Six Things To Consider Before Moving Into A Granny Annexe

A granny annexe can be a fantastic option to transition an elderly relative from a larger home they may no longer feel able to manage. Annexes enable an older person to retain their independence and have their own space while being near to family for additional support. With property prices going up and the increasing costs of care homes and elderly facilities, multi-generational living is becoming more popular. In addition to the financial implications of housing, childcare prices continue to rise, and parents often work longer hours. Having parents living in the home means they can help with childcare while being close to their children.

The Valuation Office Agency stats show that there has been an increase of 16% in the number of granny annexes in England. However, you may not be aware of some of the implications of moving in together.

Here we take a look at our top things to consider when considering a Granny Annexe.

Ownership

Unless you already own a home with a granny annexe or intend to build on your land, both parties will probably contribute funds when purchasing the new property. The way you share ownership is essential, and it will come with both financial and legal implications.

If you opt for a ‘joint tenancy’, where the property is owned in equal shares, then if/when one ‘tenant’ passes, their share of the property is divided equally with the other owners.

Another option is ‘tenants in common; this means that shares of the property can be unequal, and if one of the owners dies, their share will go to their chosen beneficiary.

The latter can often seem to be the more obvious option; however, consideration must be made for who inherits and how this impacts the living arrangement. If the beneficiary does not live in the home, will they want to move in or sell the house to gain their share?

Care Home Fees

While a granny annexe offers a perfect space for an elderly relative, this may not be a permanent solution. If the health of the older person deteriorates, they may need to move into a care home. Local authorities will consider a person’s assets when determining their eligibility for assistance or care costs. At this time, assets need to be below £23,250 in England (£28,500 in Scotland and £24,000 in Wales) before support will be given.

If the elderly relative owns property or even a portion of it, this value will be included when assessing their ability to afford care. It should be noted that local authorities can choose to disregard this property if, for example, a spouse of the older person lives in the property and is over the age of 60.

Getting the Mortgage

It may seem that getting a home loan when combining multiple resources would be easy, but this is not necessarily the case. If you need a mortgage to purchase some or all of the property, getting it could be more challenging. As a general rule, lenders avoid providing a mortgage to buy part of a property because, in the event of non-payment, they cannot repossess or sell the home if someone else owns the rest. In addition, many lenders are reluctant to provide a mortgage for anyone past the age of retirement.

Taxes

For an older person, selling up and moving in with adult children can have some additional benefits for IHT (inheritance tax). This is because it can reduce the value of your estate, which means there is less tax liability. However, this could go the other way – if the older family member gifts money from their house sale, then the seven-year rule becomes applicable.

LPA’s

It makes clear financial sense that all property owners should apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to ensure that all of the financial obligations are still met should their health change. An LPA allows someone to appoint other people to make decisions for them should they become unable to do so. Remember that if an elderly parent moves into the granny annexe of their daughter’s property and also gives that daughter the Power of Attorney – this could create a complicated situation. The daughter would be unable to gift herself money, nor can she use the parent money to make, even necessary, improvements to the home. We recommend you seek professional advice to help understand the legalities of a situation such as this.

Set Clear Boundaries

Talking about money might not be easy, but it is imperative to sit down and have an honest discussion about the expectations of all parties. Who will cover the utilities? How will the food be purchased? Who is responsible for household chores? If the elderly relative is providing some childcare, does that offset other things they would have paid?

Moving your parent or other older relative into a granny annexe can be a wonderfully rewarding thing. Allowing them to be close and present for grandchildren as they grow up, receiving support from their children to retain their independence and feeling safer than they would rattling around in a large home following the passing of a spouse are just a few reasons. Take the time to consider the financial implications and enjoy having a large family unit together.

If you’re ready to take the plunge you can explore some of the annexes available here.

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How To Soundproof Your Garden Room

A soundproof garden studio is the perfect way to build a sound studio or music room at home. Not only can it save money overall in studio fees, but it can save your loved one’s ears from all that glorious music-making. Let’s not forget to mention 24-hour access to release your creativity.

