Sunday, 31 December 2017

Larkfleet Homes’ Best Bits of 2017

Round up 2017 Larkfleet Homes
Well that’s almost the year that was. And what a year! It was great year of sales, research and development and community engagement for us.

To celebrate our achievements over the past year we want to share some of our best bits of 2017 with you. But you could make your own selection by browsing our blog archive!

In January our own Sam Hart was promoted to director of sales for Larkfleet Homes to oversee all our sales functions including managing and implementing various schemes that we offer to help customers purchase their new Larkfleet home at the best possible price.

We donated £500 to the RAF Association - one of the Peterborough mayor's chosen charities for 2017. The cheque was presented to the Mayor of Peterborough, Councillor David Sanders, during the official opening of the Larkfleet showhome in Thorney near Peterborough.

In May we helped local youngsters to stay warm and look cool at the same time by sponsoring tee shirts worn by key stage two students at Bourne’s Elsea Park Primary Academy. The new tee shirts, featuring the school badge on the front and Larkfleet logo on the back, are worn by the choir when they are singing and representing the school.

To help the future of housebuilding we handed over a model house to the Greater Peterborough University Technical College (GPUTC). The scale model of a typical timber-framed house built by Larkfleet Homes can be taken apart and re-assembled using a set of drawings which Larkfleet has also supplied to help students who are studying the built environment to understand how a modern house is put together.

Our parent company, the Larkfleet Group of Companies, was shortlisted for one of the construction industry’s most prestigious awards. The group was one of just eight firms nationwide to win through to the final of the ‘Skills Initiative’ category in the Building Awards. The judges were impressed by Larkfleet’s support for a number of training initiatives our own apprenticeship and graduate recruitment programmes and backing for local colleges and schools and sponsorship of the GPUTC.

Our CEO Karl Hick was interviewed live on BBC2 television during the channel’s coverage of the budget. Karl warned that Brexit was in danger of depriving the industry of the skilled workforce it needs to build new homes. Many EU nationals are leaving the UK, he said, and others are less willing to come.

Finally, we were delighted to hand £250 to local charity Evergreen Care Trust to help with its Stamford Christmas Cracker appeal. We decided to back the trust after the charity was named as ‘best social enterprise’ in the Stamford Mercury Business Awards – an award which was sponsored by Larkfleet Homes. The Stamford Christmas Cracker campaign raises money to support the elderly community in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

What’s the future for house prices in 2018?

The growth in house prices we’ve seen in 2017 “looks set to judder to a halt in 2018” according to a report in The Guardian.

Reporting the views of a number of experts, The Guardian says house prices are likely to rise by at most 1 per cent next year. And in London, they may actually fall.

Calculating house prices

It’s not all due to Brexit, apparently – rising interest rates are also expected to put a brake on housing price growth.

Whether you think this is bad news or good news depends on whether you already have a house or not, of course. If you’re saving to buy your first home some stability in the market is a good thing, allowing you to put money away for a deposit without finding that the rise in house prices is making your task more difficult all the time.

If you already own a house, rising house prices would mean that the value of your home would be going up. But so would the price of the house you may want to buy if you’re planning your next move. So you would be no better off, really!

If you own a house in London, and The Guardian is right when it predicts a small fall in house prices in the capital, console yourself with the thought that the price of your next home (if you are planning to buy in London) is also going down. And for first time buyers in London, a fall in house prices is all good news, of course.

Taking a long-term view, fluctuations in house prices next year are likely to have little impact. There have been short-term falls from time to time in the past decades but, over the years, house prices in the UK have always grown.

According to The Guardian, London house prices have risen by 70 per cent in the past ten years. Set against that background, a fall of a handful of per cent (if it happens) does not seem like a disaster.

Buying a house anywhere in the UK looks likely to remain a solid investment. And, more importantly perhaps, it means you have a home that you can call your own.

At Larkfleet Homes we're planning to build more homes in 2018 than ever before. So come and talk to us about your next move!

Friday, 22 December 2017

Merry Christmas from all at Larkfleet Homes

Merry Christmas Larkfleet Homes

As we approach the end of 2017, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, contractors and staff and to wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very prosperous 2018.

We look forward to welcoming you to a Larkfleet show home near you in 2018.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Countdown to 2018 - hosting the perfect New Year's Eve party

Larkfleet Homes New Years Eve party
Christmas is almost upon us (don't say you haven't noticed?) and 2017 is waning. It’s time to turn our attention to welcoming 2018.

