Off to school

For any parent, the local schools and catchment areas are key factors in deciding where to buy.

So the good news, Abbotts Walk is currently in the catchment area for St Bede Church of England Primary School which has just received an Ofsted Outstanding rating in February 2013.

The bad news, St Bede’s is oversubscribed and so Hampshire County Council held a consultation:

The outcome of this was a proposal to extend Westgate Secondary School to provide primary places starting in 2014. So Abbotts Walk is now in dual catchment for St Bede’s and the new Westgate Superschool from 2014. Guess what year our little one will enter Reception.

Help to Buy Mortgages

When the Help to Buy: Equity Loans first launched, the only bank offering mortgages that could be used with the scheme was the Halifax. Fortunately, they’re also ‘contractor friendly’ otherwise would have been stuck.

A few more providers have since turned up. I’ve listed the ones I have found below (Disclaimer: please note I am not suggesting you take out any of these or that you will get accepted/offered. Contact a financial adviser for proper advice, but these may help point you/them in the right direction! These are only correct as of the time I found them 23 May 2013.)

  • Halifax – 3.19% fixed for 2 years, £999 product fee
  • RBS/Natwest -3.15% fixed for 2years or 3.59% fixed for 5years, no product fee
  • Barclays/Woolwich – 3.89% fixed for 3 years, £299 product fee
  • Newbury Building Society – 3.59% (SVR – 0.86%) for 3 yrs, £500 fee.

Update 28th May – Looks like Nationwide are jooining the party with an attractive rate:

  • Nationwide – 2.54% fixed for 2 yrs or  2.64% fixed for 3 yrs, £999 fees.

Luxury Development?

Luxury Development?
Luxury Development?

So Abbotts Walk is marketed as a Luxury Development on the prominent sign at the entrance. Let’s have a look at what that means:

Luxury Bathroom
Luxury Bathroom

Not exactly gone to town with the wall tiles here in the bathroom and ensuites! Moral of the story: make sure you get hold of and check the bathroom drawing detail. It wasn’t available when I asked and wasn’t shown an extras list offering further tiling.

Luxury Kitchen

Here is the amount of usable kitchen worktop in a 3 bed house – 40cm! Also obviously the best place to put your kettle and toaster, right by the sink. There is another 60cm, but it’s by a larder cabinet with a 60cm door that swings right across it 5-10cm above the counter top.

The show home had a similar cabinet but with 2 x 30cm Pantry style doors, so at least some of the remaining worktop would have been usable.

Lesson: Don’t trust the show home, get the drawings (which weren’t available when first asked, and then still didn’t show cabinet door details). Are we seeing a pattern here…

*UPDATE – 18/06/13. Redrow have reviewed the kitchen design and decided to fit a Tambour/RollTop door to the future houses of this type and also retrofit it to our kitchen, which was pleasantly surprising.

Luxury Paving

Hard to see from the photo, but these paving flags all have the same manufactured moulded pattern and orientated the same way so look very ‘fake’ in the flesh. In the site specification they are listed as Buff Riven paving, which is rather non-descript.

Actually they look to be Bradstone’s Peak range of Buff Riven paving, which to quote the manufacturer’s website “Peak is a great base for utility areas or sheds. Not recommended for patios.”

Not very Luxury!


So the Valuation and Mortgage Offer are in, Help to Buy has been ready for a while. So the finances look to be sorted.

Just need the solicitors enquiries to complete, then we can get the Approval to Exchange from the Homebuy agent and we’re away.

Bit underwhelmed by the valuation though, 2 sides of A4 for almost £600, and he’s managed to come back with exactly the same number as the selling price. Good gig if you can get it i guess. Sigh.

First Snags

Not exchanged contracts yet, but have been to see the house and found the first snags. At least it gives Redrow more time to fix them:

  1. Wonky handle on a kitchen cabinet, not sure what the fitter was on! Actually have queries on where the handles are fitted on a number of cabinets and some of the doors, so expect this to be a further conversation with Redrow.
  2. No telephone point in the study, as per the sales specification. I think this got confused as for the “Code for Sustainable Homes”, bedroom 3 was marked as the “Home Office” option and does have an additional phone point. However the sale spec clearly say the study will have a point and the study is clearly marked on the plans as a study.
  3. The cloakroom window has clear glass rather than obscured as specified on the glazing plans/schedule. Not sure how this one got missed, although it does have quite a large window on the front aspect for a cloakroom.



There are 2 more items, but not sure if these count as snagging as they look like clear planning violations.

  1. Part of the rear boundary is shown as a 2m Brick wall on the Boundary Materials Layout, but built as a 1.8m wooden fence.
  2. The front path to the house is made up of some rather nasty, cheap looking pavers rather than the tarmac surface treatment shown on the site plan.

These ones are over to the solicitors to sort out, the sales office had no idea what to do and claim to have no landscaping or external features plans for the plot (mind you they seem to be missing most of the internal plans too)