Larkfleet Homes on Blogger

20 Nov 2017

Colour trends for peace and mindfulness in your new home

Larkfleet Homes colour trends
Want to make your new home a peaceful refuge from the business of the day-to-day world outside but not sure what colours to choose to be 'on trend'? At Larkfleet Homes we have been web surfing, looking for some colour inspiration.

What did we find? Well, it looks like Dulux has made your choice nice and easy. Be on trend with your colour choices.

The Dulux colour of the year for 2018 is called Heart Wood, a light mauve/lilac colour. You can see visualisations of the colour on the Dulux website here. It’s a colour that will fit in with just about any design trend idea that is emerging for next year. And you can expect last year’s Dulux colour of the year Denim to compliment heartwood in colour palettes for your kitchen designs. Dark plum is also right on trend and will also compliment the Heart Wood palette.

Heart Wood is a subtle and warm tone of grown-up pink, it draws from the tactile qualities of natural wood and leather, conveying comfort and ease in response to consumers wanting to nestle down more and create a “welcome home”.

There’s a strong overarching trend of consumers wanting to transform their homes into spaces of retreat from the outside world. Think about the Scandinavian trend of Hygge.

As life gets faster, now is the time to press pause. Our home needs to be a place where we can turn down the noise, where we can nurture our values and recharge. Colour can play a significant role in addressing the balance between outside clamour and inner calm, according to Dulux.

We think that Heart Wood and its four complementary colour palettes will help you to achieve a home that is truly and uniquely yours, bringing a feeling of safety and reassurance, creating a welcome home for all.

Make your home your haven. Calming colours like Heart Wood capture the mood of the moment and allow you to live in perfect balance in your home. Use colour to make your home a place of harmony, comfort and ease for all. Combine gentle shades of grey-pink, blues and soft cocoa flowing into bolder shades of ink blue and purple.

Take inspiration from the tactile qualities of natural wood and the comfort of leather, materials that we often turn to during times of unpredictability. Calming and restorative, these colour palettes give a sense of connection between the inside and outside world.

We hope you have fun creating your own haven of peace and tranquillity.

17 Nov 2017

Get out into the garden while you still can

Larkfleet Homes November gardening tips
Here’s a tip for all you armchair gardeners. Get out into the garden while you still can. To echo Game of Thrones – Winter is coming. And as it comes on you are running out of opportunities to tidy up and make your outdoor spaces look reasonably neat during the colder, duller months of the year.

Meteorologists are predicting the chance of a colder winter is significantly higher than in recent years. Great if you’re hoping for a white Christmas – not so much if you have stuff to do in the garden, so now’s the time to prepare.

Here are a few of the things you should be doing to protect your garden against the worst that winter has to throw at it and keep it in tip top condition, ready for the next growing season:

  • Rake your lawns and keep them clear of fallen leaves – also clear leaves from sheds, ponds and flower beds. Use the collected leaves to make leaf mould for compost.
  • Raise containers on to pot feet to prevent water logging.
  • Plant out tulip bulbs for next spring’s floral display.
  • Prune roses.
  • Plant out winter bedding plants.
  • Cover any brassicas (cabbages, Brussels sprouts etc) to protect them against birds – particularly if pigeons are a problem where you live.
  • Insulate containers to protect them from frost.
  • Put grease bands around the trunks of your fruit trees to stop winter moth damage.
  • If you have one, make sure your bird table is in good repair and put out bird feed to encourage winter birds into the garden.
  • Clean out water butts and let the autumn rains refill them. Install a new water butt ready for next year.
  • Once plants are dormant, it’s time to lift and relocate any you want to move.
  • If there is a prolonged dry spell, now’s your last chance to repaint any fences or sheds.

Looking ahead to the festive season, if you have holly gather a few stems with berries to use for Christmas garlands – before the birds eat all the berries. Stand the cut stems in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot where the birds can’t get at them.

For more details of jobs to do in the garden this month visit the RHS website

17 Nov 2017

Larkfleet Homes makes a splash at Eye School

Larkfleet Homes hands over cheque for Eye school swimming pool
One thing we pride ourselves on at Larkfleet Homes is helping the communities where we have new housing developments. When we heard that Eye Church of England Primary School, in the village of Eye, near Peterborough, was refurbishing its swimming pool we stepped in to help.

Not stepped into the pool - just the fundraising. To get the school on its way with the project we donated £5,000.

