Growing Up: The Rise of the Vertical City

Major cities are dynamic, constantly growing and transforming to fit the changing needs of their residents. The London of 2012 is a far cry from the London of 1902, 1952, or even 1992. As the world’s population continues to swell – reaching 7 billion worldwide in 2011 – people all over the world have begun shifting to the cities. London is no exception: the city’s population is expected to increase by 10 percent from 2012 to 2013. More people in the same space means real estate values are shooting up (up 20.3 percent from last year). Developers and city planners wonder: how best to accommodate these new residents? The answer is simple: go vertical.

-Expanding vertically allows developers to pack more use into less space, minimizing the cost of land while maximizing income.

-Towers’ versatility of function allows investors to pursue a variety of business ventures in the same space. This protects against loss by providing a number of viable income options: if the apartment units aren’t drawing in residents, for instance, the office spaces or shops are being rented.

London’s growing population is due in large part to a steady immigration of single adults and childless couples, the target demographic for tower living. The tower lifestyle is ideal for young people who enjoy a fast-paced urban way of life:

-Tower living provides a higher level of security than private homes, a necessity in the atmosphere of growing crime that comes with higher urban populations. Maintenance tasks are taken care of by the building management, and amenities like swimming pools, fitness centers, and resident lounge areas provide entertainment and comfort.

-Skyscrapers provide living space in the city center, close to public transportation or in commercial districts. Residents are able to live and work within easy reach of cultural and commercial venues such as theatres, fashion hubs, restaurants and night clubs.

High-rise apartment complexes like Ontario Point (14 stories) and The Heron (36 stories) have already made their mark on the London skyline. Several new skyscrapers are due for completion over the next two years, such as The Tower, a 49-story residential tower overlooking the Thames at Vauxhall; Manhattan Loft Gardens, which rises 42 stories above Stratford; and the 27-story high Altitude apartment complex. Together, these towers hold more than 1100 flats, and each tower boasts its own special features like rooftop gardens and private clubs.

Despite the obvious benefits of vertical expansion, there is a downside to tower building:

-Some architects argue that skyscrapers are merely an eyesore. Developers have sought to improve the aesthetic appeal of towers by grouping them in clusters and outfitting them with public-access viewing galleries. The Mayor’s London Plan provides guidelines for tower construction, requiring towers to be well integrated into their surroundings and conform to high ecological and construction standards.

-While heating and cooling usage is roughly the same in low-rise and high-rise buildings, taller towers consume 10-15 percent more energy due to high elevator usage. New advancements in elevator technology, however, have reduced energy use. Some “green” developers, for instance, have installed software that calculates the most efficient path for the elevator to take based on the respective destinations of its passengers, the number of passengers onboard, and the floors where others are waiting to board.

-Location is key to keeping energy costs down. Towers should be situated in areas that provide easy access to public transportation and pedestrian footpaths, to minimize residents’ car use. For this reason, skyscrapers fare best when placed closer to the center of the city, in proximity to transportation centers and commercial hubs.

Despite their drawbacks, skyscrapers are the inevitable and practical next step in expanding cities like London and outfitting them for a changing demographic.

Alex Wayne is a full-time blogger who enjoys writing about urban life, proper development and energy efficiency. He works with websites like MTBmechanical.com to translate the knowledge and experience of home improvement and property experts into insightful blog posts and articles for homeowners who want to work smarter, not harder.

Home Security Tips

Although security systems are one of the most relied-upon aspects of what we use to protect our homes against entry and theft there are other ways to do it. We often underestimate plain old common sense when it comes to what needs to be done in order to make our home a less likely target for thieves. One thing anyone with a keen eye is aware of at all times when it comes to security systems is that there is always a blind spot, a backdoor or a workaround anything high-tech as long as you have an analytical mind a plenty of patience. Security system experts around the world are aware of that and that is the reason why you must pay attention to the most vulnerable part of any security system – the human factor. We are generally lazy and we tend to think we don’t have to think when we have home security, but that is a big mistake. Here we are giving you some tips on what to do to avoid making yourself a target:

1. Stop talking

This is something you must keep in mind since a lot of us love bragging about where we’re going and what we’ve bought. You don’t know whether the person you consider your friend has ulterior motives or that their friends aren’t friends with someone shady.

