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This isn’t going to surprise anyone, but we absolutely love Grand Designs. From Kevin McCloud’s sometimes skeptical enthusiasm to the absolutely jaw dropping creations that come to life from the minds of those who toil on the projects, it’s a great programme.

Across just one hour we see derelict spaces become incredible luxury properties, holes in the ground become incredible eco-homes and so much more.

So, in this guide, we’re going to share with you five of our absolute favourite Grand Designs properties. With over 180 houses to choose from, we had to omit a good number of absolutely stunning homes. Nevertheless, we’ve successfully boiled down our choices to just three, starting with…

  • Lambeth Workhouse Water Tower - Series 12, Episode 5

The 100th house featured in the series, it also happens to be Kevin McCloud’s personal favourite.

It was a derelict, Grade II listed 19th century water tower, originally built for the workhouse and infirmary where Charlie Chaplain once lived. Originally constructed in 1877, the tower was 99ft tall with 5ft thick walls and capped off with a gigantic water tank.

The episode finds Leigh Osbourne and Graham Voce transforming the tower into a remarkable home, with the original structure becoming a staircase which large glass and metal structures seem to hang from. The most incredible feature, however, is the water tank on top. With windows fitted, it becomes one of the best views across London.

  • Hellifield Peel Castle - Series 7, Episode 1

Francis Shaw had always dreamt of living in a castle, but rather than rent a renovated flat inside a castle like most of us might, he decided to go about it the hard way – by transforming a 14th century castle in North Yorkshire.

Unlike many Grand Designs, this wasn’t about turning the castle into a modern glass box, it was about restoring the structure to its former glory. Despite blasting through their budget, Francis and wife Karen created a remarkable home with strong eco-credentials. 12 years on, the couple decided to list the property in March 2016 at a price of £1.65m – not too bad for a castle in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, I’m sure you’ll agree.

  • Gloucestershire Treehouse, Series 16, Episode 1

One from the latest series, the Gloucestershire Treehouse was perhaps the most incredible build we’ve ever seen on Grand Designs. John Martin, a plumber aged 53 and his wife Noreen Jaafar, 46, have always dreamt of living in a treehouse. Now, after acquiring a plot of land for £85,000 he and his wife have built perhaps the biggest and best treehouse of all time for £268,000.

Located 40ft up in the trees, the property is gigantic and boasts three floors and a weight of over 40 tonnes – supported by steel beams. McCloud adored the property, saying: “The very idea of the escape, the fantasy of living a dreamlike existence…the thing is, as you grow up, you leave these things aside, but given the chance of building a permanent treehouse as your home – you would, wouldn’t you?”

 

If Grand Designs has inspired you, and you're thinking of selling your home and moving on to bigger and better thing, why not give us a call to find out how we can save you thousands!

For many parents, the first time your kids really move away from the house is when they go off to university. It’s an exciting time, one filled with almost infinite possibilities and the chance for both you and your children to experience what it’s like to live without each other once again.

It’s more than just your child’s first experience outside of the familial home though, it’s also their first time searching for housing, negotiating terms and signing contracts. All of that means for parents, having kids moving into their own homes can be an incredibly stressful one. So, what should you be looking out for?

Read guarantor forms carefully

It’s not the case everywhere, but some landlords are very crafty when it comes to guarantor forms. As a standard part of many student housing agreements, you’ll be asked to sign a guarantor form which protects your landlord against missed payments from your child.

However, some landlords have been known to sneak in clauses which ensure general liability, so that if somebody other than your child fails to pay or leaves without paying off their contract, you can be taken to court for the payment.

As such, you should always carefully read the guarantor forms sent to you – it could save you a lot of money.

Take time to inspect the house and speak to the landlord

When your son or daughter moves in to their property, make sure you go along as they’re moving in. The excitement of getting in to their new place can often obscure some of the issues that a more experienced pair of eyes would notice instantly.

Damaged furniture, loose fittings and soiled carpets should all be noted down, as should any other issue with the property. From there, go speak to the landlord. It’s useful to put a face to the name and let them know of any issues that exist with the property. This will help safeguard your child’s deposit as well as help fight off any disagreements which might arise.

