For an in-depth look at the 3 common pests that occupy the interior, exterior and interior/exterior areas of properties, read our identification guide below:

Interior

There are several pests that take up residence within our properties. The most common have been listed and detailed below:

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most disruptive pests in the home and neglecting to eliminate them can cause serious discomfort and hygiene issues. Bed bugs commonly infest beds, sofas, carpets and curtains. They're an incredibly small pest, which makes them hard to identify. However, they do leave notable trails behind, making identifying them easier. They leave smear marks and old skin shells in and around the places they inhabit.

Bed bugs can be removed effectively in proper pest control measures are employed. If you do discover a bed bug infestation, notify your landlord or estate agent immediately.

Cockroaches

Notoriously known as one of the worst pests to have. Cockroaches are tough to eliminate due to their hard shells and ability to withstand most harmful pest chemicals. Cockroaches can also survive on any food and can survive months without food.

They can be identified by their oval shape, their 3-inch-long bodies and their orange/brown colouring. Many species have wings, however some cannot fly. They can next anywhere in the house, but be sure to look behind cupboards, around skirting boards and in any cracks or gaps in the wall.

Mice

While they can be found outside, mice enjoy warmth and food, which usually leads them into houses. Mice are known for hiding in crevices, under floorboards and generally dark places, out of immediate sight. While they don’t cause us any immediate harm, they breed exceptionally quickly, and this can become a hygiene problem.

Mice can be identified by their small brown/grey bodies, with an average size of 3-8cm. While it’s rare to spot a mouse out in the open of your home, there are notable signs to look out for, such as their droppings. Mice droppings are usually grouped, and they commonly dig up carpet to use in their nests.

Exterior

Pests infiltrating the exterior of your property can cause just as much damage as those that reside within. Pests such as rats, birds and wasps can cause severe harm to the structure of your property and need to be dealt with swiftly.

Birds

Birds can become a nuisance if they’re not dealt with immediately. Once birds find a place to nest, it can become difficult to relocate them, especially if they’re pigeons. Birds cause disruptions by nesting in exterior structures such as gutters, piping and roofing.

Identifying birds is fairly simple, as they’re not exactly discrete. Aside from their squawking, the bigger issue is their droppings, particularly pigeon droppings, as they’re incredibly acidic and notoriously difficult to clean from certain surfaces. If the droppings are left to fester, they will permanently damage the surface, and this is especially harmful to cars and other expensive belongings.

Wasps

Wasps are, for the most part, helpful. However, no one likes wasps because they disrupt our summers and fly into our drinks, but this isn’t the biggest issue they cause. Wasps nests can become very dangerous if they’re left to develop and identifying them early is essential. Fortunately, they’re quite noticeable by their distinct structure and that buzzing sound. They’re usually spotted underneath gutters, cracks within exterior walls, sheds and other crevices high up. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to find them in trees, if the tree is big enough.

Either way wasp nests are very dangerous, and it’s strongly advised you contact your landlord, estate agent or pest control company to safely remove the nest.

Foxes

In most cases, foxes don’t disrupt people because they prefer to nest away from us. However, foxes occasionally raise their young in our gardens and they can become an issue for us. The biggest problem they cause is tearing apart our bins and disrupting our gardens and wildlife. Identifying them is simple enough but as they only really come out at night, its rare you will spot one in the day. You'll be able to tell if you have a fox if your bins are regularly opened and shredded. If your fox problem is becoming severe, ensure your bins are sealed shut and call a pest control professional if they continue to reside within your premises.

Interior and Exterior

There are some pests that dominate both the interior and exterior of properties.

Rats

Arguably the most common pest, rats are unsightly and can cause severe damage to your property if left untreated. Not only do they breed rapidly, they’re carriers of disease, meaning they present a serious health and safety issue.

Rats, in a similar vein to mice, prefer to keep a low profile, hiding in crevices, under floorboards and in gardens. They can, however, be identified by their droppings they leave behind. Rat droppings are not grouped like mice, as they defecate on the move. Be on the lookout for gnaw marks and chewed furniture as their teeth continue to grow and they will grind them down biting on things.

Ants

Ants are known to be pests that occupy both the interior and exterior of our properties. Ants on their own aren’t particularly harmful, but in numbers, they can cause hygiene issues, as well as structural damage.

