Browsed by
Month: April 2018

Should I pay outright for my new boiler or purchase on finance?

Should I pay outright for my new boiler or purchase on finance?

The expense and complication of buying a replacement boiler is something that many of us can do without. So when the worst happens and your boiler is no longer economically repairable what should you buy and how should you pay for it?

What type of boiler?

Firstly, you’ll need to decide which type of boiler is right for you and your home? For gas boilers, the choice is between a regular boiler or a combi boiler. A regular boiler has a separate hot water cylinder and a combi produces all hot water instantly. Each has their pros and cons and it is largely down to your circumstances on which is best for you. A combi boiler is less efficient in producing hot water than a regular boiler; however, the heat loss from the cylinder can make the combi boiler overall more economical to run in some circumstances.

Larger families who use a lot of hot water are probably best with a regular boiler, whereas smaller households might benefit more from a combi boiler. Space is often a consideration if you don’t have a regular boiler already as you will need to make room for a cylinder. A trained heating engineer can advise you which boiler best suits your situation and size the boiler according to your heating and hot water requirements.

Savings and grants

If your current boiler is an old inefficient boiler (rated D-G) then you could save between £55-320 per year on your energy bills.

Depending on where you live, if you are in receipt of certain benefits, and the condition and age of your boiler you could be entitled to a grant towards the replacement boiler.

Buying it outright


  • Although a new boiler is costly, buying it outright will be cheaper in the long run as there will be no interest applied.
  • If you have the money the interest you receive from your bank will be less than the interest applied through finance.


  • Not everyone can afford to purchase a boiler outright.

Purchase with finance


  • Flexible payment schemes with a differing payment lengths to reduce the monthly cost to fit your budget.
  • Some suppliers also offer discounted boiler insurance covering servicing and repairs when purchasing through finance.


  • You will pay more for the boiler.
  • If you move home you will still be liable for the repayments.

Which to choose

Your circumstances will probably determine which option is the best for you, whether that is long-term savings or convenient and manageable monthly instalments. Whichever route you choose, shop around and get several quotes to ensure you get the best boiler and most appropriate deal for you. Often the exact same boiler can vary in final cost depending on the lender rates of interest and the pre-interest boiler cost.

Boiler care

Regardless of the method of payment, you may want to consider whether boiler insurance which covers repairs and servicing might be beneficial to ensure your boiler runs efficiently and takes away the worries about repair costs. This would be in addition to the costs of the repayments for your boilers on finance scheme.



The new trend of the garden office

The new trend of the garden office

Haven’t you heard darling? Slick Soho office space is so last year. The chicest, most bang-on-trend of office space this season is… wait for it… the humble garden shed.

Shedworking, as it’s affectionately known by fans, actually refers more broadly to working from any edifice in one’s garden: most commonly custom-built garden studios and offices, though renovated sheds are not unknown.

The cult of the shed is becoming quite the social phenomenon. Those rickety wooden slats tucked away in among the brambles and the compost bins have drawn the attention of none other than London’s mecca of museums, the V&A, which ran an exhibition dedicated to National Shed Week earlier this year. There’s been a whole coffee-table book devoted to shedworking, aptly titled Shedworking.

We wanted to find out what all the fuss is about – and look at whether shedworking is something all you homeworkers and prospective homeworkers should be considering, as an alternative to shoehorning your business into an overcrowded study.

Shedworking – why it works

In the last few years we have seen the number of specialists selling garden offices go up from five or six to more like 20 to 25. This is due to two factors; the recession and the general trend of more people working from home, and being able to work there now thanks to increasing speeds of broadband internet.

But it’s not just these two factors driving people to the more remote corners of their landholding. Shedworking, with all the peaceful isolation it brings, frees you from two of the worst culprits of unproductive in-house working: noise and distraction, in all their deviant forms. It’s also much less hassle on a day-to-day basis if you’re currently space-sharing – i.e. having to hurriedly shove your work-things to one side of the kitchen every time a meal is served.

There’s a more subtle element at play for shedworking devotees too: “You’re psychologically starting the day [when you go there] – it’s like going to the office,” Johnson explains. Except you get to bypass the sweaty, arduous, face-in-stranger’s-armpit commute – and all the time that normally takes. “You just get a better work-life balance. It feels healthier,” Johnson smiles.

And you can tailor and personalise your working environment precisely to your tastes. Which can be quite a blessing, as anyone who’s ever had a domestic over wall colours knows.

The nitty-gritty

Having your workspace in the garden isn’t necessarily a cheap option, but it’s more cost-effective than getting an extension or conservatory built: fully fitted-out garden studios start at around £3,000. Not every business has that kind of cash handy, of course, so the investment hinges on how long-term you think you’ll need it for – and whether you really do need it.

On the plus side, a good garden studio can add up to 5% to the value of your property, and works well as a selling point in competitive markets. And a few thousand pounds is still considerably cheaper than renting office or workshop space in many cases.

You need to follow some planning regulations too. Your studio has to be at least 5m away from your house, and if it’s taller than 2.5m you need planning permission (which normally takes about eight weeks to come through). It’s not allowed to take up more than 50% of your garden either. It’s worth talking to your planning authority just to be on the safe side – if you’re in a conservation area or your house is a listed property you definitely need to.

Shedworking – how to get it right

It is possible to convert an existing shed into a home office, but by the time you’ve factored in heating, security, insulation and cleared the whole thing out and refitted it again, you might as well have invested in a new one. (Although you could get away with it if you only need to work there in the summer and aren’t keeping any expensive equipment in there.)