Make sure their bills are fair

Again, it’s not incredibly common, but given university will be the first time your kids have had to sign contracts and set up things like energy, heating, internet access and water there’s no shortage of companies looking to make a little extra out of the deal. Sometimes, it’s even their landlord.

So-called “all inclusive” deals package everything listed above and sometimes more, with TV licenses and other niceties thrown in for good measure. Typically, these are offered at a flat rate on top of their rental fee, and can sometimes be good value. Other times, they’re overly expensive for what they offer, which is a modicum of convenience at the start of their contract.

Go through your son or daughters’ contract and work out whether you’d be able to source these utilities cheaper yourselves, you could help them save a lot of money. From there, it’s just about making sure they pay them on time. 

There’s no point in dancing around the subject – sometimes, being a landlord is very difficult. For all of the noise we occasionally hear from tenants about us having the easy job, the reality of the fact is that being a landlord requires an awful lot of work.

That’s rarely truer than when you’re preparing a property to move tenants in. You’ve got a wide range of responsibilities to take care of before you open the doors of the property to your new tenants. In this guide, we’re going to share with you exactly what those are.

  • Make sure your property is safe – As a landlord you have a legal responsibility and duty to ensure that your tenants are safe in your property. Failing to do so can lead to large fines or even a spell in prison. Legislation demands that you install smoke alarms on every floor and a carbon monoxide detector fitted in every room with a solid-fuel burning appliance.
  • Provide your tenants with a valid Gas Safety certificate – Self-explanatory, but also a legal requirement.
  • Arrange an EPC – All landlords are no required to provide their tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate from the day they move in. You also need to get a new one every time a new tenant moves in, so no recycling old ones.
  • Carry out an Immigration Right to Rent check – From February 2016, the pre-tenancy process has incorporated the Right to Rent scheme, which means you have to check whether prospective tenants have the legal right to rent in the UK. Contact your local council for details on how to carry out these checks.
  • Reference your tenants – Tenant referencing, once a rarity, has become the norm and is an excellent way of minimising the risk of letting a property. A tenant reference usually includes all of their basic information as well as employment details, previous addresses, bank statements and references from their previous landlord.
  • Arrange a tenancy agreement – Utterly essential, you need to ensure that your tenants sign the tenancy agreement before they move into your property, as it gives them the legal right to live there. It also gives you the right to receive rent from them.
  • Get landlord insurance – If you don’t have it already, landlord insurance is a vital piece of the landlord puzzle. When it comes to renting property, something is always liable to go wrong, so when expensive fixes come up, you need good insurance to shield you from potential high costs.
  • Protect your tenants’ deposits – The law states that you have to put the deposit you receive from your tenant in a Government-backed tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days. There are currently three Government-approved schemes. They are the Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
  • Conduct an inventory – Go through your property and make a thorough inventory of everything inside it, as well as a log of any pre-existing issues. You can have an expert do this or you can carry it out yourself, but consult with your tenants and have them sign off on it to prove that what you say was there was, in fact, there.
  • Clean the property – Simple, but you’d be amazed how many landlords forget to do it. Cleaning your property gets you off on the right foot and makes your property that much more appealing.

 

If the stresses of being a landlord become too much and you decide to sell your property, you can do so for as little as £779 with Agent Online.

Celebrities! They’re just like us except, you know, fabulously wealthy and successful. Along with that aforementioned wealth comes some pretty special houses, typically tucked away in rural locations down extremely long driveways and with an intimidating looking gentlemen stationed at the end.

These homes are extremely aspirational for the majority of us, but that doesn’t stop us from looking, loving and fantasising. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to our favourite celebrity property from both the past and present. So, in no particular order….

  • Robbie Williams’ Kensington mansion

Robbie Williams maybe isn’t a man you associate with superb taste (as anyone who’s heard the lyrics to Rudebox will attest), but he’s certainly landed a beauty with his latest property – a £17m property in West London, purchased from the late Michael Winner in late 2013.

He’s only just moved in after extensive renovation works on the inside have finished, but his five floor red-brick mansion is certainly sometime to behold. The ground floor now reportedly features a pool, a gym and a cinema room, and the other 4 floors share an incredible 46 rooms. Neighbours like Jimmy Page have complained that the Grade I listed property could be damaged, but Robbie’s in now, and it looks like he’s back for good (sorry!).

