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When it comes to Victorian Terraced Homes, the courtyard gardens can seem a little daunting. When it comes to city living a garden, a balcony or a deck can seem a little uninspiring. The narrow shape, the restricted size and the blank canvas look of them can be overwhelming. It can feel as if there is nothing to be done with it - that the space isn’t inviting enough, that it is simply just a ‘space’. But limited space needn't be a cap to originality and comfort. Read on for some great ideas and news of a special summer competition that we will be running that should help to inspire!

While small gardens, terraces, decking and patios have their own set of design challenges, even the most economical of plots can be transformed into impactful and elegant outdoor havens. Small but perfectly formed.

Your back garden could be the stylish urban garden that you always dreamed of - in fact, it could even be a cottage garden, an alfresco dining area complete with dramatic lighting, or a playroom for the children!

Using space intelligently is the key to making a small garden work; seats that double up as storage, wall-mounted flower pots or herb planters and even folding furniture will all help free up precious square-footage.

Most design principles work indoors and out; there are plenty of ways to make your outdoor space seem like an extension of your home.

Take a cue from the inspirations that we have added to our Pintrest page.

Where there are certainly many parallels between indoors and outdoors. For example, mirrors can create the illusion of space where there simply isn't any, fireplaces make a quirky ‘fire pit’ to sit around, gazebos and arbours can bring shelter and structure without needing lots of space.

Solar-powered lights, fairy lights and lanterns are really easy to come by and generally fairly inexpensive. They are are the safest and the most long-lasting option and combined with a wood-burning fire pits can heighten atmosphere as well as give out heat when the night's eventually draw in.

If you don't have green fingers then you can be assured by easy to manage plants such as ferns and grasses, bay trees and evergreens. Tree ferns are superb and in sheltered town gardens often keep their fronds all through winter. Arum lilies are equally arresting, though they dive underground for winter. For some colour a geranium is an easy way to add the splash of colour without the needs for too much attention.

So, if you live in Plymouth, think your garden has everything we have mentioned, you have been particularly proud of your garden this summer, or you are about to embark on a new project - then let us know! We’d like to hear from you by September the 1st 2016 about what you have done - that means that you have exactly one-month. Send us photos - they can be ‘before and after’ shots, they can be inspiring photos of your plants, they can be pictures of your family enjoying your garden. Upload them to our Facebook or Twitter Pages with a few lines about why you think your courtyard garden deserves to win and we will pick the very best one to win £100 in B&Q vouchers. Don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ those pages so that we can contact you if you win!

Here is a list of top tips to get you started:

  • Even if your back yard or courtyard is no more than a sub-dungeon, you'll want to sit out in it. Think how and where. Try sitting in it at different times of day and night. Where are the sunniest patches, where is it dark, damp, dry? Create your plan from that knowledge and work around it.
  • In a very small yard, the neatest solution will be built-in seats: a slab of green oak on top of a retaining wall, a series of lockers (for storage) with cushions on top.
  • If you buy furniture, get stuff that's a pleasure to look at. But don't plonk it centre-stage. Set it off-centre, preferably where the evening sun lasts longest. There are beautiful things to choose from - sofas, tables and chairs, armchairs, swing seats.
  • The floor of your courtyard matters. Why spend a fortune on a limestone, slate or wooden kitchen floor if it butts on to a hideous concrete chequerboard of green, pink and cream pavers outside? Get rid of them and spread gravel until you've saved up for something more permanent.
  • If you are lucky enough to have sound walls round your terrace or yard, use them. But wire them before you plant. In a small space, climbers and wall plants need tight tying-in.
  • Choose wall shrubs and climbers with scent: evergreen trachelospermum and myrtle are superb. What, no roses? No. Think of the malevolent thorns. And, in a small space, the pruning.
  • Terraces and courtyards are often paved throughout, but a border just wide enough to plant climbers will be a huge benefit. Plants will grow better in the ground than in pots and you won't have to water so frequently.
  • Keep your outdoor space uncluttered. A few big pots packed with plants will have more impact than a scatter of small ones. As for the pots themselves, that depends on your style.
  • Gardens attached to traditional Victorian terraces are generally long and thin. This introduces the possibility of doing different things in different areas. From tamed to wild in a hundred feet. It can be done.
  • Changes in levels help to define changes in mood and style. But make the transitions generous. Steps that stretch lazily across the width of a garden will help make the garden itself seem wider.
  • Fix your fences. Sagging larchlap can only get worse. Keep climbers well trained. You do not want to make the garden even narrower than it already is.
  • Compose a view from the window that you look out from most. It'll probably be the one by the kitchen sink... Devise a natural backstop to that view: a tree that produces autumn fruit as well as spring blossom, a beautiful big pot planted with a steel grey agave, a metal bower, trained all over with sweet-smelling summer jasmine, a small wooden hut, stained birch grey, to escape to when the sink gets too much.
  • Don't let the end of the garden degenerate into a dump of old carpet, un-scrubbed plastic pots and pallets that never got made into a compost heap. You need a working area, but make it crisp, with an outdoor potting bench and a compost heap that is strong and well-corseted.
  • Plant more of less. In a small space, that's a tough discipline, but it will pay off!

