This category is about all aspects of Holiday Home Maintenance and will be of interest to UK holiday homeowners. As Holiday Home Insurance Specialists we are proud to share maintenance tips, guidance and articles.

Whether you own a holiday cottage complex, individual holiday home, apartment or cottage these articles are for you. Subjects covered include preventing burst pipes, having your chimney swept, cleaning decking, maintain hot tubs, housekeeping and changeovers.

Check out these posts: Holiday Home winter maintenance tips, Preventing water leaks, Holiday Let Changeovers

water damage holiday homes
Worried holiday homeowner calling Plumber While Collecting Water Droplets Leaking From Ceiling At Home

Our advice comes as the Met Office recorded freezing temperatures across much of the UK this week. On Tuesday 19th November Braemar in Scotland saw the lowest temperature recorded so far this autumn, a chilly -9.9°C and parts of the UK have already seen significant snowfall. These weather conditions can cause pipes to freeze and burst causing serious damage and vacant holiday homes are particularly vulnerable if basic precautions are not taken.

As holiday home insurance specialists we are encouraging holiday homeowners to take precautions to prevent water damage by burst pipes.

Whilst most holiday homes are let to guests during much of the year, the weeks either side of the festive period can be less popular. Properties are often empty and therefore more exposed to extreme weather and prone to problems going undetected.

When a severe cold spell swept the UK in 2010, insurers dealt with 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage every day (£1 billion paid out in Nov/Dec alone *ABI).

Mark Lavington, Director at Boshers Ltd explains; “We see more burst pipe and escape of water insurance claims than any other type of claim. The average cost of claims for frozen pipes is £12000. (Claims data 2011-2017 *Ecclesiastical Insurance) Whilst the damage caused can be significant there are several simple steps holiday homeowners can take in order to reduce their risk.”

We have issued guidance including a number of steps you can take in order to reduce the chances of potential damage:

  • Turn off the stopcock and drain the water and heating system; or  
  • Leave the heating on to maintain a temperature throughout your holiday home sufficient to prevent pipes from freezing (above 7°C). Setting your heating thermostat at a low level (15°C) will help maintain a reasonable temperature to prevent frozen pipes.
  • If your holiday home is unoccupied during the winter ensure you turn the water off at the stopcock even if you leave your heating on (where your heating system allows).
  • Arrange for regular checks to be made on the property during any period in which it isn’t occupied by guests.
  • Lag and insulate pipes, boilers and water storage tanks, particularly if exposed to the cold (think about attics and outbuildings).
  • Make sure your heating and water systems are serviced regularly and checked by a professional.
  • Consider installing a leak detection system or automatic stopcock, particularly if you live away from the property.
  • Refer to your holiday home insurance policy for conditions specific to your cover

Damage caused by burst pipes can be significant

Mark added “The damage caused to holiday homes by burst pipes can be significant, potentially leaving the holiday property uninhabitable for a considerable amount of time. Whilst the material damage and loss of rental income may be insured the inconvenience to both holiday homeowners and future guests is best avoided. Being proactive in reacting to potentially severe weather could save owners hassle, expense and disruption.”

For further guidance on holiday home checks ahead of extreme weather please visit: boshers.co.uk/blog/holiday-let-maintenance/essential-low-season-winter-maintenance-tips

Boshers Holiday Home Insurance Policy Conditions

We are always upfront and clear about our holiday home insurance policy conditions but just in case you need reminding, click below to reveal them:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444 and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.

 

Septic tank

Owners of rural holiday cottages should be careful not to fall foul of new septic tank regulations

Septic tankWhen you think about a holiday home, emotive thoughts of stunning locations, long summer evenings and fun with family and friends are often some of the first things that spring to mind. An important, albeit less glamorous aspect of owning a rural home or holiday cottage is dealing with sewage. Not a problem if your property is connected to the main sewerage system, but what if it isn’t?

Does your cottage have a septic tank or a private sewage treatment plant?

As many holiday homes across the country are based in rural, coastal and countryside areas, it’s not uncommon for them to be served by a septic tank or private sewage treatment plant (STP). If your cottage has either of these then you’ll need to comply with The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016, which came into force on 1st January 2017 and need to be adhered to by 1st January 2020, or sooner if pollution is already occurring or you wish to sell the property this year.

