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The first phase of the clearance is nearly through. After clearance you can assess what work needs to be done and work out a running order. At least, that’s the theory. We took a week off the job, to focus on getting our other house ready for the holiday season – we renovated Casa de Almendras a cortijo in Andalusia a few years ago – the horror of that escapade has obviously worn off…so now that we’re back in the UK we can focus without too much distraction on the house in Shrewsbury. The junk has to be seen to be believed – I think the property maintenance company the bank used to take possession must have done a cursory clean up to facilitate the sale. We’ve found bags of clothes with ashtrays of butts tipped into them, empty bottles, old TV’s, a nice line in 90’s gothic videos – I knew “The Crow” would find its level and slightly worryingly, a collection of timbers that look as though they belong in the roof.. We’ve taken most of the stuff to the recycling centre and have moved the rest to the ground floor where we’ll load it into the car and get rid. A couple of new developments and tips to pass on:

  • Pre-paid meters – obviously we want rid of these cash gobbling monstrosities asap. However I tracked down the power company (British Gas) today and discovered we had to register with them in order to get rid of them. Gah! They have agreed to waive the considerable debt that the previous residents had accumulated on the electricity, so that is something. I registered our account today and by tomorrow, I’m told we can apply to have the meters changed and get onto a cheaper tariff. The useful tip here is – don’t start using a legacy key – you’ll inherit the debt if you do – the keys can be programmed to zeroise the account, that is why its worth registering with the existing company. You can then change later if you’re not happy with the tariffs on offer.
  • Sash windows – ours are badly weathered and in places rotten. We need a specialist to renovate all the windows and doors – I’ll let you know how this progresses.
  • If the property is being renovated, most councils will give you a discount on the council tax. We’ve organised an inspection so that they can see what work needs to be done. A slight concern here is that as a listed building we’ll incur delays while plans are being passed by building controls. The process will not be as quick as it would if we were able to steam in immediately!
  • Repairs – are permitted without planning being involved. They need to be notified and any repair has to restore the thing repaired to its original condition. Our garden wall is falling down and we need to rebuild it urgently before it falls on somebody. First job will be to remove the Butterfly Bush that has caused a lot of the damage.

So lots to be getting on with after clearance – including sourcing the bricks for the garden wall…its going to be a busy Easter!

Addendum: British Gas are heading for the naughty step – they are installing smart meters but refusing to offer a tariff cheaper than the one attached to the pre-payment meter. They say that because I am not on the electoral roll in Shrewsbury my credit rating does not reach the threshold they set for new customers. A quick glance at Google reveals this problem often comes up when customers try to transfer off pre-payment meters. I think I feel a battle coming on!