if your looking to move and are in dees of a good removales companey in slough then look ate 3b Removals NOW
Moving Office/House Slough
Although the reasons for moving home are usually positive, like moving to a larger property or a new job, the move itself can be traumatic. Use our tips to make the move go smoothly.
Use moving house as an opportunity to sort out your possessions. Throw away your rubbish and separate items that can be given to friends or charity shops. Get boxes well in advance from local shops or supermarkets, and save newspapers for wrapping breakables. For more advice, take a look at our packing tips
If you’re moving your belongings yourself, start by hiring the right van – too small and you may need to make a few journeys, too big and you may have problems parking. It’s often cheaper to book vans on weekdays. But if you move at the weekends you may be able to make the most of special two-day hire rates.
Professional removal companies
Unless you have very few possessions, call in the professionals to help you move house. It will relieve some of the stress of the big move. You can arrange for it all to be done for you, and pay for the privilege, or you can do the packing yourself but leave the heavy stuff to the experts.
- hire a removal company at least two weeks before you move
- use a removal company who is a member of the British Association of Removers
- get at least three quotes before deciding which one to use
- check if the company offers a discount on a weekday
- check the fine print in your moving insurance
- make a list of your possessions so you can check if you’ve left anything behind
It will help if you let the company know the following things:
- the amount of furniture you’re moving, so it can choose an adequately sized truck and plan the number of journeys needed between your old and new home
- a rough guess of how many boxes the company needs to pack, so it can estimate how long it will take
- the exact time you want the team to arrive
- clear instructions and directions to your new property
- arrange a parking space for the removal van
- always tell the removal firm well in advance of pieces of furniture which won’t go through the door
- make a plan of where the furniture needs to go in your new home
The odd hijacking and the tedium of long-distance driving cannot deter Gary Bligh from the joy of bubble-wrapping people’s worldly goods, finds Leo Benedictus
The first thing I discover on meeting Gary Bligh is that he does not drive a lorry. Rigid or articulated, neither would be big enough. No, when he’s at work, transporting all the possessions of up to 15 different families simultaneously around Europe, he drives a “road-train”.
“Basically it’s got a lorry at the front, then you’ve got a trailer behind it,” he eagerly explains, as though sketching the particulars of a griffin or a sasquatch. “So it’s a little bit bigger than an artic, but not twice as big.”
Got that? This machine, unavailable for viewing when I visit because it’s having its MOT, is less than twice the size of an articulated lorry. So it’s only slightly gigantic. Bligh shrugs sensibly, to keep the monster in perspective.
And yet, though 40 years old, he is unable to hide his child-like excitement. Confined within a small back office at the Wembley depot of Pickfords, this man’s love for his road-train simply bubbles.
“I was quite fortunate to be involved in the design,” he says, his eyes shining. “We had them all purpose-built. No expense spared. We had cooling systems put on the top so at night you don’t have to run your air con. We’ve got orthopaedic mattresses, heating, two little beds. It’s pretty good.”
But then it needs to be, because Bligh will live in this vehicle, with a colleague, for three weeks at a time while they travel around the continent delivering vast stacks of goods and furniture, and picking up vast stacks more. This can involve travelling through Spain or Italy in 45C (113F) heat, or bedding down in the Czech winter, when it’s minus 30.
Although when he is away, as he is quick to remind me, the greatest feats of endurance are performed by his wife. Because this “poor suffering lady”, as he calls her, looks after their eight children without him. Indeed, he missed the birth of three of them.
How cheerfully Mrs Bligh takes on these three-week childcare marathons, I cannot tell. But what is very clear is that her husband loves his job. Unasked, he says so many times. And indeed, with his close-cropped hair and neatly buttoned Pickfords polo shirt, he exudes an almost fanatical passion for the art of packing objects correctly and moving them around.
“People look at you strangely when you say you’re a removal man and you really enjoy it,” he admits, a little proudly. “They think you’re mad.”
In truth, I’m not too sure he isn’t, so I press him to explain. Covering hundreds of objects in protective wrapping, for instance: he actually enjoys that, does he?
“Love it,” he instantly replies. “It’s my favourite bit of the job. I think it’s because I’m a little bit anal. I’m a perfectionist, so I drive people mental, but I have to have the boxes taped neatly, and written on neatly … Yes, you can still wrap a chair in bubblewrap to protect it, or you can cut it in all nicely … Or even things like [putting] silver in tissue paper, because there’s no acidity in it, so it doesn’t tarnish … When the customer walks past they should be like, ‘Wow!’ It’s making a statement with what you’re doing.”