A garden studio is far more than just a shed, and it’s certainly leaps and bounds from an egg carton type foam covered bedroom. So, whether you are considering building a soundproofed garden from the ground up or soundproofing an existing structure – here are our tips.

What is Soundproofing?

Soundproofing is precisely what it says on the tin. It uses any means intended to reduce the sound pressure from any source. This is usually done by increasing the mass of surfaces by using damping materials that absorb the undesired sound and stop it from travelling outside of the space it begins in. Damping materials work by reducing (and hopefully eliminating) the forces caused by electrical or mechanical energy. This energy comes in the form of movement, vibration or sound. Different damping materials will perform differently depending on the material and the environment.

How do I Soundproof My Garden Room?

soundproofed garden room

*The image Above is The Pinnacle by Green Retreats

The best and probably most effortless way to soundproof your garden room is at the point of construction. This is done by adding a damping material such as drywall, plasterboard or MDF boards. There are also acoustic wall insulations.

Acoustic Wall Insulation is currently one of the most popular ways to create a peaceful garden room, ensuring a calm and quiet environment, irrespective of outside influences. This insulation can limit the amount of sound entering the garden room from the outside world. Many garden room companies will offer this as standard, but it’s worth double-checking just in case. As we’ve said, it is easiest to get this soundproofing added before you build. However, if your existing garden room does not have this integral soundproofing, then you will need to add insulation to the existing hollow frames and between the roof rafters. You can use standard thermal insulation for that, but a quality acoustic mineral wood will add tee thermal insulation as well as an improved level of acoustic insulation. Once your preferred insulation is in place, you will need to clad the inside of the garden room. A cement particleboard is the best choice as it provides the most mass; however, an OSB board or two layers of acoustic grade plasterboard will also do the job.

Do I Need To Soundproof The Walls?

No, if you want a fully soundproofed garden room, you will need to treat the entire space. Most modern garden studio floors are constructed from a solid concrete base, preventing sound from leaking out. Many suppliers will offer hard-wearing laminate flooring, but if you would like to look into other options to help with soundproofing, you should be able to discuss this with your supplier when you’re building the garden room. If your garden room already has a concrete floor, you don’t need any mass added to that; you can just add some vibration-absorbing matting to the floor underneath the existing laminate or carpet.

Doors and Windows

Doors and windows certainly are the weak link in your soundproofing chain. Due to their inherent lack of mass when compared to walls. In a perfect world, a studio would have only one door and no windows. However, the lack of natural light won’t be conducive to a healthy mind. Single glazing might look pretty and lend itself to that classic summerhouse look, but your neighbours won’t thank you when you’re beating on your drum kit. You will definitely want to invest in double glazing and might even consider triple glazing to prevent any noise pollution and be completely soundproof. Remember, if your chosen supplier doesn’t offer your preferred windows, you can buy them from an outside company and have your builders fit them at the time of build.

In an existing garden building, you can consider adding an extra window to the internal stud frame.

We would recommend heavy fire doors and a double door system with one door installed on the wall and one on the new stud frame. Ensure that door have a good seal and are airtight.

Speaking of Seals

We are not referring to the North Atlantic grey ones. Most garden room companies will be very aware of the need to ensure that all seals around doors and windows are robust. This is not an area where you should cut any corners.

If you are relying on a garden room company to build your garden room, they will already be very aware of the importance of properly sealing around doors and windows and running cables. This is essential to prevent damp drafts plus to aid in soundproofing. If you are doing your own build, do not overlook these areas.

Cutting corners may well cause any expense spent on acoustic insulation to be pointless if your sound can leak out in other areas. A legitimate company will understand the importance and carry out the work to the highest possible standard. A fully soundproof garden studio may require far more consideration than you may have thought initially.

Ventilation

Due to the inherent nature of soundproofing, your garden studio will be very well insulated and airtight. This will result in a hot working space, especially if you have a lot of kit in there. This will mean adding some sort of ventilation system. There are some very fancy digital AC systems that you can use, but a basic in/out will also work perfectly. You’ll need to insulate any ducting and use silencer or attenuators to reduce any sound from the system.