2. The backdoor entrance

This is one of the most common blunders for most people – they don’t realize that the backdoor to your property is the prime target for thieves scouting your home for entry points. A good idea is to keep a neat warning sign on the back telling them the place is protected with an alarm system just like in the front. Always remember to keep your backdoor locked and secured at all times.

3. Forget the Hollywood nonsense

Thieves will rarely be as carefully prepared as to wear face masks or gloves when entering a house. A lot of these people will be desperate and they won’t think twice about this, simply seeking to get in and get out as fast as possible before trouble arrives. For the most part they might even be arrogant enough to think they won’t be caught in the act. Make sure you have the signs warning them about your security system neatly placed everywhere. They won’t know where they’re being taped from and they’ll think twice before moving on with their plan.

4. Hiding your valuables

The best place is not really the safe or the bedroom, but the places you absolutely know they won’t look in. A random cookie jar, a random book on your shelves only you know holds your money and a whole variety of things you won’t think of. Sit down and consider where you’d go if you were a thief and brainstorm a safe location in your home where you believe will be the last place you’ll look for money. A house has many places where something can be hidden and you don’t have to be a secret agent to figure out where.

5. Be mindful of your trash

You might think this won’t be the case, however that is very wrong. One of the most useful tactics when attempting to steal someone’s identity is going through their trash. A lot of the junk mail has your name and address and if you’re not careful a lot more than that. Be very mindful of what you’re throwing away and if you have to throw away important documents that are out of use you should make sure they will be impossible to salvage. Paper shredders are one way to do it and they will make things significantly harder for any trash-rummaging identity thief. There are other things which may tip them off about what you have such as boxes from electronics and bills. The same attention should be paid to your mailbox as well since easy access to that will give them a great chance to know more about you.

The mission of Grace is to help you create healthy and secure home for you and your kids. She enjoys sharing ideas of house organizing and smooth relocation.

Reasons to Live in London: The Rolling Stones and London

Last week, in celebration of Spice Girls Week, we looked at some of the premiere music venues in London, and uncovered some unknown tidbits about their history. This week, the Rolling Stones, another iconic British group, hit London for two gigs as part of their 50th Anniversary tour. So today we’re going to dive in to their history as a band, looking at the venues, hotspots and property in London, which any Stones fan ought to know:

The Formation

A lesson to all of us about the wonders and possibilities of taking public transport, rather than drive ourselves around. Though technically in Kent, at Dartford train station, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards would meet each other by chance, having previously gone to the same school together. Jagger happened to be holding some records, so the subject of the conversation turned to music, leading to Richards joining Jagger’s band at the time, soon after. Just goes to show what can come about from a train journey.

The First Gig

On July 12th 1962, the Rolling Stones performed for the first time at the London Marquee Club, located then in Oxford Street (Westminster, London). The club would relocate to Soho during the 60s, where other great names would grace the stage, like The Who and David Bowie. Many progressive and groundbreaking genres saw their seeds sewn in that building; perhaps though, none as influential as the rhythm and blues-inspired “bad boy rock” of the Stones.

Where To Eat

Carnaby Street celebrates the Rolling Stones turning 50

If you’re in town for The Stones and you need somewhere to eat, there’s no more suitable place than former bassist Bill Wyman’s Sticky Fingers restaurant, located in the affluent Kensington area. If you’re a fan of your meat, this is the place for you, and is the ultimate haven for any fan of the band. Memorabilia adorns the walls; so while you dine, you can take in the history of the band. Incredibly instagrammable.

Where to Shop

Few bands would take over an entire street when they’re in town, but then the Stones are no ordinary band. Take a trip down to Carnaby Street to see the specially themed-decorations, as well a shop specifically selling merchandise for the band – a perfect opportunity to stock up for the fan you know. The area has a special resonance with the band, as this is where they practiced early on, all those decades ago. It’s just another reason to live in London; the city is brimming with culture right on your doorstep, and always popping out the next big things in music, film and art. Who knows how big that band playing in front of 10 people near you, will become?

