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30Apr

Life can move very quickly as years go by and families grow and change, and so it’s very easy to find yourself in a property which was perfect when you first purchased it, but which now doesn’t quite fit your living requirements.

It’s always the eternal question isn’t it… whether to move or improve, especially if you love where you live but you just want a bit more room.

So rather than uprooting you and the family for that extra bedroom or a bigger kitchen, the answer may be to extend your home. However, with any building projects, you should consider whether the work will add value to your home, or impact the value of your home and in a city like St Albans where space is at a premium, it’s always tricky trying to decide how to extend your home in order to have the space you need and add value to your property.

1.    Hire the Professionals

Involve an Architect and Builders from the get go as these professionals will be able to come up with inventive uses for the space and give you ideas that you may not have not previously considered. Get three different quotes before appointing an architect or building company. Ask for examples of work and to speak to former customers. An interior designer may also be able to give you some good ideas of how to maximise the potential of your space. 

 

2.    Add Creative Living Space at the back which brings the outside in

Anyone who watches Location, Location, Location will hear Kirsty and Phil talk a lot about “bringing the outside in”, meaning creating a space which offers a seamless transition from inside to outside, or which can be opened up to the elements when needed, and a great way to do this is through an extension to the back of the house into the garden. This extension could include bi-fold doors on one side, or even all around, which can be opened on Sunny Days for some al-fresco living, Sky Lights to create an extra airy, bright space or a space which can double as indoor or outdoor living space dependent on the weather! Extensions to the back of the house are a great way to extend a kitchen area or create a family or multi-purpose room and often make a very popular addition to any home.

 

3.    Extend Upwards or Downwards!

If extending outwards isn’t possible, then it may make more sense to extend above or below existing floor space, which could increase the size of your property by up to 50%!

Perhaps you want to create more bedrooms for family members, an office space for business or leisure, or even create a whole new self-contained apartment at the top of your property, all of these are possibilities with a loft space!

If going up above ground isn’t an option, then why not consider going underground and creating a basement or cellar room! Basement rooms are fantastic at absorbing noise, so they make a great option as a sound-proof room for budding musicians in the home, a family hang-out room for watching TV, Video Gaming, playing music or even a home gym!

 

4.    Utilise Garden Space

It’s helpful to consider how much land you have on your plot and whether you want to sacrifice Garden Space for living space, and if so how much you may decide that sacrificing six to twelve foot of garden space for a back extension is worth it, or you may decide that you value your outside space more. Also consider this in resale terms. Whilst you may love a shoebox garden with a large, imposing home in front of it, others may want a property which offers them better proportions of inside and outside space. Rather than extending for a bit more space onto the back of the house, adding a Garden Room or outside extension on another part of your land could be a good compromise, creating a separate useable space - perfect for a home office, sound-proof studio, or just somewhere to hide away for a little privacy in the busyness of life!

 

5.    Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild

If your property just really isn’t working for you and you want to create a home which is bespoke to your requirements, then you might decide to knock down your existing property and build a brand-new home from scratch on the land! This means that rather than moving to a new location, you can create a home that you love, in a location that you love too!

Do you have a more substantial piece of land? If you don’t mind forgoing some of your own existing space for a new property and new neighbours then it’s a great way to create an investment home to rent out or sell as an extra Income. You could even create a new living space for family members to live close-by!

If you need a trusted agency to help market a new property for you then of course, we are always happy to help!

In fact, we’re always happy to help try and answer property-related questions whether you are looking to move, or improve, so feel free to give us a call on 01727 221290 or pop into the office as we’d love to chat!

26Mar

At Aubrey and Finn, we love our pets, in fact if you pop into our office, you will often find our A&F resident mascot "Cricket" holding court, so we know what an important time moving home can be for your pets 

Moving home can be a stressful time for you, there’s so much to organise and get done, but knowing you are moving means that you can psychologically and emotionally prepare for the move. For pets, moving home can be equally stressful, and although you may be telling them what’s going on, they obviously won’t be in the know (as you are) that change is coming and when, so here are some tips on how to make moving home less stressful for your pets. 

Packing Boxes and Cases at the ready!

Some pets, dogs and cats especially, tend to get anxious and start to behave strangely at the first sign of a suitcase, especially if they know that this means that holidays or changes are coming, so in the weeks leading up to the move, leave the odd suitcase or packing box out in your home, so that your pet can get used to these items being around and they hopefully won’t feel as nervous around them when moving day arrives. 

