Zanussi turns up heat on new boiler installation. Is it a con?

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The salesman offered me a grant that I don’t think I’m eligible for

I’ve been offered a non-means-tested government grant towards a Zanussi gas boiler installation, but am worried it may be a new take on the double-glazing hard sell. Try as I might, I can’t find out whether it’s genuine or not.

It started with a cold call from what I understood to be the Energy Saving Trust, saying that if I had an old boiler I was entitled to a grant for a new one. Ten minutes later I got a call from Zanussi Boilers saying the grant was part of a government scheme to get all gas boilers energy efficient by 2020. It insisted I qualified even though I work and receive no benefits.

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Is it worth getting a garden office?

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It will cost about £25,000 but my wife thinks it’s a waste of space and money

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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New Thumbtack TV Spot: Meet Oleg

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Meet Oleg, a real Thumbtack customer. When it comes getting his hedges trimmed, carpets cleaned or tackling any of the hundreds of other projects on his list, Oleg turns to Thumbtack.

John Lewis rolls out scheme to take the hassle out of finding a tradesperson

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Pool of independent plumbers, electricians, decorators and gardeners, who passed a ‘rigorous’ process, have signed up to the Home Solutions service

Can they fix it? John Lewis reckons it knows someone who can. Middle England’s favourite retailer has signed up an army of plumbers, electricians, decorators and gardeners to offer a new home maintenance service launching next month.

The retailer, which has built up one of the most trusted brands in the UK partly thanks to its highly rated customer service and “never knowingly undersold” pledge, is now aiming to make employing a tradesperson a lot less hit and miss.

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Going up or digging deep, how to finance a home extension

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From loft conversions to basements, planning applications are rising as homeowners need more space but can’t afford to move

Growing numbers of homeowners are building upwards or digging down to create more space because they can’t afford to move to a bigger property. But what are the options for financing this work? Should you remortgage, ask to borrow more from your existing lender or take out a personal loan?

Research this week confirmed what many people in areas such as London will know already, as evidenced by the fleets of scaffolding lorries and skips converging on residential streets: there has been a dramatic rise in the number of loft conversions.

Related: What's the best way to release equity for home improvements?

There’s an argument for borrowing the money with rates at record lows,and hanging on to your savings

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Move over granny: the ‘graddy annexe’ is on the rise

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With graduates unable to afford their own home, more parents are building extensions to house their boomerang offspring

Granny flats are not what they used to be – today they are increasingly likely to be filled by a millennial desperate for their own space. With nearly half the graduates who paid full tuition fees in 2015 back living with their parents, plus all the other young adults unable to get a foot on the property ladder, there has been a boom in so-called “graddy annexes” to accommodate young people moving home.

According to reports, the number of homes with an annexe for family members has jumped by a third in the past two years – thanks to council tax breaks for those building to house relatives. Before April 2014, homeowners had to pay full council tax on annexes attached to a main household if they had fitted kitchens or bathrooms. But now there is a 50% discount on council tax bills if the occupier is a family member.

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Pro Advice: When to Repair or Replace Your General Appliances

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You use your appliances every day but don’t think about what you’ll do if they stop working. If they break down, do you shell out your hard-earned cash for a new unit or pay a pro to do a repair? A Thumbtack pro shares his expert advice on when to repair and when to replace when it comes to your general appliances.

Owners of ex-local authority homes face horror of bills running into thousands

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Leaseholders find themselves caught up in council drives to improve the condition of their housing stock, often at great cost

When Cat Whitehouse and her partner James Wooldridge bought their ex-local authority flat on the Roupell Park estate in Lambeth four years ago, they were told there were no major works planned on the block. Then lumps of concrete started to fall off it, prompting health and safety fears.

Lambeth council initially told leaseholders that repairs to the estate would cost £7m, and that the Whitehouse’s share would be £6,000. This soon more than doubled to £13,000 – a fee they scraped together by adding to their mortgage and plundering their savings. Now they have been billed another £5,000 – on top of the £170 service charge they pay every month.

Related: I’m trapped in my leasehold property by ever-doubling ground rent

Our share of the bill doubled from £6,000 to £13,000 … it seems ludicrous mismanagement

Related: Leasehold in England and Wales is last redoubt of a colonial relic

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The Hidden Costs of Home Ownership in 2017

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American homeowners can expect to spend between $7,000 and $16,000 a year in hidden or unexpected costs related to owning and maintaining a home. From unexpected maintenance expenses to property taxes, utilities and insurance, that’s an average of $9,080 per year in extra costs.  

Is it worth switching to LED lights and fittings?

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I’ve heard the claims but I’m not yet sold. Please convince me

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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