As he speaks, his hands are gesticulating vigorously. His voice, gently Londonised, is calm but powerfully sincere. In an age when advertisers so frequently say they are “passionate” about looking after customers, Bligh comes across as a man who really is.
“You’re not just moving their furniture,” he explains humbly. “It’s their life. So many customers turn around to us and say, ‘You’ve got our life in the back of your truck’. And a couple of hours earlier you were a stranger.”
It is tempting to wonder if Bligh absorbed his instinct for rigid professionalism from his first employer, the army, which he joined on leaving school, and where he says he was “very, very keen”.
Certainly he enjoyed military life, and only gave it up in 1991, after serving in the first Gulf war, because he and his wife wanted to settle down, and – the irony lies heavy on his voice – “I didn’t want to spend so much time away from home.”
Instead, he got a job driving security vans, which he might have stuck to were it not for one terrible experience. “I got hijacked,” he recalls.
“I got jumped as I was unloading. Had a shooter shoved up my nose. I was hooded, tied up, thrown in the back. And we drove from Colchester to Stratford in the East End, where they dumped the vehicle and made their getaway.” He tells the story rapidly, almost too jovially, as if trying to get quickly to the end.
“I carried on for a while,” he adds, “because it’s not the sort of thing you want to let beat you, is it?”
After escaping to conventional haulage, which he found “mind-numbingly boring”, Bligh walked into a jobcentre looking for something new. “And they said, ‘Have you thought about removals?'” he remembers gleefully. “And I was just, straight away: Yes. And right from day one, when I went out on the first job, I just loved it.”
That was 12 years ago, since when he has risen through the company’s domestic and military removals to its European section, “which is the real top end of what Pickfords does,” he says. “But I still hate driving. I do find it incredibly boring. That’s probably why I’m so buzzy when I get to the customers, because I’m so happy to be doing some work with people.”
Which is not to say that people are always easy to work with – least of all in the middle of moving to another country, while having to get a sofa through a second-storey window (remove window, deploy hydraulic platform) or move a grand piano across a field before nightfall (reinforced table on wheels, portable track). But Bligh enjoys these challenges, especially the comradeship that such experiences bring out among colleagues.
Conversely, when he makes a mistake, he finds it hard. Has he ever broken anything? “Yes,” he sniggers, shameful but relieved, it seems, to admit his fallibility. “The last thing I broke was when I dropped a TV. I remember it clearly.” How did he feel? “Just awful … if I do something wrong I feel guilty. It’ll be niggling me days later if something hasn’t gone quite how I wanted.”
Most of the time, however, it does. And most of the time, Bligh and his team get a tip: £20 per person, he says, is about normal for European jobs, and as much as £200. “It’s not the size of it [that matters] though,” he insists, “but the fact people appreciate what you’ve done. It gives you a good feeling.”
Still, not all of Bligh’s customers are moving house for happy reasons, which can affect him in a different way. “We’ve had cases where families are splitting up, and they’re still arguing over who’s having what,” he says, sadly. “And we do a lot of Forces moves, so we’ve had jobs where the husband has been killed in action and you’ve got to go and pack their things.”
On one strange occasion, as he was helping a woman to move out of a military house in Germany, Bligh found himself caught in the middle.
“She didn’t have a good word to say about her husband,” he remembers, with a smile. “They were splitting up, and she slated him for the whole day. We hated him, and we hadn’t even met him.”
When Bligh and his team were done, she asked him if he wanted a shower before leaving. “And as I’m in the shower, all I can hear is shouting downstairs, where her husband has returned. So I sneaked out, shut the door, and as I’m coming down the stairs, this great big guy has his back to me, and he’s turned round and gone, ‘Gary?’ It was a guy I served with in the army. That was bizarre. To give him his due, he did come over afterwards and we had a quick chat and beer, to catch up.”
Sometimes, however – no matter how tactful he is – Bligh simply cannot do anything right. “Some people are just naturally rude,” he shrugs. “The key thing is to still be polite, still be professional, and still do the job to the best of your abilities. And the good thing about this job is that tomorrow you never have to see them again.”
He laughs merrily, but then stops as something occurs to him.
“Although the chances are, if you’ve done a good job, you’re probably going to get asked back.”
Pay From £16,000 for a removals operative to c£23,000 for a team leader. With overtime, a European driver could earn £28,000-£30,000.
Hours Flexible, based on when customers are available. “But we’re constricted by the working time directive, and your driver’s tachograph. So we average out at 48 hours a week. It is also seasonal.”
