How to build your dream home from scratch

Many people these days dream of being able to build their own house from scratch and this is becoming more common among individuals in a position to buy a plot of land.

It is no longer unusual for people to create their house in this manner, which has a vast array of benefits, not least that it can be built to the exact specifications wanted, rather than the new owner of a home having to work with what is already there to put their own stamp on the place.

But it is still a big job to take on and there is a lot anyone thinking of building their own house from scratch needs to know before they can get started.

Why self-building is becoming more common

While the top end of the property market in the UK was mostly unaffected by the recession and its after-effects, it has been the case for some time that there is a lack of available housing and this is true at every level of the sector.

Those with plenty of money to spend might find there are not many houses on the market to suit their needs, which is why many are looking into self-building instead.

Family at Their New House

Being able to work closely with an architect to come up with the perfect plan for a property is a very appealing option for a lot of people and it is likely this will become even more common in the coming months and years as individuals view self-building as a way to make their mark.

How to start a self-build project

It can be tricky for people interested in self-building to know where to start, even if they are already starting to form a picture in their mind of what their dream home will look like once it is completed, as well as the top features it will come equipped with.

Buying a plot of land is obviously the first real step on a self-build project and land auctions can be a good way to snap up a bargain. Although green belt is being freed up for new developments, it is still the case there is not that much land available to be built on.

Once a plot of land has been secured, an architect will need to be appointed. It’s vital self-builders take the time to get the right one for their needs, as they will be working very closely together for the whole project and will have to be able to trust the professional. It is worth asking friends and family for recommendations, as well as reading testimonials on the internet.

After an architect has been selected there will be countless decisions to make, which is likely to start with the materials that will be used. While this may feel like a chore at times, the beauty of self-building is the sheer level of control provided.

People going down this route will need to inform the local authorities and keep them updated to ensure they are meeting any regulations and it is also a good move to get in touch with an insurer at an early stage in the process too.

How insurers can help with self-builds

Some people are put off self-building by the possibility of things going wrong and leaving them with an unfinished house, which is partly why getting in touch with high net worth insurance brokers can be a good move towards the start of the project.

They can provide tips and advice from an insurance point of view on how the building should be created and this feedback can come in handy for both the architect and the self-builder.

Having an insurer on board from an early stage will also make it easier to secure the right sort of cover for the property once all the work is completed and it is ready to be lived in as a home.

Self-building can be incredibly rewarding for those with the time, budget and patience to go through with the project and it is no wonder so many people are tempted by this option.

Step Into an Online Trading Platform That Can Truly Grow With You!

If there’s one thing that every trader needs to focus on, it would definitely have to be growth. Yet you shouldn’t just be looking at how far your portfolio can grow. That would be short sighted. You need to look at how you’re going to grow as a trader. What is there for you to learn? There are some lessons that can only be learned through severe practice, while there are plenty of lessons that can be learned in theory. As you continue to make good trades, you’ll quickly learn which lessons are which, to be sure.

But what about going further than that? You need to be able to look at just about anything and everything involved with the trading process. Not having the details that you need can really mess things up if you’re not careful. So the goal here is to look at the resources that you have and see how they can grow with you as you begin to become more and more of a serious trader.

First and foremost, the online trading platform is what you want it to be. If you’re not trading somewhere that’s giving you real time information, you’re not going to be in the trading game very long. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about binary options or something more traditional. The point here is that you really do need to look at how you’re going to trade for the long run.

Trading Platform

For example, do you want to handle binary options that are fast, like 60 seconds? If you don’t have that as part of your trading platform, then you’re going to have to jump to another platform.

Asking all of your questions upfront before you deposit money is a good idea. The more that you can ask, the better off that you’re going to feel over time. You want to give yourself peace of mind right from the very beginning. Will you profit “in the money”? There’s really only one way to find out!

Naturally, you’ll want to read up on the system of binary options as much as possible. Will every trade be successful? Not at all. Yet the thrill is why so many people embrace binary options, and you should definitely join the revolution as soon as possible. The right online trading platform definitely makes a difference, you’ll see!

