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How to winter-proof your home and avoid a huge bill!

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As the nights start getting colder, having a warm and functioning home becomes even more important.

The tradespeople comparison website for finding affordable tradespeople, HaMuch.com, has put together some advice on some of the key steps you can take to winter-proof your property, and save money in the process.

Servicing your boiler

Your boiler is your friend during winter, so top on your list should be giving it a service, which costs between £50-£100. If you need to carry out maintenance or repairs you’re looking at £80-£200.  

Meanwhile a power flush, where you remove rust and debris to clean your boiler, costs between £200-£400.

These measures are cheap as chips compared to replacing a boiler or a major part of it. In such a circumstance you could be looking at a bill of £1750-£3000.

That would put you off your Christmas pudding.

Check the roof

It’s also important to ensure your roof is in good shape before the cold comes in. You want to check for cracked or missing tiles, as well as other parts of the roof like the facia or soffit for damage.

Paying a professional to inspect the roof for you would cost £100-£200, while a minor roof tile replacement would only cost £50-£100. 

The worst-case scenario is cracked or missing tiles letting rain into the roof, causing damp and rot.

If that happened, you could be looking at anything from £50-£100 for a minor roof repair to £4,000 to replace the whole roof.

Clear gutters and drains 

Things like leaves and plants can clog gutters and drains and then lead to water damage, so a clear out before winter can be vital. Clearing debris costs an estimated £5 per metre. 

If you let it build up the blockage could lead to water damage and damp. 

In terms of replacements, in that situation, you’d be looking at £30 per metre for gutters or £25 per metre for downpipes.

The combination of repairs could amount to £200 upwards. 

Inspect and insulate water pipes

It’s worth ensuring downpipes are not cracked or split, while you could insulate pipes to stop them from freezing, getting blocked, or busting. Adding insulation by fitting pipe jackets would cost you £50 and up.

If they ended up freezing or cracking you’d suffer leakage and water damage.

To install new pipes you’d be looking at least £200 while redecorating due to the water damage could cost you between £375-£500.

Check windows and doors

It costs around £150 for a general inspection of your windows and doors. You’re checking whether they are in disrepair, while woodwork outside should also be checked to ensure there’s no rot or damage.

If you run into a problem over winter you’d need to replace damaged or unsealed windows.

Paying for a double-glazing replacement would amount to £300 (for a 1xm1m window).

Review insulation

It’s worth checking your insulation, as the loft can lose a quarter of the property’s heat if the roof is not properly insulated.

Other forms of insulation to look at include cavity wall insulation, as well as the insulation of water tanks and pipes.

For a blanket insulation replacement, you’d be looking at just £80, which could save you money in the long run. Indeed, it could save you £250 a year if you improve the energy efficiency of your home.


Installing a full loft insulation costs between £275-£500.

Radiator checks

It’s worth checking your radiators are working, while it costs just £80 to have a plumber bleed (remove excess air from the pipes) 5-10 radiators. 

This could increase the efficiency of the radiator and remove the need for a replacement. Buying a new radiator costs around £180-£200.

The chimney

It’s worth cleaning out any obstructions or blockages with your chimney if you have a fireplace, which costs £50-£90.

Leaving it alone risks chimney fires, which can be costly and dangerous.

Owing to the varying severity of a fire it’s hard to put a figure on how much it would cost you – though it’s clearly an issue you’d want to avoid.

“Prevention is so much better than a cure,” says Tarquin Purdie, Founder of HaMuch.com.

“At this time of year it’s wise to think about mitigating the things that so often go wrong as boilers are cranked up again, fireplaces stoked, and bare pipes exposed to the rigours of winter’s elements. Our suggested measures are sensible precautions that householders can carry out for themselves in most instances, although you may be surprised how little a professional might charge you to carry out the checks quickly and properly. Either way, it will certainly be at a lower cost than waiting for a leaking tile or burst pipe to ruin your week and your bank balance”. 

Property

Cost of maintaining a buy-to-let hits £12k a year in parts of the UK

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Leading property management platform, Howsy, has looked at the cost of maintaining a buy-to-let property each year and how this varies across the UK.  

Buy-to-let can be a tricky business if you don’t tackle it properly and there are a whole host of costs that can trip up the amateur investor. From the more obvious additional three percent stamp duty tax, to various other tax implications, void periods, mortgage costs, agency fees, the cost of finding a tenant, and more, Howsy’s previous research shows the average buy-to-let brings an annual return of just £2,000.

With the Government’s continued attack on UK landlords, making the most out of your investment financially can be tough and even when you consider all financial commitments for a property, many can still be caught unaware by out of the blue maintenance and repair costs. 

Buy-to-let landlords should squirrel away savings in anticipation of these events and an industry rule of thumb is an annual budget equivalent to 1% of your property’s value. 

So what does that equate to?  

Across the UK landlords should be tucking away an annual budget of £2,344 to cover repairs and maintenance, with this rising to £4,746 in London, with the North East home to the lowest repair costs at just £1,328. 

Of course, markets with higher rent returns may seem promising from an investment standpoint but the higher the reward, the higher the cost when things do go wrong. In Kensington and Chelsea, this annual 1% saving climbs to an eye-watering £12,292, hitting nearly £9,000 in both the Cities of London and Westminster.  

Outside of London, South Bucks and Elmbridge are home to the most expensive buy-to-let maintenance costs at £6,091 and £6,019 respectively.

Head to the likes of Burnley or Blaenau Gwent however, and this yearly maintenance budget drops to less than £1,000 a year.

Founder and CEO of Howsy, Calum Brannan, commented: 

“The buy-to-let sector can be a minefield for the amateur investor and now more than ever, it’s imperative that you do everything you can to maximise the return on your investment.

While technology now allows a greater level of control and service when managing your investment at a lower cost via online platforms, it isn’t just about the financial side of things. Providing a fit for purpose property is not only a legal requirement but essential to ensure a happy tenancy and a reduction in void periods.

Of course, things can go wrong and having the budget available to fix them is a must. In the worst-case scenarios, a cash pot equal to one percent of your property’s value might not be sufficient, but it should cover you for most eventualities and is a good benchmark to start on.

As with all buy-to-let investments, good preparation, organisation, and education are key, and whether you go it alone or have a great management agent if you stay on top of things, a bricks and mortar investment is still one of the best you can make.” 

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