 

 

Protecting Vacant Property

With a recent and controversial change in the law making squatting a criminal offence, the media has been awash with opinion pieces on the matter. Alongside all the polite debate and raging arguments, there has been a very public renewal of interest in the security of properties which are vacant, for however long and for whatever reason. Property Property Property are pleased to present the following guest post from the nice folks at Safe Site Securities, who have some advice about leaving your property vacant. Rent in London can take a chunk out of your monthly income; so you don’t want to be paying out to replace stolen objects or repair broken property.

When your property becomes vacant, it is paramount to ensure that you don’t get caught out when it comes to insurance. The majority of standard property insurance policies only continue to provide cover for a maximum of 30 days should the property become unoccupied, with the most generous policies only allowing up to 45 days.

Why is a Property Vacant?

Both residential and commercial property can become vacant for a number of reasons. It could simply be a time lapse between tenants for a landlord, or a death in the family may leave a property vacant whilst probate is administered and the property is left until prepared for re-sale, and sometimes property owners simply aren’t able to manage resulting in properties lying dormant. A job relocation could result in a property lying vacant whilst a buyer is sought, and many holiday homes are only occupied during certain times of the year. Both professional and amateur property developers regularly buy a renovation property at auction which may lie empty for many months before it is ready for occupation once more.

Why bother with Specialist Insurance?

The answer is simple – to protect your assets. Vacant properties are at constant risk from vandals, arsonists, thieves and decay. Whilst at first glance opting not to take out vacant property insurance may seem a risk worth taking, spend a few moments thinking about the consequences if something does go wrong.

Left unnoticed and not dealt with, prolonged water damage can ruin the fabric of a building. Whether the source is simply a blocked drain or missing roof tile water can quickly penetrate walls and joists potentially resulting in hefty repair bills.


Any obviously empty property offers a great temptation to both vandals and squatters. The damage caused by such criminals can be endless – from smashed doors and windows, to fires, theft of fixtures and fittings, graffiti and the build up of debris and detritus. The eviction of squatters can be both a lengthy and costly affair, and the bill from professional repairs and a thorough cleanse of a property really can run into thousands of pounds.

Conditions of Empty Property Insurance

Vacant Property Insurance comes with a host of conditions that must be adhered to for the cover to remain valid. Some of these can be considered common sense, such as ensuring adequate locks are fitted to all doors and windows. Other conditions are more extreme, such as the requirement to ensure the property is inspected on a regular basis for signs of damage, decay and developing problems, and any concerns are both recorded, reported and dealt with swiftly. There may be a requirement that surrounding land is kept maintained, as well as simple tasks such as ensuring a letter box is regularly cleared.

Call in the Specialists

If your property is to remain vacant for a long time period, it pays to call in the experts. Not only will this enable you to obtain the highest levels of vacant property insurance, it will ensure that your property is far more likely to remain safe and secure. Security specialists can not only advise on securing doors, windows and other access points effectively, they can carry out enhanced security measures such as installing steel security screens and mobile security alarms. If your empty property isn’t local to you, reputable security firms can be a god send, able to carry out professional property inspections both internally and externally weekly or bi-weekly as required by your insurance firm.

Whilst all this might seem a little extreme, in my mind it makes perfect sense. Property is money, why risk it?

Safe Site Facilities are empty property security experts, with extensive knowledge of the concerns and risks that property owners face with their uninhabited properties. SSF know that with a few simply deterrents and barriers, you could save many thousands of pounds in damages.

Reasons to Live in London: A History of Music Venues

Why Living in London Has Its Benefits

One of several advantages of living in the City (whether you own or rent in London) is that you are just a tube ride away from many excellent music venues. For the music buffs who routinely go to live gigs, if you live in London, you needn’t worry about those things which out-of-towners have tos when they travel in for a gig. These include:

  • Running for the last train, missing the last few songs of a set, including your absolute favourite.
  • Packing a big bag for a full day trip; hence being weighed down or paying for the cloakroom, which you then have to queue for later. Additionally, it’s hard to look as cool with a big bag, compared to someone who glides in smoothly with just their wallet, phone and keys.
  • Having to take the day off from work that day/the next morning, or risk extreme tiredness.
  • Dealing with canceled trains or detours going and returning.

Either way, you’re probably aware that London hosts several prestigious venues, brimming with music history; whether a small, intimate hall where a fledgling indie rock band start out, or a large venue with a seating capacity in the thousands. You may not know however, about some of the history behind these locations.

