Things to look out for in older properties

It’s easy to fall in love with an old house. An older property tends to look more charming than a brick box built in the 1970s or 1990s. The windows are bigger, the rooms are larger, those tall ceilings are bordered with beautiful plasterwork and just think about that open fireplace.


Stop dreaming and take a good look at the exterior walls for any cracks in the brickwork. If cracks are larger than 1mm and become wider with height, they could indicate subsidence. A quick, tell-tale sign is a diagonal crack from the corner of a window or a door. In the worst case, a house could need underpinning.

Was the house subject to any serious vibrations in the past? These could have been caused by nearby railway lines, quarry work and excavations or even bombing during World War 2. The cracks and other damage caused by these could have been mended superficially and may reappear during heavy rainfall or drought.

Kitchens and bathrooms in older properties are smaller than those built today. Think carefully about the subsidence risk if you intend to convert a basement or old scullery into a new kitchen.


Check the plumbing for old lead pipes and collapsed drains. Many houses built pre-1940 still have exterior pipes made of rusty iron that can burst during a hard winter. Flooding by the house could cause further subsidence. Periodic moisture that dries out only to flood again can encourage dry rot. This is an easy-to-identify fungus with black tentacles that penetrates brickwork as well as woodwork. Wet rot is not always very obvious and often a seller may fill in a spot and paint it over.

New houses have a damp course with a guarantee. In older properties, a damp course may be decades old, ineffective and not worth the paper it’s written on. Check the plasterwork carefully for any damp behind it.


The electrical wiring in an old property could be a fire risk. A lot of the wiring can be hidden behind skirting boards and not be easily accessible. Renovations of Victorian and Edwardian properties in the 1970s and 1980s included their rewiring with aluminium, not copper, cables. Aluminium wiring oxidises easily, causes circuit breaks and can spark a fire.


Older properties can be expensive to heat. Cavity walls that provide insulation were introduced in Britain only from the 1930s. If the property you are thinking of buying is located in a conservation area, you may not be able to replace the windows with modern double or triple glazing.

Current safety regulations may imply that the central heating system in an older house is unsafe. You may have to replace an old boiler at the every least. Open fires may look very attractive at Christmas time but does the neighbourhood have clean air regulations that prohibit the burning of anything except smokeless fuel? Many new homeowners arrange a delivery of expensive fruit tree logs only to find that they can do nothing with them.

The internal and external woodwork in an older house may no be quite plumb. So doors may not close correctly and windows may be insecure. It is important to able to install efficient locking mechanisms on all doors and windows.

Remember to get adequate home insurance to ensure that if anything goes wrong, you’re covered. You can buy home insurance from SO Switch.

Don’t Cry Over Lost PPI Payments – Get Them Back Instead

Not only can you indeed get PPI premiums returned to you, but they also come with interest paid. The PPI scandal is alive and well, meaning that you should definitely protect yourself. It’s important to get your money back, because money holds a specific power over our lives. It’s a tool that can be used to get your life back together. Now, this might not matter to you if you’re fully loaded and set for the rest of your life, but the reality here is most people really can’t go without having that money.

Don’t try to go it alone. We know that it sounds like the smartest thing to do, but it’s really not. You’re a lot better off thinking about getting in touch with legal professionals that do nothing but PPI all day long. They understand the ins and outs of the issue, including how to approach the banks and the lenders. Think about it from another perspective — if you’re like most people, then chances are good that you’re going to be very angry and upset. You’re also going to feel very hurt and violated. Is that really the best attitude to portray? Probably not. You will definitely want to make sure that you’re thinking always of the path that you have ahead of yourself. Trying to just float through life as if nothing has happened is not the way that you want things to go. You have to make sure that you are always focusing on the bigger picture here — and peace of mind is definitely a ‘big picture’ concept.

You’ll find that most legal teams want to help you out as quickly as possible. The processes to claim back PPI can be a while, so it’s better that you file as soon as possible. There’s no reason to wait around to take action, especially when it can affect your return. Most of the time the lenders will work quickly, especially if they realize that you mean business. They know that you will want to make sure that you’re fighting as hard as possible to get things done — so they will do that on your behalf. When you really think about it in the light of PPI issues, why wouldn’t you get the help that you need and deserve? Check it out today for yourself!

Jargon Buster: VAT Explained

VAT stands for Value Added Tax and, on the face of things, can seem incredibly confusing. It is a tax that is added to many services, supplies, products and goods, and if you are self-employed you may need to apply to be VAT registered.

When filling in your Vat registration form though, you may come across some terms which you don’t understand. If this is the case, use this jargon buster to help you along:


Goods that you brought into the UK from other countries that are located within the EU (European Union) are counted as acquisitions.


When you ship goods to another country within the EU they are referred to as despatches.


Sending goods to countries outside of the EU are exports.


If you bring goods into the EU and to the UK from a non-EU country, they are believed to be imports.

Input Tax

Input Tax refers to the tax (VAT) which you pay on purchases. This could include any supplies, products, goods or services which you require for the running of your business.

Output Tax

This is the VAT which you charge on the supplies, products, goods or services within your business, and is what your customers will pay to you.


If you ask your customers to issue you with a VAT invoice for the products which they have received from you, this is seen as self-billing. They will send their invoice along with their payment so that you can receive everything together.


If you supply, this means that you provide the public with some form of goods or services, in which case you may be eligible for VAT.

Taxable Person

You are a taxable person if you own a business which buys and sells goods that are eligible for VAT. There are however some products which will not be eligible for VAT.

Taxable Turnover

Your taxable turnover will be the full amount of money which you earn within one year. This does not include any capital items which you own, such as real estate or vehicles for your business.

Tax Period

This is the amount of time which your VAT Return covers – it usually amounts to a quarter of the year.

Tax Point

This is the point at which you must account for VAT and usually begins as soon as goods exchange hands, or you send them onto a customer. If you provide a service, you must account for VAT once the service is complete.

There is a lot of jargon used when talking about VAT, which is why it’s so important to understand as much of it as possible.

This article was provided by Aurora Johnson on behalf of Nixon Williams, a company offering accountants for interim managers and freelancers.