And if you’re not all ‘partied out’ – now’s the time to think about what you're going to do if you’re thinking of hosting your own New Year’s Eve party. It's a great way to see in the New Year - and 1 January is a public holiday, so you do get a chance to have a 'lie in' and recover (unless you are one of those who has to work that day - in which case we salute you!).

We love a good party at Larkfleet Homes, so we have come up with ten ideas to give you a helping hand with your festive party planning:
  1. Use soft, warm lighting to create a welcoming atmosphere. You could use low wattage bulbs with warm colours. Why not get changing colour lightbulbs that come with their own remote control to help you change the mood?
  2. Light a scented candle and leave it in the loo so your guests don’t have to fumble around in the dark looking for the light switch. 
  3. Use table cloths sprinkled with festive confetti and add matching place mats to protect the cloth and the table underneath from drinks glasses.
  4. It’s perhaps the hardest night of the year to get a cab so make sure you have plenty of taxi company numbers to hand.
  5. Be prepared to put up guests who can’t get home. Have inflatable beds and pillows to hand – just in case.
  6. Make sure you have a large clock visible so that you don’t miss the countdown to 2018.
  7. Why not try something a little different? Celebrate the midnight chimes the Spanish way. Get your guests 12 grapes each. Pop a grape into your mouth for every ‘bong’ from Big Ben until they are all gone.
  8. Make sure you have plenty of party poppers and streamers to make your party go with a bang. And you could have some fireworks as well!
  9. Be flexible with how much food you prepare. If you are having a small gathering put together a full meal for your guests. You can be creative with your menu. If you are welcoming plenty of guests, opt for a range of sweet and savoury bites to allow your guests to eat as much as they like. 
  10. Use an online streaming service to create a music playlist. Tailor it to the range of guests at your party. If most of the guests at your party are friends of a similar age, then of course it is hard to resist cramming the playlist full of nostalgic tunes from your youth. Or you could stick on the telly and have a New Year’s Eve party or Jools Holland’s Hootenanny on in the background.
Happy New Year!




Monday, 18 December 2017

Christmas opening hours at Larkfleet

Larkfleet Homes Christmas opening
Christmas is well and truly on its way and we’re looking forward to the Christmas holidays.

Our show homes will be closed over Christmas from Saturday 23 December to Wednesday 27 December inclusive.

They will also be closed again between 31 December and 2 January.

On the lead up to the festive season between Wednesday 20 December and Friday 22 December and from 28 to 30 December we will be open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please do drop in to see us at any of the show homes - full details of them all are on our website here.

Once we’ve polished off all the turkey and mince pies we will be open as normal from Wednesday 3 January.

We hope you have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Reduce the stress of moving home

Larkfleet homes moving house
It may be getting close to Christmas but there will still be some of us moving house at this time of year. The Christmas season can be a stressful one but moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life.

And according to research, the average UK resident will do it eight times during their lifetime.

There is always a lot of hassle associated with packing, re-directing mail, setting up utilities and internet services and keeping the authorities informed. Despite all the 'admin' that goes with the move, and even if you are an ‘old hand’, packing seems to be the most daunting problem.

To help take some of the hassle out of moving house Larkfleet Homes has put together a handy checklist of things to do to help make packing for the move as smooth as possible.

First off, don’t forget that some of your things will be valuable so it’s worth getting them valued for insurance – just in case.

You don’t need to leave everything to the day before the move. Consider what you don’t need to take with you and what will need careful packing.

Moving home is a great opportunity for a ‘de-cluttering’ so:

Make a priority packing list:
  • Take some time to sift through your belongings and have a clear-out. You can make up a box for charity and, if you’ve time, hold a car boot sale or log onto an online auction, then put the proceeds from selling your old goods towards some re-decorating or a new carpet.
  • Calculate how many boxes you will need and get these well in advance. Find boxes in a variety of sizes. Think about what else will be useful, such as strong tape, bubble wrap, and self-seal bags for keeping nuts and bolts together. Save old newspapers for lining boxes.
  • Don’t completely fill large boxes because they may then be too heavy to move.
  • Use sturdy packing boxes, particularly for heavier items, or your belongings may end up strewn all over the pavement. Boxes made from corrugated cardboard are stronger than regular ones. You can usually find these at supermarkets, off-licences or large retail stores but make sure that they are clean.
  • Check that your contents insurance will cover damage and breakages during the move.
  • Put all hazardous materials, such as paint, bleach and aerosols, into a separate box and keep them away from the rest of your stuff.
  • Make sure you take a ‘survival kit’ with you because, unless you travel light, you won’t be able to unpack everything in the first day. Decide what you might need easy access to soon after you cross the threshold of your new home.
  • Pack an ‘essentials’ box for the first night in your new home and carry it with you. Instant access to coffee, tea, snacks, cups and a kettle may be welcome soon after you arrive. As will plates, utensils and a kitchen cloth.
  • Prepare an overnight bag for everyone in the family and make sure that there is enough toilet paper and toiletries for everyone.
  • Other useful items that should be kept close to hand are a torch, a first-aid kit including pain relievers, pencil and paper, and re-closable plastic bags, along with a small tool kit.
  • If possible, finish any laundry well before you move to avoid packing damp clothes. Keep a separate box/bag for dirty washing.
  • Make sure the boxes containing items you need the least are loaded up first.
Sensible packing