Give your Pets a Moving Home Holiday

There will be enough going on during the move, without having to worry about your pets also, so if possible, why not send them off to have fun elsewhere. This will make life easier for you and hopefully also reduce their anxiety levels, especially if it’s somewhere familiar such as a friend’s house or the local Cattery or Kennels. You will also then have of the peace of mind of knowing they are being well looked after and safe. Let’s face it, the last thing you need on moving day, is your beloved pooch running around excitedly underneath your feet, or your pet cat or even worse your pet tarantula doing a disappearing act! 

Create a “Safe Zone” for your Pet

In your new home, create a safe space for your pet to acclimatise to their new surroundings, including somewhere where they can “hide” away if they need to. Find a part of the home where they can feel comfortable, or give them a cardboard box or their trusty bed. Then take their favourite blankets, toys or familiar items and place these in this area. Maybe also include a few treats for them to find too!

Keep Calm and Keep Routines

Changes around moving home are stressful enough, so it’s important to try and keep an animal’s normal routine in whatever location they may be in. Ensuring that they are eating and hydrating, going for walks, or having outside or cage-free time at a similar time each day can help your pet to feel reassured that their familiar routines are still in place despite their new surroundings.

Try to avoid any other large changes for your pet around moving day, including toilet or litter training, having your animal neutered, or any other big life changes. This may be easier said than done if the move involves a change in people living in the home, but hopefully by trying to avoid too many big upheavals at once, your much-loved family member will adjust to their new home more easily. 

Calming Measures

There are lots of products on the market which offer calming measures for your pet around stressful situations, including diffusers and sprays which mimic your pets’ natural chemicals and pheromones to help relieve stress and anxiety. Some owners may find these kinds of products are helpful for their pets and you could try these to help your pet to cope with any anxiousness towards their new environment. 

Get your Pets familiar with their new surroundings asap

Your four-legged friends may need time to get to know their new surroundings. Cats need to be kept inside for around two weeks after moving home. Dogs still need to get outside, but they need to get used to a new area. Ensure that garden and outside spaces are secure so that animals can’t wander off on their own in the early days. 

Taking your Dog for lots of walks around the local neighbourhood, or even your cat or bunny outside on a lead in the garden and beyond, in the early days, can help them to get to know their new surroundings, without getting confused and lost. Perhaps let them explore the garden first, before venturing further afield. 

For smaller furry friends, or reptiles, ensure that their new home is secure, properly set up and functioning effectively before placing your pet back into it, and give them time to adapt to their new surroundings. Making sure that they have opportunities for water and food at regular intervals can help with this.  

Find your local Pet Services

Spend some time researching the most convenient and best places to buy food and equipment for your pet in your new area, especially if you are moving a substantial distance. A pet’s health is very important to their owners, so finding a good vet in the local area should also be high up on your list of things to sort. Other services to look out for may include a local Cattery, Kennels, Pet Sitter, Dog Walker or Grooming Service. 

All they need is Love!

No doubt, it’s natural for your pet to feel a little anxious and unsure about their new unfamiliar surroundings when you move, so during this time, most importantly, they will need lots of reassurance from you. Giving them extra love, care and attention and being understanding if they resort to cheeky, attention seeking or anxious behaviours, will hopefully help them to feel that their new place feels like home in no time. 

At Aubrey and Finn, we’re always happy to help with any moving related questions, so please do pop into the office or pick up the phone and have a chat with us if you need any help with your next move. 

 

25Feb

In addition to finding a new home for sale or rent which has the space and amenities you are looking for and is within your price range, when moving home, there may also be other considerations to take into account Here are some questions to ask your Vendor, or Estate Agent and a few things to consider which can give you more information and help you be prepared for every eventuality before you move into your new property.

 

 

Who lives nearby?

Gone are the days when people knew everyone on their street, but your vendor should hopefully be able to tell you who lives in the homes close by to you. Is there a young family living there, or a couple on their own? Is the property a house share? Is there a dog living next door or any other pets? Having this information can help with getting to know your neighbours (or avoiding them), especially if you share a wall!

 

 

Wi-Fi

Given that Wi-Fi apparently now ranks highest in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, decent speed internet is often high up on the list of must-haves for a new home. Ask your vendor for info on their experience with broadband, or use a broadband checker tool to test the average speeds in the area. Similarly, do check whether you have good mobile coverage too.

 

 

School Catchment Areas

If you have children, or are planning on having them in the future, then of course your move may be motivated by school catchment areas. It’s helpful to find out whether your vendor knows if your property falls into school catchment areas over the last couple of years, although be aware that these can change year-on-year so don’t base it on previous catchment areas, especially if these are from many years ago.

 

You can also check this information for yourself, using a variety of different websites. Typically, your local council will be able to tell you whether your address falls into the catchment for the last few years, or you can ask each school directly for Catchment Area information.

