Getting connected

Moving house in the 21st century has an added complexity, getting your internet connectivity sorted. Waiting to get connected up can seem like living in the dark ages again, particularly when you need to connect in to your work systems! It’s a bit less of a problem more recently with mobile broadband connections, but do prefer the speed of a fixed connection.

In terms of service offering there doesn’t seem to be much option, just ADSL2+ over copper wires to the phone exchange. There is no Virgin Media Cable on the site and although the Winchester Phone Exchange has been Fibre enables (BT Infinity + such like) the local cabinet does is not linked to a fibre cabinet.

So probably only going to be a 7-10 Mbps download speed with fairly limited upload speeds, have rather got used to the Virgin Media fibre options and using it to moves files in and out of the cloud. Will have to see how we go.

Hopefully, the cabinet will be fibre enabled once more house are connected and demand builds up. Hampshire are aiming for 90% superfast coverage by the end of 2015 and signed a £13.8m contract with BT to deliver this. Going to try signing up on  http://www3.hants.gov.uk/broadband.htm to see if that helps, although it’s not accepting the new postcode at the moment!

So the next step has been to select a provider to go with for now, the phone line itself will be connected by BT Openreach so they all suffer the same 3 week (sigh) lead time to actually connect up and enable the line.

The different providers all offer different deals, upfront costs, discounts, contract lengths so after a bit of number crunching my results are below. Decided to try and work it out on an effective monthly cost, the upfront costs and actual montly payments vary a fair bit, so tried to average it out, based on the theory that if I’ve just spent£ x00,000 on a house, I can probably stump up the extra upfront costs on the phone line to save money in the longer run.

Provider BT PlusNet EE
Connection Charge

£0

£49.99

£60

Line Rental (paying 12 Months in advance)

£141

£131.88

£132

Effective monthly Cost – phone line(inc connection /12mths)

£11.75

£15.16

£16

Unlimited ADSL Broadband (/month)

£16

£9.99

£10

Contract Term 18 Months 12 Months 12 Months
Discounts 12m Half Price broadband (£96)£50 Sainsburys Gift Card 12m x £5 off (£60) *
Quidco Cashback

£80

£38

£70

Total Discount + Offers

£226

£98

£70

Effective Monthly discount /contract

£12.55

£8.17

£5.83

Effective monthly cost (for comparison)

£15.20

£16.98

£20.17

*EE  offer a £5 monthly discount for their mobile customers (EE, T-Mobile, Orange) so makes it more competitive if you qualify.

Was surprised that BT came out so strongly, but it’s largely due to the discounts and cashback offers (which do take a bit of time to validate and actually come through). So decided to go with them as they also now have the HomeHub 4 which is a simultaneous dual band router which should prove a better router than the other standard offerings.

 

Home Insurance – Computer says No

One of the standard mortgage requirements was to arrange buildings insurance. This is not as easy when dealing with a new development and roads where the postcodes are not yet live.

My mortgage provider, kindly, passed on my details to one insurance provider Legal & General who called up and were able to provide a quote based on a neighbouring postcode. their pricing was rather steep and definitely wanted some comparisons before diving in.

I had managed to get Royal Mail to activate the post code and add it to the Postcode Address File which gets updated daily. However not all companies use the daily updates and a lot of insurance companies (based on my financial services experience) use Experian as their data provider who update on a monthly basis.

After a bit of trial and error did manage to find that the AA Home Insurance site allows you to manually enter the address if the postcode doesn’t lookup correctly. Also comparethemarket also allows manual entry, although you get a limited number of quotes back (but enough for some basic comparison), mostly seemed to be underwritten by Axa.

Although some others came out cheaper, I went with the AA in the end as it offered electronic documentation that i could send off straight to my solicitors rather than risk having to wait for paper documents to send off ahead of completing. It also qualified for £38 cashback on Quidco so not a lot in it pricewise in the end.

“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission”

Should the saying “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” really be applied as an approach to planning?!

After the discussion over the kitchen design (lack of) was told by Redrow that customers are asked to examine the house plans carefully. (Why not give customers a set of the plans then, watermarked if needs be, to peruse at their leisure then rather than in a busy meeting? Or atleast make sure they’re actually available in the office)

So took them up on this and pored over all the plans, particularly the ones on file with Winchester council that formed the planning permission, and found some interesting variations.

The first biggie was that the “Boundary Materials Layout” specified a 2m brick wall at the rear of the garden. Where on a site visit we’d noticed a 1.8m wooden fence. On questioning Redrow, they insisted their plans showed a fence and their plans had planning consent. So a quick query to the council planning officer and he had no knowledge of their plans and that it should be a 2m brick wall.

In fairness, Redrow have now built the wall (although yet to see the finished product). Slightly concerning that the site office had no knowledge/copy of the submitted plans!

20130621-221843.jpg
Funny Bricks!

After a bit more looking at the plans found 2 more “variations”. The front path to most of the properties have been laid with rather naff looking paving flags “Bradstone Peak Buff Riven”, which has a moulded pattern that is identical to every slab and the manufacturer specifies for using under a shed. The plans specify tarmac continuing from the pavement, which i’m not hugely keen on either though.
There is also a low flint wall at the front of the property, where the approved plans specify it to have half round coping bricks at the top, but has now been built with standard engineering bricks. Redrow say this is to deal with runoff down the wall, the cynic in me says square bricks are cheaper!

Redrow haven’t been keen on reworking these, so i’ve asked they put a planning amendment in. My solicitors have now managed to get this included as a clause in the contract at the last hour.
It seems to me the problems came about as the submitted plans came from the master planners and a separate architects practice was engaged to handle the technical drawings (with more of an eye on cost controls). Changes contained in these detailed drawings didn’t seem to make it to the planners.

Will have to see what happens when the amendment gets submitted, not that there’s a committed timescale for this. The landscaping officer had paid particular attention to the materials on the original plans, e.g. Lead flashing and timber for the door canopies and timber frames for the windows, so will have to see if this paving makes the grade.