Trying to figure out which projects you can do without planning permission can be a bit of a minefield, but don’t panic. As a rule of thumb, most structural changes are subject to building regulations, but some ‘bigger’ renovation projects can be done without planning permission if you adhere to the set size regulations.

Whether you’re building a new structure or making changes to an existing one, you’ll most likely need to submit an architectural drawing of the proposed project and get approval from the local authorities. To clear up the confusion, Comparethemarket.com have teamed up with a range of experts to create a tool that helps you work out which projects require planning permission and what to leave to the professionals.

To be on the safe side, leave any hard wiring and installations to a certified professional. However, if you’re plugging into a socket or wiring into a spur, this can normally be done by any competent amateur. For all other electrical work, you should get it carried out by a trader approved through an appropriate scheme, such as NICEIC. Chris King, Head of Home at Comparethemarket.com, says: “Anything involving gas is generally best left to certified engineers due to the significant damage which could be caused if you get it wrong.”

Here are five renovations you can do without planning permission.

Adding a porch
You don’t need to apply for planning permission when building a porch if it’s no more than 3 metres above ground level and if  the ground floor doesn’t exceed 3 square metres. You also have to make sure that no part of the porch is within 2 metres of any boundary of the house or a highway.

However, if you take the front door of the property out the porch, the porch becomes part of the property and would be subject to building regulations and possibly planning permission.

Adding a conservatory
Planning permissions are not necessary when building a conservatory if you adhere to the strict size regulations. The conservatory should cover less than half of the land surrounding the home, and should not be higher than the highest point of the roof. If the property is a single storey, make sure the conservatory is no higher than 4 metres.

Adding a shed or summer house
Building regulations do not normally apply to outbuildings, such as an outdoors office or summer house, if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and the building is not used for sleeping. The same rules apply to sheds, greenhouses and garages.

However, if the building is between 15 and 30 square metres and doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation, you could get away with no planning permission. To make sure you get it right, it’s always best to check each individual project with the local authorities as architectural drawings may need to be submitted.

Adding a loft conversion
Unless you live in a designated area, like a national park or World Heritage Sites, loft conversions do not need planning permission as long as the conversion is no higher than the highest part of the roof and made in a similar material to the rest of the house.

If you live in a terraced house, the conversion has a volume allowance of 40 cubic metres of additional roof space or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses. Make sure the roof enlargement doesn’t overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.

Putting up a fence
You will only need planning permission to put up a fence if it’s over 1 metre high next to any highway used by vehicles or the footpath or if it’s over 2 metres high elsewhere. You would also need planning permission if your house is a listed building or in the curtilage of a listed building or if the fence, wall or gate, or any other boundary involved, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage.

Need to take down a fence? No planning permission is needed, unless the fence is in a conservation area.

Chris King warns homeowners about the possible consequences of not doing enough research on your builders: “Make sure you’ve checked their reputation and they have the right liability insurance in place should they damage your property. Most home insurance policies don’t cover poor or faulty workmanship so if the work carried out is poor or unfinished, it’s likely your home insurance wouldn’t be able to step in and come to the rescue.”

Research from credit experts TotallyMoney and MoneyComms reveals how just making minimum repayments on credit card balances costs customers thousands in interest and takes over two decades to clear.

  • Only making the minimum repayment each month will take over 26 years to clear a credit card balance
  • Customers expected to lose a staggering £3,775 due to interest
  • Fixing monthly repayments to the first minimum repayment amount will save £2,367 in interest
  • Just a mere 1 in 5 know about the dangers of the minimum repayment trap* 

The shocking figures are based on only making the minimum repayment on a credit card balance of £2,604†, with a fixed interest rate of 19.9%APR‡.

Worryingly, the anticipated interest costs will be even greater for those customers stuck with a higher annual percentage rate.

Furthermore, a staggering 80% of people are unaware of the dangerous trap they could fall into by only making minimum repayments, leaving them with debt that will take over a quarter of a century to clear.

Small change, big win

The credit experts advise that one way to avoid this pitfall is by paying a slightly larger, fixed amount each month.