Work/life balance “It’s not always easy, but it works for us. Yes, work means me being away, but it means we can fund having a bigger family. My wife is pretty fantastic, and the older children all muck in a bit. They seem to be able to keep juggling the balls without dropping them often.”
Best thing “The comradeship is very good, the travel is fantastic; meeting people, being outdoors … And I like the fact that when I’m away and finish in the evenings, it gives me time to do my own thing. And it’s always a laugh; we have fun.”
Worst thing “Facilities for truck drivers in England. Finding somewhere you can park and get a proper shower and proper meal at a reasonable price: England just doesn’t cater for it.”
People always say to Gary ‘It must keep you fit. But it doesn’t. Your body just gets used to the work.’
Gary wastes lots of his time in traffic jams, and waiting at ferry terminals.
Lunch is difficult ‘I’m a vegetarian, so I struggle. If I’m in England, I’ll have something like a pasty. But I do a lot of my own cooking when I’m away.’
If Gary wasn’t a removals man ‘I’d quite happily still be a soldier, to be honest.’
The biggest myth about removals men is ‘Everyone assumes that you want a cup of tea every 10 minutes. I can’t stand tea.’
‘I try not to notice when the bed is moved to reveal forgotten sex toys or magazines. You blush, but honestly, I’ve seen it all’
Isee you at one of your most stressful times and do my best to calm you down. Divorce is always an awkward one. I try not to notice while you fight over who bought what or when the bed is moved to reveal forgotten sex toys or magazines. You blush, but honestly, I’ve seen it all. While I pack your things, I learn a lot about your life and your rampant consumerism. People accumulate so much stuff and don’t need half of it. Some fill the van three times over and that’s just their books and DVDs – they score highly on my private “tat” rating.
One of the biggest wastes of money I see is putting things in storage. If you can’t fit it in your house, it’s pointless keeping it, especially if it’s cheapo furniture. When you come to retrieve it, you always say: “I don’t need all this stuff, I’ve lived without it.”
I really dread the OCD clients as they watch my every move and clean everything before and after I have touched it. They also curse the job before it has even begun by saying: “Don’t drop anything.” Not that I ever have. I take care and think: tick tock, I charge by the hour. Harder battles are waged with lift doors and pompous concierges. If I could, I’d make all architects spend a week doing my job before they designed a building – they seem to have no concept of how furniture is going to be put in their precious house.
On the upside, it’s always pleasing to see your stress melt away as the van door is shut for the last time. And my calf muscles aren’t bad, either.
What happens if your house-mover vanishes and takes all your belongings with it?
Homeowners in Yorkshire who were left thousands of pounds out of pocket when the removals firm they hired disappeared with their cash have been promised their money back after The Observer intervened last week.
Brown and Sons, a removals company with a business address in Hull, employed a team of salesmen to call on local people who had For Sale signs outside their properties. The firm, run by sole trader Richard Brown, then gave people discounted quotes for their removals bill and in many cases for storage as well.
The company had large adverts in the local Yellow Pages and came highly recommended by the neighbours of some of those about to move. But about a month ago, just before the floods hit Hull, Brown and his team disappeared from their business address and have not answered any phone calls since.
Anne Cottingham, a retired headmistress, was five days away from her move to Norfolk when she realised something was amiss. ‘It wasn’t until I wanted some more boxes the Thursday before I was due to move that I started to worry, as the company was not answering the phones,’ she says. ‘I had paid them for half the price of the move, £594, and I have since had to pay again to get another firm to move me. The very thought of getting to Tuesday, the day I was due to move, and no one turning up filled me with horror.’
David Taylor and his wife Marjorie, and husband and wife Roger and Val Bachelor, are, by coincidence, all retiring to the same town in Devon in the same week in August. Both couples had put all their possessions into storage with Brown and Sons – or so they believed. ‘We had paid £1,127 to Brown and Sons, half the cost of removals and storage. We became suspicious when they didn’t answer the phones for days or send us the boxes we had asked for,’ says Mr Taylor.
The Bachelors had paid for removal but not storage. ‘The realisation that we had lost our money was bad enough, but what was more of a worry was what had happened to all our furniture and personal belongings,’ says Mrs Bachelor.
