Caring for Antique Rugs


One of the pleasures of having an older house is that you can fill it with antiques and quality older items and they look perfectly in place. Without doubt, antique rugs are one of the finishing touches to a room that showcase this idea perfectly. Perhaps the only slight downside to these beautiful creations is that they need careful and consider cleaning. Here we look at some tips and tricks for caring for antique rugs.

Cleaning time

One of the first things to say about antique rugs is that their very nature is that they are never completely clear of dust. A small amount of dust will always cling to them and you shouldn’t try to clean it away all the time – it’s a battle you can’t win. But how do you know at what point normal dust becomes excess dust and cleaning is needed? Pick up one corner of the rug and give it a sharp kick at the back. If there is a cloud of dust that flies into the air, then it is cleaning time. Alternatively, rub the pile vigorously with your hand in five or ten second arcs. If your hands are dirty after doing this a few times, then the rug is ready for a clean.

Professional help

Rugs of any size need a clean and with larger rugs, this can be a major undertaking. It can also go very wrong if you aren’t experienced in caring for these antiques. Therefore, for many people, the best option is to call in professional carpet cleaners found on sites like CCL, that have experience of antique carpet and rug cleaning, to deal with the cleaning. They may also be the best option is there has been a major spill or a stain on the rug as DIY methods may not be successful.

Gentle cleaning

Of course, that isn’t to say every tiny spot needs a visit from the carpet cleaner. Normal, frequent cleaning is relatively simple and even some spot cleaning can be undertaken with simple household products. Take the rug outside and give it a good vacuum clean to start. If the rug is small enough to manage, you may want to wash is with a mild liquid soap or a rug shampoo but remember, you need to be able to wring it out to get it drying so may not be suitable for larger rugs. Rinse with clean water and leave out to try.

Stain removal

Most professionals will advise against the use of home remedies for stain removal because these can have an unreliable effect on the antique materials used in these rugs. Even if you are using a commercial product recommend for the rug, always spot test somewhere in a corner before starting with the whole rug, in case there are any problems.

Other tips

Some Persian rugs recommend a manual sweeper rather than an electric vacuum cleaning for normal daily cleans as they can damage the sheen of the wool. Also, using pads beneath the rugs when on a wood or stone floor can also length their lifespan and help avoid dirt on the reverse side of the rug.

Maintaining of a Thatched Roof


Thatched roofs are purely a product of England, created by our ancestors during the days of old, thatched roofs were used because of the insulation properties. The style remains popular to this day for the same reason. Tiled or slated roofs often need insulation well as the roof itself, whereas a thatched roof deals with both responsibilities effortlessly.

Why Have a Thatched Roof?

Of course, many have a roof designed to their own preferences, so it’s not to say that a thatched roof is for everyone, but there are a number of benefits in having a thatched roof.

One benefit is the ecological qualities. That is a carbon-neutral material so doesn’t require a lot of energy to be grown. Having a thatched roof also benefits agricultural communities, as it keeps the skill of thatch making alive.

Some may be dissuaded from having a thatched roof due to it being a potential fire hazard, but thatched roof these days are just as safe as any other roof made from slate or tile. Safety regulations have moved on since the early days, and modern regulations state that a thatched roof must have a fire-retardant board put beneath it. This makes the property much safer in the event of a fire.

There is also the charm that a thatched roof gives a property. It gives a house a sense of character as well as giving visitors a hint of nostalgia. Thatch also blends in with its surrounding environment as it ages, meaning that your house really becomes as one with nature.

How Do You Maintain a Thatched Roof?

That naturally degrades over a period of time, so it’s important to know what to look out for in order for your roof to be maintained.

The roof should always be monitored for any changes, but the winter months should call for more checks. There are a number of factors that make up what kind of work needs to be carried out on the roof. The ridge of the thatch normally needs replacing every ten to fifteen years. The coat work will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the brand used and the lifespan associated with it.

The roof should be kept dry where possible. Of course, this can be difficult if it is raining, but once the rain has finished, be sure to move any obstructions that could hinder the roof drying. If a thatched roof cannot be dried properly, it is likely to accumulate moss and algae, which will only keep the roof wet moving forwards.

A thatched roof should not experience any damage from the elements, but from time to time, holes can appear within the roof. Patching is normally used to repair these holes, and is normally done using the same material as the coat work. Speak to a company experience in thatched roof repairs if the problem is too big to tackle yourself.

Overall, maintaining a thatched roof is about attention to detail and understanding the life span of thatch. Once you have all the relevant information to hand, you too can enjoy the benefits a thatched roof has to offer.

Coping with an Old Heating System


There are many wonderful things about having an older country house or period property but one element that often isn’t on the list is the heating system. Whether the system is old, inefficient to run or restricted due to the nature of the house, coping with it can be more complicated than in a newer house. And then there comes the big decision – repair or replace?