Head teacher Jason Webster said the school was very grateful for the grant from the Larkfleet Community Fund.

“We have had a pool at the school for some time, but it is now starting to look tired.

“It is the school’s intention to get more closely involved in the community – for example we currently provide facilities for Eye Juniors Football Team and Eye Amateur Pantomime Society. Opening the pool to community users on evenings, weekends and holidays is part of that process.

“We need to renovate the pool to fulfil that ambition. We are close to reaching our target of £47,000 thanks to the donation from the Larkfleet Community Fund. Work on the refurbishment is due to begin in January and will take about six weeks to complete.”

The donation is the first major grant from our Larkfleet Community Fund, managed by the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, since it was recently reorganised.

The Larkfleet Community Fund was established in 2013 to support the integration of our housing developments within their local setting and help to create sustainable communities. It offered easily accessible cash to support local charitable projects.

Each housing development had its own ‘pot’ of money within the overall fund and the process of receiving applications and making grants was handed over to an independent local community foundation.

We have now decided to change the way in which we operate and administer the fund. There is now a single central fund which will make grants to any community organisation or charitable cause that operates close to a current Larkfleet Homes or Allison Homes development.

The new arrangements will help us to administer and give out grants more quickly and across a wider area, directly benefiting more worthy causes and local people.

If you have a community project or good cause that you think could benefit from our Larkfleet Community Fund, please get in touch.

Our photo shows Larkfleet director Mark Mann (left) handing over our cheque at the school.

16 Nov 2017

A winning night at the Stamford Mercury Business Awards

We had a great night at the Stamford Mercury Business Awards last week. The bubbly was flowing and, as well as enjoying a gala night out, we walked away with the award for Business of the Year. Get in!

We can add this to our recent major industry awards for technology, quality and environmental performance – including two ‘housebuilder of the year’ titles.

Classical guitarist Steve Bean entertained us all before the presentation of the Mercury Business Awards 2017, which were hosted for the first time by Rutland Radio breakfast presenter Rob Persani.

Larkfleet Homes was nominated because we have an enviable reputation for producing high quality, new homes in sustainable developments. We use innovative technology and construction methods to deliver new homes which exceed customers' expectations.

The judges decided that we are a worthy recipient of the award because we have substantially increased sales in the past year.

We have also expanded. Allison Homes has been developed as a separate company, with Larkfleet Homes concentrating on timber-framed houses and Allison Homes on conventional brick-and-block construction.

Not only that, we have opened new house building companies under the Larkfleet brand in the South West of England, Scotland and Norfolk & Suffolk. We have already built and sold homes in Scotland and Somerset. We are actively building on two sites in the South West, and discussions about planning consents for significant new developments in Norfolk and Scotland are ongoing.

It’s not just about housebuilding. We have launched major new R&D initiatives including an ‘elevating house’ that can rise above flood waters – which will therefore permit development on flood plains – and a ‘grid neutral’ house which will generate as much electricity as it uses.

On top of all these business initiatives the judges also thought that our contributions to the community were equally important.

One of the most significant of these has been the opening of the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC) – of which we are one of three ‘employer sponsors’. We have been involved with the project since its inception and support the college with cash, contributions in kind and staff time.

We are also a major contributor to local charities and support local schools with time, cash and teaching. There has also been the launch of the Larkfleet Community Fund which gives money to support community development in areas where Larkfleet Homes or Allison Homes are building new houses.

We're not going to rest on our laurels though. Larkfleet Homes has ambitious plans that should see us win some more trophies for the cabinet over the coming months and years.

10 Nov 2017

Larkfleet Homes is helping to close the industry skills gap

Larkfleet signs Skills Pledge
All of us at Larkfleet Homes are committed to working with our subcontractors to recruit and train more people to the highest standards. A skills gap in the building industry in the East Midlands – and nationally – has been identified and we are helping to tackle it ‘head on’.

To ‘put our money where our mouth is’ we have signed up to the Home Building Skills Pledge. This set of five key actions has been developed by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) through its Home Building Skills Partnership to solve a nationwide skills shortage. It also recognises the importance of ‘future-proofing’ workforce skills by developing new ways for people to enter the building industry as well as developing existing talent with the industry.

The Skills Pledge covers five important areas: Collaborate and share; Train to a standard; Engage and support; Champion diversity and inclusion; and Promote careers. By signing up to the Pledge, companies will also be supporting the HBF’s Home Building Skills Partnership and working to its shared goals.

