News: Jeremy’s building ideas.

It shouldn’t really have come as a shock: the pollsters had been predicting it for ages. But when Jeremy Corbyn was named as the new leader of the Labour Party a few weeks ago, everyone looked surprised — even the man himself.

So now his policies will be scrutinised like never before. According to his website, Corbyn’s housing manifesto proposes to allow councils the right and means to commission new homes, in order to meet the demand for affordable housing in their own areas. “Under my ‘Vision for Britain 2020’ Labour will promote major council-funded, desirable energy efficient building projects to provide our young people with a good start in life, to stop paying exorbitant rents and the opportunity of a home they can at least call their own,” he writes.

Winter warmers for old lags

Houses can be heat-leaking machines. Heat escapes through the roof, through cracks in the doors, and gaps in windows — and, as it seeps out, the cold air whistles in.

So before things get as chilly as the weather men predict (ie, very chilly indeed), we should be thinking about simple draught-proofing measures which will keep us warmer and save on our fuel bills. Just a simple draught excluder can work wonders. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) says that “DIY draught-proofing of windows, doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can cost around £200, but can save up to £25 to £35 a year on energy bills.”

If your house was built in the last decade, your cavity walls could well be insulated. It might not be the same story for older houses, however; so it’s worth getting an expert in to have a look. The typical cavity wall insulation cost is £475, but should save you £160 per year on your heating bills.

Plus, if you have a loft, make sure it’s properly lagged. The EST says that the typical cost of lagging a semi-detached house (with 0-270mm lagging) is around £300; but this can save you £140 per year.

George gets ugly

“Phenomenal architecture and design should be available to everyone,” says TV presenter and architect, George Clarke. It clearly isn’t, mind you; so George has had a great idea for a new TV show where award-winning architects remodel an “ugly” house and “turn it into a home that works and excites the owners.” The results will be seen in the coming weeks on Channel 4 in a new series called — at the moment anyway — Ugly House.

“This series demonstrates that architecture is also a realistic option for those on a smaller budget,” says Neil Smith, Creative Director at betty, the company that co-produces the show. “It will inspire people to take on their own “ugly” houses and transform them into desirable properties.”

Meanwhile, George’s Amazing Spaces — the series that celebrates small but beautiful builds — is currently running on Channel 4.

Gas works?

As winter approaches, our gas boilers are going to get a lot of use. So, landlords: are you Gas Safe? That’s not as rude a question as it sounds because all landlords have to be — it’s one of the safety checks that must be carried out on their properties.

Basically, if a rental property features any gas appliance or flue, it is the legal responsibility of the landlord to ensure it is safe. This means that a Gas Safe registered engineer must check any gas-fired boiler, hob, oven and gas fire every 12 months — and if there’s a problems, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to get it fixed. The cost of a check starts at around £35, and a record of the check must be provided to the tenant within 28 days of it being completed.