Quirks of age

For some country homes, the heating system isn’t an issue because they don’t have one! Others may use the warm air heating systems that were popular to add to houses in the 1960s and 1970s. The houses may also use outdated electrical systems that add another layer of complexity to the project. For most people when you want a plumber or another tradesman, you simply call up a website such as Checkatrade and find a good local tradesman. However, when you have a period home or a country house, you need to ensure you choose a plumbing specialist that can deal with these types of properties, which can offer very different challenges to the kind of homes you’d find in London suburbs like Clapham and Fulham..

The other major consideration when looking at the system in your home may be if it is listed or has a preservation order on it. This may mean that replacing the heating system may only be possible within the scope of what is already in the property.

Repair or replace?

There is no right and wrong answer to the question of whether to repair or replace your heating system. Other factors are obviously a part of the decision, such as the cost and the disruption caused to your daily life. With older houses, there can be additional considerations that can have an impact on the cost of the project – for example, access to the gas mains, whether there is oil readily available for this type of system or if planning permission is needed for the work.

In any home, the general rule is that if the boiler is over seven years old, it is liable to be an older style of system. Manufacturers normally keep spare parts for boilers and systems for around a decade but the older the system, the trickier it can be to get parts when something goes wrong. Therefore, once they are seven to ten years old, it may be worth considering a replacement.

The other big element to consider is the energy efficiency of your system. In older properties, this can be even more important because the property may not be able to have double glazed windows or other features to help keep it warm and insulated. Therefore, a system that is as efficient as possible is crucial.

Bottom line

Ultimately, the decision about whether to repair or replace a system is down to the homeowner. Even paying money on an older system can be worthwhile if it is working well and is energy efficient as well as if your plumber tells you parts can still be obtained. It may also be worth repairing the system if the work involved with replacing it is so disruptive that you simply can’t face it at this time. The choice is always the homeowners.

Financing Your Property Development

country property development finance

Embarking on a property development project can be a daunting challenge as there is a huge amount to consider finding the right property, assessing work requirements and coming up with accurate costings and timing are but a few of the initial challenges. Amongst these is of course is actually finding the fund required to get started. The property finance available to you will differ depending on your personal circumstances and the project itself. Below is a basic outline of some of the funding options you may wish to consider, and it goes without saying that once you have done your initial research it is imperative you discuss your requirements with a financial advisor or broker to help you make the right decision for you.

Is a mortgage right for my project?

There are a number of different mortgage types available and so it is likely that most property development projects will find some kind of mortgage that will fit it’s needs.

A residential mortgage only tends to be the best viable option if you are purchasing a property to live in or you may wish to re-mortgage if your bank will allow it in order to fund renovation work a current property. This is partially because mortgage is intended as a long-term finance solution and the requirements are stricter than some other property finance options.

If you are a property developer with a strong portfolio already, you may want to consider a commercial mortgage as a viable way of freeing up funds to purchase an additional property by consolidating existing mortgages that sit on your portfolio properties. As well as the standard requirements for meeting mortgage eligibility, the lender will want to have evidence of a successful portfolio and basically ensure that you are a safe bet by examining your current property situation.

If you are carrying out your project development on a property that you intend to rent out once renovations are complete then you might consider a buy to let mortgage. These kinds of mortgages are very similar to a residential mortgage, but they allow you to make money from someone else living in the property and they are likely to have different fees associated with them. As with a standard residential mortgage, your finances and credit history will be taken into account when the lender is deciding if you are eligible for the loan amount. In addition, the lender will expect you to be able to show the rental income on the property will be at least 125% of your agreed mortgage repayments.

How do bridging loans work?

Bridging loans can be a brilliant solution to financing your property development so long as you do your research. In the past, bridging loans have been seen as a slightly ‘shady’ method of securing a loan but nowadays they are a perfectly viable solution for property development in the current climate. A number of highly reputable lenders offer them, for example you can get a Santander Bridging Loan as well as a number of other high street banks such as NatWest and Barclays. Bridging loans are meant as a short-term financing option and tend to rely heavily upon the worth of the property you are purchasing with the funds. Usually, you will only get a bridging loan for a 12-month term with the intention of selling on before the 12 months is up or having the property in a state fit enough to get a good quality long term financing option such as a mortgage for. Bridging loans tend to have higher interest rates and fees associated with them but they in effect put you in a position to be able to act as a cash buyer. This position can be priceless when trying to get a great deal on a property that needs a lot of work or if you are interested in a property that is up for auction, where you need funds within days of the auction completing. Quite often a bridging loan will be completed inside of 2 weeks which is much quicker than traditional lending methods.

Are there other property funding options?

In a word, yes. There may be other funding options that are more or less suited to your requirements, so it is extremely important to do your research. Your funding option could make or break your budget when it comes to property development. For example you may miss out on the perfect auction property if you didn’t also explore auction finance, which tends to be a much quicker funding option due to the nature of the purchases you would be making.

There are a number of factors that lenders will look at when making a decision as to whether they should provide you with a loan and it is important that you consider these prior to making a decision on the finance option most suitable for your project.