The O2 Arena

Feeling my age, I remember when this was the Millennium Dome around the turn of the century; one of several projects to celebrate this moment, alongside the London Eye. However, the exhibitions inside the dome on opening, weren’t met with much enthusiasm by the public after all the hype that it would both entertain and educate. The Jubilee station which serves the O2 arena in Greenwich, is the largest in Europe.

Hammersmith Apollo

Formerly a cinema, the previously-known Gaumont Palace cinema was opened in 1932. It has gone through a number of name changes, including the Hammersmith Odeon, Labatt’s Apollo, Carling Apollo Hammersmith and Hammersmith Apollo, to reflect its ownership and various purposes. Earlier this year, it was announced that AEG Live and Eventim had secured the property, having recently been one of eleven venues run by the HMV and MAMA group. The Apollo’s Compton pipe organ is one of few in the UK to remain in their original building.

Wembley Arena

Formerly called Empire Pool, Wembley Arena was originally built to as a swimming complex for the 1934 Olympic Games (which, when you look at the exterior, makes a lot of sense). Before the O2 Arena came into being, Wembley arena was the largest indoor arena in the UK. It too received some love as part of the Millennium regeneration project.

 

Terrific Tips for a First Time Property Investor

Buying your first home can be an exciting time, but it is also one fraught with confusing issues and hurdles which can be difficult to leap. Here at Property Property Property, we know that it can be easy for first-time buyers to feel overwhelmed, trawling through all the estate agents in London (and especially if they view their property as an investment opportunity). Hopefully, the tips given below will be helpful in relieving some of the stress associated with the buying process. Don’t forget to check out our search tool and property alerts service to ensure that you’re among the first to see new properties as they come onto the market near you.

Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, so you need to make sure you are getting what you pay for. Spend as much time as you need on looking at a property because you want it to be right for you. If property investment is your plan, then the same rule applies. Property investment is a challenging, yet rewarding project; use some of the tips listed below if you are a first time property investor.

Do not buy the first property you see
Even if you are in love with the property, you need to do your research and shop around because there might be a better deal. You need to consider a number of aspects, not just how much you love it.

Do not be afraid to ask for advice
If you are confused about your process, then you should ask for advice. By asking for advice, you are avoiding silly mistakes that could potentially be crucial. Property investment is not easy and if it is your first time, then you should really not be afraid to ask for advice.

Work out your budget
Without a budget plan you could cause yourself big problems. The budget is a huge factor in property investment. You need to work out your overall budget for everything; you will need to have a rough price in mind on how much you are willing to spend on the actual property and then another figure for the work you are going to do.

Do not just look at the property once
Go back as many times as you think is necessary. Buying a house is a huge purchase, so you need to make sure you are getting what you are paying for. Make sure you are not taking on a job that is too big for you to handle, otherwise you will struggle to make a decent profit.

Begin with a small project
Do not go straight into property investment with a huge goal, you should start small because you need to find out whether it is right for you. If you figure out half way through the job that you do not like it, then you will wish that you had not created such a huge project. You also need to see what you can do. By all means, go for a larger project after you have experienced the first.

Create a contact book
If property investment is something you are serious about, then it would not be a bad idea to have a contact book that lists a number of people you may need to call; this contact book can include numbers for plumbers, electricians and estate agents. Create good relationships with these people so they will be willing to help whenever they can.

Now you have a few tips on property investment, you can go ahead a begin your project; just remember to take your time. You do not want to rush a property investment project because there is a lot of money at stake; you should begin with a smaller project and then work up to larger ones, once you have got a good idea about what is going on. It is not always going to be easy, but it is most definitely a rewarding job.

Attached Images:
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About the Author: Janet is a financial advisor who deals with a lot of property investors. As a financial advisor, she helps people work out a budget and makes sure they are aware of how much money they need to spend. She recommends online tools and calculators to help plan out a budget.

Steps to Getting Your Mortgage Payments Under Control

Finance is a foremost concern when it comes to buying a new home, and here at Property Property Property, we’re aware of the strain that some people can be put under (just to rent in London alone, can be enough to keep people off the property ladder longer than they originally hoped for). This ever-present problem becomes even more persistent in times like these, where shrinking wages and rising bills combine to create an unfortunate financial situation. Read on for a great discussion about how to manage your mortgage.