We are delighted to be supporting the Home Building Skills Pledge and being part of the growing momentum for really tackling this crucial agenda. It is vital to nurture the future of the construction industry if we are to build the homes that the country needs.

By signing up to the Pledge we are committing Larkfleet Homes to recruit the best possible talent and to train people to the highest standards. By being proactive in terms of engaging staff, and by being inclusive and diverse in our recruitment, we will be able to future-proof our workforce to continue to deliver high quality new homes.

As part of our commitment to industry and education we are already a major investor in training and skills development as one of the sponsors of the newly-opened Greater Peterborough University Technical College, which aims to give young people ‘hands on’ as well as theoretical training for careers in the engineering and construction sectors.

It’s great to be helping to nurture the future of our industry.

08 Nov 2017

Larkfleet Homes helped Bourne Abbey Primary fireworks go with a bang

We love a good fireworks party at Larkfleet Homes.

And we certainly enjoyed one at Bourne Abbey Primary School last Saturday evening (4th November). This community event is one of the best in the area and we were pleased to help things go with a bang.

Crowds enjoyed two spectacular firework displays from Phenomenal Fireworks and a bonfire, live music and entertainment, a Round Table beer tent, and fun fair rides. There were also a variety of stalls selling various goodies and treats!

Visitors were welcomed to the display by Bourne mayor Paul Fellows. It was a chilly night, but our hearts were warmed by a musical recital from the choirs of Bourne Abbey Primary School and Elsea Park Primary School.

The bonfire – complete with Guy – was lit at 4.45 pm followed by a quieter children’s display.

After an hour of live music from local band Revolver the display team lit the blue touch paper on the main musical firework display. It was a spectacular display and got plenty of ‘Ooohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd.

The whole thing got great reviews on Facebook and plans are already in hand for next year.

All of us at Larkfleet Homes had a great time at the event and we’re looking forward to doing it all again next year.

03 Nov 2017

Don’t be worried by the interest rate hike – say mortgage experts


The Bank of England increased interest rates for the first time in a decade this week. The base rate went up by a quarter of one per cent to 0.5 per cent. But what will be the impact on new home buyers and those with existing mortgages?

There’s no need to worry just yet, say the experts. They do not expect the increase to have a significant impact on most UK households.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said: “The proportion of borrowers directly impacted by a rate rise will be smaller than in the past, in part because the majority of new mortgages in recent years were extended on fixed rates. The share of outstanding mortgages on variable rates has fallen to a record low of around 40 per cent, down from a peak of about 70 per cent in 2001.

“A 0.25 per cent increase is likely to have a modest impact on most borrowers who are on variable rates. On the average mortgage, an increase of 0.25 per cent would increase monthly payments by £15  – equivalent to £180 a year.”

This is not to say that rise will be welcome news for many. Household budgets are under pressure from the fact that wages have not been rising as fast as the cost of living. In real terms wage rates are still at levels that were prevailing in 2005.

There will be a little ‘pain’ but, on the whole, the message to UK borrowers is not to panic.

01 Nov 2017

Stay safe this Bonfire Night

Fireworks Night is a fun time. There's nothing better on a dark November evening than having your own bonfire and fireworks in your back garden. Dodge the crowds and invite family and friends round to celebrate. Put some baked potatoes in the fire. Make some pea and ham soup and have a warming drink or two.

But remember - keep your family and pets safe this Bonfire Night.

Here are some safety tips from the Royal Society for the prevention of accident (RoSPA):

  • Plan your firework display to make it safe and enjoyable
  • Keep your fireworks in a closed box - an old biscuit tin is perfect - and use them one at a time
  • Read and follow the instructions on each firework using a torch if necessary
  • Light the firework at arm's length with a taper and stand well back
  • Keep naked flames, including cigarettes, away from fireworks
  • Never return to a firework once it has been lit
  • Don't put fireworks in pockets and never throw them
  • Direct any rocket fireworks well away from spectators
  • Make sure that the fire is out and surroundings are made safe before leaving.
  • It is recommended that sparklers are not given to under-5s
  • Make sure everyone handling sparklers wears gloves
  • Hold sparklers at arm’s length while being lit
  • Don’t wave sparklers about close to other people
  • Never hold a baby in your arms while you are holding a sparkler
  • When the sparkler has finished put it in a bucket of cold water.
  • One person should be responsible for the bonfire and children should be supervised
  • Choose a site away from wooden fences, sheds and where children will be playing
  • Never pour petrol, paraffin or meths on to a fire - it’s safer to use fire lighters to prevent flare-ups
  • Keep a bucket of water handy in case of an accident
  • Avoid loose clothing and tie back long hair
  • After the party, pour water on the fire, rather than leaving it to burn out.