Spend some time considering how you are going to pack your possessions. Books are easy but heavy, valuables need careful wrapping and will take time, and some furniture may need to be dismantled.

  • Start early. Packing always takes longer than anticipated, particularly when you start reminiscing over old photographs stored in the attic or you realise that you need to dismantle the wardrobe to get it downstairs.
  • Begin at the top of the house and move downwards. If you have an attic, it’s a good idea to sort it out first.
  • Always pack heavy items in small boxes. It will make transporting them easier. Also, keep the weight of all boxes to a minimum to avoid any back injuries.
  • Pack one room at a time, clearly labelling each box with details of its contents and the room to which it belongs. Clearly label boxes that contain breakables and also those that are load-bearing and can be stacked in the van.
  • Keep all boxes for each room together. This will save time when unpacking.
  • It may sound obvious but pack heavier items on the bottom of the box and lighter items on top.
  • Wrap items individually and place in a box that’s been lined with several layers of newspaper and a sheet of bubble wrap. Any breakables should also be wrapped in bubble wrap. Use clean tissue or wrapping paper for the first layer to prevent newspaper print leaving marks. Pillows and blankets are also useful for wrapping valuables and protecting furniture prone to dents and scratches.
  • Pack important documents together, such as birth and marriage certificates, and keep them in a safe place.
If you are moving locally get your friends and family to help with the move. Enlist the help of any of your friends who might have vans in order to avoid the expense of renting a self-drive box van or a professional remover.

There are a number of checklists like this one available to use online or download for free to help make the move from one home to another as smooth as possible.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Beating the reluctance for solar



Larkfleet house with PV solar panels
A recent survey has found that many people in the UK may be unaware of recent cost reductions for solar energy. It also reveals public reticence around installing solar.

The survey asked over 600 members of the public why they don’t use solar panels.

Over 50 per cent of those responding said cost was the main reason they don’t have solar, despite the fact that domestic solar power systems have significantly fallen in price over the past five years.

Aesthetics and availability were other reasons for lack of solar panel use. Seven per cent of respondents questioned the effectiveness of solar, thereby revealing a need for further education on this topic.

The survey also found:
  • 55 per cent of respondents said cost was the main reason they did not have solar panels.
  • 18 per cent said the aesthetics of solar panels would put them off.
  • 16 per cent said unavailability of solar panels in their area was a barrier.
  • 7 per cent chose 'functionality' (examples of such answers being along the lines of "I don’t think they work").
Since 2011, the average cost of a domestic solar PV system has fallen by between 70 and 80 per cent. The average price for a 1 kilowatt to 4 kilowatt array in 2010 was around £15,000, compared to just £6,000 in 2017.

At Larkfleet Homes we offer new homes with solar PV systems fitted as standard on many sites. Solar panels can add value to your home. The lower electricity bills are a great draw to buyers due to the steeply rising price of traditional energy. A recent study has shown that a third of UK buyers would be willing to pay more for a house with solar PV installed, to benefit from these lower energy bills. Solar panels also last for a long time with little maintenance, when properly installed by an MCS approved installer.

Solar panels can also add value to your house by raising the house’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) grade. Every house being bought or sold in the UK needs to have a valid EPC. After being assessed your house will be awarded a grade from A (highest) to G (lowest).

EPC ratings can have a significant effect on house values. Solar panels have been known to raise a house’s EPC rating by at least two grades. This is reflected in the house's value. For example, increasing the EPC from a band D to a band B could raise the value of an average house by more than £16,000.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Perfect Christmas table settings

Ideas for Christmas table settings
A nicely laid table, with all the trimmings, is essential if you want to make Christmas lunch a special event – whether it’s just you, or the whole family is coming over to enjoy the feast.

