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Should I Buy a New Build Property?

Posted on 9th June 2021 by Master Removers

Some people shudder at the thought of living in anything more modern than a Victorian property and have quite strong views about new builds, regardless of whether they’re designed to mimic period styles. But there are plenty of others who can’t wait to leave behind their old, creaking, repair-prone home and move into a place where everything’s likely to run smoothly. There are communities that are 100 per cent new build, most famously Prince Charles’s Dorset concept, Poundbury, which is just outside Dorchester. And then there are old towns and villages that contain a sprinkling of new builds. Further to that, an array of architectural styles awaits anyone thinking of buying a new build. Find out more with our Master Removers Guide To New Builds.

With hundreds of thousands more new builds coming on to the market each year, it’s almost certain that when you got house or flat-hunting, whether as a prospective buyer or a tenant, you’ll come across one. Let’s take a look at the advantages of new builds.

What are the Advantages of New Builds?

Plug and Play

Firstly, new builds are the ‘plug and play’ of properties. You buy it from the developer and in you go, with everything ready for living. You’ll find spotless paintwork and bright, shiny new tiles in the bathroom. All you have to do is unpack your boxes (or have them unpacked for you if you’re using the full packing/unpacking service that so many removals companies offer). A huge chunk of post-move stress is removed in one fell swoop. Once you’ve moved in, you can relax. 

Fewer Repairs

And that relaxation should prove pretty durable because another advantage of a new build is fewer repairs. This is not only because everything in the property is new but also because it’s all usually of a high standard. With any luck, the boiler repairman won’t be a regular fixture in your life. 

First-time Buyer Schemes

You’ll also potentially benefit from the kinds of schemes that are exclusive to new builds, whether that’s Shared Ownership or Help To Buy . These make it easier for first-timers to get on the property ladder and you can’t access them when you buy an older property. 

Little Extras

Developers of new build complexes also sometimes sweeten the deal with little extras. In fact, they’re not so little; they even extend to settling up your stamp duty or covering additional costs, such as carpeting. 

Smart Living

One of the most popular advantages of new builds is the fact that many of them are constructed with the most up-to-date technology and are perfect if you’re planning on having a smart home that you can operate from afar using a digital assistant such as Alexa or Siri. You’ll find other modern touches like open-plan layouts and sometimes additional facilities like gyms and security perks such as concierges.

Specs Appeal

Get in there early, before the new build company has started working in earnest, and you can have an even greater say in the layout and finish of your new home. This is called buying off-plan and extends to you a degree of control and influence you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Lower Bills, Greater Safety

Once you’ve moved in, another benefit kicks in; you should notice lower utility bills. That’s because new builds are obliged to comply with the very latest energy-efficiency regulations. The vast majority of new builds are extremely efficient at, for example, retaining heat. New builds are, with few exceptions, far cheaper to maintain than old properties. And they’re safer, too, because they’re built to modern standards in terms of fire-resistance and wiring. You may also find that your new build has the latest windows, door locks and alarms, which translates to lower insurance premiums and the comfort of knowing you’re a harder target for burglars. 

Eco-Friendly

New Build living is also good eco-living; toilets and showers will have been installed that make it easier to minimise water use and, as we’ve already discovered, you won’t need to blast the heating the way you might in an old home. 

No Gazumping

Another notoriously aggravating factor of a house move is that you’re at the mercy of a buying chain. One thing goes wrong and it throws everyone into miserable uncertainty. When you buy a new build, you’re most likely to be at the end of a selling chain. The developer may well offer you a part-exchange transaction – they’ll buy your old property and sell it themselves. Another horror of standard moving, being gazumped, can be happily forgotten; as soon as you reserve your new build, it’s taken off the market. 

Warranty

You’ll also discover that your new build comes with a guarantee. It’s by no means all-encompassing, but having a ten-year structural warranty is still a bit of protection you wouldn’t get with an old home. 

London’s Best Suburbs

Posted on 4th August 2020 by Master Removers

The ongoing changes and restrictions placed on our lives by coronavirus have been accompanied by a trickle of news stories about more and more people wanting to leave London and build new lives in the countryside. At the peak of lockdown, people’s love of London life waned a bit as they contended with life inside a few rooms with no garden. Of course, suburbia has always provided a third option – retaining some aspects of city life but in a quieter, more spacious setting. The whole notion of a London sunburn has changed over the last few decades. Areas once considered suburban, such as Fulham (SW6), are now regarded as part of highly coveted central London, with prices to match. So where should you look if you’re interested in today’s London suburbs? Here’s the Master Removers guide to our favourite five.