For more on firework safety visit
And remember, have fun.

30 Oct 2017

Larkleet Homes sponsoring firework fun at Bourne Abbey Primary

Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and plot?

Well, they certainly will remember it at Bourne Abbey Primary School on Saturday 4th November. And the team at Larkfleet Homes is delighted to be sponsoring the event again. We love fireworks displays and this community event is one of the best in the area.

There will be lots for all the family to enjoy.  As well as two spectacular firework displays from Phenomenal Fireworks and a bonfire there will be live music and entertainment, a Round Table beer tent and fun fair rides.

Food is always close to our hearts and there will be plenty of choice to keep the November chill at bay including burgers and hotdogs supplied by Groovy Foods, fish & chips from Georges Fish Bar, fresh Italian style pizzas supplied by Woodstove Pizzas and jacket potatoes supplied by Hot Spuds.

As well as beer, the guys from Round Table will also be serving up liqueur hot chocolates, liqueur coffees, mulled wine and mulled cider!

There will also be a variety of stalls selling various goodies and treats.

Gates open at 4:00 pm. After a welcome by Bourne Mayor Paul Fellows and music from the choirs of Bourne Abbey Primary School and Elsea Park Primary School (also sponsored by Larkfleet Homes), the bonfire – complete with Guy – will be lit at 4.45 pm. A quieter children’s display will spark off at 5.15 pm followed by an hour of livemusic from local band Revolver, before the main musical firework display starts at 6.30 pm.

All of us at Larkfleet Homes are really looking forward to it.

To find out more check out Facebook

26 Oct 2017

A Spooktacular Halloween for the whole family

kIt’s Halloween next week (actually on 31 October - but you probably knew that already) so this weekend or next are perfect times for a fun 'Spooktacular' event.

If you’re hosting a Halloween party but are stuck for some inspiration we’ve got a few creepy ideas that will help to make your event go with a ghostly swing.

Don’t forget that it’s mostly about the kids – going out for some trick or treating can kick off the fun. When you get home for the party remember to keep it kid friendly, at least until they’ve gone to bed. Don’t scare them – too much!

There’s plenty of stuff out there to decorate your home with for Halloween. Use 'spray on' cobwebs. Maybe make a cardboard graveyard for the front lawn out of old cardboard boxes and have a welcoming committee of carved pumpkins at your door.

Have some spooky music or sound effects to welcome your guests. You could use some dry ice to create an eerie mist effect. It might be a bit over the top – but atmospheric!

Hang some bat, witch and funky skeleton silhouette mobiles and banners around the house.

Use themed paper plates, napkins, plastic cups and cutlery. You can get them at supermarkets or one of those seasonal pop-up stores in the local shopping centre. To keep things simple, stick to a two-tone colour theme of orange and black.

The kids will have fun getting creative with pumpkins. You can use templates to create some vivid, eye catching jack ‘o lanterns. There is so much choice out there now that you won’t fail to find something fun and original.

Don't rinse the waste pumpkin material down your drain - it can harden like rock, we're told, and cause blockages that will be expensive to clear. So avoid scary plumbing bills and instead put your carving left-overs into your food waste bin or home compost.

Themed candles and orange painted jars, decorated with spooky silhouettes, with night lights will enhance the Halloween party mood.

Once you have the decoration and the atmosphere taken care you can turn your attention to the food. Serve lots of savouries to balance out all the sugar from the trick or treat swag.

Have fun. Take regular foods and give them spooky names. Bat wing Doritos or squashed beetle Jelly Beans anyone?

There is a whole stack of spooky treats here from ghostly cupcakes to creepy finger hotdogs.

Whatever you do, have fun!

24 Oct 2017

A good news story from Bourne Heights

One of the best things about working at Larkfleet Homes is being able to help people find the home of their dreams – and helping them to make the move as easy as possible. And it’s always great to learn that we have made someone happy.

Maureen and Jackie from our Bourne Heights sales office were delighted to receive positive feedback about the Allen family’s moving experiences.

