Category Archives: Useful Information

Rogue Traders

Every year in the UK an estimated 89,000 householders are fleeced by rogue door-to-door home maintenance traders masquerading as professionals, selling anything from roofing repairs, guttering and gardening services to path and driveway work. These rogue traders frighten their potential targets by suggesting that their homes have loose tiles, problems with pointing, damp or guttering, or that their driveway is in need of repair.

They lie and cheat to extort money in return for little or no work at all and in 2008 it is estimated that they stole £170million from unsuspecting homeowners across the UK. The evidence shows that incidents of this nature are far more prevalent during the summer months.

How to spot and avoid rogue traders

How to spot a rogue trader

Cold callers may use lines like these to frighten homeowners into doing business with them:

You have loose tiles on your roof
Your roof has been leaking
I see cracked brickwork on your house
You need to have some pointing on your chimney
You need some work doing on your driveway
I’m doing some work in your area and have materials left over which we need to use it up
I’m doing free property surveys to check if you have rising damp
Your brickwork is acting like a sponge soaking up the rainwater
How do I get rid of these rogues?

Do not engage in conversation with them
Saying you do not buy good and services at the door
Saying you need to compare prices
Saying you need to discuss it with your, son, daughter or friend.
Saying you have already engaged a company.

Carbon Monoxide – The Silent Killer

How Safe is Your Family?

Carbon Monoxide  The consequences of a carbon monoxide or gas leak at home can be disastrous. Every year there are deaths and injuries in houses all over the World that could have been avoided with the installation of easy to use and cost effective gas detection equipment.

What is CO?

Carbon monoxide (CO), commonly termed “The Silent Killer” is a highly poisonous gas produced by any fossil fuel burning appliance (eg, gas, coal, diesel, oil, wood…etc) and has no smell, taste or colour.

Where does it come from?    It can leak from flues and cooking & heating appliances when they have been poorly maintained or simply break down.

Inadequate ventilation or blocked flues are frequently to blame but even adverse weather conditions have been the reason behind leaks that proved fatal. Leaks can be caused by many potential sources and are not always directly related to an appliance malfunction.

Modern housing insulation techniques, such as double-glazed windows, can exaggerate a problem by effectively creating an airtight environment.

What does it do?

When we breathe in air, vital oxygen is absorbed by the blood and transported around our body. Blood contains a special substance called “haemoglobin” which is used to carry the oxygen.

Unfortunately, haemoglobin will carry carbon monoxide in preference to oxygen. When we breathe in air containing carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen and in effect, we suffocate from the inside.

It can kill quickly when it leaks in large quantities or can build up over a period of time, initially causing symptoms such as headaches, nausea and dizziness.

These are often incorrectly diagnosed by the medical profession, as flu. Ultimately, if the brain does not get sufficient oxygen, carbon monoxide will cause death.

If you would like any appliance checked? Call us on the number below, or click on the contact link, we will then arrange  to have one of our plumbers  visit to carry out the necessary tests.

Safety Detectors

We supply, and install a range of CO, and Gas detectors. These units are inexpensive and may save your life.

Even if appliances are correctly installed and serviced regularly problems can occur (faults occurring in between service dates, adverse weather, etc). Where the safety of your family is concerned, it always makes sense to use gas detection devices to give you added piece of mind.

Dangerous gases can also seep into properties through shared flues and chimneys and people can be at risk from gases produced in neighbouring properties. Integral garages may also be a risk if an appliance is running without adequate ventilation.

If you would like to have installed a Safety Detector Device, call us on the number below, or click on the contact link. We will then arrange to visit to carry out the necessary works.

Gas Safety Checks and Certificate    Landlords are legally responsible for making sure that their gas appliances, gas piping and flues in their properties are well maintained and safe. A Gas Safety Check should be carried out every 12 months by a gas engineer, who is registered with Gas Safe. It is up to the landlord to arrange and pay for these checks.

The gas engineer will provide a record of each gas safety check. The landlord must keep these records for at least two years, and they should make sure you have a copy, as the Landlord. The report must include the following information:

the date of the inspection
the address of the property
the name and address of the landlord or their agent
a description of each appliance or flue checked, including where it is
anything which the installer finds wrong with the appliance or flue
anything they have done to put any problems right
The report must be signed by the person who carried out the check to confirm that it has been done properly. They must include their name, and their official registration number. This report is often known as the Gas Safety Certificate.

If you would like any appliance checked? Call us on the number below, or click on the contact link, we will then arrange to have one of our engineers visit to carry out the necessary tests.


Call us on 020 886 6591



Building Regulations

What are the Building Regulations?

The Building Regulations apply to building work in England & Wales and set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

Do I need Building Regulations Approval?     If you are planning to carry out ‘Building Work’ as defined in Regulation 3 of the Building Regulations, then it must comply with the Building Regulations. This normally means seeking approval of the work from a Building Control Body.