Chiswick

Chiswick is a leafy idyll with an array of things in its favour. It’s well-connected in terms of Tubes and buses, with three underground stations connecting to you to several Tube lines. Chiswick Park is on the District Line, Turnham Green is on the District and Piccadilly Lines and Gunnersbury  is on the District as well as the Overground Network. It’s prettier than nearby Acton and benefits from a main drag, Chiswick High Road, that’s constructed like a broad, airy boulevard and is sophisticated enough to make you feel like you’re somewhere reasonably near the West End.

Boutiques, designer coffee shops, restaurants and green spaces are abundant in this London village. Unfortunately, its popularity started soaring more than twenty years ago, so there’s no such thing as a bargain when it comes to homes and the average family-sized one comes in at more than a million.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace homes are half the price of those in Chiswick. It’s an area south of the river, covering postcodes SE19, SE20 and SE26 and is about seven miles from the centre, compared to Chiswick’s six. It was named after the exhibition space built in 1854, which succumbed to fire in 1936. As is the case in Hampstead, you’ll notice that the air feels unmistakably fresher when you’re here; that’s because it’s higher up – high enough, in fact, that in some places there are sweeping views across the city. Prior to the 19th Century, the area was forest. Today, the forest is long gone but beautiful Crystal Palace Park gives residents ample relaxation space, a boating park and one of Britain’s largest mazes. Other local amenities include Weston Park, Stambourne Woods and the National Sports Stadium. Crystal Palace has a reassuringly low crime rate and is ideal for young families. Average house prices are a little over £410,000. As for connectivity, there’s an overland train on the Southern network and an array of bus routes.

Blackheath

When first-timers come to Blackheath, this charming enclave feels like a quaint county town. In fact, you’re no more than 25 minutes (six-and-a-half miles) away by public transport from the middle of London. It falls within two boroughs – Greenwich and Lewisham – and is notable for the way it feels less like a suburb and more like a completely out-of-town retreat. Average properties are just under £550,000 and it’s home to many young families. The main thoroughfare is Tranquil Vale – a high street with florists, greengrocers, butchers and bakers. The rugged, windswept heath provides all the outdoor space any Londoner could possibly need. But if you do need more, then you’re also suitably placed for enjoying Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory.

Richmond

Weighing in at the expensive end, Richmond, in South West London, scores well in terms of the quality of its schools and the fact that it’s home to one of the finest parks in the city, with almost ten square kilometres of space where deer roam freely. Richmond is at one end of the District Line and also has overland links. It’s a relatively low-crime area, but it’s homes cost, on average, almost a million.

Herne Hill

Situated between Brixton and Dulwich and a mere five miles from Charing Cross (the standard central point from which the distance away of other areas is measured), Herne Hill combines (comparative) affordability with (comparative) centrality. The area is blessed with quiet, residential streets and hubs of activity comprising museums, shops, restaurants and pubs. Best of all, it has lovely Brockwell Park, a glorious stretch of National Heritage-listed land with tennis courts, a bowling green, cricket nets, football and its well-known lido for outdoor summing swimming. The park provides residents with wonderful views of the city skyline and is home to prominent music festivals. Herne Hill’s popularity is on the up, so its property prices are rising, but – at a little under £450,000 – they’re still affordable (using the Lon

Corona Virus-proofing your home

Posted on 14th April 2020 by Master Removers

You and your family, along with the rest of the country, are in lock-down. And while this measure dramatically improves everyone’s chances of prospering and staying well, it doesn’t entirely eliminate risks. That’s because, when we go out for exercise, shopping or to help someone vulnerable, we come into contact with a variety of people and we may well inadvertently touch surfaces, including plastic and metal, both of which are thought to retain the virus for some time. Then we return to our homes and unless we’re careful, we can bring the virus back with us. There’s only one thing for it; it’s time to virus-proof your home. It’s all very well self-isolating, but to make the undertaking as effective as possible, there’s much more we can do. But just what are the best things to do to keep your living space free from the threat of Covid-19?

  • Identify the germ hotspots of your home
  • Shop online wherever possible
  • Choose ‘no-contact’ deliveries so that delivery drivers don’t have to come into your property
  • Wash your hands
  • Keep soap and hand sanitiser
  • Prepare a pandemic kit

Identifying germ hotspots

These are door handles, food preparation and eating areas, incorrectly disposed-of tissues (throw tissues straight into the bin and wash your hands afterwards, otherwise the tissues can disperse air-borne germs), sponges, bathroom fixtures and fittings, remote controls, toothbrush holders, touch-screen devices and keyboards.

