published by DK, priced £17.99. Available now.

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