The Taylors and the Bachelors eventually came across their belongings when they started to ring other removal companies. Their containers were being stored with Arnolds, another local firm which had leased storeage space to Richard Brown before he disappeared. Both couples have now paid Arnolds to move them. Arnolds was also storing the goods of another couple who were customers of Brown and Sons, Ted and Rachael Chamberlain. The newlyweds had over £4,000 of wedding gifts in storage as well as the rest of their household possessions. ‘We spent a very stressful weekend not knowing if we would ever get our stuff back,’ says Mr Chamberlain.
Carl Arnold, who runs Arnolds, says he is still coming across people desperately searching for their belongings. ‘We are in the process of tracking down the last couple of customers,’ he says.
The Observer has been in contact with Hull City Council’s trading standards department over the last fortnight and last Wednesday it said it had located Brown and spoken to him. ‘Richard Brown has confirmed that his business has folded,’ says Mike Pindar of the council. ‘He has given us reassurances that he will return everybody’s money and their goods. We will be liaising with him over the course of the next few weeks.’
Both Arnolds and another local removals firm, Hardaker’s, say they are also owed money by Brown after he leased storage space from them.
‘The man is a sole trader and therefore a law unto himself. But I don’t feel this is an isolated incident; I feel this is going on throughout the UK,’ says Tony Lawson, managing director of Hardaker’s. ‘I am disappointed that the industry is not regulated. Anyone can buy a van and some glossy brochures and set themselves up as a legitimate removals firm.’
Arnold says people need to be more careful in choosing a removals company. ‘People will pay £800 to get a survey done on their house without question, but they won’t pay someone proper money to move their possessions. They need to do proper checks on a company; otherwise it’s like getting your gas boiler inspected by someone who is not Corgi registered.’
Jon Allen, a policeman, says he is also owed money by Brown and Sons. Mr Allen believes he did everything reasonable to check on the firm before he chose them. ‘After I had given him some of the money for storage, Brown even called me to tell me I had overpaid,’ he says.
It was only when the floods hit Hull in early July that Mr Allen began to worry. ‘I called the firm as I was worried our stuff, which we believed was in storage at their offices near the river Hull, could have been flooded. I was reassured everything was fine and Mr Brown asked me to send a cheque to cover the next week’s storage. I never heard from him again.’
Alan Cocksworth, a retired policeman, also says he had no reason to distrust the firm, which he says has disappeared with £761 of his money. ‘A neighbour of ours moved with them and recommended them, as did the lady who moved in across the street. They were in the Yellow Pages with three different adverts and sent us a glossy brochure, so we had no reason to think anything was wrong.’
Richard Brown did not respond to The Observer’s attempts to contact him.
Property website 3B Removals in SLOUGH also reveals urban areas – particularly those around Berks – are falling out of favour with UK home movers.
It is the most northern city in Britain and one of the fastest-growing in Europe. Inverness has this month also been named as the UK’s most popular destination for people moving home, with Truro in second place.
Research from the property website reallymoving.com reveals that urban areas – particularly those around London – are out of favour with UK home movers who are instead upping sticks to “dynamic and desirable” provincial centres.
In its latest Quarterly Migration Monitor, – a regular analysis of migration patterns across the UK – the west London conurbation Uxbridge is identified as the least popular destination. And the average distance covered by a removal van in the UK is 70.26 miles – equivalent to the distance between London and Folkestone.
Norfolk,Suffolk and the West Country are more affordable since the UK’s property market crash, accounting for the popularity of areas like Ipswich, Norwich, Bournemouth and Torquay. The data is based on responses from a 33,425 people who registered for information about home-buying services such as conveyancing, in the first quarter of this year.
The website diirector, Rosemary Rogers, said people living around London had seen the economic downturn as an opportunity to escape the rat-race. “The data shows people viewed the early stages of the recovery as an ideal time to buy into desirable but previously unaffordable towns.”
Inverness heads the overall league for home movers because of a wealth of hi-tech industries and its transport connections, the data suggests.
At the other end of the scale, Uxbridge is the least popular area because it is traditionally home to a high proportion of first-time buyers but struggled through the recession as restricted lending prevented many from entering the market.In another trend, many white collar City-based workers living in the SE and TW postcode areas of south London will have been feeling vulnerable during the recession, and are still fearful about unemployment, rising house prices ad tightening credit conditions. The report said: “These concerns will have led many to leave the fashionable but expensive areas in favour of more affordable commuter towns on the fringes of the M25.”
Homes in Peterborough may be he most appealing to prospective Landlords as those with the most bedrooms (an average of 3.2 each). And highly priced space in London remains at a premium. Properties in the central WC and EC postcodes are unique in the capital as having, on average, fewer than two bedrooms.
