I was attending a volunteers’ catch up meeting yesterday where I act as a hall stewrard a lot. The Hall itself was built in the late 18th Century and is a direct replacement for the substantial looking tudor pile it replaced. As much as I love the Hall as it stands with secret passages and doorways hidden along the halls, i can’t help wishing the tudor one prevailed! There is only work being carried out below stairs currently – they have received a huge grant to help open this part up and it’s proving to be the most popular area. Lots of hands on project and dressing up in Footmens’ gear. There has been no prettification, instead the organisers preferring take the advice of the heritage lotter fund and only replace anything actually broken or decayed beyond reasonable point. This element of the house has proven so popular, it could sell tours just for that.
I know of two extensive properties that have a very pressing maintenance problem in each. One has masses of wood panelling throughout the ground floor rooms and presumably the upper storeys too. This is now causing the trust that owns it a tremendous problem because the delicate nature of the wood that’s left needs to be treated with a pretty aggressive wood worm killer. There is a definite aroma that comes with this kind of treatment too. I volunteer in one of these houses – taking a discrete seat in the corner of the room and jumping to life when any visitor needs further information on a particular area of the room or floor. Knowing how much effort the holding trust has to go to every year makes me doubly careful about looking out for dangerous issues in my own humbe abode. It will be so much easier for me to deal with too.
Now looking at the pic on this month’s blog, you can’t imagine anything remotely like property problems. A gorgeous chalet in the country – a modern day roses round the door kind of place. But on closer inspection there is what I know from experience, can be a major catastrophe looming for that particular house owner. The path is very narrow, very plain and when the snow and ice comes along – hmm quite an interesting selection of pitfalls present themselves to the hapless visitor. Falling visitors aside, that tree growing up the side of the house is of course a major defect. Root damage that will unsettle any foundations that may have been laid. The branches of the tree indicae great age – another problem with trees – falling over suddenly without warning when they reach life end. So even the most idyllic scene needs property maintenance teams on hand to do routine checking and fixing of any problem spotted.
We have had the most unbelievable weather this winter – some days we’ve experienced every conceivable condition, heavy rain showers giving way to hail then sleet and drifting snow, back to bright sunshine. We can’t instantly or individually affect the weather but we can protect our major asset in life – our property. One of the first things when taking out that desperately sought mortgage is book buildings and contents insurance – this is so important and can often be considered an unwarranted expense when cash is tight. But in the case of damage to houses, the insurance is essential if the bill is high. Keeping the house maintained is vital – gutters, soffits, fascias, aerials etc. must be affuxed to stop blowing down and damaging yours or the neighbour’s property. Ensuring damp proofing is adequate and effective, making sure windows are sealed in walls and pointing secure. A property agency is able to help regularly maintain property to eliminate this worry.
My word we’ve had some rum weather of late. The autumn was so mixed, weatherwise. The summer had been pretty hot in June, lots of very very hot days, then the second week of wimbledon fortnight turned very wet and windy and this remained for another week or so. The summer holiday period was scorching hot one day, torrential rain the next and with these downpours came tremendous winds. Autumn itself was very cold and wet and now we are awaiting for frost and snow to return for a second hit. This makes the knotty problem of home and house maintenance all the more critical. When the window cleaning comes to me, he does an annual check of the gutters, fascias and soffits so if there are any problems looming, I am forewarned. The same checks need to be done for roof tiles and chimney flashings. Suffering water ingress is one of my greatest fears!
I have recently had an invitation to visit a family member who has been slowly but very surely progressing with a very large extension on the side and above the garage of his house. I was shown the plans some five or six years ago and they were still fighting the day with the local planning officers – back and forth things seemed to go until at last the coveted permission arrived. No time wasted, the project was begun and I have been privileged to watch and wonder at the various stages. This week I was shown a very well advanced shell – plumbing for the ensuites, new bathroom and downstairs facilities needed before anything else can continue. This depends on the availability of the plumber who is so good, he’s constantly booked. Nice problem to have. This is one property that has had so mucy care and thought put into the work, the problems iron themselves out.
My niece has not long moved into her second house – the first being a rather swish three floor town house in the middle of a village expressly created by the developer. It was glorious whilst she was single and didn’t mind going up and down the several sets of windy metallic to her bedroom in the crowsnest. The stairs were a pain everytime she & hubby remembered something they need up there! So they moved to an older house slotted in on a brownfield site. Masses of problems not picked up during pre purchase – gutters, leaking garage roof, kitchen sink dramas. Shower cubicle that refuses to shut and showers that didn’t deliver much water . . . . Great disappointment all round. But a property problem company her dad knows came to the rescue and within 3 months has identified and rectified many of the underlying problems. Replacing their boiler was key to many. Ah give a round for the experts!
Now that winter is very fast approaching – although it is strictly only autumn, I do worry about the sheer amount of work that is needed to keep my house looking and feeling comfortable and warm. And safe. We’ve just been slightly battered by the tail end of a hurricane season that has hit the US and caribbean areas pretty bad this time. We of course don’t feel a great deal of it over here but occassionally one reaches its tentacles.
On a modern house, there are not as many issues. They’ve been built to withstand massive amounts of weather – much more than could ever be invesigaged in face. But smaller, older houses have far less protection. It can be worrying to hear thing that have grown wings suddenly flying about the garden. Gutters, fascia boards, soffits etc. A property maintenance and repair company is the best regular investment and can easily be achieved!
Oh for a property problem expert to come to my aid . . . One of the problems I’ve encountered that was not thought about when we bought this house 15 years ago was what would happen if the great big double garage door ever got stuck and couldn’t open . . . . . well I have had to sort this recently and in quite a hurry too. One of my family suddenly found themselves needing garage storage space and I could feel my ears burning as my name was obviously being discussed. Well, having sorted a seriously huge pile of junk for the tip and an equally impressive pile for the charity shops, I suddenly found the garage door jamming when only two inches into the up and over routine. This is when engaging a property problem agency would have solved all my problems. They sort all this kind of stuff – and so much more.
It is drizzling so horribly at the moment, it’s impossible to recall that we are actually in the middle of the English summer season. My phone tells me the outside temperature for the area and it is right down to near autumnal figures. The central heating timer is not a million miles away and it is so very tempting to get up and press the on button! Another things about lousy constantly pouring rain is the worry that something could be leaking on my loft.
When I have these moments of doubt at my peroperty owning capabilities, I am cheered by the thought that a phone call or click away is a raft of experts in the field of property maintenance, renovation, remodelling etc. Mostly the repair and maintenance side is my more urgent quest. Looking at sites not enough. Just checking out the reviews as far back as possible!