For example, if the first minimum repayment on a £2,604 credit card balance is £66, setting the monthly repayments at this thereafter, while the outstanding balance continues to decrease, could avoid customers from paying an extra £2,367 in interest.

Moreover, this payment plan means it will take just over five years to pay off the balance — more than five times faster than the 26 years it will take to clear the same balance when only making minimum repayments.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney, comments:

“While it’s alarming how much money people can save by making one small change to their repayment habits, especially as figures suggest there’s over £580 million lost in interest charged each month, it’s even more concerning how many people don’t know how making only the minimum repayment impacts them.

“It’s understandable that in certain months customers can only afford the minimum repayments, and sometimes it may be tempting to make a smaller repayment to keep as much cash in the bank as possible. However, the figures show this is an incredibly expensive option.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many will pay even more interest on their credit card balance if they have a higher annual percentage rate.

“At TotallyMoney, we’re on a mission to improve the UK’s credit score and help people move on up to a better financial future. It’s important people are aware of the small change they could make to their repayment habits, as this will help them clear their debts and become debt-free quicker.

“To help people avoid being stung by interest costs, here are my top three tips.”

 

1)    Move your debts to a balance transfer card

If you’re currently paying interest on a credit card balance, you could transfer it to a balance transfer card. These cards let you pay off the balance over a certain amount of time, with no interest. There’s often a small transfer fee, which is worked out as a percentage of how much you transfer, but this is usually much less than what you’d pay in interest otherwise.

 

2)    Use a 0% interest purchase card 

These cards come with a period of interest-free spending. That means you can make a large or unexpected purchase, and clear the balance over a set number of months — without building interest.

 

3)    Consider getting a personal loan 

The next time you need to borrow money, you may find that a personal loan is a better option for you. With a personal loan, you’re told upfront the fixed amount you’ll have to repay each month, as well as its total cost over the length of the loan. You should avoid payday loans though, as they have very high interest rates, making the total cost of borrowing very expensive.

With any card or loan, it’s always best to check your eligibility on sites such as TotallyMoney before you apply. This lets you see how likely you are to be accepted for what you want, reduces your chances of rejection, and helps protect your credit rating.

Sources:

* TotallyMoney annual Financial Awareness Survey [conducted by OnePoll. 2,000 UK Adults December 2018]

† Average credit card debt per household: The Money Charity [October 2019]

‡ Average interest rate figure of 19.9%APR: Bank of England [December 2019]

Calculations made using the CardCosts calculator [January 2020]

Credit experts TotallyMoney have advised that those booking holidays could protect themselves under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act by using a credit card, meaning customers could get their money back should something go wrong. The advice comes at a pivotal time for holiday makers with Flybe at risk folding, following the devastating collapse of Thomas Cook and WOW Air last year that left hundreds of thousands massively out of pocket.

  • Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects all credit card transactions between £100 and £30,000
  • An estimated 5.2 million* Brits will book holidays this January, yet almost a third (29%) of consumers don’t realise Section 75 covers them at all
  • More than half (55%) aren’t aware they’re protected by Section 75 for the cost of a hotel when booking directly
  • A third (34%) falsely believe that Section 75 covers PayPal transactions over £100

With many people left in the dark last year about if and how they’ll get a refund, customers can live safe in the knowledge that they’ll be able to get a refund under Section 75, providing the Debtor-Creditor-Supplier (DCS) Link isn’t broken.

This means the exchange of money between the customer, the credit card company, and the service provider must be maintained. Section 75 therefore wouldn’t apply when the DCS link is broken, which happens when using third parties, such as a travel agent.

Alarmingly, booking a holiday through a travel agent doesn’t cover customers if the operator folds. Customers should therefore confirm their holiday is ATOL-protected if booking through an agent.

Choose credit, not debit

Those booking their holidays directly, however, should be aware of Section 75 and its benefits before they do, to avoid being left short in worst-case scenarios.

TotallyMoney CEO, Alastair Douglas, comments: “In a world where things can often go wrong, Section 75 is a safety net. The trouble is, many don’t realise it exists.