How has the online casino effected the UK’s GDP

With the Gambling industry being as strong as ever and the technology industry booming it was only a matter of time before the two markets joined together. Casinos are now turning to the internet as a major source of income through online casinos. This phenomenon covers sports betting, poker, bingo and lotteries.

Due to licensing and taxing laws in the UK, companies who operate an online business are taxed just as land businesses are and with this fast becoming a billion pound business, the UK’s GDP has resultantly profited from its success.

In 2001 the global online gambling market was estimated to be worth over £2 billion. As many experts predicted the online casino market has taken off and is now worth over £15 billion. This is not surprising with over 50% of the worlds population taking part in some form of gambling each year.

licensing and taxing laws in the UK

Just focusing on the UK, the annual revenue generated from online gambling companies will be the equivalent to 1% of the total UK GDP. This may not seem a huge amount, however think about it this way, that equates to the total GDP of some small countries.

Games such as roulette, blackjack , slots and poker have been around for years and with the new ease of access, their popularity has rocketed. This and the access to in-play betting has meant the casino market keeps getting bigger year on year. From the opening of casinos in many cities, to the introduction of the online casino, thousands of people gained instant access to these games.

With technology improving all the time, the software and smartphones available mean access to online casinos is getting even easier and easier whilst making gambling even more accessible and appealing to a broader market . Sites such as online casino are now played in the UK, something unimaginable only a few years ago.

How to Identify and Avoid Hidden Phone Fees

A monthly mobile phone plan seems straightforward on paper. You pay a specific fee and receive a specific allowance of minutes and data in return. Yet phone bills are rarely that straightforward, particularly if you are a Smartphone addict. Ringtones, apps, downloaded music, roaming fees, international fees… there’s a whole host of charges that could pop up on your phone bill at the end of the month. This is no problem when you plan in advance for extra phone usage, but if you’re caught unaware by hidden charges it can put a serious dent in your monthly budget. It’s helpful to be aware of the type of extra charges out there, so that you can avoid them and seek out alternative services if necessary.

“Free” Offers and Subscription Services

One common problem is the prevalence of premium subscription services. Teenagers in particular may download what appears to be a free ringtone or download an app, only to find out that they have signed up for a subscription service. Although that first ringtone may be free, it’s followed by additional services which they are charged for later on. Always be sure to read the fine print before agreeing to any service or download, even if it initially appears to be free of charge. Entering contests is another common way to put your mobile number on a subscription list without your awareness.

Avoid Hidden Phone Fees

International Charges

If you have friends or family abroad, you might use your phone for brief chats. After all, if you are making brief calls the charges can’t be too high, right? This can be one of the most surprising expenses for consumers, because international phone calls can cost a fortune. Some contracts will charge you not only by the minute, but also for connecting and disconnecting. There may be additional fees for calling payphones, landlines, or mobile phones depending on your terms and conditions. One way to avoid these hidden expenses is to use a separate prepaid option for your international calls. It’s worth looking at options like Lebara pay as you go SIM cards, which allow you to budget for your call without hidden transaction fees.

Roaming Fees

Another time when you might incur surprising international expenses is when you’re travelling abroad yourself. If you keep your phone on in foreign countries, it could pick up data roaming fees numbering well into the hundreds of pounds. It’s best to leave your phone at home if possible, or get a local SIM card to use instead. Lebara SIM cards or international calling cards can help you stay in touch with loved ones without dealing with roaming fees. Active Smartphone apps can also lead to extra roaming fees. When apps are left active, even if they’re not being used they could forward new content to the phone which could incur extra charges over time. It’s best to work over Wi-Fi whenever possible, and be sure to close all apps when the phone is not in use.

Fortunately with a bit of vigilance and the use of alternative services like prepaid phone cards, you can avoid some of the hidden fees that plague Smartphone users. Taking the time to read terms and conditions before downloading anything can help protect you and keep your bill in check.