  • Tulisa’s Hertfordshire estate

Talk about making hay whilst the sun is shining. Before Tulisa got herself into the trouble with the law and a certain fake sheikh, Tulisa invested in a gigantic property out in rural Hertfordshire. Completely refurbished the year before she moved in, the property cost in the region of £4.5 million, and features a remarkable marble entrance hall, stunning pool and exquisitely manicured gardens. It was back on the market just 11 months later.

  • The Beckham’s Gloucestershire country pile….

The Beckham’s like to think of themselves as near-royalty, so what better than to have a gigantic country palace as a home? Rumoured to have cost £27m, this mansion has 6 bedrooms, 6 reception rooms and 22 acres of stunning land surrounding it.

Unlike many celebrity homes, it’s not gaudy, and is absolutely incredible to look at.

  • … And their West London house

If you hadn’t worked it out, the Beckham’s are doing okay for cash at the moment, which is why they’ve splashed out on a £40m white property in West London. Two rooms were converted into shoe closets for Victoria’s collection and an underground tunnel was constructed to another property for staff to come in and out of. Remarkable.

  • Elton John’s former London penthouse

Ah, penthouse living – is there anything more aspirational? Well, Elton John certainly didn’t think so, which is why he used to live in a stunning London penthouse. Three bedrooms and an all-glass exterior offered stunning views over London, but with that luxury living comes a luxury price tag – valued at well over £6m in today’s quite unbelievable London property market. That’s a lot of 7” singles!

 

If you're thinking of selling your home and moving on to somewhere bigger and better, give us a call and find out how we can save you thousands!

Moving home is one of the most important decisions you can make in your day to day life. Where we live dictates so much of our life, so that ensuring we’ve picked the right place is crucial.

That decision becomes all the more vital when we’ve got a family to consider also. The welfare and happiness of our family (quite rightly) comes before anything else, so access to local parks, knowledge of the areas crime rates and the success of the local schools are absolutely essential.

We’re often asked by clients what they should know about an area before they move into it, so in this article we’re going to share with you our five must know things about a new area you must know.

  • Crime rates

It’s an obvious one but when it comes to your family, it’s important to know exactly how much crime and what types of crime happen in the area you intend to move to.

Recent years have seen huge advances in how easily this data is accessible, which means today you can visit a website like UK crime stats, plug in the postcode of the area you’re looking to buy in and see exactly what types of crimes happen, where they happen and when they happened.

That kind of data is invaluable, but do bother to dig down into the data – what can seem at first like a worryingly high crime rate might well come down to relatively minor occurrences like car accidents.

  • Traffic flow & local transport

Estate agents are quick to tell you how quiet the local roads are and how good the local public transport is, but if you’re really serious about investing in an area, it’s worth investigating these things for yourself.

Visit the area multiple times during traditionally busy hours or take a journey on the public transport and time how long it takes to get from your chosen area back down to the train station. You’ll be glad you did it.

  • Local school performance

Moving to a new area often means finding a new school for your kids, if you have some. That can be very disruptive for your children’s education as well as taking something of a personal toll on your kids as they leave their old friends behind.

Oftentimes though, it’s a simply unavoidable consequence of moving home, which is why making sure their next school is a fantastic one is important. Tools like Locrating allow you to search any area for local schools, letting you see their inspection rating, age range, catchment area and whether they’re an independent school.

  • Average house prices

Buying a house is expensive, but paying more than you absolutely have to is ill-advised at best. Take your time to find out the average house prices in your area by using a tool like that offered by the Land Registry or Zoopla. From there, use that information to inform you on your purchase. There are lots of variables that come in to play which makes a property more or less expensive, but having a general idea of what properties in the area command is essential.

  • How your family feel about it

Perhaps most importantly of all, you should talk with your family and see how they feel about a given area. Take them on a day trip to the nearest town and have a walk around the area you’ve been looking for properties. You learn so much more about an area by walking through it than you do by looking at statistics online.

Knowing how your family feel and what you sense about the area, you’re in a much better position to know whether an area is right for you and those you love.  

 

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