“With great deals in January and many suffering from post-Christmas blues, it’s easy to see why people are keen to book a holiday. However, having something go wrong while away — during what’s often the highlight of your year — is an awful situation to be in.

“If it so happens you can’t jet off, or worse yet, you’re stuck and can’t get home, you can be left feeling like there’s nothing you can do. Section 75 adds an extra level of security that can really help.

“It was disheartening last year to see so many families stranded and out of pocket when Thomas Cook collapsed. If something like this happens again, being covered by Section 75 means you can contact your credit card provider to claim a refund.

“At TotallyMoney, we’re on a mission to improve the UK’s credit score and help people move on up to a better future. Not only could responsibly using a credit card improve your credit score, but being covered by Section 75 could also improve a situation that might otherwise be financially very stressful.”

 

Section 75 Top Ten Tips

To make sure you’re never caught out, here are 10 things to know about how Section 75 can help you when booking your next getaway.

  1. Limits on claims

Individual items and purchases costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 are covered under Section 75. So whether it’s a cancelled flight or an all-inclusive family holiday and the company goes bust, as long as you paid on credit card, you could be reimbursed the full amount.

2. We’re talking credit, not debit

Section 75 doesn’t cover anything bought using a debit card. Chargeback protection is as good as you’ll get with debit.

3. They’re bust. You’re not broke

Buying from a company that goes bust before they deliver doesn’t mean your money’s lost. Section 75 requires credit card companies to get your money back.

4. Pay a deposit, get full value cover

When a deposit is needed for a holiday, use a credit card — even when the deposit is less than £100. Should anything prevent you from settling the balance (like the airline collapses), Section 75 lets you claim the full amount. Not just the paid deposit.

5. Pay part credit and part cheque, get full value cover

The same goes if you decide to pay part of the balance by credit card and the rest by cheque. Consumers can reclaim the full value of the qualifying goods and services even if the total balance wasn’t paid using a credit card.

6. Stay protected on closed cards

Say you buy a holiday, close the credit card you bought it with, but something goes wrong that’s not your fault, Section 75 means you can still make a claim.

7. Extra expense cover

If you book a holiday and the flight is cancelled, through Section 75 you could claim back additional accommodation and food expenses, providing those consequential losses were reasonable.

8. The Section 75 loopholes

Buying through a third party (like travel agents), additional cardholder purchases, or cash that’s withdrawn from your credit card won’t offer Section 75 protection. You need to have paid the company directly (so purchases made through PayPal, for example, aren’t covered).

9. Section 75 applies to all credit cards

When it comes to Section 75 there’s isn’t one rule for one credit card company and something different for another. All credit cards come with Section 75 benefits.

10. The claims process

First port of call: the service provider, for example the airline or hotel (depending on the situation). Failing that, go to the credit card company — this might be your bank or building society, not Visa, Mastercard or AMEX. They’ll get you to fill out a claim form and voila! Your money is back where it belongs.

RoosterMoney, the pocket money app, reveals that kids received a new high of £273 pocket money (£5.25 a week) last year, up 7.5% from 2018, and encouragingly they saved 38% of it. This is in stark contrast to the latest statistics showing adults are only managing to save 6.8% of their income.

Children are picking up lasting money habits as young as 7 years old, and RoosterMoney is showing that a strong pocket money routine is a great way to build positive money habits early on…

 

  • 74% of parents gave regular pocket money last year
  • Average weekly allowance is £5.25 (£273 a year), up 7.5% from £254 in 2018
  • Kids received £49 in cash gifts this Christmas
  • Most lucrative chores are ‘Mowing the lawn’, ‘Washing the car’ & ‘Gardening’
  • Most popular things to save for are Lego Sets, Phones & Nintendo Switch
  • Of all money earned, average saved is 38%

 

Will Carmichael, RoosterMoney CEO says: “44% of what we do every day is said to be put down to habit – so seeing these savings habits develop so early is extremely encouraging. Starting to engage your kids with money early by creating teachable moments around the home can help cement positive habits that last a lifetime. The New Year is a great time to kick start a pocket money and saving routine to encourage your kids to make considered choices about how they use their money.”