The Hidden Bottleneck That’s Crushing Your Business From the Inside Out

A business is truly a collection of systems, and we business owners count on those systems to interact and respond properly. When one component is even slightly off, the entire system comes crashing down. It’s definitely not what you need to look forward to, and we hate to see anyone go through an awful time. Identifying the bottlenecks in your business can help you turn things around. It’s really just a matter of getting the right resources the first time around, or recovering fast enough to be able to grow your business to higher and higher heights.

It’s our opinion that one of the top bottlenecks affecting businesses across the board is the speed of their data communications. In other words, speed is where it’s at, and if you’re working on a slow mobile plan or a slow internet plan, it’s time to get rid of it. Your customers can tell when you’re not as responsive you should be. In this digital era, companies can lose customers in the blink of an eye. There are simply too many other companies that are willing to invest in the infrastructure necessary to get the best speeds.

But here’s what you need to know: you don’t have to spend loads and loads of money. You can get strategic and go with an affordable option like 4GEE from EE. This is a company that really knows telecommunications, and they’re going to make sure that you’re taken care of.

4GEE relies on 4G mobile speeds to give you fast data transfers where you need them most — in the process of serving all of your amazing customers. You don’t just have to take our word here — check out this video showcasing London’s Air Ambulance explaining the benefits they’ve personally experienced with the service.

We think that it’s worth your time as a business owner to check it out, as speed may be a hidden concern that you aren’t looking into as much. Give the service a try and see how fast it can handle all of your data needs. Using VOIP services? 4G can boost your voice quality tremendously, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction.

But that isn’t all, of course. What do you think you can use the 4GEE service for? Sound off in the comments, we’d love to know!

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Sponsored Video: How to Make Your UK Business More Successful

There are many people starting new businesses in the UK all of the time. At this time, many people are looking for work and they see setting up on their own as a way to get an income and do something that they want to do, at the same time. A key to the success of a new business is a good website. Many people use these to advertise their business and give out their contact details. It can also be a big plus if you can set up an online shop as well, so that people who cannot get to you in person, are able to still buy the goods that you sell.

This need not be an expensive thing to do, but it is important to carefully consider where you spend your money with regards to the website. You need a site that is easy to navigate and to find, so good design and SEO are very important. But you also want people to trust it and want to make purchase. One way of doing this is to have a domain name. Many people go straight for a .com, thinking that is the safest option as it is recognised worldwide. However, a domain name will show where your business is based and that could not only help people to trust you more but also make them feel good about supporting a British business.

If you are not sure about the benefits of this, then there is a lot of information on which is a promoter of websites. They have information and statistics which will help you to decide whether a domain would be right for you. You can take a look at the examples they have such as the Sweetie Pies business who has thrived by having a high street store and selling items on her website.

Careful investment in a new business is very important because it can have a big effect on your success and profits. You do not want to waste money, but you need to make the right decision on how you spend it to make sure that you give the business the best possible chance of being profitable. Make sure to take a look at the two videos below and get inspired by the success these people achieved…


Phones Bump Plastic Out Of Fashion

Customers of Australia’s biggest bank are said to be conducting more transactions using smart phones than over ATMs and data suggests that customers from other banks are not far behind. As consumers we have also evolved along with the technology that drives our day to day activities and what it has meant for bank customers is a change in the way that we deal with the banks. For one, the bank customer who has “taken” to mobile banking is not guaranteed to continue using branch networks. And, the question on everyone’s lips is what are the banks doing about it?

Another of the big four is also investing a lot of energy into the mobile arena in order to make banking easier and more convenient for the modern, technology-loving consumer. Analysts have warned about the vulnerabilities of the change in the banking landscape, saying that the changes in the nature of the customer relationship mean that non-banking IT giants have the opportunity to intercept and get involved in the banking and finance sector.

And the use of ATM networks has been decreasing slowly over time; the sharp uptick in interest in mobile technology has only exacerbated the pace of change. Phone banking, once a modern marvel, has been bumped out of place very quickly and ATMs, it seems, are not very far behind. 3
While it is not likely that the competitive IT giants will actually be able to take over the market place the gaps are opening up for them to act as intermediaries between banks and their customers. The IT companies in question have already infiltrated the media and retail sectors and have already started developing digital wallets at a time when third party payment processors have become more popular, offering greater flexibility and convenience to consumers to make online transactions, compared to traditional banking systems.