 

 

 

24 June 2016

Well here we are getting stuck into the summer months in Plymouth and the property market has showed some really positive signs this year of steady growth. However it has also showed some signs of a slow down and now we wait to see where we go from here.

There have a been a few factors effecting the market which none of us can do anything about.

Firstly the government have changed the Stamp Duty regulations when it comes to buying a second home or buy-to-let investment property. The number of buy-to-let transactions was at an all time high prior to the April deadline after which the buyers would have had to pay considerably more stamp duty. This led to buy-to-let enquires almost completely stopping - no surprise really.

Whilst the market was trying to get used to this area of slow down it then had to deal with the referendum.

During May and June the number of enquiries from both buyers and sellers has slowed right down as people awaited a decision. History shows that the property market doesn’t respond well to uncertainty. However as always quality, desirable properties in some of the more desirable areas have still been selling well in all price ranges. Never has “location, location, location” been more important, neither has taking the marketing advice and pricing advice given to you by your agent if you are selling.

This morning’s headlines read as follows: ‘Britain Votes Leave’: Wow! A narrow victory for Leave.

We didn’t expect that.

Nor did the markets. That’s why they’re crashing even as I type. That’s why the pound is at its lowest level since the miners’ strike.  But…don’t panic – people still need to live in houses and around 60% of house moves are from those who ‘have’ to move!

This very morning we have agreed two property sales to families who need bigger homes. Let’s remember that mortgages are still at an all time low and the lenders are keen to lend.

There is still an inherent shortage of property in our lovely Ocean City and there are more people who want to buy and need homes than there are properties coming to the market…this will go some way towards keeping prices where they are. We are not expecting to see a big shift in selling prices over the next few months but we will see there will be a need for an adjustment in asking prices from their slightly ambitious pre referendum levels.

Plymouth has some fine properties and there are many reasons for people to want to live here; Plymouth ranks third for its quality of life against 20 of Britain’s largest cities.

With the wild natural backdrop of Dartmoor to the north of the city, the sea and deep harbour of Plymouth Sound to the south, and the rivers Plym and Tamar to the east and west, there really is no other city like Plymouth.

The city is on the South West Coast Path, and offers five miles of beaches within 25 miles. It is also home to Plymouth Hoe and one of the finest art deco lidos in England. The world famous Smeaton’s Tower which once stood on the Eddystone Reef 10 miles out to sea now dominates the skyline. The Hoe is a natural auditorium and has hosted many events including the Transat, British Firework Championships, Plymouth Half Marathon, Gran Fondo, SkyRide, and MTV Crashes.

Plymouth has a modern and largely pedestrianised shopping centre that includes national brands and independent retailers.

In contrast, the historic Sutton Harbour area boasts the largest concentration of cobbled streets in England with over 100 listed buildings and a good mix of specialist shops, art galleries, cafés and restaurants. This historic area of the city has the Mayflower Steps, departure point of the Pilgrims to Americaand the build up to Mayflower 400.

Plymouth Life Centre’s aquatic facilities are the largest of their kind in southern England outside of the Olympic Village.

Plymouth is surrounded by outstanding golf courses which utilise the natural landscape to create a challenging yet scenic experience for all handicappers. The superb air quality enjoyed by Plymouth and its surroundings is the final piece of the puzzle that makes Plymouth the ideal place to live and work and we believe in it and in its people.

At last, moving day has arrived. After three/four months of being on the market and waiting for the solicitors paperwork to arrive the big day has come to pack up your house ready to start your new adventure. 

We have compiled a brief moving day checklist to help your move go as smoothly as possible:

*Have a plan and make sure everyone knows whats happening - What time the removal men are due? When do we need to vacate the property? Who is doing what? By having all this information in hand you will be able to make the whole process a lot easier and help keep any stress at bay. 