A lot of homeowners are having a hard time coping up with their mortgage payments. If you happen to be one of them, chances are, your finances are already stretched to a point that they might break down. While things are tough on you at the moment, there are steps you can take to get your mortgage payments are under control. The process is not easy but you can be assured that by doing so you will be able to avoid foreclosure. Here are some tips for you to stay on top of your mortgage payments.

Look at your repayments and get everything covered

Evaluate your mortgage repayments and see how you can pay off when something happens unexpectedly. For instance, if the interest rates go up will you be able to afford them? What if you or your partner lost your job or fall ill, would you be able to handle the repayments on your own? Do you have an emergency fund you can use up in case something happens out of the blue? Knowing all these things will allow you to know what considerations you have to take in order to set a mortgage repayment budget that will work for you no matter the situation.

Set up a realistic budget

Once aware about all your repayments, create a realistic budget. First you need to monitor your spending habits and cut back on areas that you deem are not too important. Then, work your mortgage repayments around the money that you have, but do leave a wiggle room for adjustments in case your financial situation changes.

Make extra payments

If you receive extra cash every now and then, one good way to use it wisely is to make extra payments for your mortgage whenever you can, which in turn will go to the principal and not in the interest rate. This will help reduce your mortgage payment duration.

Negotiate with your lender

If you are really struggling to pay off your mortgage despite the budget you have set, your next best move is to speak with your lender. You might find this stressful and embarrassing or you might think that doing this can have a negative impact on your repayments. However, keep in mind that by taking actions quickly, you can stop the problem from getting worse. When you communicate with your lender early on, they can provide you options for your mortgage repayments and possibly make changes in your loan’s terms, especially if your problems can be sorted out in a short period of time. For example, they may give you a pay interest-only option for a few months until you are able to get your finances back on track.

Avoid throwing yourself in situations that can make matters worse

If your mortgage payments are already putting a strain in your finances, do not attempt to make the situation worse by borrowing money from family or friends, using up your credit cards for purchases and switching home loans. Doing these things will only put you further into debt and do you more harm than good.

 

Author:

This mortgage advice was provided by one of the regular contributors of Financial Wise-Mortgage Advisors, a company that specialize in providing expert advise on mortgage and protection as well as other financial solutions for clients.

Helpful Tips for Waterproofing Your Basement to Keep it Safe and Dry

Once you’ve found your ideal home using Property Property Property‘s estate agent search tool and property alerts, you’ll want to keep it in tip top shape. Not only will a well-maintained home be more pleasant to live in; it’ll also retain its value much better, allowing you to command a higher sale price if you decide to move up the property ladder at a later date. Likewise, if you rent in London, avoiding any deductions from your deposit when you move out, is always welcomed. Read on for a discussion of the importance of waterproofing your basement, and instructions on how to achieve this goal.

One of the biggest concerns that many homeowners have is basement waterproofing. Because the basement of your home is below ground this makes it so much more susceptible to moisture and flooding. A wet basement can cause many problems, including the ruining any of your stored possessions, causing mould and mildew to grow, causing the foundations to crack and allow termites and rodents into the home and even cause electrical problems. A damp basement can encourage the growth of toxic black mould, which can be a serious health risk for your family. Also, having issues with a damp basement will significantly reduce the value of the home.

Basement waterproofing is the only way to prevent these issues from happening again. It takes a bit of time and effort to properly waterproof your basement, but once you do you will not have to worry about moisture and flooding. You can do basement waterproofing yourself or you can hire a professional to carry out the task for you. The most important thing is that it is done well and thoroughly, so that you will not have any problems in the future.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are basement waterproofing:

Where are the Leaks?

One of the most important things to do is find out where the leaks are coming from, so that you can stop them. First, look all around the outside of the house where the water in your basement seems to be coming from. Are there any areas where water has collected or the land slopes towards the house? Do you have an automatic sprinkler system or a gutter that is leaking? When you find the problem you can correct it.

Repairing Cracks

Many basement leaks are caused by cracks or holes in the wall or the floor and they will need to be repaired before you carry out your basement waterproofing. Small hairline cracks can be fixed with a regular waterproofing mix. Any cracks which are larger than an eighth of an inch will need to be cleaned out and patched before applying the waterproofing mix. There are special materials that you can purchase for making these small repairs. If the crack is very large, you might want to mix up a batch of mortar to fill in the hole. Simply mix together one part cement and two parts fine sand with a little bit of water.