It’s not too late to have a few ideas and get hold of the things you need to make your table look a treat for the big day.



Here are a few ideas and places to look for inspiration.

Colour design
There are many options. You could go for traditional festive red and green, red and white or mix and match your table cloth, napkins and place settings to your existing china.

Choose fun salad plates and napkins. Even if the rest of the table is more traditional, adding a cheerful or quirky smaller plate on top of your main plates, and investing in some Christmassy serviettes, can add a modern touch to traditional dinnerware.

You could mix up reds and whites in stripes or checks or add garlands and table runners using greenery and berries.

Crockery
There is a huge array of dining china on the market. You will find the high-end brands in places like John Lewis.

Perhaps use plain colours in cool Scandi colours like stacking smoky steel greys and white.

Cutlery 
Knives, forks, table spoons and serving ware should match where possible. Go traditional, or ultra-modern, it’s up to you. Try Ikea or Lakeland  for some ideas. What you use will of course be dictated by what you are serving for lunch.

Glassware
Make your table look special with crystal glassware. Include glasses for red and white wine, perhaps champagne flutes and glasses for water.

Centre pieces
You could use greenery and flowers to make a gorgeous colourful centre pieces. Use glassware like bell jars and coach lamps to reflect and shine light over the table to give a warm look.

Lights and candles
Bring a cosy and homely touch to your table by using candles as lighting. Creating a warm atmosphere will help your lunch

You can find some great visual ideas here

Saturday, 9 December 2017

The formula for the perfect Christmas dinner

larkfleet homes formula christmas dinner
According to British Turkey, the industry organisation for turkey producers, there is scientific formula for the perfect Christmas dinner.

The formula investigates how the turkey is cooked and the balance of other foods it is served with. It was created by food scientist Dr Stuart Farimond.

A roasted British turkey at Christmas is one of the most treasured of British traditions. And getting Christmas dinner perfect can be a daunting task, but fear not – there is a solution to all your woes.

Believe it or not the secret lies with science. A formula has been created which will ensure that no one is left disappointed this Christmas Day.

So, what do you have to do? Simply follow the formula of pC = 3t + 1.5g + 5c + 150ts + 2r + 3p + 1st + 1s +4B where:
  • pC = ‘perfect’ Christmas turkey roast proportions
  • t = medium thickness slices of turkey (each approximately 30g)
  • g = metric (250ml) cups of turkey gravy
  • c = medium-sized slices of boiled carrot
  • ts = grams of turnip-swede mash
  • r = halves of oven roasted Maris Piper potatoes (approx. 75g total)
  • p = number of roasted parsnip spears (equivalent to a quarter of a large parsnip)
  • st = small stuffing balls (14-15g)
  • s = level teaspoon of cranberry sauce
  • B = number of Brussels sprouts
This formula considers the optimal ratios of different meal components to best enhance the texture, flavour and aroma of turkey.

Flavour pairing science reveals that carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, cranberry and cauliflower share several flavour molecules and pair with turkey remarkably well. And with approximately a quarter of the population having a gene that gives them a distaste for Brussel sprouts, the formula shows that eating sprouts alongside sweet foods reduces the perception of bitterness by reducing the sensitivity of 'bitter receptors' on the tongue.

Findings from tasting panels revealed the optimal ratios of different meal components to best enhance the texture, flavour and aroma of turkey. These were found to be for three slices of turkey (90g):
  • 364ml of gravy
  • 5 medium-sized slices of boiled carrot
  • 150g of turnip-swede mash
  • Approximately 2 pieces of halved roast Maris Piper potatoes (75g)
  • 3 roast parsnip spears (35g of roasted parsnip)
  • 14.3g of stuffing (one small ball)
  • Approx. 1 level teaspoon of cranberry sauce
  • 4 Brussels sprouts
And don’t forget to add the Christmas pudding, cheese and port!

Friday, 8 December 2017

New home for school play equipment

Larkfleet Homes sponsorship Elsea Park School shed
We have been working very hard on behalf of the communities where we have developments this years. One of our favourite ways to make a difference is to help local schools.

So, when we heard that the youngsters at Bourne Elsea Park Church of England Primary Academy needed a new home for their PE and play equipment we were very happy to help. The school is just a short distance from our headquarters in Bourne, Lincolnshire.

We supplied a new shed which was put up on the school field ahead of the arrival of winter weather.

