The VPR Blog

Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Property Investments

Sholebroke Place

This is the first in a series of articles on converting an inner-city terrace house into a socially and environmentally sustainable buy-to-let investment.  

The aim is to demonstrate that it’s possible to set up a lucrative small buy-to-let investment that has a positive impact on the tenants, the environment and the surrounding neighbourhood.  

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Do Dormers Have to Look Ugly?

Cladded Dormer Window

Adding a roof dormer to a town house is often the best way of increasing internal floor space without encroaching on the garden. This article deals with the way dormers look and the trade-off homeowners face between increasing floor space and conserving an aesthetically pleasing roofline. A second article will deal with the practicalities of dormer construction and design. 

Despite the lure of large attic rooms with full head height, many of us are put off dormers by their intrinsic ugliness. Our first childhood drawings include square houses with pitched roofs meeting at a neat apex. Adding a large square appendage to one side shatters symmetry and displeases the eye.

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Property Restoration and Wall Insulation

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Building Regulations

New build housing is subject to part L building regulations. This makes life easy as house builders know what level of insulation is expected and building control are there to make sure they comply.

Extensions and conversions are also subject to modified building regulations but building control cannot ask that thermal insulation in the pre-existing part of a house be improved. This can lead to one part of a house (sometimes even one part of a room) being well insulated while other parts are not. Yet, having invested money to insulate the new part you’d be well advised to try and improve the energy efficiency of the remainder.

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Best and Final Offers: A Flawed and Immoral Practice

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Estate agents increasingly call for best and final offers particularly on run down properties. The practice lacks transparency and is so open to manipulation that it should be illegal.

It’s a seller’s dream, several offers on the table and a perfect opportunity to play one off against the others. To fuel nervousness the agent is not revealing what offers they’ve received. Enquiries are met with a polite: “I’m sorry I can’t release that information”. Can’t release that information? Is there now a law in the UK against transparency in market transactions?

There is a law against giving information to one party and not to all and EAs are obliged to take instruction from the seller. However, the logical, transparent and morally coherent procedure is to publish offers openly on-line and ask for higher bids. The Property Ombudsman’s 2014 code of practice authorises this practice.

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