WIN the Climate Control sleeping range from Slumberdown!

The Climate Control sleeping pillows

Today is your chance to WIN the Climate Control sleeping range from Slumberdown!

Slumberdown’s Climate Control range is perfect for warmer weather as it regulates body temperature, helping to prevent overheating.

The unique fibres within the filling are specially formulated to carry excess heat and moisture away from the head and body, leading to a cool and comfy night’s sleep.

The range is machine washable and suitable for tumble drying. RRP: 4.5 tog duvet from £17.99, pillow pair £13.99. Stockist: Amazon

About Slumberdown 

Exploring Help to Buy and Shared Ownership schemes

Photo of new home example of available on shared ownership scheme or help to buy schemes in UK

Have you ever heard the words “shared ownership”, or “Help to Buy” but always wondered exactly what people were talking about?

The world of affordable home ownership might seem like a complex one, particularly for first-time buyers, but here at HomeFocus we strive to cut through the jargon and tell you exactly what you need to know.

Thanks to the sky-high prices of homes and houses nationwide, people right across the country are being priced out of the open market, and add that to the extortionate cost of renting, it’s no wonder that people are struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.

However, there are affordable home ownership schemes in place to help you buy your own home - and the key word there is affordable.

Barratt Homes Site Manager Recognised As One Of The Best In The Country

Barratt Homes Site Manager Sam Foglia

A Site Manager for Barratt Homes in Milton Keynes has won a top national award for the quality of the homes he is building from the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

Sam Foglia (36) who is the Site Manager at Brooklands on Fen Street has been recognised by the NHBC for their annual Pride in the Job Quality Awards. 

Sam, who has worked for the homebuilder for two years, picked up his first Pride in the Job Quality Award this year.

He said: “This is such a massive achievement for me and it just hasn’t sunk in yet but I’m over the moon.

“I’d like to thank the team around me and the sub-contractors for all of their support, it’s been a real team effort and it’s great to be building for such a reputable brand like Barratt Homes.” 

Are you looking for a new, luxurious throw to compliment your room?

Luxury throw

So, let me start by saying, I absolutely love throws and cushions, and have had my fair share in the past. 

I'm always replacing them for something nicer, better quality or a new design and find them a great way to accessorise any room. 

I recently received the ICON™ Bavarian Wolf Extra Large Faux Fur Throw from www.beanbagbazaar.co.uk and my first impression was, wow, it feels like such good quality material. 

Sumptuous faux fur, inspired by Bavarian Wildlife, it is a must item to have!!

It has a beautiful velvet effect on the reverse, which is so soft and cuddly, and I must add, extremely nice and warm, so perfect for those wintery evenings, or to take outside when the sun goes down in Summer! 

Buyers Seek Semi-Rural Retreat At Aylesbury Development

Barratt Homes Aylesbury Development

Leading developer Barratt Homes has announced a rapid growth in sales at its Aylesbury development, Kingsbrook.

After a successful few weeks, the housebuilder has revealed that there have been approximately three properties sold a week at the development, totalling 15 sales in a month, which is six times the national average.

Offering a collection of two and three bedroom homes, Kingsbrook is the perfect place for a variety of buyers, including those looking to take a step on or up the property ladder.

It’s no surprise the development has become such a property hotspot, with its homes all featuring contemporary designs and open plan layouts that are perfect for modern family living. 

Staircasing 101

Staircasing on a white background

Everything you need to know about taking a step up the shared ownership ladder

By Samantha Eaton - Associate solicitor in the residential property team at Gorvins Solicitors

What is staircasing?

Staircasing is the process of purchasing further shares of a shared ownership property you already own.

Depending on the terms of your lease, once you have lived in your property for a certain period of time you will be eligible to staircase.

The eco-friendly devices every home needs

The eco-friendly devices every home needs - plastic rubbish for recycling

Aldous Hicks, CEO and Co-founder of ReCircle Recycling Ltd, discusses some of the top eco-friendly devices every home will have within the next 10 years…

We have a major problem with our recycling at the moment. 5.25 TRILLION plastic items have ended up in the sea and we continue to add to this. In addition, 50% of what we put into recycling bins isn’t recycled.

Part of the problem is that so much of our plastic waste is contaminated and cannot be recycled. This is no surprise as people, even when they want to recycle and try hard to get it right, find the whole process very confusing.  What we need is to do is make the process easier and take, for example plastic, and recycle it into a pure product that can be reused.

Cavanna colleagues raise funds for precious lives with pedal power

The team from Cavanna Homes with their bikes during the charity cycle

A trio of cyclists from Cavanna Homes’ head office in Torquay will be riding 205 miles across three counties to raise vital funds for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW). 

The Ride for Precious Lives cycle challenge (12th – 14th July 2019) is an annual three-day charity endurance ride between three CHSW hospices, starting at Little Harbour Hospice in St Austell, to Little Bridge House hospice in Barnstaple, finishing at Charlton Farm hospice near Bristol.