So, for those that perhaps aren’t fully acquainted with waste management systems, what actually is the difference between a septic tank and a STP?

Septic Tanks

A septic tank is the most common and well-known of potential waste disposal systems. Sewage from the holiday home enters the tank, which is usually buried underground or situated away from the property, with solid matter staying within the tank and liquids flowing out for disposal.

Strutt and Parker reports that a 2010 study by Natural England found around 80% of septic tanks weren’t working satisfactorily, with the outflow pipe from many older systems flowing straight into a field drain and eventually to an open watercourse or, in some cases, directly into streams and rivers themselves.

If your septic tank is currently leading to any of these watercourses, then you’ll need to take remedial action before the end of this year to prevent any potential fines or further pollution and damage to your local area.

Private Sewage Treatment Plants

A private sewage treatment plant operates much like a mini sewage works. Pumping and aeration equipment within the plant enhances the breakdown of waste, meaning that any effluent discharged is much cleaner when compared to a traditional sewage septic tank, and can therefore be discharged into rivers and streams (subject to an Environment Agency permit where appropriate).

Practical Steps for you to take

The following useful information has been taken from Strutt and Parker’s recent guide on septic tanks and sewage treatment plants. You can find a link to their full information at the bottom of this blog post.

Septic Tank Owners

The first thing to say is that every property needs somewhere to place its waste, but if your holiday home is served by a private septic tank or a private sewage treatment plant (STP), you’ll need to ensure that this is compliant with The Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 which have come in to place.

Check that your septic tank is:

  1. Discharging to the ground only
  2. Discharging domestic sewage only
  3. Not discharging more than 2m cubed per day
  4. Regularly de-sludged by a registered waste handler

Also check that your septic tank:

  1. Has sound, properly fitting lids and covers
  2. If installed prior to 1st January 2015, is more than 50m from any well or borehole and is outside a Special Protection Zone
  3. If installed after 1st January 2015, is also outside any designated sensitive area (DSA)
  4. Shows no evidence of overflowing or pollution (If there is effluent visible in the vicinity of your tank, your tank needs to be emptied, or your ground discharge is not working properly – or both. Surface run-off of effluent is likely to end up in a watercourse which is illegal.)

If your septic tank is ticking all of these boxes then no further action should be required. However, if you fail to meet any of these requirements then you’ll need to employ a competent professional to remedy any issues before 1st January 2020 passes.

Owners of a sewage treatment plant

Check that:

  1. Working parts are suitably serviced –advisable to have a management contract with a specialist
  2. The plant is regularly de-sludged by a registered waste handler
  3. There is no evidence of overflowing or pollution

In addition check that it’s:

  1. Outside of a designated sensitive area (DSA)
  2. Handling domestic (i.e. not commercial) sewage only
  3. Not discharging more than 5m cubed per day
  4. Installed in accordance with the planning and building regulations in place at the time (pre-1983 installations are deemed to comply automatically with this)
  5. Installation date was pre-1st January 2015.

If your STP is meeting the requirements then you shouldn’t need to take remedial action. In the event that it isn’t, it’s recommended that you seek professional advice to quickly remedy any issues.

For more information on this topic you can download your own copy of Strutt and Parker’s guidance below:

Additional information is available on the Government’s website below:

When holiday letting your second home to paying guests it’s essential to take advice on suitable insurance. Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday home or cottage complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

water damage holiday homes

water damage holiday homesIf you’ve ever had a water leak issue in your own home, you’ll know that small problems can quickly escalate when it comes to water damage. It’s therefore little surprise that `escape of water’ causes approximately £2 million of water damage to UK properties every day*. That’s a staggering £23 every second! They also account for 21% of all property insurance claims. (*Association of British Insurers – ABI).

So what are the most common causes of water damage in holiday homes? How can you reduce the risk in yours?

Those dreaded frozen pipes…

It’s that time of year when frost appears and temperatures can plummet dipping the mercury well beneath freezing overnight. This can be a real issue for holiday homes if left unoccupied. Frozen pipes being one of the most common and expensive causes of water damage in the UK each year.