Lighting

To minimise the number of holes being cut into the layers of your walls, we would recommend keeping all light fixtures, and power sockets surface mounted. This means installing onto the wall layers rather than within the layers. You can also use trunking to run all the cables on the surface of the wall. The advantage of this is that it’s easier to get access if you decide to make changes later.

Surface fixtures such as pendant lighting, LED strips or tall lamps are perfect.

Soundproofing your garden room is definitely a labour of love and not one to approach half-heartedly. The results of taking the time to do it properly will make all the difference in your sound production experience (not to mention keeping the neighbours happy!)

Garden rooms come in many shapes, styles, sizes and colours. You can begin your search for the perfect garden room music studio here.

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Stamp Duty Relief For Annexes

There are just days left until the current Stamp Duty Tax holiday is altered in England and Northern Ireland (it will end entirely in Wales!) What do you feel you know about Stamp Duty Land Tax?

What is Stamp Duty?

When you decide to build land or property, you will often pay tax on it. This type of tax is called stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland; it’s called and land transaction tax in Wales and land and buildings transaction tax in Scotland. Since 2014, all of the home nations have used a progressive stamp duty rate system.

This system means that you won’t pay a single tax rate on the price of the entire property, but rather, depending on the cost of the property you’re buying, you might pay one rate for one portion and a different rate for another.

How Does the Stamp Duty Holiday Work?

To provide some assistance to home buyers during the coronavirus pandemic, the home nations increased the price at which you began to have to pay this stamp duty (land and buildings/land transaction tax). This assistance is referred to as a stamp duty holiday. This break was initially only until 31 March 2021; however, it was extended until 30 June.

The stamp duty holiday doesn’t end abruptly, though; there is a transition in England and Northern Ireland which looks like this:

  • Until 30 June. No stamp duty will need to be paid on the first £500,000 of any primary residential property.
  • 1 July – 30 September. No stamp duty will need to be paid on the first £250,000 of any primary residential property or £300,000 if you are a first-time buyer.
  • 1 October. Standard rates for stamp duty will return.

It is crucial to note that the purchase of the home must be completed before 30 September to qualify for theta reliefs listed above. If you exchange on 30 September or even before but do not manage to complete until after then, you will have to pay a full stamp duty rate.

What About Multiple Dwellings?

You may not have even thought of this, but buying a home with a granny annexe could cost less in Stamp Duty than you think. This is because of Multiple Dwellings Relief, or MDR. As the name suggests, this relief is only available for properties that consist of more than one dwelling. The calculations for Stamp Duty are made based on the average of the total value of the various dwellings. Meaning there could be Stamp Duty Relief For Annexes.

This becomes even more relevant when considering properties with annexes. Some considerations need to be made to determine whether the additional space can be regarded as a dwelling. These requirements will include but are not limited to, which facilities it contains and whether it has its own access. If the requirements of a dwelling are met, then this annexe could be considered a separate dwelling and allow a buyer to be eligible for MDR.

It can be very easy to miss this potential relief as the calculator provided by the HMRC is intended purely as ‘a guide’ and does not provide the opportunity to calculate for MDR.

If you look to buy a home with a separate dwelling, it is essential to mention Multiple Dwellings Relief to your solicitor or even find a stamp duty expert to give you some advice before you potentially overpay.

So not only could your garden room increase the value of your property, but if you are selling a home with a granny annexe, this relief could be a real selling point for your potential buyer!

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How Much Maintenance Does A Garden Room Need?

Garden rooms may scream out high maintenance to some buyers. While it goes without saying that they will require some TLC over the years, the truth is they don’t really need that much. Buying a quality garden building that you then take care of can bring you joy for many decades.

 

Garden rooms are not just a novelty. They use many of the same materials and techniques you’ll find in house building which means they are built to last and be comfortable year-round. But just like your beloved home, garden rooms require some maintenance to keep them looking their best.  So, how much maintenance does a garden room need? We take a look at the main requirements below. 