Removals costs in Slough can be daunting, even if you’re not going far. It’s tempting to do it yourself, but hiring the pros may not be that much more expensive.
Should you hire a removal company or opt for a self-drive van when moving home? Many people are now choosing the money-saving DIY option, but a Jobs & Money survey has found that removal firms may be cheaper than you think.
“People considering moving house the DIY way should stop and take a deep breath first,” says British Association of Removers spokesman Steve Jordan. “Add up the cost of materials, time off work to do the packing, suitable van hire and labour costs. Compare this with the cost of a professional move and the difference will be less than expected. Then consider the risks of damage and unforeseen hitches, and the ‘aggravation factor’. Is it really worth it?”
On the assumption that they would say that, wouldn’t they? Jobs & Money decided to check out the premise that, when weighing up both the cost and hassle involved, most people are best off using a professional service to move home. And the conclusion is that, unless you are really strapped for cash, it’s generally true, especially if you are moving any distance.
First, we asked Removals in Slough, which offers useful online guide quotes from a variety of home-moving services, to get indicative quotes from a selection of removal companies for two moving scenarios. Guide prices for a basic, no-frills move with no packing service or insurance cover from a one-bed flat to a new home across London, ranged from £259 to £463. And for a similar basic removal from a three-bed semi in Sheffield to Harrogate, prices varied from £378 to £631.
Prices will obviously be higher for households with a lot of accumulated possessions, stuffed lofts and garden sheds, and unusual items of furniture that require special handling. “Homes with a piano on the first floor, for example, or houses that have been altered so that furniture that originally went in won’t easily come out again will put the price up,” says Mr Jordan.
On top of the basic removal cost, you’ll pay extra for packing, but perhaps not as much as you think. “Packing is not expensive when compared with the time it’s likely to take you to do it,” says Mr Jordan. “You can reckon on something in the region of £250 a day for a three-man crew to pack for you and most things in the average three-bed house could be packed in a day.” A spokesperson for national removal giant 3B Removals in slough, who gave a guide price of £300-£400 and £600 respectively for the two no-frills house move examples, says: “It’s generally uncommon to want no packing at all. Most customers ask for quotes for removal plus ‘fragile pack’ – that’s all china and breakables – and removal plus ‘full pack’, which means we pack the lot. When they compare the two, they are usually surprised that the difference is only £150 to £250.”
Insurance – which is highly recommended – will generally cost you around 10% of the total moving cost. But each moving company negotiates its own cover and rates with insurers leading to a lot of differences.
The best offer “new for old” cover while others offer only indemnity cover. So do check the smallprint.
Deciding how big a van you’ll need for a DIY house-move is tricky and something people often underestimate, says Mr Jordan.
At Hertz Van Rental, hiring a long wheel-base Ford Transit described as, “ideal for boxes and furniture”, costs £78.50 a day or £134.67 for two days in London (£56.17 and £112.35 outside) including insurance, VAT and unlimited mileage. A bigger Ford Transit Luton, which is only available in the London area, costs £102.98 per day or £184.74 for two days.
When it comes to packing, the Box Store at www.theboxstore.co.uk (0800 013 2161) sells a range of home movers’ kits online comprising self assembly packing boxes, tape and bubble wrap costing from £35 to £61.
If you decide in the end that moving yourself is too much like hard work, consider going the whole hog.
At 3B Removals in Slough you’ll find the “complete unpacking solution” on offer where a team of trained workers come in after the removal company has left to unpack, set up and put away absolutely everything. A handyman will even connect your TVs and computers, assemble flat packs and build shelves as part of the service, which costs from £184 for a typical one-bed flat to £564 for a five-bed house.
Before you get down to cases
· Arrange your move as far ahead as possible and try not to move on a Friday, the busiest day of the week. You may get a discount if you opt for another day.
· Unless specifically stated and quoted for, your mover will not normally take down curtains, fixtures and fittings or dismantle self-assembly furniture and beds.
· Clarify with the remover whether they will be dismantling and reassembling beds and kit furniture within the quoted price.
· The service specification you sign with your mover should clearly state what the company will be packing on your behalf and what you agree to do yourself. Anything you pack yourself will not generally be covered by insurance. Be sure to separate small, valuable items like jewellery and carry them yourself. Mark one box “Do not move” for personal effects.
· Discuss the removal of pets, plants, fine art, wine collections or antiques with your remover well in advance.
· For peace of mind, always insure your property to be moved.
· Make sure someone is at the collection and delivery addresses to oversee what is being moved. Your contract will normally require this.