You can buy a studio from a DIY centre and build and fit it out yourself for as little as a few hundred pounds if you’re clever about it, going up to a couple of thousand the flashier you get. Ask staff in Homebase or B&Q for advice. Be warned that things like electrics and heating can get complex – and if you haven’t had experience wiring things up before you’ll be safer leaving it to the pros.

If you do go with a professional garden studio company, expect to pay £4,000 – £10,000 for a basic model. That will include a door with a sturdy lock, double glazing, heating, electrical sockets, and proper flooring – so it really is a mini office. Prices go up to more like £35,000 – £40,000 if you want a shower, kitchen or mezzanine level.

Upping your budget can also afford you more contemporary designs, though you can find more affordable cutting edge studios.

You may need a concrete foundation laid for your studio, which is normally £2,000 – £3,000, although with some companies the studios have been designed specifically to side-step that requirement. The type of soil you’re on shouldn’t make any difference or cause problems.

The electrics running between your studio and house need to be done by an electrician, and don’t usually come as standard with the studio build. Ask for what’s called the ‘armoured cable’ (it’s a legal requirement to have that type) to go above ground rather than underground to cut costs.

Phone lines and broadband will depend on your service providers and wiring set-up, as will costs for connecting your home with your studio. You need to work out whether you want a separate phone line – and figure out all of this well in advance of purchasing a studio. Consider devices such as a Wi-Fi booster for internet connection.

Decoration is in the eye of the beholder, but keep an eye out for space-saving and fold-up furniture if you’re tight on square metres. Any built-in insulation should combat external noise, but soft furnishing will help too if you expect it to be a problem. If you’d like a garden office, Outdoor Living Rooms offers a great selection.


The History of Sash Windows

The History of Sash Windows

Sliding sash windows originated in Europe in the 13th Century however calling them windows was perhaps a bit of a stretch as in this period they were no more than vertical sliding wooden shutters. 300 years later, by the end of the sixteenth century they had evolved into a form we would recognise today as a beautiful traditional timber sash window.

The original windows of this period consisted only of vertical shutters with sliding timber. 16th Century sash windows were also glazed and were able to slide horizontally. It was around the mid 17th Century that the original design was superseded in France, with the French introducing vertical sliding sash windows. It has been noted that these windows were safer to use in staircases and passageways, as opposed to the casement windows that open inwards and could cause impediment to the residents of a building.

It is believed that throughout the post restoration age after the aristocracy returned from France, that the sophisticated style of the upright sliding sash window moved across the Channel towards England. The Queen Mother, Henrietta Maria, was believed to receive the first installation of a fully glazed vertical sliding window. This is believed to have occurred after she returned from France along with her staff, of which there were French joiners, and this influenced the refurbishment to the London based Somerset House. Years later, it was Ventrolla who renovated these very windows.

The improvement to the sash windows, including the introduction of the counterbalance, cannot be pinpointed to a particular time exactly and there are many theories about this. Some believe it was first invented in England, where it progressed from the inventive vertical slider, into one that was glazed with 250mm x 250mm glass. With the addition of the solid glazing bars (40mm or more), the windows were extremely heavy and difficult to open.

The counter balance feature was believed to have been initially used for doors and this is supported by the documented evidence “Office of Works Account 1663”. It revealed that lines and weights were fitted to different doors in the buildings at Whitehall. It didn’t take long for this system to transfer over to include its use in sash windows. The documented evidence also reveals that Thomas Kinward, Master Joiner, made changes to the sash windows of the Queen’s private apartment, by installing pulleys and lines to the sash windows in 1669, at Whitehall, although no specific mention of any counter weights has been noted.

The sash windows that were installed to the property belonging to the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, Ham House in London, showed confirmation that the windows were in fact, counter balanced. This installation occurred in 1672, and it was again, Thomas Kinward and Christopher Wren that placed their signatures on the accounts.

There was never any claim made to the invention of the counter balance system and there is no record of it ever having been patented. In the early development of sash windows with weights, the windows were framed by solid oak and there was a groove that had been cut to accommodate the weights. The top sash would not open and was in a fixed position, and it was only the bottom sash that opened. A short time later, there was a new development called the boxed frame. This frame was sectioned and its purpose was to hide the weights and enable them to go past each other easily.

New developments now showed that there were less panes and thinner glazing bars. When the duty on glass was removed in 1845, the price of the glass fell dramatically, and then the panes developed into larger panels, and the windows only contained two panes per sash. It differentiated the wealthy from the poor, to only have a single pane for each sash! Extra support for the glass came in mid 19th Century, when horns were introduced.

The Great Fire of London which started at the bakery of Thomas Farriner on Pudding Lane in 1666 played a surprising role in sash window design. Building regulations were drastically overhauled after the devastation in the hope of reducing the risk of fire and its rapid spread through the city.

One such regulation stipulated that timber window frames should be recessed behind the outside stone or brick facade, leading to the development of Georgian architecture which is widely held to be the most beautiful period of design.

It wasn’t just fire that pushed forward the sash windows evolution. Fashion and vanity played their part. In the space of 50 years from 1696 the Window tax and Glass tax were both introduced. The glass tax stopped anyone other than the very rich from having large panes and so the trend for multiple small panes of glass remained. A sign of wealth was to have large windows with a single pane of glass per sash!

As glass production technology advanced and the various taxes repealed, larger panes became available to everyone, this in itself lead to one of the most recognisable features of a Sash Window, the “horns”.

As the panes became larger and heavier the frame needed extra support and so sash horns started to appear at the corners to reinforce the widows. The horns were often carved in unique styles and have become one of the hallmarks of a traditional timber sash window.

Lancashire Sash Windows have been involved in the renovation and performance upgrade of many sliding sash windows ever since, earning themselves a place in modern history as the leading authority and market leader in the renovating of original sash windows.