To ensure you don’t fall foul of our cooler climate always make sure that your:

  • pipes are sufficiently lagged
  • heating is left on to maintain a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home to prevent pipes from freezing
  • holiday home is regularly inspected both externally and internally

Remember saving a few pennies on heating costs can lead to far greater loss through water damage. If you don’t leave the heating on make sure the water is turned off and the system is drained.

  • Check your holiday home insurance policy document for full conditions to which you must comply to maintain full cover.

Here’s some more useful information on protecting your holiday home from frozen and burst pipes:

Poor workmanship…

Just like any other area of your holiday home – whether it be your website, your furnishings or your electrics – quality is the key when it comes to avoiding water damage. All maintenance and any changes to your cottage plumbing should be carried out by a professional using appropriate quality materials. Incorrectly installed plastic plumbing and poor quality underfloor heating have contributed to an increase in water damage.

Pipework fatigue and failure

Another common cause of water loss in holiday homes is pipework failure. This will often happen at the point at which one pipe meets another and where the joint is weaker than the pipe itself. Flexible hose tails, often used in confined spaces such as wash basins and to connect washing machines and dishwashers are two common culprits when it comes to failure over time and should therefore be regularly checked and replaced if needed.

Valves and ball cocks are also prone to failure, with all resulting in leaks that can have the potential to escalate quickly if not identified, which is an issue in unoccupied holiday homes and therefore places an increased importance on regularly checking the property yourself or appointing this responsibility to somebody else.

Lack of regular maintenance

We’ve already highlighted the importance of conducting regular checks on your holiday home. These checks not only prevent issues with escaping water, but also identify them early before potential damage can escalate, so it’s unsurprising that a lack of regular maintenance can also cause issues. When was the last time you checked all of the taps, pipe joints, flexible braided hoses, ball cocks and any other potential plumbing nightmares in your cottage? If the answer isn’t within the past few months, then the time is now to avoid any future damage and disruption.

Our free water leak action pack could help reduce water damage in your holiday home

We’re always keen to help our holiday homeowners before issues occur, which is why we offer our policy holders a free Water Leak Action Pack which contains:

  • Guidance on preventing water leaks
  • What to do if you, your housekeeper or guests discover a leak
  • Somewhere to record where your stopcock is to be found
  • Labels and stickers to clearly mark your stopcock
  • Somewhere to record contact numbers in case of a leak

There’s a good chance we have already supplied you with a free Water Leak Action Pack for your holiday home, are you using yours? Find out more here.

Boshers are specialist providers of holiday home insurance. For information on how we can help protect your holiday let business ,call us on 01237 429444.

holiday home waste

holiday home waste

When we’re at home putting the bins and recycling out can sometimes be a chore. However it is certainly made easier than dealing with your holiday home waste by being there most of the time. Holiday homeowners often live a long distance from their holiday letting property, or perhaps only have the capacity to visit infrequently. So with this in mind how do you keep on top of your holiday home waste collection; and what are your obligations?

What are your obligations with respect to dealing with your holiday home waste?

By law, all businesses are required to take ‘all reasonable steps to ensure their waste is kept safe’; and when removed is ‘handled by a contractor authorised to collect, transfer, recycle or dispose of it safely.’

Unfortunately, waste disposal isn’t included within business rates. This is because it’s deemed fairer to charge businesses individually based on the quantity and type of waste they produce.

Is a holiday home a business?

The question is therefore, as a holiday cottage owner, are you a business?

The Controlled Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 indicates that holiday lets and self-catering accommodation providers do qualify as a business. Therefore for the purpose of holiday home waste collection, holiday let owners should pay for a commercial waste service.

Full collection and disposal charges are applicable unless you receive the small business rates relief. It’s worth noting that many individual holiday lets do qualify; in which case you would only need to pay for the collection of the waste from your holiday cottage.

The benefits of commercial waste collection

There are a few benefits to having your holiday home waste collected commercially; such as

  • compliance with the waste regulations
  • increasing the frequency of collection during peak periods
  • matching collections to fit in on or before your changeover days

Saving money and increasing participation in recycling

When paying for your waste to be collected it goes without saying that in order to reduce costs, it’s important for you to reduce the amount of waste generated by your property.