· Work out where you want removers to put your possessions in the new home – using colour-coded labels on furniture and boxes is useful.
· At the new home, make sure there is adequate parking space for the removal vehicle and warn the removers in advance of any parking restrictions. Pre-agree all costs and avoid unexpected supplements for difficult access found on arrival.
· Warn the removers of any unexpected hazards at the new home such as poor access, small doorways, spiral staircases or trees close by. Such unforeseen difficulties could lead to extra costs.
Suggestions from the British Association of Removers (www.barmovers.com)
House prices may have risen – but owners trying to cash in are having to face up to increases in the cost of buying and selling. Rupert Jones reports
Homeowners wanting to trade up to a bigger property are in for a shock. As house prices have risen, homebuying and selling costs have soared, too.
Many families buying in London and the south-east, plus many other parts of the country, could easily be looking at racking up costs of £15,000 to £20,000. And that’s before any extra mortgage-related costs, repairs to the house you’re selling or ongoing expenditure are taken into account.
The biggest single cost for many is stamp duty. For properties costing more than £250,000 the duty is now 3%, while for those costing more than £500,000 it’s 4%. Growing numbers of homebuyers are now being caught in the net, and not just people buying in London.
Earlier this month the Halifax bank revealed that Wilmslow in Cheshire is the latest location to join the quarter of a million club, where the average price of a home is in excess of £250,000.
Estate agent fees have been propelled higher by increasing property values. Then there’s the legal fees and the survey to pay for, the removal van to hire and maybe storage costs too …
Here we provide a comprehensive guide to the various expenses you need to bear in mind when selling your home and buying another property.
- Estate agents: Do you really need one? What do I have to do?
- You don’t have to use an estate agent to sell your house, but most people do. However, growing numbers are cutting estate agents out of the equation and selling privately. There are dozens of property websites. Needless to say, estate agents don’t like the private sale ones. They argue there are potential dangers, one of which is that you may underprice your property. Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), says there are also security issues, and adds that as well as having lists of house-hunters looking for specific properties in specific areas, agents will weed out time-wasters and often have close working relationships with solicitors and mortgage lenders.
Where do I find one?
Your best bet is probably to go for one that is a member of the NAEA or another professional body. And you’d be advised to only deal with an agent belonging to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme (www.oea.co.uk, tel 01722 333306). If you use an agent that’s a member of the scheme and something goes wrong, you have access to independent redress.
How much is it going to cost?
Fees can range from 1% to 2% depending on where you live, though there are “certain parts of the country” where people may pay more, says the NAEA. A Jobs & Money survey in 2002 indicated it’s Londoners who often pay way over the odds – as much as 3%. In the summer we reported that rising house prices meant the average commission paid by a seller had leapt 14% in a year to £2,500, according to Britain’s biggest estate agency group Countrywide Assured. Based on Countrywide’s average commission fee of 1.74%, our person selling their home for £225,000 would fork out £3,915 plus £685 VAT.
How can I cut the cost?
Of course it’s worth haggling. However, Peter Bolton King says: “You get what you pay for. I would say you can ask the question but a good agent might well say no.”
- Stamp duty: The greatest expense of all What do I have to do?For most people, the biggest single cost when buying a house is probably going to be stamp duty. Someone buying a £275,000 home, would have to shell out a whopping £8,250. Yet the people buying their house for £225,000 will “only” pay £2,250. The vast majority of people buying a house costing more than £60,000 will have to pay stamp duty, though there are exemptions, explained later. How much is it going to cost?
Stamp duty rates have been increased four times since Labour came to power in 1997. Gordon Brown last raised the rates in the March 2000 Budget, when he increased the rate for homes costing between £250,000 and £500,000 to 3%, and for those costing more than £500,000 to 4%. For properties costing between £60,000 and £250,000 the duty is 1%, while below £60,000 sales are free of stamp duty.How can I cut the cost?
There was a popular tax loophole which allowed some people to reduce their stamp duty bill by paying over the odds for fixtures and fittings. But that was closed on December 1 as part of new rules designed to combat tax evasion. Under the new regulations, you now have to fill in a long form and the Inland Revenue says it will be making more random checks of cases that fall just below the stamp duty thresholds to check people are not pulling a fast one.A couple of years ago Gordon Brown brought in a stamp duty exemption scheme to encourage regeneration. If you buy a house costing less than £150,000 located in one of about 2,000 “designated disadvantaged areas” of the UK, you won’t have to pay any stamp duty.