We are committed to supporting the local community and it’s a great pleasure to sponsor the new shed. It means that the children can have the equipment they need to enjoy their breaks and sports activities with a safe and secure place to store it.

Sam Brunt, deputy head of Bourne Elsea Park C of E Primary Academy, told us: “We are grateful for the continued support of the whole team at Larkfleet and for sponsoring our lovely new shed.

“Outdoor play and participation in sport is a key part of children’s development. It would be hard to offer the right kinds of activities without the appropriate equipment.

“The new shed sponsored by Larkfleet Homes means we are able to acquire that equipment because we now have somewhere to store it securely and keep it safe from the elements.”

That’s great news.

Pictured outside their new shed with Helen Jones of Larkfleet Homes are: Alfie Jarvis 11, Lola Waumsley 10, Elliott Holder 10, Liam Fialkowski 10, Zara Johnson 10, Jasminder Bubbra 10 and teaching assistant Louise Wilcockson.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Award-winning charity backed by Larkfleet Homes

Larkfleet Homes Evergreen Care Trust Christmas crackerFrom time to time we come across a worthy charity that deserves support but that has been flying under our radar.

The Evergreen Care Trust is one of those. We decided to back the trust after it was named as ‘best social enterprise’ in the Stamford Mercury Business Awards – an award which were proud to sponsor.

So, we recently handed £250 to the Evergreen Care Trust to help with its Stamford Christmas Cracker appeal.

The Stamford Christmas Cracker campaign raises money to support the elderly community in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings.

It is a giant raffle with more than £5,000 worth of prizes. A new winner is drawn every day in the 25 days running up to Christmas – and if you win one of the prizes your ticket goes back into the draw, so you could win again and again!

Tickets are on sale at Sowden Wallis Estate Agents in Star Lane, Stamford, or online from
www.tiny.cc/cracker.

We were really impressed with what we learned about the Evergreen Care Trust when we handed over the Stamford Mercury Business Award. We have been delighted to back the charity’s Christmas fundraising efforts.



Friday, 1 December 2017

Getting your home ready for Christmas

Larkfleet Homes preparing Christmas
Today is the start of meteorological winter. And if you listen carefully you can probably hear the creak of millions of advent calendar windows being opened. Now it’s OK to start talking about Christmas in earnest.

If you really get into the festive season and enjoy all the entertaining that comes with it, you will now be thinking about preparing your home to receive guests.

Here are a few essentials to make sure your Christmas goes with a Ho! Ho! Ho!

  1. Have a good clean and dust. Tidy up all the clutter and make yourself some space.
  2. Have a think about your colour scheme. Are you going for cream and gold, traditional red and green, purple and gold – or something else? Make sure your choice complements your existing d├ęcor. This extends to the baubles and tinsel you choose for the tree
  3. And talking of the tree, don’t forget to buy a fir or spruce that retains its needles – there’s nothing worse than hoovering up dropped pine needles every day. You could also consider buying a fake tree which you can bring out year after year.
  4. Make sure you have all you need for entertaining in terms of crockery and serving dishes. Build your plans around what you already have.
  5. Make things cosy. Use cushions and throws, and light candles to create a homely and timeless atmosphere.
  6. If you are lucky enough to have a spare room or two, get them ready for your guests. If you are using them as dumping grounds for your ‘stuff’ give them a tidy so your guests have their own space.
  7. Don’t skimp on towels and keep them in prominent view for your guests to see and use.
  8. Make sure your heating and plumbing is up to scratch. There’s nothing worse than having to bundle up in winter woollies and coats indoors because the boiler has broken.

While we’re on practical matters, it’s worth noting that, according to statistics from the British Turkey Information Service, in the UK at Christmas we consume approximately 10 million turkeys, 25 million Christmas puddings, 250 million pints of beer and 35 million bottles of wine. Meanwhile, Santa chomps his way through roughly seven million mince pies left for him by children on Christmas Eve.

And with guests in the house to help you munch through all the food could add extra stress to your plumbing and make things even more uncomfortable for your guests so;
  • Throw food scraps in the bin and put left over vegetable matter like sprout and potato peelings in the compost pile.  
  • Avoid pouring grease down the drain, because grease hardens when it’s in your pipes and can cause a blockage over time. 
  • Wipe off greasy plates and pans with a paper towel before washing them.

Keep coming back to the blog over the next few weeks as we bring you more tips for creating the perfect Christmas dinner and hosting the best New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night parties.