But how do you actually do that in practice?  The answer is recycling although you’ll need to be savvy in getting your guests engaged when on holiday.

Although most of us will now recycle at home, attitudes can sometimes slip when we’re wanting to relax. Therefore making it as easy and simple as possible for your guests is vital to increasing their participation.

Clearly labeled or perhaps coloured containers are a must to make sure they know exactly what goes where. Also consider where you position them and if you welcome families into your cottage, whether it can be turned into a game to get everyone involved.

How do I organise a holiday home waste collection?

For more information on refuse collection please contact your local council for details of commercial waste contractors. Expect to pay a fee for a supply of commercial waste sacks and agree your collection days. It’s a good idea to make it clear to your guests when your holiday home waste and recycling will be collected and ask them politely if they will put the bags out in good time on the allocated day.

If you’d like to discuss how our specialist holiday home insurance can ensure your property has the cover it needs, please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429444.

 

Tips for preparing your holiday home for the peak letting season

Tips for preparing your holiday home for the peak letting seasonThe peak letting season is almost upon us. It’s time to get organised and start preparing for an influx of guests (and sunshine!). It’s vital that your holiday home is ready for everything the peak period has to throw at it. And that you’ve also taken every precaution to ensure that guests have a happy and safe stay in your property.

In order to do that there are a few checks that you’ll need be making. Here’s an overview of our tips for preparing your holiday home for the peak letting season.

Electrical items, boilers and alarms

When it comes to the safety of your guests, ensuring that electrical items, boilers, fire and carbon monoxide alarms have been recently serviced and are in full working order should come at the top of your priority list.

Keep a record of when these items were last checked and inspected. Make a diary note of when they’ll next need attention.

There’s further information on the specific checks you’ll need to carry out and how often here:

The garden and grounds

The winter can often take its toll on our gardens, so before guests begin to return to your cottage ensure that you’ve had a thorough check of any external areas; this should include elements such as making sure that winter weather hasn’t damaged nearby trees, that your pathways are cleared of algae or leaves that could cause visitors to slip, and that any decking is in fine fettle.

Whilst a risk assessment can sound like an arduous and technical task, having a detailed list of items to check in the garden (and other areas of your holiday home) will ensure that nothing is missed by you or the person responsible for inspection if you live a good distance from the property.

You can find more information on maintaining your holiday home garden in our blogs here:

The interior

Holiday homes come under more stress than the average home, therefore furniture will sometimes need a little TLC or replacement. Wobbly chairs should be fixed, and that dodgy door knob should be repaired. Even the smallest details, such as a loose floorboard or kink in the carpet, could present a trip hazard for all of the guests that you will be welcoming.

The lead up to the peak letting season is also the perfect time for a thorough spring clean, so pop your marigolds on and give your holiday cottage a deep clean. Replace any tired looking towels, plump up the cushions, and make sure that everything a guest may need is in there.

If you have a housekeeper responsible for changeovers then now is a great time of the year to go through their checks, and ask them what could be altered to reach an even higher level of visitor service in the coming period.

You can find more information on maintaining the interior of your holiday home and housekeeping in our blogs here:

Is your welcome pack up to date?

Your welcome pack should be seen as a key part of your communication with guests, so you should be taking the time to review it on a regular basis and ensure that it’s completely up to date.

Correct emergency information, local restaurant recommendations, and any other information that isn’t right. Also ensure that instructions to electrical items and anything else they may need within your cottage during their stay are readily available.

For more information on using your welcome pack as a marketing tool please take a look at our blog here:

The paperwork

Your welcome pack isn’t the only paper work you should check in the lead up to the peak letting season. Both general and fire risk assessments should be reviewed annually. Ensure that you’ve got all the appropriate certificates covering areas such as gas safety, PAT testing and Electrical Installation Condition Report.

Property maintenance is an essential aspect for holiday homeowners fulfilling their duty of care. Keeping on top of it will ensure you achieve the best returns on your holiday home. A well maintained property will also reduce the risks of holiday home insurance claims.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Require a quote for your holiday apartment, cottage or complex? Please give us a call on 01237 429444.