Shopping online instead of in-store

Although the government guidelines allow for shopping trips, they are potentially hazardous. Not only is it extremely difficult to maintain social distancing when you’re navigating narrow aisles, you also have to touch products, with no idea how many other people have touched the same surface. Even wearing gloves, taking hand sanitiser and donning a mask can’t give you complete protection. The safest option is to order your groceries and products online. Yes, it’s harder than usual to get a delivery slot at the moment, but persistence, forward planning and being prepared to try more than one online supermarket can result in success. You’ll dramatically reduce the odds of bringing the virus into your home.

Choosing ‘no-contact’ deliveries

All your conscientiousness and hard-work keeping your home virus-free can come to nothing if someone walks through the front door and hands you packages. Not only might they touch a surface, but they can disperse the virus with their breath/coughing/sneezing. Fortunately, the vast majority of delivery services, including the supermarket chains, takeaway companies and courier firms will give you the option of a ‘no-contact’ delivery. Your food/goods can be left on your front door and you can collect them once the deliverer has gone. Just remember to discard packaging and wash your hands for 20 seconds afterwards.

Washing your hands

It was the first bit of coronavirus advice we were given and it remains among the most important – wash your hands. And then wash them again. While many of us washed our hands as a matter of course anyway, for others it’s a novelty, and one they’re having to learn how to do properly. A cursory five-second splash with cold water isn’t good enough. Hot water and soap are required and it’s vital to remember to do it after every trip to the loo, before and after, every meal, before and after every excursion and before and after coughing, touching your face, blowing your nose and sneezing. If in doubt, wash them again.

Hand sanitiser

It’s become the gold bullion of the Covid-19 era, but if you can get hold of some (or already have it), hand sanitiser can make all the difference. Ideally, opt for a variety with a minimum 60% alcohol content – this kills the virus stone dead. Keep some in the car and in any bag(s) you regularly take with you when you go for exercise or shopping.

Pandemic kits

An emergency kit, stocked with several-weeks-worth of provisions, is as much for peace of mind as for anything else. Just remember to try to build your kit gradually, rather than bulk-buying in one fell swoop. In the event that coronavirus does breach the walls of your home, your kit gives you and your family ample time to completely self-isolate and forgo all trips outside. You should stock your kit with a one- or two-month supply of any medicines you’re on, a month’s worth of non-perishable foods (e.g. tinned soup, beans, rice, pasta, tinned vegetables, tinned fruit); an up-to-date first-aid kit (e.g. compresses, bandages, latex gloves); bottled water; over-the-counter painkillers (but consider not using ibuprofen because some reports suggest that this anti-inflammatory makes the virus worse); a non-mercury thermometer; bleach and disinfectant spray; slow-perishing snacks (e.g. nuts, health bars); a one- or two-month supply of pet food; novels, puzzle-books and board games;

Moving House During Coronavirus

Posted on 13th March 2020 by Master Removers

It’s the word on everyone’s lips at the moment: coronavirus. This health hazard, with its deceptively innocuous name, is rampaging through the world, causing lock-down in some territories and flight bans in others. And the advice changes from region to region, as do the attitudes. While some are breezily dismissive of the threat, casually referring to it as being no worse than a standard bout of flu, others are rightfully concerned about the danger it poses to the elderly and those with underlying conditions and impaired immune systems. In some parts of the country, mass gatherings (concerts, the races etc) go on as usual, while in others, these events are being cancelled. But what about moving house? Is it foolhardy to press on with a planned house-move, or is it, in fact, more foolhardy still to cancel? Here’s our Master Removers guide to moving during the coronavirus outbreak.

First, some good news, especially if you’re at the very outset of moving and have put a house on the market; prices are currently withstanding coronavirus, holding up as if nothing had happened or even improving. Although it’s possible that there might be a downturn, possibly severe, further down the line, for now the virus is having the effect of making buyers all the more determined to push through and get things done, so prices are actually higher than the forecasted average.

But what about the physical nuts and bolts of the moving process? As most of us know by now, the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 will experience little more than a mild infection, with coughing and possibly at the outset a temperature. But the advice for people with symptoms (and those at increased risk, such a the elderly and those already with suppressed immune systems) is to self-isolate for at least a week (14 days for people known to have come into contact with a confirmed case), which is depleting some sections of the work-force. If your move is already booked in, it’s worth checking in with your moving company, to make sure they will be working as usual (which in all likelihood will be the case).

In the run-up to the move you can, of course, control your contact with other people. You may have the option of driving rather than using mass transport, and you can decide whether or not to go ahead with any events likely to bring you into close contact with large numbers of people (e.g. concerts). But on moving day, it’ll be worth bearing a few things in mind to keep yourself at a diminished risk.

When the moving personnel arrive at your old home to start loading vehicles, remember to keep at least three steps (two metres) away from each of them when in the confines of the home. In between tasks, wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap and water (sanitising gel is another option, but the use of hot water is thought to have a good impact on the virus).