“Your estate agent will usually tell you whether it falls in the stamp duty exemption area,” says the Revenue. The areas are quite specific and it’s all done on postcode – you can check whether a particular location is eligible by going to www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/so/pcode_search.htm
- Solicitors: Shop around for a quote What do I have to do?Try to find a good solicitor early on. People who are both buying and selling usually use the same solicitor, says the Law Society. Not surprisingly, it urges caution on doing your own conveyancing – pointing out that solicitors are insured and trained to make moving as hassle-free as possible.Where do I find one?
“Speak to people you know to find out if they’ve used someone who is good. We always say shop around – get at least three quotes in writing before you instruct a solicitor,” says the Law Society, whose website – solicitors-online.com – can be used by people in England and Wales to search for a solicitor in their area. For Scots (www.lawscot.org.uk). and Northern Ireland (www.lawsoc-ni.org). Ask if they are specialists in residential conveyancing.
- How much is it going to cost?
Some solicitors do it on a fixed fees basis, others by billable hours. We got a combined buying and selling quote from law firm Shoosmiths’s website (property-conveyancing-online.co.uk) based on a sale of £225,000 and a purchase of £275,000. They quoted us a total of £1,764, which includes their fees totalling £1,147 plus various things like Land Registry fees. Stuart & Co Solicitors Online (britishlaw.net) quoted us a total of £1,199 and Conveyancing 24-7 (via about-mortgages.co.uk) £1,449.How can I cut the cost?
It’s worth trying to negotiate, particularly on a combined quote. But a good, busy firm may say no.
- Surveyors: Go for the fullest report What do I need to do?
- If you need a mortgage your lender will almost certainly insist on a surveyor carrying out a homebuyer’s report. It is the middle of three types of survey. A valuation is the basic service while the most extensive is the full structural survey. Most surveyors will tell you the homebuyer’s report and full structural survey cover the same ground but the structural survey comes with a more detailed report.
Where do I find one?
Your mortgage company will often let you use their surveyor to provide the report and offer a discount on the fee. If you go it alone then the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors will provide lists of members in your area (www.ricsfirms.co.uk or call 0870 333 1600).
How much is it going to cost?
A valuation will cost £85, but unless you are a cash buyer you will need to pay about £250 for the homebuyer’s report. Mortgage companies can cut the cost to £180-£200. A full structural survey will cost upwards of £450-£500 depending on the size of the home and its state of repair.
Is a full survey worth the money?
A good surveyor will provide a report that is like a plan of works with photos. It will point out the problems that need immediate attention and those that can wait. But a lazy surveyor (and there are plenty of them) may merely describe your new home and deny responsibility when subsequent problems arise.
- Removals: Cheap deals early in week What do I have to do? You can either pay a removal company or – if you’ve not got stacks of furniture – do it yourself by hiring a van. Where do I find one?
Ask around to see if anyone can recommend a good firm. There are the major national companies such as 3B Removals In Slough and then there are smaller local outfits. We got on the net and quickly found lots of firms.
- How much is it going to cost?
It depends how much stuff you’ve got and how far you are moving. A ballpark figure is around £600, according to 3B Removals, which offers online guide quotes from a variety of home-moving services. We got two quotes from nationwide firm House Removals (house removals) for moving the contents of a two-bedroom house – including a three-piece suite, a double and a single bed, wardrobe, two TVs, computer, video, hi-fi, fridge, dishwasher, freezer, washing machine and cooker. To move within London (£457), from London to Bristol (£607).How can I cut the cost?
The beginning of the week is always quieter for removal firms, so they might be prepared to do you a special deal if you’re prepared to move on a Monday, says a spokeswoman for Removals in SLOUGH. Doing it yourself will probably be cheaper but once you factor in the time involved, van hire and petrol, stress and unforeseen hassles, it may be a better bet just to pay up and let someone else take the strain.
- Storage: Bridging the gap between selling and buying What do I have to do?Many people won’t need to use a storage company. However, if you’re in a chain there might be a gap between when you have to leave your old property and when your new home becomes available. Or it might be that you’re spending a few months in rented accommodation between homes.Where do I find one?
As with removals, ask around and get on the net. One of the best-known firms in southern England is the Big Yellow Self Storage Company (thebigyellow.co.uk), which is offering up to £3,000 of free insurance cover for four weeks and a free padlock for people who take a storage room at selected sites before January 31. Other big names include Spaces Personal Storage (spaces.uk.com), with 44 centres including 15 in London and sites in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh. Then there are lots of local firms.How much is it going to cost?
