Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Although Nationwide have concluded that the housing market has remained ‘highly resilient’ this month, UK economic recovery is unlikely to pick up substantially in 2012.

In November, the price of a typical house was 1.6% higher than this time last year, standing at £165,798, according to Nationwide’s findings. However, construction is at its lowest since the Second World War, and mortgage lending is scant amid high rent and purchase prices.

Nationwide has commented that in spite of the rise in prices in November, demand conditions remained ‘extremely subdued’.

Better news came earlier this month when the government revealed a mortgage indemnity scheme, which aims to allow people to purchase new-build houses with only 5% deposit, a stark contrast with the 20% often required by commercial lenders.

Property Market Remains 'Resilient' - Press Association

Monday, 28 November 2011


As more and more Britons are taking the plunge and renting out their homes, the UK rental market has seen a significant upsurge in recent times.

It has been predicted that the next four to five years will see a fundamental shift occurring in the sector. With restricted mortgage lending due to the high deposit required, research has revealed that 72,000 households have moved into the rental market over the last 2.5 years, a stark contrast with the 40,000 who have taken their first step onto the property ladder.

Savills Estate Agency has calculated that 20% of UK residents will be renting from a private landlord within 5 years, as opposed to only 15% today. In the late 1980s, the figure was only 7.5%.

Commented Yolande Barnes, Director of Savills’ Residential Research, ‘There is a fundamental change going on in the DNA of the housing market’.

UK Rental Market Set to Explode Over The Next Five Years -

If a pipe freezes...

An excellent film from NI Water, on what to do if you have frozen pipes.

Friday, 25 November 2011


The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has stated that the future of the UK mortgages market is ‘difficult to call’.

According to CML, the number of mortgages taken out for house purchases in September was down 2% from August, standing at 48,200, and was 3% higher than in September 2010.

Some lenders suggest that the increase in inter-bank lending charges has led to a rise in the cost of loans. This follows in the wake of the Eurozone crisis, which has dented banks’ lending confidence.

Paul Smee, the director general of CML, said that ‘although both house purchase and remortgage loans experienced a small drop in September, the overall market to date shows a stable picture....however, the backdrop of global and domestic instability makes the future more difficult to call.’

Difficulties facing first-time buyers continue, with an average deposit sitting at 20% of a home’s value. The business group CBI has stressed the need for more assistance for potential first-time buyers, including borrowing from their pension pot.

Mortgage lending outlook uncertain, says CML - BBC News

Thursday, 24 November 2011

How to locate your stop valve.

A Video from NI Water on how to locate and use your Water Stop-valve or Stopcock.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Rightmove, one of the UK’s biggest property websites, has revealed that House Sellers have cut their asking prices by the largest amount since December 2007.

In November, the average asking price was dropped by £7528 from the previous month, making it the largest drop for almost four years.

The number of people putting their property on the market has also dropped by 13% compared with October. As Miles Shipside, the director of Rightmove said, ‘Markets dislike uncertainty, and so do people deciding whether or not to enter the property market.’

Diminished consumer confidence in the current climate has encouraged many would-be sellers to delay their marketing until the new year.

Property asking prices cut by most in four years - The Telegraph

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Protect Your Pipes.

A short film from NI Water on protecting your pipes this winter.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Tips to Prevent Frost & Condensation Damage

There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing:

· Leave the central heating on for short periods of time throughout the day.

· Let warm air into your roof space by keeping the trap door open.

· Keep the cupboard door under the sink open. This will let warm air move around the pipes.

· Keep room doors slightly open to allow the warm air to move around the house.

· If you are going to be away from your house while the weather is cold ask a friend or neighbour to check the house and keep the heating on.

· Know where your Stopcock is located.

· Most frozen pipes are found in the roof space and below sink units.

Know the location of your Stopcock (also known as a Stop Valve, or Stop Tap)

· Find your internal Stopcock. It is usually, but not always, located under your kitchen sink and normally closes by turning clockwise. You may want to test it is working.

· NI Water has produced a bright tag for customers to loop around the Stopcock in their premises. This will ensure they are aware of the location of their Stopcock and it will be easily identifiable in the event of a burst pipe. Tags are available free to customers by phoning NI Water on 08457 440088 or visiting the NI Water Website.

· Stopcocks are usually found in your kitchen, below the sink unit. However in some houses the Stopcock is found in a front or back hall or in a larder unit beside the sink unit.

· It is important that you know where the Stopcock is and that you check that your Stopcock is working.

· If you cannot find the Stopcock you can call us and make an appointment for a maintenance officer to visit your house and show you where it is.

Avoiding Frozen Pipes

· Make sure doors and windows from unheated parts of your property are kept closed and minimise any draughts from outside.

· If you have tanks or pipes in the roof space, allow some warm air to circulate by opening the trap door.

· Leave the heating on low when you are away.

· Leave a key with a neighbour, friend or family member who can check the house regularly.

· If a property is not in use or occupied for a prolonged period of time it is advisable to turn the water supply off at the Stopcock and even consider draining down the system to lessen the possibility of burst pipes going undetected causing property damage and the waste of water.

How to drain your cold water tank

· Make sure the mains water is turned off at the Stopcock.

· Turn on all the cold water taps and flush the toilet several times. This will empty the cold water storage tank and stop the flow of water.

· If you have an open fire burning you should let it burn out and do not light it again until the burst pipe has been fixed.

· Turn off oil or gas heating systems and do not use again until they have been checked.

· Do not use the water heater as this may cause the hot cylinder to collapse.

· Do not turn on the water supply at the Stopcock until the burst pipe has been repaired.

· If the water has come into contact with electrical fittings the electricity should be turned off at the mains.

· If you are going to be away from your home for more than a day or two during cold weather you should drain down the cold water system as described above.

Dealing with Frozen Pipes

· Turn off the water supply at the Stopcock.

· Thaw along the pipe, starting from the end nearest the tap.

· Don’t use a blow lamp or naked flame.

· Put hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe or use a hair dryer at its lowest setting to thaw pipes. Be careful not to warm them too quickly.

· Don’t leave taps dripping or running. The water may not flush down the plug hole if the pipes below are frozen.

If a pipe bursts

· Turn off the Stopcock.

· Try to block escaping water with thick cloth like towels.

· Turn on all taps to reduce flooding.

· Contact the authorised plumber.

· Don’t forget to turn off taps once the problem is fixed to avoid further flooding.

More substantial frost prevention measures (check now, BEFORE the freeze comes)

· Check that there is Insulation on water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roof spaces, garages and outbuildings.

· Insulation is essential in helping to prevent water in pipes from freezing. It is also important to ensure there are no gaps in the insulation at bends, valves or fittings.

· It should be noted that even with lagging, extreme weather conditions can result in water in pipes freezing. Without lagging however the potential for this to happen is greatly increased.

· If any action is required, contact our office to arrange for a Maintenance Officer to inspect, and improve existing pipe work lagging.

· Those in receipt of Housing Benefit, or on Low Incomes, may be eligible for the “Warm-Homes” scheme for Insulation and Heating Improvements, visit or ring 0800 988 0559 for more information, and to see if you are entitled.

A Barton Company accept no liability for any damage caused by following any of the advice above, which is provided for guidance only. Individual circumstances and properties will determine the best course of action in an emergency, and if unsure, it is best to contact the authorised plumber or electrician.

Some simple preventative steps, as outlined above, can decrease the risk of frozen pipes, flooding, broken heating, condensation issues and misery this winter for you, your family and your landlord.

The best advice, as always, is to keep safe and look after yourself, and your property, this winter.