Obviously, the general day-to-day advice applies when you’re moving house. Not only the hand-washing, but using tissues for coughs (if you’re caught short without a tissue, cough into your sleeve or the crook of your elbow) and only touching your face (eyes, nose and mouth especially) directly after cleaning your hands. You may well have thought ahead sufficiently that you’ve arranged for provisions (especially frozen foods and dry goods) to be delivered to your new home. This is often forms part of a standard move but applies especially given the current circumstances.

If you’re tempted to make a physical gesture of appreciation to your moving team, don’t go for handshakes (let alone hugs) but, as absurd as it may feel, extend your elbow. You could be protecting yourself, but you may also be protecting them.

And there’s always a silver lining; if, just after moving, you fall into the category of people encouraged to self-isolate, then think of all the time you’ll have to get to know your new place, exploring every out-of-the-way cranny. It’ll be far less tedious than if you had to self-isolate in a house with which you already have years, even decades, of familiarity.

With the adoption of these easy-to-follow bits of advice and guidance, there’s no reason why your move should be any harder or more complicated than at any other time. If you’ve booked a move with any of the Master Removers network of companies, then coronavirus or no coronavirus, we are here to answer any Master Removers network of companies, then coronavirus or no coronavirus, we are here to answer any additional questions you might have.

The situation is changing and what applied at the time of publishing may not apply at the time of reading, please check the UK government advice at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Moving a Family Member Into Sheltered Housing/Assisted Living

Posted on 22nd May 2019 by Master Removers

It’s that time in a loved one’s life to which no one’s particularly looking forward. And, short of premature death, it’s almost inevitable. Lucky and few are those who stay sprightly and fully independent into their nineties. Sometimes, looking into housing options that allow for independence while also ensuring that someone is always on site and able to help in the event of a medical (or other) emergency, is the most sensible way forward. Of course, received wisdom dictates that all of us want to spend as much time in our original homes as possible, free of outside interference. Some of us may even be resistant to basic adaptations such as wearing a medical alarm, let alone having a seat fitted in our showers.

Having the ‘Sheltered Housing/Assisted Living’ Conversation

No matter how much we may protest, sometimes it’s simply not safe for us to keep living in our homes. The first challenge, before any thoughts of moving can gain traction, is to convince an ailing family member that sheltered housing and assisted living are good options. How do we go about telling such a person that there will be physical and psychological benefits to this, especially when we’re dealing with, say, a father whose health is faltering but who remains doggedly stubborn about independence at all costs?

A family member’s reluctance to countenance such a change of housing can sometimes be based on the fact that he or she has never seen inside a facility. As a consequence, they imagine a stereotypical ‘old people’s home’. All kinds of awful visions may be conjured in their imaginations – enforced sing-a-longs of ‘(There’ll Be Bluebird Over) The White Cliffs Of Dover’, sadistic Nurse Ratched-style care-workers, endless games of gin rummy, mandatory socialising, strange odours, soul-deadening institutional decor. The obvious solution is to talk about visiting some sheltered housing complexes where such fears can be allayed.

Another source of reluctance can be the way in which sheltered housing is perceived as one more dispiriting step towards death. This can be countered with information about the many ways in which sheltered housing can enhance someone’s life. For one, he or she will no longer be responsible for the maintenance of a property. There’s ample evidence that senior citizens thrive in such a situation, with the stress and pressure of hiring plumbers, electricians, IT installers and repair personnel completely lifted off their shoulders.  

WHAT IS SHELTERED HOUSING?

Usually restricted to people aged 55 and above, sheltered housing is generally a complex of units of varying size (from studio to multiple bedroom, with their own front doors), with support staff, including at least one who lives on site (e.g. a warden). Round-the-clock emergency help is available via an alarm system. There will be communal areas, including gardens, and although properties may well have their own sitting rooms, there may also be a shared one for people who want to socialise. Social activities, by no means enforced, will also be available. Of course, each sheltered housing scheme is different and some may have features which others lack. There will also be disparities in the levels of care provided. What won’t be on offer at most sheltered housing complexes are domestic help (ie cleaning), meals and extra care services (e.g. help with having a bath). Sheltered housing is not subject to inspections so, unlike care homes, it is not part of a ratings system.

WHAT IS ASSISTED LIVING? 

If the level of support and care provided by a sheltered housing scheme is insufficient but your frail relation does not want to consider care homes, then assisted living is the in-between option. When you move to assisted living housing, you get a self-contained flat and your own front door, but there’s a greater level of personal care and more services. The additional services will usually be tailored to the occupant and can range from help with dressing, to washing, using the toilet, taking prescriptions, shopping and laundry. Sometimes, assisted living also entails the provision of meals and there will more than likely be several staff living on site rather than just the manager/warden. As with sheltered housing, a 24-hour emergency system will be in place, there’ll be social activities and a minus age requirement of 55 or 60. Similarly, the combination of personal sitting rooms and communal sitting rooms, means that inhabitants can socialise or fly solo as the mood takes them. Another significant difference when it comes to assisted living is that the Quality Care Commission inspects facilities and issues ratings.