 

 

EXTERIOR CLADDING

 

There are two prominent types of timber-clad garden rooms; painted and unpainted. These types of garden rooms follow the latest trends and form the vast majority of those found on the market and in back gardens. Cedar-clad garden rooms are often advertised as the zero maintenance option, and this is true unless you want to maintain the original purchase colour! If you don’t fancy the weathered patina look, then you can opt to oil your cedar every 3-4 years. The type of oil used is usually an OSMO UV-Protection Oil.

 

Painted garden rooms are a great way to add a splash of colour to your outdoor space. They typically use pressure treated cladding or smooth marine ply as the basis of their decorative paint finish, ensuring that it will not flake off due to weathering and maintenance intervals between 5-15 years. These finishes tend to biodegrade with weathering rather than flaking off.

 

This means that even that painted garden space needn’t be a headache. Simply cleaning off the cobwebs with a soapy wash down will be enough most of the time. When it does come time to repaint, you can do this yourself or, of course, hire a professional. Some suppliers even offer a maintenance service.

 

If it’s colour that you long for, other options are a metal or UPVC garden building or even composite cladding. While not as readily available as timber clad garden rooms, these options do offer a paint-free alternative that stands up to weathering and sunlight.

 

Metal clad garden rooms have powder coated finishes available in several shades. The colour palette of UPVC options is more limited; however, new options are being created each year for both types so that there will always be an option to suit your needs! Both metal and plastic require nothing but a wash-down to keep their appearance beautiful. Composite cladding is taking off right now as it looks like wood without all the maintenance work involved with wooden cladding. You can also choose from a range of colours available. 

 

If it’s the reddish-brown of cedar garden rooms that draws you in, remember that while cedar is a durable softwood with a natural resistance to fungus and rot, it will not maintain this gorgeous colour without being maintained and sealed regularly. The absence of this maintenance will result in the garden room fading to a silver-grey over its 25-year lifespan. This is also true for Siberian Larch and Oak claddings.

 

Windows & Doors

 

When summer houses and garden rooms first game about, the doors were a genuine issue of contention. Made exclusively of timber, they would swell and shrink in the weather and often needed to be adjusted to hang correctly; however, you will undoubtedly find that most suppliers have overcome this niggle by choosing aluminium and PVC doors and windows. These low maintenance alternatives rarely need more than a soapy wash-down. 

 

If a timber door is specified, many suppliers will offer to come and adjust them if they swell, which is often included in the project’s cost. Make sure you ask when placing your initial enquiries. Some suppliers will match the door to cedar or oak cladding choices meaning it can be left to weather to silver grey if no maintenance is preferred. Softwood timber doors will require a stain finish or protective paint if you want them to be preserved. 

 

The Roof

 

The roof of a garden room is similar to that of a house’s in its’ quality. This means they will have a long, maintenance-free lifespan. You’ll need to look them over every year to make sure that nothing has come loose.

 

One option that has recently become more popular is that of a living roof. These look stunning but will require significantly more maintenance. You will either need a gutsy rooftop gardener, or you will need to brave the heights yourself to take care of the roof annually. 

 

Gutters

 

Rainwater guttering is an essential part of a garden room; it’s surprising how much water will run off the roof. However, gutters can become blocked, especially if the garden room is positioned below trees. Keeping the gutters clear is actually a quick and easy job.  

 

Decking

 

Decking is an increasingly popular addition to garden room designs, but it can become slippery. You’ll want to keep your deck clean by power washing regularly or through the application of chemical cleaner, which will rectify the problem. Decks can lose their colour, so you may want to apply a preservative too. There are lots of options available, these will depend on what type of wood you have. These preservatives can be applied with a brush or roller and will need redoing every few years. 

 

Some suppliers do offer composite decking, which blends polymer and wood fibres; this option requires little more than a soapy wash.

 

It would be best if you always endeavoured to keep the base of your garden room free of long grass or fallen leaves. This will help to keep dampness away from the cladding. 

 

We hope that’s answered the question ‘how much maintenance does a garden room need?’ for you. As you can see, a garden room may not require as much maintenance as you had initially thought. There will be some requirement for upkeep to preserve your investment, meaning you get to spend more time enjoying the space and less time labouring over it! 

 

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