 

Have you had your holiday home chimney swept

Have you had your holiday home chimney sweptMany of us still love a bit of character in a property. For those of us that do there are few better thoughts than a cosy night in front of a fire. During the winter when the air is cooler and the nights are longer a fire or wood burner really appeal. If your holiday home is able to offer this most British of things to those lucky enough to stay in your cottage over the coming months, then now is the time of the year to be getting your chimney swept and ready for action.

There are still approximately 4,000 chimney fires in the UK each year. The most common cause being that the flue has not been swept, or thoroughly cleaned. This particularly applies after long periods of inactivity, such as summer, when birds can often nest in the vicinity of your chimney and quickly cause a potentially serious blockage. So now really is the time to be cleaning yours.

How often should you have your chimney swept?

The answer depends largely on how often you use the wood burner. As it will be your guests, rather than you using it, a good tip is to keep track of how much wood you’ve supplied in order to establish just how much is being used.

If you and your guests light it infrequently, a general guideline is to have it swept once a year.

Is your fire being lit more frequently? Perhaps the location of your holiday cottage warrants lighting the fire most nights. Then it’s sensible to have your chimney swept twice a year. Before you start having fires in the autumn and then again half way through the winter months. This is also the case should you choose to burn more wood, than coal.

No matter what chimney or flue you have, they must be cleaned and maintained. Have your chimney swept at least once a year as a minimum requirement.

Communicating with your guests

Every fire is different, therefore it’s important that your guests are able to handle simple problems that may occur during their stay. As well as spot potentially dangerous situations before they arise.

It’s therefore sensible to leave clear instructions in your Welcome Folder. Not only on how to light and begin a fire, which many people will be already be familiar with. Also on solving common issues associated with a fire such as smoke coming into the room rather than the chimney. This can be caused by cold air within the chimney itself (particularly if the fire hasn’t been lit for some time). If this is the case then your guest will need to initially burn paper and kindling, in order to quickly increase the temperature inside the flue.

Leave clear instructions and suitable equipemt including a metal bin for disposing of ashes.

If your guests are unable to quickly address a fault the fire should be extinguished and remain unlit until a qualified chimney sweep has carried out his or her inspections and indicated it is now safe to do so.

Insurance implications

Our holiday homeowners are covered for damage to their property as a result of fire. We also understand the potentially devastating financial impact having your holiday home unavailable for let as the result of a fire can have on your business. Our loss of income covers you for the potential loss of income you may suffer as a result of disruption or interruption caused by an insured event such as fire.

This means that should you lose trade then you’ll not have to pay the price of the loss of income. Losses through cancellations and periods of not being able to accept bookings will be picked up by your policy.

We also understand that repairs and maintenance after such an event won’t be immediate; that’s why our indemnity period extends to two years.

Be sure to consider closely the implacations of providing solid fuel fires in your fire safety risk assessment.

For more advice on the importance of having your holiday home chimney swept click the link below:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

flexible braided hose

flexible braided hosesWhy should holiday homeowners be concerned about flexible braided hoses? No matter the size of your holiday home there’s one thing that we can guarantee; it’s going to have a kitchen, bathroom and no doubt an ensuite or two! Within these you’ll have sinks, behind which you’re going to have pipes feeding the hot and cold water taps.

All absolutely fine and normal so far! However, a potential issue could be lurking behind your sink; we are of course talking about flexible braided hoses. These are often used in confined spaces such as found in the kitchen and bathroom. Fitted in order to more easily join the necessary pipework to the taps. Without the complexity of an alternative such as soldered copper piping. This is often to save time and money in the short term.

The issue here is that more and more people have been experiencing problems with the functionality and longevity these pipes. Which when combined with the fact that escape of water claims are not only one of the most common in the UK, but also one of the most expensive (on average costing a home around £7,000 in damage), is thrusting their suitability for UK holiday homes quickly into the limelight.