 

Weather History

Ask your vendor about what the property is like at different times of year and whether the weather has affected the property before. For example, does the garden get the sun of a summer’s afternoon and makes a great spot for sunbathing? Has the property ever flooded before? Make sure you also ask about whether garages or sheds have been flooded due to bad weather too. Has the property ever been affected by high winds? What about snow? Are you likely to get snowed in or have trouble getting off your drive or down the road if it’s icy in winter? Are power cuts common during summer thunderstorms?

 

These may not necessarily be eventualities which would put you off buying or renting the property, but it’s always useful to know this information to help you to be prepared for life at different times of the year.

 

Amenities

Use a search engine to determine where the closest supermarkets to your new property are located and what their opening hours are. Also check which supermarkets will deliver to your new address and whether there are any smaller shops offering the security of an emergency pint of milk or loaf of bread.

 

Lifestyle

Have a think about what your hobbies are as your lifestyle may be linked to your house move.  For example, if you love walking then it may be helpful to have nice walks on your doorstep. If your hobbies are cycling, then check whether there is a cycle route near your home or somewhere that you can easily cycle to. Most importantly, will there be storage if your hobby involves equipment If your hobbies are further afield, then check that you can travel to where your hobbies are easily.

 

Transport Links

Think about how you travel around, and how easy it will be to get to the places you need to go from your prospective new home. Are you mainly a Car Driver? If so, how easy is it to travel to and from the places you go to every day? Are there nearby links to major roads and motorways if you need to be able to travel around the county easily?

 

Are you a commuter? If so, is it an easy walk, drive or ride to the Train Station? Do you use public transport and buses regularly? Is your home on a bus route? If public transport is important to you and it’s something that you’re going to be needing to use regularly, then it’s no good living in a place where there are no easy transport links.

 

Community

If community is important to you, then it can help to find out how community orientated your area is. Perhaps you’re really hoping to get involved with the local community and do some volunteering, or you are simply hoping there is lots going on and a good community feel to the area. Have a look and see whether your local area has a parish council or a local website as this will give you an indication of how community orientated the area is.

 

It may be that community life is centred around a place of worship, so if you attend church then it can be useful to know what local places of worship are around too.

 

Then of course there’s the local pub! The local pub is often the hub of many communities, and so again, if this is something which matters to you, then check out your prospective new local to help you make your decision.

 

Having information about these considerations can help you to make an informed decision on whether your new move is going to be right for you.

 

We’re always on-hand to answer any questions you may have about moving, so for info on the local area, or to book a property valuation, or enquire about homes for sale or rent, why not call us on 01727 221290 or pop into the office and see us!

 

 

01Feb

St Albans and the surrounding areas has always been prime commuter belt territory, with large swathes of residents commuting daily into London, and it seems that in recent years, the popularity of the local area with commuters shows no sign of change, as those looking to buy outside London but still be able to travel to work in the city have flocked to the local area for the advantages that living here offers. If you are new to the area and have been looking at homes with the intention of living somewhere within an easy walk to the station, it can be tricky to get to grips with the different parts of the city, so here is some info on the different areas of St Albans and their ease of commute into our capital city. 

St Albans City Station situated off Victoria Street, close to the Town Centre is served by Thames Link trains and transports commuters to St Pancras, Blackfriars and London Bridge in 21 minutes on the fast train, so properties located within a short walking distance of the station and the town centre are prime location for a quick journey between home and work.

These properties attract a more premium price for having the ease of the town centre and the station on your door step, plus a whole host of other amenities on tap.

Properties in the town centre include a large proportion of Apartments/Flats and also great swathes of terraced housing, so it’s a common trend for commuters to initially opt to rent or buy close to the town centre due to its convenience and then to move further out of town as their families grow and more space and the desire for a larger garden and better parking options sets in.

Speaking of parking, in a historic city, with many houses and streets built before the convenience of the motor car, parking can be a tricky issue for residents around the town centre, and it’s almost non-existent for commuters as St Albans District Council operates a “permit parking only” scheme in large swathes of the city, designed to deter those who want to park their car there all day for the station, rather than paying the prices of the Station Car Parks, so the town centre areas are great for walking to the station, but can be more tricky to make work if you have a more modest budget and a growing family and car parking to consider.

There are various “rent a car parking space” schemes where private individuals rent out a parking space on their drive or property close to the city station, and these are often a more cost-effective option than parking at the main city stations for commuters.

