SPRING is in the air and it’s the top time to start planning home renovations. But whether you’re sprucing up to sell or simply want a stylish makeover, there’s no need to splash big cash.
Property body NAEA Propertymark has revealed the top five ways to improve your home for just a few pounds. Here’s how.
Dingy hallway? Add a big mirror. Small rooms? Hanging a mirror opposite a window will make the rooms appear bigger and brighter. Bag one from £6 at Dunelm or scour charity shops for vintage finds.
SCRUB UP THE KITCHEN
Paint your current cabinets and change the door handles. If you have more cash, consider adding under-unit lighting. It’s easy to install and cost- effective at less than £20 per strip of lights.
SMARTEN THE FRONT DOOR
First impressions count so give your front door a gentle jet wash and a lick of paint. You may want to change the letterbox or doorknocker, too. Ironmongerydirect.co.uk has letterboxes from less than £6.
TRY A FIREPLACE
Fireplaces add character and create a focal point to any room. Basic wooden fire surrounds can cost from as little as £30 or try a cosy free-standing electric stove from £100. They come in traditional and more contemporary styles to match every home.
TACKLE THE GARDEN
Make the most of the weather to overhaul your garden.
Cut back plants, pull up weeds, sweep paths and mow the lawn. It costs nothing to do but will make your garden look bigger and brighter.
THE new Only Fools And Horses musical has opened to rave reviews – but unlike Del Boy and Rodney, you’ll almost need to be a millionaire to live in Peckham nowadays.
Fresh figures from Zoopla show the average price of homes in the show’s South London suburb is a record £531,985.
The cheapest home in the local postcode is a two-bed flat on Sumner Road with 50 per cent shared ownership for £200,000. Cushty if you have the cash.
Buy of the week
RUNCORN in Cheshire is home to the country’s fastest-moving property market outside London, with homes in the port town selling in just 48 days, fresh figures from Rightmove reveal.
Houses in the town average just £132,653 and you can pick up this impressive, two-bed newly decorated semi-detached for just £130,000 at rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-78009332.html.
Deal of the week
ADD some spring sunshine to your pad with these Mongolian faux fur cushions. They are just £6.99 over at B&M, compared to a £45 lookalike at River Island and even more for designer versions.
Judge Rinder — The Sun’s legal expert
Dog died during surgery after vet damaged his throat, now I’m being charged for it. Surely this isn’t right?
Q — WE are in a terrible state over the loss of our beautiful English bulldog, Joey.
He developed an eye infection and the vet advised he needed an operation.
Tragically, he died during the procedure – apparently he had an “allergic reaction to anaesthetic”. But when we went to see him the vet herself said they damaged his throat pushing the tube down.
This, of course, was later denied and our emails to the vet have since been ignored.
We have now been charged £500 for this course of treatment. Shouldn’t we be owed compensation, not the other way round?
A — I am sorry for your loss. You could sue your vet for compensation although you would not be entitled to a great deal of money (just the cost of the operation).
In order to do this, you would have to prove that the vet had acted negligently while operating on Joey. If Joey died of a reaction to the anaesthetic, this ought to have been something that you were informed might happen (check whether you signed a consent form).
If Joey’s throat was injured during the surgery, this may be some evidence of negligence but is not conclusive – this may have happened in an attempt to resuscitate him.
Write to the surgery making clear that you believe that this operation was carried out negligently and that you seek disclosure of all Joey’s recorded medical notes.
Be clear that you are considering legal action and that you find the vet’s bill wholly unreasonable in the circumstances.
Q — MY niece borrowed £10,000 from her great grandmother, my auntie, over a period of eight years.
My auntie died in 2015 bequeathing everything to me, including the £10,000. She had itemised and dated each borrowed amount, which my niece acknowledged.
I had my solicitor serve my niece legal papers to force her to pay, which after three years she has agreed her husband will pay in instalments of £150 per month.
What is the possibility of winning a case rejecting the £150 a month offer and forcing her to pay the £10,000 in full?
A — Unless your auntie had a written agreement with your niece setting out the precise sums she had borrowed and when it was due back, I doubt whether your niece’s debt is enforceable at all. Your aunt may have kept a meticulous record, but that does not mean she had a legally enforceable contract, which means neither do you.
If your niece is prepared to agree to pay back £150 per month, I would probably advise you to take this and to get this agreement in writing. If your niece fails to pay these instalments, you will have a cast-iron case against her in the Small Claims Court.
What a waste
Q — MY husband and I bought a house with a shared septic tank that discharges to a water course.
This tank is situated in the garden of one of our neighbours who does not connect to the tank. We moved in October but in January we received a letter from the neighbour where the tank is situated, stating that the rules and regulations were changing – meaning the septic tank would not comply or be possible to modify, and that we needed to make alternative arrangements before January 2020. We had no idea of the new rules.
I have been advised that this should have been raised by our solicitor and a survey should have been done on the tank before exchange of contracts. A new sewer treatment plant has been estimated at £20,000 to £30,000.
Had we known about this, we would not have gone through with the purchase. Is the solicitor at fault – and how can I get compensation?
A — Your conveyancing solicitor may be at fault here. The seller of the house might also be legally liable.