Chatting over coffee and cake Mrs Allen told Maureen that when they decided they were going to try and move to a new house they were worried at the thought of it all ... but said they needn’t have been because we made it easy; part-exchanging with us made it simple for them. “We can’t fault the excellent and thoughtful service we received from Larkfleet Homes,” she said.

Mr and Mrs Allen’s son Jack is autistic and has specific needs. The Allen family moved to Bourne Heights to have more living space and to be closer to amenities while at the same time being close to the woodland and country walks that Jack enjoys.

We were very conscious of all the upheaval that comes with moving home and how it could have proved to be unsettling and traumatic for Jack, so Maureen and Jackie pulled out all the stops to make the move go as smoothly as possible and reduce any distress. With Jack’s needs in mind Maureen and Jackie gave the family plenty of support and service on every step of their purchasing journey. They provided constant reassurance every step of the way.

Mrs Allen, pictured, told us: “Larkfleet provided a fantastic service. The whole team was really accommodating to Jack’s needs. There was also a small snagging list which was dealt with very quickly and efficiently. Each of the contractors was very understanding of Jack’s autism and very respectful of his needs. They did everything they could to help him stay settled throughout.”

"Everyone from the site and the sub-contractors that returned to do small jobs were incredibly considerate and understanding. One contractor even downed tools when Jack got upset when he initially started work. The contractor returned later to complete the work once Jack was settled.”

Maureen and Jackie delivered some chocolates and flowers as a thank you for such positive feedback. The whole Larkfleet team wish Mr and Mrs Allen and their son Jack every happiness in their new home.

23 Oct 2017

Flood risk removed - read all about it!

We’re polishing our fingernails and feeling really chuffed with ourselves. The story about our elevating house, which we recently obtained planning permission for, has hit the headlines in the national papers.

Press stories about the elevating house appeared in The Times, Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and Metro.

The beauty of the elevating house is that it can be jacked up ahead of any flood waters, to avoid the home flooding. This means that the house can be built on land which has up until now been unavailable for development. The additional cost of the elevating system beneath the house can be offset by the relatively low prices for flood-prone land.

Some of the headlines were great – 'Hopping home could be floody brilliant' exclaimed Metro, while the Times said Larkfleet Homes is ‘raising the roof (and the rest of the house with it)'. The Daily Mail said that an 'elevating house is how to give house prices a lift'.

The elevating house is cool because it can just about remove the risk of flood damage to homes. This means that more land across the country can be approved for future home building. This will help to tackle the ‘housing crisis’ that is being caused by the demand for new housing far exceeding the supply.

It’s great to get national recognition for such a fantastic idea. Let’s hope that the tests live up to the hype.

20 Oct 2017

Make your kitchen the heart of your home

The weekend is nearly here and National Baking Week is drawing to a close. So, we thought ‘wouldn't it be a good time to get the family together and start baking’.

National Baking Week was started by a group of baking brands to encourage us all to bake at home. And baking together can help you turn your kitchen into the heart of your home.

Baking has become increasingly popular over the past few years. You’ve only got to think of Bake Off and the lovely Nadiya Hussain to raise a smile.

There are lots of reasons why baking is good for you. Baking stimulates the senses and can help you to make others around you happy – especially when you present them with that yummy lemon drizzle cake or chocolate Swiss roll you’ve been lovingly working on. Baking is also good for well-being and mindful because it’s both creative and meditative.

You can create some fantastic memories for you and your family through the smells, tastes, sights and sounds of baking in your kitchen. From shopping for the ingredients, preparing and mixing to baking and eating, every stage of baking can create memories. You never realised that baking a tray of muffins was so powerful, did you?

Baking with children can help you find some valuable family time. The youngest members of the family will love decorating biscuits — just make sure that they are wearing an apron first! It’s great family time and everyone can get involved - choosing the recipe, buying the ingredients, weighing out the ingredients, mixing, stirring, lining tins, kneading dough, washing up or simply eating – there is a job to suit everyone.

Just like any art and craft, baking can be a merry mess-making activity. This is all part of baking but the mess made is easy to clean up, especially when you all do it together.

Don’t be put off by kitchen disasters and remember – enjoy it! Don’t worry if your bread or cakes haven’t risen. Just turn them into bread crumbs and make a bread and butter pudding instead.

Whatever you bake and whoever it’s for, enjoy the process and the result. The smiles you will generate may surprise you.