RENTING OR BUYING

Both sheltered housing and assisted living can be sought via renting or buying. Prices will vary depending on the scheme you choose, the amount of care you need and, naturally, the location. Service charges and utilities will also play a part in determining costs and, if you buy, there will still be ongoing charges in the form of bills for care and assistance.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit Age UK: https://www.ageuk.org.uk] and the government website: https://www.gov.uk/apply-for-sheltered-housing] to find out more.

What To Do After Moving House

Posted on 21st November 2018 by Master Removers

The move is over and your can breathe a sigh of relief. All that stress, tension, overexertion and worry melts away and it’s all about moving forwards with renewed vigour and energy. But at the same time it would be foolhardy to think that just because your boxes are unpacked and your furniture’s arranged, that’s the end of the story. Moving house leaves other issues in its wake, which is why removals companies sometimes have after-care services. Here’s the Master Remover guide to what to do after your move.

You’ve crossed the threshold of your new home, fully unpacked and settled in. All those moving checklists can be forgotten. No longer do you have to fuss over which removals firm to use and what time of year will suit you best for getting the job done. The pondering over what to pack and what to discard, what to take to charity shops and what to auction off need no longer concern you. And then the Herculean undertaking over getting everything together and ready to be loaded into a moving vehicle… that’s all, thankfully, far in the past. You can draw breath and start to enjoy your new surrounds. And that may be when it hits you; everything is new. New neighbours, new area, maybe even new county or new country. There’s a kind of post-move delayed reaction that swiftly engulfs you. But with a bit of guidance, you can navigate these choppy waters and soon they’ll settle. It just takes a bit of conscious acclimatising so that the unfamiliar becomes familiar.

What To Do After Moving into a new Home

First things first. Dip your toe into the local scene by looking up local newspapers (so much easier now that so many of them are online) and finding out if there’s a residents’ association for your street or area. Community magazines are another good option. Your can wrench your focus from the past to the present by delving into what’s going on in your new neighbourhood.

Really explore your home. Prior to moving into it, your only experience of it will have been during formal viewings when it’s never really possible to relax and engage with the space in a normal way. It may now be your home, but it’s still virgin territory as far as you’re concerned. Doing a proper examination also means you can flag up any pre-existing damage which might be useful to know about when it comes to final negotiations with the agent and former owner. It’s also important to know where fuse boxes are placed, and don’t forget the water valve stop, either. Now’s also the opportunity to determine whether you need additional security. While you’re at it, work out whether the front and back-door locks are up to the standards required by your contents insurance company. Better safe than sorry.

 

Keep up the good work by joining things. Foremost among these, especially if you have children, is the local library. In this day and age, with more and more of them getting the chop, it’s a resource to be treasured. Not only is it, of course, great for books you want to read but not own permanently (e.g. genre novels), the local library is also a hive of community news and the venue for a variety of interesting events, including author readings and personal appearances.

 

It’s potentially tedious, but absolutely vital to clear a day for setting up all the services you need – everything from a local GP/healthcare provider to vets, dentists and the array of utilities needed for modern living; not just electricity and gas, but also water, broadband and TV services. Also, don’t wait until there’s an emergency for making sure you have telephone numbers for plumbers, electricians and all-purpose handymen and women. If something goes wrong, you want to be able to snap straight to action. If there’s a burst water pipe, you don’t want to be wasting time researching phone numbers when you could have done it months earlier. Asking friends for personal recommendations is still the best method for making sure you get only the most reliable and trustworthy personnel and this brings us on to the next point:-

 

Introduce yourself to neighbours. You don’t have to be new best friends, but neither do you have to stand on ceremony and wait for people to be friendly to you. And if you’ve forged a few links with people in your street, town or village, then you’re in a far better position for asking them about local plumbers, cleaners, electricians etc. You may also find families whose children are the same age as yours, which could pay dividends later on.

 

Change-of-address cards should be sent to all your friends, relations and associates. Whether you go the old-fashioned route and get them printed up or just issue the electronic equivalent is down to your own judgment. You should also take a moment or two to update all the companies whose services you use, especially utility companies. If needs be, you can avail yourself of the mail-forwarding service at the Post Office, but it’s preferable to get as much of your mail as possible sent directly to your new address. Re-routed mail will take longer to reach you.