Your solicitors will have acted on information given to them by the seller but they should have made basic enquiries about the tank.
The Law Society can put you in touch with a firm who specialises in professional negligence.
- Judge Rinder regrets he cannot answer questions personally. Answers intended as general guidance. They do not constitute legal advice and are not a substitute for obtaining independent legal advice.
Mel Hunter — Reader’s Champion fighting for your rights
Driven crazy by a car clutch
Q — WE bought a Ford Focus for our son at the end of December 2017 for £12,200.
The garage assured us it had had a full, thorough service and that everything was perfect.
After just two months of using the car very infrequently, we took it back to the garage as all did not seem right. Unbelievably, within seconds we were told it needed a new clutch costing £520.
We were shocked but assumed the garage had our son’s safety at heart.
One of the mechanics told us it was a common fault with the Focus Eco cars, although the manager insisted it was probably wear and tear, even though it had only 11,000 miles on the clock.
Six months later, we received a letter from Ford telling us to take the car to our local garage for clutch slip detection recall.
It seems we had paid for a fault that should have been repaired free of charge.
I wrote a letter of complaint to Ford, which was ignored. Eventually, I was told the garage was insisting it was wear and tear.
Surely, if that had been the case, it should have been replaced before selling it to us.
Maria Bain, Gateshead
A — I’m not surprised you felt hard done by. You had to pay more than £500 for a fault which appeared remarkably similar to a problem that Ford was pro-actively offering to sort out for free.
I got on to Ford head office and it agreed that, given the timings of the recall notice, the issue you’d had on your Focus may have been related, and it agreed to refund you the £520 you’d paid.
What a shame the garage could not have helped you resolve this in the first place.
Q — I AM executor to my sister’s will and need to collect all money due to her to then distribute it as she wished.
When she died in August, she had two bills from Together Energy, both of which stated that she was in credit. When I closed the account at the beginning of September I was told the refund, which came to £272, would be paid within five weeks. I have made numerous phone calls and written emails without receiving responses.
At one time I was told the account was closed and “that was the end of it”.
Does this company think it can get away without paying?
Selina Gough St Neots, Cambs
A — I explained to Together Energy how it was making this situation worse for you at a particularly difficult time.
To its credit, once I got in touch it did come back to you quickly, albeit offering less than the £272 you believed she was owed.
You refused this and Together Energy agreed to pay the full amount, along with £100 for your stress and inconvenience.
A spokesperson told me: “I’m disappointed that we seem to have made an already stressful and difficult situation more challenging on this occasion.”
I was told a “new process” would be rolled out to stop a similar situation occurring again.
Coupon Queen — Maddy Tooke
MY top five freebies this week are:
- New topcashback.co.uk customers get £5 cash back when they spend £2+ on pancake ingredients and upload their receipt to the app. bit.ly/freepancakestcb
- Free Persil dosing ball, cap or scoop to use with your favourite Persil product. Enter your details at bit.ly/persildosing. While stock last.
- Free pack of Wagg dog treats. Request yours from bit.ly/freewagg and also be in with a chance to win a year’s supply of Wagg dog food. While stocks last.
- Free Olay Whip sachet. Request yours from bit.ly/freeolay. 120,000 available, get yours while stocks last. One sample per household.
- Debenhams’ Beauty Club members get a free Dior sample bag – including foundation, lip gloss and JOY by Dior fragrance. Show your Beauty Club card at a Dior Beauty counter at Debenhams. While stocks last. bit.ly/diorfreesamples.
Ten best deals
- Get £50 off Ernest Jones orders over £350 with code EJSAVE50 from vouchercloud.com. Code expires April 30. bit.ly/ejsave50.
- Save £10 on dress orders from M&Co with code DRESS10 from vouchercloud.com. Expires Friday. bit.ly/mco10offdresses.
- Get an extra 25 per cent off at Kurt Geiger outlet shoeaholics.com using code 25MSE from moneysaving expert.com. Code expires 11:59pm on Sunday. bit.ly/extra25offkurtgeiger.
- Get 20 per cent off Joules orders with code CP20 at vouchercloud.com until Tuesday. bit.ly/20offjoules.
- Save £10 on Denby orders over £100 with code TENOFF100C from vouchercloud.com. Expires March 31. bit.ly/10offdenby100.
- Get 20 per cent off goods from Groupon with unique code exclusive from vouchercodes.co.uk. Expires tomorrow. bit.ly/20offgroupongoods.
- Save 40 per cent on mains at Bella Italia with in restaurant voucher from vouchercodes.co.uk. Expires March 24. bit.ly/40offbella.
- Get 50 per cent off Photobox orders over £50 with code AFF50VC from vouchercodes.co.uk. Expires Monday. bit.ly/50offphotobox.
- Save £18 on your first Sainsbury’s groceries orders over £60 with code SCSSEOFEB19 from money savingexpert.com. Order must be delivered on or before Thursday. Excludes spirits and liqueurs, baby milk, gaming or gift vouchers. Other exclusions apply. For full T&Cs go to bit.ly/18offsainsburys.
- Free Shea shower duo from The Body Shop when you spend £10 in store. Get your voucher from bit.ly/freesheabodyshop. Vouchers must be redeemed in store by March 10. One shower duo per person.