Facts about flexible braided hoses

Flexible braided hoses are a plumbing connection from the water main to sanitory ware. They are very versatile and commonly installed in modern homes to replace copper pipe. Unfortunately, they come with a whole host of cons, which can lead to leakages and ruptures, or worst case scenario, major escape of water claims. Some of the reasons this might occur are:

  • They don’t have a very long shelf life – often just five years.
  • Some products are of questionable quality
  • Correct maintenance is not carried out which can lead to rust, fraying or kinking
  • Incorrect installation. They could be over stretched or too loose

If your pipes were to fail, you could be facing ruined carpets, warped wooden floors and water damaged ceilings, which can often leave parts or the whole of your property uninhabitable for some time after the event.

Reasons why flexible braided hoses are often used

Stainless steel flexible braided hoses are attractive because of their price point – they are cheap. They’re also fairly easy to install compared to alternatives, which of course appeals to the DIY plumber. If you do have any installed in your holiday home, whether it be in your bathrooms or kitchen, were you aware that they have a meager 5-year life span? They will most likely start to deteriorate if they exceed that time.

The majority won’t be aware, but if you do have these in your cottage there’s no need to panic or start calling for the emergency plumber as there are a number of ways to safeguard your property going forward.

What can you do to prevent water damage from flexible piping?

The good news is, water damage from flexi hoses is preventable. There a few important steps to follow in order to reduce the risk of water leakage or full pipe failure within your holiday cottage:

  1. Ensure a licensed plumber installs all flexible water hoses within your property. In order for installation to be safe and thorough, you need someone with specialised knowledge.
  2. If you’ve already had pipes installed by an unqualified individual, ask a profressional plumber to check the quality and brand of the product and the installation, to ensure there aren’t any issues with the installation.
  3. Leave information in your guest pack as to where the mains water stopcock is in case they need to switch it off in an emergency.
  4. Carry out proactive, effective and regular maintenance. You need to be regularly checking the flexible hoses throughout your cottage in order to identify corrosion and small leaks before they become big issues.
  5. If you see any signs of corrosion, leakage or any connectors are loosening, contact a licensed plumber as soon as possible.
  6. Replace the flexible hoses every 5 years and be sure to check the warranties on anything you purchase.
  7. Better still consider replacing your flexible braided hoses with copper plumbing to the taps before they reach their shelf life

If your holiday home is going to be empty for a period of time, switch off the main water valve to prevent flooding if a leak occurs. Leave your heating on to prevent frozen pipes, refer to your holiday home insurance policy document for conditions to which you should adhere in this respect.

Are you a client of Boshers?

You will have received a Water Leak Action Pack complete with a tag to mark the location of your stopcock. Read more here:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

Holiday Let Outside Lighting

It’s time to consider how well you illuminate the way to your holiday letting property with outside lighting. With British Summer Time at an end for another year the mornings and nights will soon be much darker. So if you’re welcoming guests during the winter months, ask yourself how well-lit is the exterior of your holiday home and the paths that lead to it?   Holiday Let Outside Lighting

Reducing the risks of slips, trips and falls with outside lighting

It’s important that all paths, steps and approaches to the entrance to your holiday home are illuminated sufficiently. Carefully positioning outside lighting will reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls.

During the winter months’ guests may not only have to deal with arriving or departing whilst it’s dark, they may also have to endure the cold, ice or rain that often accompanies the great British winter.

Slippery surfaces can become real hazards once the sun has gone down, and if you combine this with the fact that your guests won’t be familiar with the layout of your cottage and the approaches that lead to it, it further emphasises the importance of lighting these clearly for them to follow.

Should a guest trip and fall when approaching your holiday home at night, any injury claim will be impossible to defend if your paths and steps are not well lit.

Making things easy – lighting your key safe

The majority of holiday homes will have a key safe. They provide your guests convenient access no matter what time they’re arriving. You should ideally have a light in this area so guests are able to easily see the key code. There’s nothing worse than trying to find some sort of light, whether via a smart phone or a torch they keep in the car. Especially when all they want to do is get in, start their holiday and relax after a long drive.

Making sure they’re at the right place

Lighting the name or number of your property will give your guests confidence they’ve arrived at the right place. With our ever extending reliance on sat-navs, this can be an important feature if they’re arriving at night when they can’t fully see the exterior of the cottage. An added bonus if your cottage is in the countryside when a postcode may cover several different roads.