We got Big Yellow Self Storage to quote for the cost of storing the typical contents of a large two-bedroom/average three bedroom house for two weeks at one of its sites in London. This worked out at £93 per fortnight, while three months cost £603. Spaces Personal Storage quoted £99 and £654 respectively. For storage in Edinburgh, Spaces Personal Storage quoted us £77 for two weeks and £510 for three months, and for Liverpool, £64 and £525 respectively.How can I cut the cost?
It’ll be cheaper if you don’t take out the storage company’s insurance – but it’s probably quite a good idea to insure your stuff. Avoid shelling out on their storage boxes by getting hold of freebie boxes from supermarkets, work etc.
Costs are relatively low these days, but it still pays to look around and find a service that suits all your requirements
A mandatory but nerve-jangling part of buying and selling a home is conveyancing – the legal process involving the transfer of property ownership titles from one person to another.
This will be done either by a solicitor (all are qualified to do this work, although it pays to hire one who has experience) or by a dedicated licenced conveyancer.
Solicitors who reach consistently high standards of conveyancing, as tested by the Law Society can carry a kitemark-style logo stating they are in the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). Conveyancers are authorised by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and listed on its website.
What do they do?
Whichever you choose, the individual has six major tasks to undertake for a buyer:
• He or she will conduct vital searches with local authorities, utility companies and other bodies to ensure no future plans or financial liabilities hang over the property in question. The searches will reveal if there is a sewer running close to the property, if it is liable for local church repairs, and other key details like that.
• Advise you of any “incurred costs” including well-known ones like stamp duty or much more unusual charges like chancel repair liability applying to a few homes near churches.
• Check (and if necessary draft) contracts regarding the purchase of the property.
• Ensure your mortgage lender has all the relevant information about the property, from the sellers as well as from yourself.
• Carry out on your behalf the payment of fees at the end of the transaction, such as estate agency costs and stamp duty.
• Register new owners with the Land Registry.
When and how do I choose a conveyancer?
Appoint a conveyancer as soon as you decide to sell and do not wait until you find a home to buy – this way, the maximum paperwork can be sorted in advance.
You may save money if you appoint the conveyancer in tandem with your choice of mortgage lender. Since the credit crunch, some lenders work only with a panel of conveyancers who they regard as particularly scrupulous at checking on searches and ensuring there are no problems with the purchase (a process known as due diligence).
If you are tied to a specific mortgage lender, you can request a list of its approved conveyancers and choose from those. Or instead, use your existing solicitor or conveyancer or follow the recommendation of a trusted contact who has moved house – but you may be charged by your lender if it uses its own, separate approved conveyancer.
Consider using an online conveyancer. The most sophisticated providers allow you to check progress online; they typically use emails or texts to prompt you for additional paperwork or approvals. You obviously need to be IT-savvy to make the best use of this.
How much will it cost?
Whichever type of conveyancer you use, always check charges upfront.
Costs vary according to the price of homes being bought and sold, despite the fact that a £5m mansion may require no more legal work than a £100,000 studio flat. The UK average cost of conveyancing is £850 according to the website 3B Removals.
Lists of charges will typically include fees for the conveyancer’s time, telephone and internet charges, letters and an indemnity fee, plus a contingency for unforeseen problems. On top of that, there will be council and Land Registry fees for searches and for lodging title deeds.
Conveyancing is becoming increasingly competitive and there are now many fixed-rate deals – Saga, for example, has just launched one for £750 and several online providers offer similar services from about £500 upwards.
Some also offer a no-completion, no-fee service which means if the deal collapses entirely (perhaps because a buyer in a chain pulls out, forcing the collapse of related sales) you pay nothing. The price of these, in instances when deals are concluded, can be higher than usual to compensate the conveyancers for the occasions when deals collapse.
Many of the most cost-effective services, fixed-price or otherwise, are offered by national chains with scores of conveyancers, each handling perhaps hundreds of cases. The upsides are the wide experience and low cost, but downsides include a lack of personal contact.
Some older friends may know of sellers and buyers who have conducted their own conveyancing. It is possible, and some have done it, but few experts would ever advise it.
These days, conveyancing costs are relatively low, while searches and liaison with lenders have become increasingly complex. To ensure a smooth move, most people will be better off hiring a professional.
Getting home removal quotes on 3B. Once you’ve decided what level of service you’re looking for you can take some time to compare available moving companies. 3B Removals can help you compare removal companies. By listing the details of your house move, you can receive quotes from different available moving firms.