*Speak to your neighbours - Let your neighbours know what is happening. If you are in a flat there will be a lot of noise, plus there could be parking disruptions, Lorries and extra cars. 

*What do I need to do with our keys? - On moving day most people only focus on collecting keys and forget about there own keys. Discuss this with your Estate Agent a few days before you move to find out what's the best situation for you and your buyers. The chances are your Estate Agent will have some keys from when they conducted viewings on the property. So normally you are free to lock up and post through the letter box. Always best to be 100% certain though. Very important if you have an alarm make sure you leave the codes!

*Change of Address - From banks to the DVLA, there will be plenty of people you will need to inform. Don't forget to also arrange your redirection order at the Post Office. 

*Inform your suppliers - Make sure you speak to your suppliers about your move, including the local council, water, gas and electric plus phone line/internet providers. Make sure you also take final meter readings for your utility companies. 

*Leave Instructions - People love to have information and booklets about how things work. Maybe leave information about how to set and unset the alarm, how to use the cooker, information about bins and recycling. This is not necessary, but its certainly a nice thing to do. 

*An 'ESSENTIALS' box - Make sure you have a box full of essentials for moving day, from tea bags to long life milk, a kettle to mugs, phone chargers and even a packet of biscuits. This box is a must have to help relax once the move is completed. The last thing you need at the end of the day is having to root through boxes to find these items. 

*Prepare some Lunch - On moving day you will be up early and finish late so it is important to make sure you have some lunch and drinks available. The adrenaline of moving will not get you through the whole day. Take some time to recharge your batteries. A flask of tea always goes down well with your removal men too! 

*Have a Takeaway - At the end of the busy moving day, don't bother to cook. Treat yourself to a takeaway from a local restaurant. That way you can relax and put your feet up ready to begin your new life in your new home. 

*Check the house - After all the time spent packing, many people still end up leaving things in the property. So before you close the door for the last time make sure you have checked all cupboards, garden shed and most important the loft. 

*Take a minute - Moving day is thought to be one of the most stressful things you do in life, but don't forget to take a minute and remember the happy memories you made in the home you are leaving behind. Then its time to look forward to all those happy memories you will be making in your new property. It won't take long to unpack the boxes, settle down and start to enjoy making your new property, a home.

Moving home is such an exciting time and seeing people move home gives me such a buzz. The joy I see in people when they collect the keys for there new home is something I always feel honored to have played a part in helping them move home. 

If you require any information about moving day and the process please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to help. 

24 June 2016

Well here we are getting stuck into the summer months in Plymouth and the property market has showed some really positive signs this year of steady growth. However it has also showed some signs of a slow down and now we wait to see where we go from here.

There have a been a few factors effecting the market which none of us can do anything about.

Firstly the government have changed the Stamp Duty regulations when it comes to buying a second home or buy-to-let investment property. The number of buy-to-let transactions was at an all time high prior to the April deadline after which the buyers would have had to pay considerably more stamp duty. This led to buy-to-let enquires almost completely stopping - no surprise really.

Whilst the market was trying to get used to this area of slow down it then had to deal with the referendum.

During May and June the number of enquiries from both buyers and sellers has slowed right down as people awaited a decision. History shows that the property market doesn’t respond well to uncertainty. However as always quality, desirable properties in some of the more desirable areas have still been selling well in all price ranges. Never has “location, location, location” been more important, neither has taking the marketing advice and pricing advice given to you by your agent if you are selling.

This morning’s headlines read as follows: ‘Britain Votes Leave’: Wow! A narrow victory for Leave.

We didn’t expect that.

Nor did the markets. That’s why they’re crashing even as I type. That’s why the pound is at its lowest level since the miners’ strike.  But…don’t panic – people still need to live in houses and around 60% of house moves are from those who ‘have’ to move!

This very morning we have agreed two property sales to families who need bigger homes. Let’s remember that mortgages are still at an all time low and the lenders are keen to lend.

There is still an inherent shortage of property in our lovely Ocean City and there are more people who want to buy and need homes than there are properties coming to the market…this will go some way towards keeping prices where they are. We are not expecting to see a big shift in selling prices over the next few months but we will see there will be a need for an adjustment in asking prices from their slightly ambitious pre referendum levels.