The valuation is one of the most important parts of securing your loan and no matter what finance provider or lending option you choose, it is likely that you will need to pay for that lender to have a valuation carried out on the property before they will provide funding. For all lenders the valuation will help them to assess how much they should lend you and what the LTV should be. When it comes to providers of Bridging Finance, it is easily one of the most important elements as often, those providing bridging finance base the loan purely on the value or potential value of the property itself. Unlike mortgages, they are less interested in your background and personal circumstances as they expect the loan to be short term and, if all else fails, the property itself will end up being their repayment. Bridging lenders may still be interested in your personal circumstances to an extent as it will give them an idea of the risk in the project and your ability to pay the monthly interest rates. You may find that your credit history, current income, other assets and property/project history come into play when applying for all or any of the above finance options, but these additional circumstances are likely to play a much bigger role in the decision making for a standard mortgage provider.

Your Home & Trees


There’s no doubt that a big part of having a country house is the associated grounds and a central feature of these grounds are its trees. Here in the UK we have many amazing species of tree as well as a range of foreign species that have become popular and common sights. These trees are a great pleasure to have around and add feature to any gardens but they do require some help to keep in top condition and to avoid them having a negative effect on your home. With the help of Tree Clinic West London, we’ve pulled together some useful information about how to manage and maintain the trees on and around your country property.

Tree Facts

The majority of trees don’t cause damage to houses but their roots can extend up to three times their height. While modern buildings are less likely to be affected by trees, older period homes can face some potential problems. The land on which the house is built and the tree stands can also have an impact on this while problems such as subsidence tend to worse in dry years.

Other problems that can be caused by trees in proximity to a house or also just on the ground are physical threats such as falling limbs or even the risk of the whole tree toppling in high winds, of which we have had rather a lot in recent times.

Trees can also cause issues with blocked drains as well as forming cavities in the soil that changes the flow of the water. Again on older properties such as country houses, older techniques and materials will have been used that are more at risk than modern versions.

Finally, tree roots can cause problems to other elements around the gardens as well as the house. Breaking up paving and paths, interfering with lightweight garden structures such as sheds and garages and generally spoiling the look of the grounds can all occur.

Legal Stuff

Country houses don’t face issues such as neighbours complaining about trees the way that some properties do but there may be issues if the tree overhangs a public highway. It is also necessary to let insurance companies know about any trees close to the property as this can affect the validity of your policy in the event of a claim.

Dealing With Your Trees

No-one wants to get rid of trees but they do require some maintenance and care to prevent these worst-case scenarios coming true. With the country home, the planting of the trees may well have been done before an awareness of the problems they can create was common and the trees may also be protected by a Tree Preservation Order.


It can be a good idea to employ the services of a professional to help with bigger or taller trees as specialist equipment will often be needed to care for them. Tree surgeons are able to help the tree stay strong and upright, removing any parts that are dead or dying and ensuring that the tree has a solid root system. They will be able to track the roots to see if they are causing any additional problems under the ground. Smaller trees can be gently pruned and monitored to ensure they don’t become too sizeable and cause a problem for the house or gardens.

Getting Rid of Damp


Damp can be a hindrance to any homeowner. The age of a building often dictates how it will be affected by damp. For example, an older building that has an open fire will draw in air from the windows and doors, meaning moisture is quickly captured.

An equilibrium is in place that dictates that the moisture being absorbed is equal to that evaporating. This will ensure that the building is kept free of damp in most instances. However, there are some other factors that contribute to the build-up of damp.

Air moisture condensation is present in many modern houses and apartments, as it reflects a modern lifestyle. It’s not unusual for a household to have a series of appliance running that all emit moisture. Even the steam generated from a shower can start a build of damp.

If your problem isn’t too bad, getting rid of damp can be as easy as cleaning the area with a specialist cleaner, but those looking for a more robust solution may wish to use a ventilation system that will deal with the moisture found in the air. A window vac can also be used to clear any moisture from the windows in the property.

Expert damp proofing companies like Crown Preservation, know that one of the biggest problems that can affecthomes in the country is penetrating damp. This is normally caused by water within the property. This could be due to faulty guttering or certain parts of the property being exposed to rain. The tell-tale signs of rising damp normally including the peeling of wallpaper and plaster, and tide marks on the skirting boards.

Once you are confident that your damp proof course is working, you will then need to find the point of where the water is coming from. For example, is there a hole in the roof? Is there a defective water pipe? Again, specialist advice may be required, but the longer rising damp is left, the more damage it can do to the property, so it’s always worth trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

Another similar kind of damp is rising damp, which is normally caused by ground water travelling up via the wall. Rising damp can also occur if the ground outside the property is higher than that of the damp course. As such, the damp proof course may need to be altered so that it offers the maximum protection.

To deal with rising damp effectively, a homeowner has to be sure that their damp proof course is working. If there is any doubt in relation to this, then an expert should be contacted. Simply assuming all is okay could cause more problems in the long run.

Overall, you should never assume a bit of damp is okay, unless there’s a genuine reason as to why it is appearing. Moisture from the air can be easily dealt with, whereas rising damp is a bigger problem, and as such normally require specialist advice. This may seem like a financial burden in the first instance, but the sooner the damp is dealt with, the less damage it will do.