Don’t get stressed, let it be an entertaining escape from the pressures and stresses of life. Make your kitchen the heart of your home – somewhere for some proper homemade family time.

19 Oct 2017

Enjoy the park life at Gretton Valley

Looking for a new home in the East Midlands, close enough to town for shopping and entertainment, but within easy reach of countryside amenities? Missed out on the Gretton development first time around?

Well, now is your chance to grab yourself a new home in Gretton Valley as Phase 2 of our eco-friendly development launches.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer, young couple, a growing family or starting a new chapter in your life and downsizing, Gretton Valley has a high-quality value-for-money home for you.

Phase 2 of our exciting development offers energy efficient, one, two, three, four and five-bedroom homes ideally suited for anyone looking for a new home in rural surroundings.

Gretton Valley is located within the 1,200-acre Priors Hall Park development, set in beautiful parkland close to the village of Weldon on the outskirts of Corby, Northamptonshire. Living here, you can experience the best that rural village and town living has to offer. Whatever your day-to-day living needs, a new home in Gretton Valley can deliver.

Is the school run sapping your time and energy? Gretton Valley is close to pre-school, primary and secondary schools in Priors Hall Park, less than a mile away. There are further education options just down the road in Corby, so whatever stage your family is at we have got you covered.

Social butterflies are catered for, with a range of entertainment options on offer ranging from quaint country pubs where you can enjoy a drink next to a roaring log fire to smart restaurants where you can tuck into a gourmet meal. There are numerous other establishments where you can meet up with old friends – or get to know some new ones. Theatre and movie fans are sure to be impressed by the Corby Cube: a striking civic hub housing a 455-seat theatre and cinema complex.

For the more active among you there is a wealth of sports and leisure facilities nearby. Parkland and play areas are great for the kids to play in. Golfers can enjoy a round at the Priors Hall park Golf Club while adrenaline junkies can get their fix at Adrenaline Alley in Corby or enjoy high-speed action at the nearby Rockingham Raceway.

Whatever your lifestyle, we have a home to suit you.

Call our team today on 0785 171512 to start your new park life.

18 Oct 2017

Protecting your garden against early frosts

The evenings are drawing in and it’s nearly time for the clocks to go back - not to mention Halloween. Now is the time we all start thinking about hunkering down for the winter.

The end of October used to be when you could expect the first frost on the ground. Even though we are very aware of the effects of global warming there is still a chance of early frosts in dry weather. The Met Office chaps say it happens when high pressure leads to clear night skies.

Frost can damage your plants and make your new garden look unsightly. A real Halloween fright for the garden, in fact.

Frost causes the water in your plants to freeze which damages the cells in the plants. Damaged plants can become limp, blackened and distorted. Where plants face the morning sun problems can be made worse because rapid defrosting will cause the cell walls to rupture.

So there's science in this - not just evil Halloween spirits. And if there're is a rational scientific explanation there is bound to be some rational scientific action you can take to ward off the Halloween effect.

Here is a handy list of things you can do to protect your valuable plants from the effects of early frost.
  • Cover trained plants or tender plants growing in the ground with a fleece-covered frame.
  • Cover bulbs, corms and herbaceous plants that have been cut back with a layer of manure, leaf mulch or straw.
  • Grow tender plants in pots so that they can be moved indoors or into a greenhouse when the weather gets worse.
  • Cover low growing plants from wet weather with plastic or glass cloches.
  • Choose frost-proof outdoor containers so that they don’t crack. Move them into a green house or shed if the weather is likely to be particularly bad.
  • Dig up annual plants that are unlikely to survive the winter and throw them on the compost. This will give you more time to deal with other jobs that need doing.
  • Watering plants before a frost will insulate the roots.
  • Cover plants that are in the early-morning sun with sheeting to shade them from the sun’s rays to so they don’t defrost too quickly.

16 Oct 2017

A knotty problem

There is one name that can strike fear into the hearts of even the boldest house buyer. It’s the name of a plant – Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica).

This non-native plant is extremely invasive. Serious structural damage has been recorded to buildings, hard-standing walls and drains.

In fact, Japanese Knotweed is so damaging that many mortgage lenders will not give you a mortgage if you have it on or near the property you are hoping to buy.

Even if lenders will provide you with a mortgage they will require you to implement a significant management and removal plan which could include chemical treatment or excavation to completely remove all traces of the plant. Either way, this may well prove to be a lengthy and costly undertaking.