Ants living outside of the property can nest in cracks in the wall, leading to structural damage and eventually, infiltration into the property. These nests are tough to remove and require trained professionals if the nest is too big for filler to cover it. once ants are inside, they’ll be looking for food, so ensure everything is sealed tight and call a pest control professional to assess the situation if it’s serious.

Woodlice

Again, not a particularly harmful pest on their own, but in numbers, they can cause structural damage. Woodlice love damp places, particularly woody areas. They aren’t known for residing in the interiors of properties, but if they are found inside, it’s usually a sign of damp within the property. They can also be found within exterior walls, which can lead them inside the property if nothing is done.

They can be identified by their small, grey oval shaped forms, being about 1cm long and they usually travel in large groups.

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If you do notice any signs of pest within your property, it’s very important to contact your landlord or estate agent so they can contact the relevant pest professionals. Pest control is seriously important when it comes to home ownership, as they can causes thousands of pounds worth of damage if they are left neglected. Hopefully this identification guide will help you stay on the lookout for any notable pest signs, so you can keep your property safe from harm all year round.

 

🌹 There is little else more quintessentially British than the chocolate box cottage. Bringing up idyllic images of rambling roses framing the doorway, thatched roofs, exposed beams and open fires, an escape to a rural retreat is the aspiration of many.

🍫 We have taken the opportunity during this National Chocolate Week to delve further into this market and the buyers who have made this dream their reality this year.
So far in 2018, there have been 2,100 country cottages sold in rural locations across England and Wales. The South of the country dominates, with 46% of sales but a fifth were in the Midlands and 15% in the East. The remaining 19% were spread across the North, Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales.

🌳 Unsurprisingly, buyers are prepared to pay a premium for a rural idyll. Chocolate box cottages sold this year for an average of £364 per square foot. This is 33% higher than the average price paid for all homes across rural locations.

💷 How much is your house worth? Free, instant, online valuation available here.

 

 The short answer is no. Of course, you are perfectly at liberty to knock down your own garden wall and flatten your front garden if you want to, but you need council permission to drive your car backwards and forwards across their pavement - and that depends on your willingness to pay for a council-approved contractor to insert a dropped kerb and reinforced crossover. 

In any case, many councils are now refusing permission for dropped kerbs in all but the most exceptional cases, on the perfectly understandable grounds that there are already far too many of them. After all, every new dropped kerb effectively eliminates one more parking space on the street itself – thereby making the problem worse for everyone else. 

Besides, the dropped kerb is only part of the problem. You are perfectly at liberty to flatten your own front garden, but you can’t concrete it over or have it paved without planning permission, and this applies to patios and terraces too.

 The reason for this is the growing concern over the progressive loss of green spaces in cities and towns and the increased risk this brings of surface water flooding. Wherever this happens, it drastically reduces the extent to which rainwater can soak away naturally into the ground. Instead, it collects rapidly on the surface, before pouring into already seriously over-stretched sewage systems. 

There is a way round this, of course. You can use special porous bricks, gravel or paving slabs with large gaps to allow the water to soak through.At the end of the day, you can always try to get permission but just bear in mind it may well be refused.

home insurance value

Q. I recently had an estate agent round to value my house and there is a big difference between what the agent says my house is worth and the amount I have it insured for. Should I increase my insured value?

 A. The market value of a home and its value for insurance purposes are two very different things. The estate agents’ figure indicates what your home is worth should you sell it, while the insured value is solely concerned with the cost of rebuilding it in the event of something like a major fire. The rebuild figure is almost always lower, mainly because it doesn’t take into account the value of the land on which the property sits. So, there shouldn’t be a cause for concern. 

However, whether the insured value is actually correct is another matter altogether... 

Generally speaking, insurance companies increase their valuations annually in line with inflation. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the figure is accurate; you may have significantly extended or improved your home over the years and unless you make a point of telling your insurers, they won’t have taken that into account. 

As a general rule, I would advise you to check the insured value of your home every two or three years. It’s calculated by multiplying the property’s total external size (both upstairs and downstairs) by the estimated rebuilding cost per square foot or square metre, which can vary quite considerably depending on where you live and the type of property you live in - these costs are published by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and are available, at a price, from most qualified surveyors. Alternatively, the website of the Association of British Insurers’ includes a free building insurance calculator. 

Once you’ve done your calculations, you can easily compare the result with the insurer’s valuation and if you’re not happy, ask them to change it.

A useful infographic explaining the planning permission process.

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