The banks say they are aware of the dynamics but say they only consider then threatening if they do not do anything about the factors that surround them. There is a certain element of risk if the banks are relegated into wholesale positions but they say there is not any danger of that happening.

And, it’s not like they are unprepared. The local banks have been rolling out mobile payment systems of their own over the years and they certainly have the upper hand when it comes to cash transactions, but debates are rise as to whether the use of cash is on the decline.

Research from Bankwest shows that ATM withdrawals have reached their peak and debit and credit card purchases have increased from $176 billion to $408 billion in the last ten years. The expert say that if you assume cash withdrawals are cash payments, card purchases comprise 70% of the total figure. Furthermore the total value of cash sales has dropped from 45% in 2007 to only 33%, and the average value of cash transactions amounts to $12.

In terms of the positives for banks, putting less into infrastructure for ATMs and branches puts capital expenditure under less pressure and not having to deal with cash gives banks the opportunity to drop some of their costs. On the down side they will have to invest some extra capital for systems that can facilitate mobile transaction more efficiently, and in line with the technology being offered by IT companies.

Foreigners Amass High Hospital Bill in Australia

The public is outraged at new reports showing that foreigners are leaving the country without settling their medical bills and, to date, they have an unpaid bill that amounts to $40 million. The figure shouldn’t come as a surprise to the authorities because foreigner’s medical bills have been rising steadily as they have made progressively more frequent use of public hospitals.

Pressure on the local system is climbing as tourists, workers and foreign students are using public hospitals for elective surgery procedures, treatment of minor ailments and to give birth. Over the course of the last year foreigner patients who do not qualify for Medicare have amassed $40 million which has resulted in states calling for stricter restrictions and border control and more heavily regulated use of the system. 2

It is a prerequisite for all student visa holders to have private health insurance when they enter the country but questions have been raised over whether this requirement is being implemented and whether visa holders actually have sufficient cover when they arrive.

Over the last four years the number of patients who are ineligible for Medicare has more than doubled making things harder for administrators to cope with the increase in demand and to handle the budget restrictions of the commonwealth.

The consequences of this data being released is that health officials and state health ministers will try and convince Tanya Plibersek to initiate reforms namely banning foreigners from re-entry if they have unpaid bills on record, stricter enforcement of health insurance requirements and doing away with waiting periods so that foreigners are incentivised to make use of the private health system.

The state submitted data that showed public hospitals had been unsuccessful at reclaiming 40% of fees that had been charged to patients who were ineligible for Medicare last year. Over 50% of people admitted were to emergency departments and the majority were for potentially life threatening or potentially serious cases but there were a high number of elective and maternity admissions. Maternity service demand is one area that has increased significantly since 2007.[Continue Reading…]

Marketing Lessons for Australia’s Small Businesses

Despite its love affair with technology, and particularly smart phones, Australia is said to be lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to mobile marketing. In retail we have seen a slow uptake of e-commerce and digital marketing strategies but as global dynamics have raised the bar and made this platform more successful many local companies have had to start integrating it into their strategies.

While pamphlet and even email marketing can slip past your customers without getting read or even noticed, up to 97% of SMSes get opened within a few minutes of the text being sent. In order to figure out if it is the right marketing platform for you, you have to think about where the customer will be when they open the message. Think about the time of day and what your customer could be doing when the message is sent; is it an appropriate time to speak to them? SMSing a target group that works during the day will require a different approach than trying to get to people who stay at home all day. You also need to think about the cost and whether this is an effective way to target these people.

If the cost is a challenge you can take advantage of smart phone apps that won’t charge you for the SMSes. And, in Australia mobile phones, especially smart phones, are very important to local consumers. Mobile data usage is not yet as high as the other rates of data consumption but it is increasing at an impressive rate and showing signs that it’s an area you want your marketing efforts to successful in.

Location-based technology is one of the methods being used by organisations to reach their target audiences. And if you have your reservations about it just consider that if you do not come up on the global map there’s a good chance your competitors will, so it’s worth being visible.[Continue Reading…]