Fires, Flues & Chimneys: What Can Go Wrong?

Learn the questions you need to ask to ensure a successful installation, with surveyor Andy Butchers’ insider advice.

fire

Whether your taste is for a cosy inglenook with an open fire or an eye-catching modern stove, the right solid fuel heater can add style and panache not just to the room it’s in, but to the entire house. For many self builders and renovators, however, it’s not simply about aesthetics. Combined with other technologies, these can be genuine heat sources that form an important part of the overall energy performance strategy for your home.

The basics

As with most elements of a major project, it’s crucial you do your research before finalising the spec. What sort of fire do you want, and will it be used as a primary or secondary heat source? Do you want a formal fireplace and chimney or just a flue, and does the type of structure you’re proposing cater for the installation requirements? Check back with your local authority, too, as some restrict the use of open fires and the fuel types you can burn.

An important step is to hire a suitably-qualified installer – look for HETAS or OFTEC registration for solid fuel appliances, and Gas Safe for gas. They’ll advise on specifications and, on completion of the installation, will provide a certificate to show that it complies with Building Regulations.

A certification plate is often fixed to the flue to verify testing has been undertaken. A warranty provider won’t usually cover these appliances unless there’s a suitable certificate in place.

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Push-Fit Plumbing: What Can Go Wrong?

Andy Butchers shares his insider tips to help troubleshoot this part of your project.

Plumbing

Push- or quick-fit plastic plumbing has been around for some time, and has gradually taken a sizeable share of the water supply materials market – both in the self build and renovation sector, and for commercial developments. Despite some initial teething problems, the technology has come on immensely, and many die-hard traditional plumbers have now moved across to this system.

The benefits

A key advantage of push-fit is that it allows for much quicker installation than traditional connections. That’s because it’s easier to cut, more flexible when it comes to threading through the building structure and – of course – the joints are much faster to make.

Typically, the push-fit connectors feature an ‘O’-ring seal and metal-toothed grab ring to secure the pipe and form a watertight seal. The system is interchangeable between plastic and copper. This flexibility means it can be used in refurbishments, as well as for temporary connections.

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How to Get Planning Permission First Time

Getting planning consent for the perfect scheme can be a major stumbling block on the road to a successful project. Mike Dade shares the secrets that will give you the best possible chance of winning approval.

Most self-builders and renovators, having secured a plot or building to convert or refurbish, want to get on with the build as quickly as possible. With planning applications taking at least two months from submission to decision, nobody wants to go through the process more than once if they can avoid it.

So, what are the causes of delays and refusals in the planning process – and what steps can you take to avoid them and give yourself the best possible chance of securing consent at the first attempt?

Common sticking points

The most frequent causes of delays and refusals can be grouped into three broad categories: content and presentation of the application; conflicts with policy and planning officers’ opinions; and political issues. Many applications are delayed on submission because the council won’t validate and register them.

Forms, plans, accompanying reports and information and the necessary fee must all be correctly presented. The eight-week period for determining the application won’t start until the council is satisfied that everything is present and correct.

Once underway, any conflicts with local or national planning policy (or the planning officer’s interpretation of those policies) can result in rejection – or at least a request for you to make amendments, which will have obvious ramifications for your schedule.

Finally, where the project is locally contentious, applications can sometimes be rejected at committee, even if you have the support of your council’s planning officer.Working with a specialist design and build company, such as Potton, can take some of the hassle out of the planning process. The company’s expert team came up with a sensitive plan to knock down the Kings’ existing 100m2 bungalow and replace it with a new, eco-friendly dwelling that was twice the size. Planning was quickly granted without a hitch.

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Could Brexit affect Structural Warranties in the UK & Eire?

Brexit & Structural Warranties: Build-Zone has become a major force in the provision of Structural Warranties having started in 2003. Build-Zone were one of the first providers to achieve Designated Warranty Provider status by the Department of Communities and Local Government.

Strucural Warranty Self-Build

Build-Zone uses an in-house Technical Services Company – Build Zone Survey Services Ltd (BZSS), which operates separately under different management and can provide or arrange Building Control and other Technical Inspections using rigorously checked and audited construction professionals and “Approved Inspectors”, all of whom have to agree to specific Consultancy Agreements.

So what about BREXIT? Are there other things that you need to consider?

So far as Passported Insurers operating and accepting risks in the UK are concerned – Brexit will not make much difference, certainly initially, for example those Insurers based in places such as Gibraltar wanting to do business in the UK.

However, with regards to covering risks based within the EU then they will have to qualify and be compliant with Solvency II.

What is ‘Solvency II’ and what does it mean for Policyholders?

New rules which came into force in 2016 hopefully ensure a uniform and enhanced level of policyholder protection across the EU.

The new framework – like the current rules – applies to the majority of EU Insurers and Reinsurers.

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A new company is created to oversee the UK’s largest self-build housing project.

A new company is to be created to oversee a self-build development of 1,900 homes

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The Graven Hill Village Holding Company will be responsible for providing housing at the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) site, near Bicester.

The company will be owned by Cherwell District Council and its subsidiary, the Graven Hill Village Development Company.

The council will be allowed to lawfully carry out commercial trading activity via them whilst retaining control of the site instead of selling it to a private developer.

The 187 hectare site will provides enough space for 1,900 self build homes, creating up to 2,000 new jobs and apprenticeships, a primary school, pub/restaurant and local shops.

Contracts exchanged with the MoD have allowed for the council to purchase the site which following completion, will be transferred to the development company.

Cherwell District Council leader, Barry Wood, said:

“Under the Localism Act 2011, local authorities can only carry out commercial trading activity through a company.

“As such, we had to consider numerous options including selling to a private developer, appointing a partner or forming our own company.

“After putting together an extensive business case, councillors have agreed the latter is the best option to ensure our vision is achieved.

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