The following types of project amount to ‘Building Work’:

The erection or extension of a building
An alteration project involving work which will temporarily or permanently affect the ongoing compliance of the    building, service or fitting with the requirements relating to structure, fire, or access to and use of buildings
When installing replacement windows using a builder or window company not registered with the relevant Competent Person Schemes
The installation or extension of a service or fitting which is controlled under the regulations
The insertion of insulation into a cavity wall
The underpinning of the foundations of a building
When you want to change the building’s fundamental use
If your building work consists only of the installation of certain types of services or fittings (e.g. electrical installations in dwellings, heating, hot water, air-conditioning and ventilation, replacement windows, WCs, and showers) and you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Person Schemes as designated in the Building Regulations, that installer will be able to self-certify the work. Therefore, you will not need to involve a Building Control Service. However, this concession is strictly limited to the specific type of installations and does not cover any other type of building work.

The works themselves must meet the current relevant technical requirements in the Building Regulations and they must not make other fabric, services and fittings less compliant than they were before – or dangerous. For example, the provision of replacement double-glazing must not make compliance worse in relation to means of escape, air supply for combustion appliances and their flues and ventilation for health.

They may also apply to certain changes of use of an existing building. This is because the change of use may result in the building as a whole no longer complying with the requirements which will apply to its new type of use, and so having to be up-graded to meet additional requirements specified in the regulations for which building work may also be required.

Where to get Building Regulations approval

To help you achieve compliance with the regulations, you are required to use one of two types of Building Control Service:

your local authority Building Control Service; or
an approved inspector’s Building Control Service
Failure to comply with the Building Regulations

If you do not follow the building control procedures set out for handling your building work or you carry out building work which does not comply with the requirements contained in the Building Regulations you will have contravened them.

Enforcement Notices & Fines  The local authority has a general duty to enforce the Building Regulations in its area and will seek to do so by informal means wherever possible.

Where an approved inspector is providing the Building Control Service, the responsibility for checking that the Building Regulations are complied with during the course of your building work will lie with that inspector. They will usually do this by advising you. However, approved inspectors do not have enforcement powers. Instead, the regulations provide that in a situation where they consider your building work does not comply with the Building Regulations they will not issue you with a final certificate and in addition will cancel the initial notice by notifying your local authority. If no other approved inspector takes on the work, the Building Control Service will automatically be taken on by your local authority. From this point on your local authority will also have enforcement powers to require you to alter your work, if they consider this necessary.

If a person carrying out building work contravenes the Building Regulations, the local authority or another person may decide to take them to the magistrates’ court where they could be fined up to £5000 for the contravention, and up to £50 for each day the contravention continues after conviction (section 35 of the Building Act 1984). This action will usually be taken against the builder or main contractor, and proceedings must be taken within two years from the completion of the work. Alternatively, or in addition, the local authority may serve an enforcement notice on the owner requiring them to alter or remove work which contravenes the regulations (section 36 of the 1984 Act). If the owner does not comply with the notice the local authority has the power to undertake the work itself and recover the costs of doing so from the owner.

A section 36 enforcement notice cannot be served on you after the expiration of 12 months from the date of completion of the building work, but this does not affect a local authority’s (or any other person’s) right to apply to the Courts for an injunction for the same purpose. A local authority also cannot take enforcement action under section 36 if the work which you have carried out is in accordance with your plans which the authority approved or failed to reject within the statutory time of five weeks (or two months with your agreement) from deposit of the plans.

Impact on Selling the Property   Notwithstanding the possibility of enforcement action, you should bear in mind that if the local authority considers that building work carried out does not comply with the Building Regulations and it is not rectified, the authority will not issue you with a completion certificate and the contravention may come to light through a local land search enquiry when you wish to sell your property.

Is Building Regulations approval the same as planning permission?

Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work. Similarly, receiving any planning permission which your work may require is not the same as taking action to ensure that it complies with the Building Regulations.

Call Us On +44 20 8886 6591

Planning Permission

Your responsibilities:

Planning Permission, in simple terms, is like asking if you can do a certain piece of building work. It will be granted (possibly subject to certain conditions) or refused.

Certain types of work are covered by ‘permitted development’. This means that they can be carried out without planning permission, so long as they comply with the permitted development rules and restrictions.

Parliament has given the main responsibility for planning to local planning authorities (usually, this is the planning department of your local council). Therefore, if you have any queries about a particular case, the first thing to do is to contact your local planning authority.

It is your responsibility for seeking, or not seeking, planning permission. If required, planning permission should be granted before any work begins.

Lawful Development Certificates    If you want to be certain that the existing use of a building is lawful for planning purposes or that your proposal does not require planning permission you can apply for a “Lawful Development Certificate” (LDC).

It is not compulsory to have an LDC but there may be times when you need one to confirm that the use, operation or activity named in it is lawful for planning control purposes.

You apply to your local council for an LDC. The council will give you the forms you need. The application must provide sufficient information for the council to decide the application or else it may be refused. You will have to pay a fee. This will be broadly similar to what you pay for a planning application.

Often the issues involved in LDCs are complex and if you decide you need to apply for a certificate you might benefit by obtaining professional advice. Your LPA’s planning officers can also help. They will tell you about the sort of information needed to support your application.