Cavanna Homes’ team; Michael Newman (Head of Design), Ed Brown (Development Manager) and Ben Rowntree (Land Buyer) have set an ambitious fundraising target of £3,000. 

From the Netherlands to Fusion at Paignton, with love

New owners at Paignton development

When Robin Hanselaar visited Torbay on an international work placement two years ago from Gouda in the Netherlands, she wasn’t expecting to fall head over heels in love and buy her first home at Cavanna Homes’ Fusion development in Paignton. 

Support Worker Robin, 21, met her partner George Irvine, a 22-year-old lifeguard, whilst both working at PGL, an activity camp in Torquay.

Thousands Use Help To Buy To Buy In Merseyside

Street scene in Merseyside

A government initiative is helping thousands of families in Merseyside to get on to the housing ladder. New figures released by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) reveal that a total of 4,404 homebuyers in the area used the Help to Buy scheme since it was launched four years ago.

Within the county, the districts which made the best use of the scheme were Liverpool City (1,597) and St Helens (968).

Local housebuilder Barratt Manchester is encouraging homebuyers throughout Merseyside to take part in the popular scheme which has already helped tens of thousands of people across the country to buy a brand new home. 

Neos Smart Cam review: Keeping an eye on your new home with smart CCTV

Neos Smart Cam CCTV - the camera

Editor Victoria Galligan reviews the Neos SmartCam, an affordable CCTV gadget which can provide you with real peace of mind in your new home.

If you’re planning on buying your first home, or a new home, then understandably you’re going to worry about it when you’re not there. 

However, a full CCTV system can be expensive and may not be an option if budgets are tight. So I checked out one of the cheaper CCTV products on the market, which is an ideal starter product for your home security needs.

A great little gadget which sits indoors, the Neos SmartCam has a magnet and adjustable stand – it needs to be plugged in, so bear this in mind when you consider a suitable location. The higher the better, to avoid being tampered with.

Don’t use harsh white lighting in the garden, experts warn!

Solar lighting in a garden

Harsher colours such as blue or white should be avoided when planning outdoor lighting, design experts have agreed.

Warmer colours work better and are more natural, while harsh whites and blues can appear ‘creepy’, according to the group of professionals who include an award-winning architect, a garden designer, an LED specialist and the president of The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID).

The advice was delivered during a series of interviews used that formed a garden lighting guide from lighting specialists Lamp Shop Online. Giving their opinions were garden designer Jane Hicks, architect Steve Reading, LED expert Arthur Smith, and Gilly Craft, current president of the BIID.

Wave Of Interest In Newcastle Property Development

The Coach House at new Newcastle property development

A LUXURY property development, which will transform a historic Newcastle building, has already attracted a huge amount of interest, according to its owners.

Work will begin this summer on turning The Coach House at The Drive, Gosforth, into eight state-of-the-art properties, which should be completed by spring 2020.

And, according to McDougall Dodds Ltd, which owns the Grade II listed building, two of the homes have already been sold with a wave of inquiries about the remaining six.

The development includes two houses, two bungalows, and four apartments, with one of the houses and one of the bungalows already snapped up.

Tenant Fee Ban

Jeremy Fletcher on the tenant fee ban

Tenant Fee Ban - Tipi residents have already saved over £215,000!  

"The lettings fees ban coming into force on 1st June 2019 is more great news for UK renters. For too long, tenants have been the victims of the private rented sector, but change is happening. The letting fees ban is a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done.

"Tipi is already ahead of the game when it comes to putting tenants first. Our residents and potential residents don't need the Tenant Fee Ban to get a fairer deal as not only don't we charge our residents any fees, we also don't require them to pay deposits. 

"In fact, our records show that we've already saved our residents over £215,000 to date by dispensing with these fees!

Couple Use Help To Buy To Secure First Home

Michael & Emily in their new home which they bought with help to buy scheme

Settling down to begin their family planning in the new Wixams community, a couple in Bedfordshire have secured their first home together using the Help to Buy scheme.

Michael Owens and Emily Platten, both 28-year-old Retail Managers, took advantage of the available tools for purchasing their new home and secured a new build property at Barratt Homes’ development Willow Grove.

Previously living with Emily’s dad, the couple were able to make the move to a three bedroom Maidstone style home with just a 5% deposit and sought professional guidance from an onsite Mortgage Adviser to benefit from a smooth transition.

WIN The Hive Hub and Smart Plug worth over £120

The Hive Hub and Smart plug

Homefocus review of the Hive Hub and Smart Plug

When using the Hive Hub and Smart Plug, it was brilliant!  It was easy to install the app to make the account and easy to connect the smart plug to the Hive Hub.

Within 5 minutes, I was controlling the devices which were plugged into the smart plug with the touch of my finger.

The main reason I wanted to try this, was if like most of you I am murder for leaving my side light on, I leave it on all the time, but now I can go to my Hive app and check if it’s still on.

From this, I can turn that plug off resulting in it turning off my light. It’s so easy to use with the app, even when you’re miles away from home.