Because it is such a recognised risk to property, Japanese Knotweed is governed by legislation. Under the terms of the revised Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, you could be issued with a community protection notice to force you to control non-native invasive plants on your property. You could face a fine of up to £2,500 if an unreasonable lack of action to control or remove the knotweed has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those nearby.

The spread of Japanese Knotweed is also governed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to cause it to grow in the wild, and can be construed as an offence to knowingly allow knotweed to spread from your property. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Duty of Care Regulations 1991, Japanese Knotweed material and material contaminated with knotweed must be removed to a licensed landfill site for disposal, accompanied by appropriate waste transfer documentation.

So, what can you do if you are unlucky enough to have the weed on your property? The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has an information sheet which you can download here.

RICS has also partnered with the Property Care Association to establish the PCA Invasive Weeds Control Group trade group for Japanese Knotweed specialists. It is a list of reputable consultants and removal contractors whom you can turn to for help with your knotweed problem.

Where a known or suspected presence of knotweed is highlighted a specialist survey should be carried out to establish the risk and provide advice on a solution.

Most UK mortgage lenders will want to see evidence of a commitment by the owner of the property to fund, in advance, a long-term chemical treatment programme against Japanese Knotweed, or provide instant eradication by way of excavation and removal. Chemical treatment can take approximately two to three years to provide effective control of the knotweed.

Even after chemical treatment, the rhizome (root) of the plant can remain dormant for many years. Excavation and removal of knotweed is often preferred. If you can negotiate an instant removal of knotweed by excavation, do so.

A guarantee is often required on any remedial works, with durations of 5–10 years being the norm. A guarantee should ensure that, if there is any recurrence of knotweed growth (as a defect of the remedial works undertaken), it will be treated and controlled at no additional expense to the property owner.

Because treatment programmes can stretch over many years, mortgage lenders will often look for an insurance backed guarantee (IBG) product, such as that provided by PCA IWCG members. This ensures that if a knotweed contractor providing a guarantee goes out of business before the end of the cover period, the customer will be protected by either another PCA registered company stepping in to take on the liability, or a refund of the money left on the contract.

On development sites, Japanese Knotweed needs to be managed and handled responsibly. Any works conducted to control or eradicate the plant should be completed according to the Environment Agency and PCA codes of practice for the management of Japanese Knotweed.

Here is a helpful factsheet that will help you to identify Japanese Knotweed.

12 Oct 2017

Buying off-plan: A quick guide

Have you ever driven around local housing developments and seen queues of people lining up round the block waiting for a show home to open?

It’s becoming an increasingly common sight. More and more of us are looking at buying our next new home 'off-plan' to beat price rises and increasing mortgage costs.

The idea is to get everything in place and fixed so your contract is future-proofed.

Buying off plan is a great way to get a good deal on your new home. Government schemes like Help to Buy are only available on new builds. But don’t get caught out. Here a few steps to consider:

  • Research properties and the developer carefully. Check online feedback from previous developments and make sure images in marketing materials match up with developments already built.
  • When you have found your development speak to your mortgage advisor. Many mortgage offers are only valid for six months. If your build takes longer to complete you may have to reapply for your mortgage.
  • Reserve your home and pay the reservation fee.
  • Appoint a conveyancer or solicitor to deal with your side of the transactions. Sometimes, a developer can recommend one for you and may offer you incentives to use them.
  • Make sure your property solicitor keeps tabs on progress and the development is proceeding on schedule.
  • Arrange your mortgage with your lender. A surveyor will be appointed to value your plot based on the plans and the development specifications.
  • Exchange contracts and pay your deposit.
  • When the property is nearing completion get a snagging survey done.

Reserving off plan can net you some good deals. For example, we’re offering £500 towards legal fees at our Bourne Green development for an early bird reservation.

Remember, it's the early bird that gets the .... er, worm ... doesn't sound much of an incentive, does it? £500 off your fees, though, must be worth considering.

10 Oct 2017

Art’s in the heart.

We all like to look at pictures, don’t we? There’s nothing worse than a room with magnolia walls with nothing to look at. Plain walls cry out for artwork to make them more interesting and the room more comforting and inviting. They are a blank canvass on which you can express yourself.