Options for reducing electricity bills on lighting

Whilst LED lights have become increasingly common within the interior and exterior of holiday homes to reduce potential energy bills (research has indicated they can save you up to £200 per year in an average household by being 10 times more efficient than their candescent counterparts), there are a number of solutions that could cut the costs of external lighting on your holiday home.

If you’re looking at the pathways to your property have you consider solar powered lights. These can be quick and easy to install, cost effective to buy and should still emit light in the darkest days of winter. However be sure to purchase good quality solar lights that will stand up to the job.

Looking to light that key safe? Consider motion censored lighting. Whilst there is a cost, it should soon pay for itself. Lighting triggered by motion can also scare off potential intruders looking to gain entry to your holiday home.

Maintaining your outside lighting

Ensure that all of your bulbs and outside lighting are regularly checked. This may be by you, your housekeeper, caretaker or whomever is responsible for the continued upkeep of your property. Whilst it’s only a small job, a faulty bulb can end up on a busy to-do list. Therefore ensure that as soon as there is an issue it is quickly resolved. This will make life easier for your guests and make their stay safer. It may even save you a costly holiday home insurance liability claim.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home and property insurance to holiday cottage owners across the country. For more information on our policies have a look around Boshers website. For a quote or to ask any question please give our team a call on 01237 429444.

Japanese knotweed

Japanese knotweedJapanese Knotweed – two words that are likely to send a shiver down the spine of any homeowner in the UK. Now it’s top of the list when it comes to the most unwanted plants in our gardens! It’s easy to understand why if you consider that Japanese knotweed:

  • grows at an alarming rate of up to 20cm a day
  • will push its way through walls, paving and tarmac
  • left unchecked it can damage the entire structural stability of a home.

It’s estimated that to eradicate this invasive pest from the UK it would take an eye watering £1.5 billion. With this cost unlikely to be met, it’s important to understand the implications. What should you do if your home or holiday home falls foul of Japanese Knotweed?

Your legal responsibility

The first point to state is should the plant appear on your premises, it’s your responsibility to eradicated it. New laws state that landowners can be found liable. Especially if there is proof they knew about an infestation of Japanese knotweed and failed to deal with it properly.

Buying a cottage or selling your own holiday home? Property owners affected by knotweed infestation could be open to a lawsuit if they failed to act. Property insurance cover may also be refused. If the knotweed in your garden were to spread to a neighbour’s property, you could even be given an ASBO under the Anti-Social Behavior Crime and Policing Act 2014.

How to remove Japanese knotweed from your holiday home

With the stakes high, and time very much of the essence, it’s important to remove the plant from your land and ensure it’s eradicated permanently. it is likely that the most cost effective method of dealing with it is to use an established professional. The Property Care Association have members who are Invasive Weed Control specialists. You can search for one in your area here. Checking that the firm provides an insurance backed warranty is crucial. This may involve further inspections over a 12 month period. If selling this gives the legal guarantee that solicitors and conveyancers are looking for to demonstrate the issue is under control. Companies should carry adequate insurance with a reputable insurer, and this should preferably include structural damage cover.

DIY methods of removing Japanese knotweed

Explained below are some of the DIY methods that can be used to remove Japanese Knotweed if you catch it early, Although our recommendation would still be to employ a professioanl to carry out the work for you.

  1. Non-chemical controls

Whilst Knotweed can be dug out of the ground, the roots are so deep it will usually grow back. If you are attempting to dig it out remove as much of the root as possible, then repeatedly destroy the regrowth (e.g. by mowing). This will exhaust the energy reserves in the remaining underground parts of the plant, however expect it to take several seasons to disappear entirely.

Also bear in mind that if you are digging out Japanese knotweed then this is classed as “controlled waste’, meaning the remains have to be disposed of in a licensed landfill site under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

  1. Chemical control

You can try a glyphosate-based weed killer which would be available from your local garden centre. This will usually be applied to the foliage of the plant and then passes within the plant to the underground parts and roots. It usually takes at least three to four seasons to eradicate Japanese knotweed, but professional contractors have access to more powerful weed killers and may reduce this period by half.

What about my buildings insurance? 