If your application is partly or wholly refused or is granted differently from what you asked for, or is not determined within the time limit of eight weeks, you can appeal. Appeals are made to the Planning Inspectorate.

Failure to obtain or comply with planning permission  The failure to obtain planning permission or comply with the details of a permission is commonly known as a ‘planning breach’

A planning breach usually occurs when:

* A development that requires planning permission is undertaken without the permission being granted – either because the planning application was refused or was never applied for

* A development that has been given permission subject to conditions breaks one or more of those conditions.

A planning breach in itself is not illegal and the council will often permit a retrospective application where planning permission has not been sought.

However, if the breach involves a previously rejected development (or the retrospective application fails) the council can issue an enforcement notice requiring you to put things back as they were.

Your local planning authority can serve an enforcement notice on you when they consider you have broken planning control rules. Normally this will be because they consider what you are doing, or have done, is harmful to your neighbourhood.

The decisive issue for the local planning authority should be whether the breach would unacceptably affect public amenity or the existing use of land and buildings meriting protection in the public interest.

It is illegal to disobey a enforcement notice unless it is successfully appealed against. You can appeal against both refusals of permission and enforcement notices but if the verdict comes out against you and you still refuse to comply you may be prosecuted.

Permitted Development Rights

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called “permitted development rights”. They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament. Bear in mind that the permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings.

In some areas of the country, known generally as ‘designated areas’, permitted development rights are more restricted. If you live in a Conservation Area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads, you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas.

There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building.

The general advice is that you should contact your local planning authority and discuss your proposal before any work begins. They will be able to inform you of any reason why the development may not be permitted and if you need to apply for planning permission for all or part of the work.

Permitted Development Rights withdrawn  You should also note that the local planning authority may have removed some of your permitted development rights by issuing an Article 4 direction. This will mean that you have to submit a planning application for work which normally does not need one.

Article 4 directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. They are most common in conservation areas. You will probably know if your property is affected by such a direction, but you can check with the local planning authority if you are not sure.

Factors affecting planning permission

There are many factors that will affect whether or not you need to apply for planning permission or affect your chances of gaining planning approval.

You should think about the following:

* Your neighbours

* Design

* Nature and wildlife

* Environmental health

* Roads and highways


Your neighbours

Let your neighbours know about work you intend to carry out to your property. They are likely to be as concerned about work which might affect them as you would be about changes which might affect your enjoyment of your own property.

For example, your building work could take away some of their light or spoil a view from their windows. If the work you carry out seriously overshadows a neighbour’s window and that window has been there for 20 years or more, you may be affecting his or her “right to light” and you could be open to legal action. It is best to consult a lawyer if you think you need advice about this.

You may be able to meet some of your neighbour’s worries by modifying your proposals. Even if you decide not to change what you want to do, it is usually better to have told your neighbours what you are proposing before you apply for planning permission or before building work starts.

If you do need to make a planning application for the work you want to carry out, the council will ask your neighbours for their views.

If you or any of the people you are employing to do the work need to go on to a neighbour’s property, you will, of course, need to obtain his or her consent before doing so.


Everybody’s taste varies and different styles will suit different types of property. Nevertheless, a well-designed building or extension is likely to be much more attractive to you and to your neighbours. It is also likely to add more value to your house when you sell it. It is therefore worth thinking carefully about how your property will look after the work is finished.

Extensions often look better if they use the same materials, and are in a similar style to the buildings which are there already. It is impossible to give a single definition of good design in this context: there may be many ways of producing a good result. In some areas, the council’s planning department issues design guides, or other advisory leaflets, which may help you. It is always advisable to use a suitably, qualified and experience architect.

Nature and wildlife

You may need to consider the effects on wildlife of any works you wish to carry out. Animals, plants and habitats may be protected under their own legislation (badgers for example), under the ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981′ (for example, bats, see below), or under European legislation (EU protected species, such as the Great Crested Newt).

Natural England can provide advice on what species are protected by legislation, and what course of action should be taken. Your local planning authority should also be able to advise on any species or habitats that may be affected by your proposals.

Even when your development proposal benefits from permitted development rights, the legal protections for wildlife still apply.


Some houses may hold roosts of bats. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 gives special protection to bats because of their roosting requirements.

Natural England must be notified of any proposed action (eg, remedial timber treatment, renovation, demolition and extensions) which is likely to disturb bats or their roosts. They must then be allowed time to advise on how best to prevent inconvenience to both bats and the owners.

Environmental health

Environmental Health covers the safety of people living or working in an area.

Any proposed development which could cause, for example, air pollution, unfit housing or unhygienic food preparation premises would be the concern of environmental health officers (EHOs).

Such developments may also require an ‘Environmental Impact Assessment’ to be submitted. Environmental Health Departments work alongside planning departments in most local authorities.

Roads and highways

Roads and Highways are the responsibility of the local highways authority, which will need to be consulted where highways are affected during or after construction work.

If your local council is not the highways authority for the road involved they will be able to help you contact the right person.

Call Us On 020 8886 6591