Buying a new home gives you a chance to project your personality in a fresh new way. Most of us think that as well as livening up our living rooms, the artwork we choose says something about our interests and personalities. So, what do the artwork and accessories you choose to decorate your home with say about you?

Do you prefer figurative, more traditional pictures or something more abstract? According to some studies, if you prefer traditional images you are more likely to be more conservative. You prefer order, predictability and see arguments and debate in ‘black and white’ terms.

If you choose to decorate using abstract images you’re more likely to be a sensation seeker. Those of us who are agreeable and conscientious prefer impressionist style works – images by Van Gough, Monet or Gaugin say. The more extrovert among us prefer cubist style pictures. You’re more likely to be open minded but controversial in your outlook.

If you are a family person you’re more likely to adorn your walls with pictures of your family in art frames that complement the colour scheme you have chosen.

Are you the creative type? If so, you are more than likely to use your own work to create a warm and inviting living space.

You can project any image of yourself that you like through what art you choose. Whatever your personality and interests, there is so much choice available that you will have no trouble personalising your new Larkfleet Home.

The most important thing to remember when you are looking for art and accessories to make your home your own is to have fun!

09 Oct 2017

Charity was the winner at Bourne Rotary’s golf day

Rotary Club of Bourne’s charity golf day certainly went with a swing!

Travelling from as far away as Keighley, Dewsbury, Mablethorpe, Louth and Leicester, 56 players took part in the event at the Toft Hotel golf course.

A total of £1,800 was raised for charity allowing Bourne Rotary to donate £1,350 to LIVES/First Responders which is its chosen charity. The remainder will be distributed to local charities supported by the club.

Organiser Barry Streets told us: “It was a very successful and worthwhile event which we hope to be able to continue in future years. We do acknowledge the importance of the support which we receive from local sponsors such as The Larkfleet Group, without whom the charitable work which we in Rotary carry out would not be possible”.

The golf day format was a four ball Betterball Stableford (full handicap) for gents, ladies or mixed pairs, with prizes for first, second and third places. There were also prizes for nearest the pin and longest drive on selected holes.

First prize went to Andy Briggs and John Ogden on 49 points who each won a £50 voucher.
Lew West and Stuart Booker took second spot on 47 points and a scooped £30 voucher each while Sally Burton and our own Dick Robinson took third place on 46 points (count back) and took away a £20 voucher each.

The best visiting pair was David Brailsford (Sandilands) and Jim Needley (Louth).

Nearest the pin were Louise Bradley on the 3rd hole and for the gents Max Baker on the 10th. Helen Roscoe hit the longest drive for the ladies on the 12th hole. Robert Grogan achieved the longest yardage for the gents from the tee on the 17th hole.

Congratulations on a great day and we hope you can do it all again next year.

05 Oct 2017

Nomination time!

It’s awards time again at Larkfleet Homes - and we're in with the chance of winning another trophy for the cabinet in reception at Larkfleet House.

After careful deliberations, the judges of the Lincolnshire Media Business Awards have nominated us in the Innovation Award category.

We were nominated for our work with the Elevating House and our ‘grid neutral’ house R&D projects.

The Elevating House can rise above flood waters, allowing for the development of land in flood plains that was previously unusable. This type of house can be jacked up well ahead of the arrival of flood waters. The mechanical jacking system – powered by a central motor, gear box and drive shafts – could lift the 65-tonne house to the full 1.5 metre height above ground in less than five minutes. That should keep the house and contents dry but it could make delivering the mail a bit tricky!

Our other innovation is the ‘grid neutral’ house, which can generate as much electricity as it uses. Photovoltaic (PV) solar cells on the roof of the house and conservatory will provide electricity even on cloudy days (of which we get plenty around here). The power that they produce will be stored in a battery pack in the garage. The battery will provide power at night, when the sun is not shining, and during the day at times of peak demand.  It will also provide power to charge an electric car in the garage overnight - how neat is that?

At times of peak sunshine, electricity from the PV panels will be used to heat water in addition to powering domestic appliances. Excess power will be exported to the grid. During the winter, the house will draw from the grid – but over a year as a whole it will export as much (or more) electricity as it imports. Other technologies are used to make the house as energy-efficient as possible.

Our research and development team does come up with some clever ideas!

We’re looking forward to the gala awards night at the Epic Centre at the Lincolnshire Showground. Hopefully we may even pick up the Innovation Award from host Soccer AM presenter Lloyd Griffith.

Watch this space and wish us luck!