Moving House After A Separation

Posted on 21st June 2018 by Master Removers

In the throes of new love, who among us ever wants to entertain the possibility of splitting up? It’s unthinkable. And when we’ve made vows, promising in front of witnesses (and, depending on your beliefs, in front of God), to stay together until we permanently expire, the idea that either party will ever have a change of heart simply doesn’t occur to us or, if it does, we swat it away as if it were a persistent wasp, troubling us quite unbidden on a hot day. But relationships end. Not all of them, no, but most of them, yes. From infancy, we’re bombarded with messages about true love. From films, art, music and theatre, the messages come thick and fast, programming us with the idea that anything other than long-lasting, true love with the perfect soul-mate is somehow aberrant. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. A relationship being finite does not mean it ‘failed’ or that it wasn’t worth having. It’s time to go easy on ourselves and realise that the fact that our relationship has had a shelf-life is not some terrible judgment on our worth. There’s enough upheaval as it is, so why add to it with self-flagellation, deep dark nights of the soul and unnecessary, morbid rumination? Better to get on with the business in hand, and part of that may be the need to rethink our living arrangements.

Read more…

What did moving home entail for a caveman?

Posted on 30th May 2018 by Master Removers

As arduous as we can, with some justification, find moving house, just imagine what it was like for Neanderthals and other early forms of man, who had to do it all without the benefit of lorries, vans, winches, levers and other forms of helpful equipment. They didn’t even have masking tape, let alone cardboard boxes and scissors. They had no telephones for organising friends and family to help out, and neither did they have sophisticated linguistic skills or writing materials. True, they had some advantages, such as not having to ask for time off work, but that’s almost the only one. And no, they didn’t have to contact utility companies and navigate infuriating, circuitous telephony menus in order to speak to someone, but that advantage came at a cost; they had no utilities. No instant light, heat or water. Try moving today without those resources, and you’ll soon start losing your temper.

But what exactly was the moving-in process like for cave-people? Let’s divide them into Neanderthals (from which modern man did not descend) and cavemen (from which he did). To us, Neanderthals might have appeared excessively hirsute and rather aggressive, but they weren’t without organisational instincts. Excavated rock shelters in Italy have led some scientists to conclude that caves were divided into levels, perhaps an early version of the fashionable mezzanine concept. The upper level was used for the storage of animal bones and was also possibly a cookery/food preparation area. The middle was more of a living/chill-out zone, sometimes including a fire-pit, while the bottom was a kind of workshop, where primitive tools were kept prior to going out hunting. For years, organisational skills have been attributed to humans, but it’s clear that Neanderthals had a notion of interior design that wasn’t without common sense. They did not simply chuck all their stuff in a pile and make the best of it; they had an early version of the sitting room, wore jewellery, ate a better-balanced diet than some contemporary humans and buried their dead. They had a greater hand in civilisation than that with which they’ve sometimes been credited and an interest in style for style’s sake.

As for early man, the natural shape of caves had some bearing on how they were decorated. There might be passages and chambers, provided the natural architecture of the cave allowed it. Cave art was, by the time of the Ice Age, becoming increasingly sophisticated, with engravings of horse heads and stick men. Paintings of animals are sometimes thought to have been not just art but actually warnings, helping the community stay aware of which creatures posed a lethal threat. Sculptures, made with ivory, stone and clay, were also popular. If you’ve ever wondered what inspired the more surrealistic cave-art that you may have seen (the spirals and labyrinthine patterns), there’s some evidence that, upon moving in, cave people used hallucinogenics during their down-time. Plants with psychoactive ingredients were widely popular, leading to design work comprising ‘neural patterns’ – that is, patterns that reflect the structural content of the brain. Evidence taken from caves in both Spain and Japan have led archaeologists to make this particularly startling conclusion.

Research has also revealed in recent years that early men used a form of paint to decorate walls and liked adding design features like zig-zags. Paint was made using animal fat, eggs and crushed minerals – a completely organic, non-toxic formula that would probably be hugely expensive if made today and peddled to families in Notting Hill. Stone Age settlements in the Orkneys have led to this and other revelations. In the 1980s, a Neolithic settlement was unearthed, including temples for worship. By 3000 BC, with caves now thoroughly passé, actual buildings made from stone were springing up. Yellows, browns, reds and oranges were the favoured decor colours. Hematite, a black mineral, was the popular paint ingredient, with the eggs or animal fats working as a binding agent. Sometimes spelled haematite, it could be crushed up and used to create a variety of pigments.

Moving ‘house’ in these early times was, therefore, not without its pleasures and excitements, its hopes and its dreams, and, as archaeological digs continue to bring new discoveries to light, it’s worth watching this space for further updates in the near further.