Damage to your property caused by invasive weeds such as Japanese Knotweed isn’t generally covered under your buildings insurance. As homeowners we all have a duty of care to ensure that our properties are well maintained. This includes controlling the spread of invasive weeds such as Japanese Knotweed. If you are considering buying a holiday home in an area where it’s known to occur we recommend you have the property checked for Japanese Knotweed as part of your buildings survey.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home and property insurance to holiday cottage owners across the country. For more information on our policies have a look around Boshers website. For a quote or to ask any question please give our team a call on 01237 429444.

Photo credit – Japanese Knotweed – phlorum.com

Autumn property maintenance tips for your holiday home

Autumn property maintenance tips for your holiday home It’s the time of the year when many holiday homeowners take a deep breath. Maybe enjoy their first weekend in a while free from back to back bookings and challenging changeovers. Or even stay in the holiday property themselves. Sound familiar? Holiday homes across the country will have welcomed hoards of people through their doors during the peak season. If you self-manage that not only leaves you feeling tired but can also take its toll on your property.

For that reason, there’s no better time of the year than now to take stock of any wear and tear. Identify what needs replacing or maintaining. Then get to work restoring it to the fine condition it was in at the start of the peak season.

Here are a few Autumn property maintenance tips for your holiday home.

Prepare your property maintenance checklist

It’s inevitable that any holiday home will experience some wear and tear over the peak months of the year. Whilst a wobbly door handle or chair may seem innocuous, the smallest issues can cause accidents if not addessed. Make up a property maintenance checklist of these small issues and tackle them before your next guests arrive.

Now is a great time to go through the entire property, ensuring that all rooms are in full working order. And do the level of accommodation you’re wanting to provide guests with justice.  Whilst many holiday homes will have a checklist for external cleaners to follow during changeover, it’s worth making your maintenance checklist more thorough and in-depth to ensure nothing is missed.

Work through each room, ensuring that each item is ticked off your list.

Top tips to revive the interior of your holiday home

  1. Consider having your carpets professionally cleaned; it can give a tired post-season room a real boost.
  2. If you’re hoovering yourself, ensure your vacuum cleaner has a clean HEPA filter. This can reduce allergy causing carpet mites and ensure more of those dog hairs are removed (if your accommodation is dog friendly!).
  3. Steam cleaning upholsteries such as curtains, sofas and alike every six months can revive their appearance and avoid the need for replacing them.
  4. Rubbing a teaspoon of lemon oil on a glass shower door each month can cause water to bead up and roll off.
  5. Ever placed your cushions or pillows in the freezer? Probably not, but it can be a great way of killing off any mites that may have made their way into your holiday home during the summer. Simply leave them in there for 48 hours and they should be gone!

Readying your holiday home for harsher weather

The great British summer can sometimes be somewhat unpredictable, the winter months are more reliable with higher levels of wind, rain and cooling temperatures guaranteed.  Your maintenance checks should extend to the exterior of your property and the surrounding land / gardens.

For a full breakdown of items that could and should be on your external checklist please have a look at our previous blog posts here:

Top tips to revive the exterior of your holiday home

  1. If you’re looking for a deep and effective clean, there’s nothing more effective than a stiff brush. Target paths, decking and other areas in which slippery algae, dirt and lichen can gather and cause accidents as well as looking unsightly.
  2. Remove leaves and debris on a regular basis. This will reduce the risk of flooding should they block nearby drains and other areas in which winter water needs to escape.
  3. When was the last time your windows were washed? It can sometimes be left on the to-do list during peak season, so make sure they’re spick and span, and that you also check paintwork or the surrounds of the window to ensure no remedial work is currently required.
  4. Regularly washing your exterior paintwork will give it a real lift and remove dirt containing corrosive pollutants which in turn can increase the life of your paint.
  5. Outside lighting can really lift the look of your holiday home, as well as being important for your guest’s safety and security when the nights pull in. Replace any corroded fittings and clean regularly if these are already fitted.

Property maintenance is an essential aspect for holiday homeowners fulfilling their duty of care. Keeping on top of it will ensure you achieve the best returns on your holiday home. A well maintained property will also reduce the risks of holiday home insurance claims.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.