Applying Basement Waterproofing Mix

Once you have filled and patched all of the holes and cracks in the wall, you will be ready to apply your waterproofing mix. First, you should use a spray bottle or a hose on a mist setting to coat the walls with a fine spray of water. They should be damp, but not dripping.

Next, you will need the basement waterproofing epoxy which is designed specifically for treatment basement walls and floors. Follow the instructions on the package for how to correctly apply it. In some cases you might have to remove the paint from the walls first before the waterproofing mixture will adhere. When you are applying the coating, start at the bottom of the wall and work upwards, as this is where the water pressure will be the greatest. Slowly brush the mixture all the way up to the top and then start again at the bottom to add more layers. Once the basement waterproofing mixture has dried, spray the area with a fine mist of water again to soak it and let it set overnight. Repeat the same for the second coat, as one coat will usually not correct the problem.

After all this, you will have fixed your leak and successfully waterproofed your basement. You can do this task yourself, or you can hire basement waterproofing experts to do the job for you. Waterproofing your basement is very important and it ensures that you will be kept safe from flooding, mildew and mould for many years.

A wet basement can cause a lot of problems, so here are some helpful basement waterproofing tips to keep in mind.

The Need To Know Guide For First Time House Buyers

Our friends at Fridaysmove sent us this post about the possible pitfalls awaiting first-time home buyers who are keen to get their foot on the property ladder. Property Property Property know how confusing it can be to purchase a home – hopefully this advice will help those of you who might let your excitement get the better of you!

Buying a first home is such an exciting time, you have a budget to work to and an idea of the area you want to live and you set off to view properties with a choice of estate agents. Many first time buyers overlook the important points and let their excitement overwhelm them. This excitement often comes back to bite them a few years down the road.

Start At The Beginning

Having been in the real estate industry for many years, I saw my share of first time buyers. They would see a property they liked and buy it, they really thought it was that easy. Most of the time it is but when dealing with listed properties and older properties here in the UK, there are a few important steps you need to follow.

Rather than using a choice of agents and getting confused at what properties you have seen, it’s best to choose one top quality estate agent that works the area you are looking in. These agents specialise in the area and thanks to MLS (Multi Listing System), they have access to all the properties on the market in that area. Using one agent means you can build up a good relationship with your agent; they will get a good indication of the type of property you are looking for, which can save a lot of time.

By viewing with a choice of agents, you will be shown a large selection of properties that don’t meet your criteria or budget, but using one agent will ensure you only get to see the properties that suit your requirements and taste.

Putting In An Offer

After viewing a host of properties, you sit down and choose one that really tickled your fancy. It has the right number of bedrooms, it’s the perfect size, in the right location and it comes in on budget. You are so excited and call up the agent to make an appointment.

Let’s put the brakes on here. When signing the offer you must make it subject to a surveyor viewing the property. While this may cost you a small sum of money, it is always money well spent, especially when you are putting an offer in on an older property. This is the biggest mistake so many home-owners make and only later on, when the damp starts coming through, do they find out that the foundations are unstable or end up paying a fortune replacing the roof.

A surveyor will come in and do a thorough report; this way there are no nasty surprises about the property a couple of months or years down the road. You can then proceed with the offer depending on how much work the property will need and you can add this to your budget to ensure you will be able to afford any necessary repairs in the long run.

Signed and Sealed

Before you sign on the dotted line you should have a conveyancer in mind. Maybe you know of a conveyancer, a friend who works in the legal industry or you have a company you have worked with previously. It’s essential you know your conveyancer in advance. You can choose anyone to do the transfer for you, but you want to know that the conveyancer you choose is going to work for you, they are going to offer you the best service and get the transfer completed in the shortest period of time without any problems.

In some cases the seller may suggest you use their conveyancer to complete the transaction, while there is no problem with this moving forward, you may want to hire your own conveyancer to work on your behalf. This is something you will need to decide before placing an offer on your first property.

 

Author:

Fridaysmove offer top conveyancers and surveyors from across the country who are on hand to help you buy your first property or protect you when bidding on an auctioned property.