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

on .

I don’t have a mortgage and need some cash for new windows and doors

Q I would like to know more about equity release. I am a homeowner with no mortgage on my house. I cleared my mortgage back in 2013 when my endowment policy reached maturity.

I would like to make some changes to my home, including installing PVC windows and external doors, as well as having a bit of landscaping done. I am approaching my 64th birthday and live alone, and hope to release some of the equity in my home. Can you please point me in the right direction? BT

Continue reading...

Recipes: Your New Favorite Summer Drinks

on .

There’s just something about long days and warm weather that calls for refreshing drinks to be sipped and enjoyed on your front porch or back patio. Whether it’s a boozy concoction or a tasty mocktail,

Read more

Super Genius Spring Cleaning Hacks

on .

After a long winter, spring cleaning chores go way beyond the day-to-day, as we vacuum away dust bunnies and take down window treatments for their annual washing. And while much of spring cleaning can be sloggy and labor-intensive,

Read more

A mountain to climb to get Everest to resolve our window issue

on .

Our latest double-glazed windows don’t match the previous ones it installed and I can’t seem to get the problem rectified

Before Christmas my wife and I ordered double-glazed windows and bifold doors from Everest. This followed a previous order of windows for half of the house fitted last July.

When the new order came in early March, it became clear that the windows did not match the ones supplied nine months ago and the bifold doors did not fit.

Continue reading...

Homes: how a rodent infestation turned out to be a blessing in disguise

on .

Rats under the floorboards are every home owners’ worst nightmare, but not for Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman had a rodent problem: rats run wild in her north-west London neighbourhood; she once came across one tucking into the cheese and crackers she’d left out for lunch. The only solution, she was told, was to rip up the floorboards and fill the recess below with concrete. “We were quoted £10,000, so we thought we may as well spend a bit more and reconfigure the entire downstairs, which was dark and damp,” says Kinsman, founding editor of boutique hotel specialists Mr & Mrs Smith.

She approached an enthusiastic local studio, Rise Design, which did the lot: created a bright kitchen/dining room overlooking the garden; a book-lined, black-painted TV snug; a downstairs loo and shower room; and a revamped hall and front room. “Once we’d factored in fixtures and fittings, we ended up paying well over £100,000,” Kinsman says. “We’ve remortgaged up to our eyeballs, but it’s been worth it. We essentially have a new house.”

Continue reading...

Bathstore accused of using cowboy fitters who damaged properties

on .

Dream bathrooms turned into nightmares for two customers who say they were forced to sign off on shoddy work

Two women who each paid Bathstore £5,000 to install new bathrooms in their homes have claimed the retailer used cowboy builders who caused leaks and damage to their homes – and then tried to intimidate them into signing off their shoddy work.

Nicola Milburn from Gravesend in Kent said sales staff had promised that it would take five days to install her dream bathroom, but instead it turned into a nightmare of leaking toilets, botched pipework and failed promises. Milburn, who works in property management, said having the work done was “the worst experience of my life”.

Continue reading...

I returned a bathroom sink to Aqva but it claims it arrived damaged

on .

It delivered the wrong colour unit so I sent it back at my expense. Now it won’t refund my £600

I bought a £600 bathroom sink unit from aqva.co.uk. The wrong colour item was delivered so I returned it at my expense.

Aqva emailed to advise that it would not offer a refund as the product was damaged, but I have photos showing that it was in good condition when I returned it and the courier company has confirmed in writing to me that the retailer signed that it had been received in good condition.

Continue reading...

Kiev pensioner turns scruffy stairwell into a gilded palace

on .

Vladimir Chaika has spent years installing ornamental plaster mouldings and art reproductions in a Soviet-era block of flats

From the outside, number 11A is a drab block of flats like any other in Troyeshina, a scruffy Kiev suburb of identikit Soviet-era housing. The entrance door is daubed with graffiti, the ground floor hallway dingy and depressing.

But exit the lift between floors six and eight, however, and the contrast with the grey, snowy winter outside could not be greater. The stairwell has been plastered, gilded and ornamented so it resembles a Tsarist palace more than a Khrushchev-era block of flats. Set in gilded frames, reproductions of the Mona Lisa and other well-known portraits stare out. Cherubs and ornamental flowers adorn the ceiling; set amid the swirling plaster are colourful vistas of desert islands fringed with palm trees.

Continue reading...

Consumers caught out as UK firms furnished with crippling copyright laws

on .

The replica designer furniture market has become a huge industry, but a rushed change to the law has plunged it into chaos

The website of Voga, Britain’s foremost replica furniture importer, boasts that the firm “was created to make great design accessible to all”, before adding: “The greatest mid-century furniture designs are back where they belong: in your homes.”

Except they’re not. They are in fact in a warehouse in County Kildare where, unless the UK customers who ordered them travel to Ireland to collect them, or pay a third-party delivery firm to do so, they will be resold or destroyed.

We don’t know which orders to stop since there is no list of which designs qualify for copyright

Continue reading...

Useful alternatives to the man drawer | Letters

on .

Man drawers | The year of the unexpected | Ominous prophecy | Orgreave | I, Daniel Blake | Warming signs

I agree with Tim Dowling (Can you do these 10 annual jobs in just one day? G2, 1 November) about the naming of the “man drawer”, an essential part of any household with or without a man, and previously known by me as “that drawer in the kitchen”, a name which everyone recognised. However, the contents of mine are now dispersed in a pocketed device hanging on my utility room door, admired by passing tradespeople as a good solution, and making it easy to find anything.
Penelope Stanford
Longfield, Kent

• As 2016 is clearly becoming the year of the unexpected – Leicester City, Brexit, Boris as foreign secretary and in all likelihood, President Trump – I’m sticking a tenner on Ed Balls to dance his way to victory. Stranger things have happened.
Ian Grieve
Steyning, West Sussex

Continue reading...