You can read moretop tips on teaching kids about money here:

https://www.roostermoney.com/top-tips-on-giving-pocket-money/

Open Banking has the potential to improve the way in which consumers manage their finances. However, two years on from its introduction, Which? has found nearly three quarters (73%) of people still haven’t heard of Open Banking.

Of the just over one in four people (27%) who had heard of Open Banking, only 4 per cent have used an Open Banking ‘account aggregator’, allowing them to view multiple financial accounts in one app.

The research also found that nearly seven in 10 people (65%) are unlikely to consider sharing their financial data even if it meant that financial products and services were more tailored to their needs.

The main reasons for being unlikely to share financial data were:

  • ‘I am happy with my current banking arrangements so don’t see a need for an Open Banking product’ (64%)

  • ‘I am concerned about the security of my personal/financial details when shared with a third party’ (41%)

  • ‘I am concerned about data privacy’ (41%)

  • ‘I am not prepared to share my data with third parties’ (40%)

  • ‘I prefer just to deal with my own bank’ (27%)

Which?’s view:

  • Open Banking has the potential to improve the way in which consumers manage their finances, however vital protections over data breaches and scams must be in place.

  • Industry must work to deliver useful and innovative products and services for consumers if Open Banking is to be a success.

  • Banks and regulators must have in place robust measures and provide the necessary assurances for consumers over their data privacy and security.

 

Jennya spokesman for Which?, said:

“By giving consumers greater control over their finances and more choice over the products and services they use, open banking has the potential to be revolutionary. But two years on, huge numbers of people are still in the dark over what open banking is, or are reluctant to use it.

“If open banking is to ever be a success, regulators and industry must do more to deliver services with clear, tangible benefits for consumers, and demonstrate that customers are properly protected from data breaches and scams in order to boost trust in these services.”

This January will be the most popular month for people to book holidays for the coming year according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance. The study indicates that around 6.4 million people across the nation are looking to book getaways then.

More than three quarters (76%) of UK adults will go on holiday in 2020, spending an average of £757 each per getaway. Cruises are the most expensive type of holiday with these holidaymakers planning to spend an average of £1,650 each.

Sun, sea and sand is the biggest draw for UK holidaymakers with 40% choosing an overseas beach holiday this year. The other most popular vacations are overseas city breaks (28%), UK city breaks (24%), UK seaside holidays and UK countryside and walking holidays.

Average cost of the most popular holidays
Holiday type Cost per person (£)
Overseas beach holiday £1,039
Overseas city break £588
UK countryside/walking holiday £380
UK city break £356
UK seaside holiday £347

Although holidaymakers are willing to spend significant sums on heading overseas, a fifth will not be buying travel insurance. A further 22% will only buy their travel insurance in the week before they travel. These statistics are concerning in light of Sainsbury’s Bank insurance claims data which found a typical travel insurance claim was £631 in 2019, nearly the average cost of the holiday people said they were planning.

Sainsbury’s Bank’s travel insurance claims data shows that half of all claims were due to medical expenses, 20% for lost or stolen personal possessions and 15% for cancellation, meaning travelling without insurance is a big risk to take when travelling abroad.

Jason King, Customer Director at Sainsbury’s Bank, said: “Booking a holiday at the start of the year will certainly help chase away those January blues. Taking it easy is one of the biggest draws of a holiday, however unexpected events can happen. Think about what kind of travel insurance policy you need as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.”

Sainsbury’s Bank top tips when buying travel insurance

Single trip vs annual cover. How many holidays do you typically take in a year? Even though you may only have one holiday booked now, if you usually jet off later into the year it may be cheaper to buy annual cover.

Consider any medical conditions. Ensure you declare any medical conditions you may have and whether you may need to add on medical cover for pre-existing conditions.

Get cover for adventures. If you are heading to the ski slopes, make sure you have winter sports cover should you be involved in an incident.

Check for offers and discounts. When shopping around for insurance, make sure to take advantage of offers. Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance offers up to 20% off for Nectar members.

Holidaymakers can find out more online at https://www.sainsburysbank.co.uk/insuring/travel-insurance