Moving house with a disability

Posted on 28th February 2018 by Master Removers

If you’re moving house and you or someone in your family has a disability, there are a few extra things you need to think about. Here’s our guide…

 

Plan ahead

It’s essential to plan ahead in order to secure the help and support you will need before, during and after your house move.

You should allow plenty of time for dealing with all aspects of the move, from sorting through and packing up your belongings, to contacting healthcare providers, arranging for any adaptations, dealing with children and pets on moving day, and so on. Think about those areas where you may need additional assistance.

Putting together a moving plan and a moving day checklist can be an invaluable way of helping you to manage and remember all those important tasks, and keep track of everything you need to do – and there’s a certain satisfaction in ticking things off the list as you complete them!

 

 

Find out about financial support

If you need to make adaptations to your new home, you could be eligible for a Disabled Facilities Grant from the local council. This might cover such things as widening doorways, installing ramps and stairlifts, handrails and banisters, building or adapting bathrooms and bedrooms, adapted heating and lighting controls, and improving access to the garden.

An occupational therapist will conduct an assessment of the property and make any appropriate recommendations. The grant is means tested for adults, but not for disabled children under 19.

If you are disabled and on a low income, you may also be entitled to reduced rent and/or council tax. To find out more about these and any other available grants and concessions, contact the local authority in your new area.

 

 

Inform healthcare and support services

You should contact your local health authority and other support services in good time. If you’re already in receipt of healthcare and support services and any physical equipment or adaptations, you will need to arrange for similar support in your new home.

Remember that different local authorities operate differently. Some physical aids and equipment may need to be returned when you move, and your needs may be reassessed by your new authority, so it’s important to get in contact with the relevant professionals in order to receive continuity of care – the sooner you can do this, the better.

If you have a Blue Badge for parking, there’s no need to apply for a new one when you move house. However, if you’re in receipt of disability-related state benefits don’t forget to inform your local government office of your change of address.

 

Create a support network

Preparing to move house can be a stressful and exhausting experience at times. If you or a family member have additional requirements, it’s even more important to make sure you have help at hand from friends and family when you need it.

This might include practical, physical or emotional support – from helping you to sort through your possessions, dealing with healthcare issues, helping to explain the move to the disabled person, assisting you on moving day, and helping you to get settled in your new home.

Try to build in some additional time and space to rest and relax, and to allow you and your family members to adjust to the changes.

 

 

Talk to your removal company

Your removal team will play a crucial role in helping to ensure that your move runs according to plan. So it’s important to choose a reliable, efficient and established team who are sensitive to your individual needs and will help you to get installed at your new address with a minimum of fuss.

An experienced removals company, such as a Master Remover, will be fully appraised of your moving plan and will be able to assist you at every step of the move – including offering a full packing and unpacking service should you require it, helping to save time and reduce the hassle.

 

Prepare your children

Children can sometimes feel anxious about moving house, and if you’re moving with a disabled child they may need extra time and support to help them to deal with the change.

You should look to offer reassurance wherever possible. Be prepared talk to your child about the move, or show them a plan or some pictures of their new home. If you can, try to take some time out together, away from the planning and upheaval, and do something they enjoy.

On moving day, seek out a quiet corner away from the noise and activity. Set aside a box with some of their favourite things, including some toys, a teddy bear or blanket for comfort, any special plates or cups, some snacks and a favourite book. If your journey is going to be a long one, be prepared to make some extra stops on the way.

See also our guide to moving house with children.

 

 

Consider your ‘moving day essentials’

If you need prescription medication or specialist equipment, it’s essential to keep them close to hand.

We always recommend putting together a ‘moving day essentials’ box to travel with you on your move, and if you have additional requirements this should include any medication, adapted cutlery or other aids, as well as your mobile phone and a list of key contact numbers (and not forgetting the all-important kettle, mugs and teabags!)

If you are transporting any medical equipment on the van, talk to your removal company and make sure it will be available to you when you arrive at the other end.

 

 

Getting established in your new home

When you arrive at your new house, you should arrange for the beds to be made up, and for any medical aids and equipment to be installed in their appropriate places as a priority.

Remember, it can take time to adjust to change, particularly for children, but establishing a new daily routine as soon as possible can help significantly. Once you’re ready, you can arrange to meet with your neighbours and investigate the local amenities, to help you and your family to settle in to your new home.

 

 

If you’re looking to move house, Master Removers will be there to take care of all the hard work for you, and make sure that your move runs as smoothly as possible. Contact us today.

How to take plants and gardens with you when you move house

Posted on 14th February 2018 by Master Removers

When you’re moving house, it’s important to think ahead about which plants you plan to take with you. If you’re a keen gardener, you may have spent a lot of time honing your garden and you could find yourself reluctant to leave your favourite specimens behind!