I also loved how you can name the devices including the hub itself.

The Buckingham Style Home Proves Perfect For Families

Master bedroom in Buckingham style home

Leading developer David Wilson Homes South Midlands is giving Bedfordshire homebuyers its top five reasons on why they should consider a Buckingham style home.

The five bedroom home is one of the most popular and there is currently only two of its type left available to reserve at Kingsley Manor in Langford.

Jason Hearn, Sales Director at David Wilson Homes South Midlands, said: “The Buckingham is a beautiful family home expertly crafted with the latest interior trends.

“The surroundings of this development are also something that homebuyers can take advantage of, offering countryside views and scenic family walks.

How to get the best mortgage you can

Hand holding out money for a mortgage

Lee Rhodes is a mortgage and insurance advisor and the founder of Rhodes Advisory. With over 13 years of experience in financial services, he has this year helped clients raise over £7m in mortgages.

Getting on the property ladder isn’t easy these days, especially for first time buyers with fairly small deposits or those who do not have any or much equity built up in property that can be used
as a deposit for an onward purchase. The good news is that the Government is keen on stimulating the housing market and wants to help people get that foot onto or up the ladder.

Which Home Buying Schemes Are Available?

Key in the door of a new home

Are you looking to buy a new home and don't know where to start? Don't worry, we've got you covered! Here at Home Focus we've made things easy for you. Check out all the home buying schemes below that could be avaliable to you! 

Help to Buy Equity Loan

You own 100% of your property, but only have to cover a percentage of the initial cost with your mortgage and deposit. You can defer the rest for a while as it’s covered by an equity loan. There’s nothing to pay on the equity loan for a few years, and the scheme you choose will determine whether you pay any interest after this and when you have to pay the loan back.

Shared ownership

To Bee Or Not To Bee: Developer Offers Top Tips For Nature

Bee friendly plants at David Wilson Homes

Leading homebuilder David Wilson Homes North West is offering homeowners in Lancashire its top tips for making their garden bee friendly this summer. 

The developer is encouraging people to make their garden a haven for our fuzzy friends, by planting flowers to attract them and making small changes to their garden to give bees somewhere to shelter.

There are over 250 bee species in the UK, and most face threats such as loss of habitat, climate change and disease. They are vital to the food chain, with one in every three mouthfuls of food consumed by humans dependent on pollination, including apples, pears, onions, potatoes, cherries, chilies, carrots, margarine and herbs.

The Search For Britain's Best Interior Returns!

Sophie Robinson is in The Search For Britain's Best Interior Returns!

THE SEARCH FOR BRITAIN’S BEST INTERIOR RETURNS: ANGLIAN HOME IMPROVEMENTS LAUNCHES STYLED BY ME III

Anglian Home Improvements has joined forces with interior designer, Sophie Robinson, to launch a search for the nation’s best interior designers, and it is calling on people across the UK to share photographs of their home styling successes this summer.

Returning for a third consecutive year, Anglian’s ‘Styled By Me’ competition celebrates the nation’s passion for Instagrammable interiors by inviting style-conscious homeowners to showcase their home tailoring highlights. 

Tenant Fees Act Could Harm More Than It Helps...

Daniel Craig talks about Tenant Fees

A NEW ACT which comes into force on 1 June could end up hurting the people it is supposed to help, warns a leading property management consultant. The Tenant Fees Act stops landlords from charging more than five weeks’ rent as a deposit, banning letting fees and disallowing charges for damages without providing evidence of costs.

But while on the surface it seems like an extra layer of protection for tenants, it could end up costing them more money.

Daniel Gibson, an experienced property management consultant who runs Daniel Craig Residential based in Newcastle, said the changes will mean more costs passed on to landlords, who are likely to increase rents to mitigate their potential losses.

Willow Grove Turns One

Willow Grove staff celebrating turning one

Leading developers Barratt and David Wilson Homes celebrated its Wixams development’s first birthday last Saturday (25th May) with a family event for its residents. 

Located on Southern Cross, Willow Grove is a popular development that has become a property hotspot with Bedfordshire buyers since opening one year ago. 

In honour of the occasion, Barratt and David Wilson Homes hosted a Family Fun Day last Saturday at the development, where attendees could benefit from a variety of sweet summer treats that were available.  

Lucky residents were treated to an ice cream van where they could take advantage of an abundance of flavours and scoops, including extraordinary rainbow cones. 

Woodlands Edge - eco-housing development

Woodlands Edge eco-housing

Woodlands Edge - the eco-housing development leading the way into a sustainable future

Solar panels and electric car charging points come as standard with every home in Woodlands Edge. But it’s the beautiful surroundings and community atmosphere that make it an eco-housing development with a difference

Nestled on a leafy 12-acre site just five miles from Lincoln city centre, Woodlands Edge is no typical new-build estate.

With its own private woodland, tennis court, ponds and an allotment for every household, the development is leading the way in the future of eco-housing.