Plymouth has some fine properties and there are many reasons for people to want to live here; Plymouth ranks third for its quality of life against 20 of Britain’s largest cities.

With the wild natural backdrop of Dartmoor to the north of the city, the sea and deep harbour of Plymouth Sound to the south, and the rivers Plym and Tamar to the east and west, there really is no other city like Plymouth.

The city is on the South West Coast Path, and offers five miles of beaches within 25 miles. It is also home to Plymouth Hoe and one of the finest art deco lidos in England. The world famous Smeaton’s Tower which once stood on the Eddystone Reef 10 miles out to sea now dominates the skyline. The Hoe is a natural auditorium and has hosted many events including the Transat, British Firework Championships, Plymouth Half Marathon, Gran Fondo, SkyRide, and MTV Crashes.

Plymouth has a modern and largely pedestrianised shopping centre that includes national brands and independent retailers.

In contrast, the historic Sutton Harbour area boasts the largest concentration of cobbled streets in England with over 100 listed buildings and a good mix of specialist shops, art galleries, cafés and restaurants. This historic area of the city has the Mayflower Steps, departure point of the Pilgrims to Americaand the build up to Mayflower 400.

Plymouth Life Centre’s aquatic facilities are the largest of their kind in southern England outside of the Olympic Village.

Plymouth is surrounded by outstanding golf courses which utilise the natural landscape to create a challenging yet scenic experience for all handicappers. The superb air quality enjoyed by Plymouth and its surroundings is the final piece of the puzzle that makes Plymouth the ideal place to live and work and we believe in it and in its people.

At last, moving day has arrived. After three/four months of being on the market and waiting for the solicitors paperwork to arrive the big day has come to pack up your house ready to start your new adventure. 

We have compiled a brief moving day checklist to help your move go as smoothly as possible:

*Have a plan and make sure everyone knows whats happening - What time the removal men are due? When do we need to vacate the property? Who is doing what? By having all this information in hand you will be able to make the whole process a lot easier and help keep any stress at bay. 

*Speak to your neighbours - Let your neighbours know what is happening. If you are in a flat there will be a lot of noise, plus there could be parking disruptions, Lorries and extra cars. 

*What do I need to do with our keys? - On moving day most people only focus on collecting keys and forget about there own keys. Discuss this with your Estate Agent a few days before you move to find out what's the best situation for you and your buyers. The chances are your Estate Agent will have some keys from when they conducted viewings on the property. So normally you are free to lock up and post through the letter box. Always best to be 100% certain though. Very important if you have an alarm make sure you leave the codes!

*Change of Address - From banks to the DVLA, there will be plenty of people you will need to inform. Don't forget to also arrange your redirection order at the Post Office. 

*Inform your suppliers - Make sure you speak to your suppliers about your move, including the local council, water, gas and electric plus phone line/internet providers. Make sure you also take final meter readings for your utility companies. 

*Leave Instructions - People love to have information and booklets about how things work. Maybe leave information about how to set and unset the alarm, how to use the cooker, information about bins and recycling. This is not necessary, but its certainly a nice thing to do. 

*An 'ESSENTIALS' box - Make sure you have a box full of essentials for moving day, from tea bags to long life milk, a kettle to mugs, phone chargers and even a packet of biscuits. This box is a must have to help relax once the move is completed. The last thing you need at the end of the day is having to root through boxes to find these items. 

*Prepare some Lunch - On moving day you will be up early and finish late so it is important to make sure you have some lunch and drinks available. The adrenaline of moving will not get you through the whole day. Take some time to recharge your batteries. A flask of tea always goes down well with your removal men too! 

*Have a Takeaway - At the end of the busy moving day, don't bother to cook. Treat yourself to a takeaway from a local restaurant. That way you can relax and put your feet up ready to begin your new life in your new home. 

*Check the house - After all the time spent packing, many people still end up leaving things in the property. So before you close the door for the last time make sure you have checked all cupboards, garden shed and most important the loft. 

*Take a minute - Moving day is thought to be one of the most stressful things you do in life, but don't forget to take a minute and remember the happy memories you made in the home you are leaving behind. Then its time to look forward to all those happy memories you will be making in your new property. It won't take long to unpack the boxes, settle down and start to enjoy making your new property, a home.

Moving home is such an exciting time and seeing people move home gives me such a buzz. The joy I see in people when they collect the keys for there new home is something I always feel honored to have played a part in helping them move home. 

If you require any information about moving day and the process please feel free to contact me and I will be happy to help. 

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