Here we offer the lowdown on what you need to consider when moving your prized plants, from potted indoor plants to larger, more established outdoor varieties.

 

 1. Draw up a plan

Think about where your plants will go in your new garden. You should try to take into account factors such as the soil type, likely exposure to wind or frost, and the orientation of your new garden – some plants will fare better in the warmth and light of a south-facing garden, while others prefer a more consistent, northerly aspect. Consider drawing up a plan of your new garden – if necessary you could arrange for another visit.

For larger or more specialist varieties, it might be worth seeking advice from a horticultural expert. It may be that some plants are just too bulky or sensitive to move, in which case you could consider taking some cuttings.

 

 2. Make your plans known

If you’re green-fingered, it’s possible that your hard work may have paid off in more ways than one, by adding to the ‘kerb appeal’, and possibly also the value, of your house. Your garden may even have played a significant role in the buyer’s decision to choose your house.

With this in mind, before you start up-ending that shrubbery it’s important to make sure you specify what you’re planning to take with you – just as you would with the indoor fixtures and fittings. Similarly, you should clarify the situation with the owner of your new house (just in case you were both counting on being the proud owners of that beautiful bougainvillea!)

 

3. Talk to your removal company

You should also discuss any plants that you plan to take with you – both indoor and outdoor –  with your removal company, so that they can make the necessary arrangements and allow enough space for them on the van. Plants can’t be stacked along with the rest of the boxes, and will require sufficient protection, support and clear space.

Should you need to put any plants into storage for a while, some removal companies will store and water your plants on your behalf, if required. They can also look after garden ornaments, equipment such as lawnmowers, and outdoor items like furniture, statues, pots and fountains. Contact Master Removers here to discuss your needs.

 

4. Preparing your plants

Once you’ve settled on which plants will be coming with you, it’s time to start making some preparations. As a general rule, plants don’t like being moved, so it’s important to do as much as you can to minimise the stress, by keeping your plants hydrated and protected from damage and extremes of temperature.

Generally it’s better to move plants while they are in their dormant state, and many will not respond well to being ‘re-rooted’ at other times of the year. When it comes to trees and shrubs, it’s much easier to move them when they are younger.

Where possible, outdoor plants should be placed in a dry, sheltered area ahead of the move. Depending on the variety and time of year, it can also be beneficial to give larger or climbing plants a good prune ahead of time. Cutting your plants back will minimise the risk of damage, and make the process of moving easier and safer for all parties!

You should give all potted plants a good check over and make sure the pots are in a fit state for travelling, with no sign of any cracks.

 

 5. Uprooting outdoor plants

Established garden plants should be moved as close as possible to your moving day. If the forecast is for hot weather, an evening slot is best, while in colder weather it’s best to do your digging in the daytime. Water the soil a day beforehand, to make sure the roots have good access to moisture and that the ground is easy to dig.

It’s important to dig as far around the plant as you can, to help keep the root structure intact. Cover the roots in soil or other organic matter and wrap them in a layer of sheeting or damp sacking, followed by protective bubble wrap or insulation if it’s cold. Don’t forget to backfill any holes you have made!

 

 6. Keeping well hydrated

Keeping your plants sufficiently watered is one of the most important things to remember. Draining potted plants ahead of time will help to minimise the weight and lessen the likelihood of any messy accidents, but your plants must not be allowed to dry out completely. You can you use a water sprayer to help keep them hydrated where appropriate.

 

 7. Packing your plants

Unpotted plants can be placed in lined boxes, with long stems or branches gently tied together and canes used for additional support. Smaller houseplants can be placed in lined, open boxes and padded with paper for protection. Larger, stable pots can be placed inside plastic bags.

Your plants should be among the last items to be loaded onto the van, and offloaded as soon as possible at the other end. Larger plants and heavy pots should be transported using trolleys and carefully secured on the van.

 8. Getting re-established

Once you’ve arrived, place your plants in a cool, dry space out of direct sunlight. Your indoor plants should be put in a safe corner while the move is taking place, after which they can then be carefully unpacked and given a good watering.

Tend to your outdoor plants as soon as you can, firstly by giving them a good water. If possible, get any shrubs or trees into the ground straight away.  Alternatively, your plants can be ‘heeled in’ until you’re ready to put them in their final position – by soaking the roots in water for several hours, digging a temporary trench and back filling it with soil (making sure the roots are fully covered).

When replanting, it’s important to water your plants immediately and every day thereafter until they are fully established, and you can apply some fertilizer and a good mulch in the Spring.

 

We have many years’ experience of transporting all kinds of objects, from your favourite flowers to garden statues and fountains. So you can rest assured that you and your plants will be settling in and putting down roots in no time! Contact the Master Removers here.