Areas around the town centre and station which fall into prime walking distance to the station include the St Peters area (roads around St Peters Street, Holywell Hill and Fishpool Street) which are all city centre based and the Clarence Park area which heads out towards Fleetville on the other side of the station. You can typically walk to the station in between 5-15 minutes from these areas. These areas pretty much all have parking permit restrictions in place, but with such great transport links to take you t ow here you want to go, you may decide that a car isn’t necessary for town centre living.

Move a few minutes further away and past Clarence Park you’ll find the Fleetville and Camp Road areas, still within about a 20-minute walking distance and popular with young families thanks to their (slightly) more reasonably priced housing, access to local shops and school catchment areas. There is lots going on in these areas for young families, plus you’ve got the convenience of Clarence Park and some green space also within walking distance. These areas comprise of terrace housing with permit parking and also some newer builds with their own driveways towards the outskirts, where parking restrictions may not be in place. 

Further out a little more next door to the Camp and Fleetville is the popular Highfield Park estate. Built on the site of an old hospital around two miles from the city centre, Highfield park epitomises suburbia, with its family friendly homes and streets built in the 1990’s. Walking distances to the train station from here are around 30 minutes, so it may be wise to invest in a bike if you are commuting from here. Similarly, Marshalswick also neighbours Highfield in this area on the other side of Hatfield Road and is a similar walking distance to the station. Marshalwick is a more diverse property area with its own “quadrant” shopping centre and ferocious school catchment areas which change year-on-year. 

Going out past the town centre towards Verulamium park and neighbouring the Abbey Cathedral are the quaint more “exclusive” areas of St Michael’s and the conservations area. Think Olde Worlde Tudor England charm fused with the modern day and throw a myriad of pubs in for good measure and this is what you will find in this area. Although a slightly longer walk to the station (around 30 minutes), you are paying premium to live within the earshot of the bells of the Abbey and throwing distance of Verulamium park.

We then move to areas outside of the town centre including Jersey Farm a newer “estate” development to the North-East of the town and Sandridge, once a village in its own right and now an extension of St Albans. Move to the East of the town adjoining St Michaels and you’ve got Batchwood, Townsend New Greens and Bernards Heath areas, all not really walkable to the station, but offering more modern living and more space. Cycling to the station would be doable from these areas within 15-20 minutes.

Go over to the East of the city towards Radlett and Hatfield and we then come across Smallford, Colney Heath and London Colney all previously small communities which have morphed into greater St Albans. These areas host a vast difference in properties and at three-four miles away, all of these locations would most likely require a drive to the station.

Heading to the South of the City and we then come to the area of the city served by the “other” train station – the Abbey Flyer. The St Julians/Cottonmill and Sopwell area of St Albans lies within walking distance of the Abbey Flyer line, as do the St Stephens and Chiswell Green areas. All of these areas are walkable for the Abbey Flyer, but would require transport for St Albans City. The Abbey Flyer Line boasts transport links to London via Watford Junction Train Station where commuters can change for travel to London Euston Station and the gateway to the London Underground. 

Staying to the south of the city and going out to St Albans peripheries the St Stephens areas of Bricket Wood, Park Street and How Wood are all further out of town so expect more for your money and better transport links via the M25/M1 junctions at Chiswell Green, but also all three areas boast their own train stations which are on the Abbey Flyer Line going into St Albans Abbey Station and out to Watford Junction Station on the other side. Although a longer commute than from the City Station area, these areas offer the best of both worlds and offer a more “village” feel to those who still want London within easy reach.

Speaking of Villages, the St Albans district boasts some great villages and so for those looking for a taste of rural living, the villages of the district and postcode boundaries include Redbourn, Wheathampstead, Flamstead and Markyate are in truth closer to Harpenden, (the next stop up on the Thames Link further away from London). Those living on the “Harpenden side” of St Albans may choose to travel to Harpenden station, although expect the journey to take longer (26 minutes) and not a many fast trains travel direct to Harpenden as St Albans.

Those living in Redbourn, Flamstead and Markyate are spoilt for choice for transport options, although all links to London will involve driving or getting a bus to a train station. These villages are an easy drive to Luton Station on the Thameslink (where you’ll allegedly always get a seat) or you could drive to nearby Hemel Hempstead and get the line directly to London Euston.

So, for those moving out of London initially who may want to stay close by to the City Station then this option represents city working without the London life. For those wanting to move to a bigger home or more rural area, moving further out with the prospect of driving into the station, or traveling to another station may be a good option.

We are always happy to advise on the best areas of St Albans and the surrounding areas to suit your individual lifestyle and needs, so feel free to give us a call on 01727 221 290 or pop into the office and have a chat with us for more information on the best areas of the city to suit you.