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Taxes, Our Share to Building a Better Nation

Taxes have been with us since the birth of civilization, taxes like, transport tax, tax relief, income tax and whatever word that may come before and after that one word which we call tax.

Indeed there is truth when we say that we are paying taxes since the very moment of our birth until such time that we leave this world, taxes obligates us to face it either way way but head on. That is the truth about it and nothing in this world could ever change that truth, because without it the civilized world as we know it would seize to exist and nobody would dare want for that to happen.

We often hear people complain of the taxes they pay, and some would even say that it is an unnecessary obligation that we should not respect to pay at all. Maybe they are just burdened with the obligation of taxes or they just need to realize the importance of taxes. Tax relief could very well help people like them and they can very well acquire such tax relief if only they know how and obligate themselves to learn the nook and cranny about taxes, its importance and its role in making our life better.

Why does the government collect taxes? Why do we obligate ourselves in paying taxes and what is in taxes that we need it to make our lives better? These are just a few questions that we asked ourselves when we face those documents on our mailboxes, billing us of our monthly, quarterly, and annual obligation to our governing institution. Are taxes really that essential to our daily living? The answer to that is a definite yes.

Taxes or tax money is the life source of this civilization we call government, without the financial aspect of taxes no government can sustain itself and therefore could not survive. Tax money funds the government's programs and activities which are needed to keep the wheel of the government rolling. Even taxes with tax relief paid diligently can really make a difference in changing and sustaining the lives of the people who are looking up to its governing body for protection, stability and survival. No civilization, government, city or municipality in the world exists today that does not collect taxes in one way or the other, either directly or not. Taxes are there for every commodity that we enjoy every day. Most of us do not even take time to learn about the taxes we pay every time we purchase something, yes we pay taxes every day of our lives and we often take it for granted.

When we pay taxes either with tax relief or not, the money goes to our government's treasury. There, it will be accumulated for some period until such time that it will be audited and presented to our representatives, government officials, senators and budget officers. From there our elected representatives in the government will decide as to where allocate this tax money or funds, Setting priorities and amount which are necessary to sustain a certain department or welfare, which the government is giving its constituents.

Social welfare, social security, public hospitals and all government entities that cater to the people are being funded by taxes. Taxes that the common people pay from purchasing basic commodities, through income taxes, tax relief and all the other taxes that we heard or read and pay for and even for some time complained about.

Some people do complain, while others are just content on keeping silent when it comes to the topic of taxes. While there may be a significant number of people who specify themselves in paying taxes there are still a handy or even numerous sector who would rather prefer not to pay it if given the chance. For yes indeed not all are funded when we speak of financial status, and in this financially trying times most of us would likely prefer a tax relief if not a tax exemption if possible.

Tax exemption is really a catchy idea, and what person in his or her right mind would not accept such an invitation or notice. Indeed there are activities, events and endeavors which the internal revenue department would give you tax relief or much better yet tax exemption, but not without certain guidelines imposed and followed to the letter of course.

To learn more of how to you can file for tax exemption or tax relief you will have to visit the nearest internal revenue office near you.

The next best thing which you can have besides tax exemption is tax relief, which the government is giving to taxpayers who describes such privilege. You do not have to be someone especial instead you only have to meet certain criteria to be able to acquire the privilege of tax relief.

There are many types of tax relief available and used by the internal revenue, and they are intended for specific criteria and target taxpayers. One type of tax relief may be available for a certain class of taxpayer while rendering it inapplicable to another. This way the taxes we pay are balanced and equally implemented to its rightful taxpayer.

These are only a few of the taxes that are being implemented to taxpayers, and each and every one of these taxes have been carefully researched, developed and made into law and implemented as to make it feasible and helpful towards the betterment of the government and the Life of the taxpayer.

Indeed there are times when we the taxpayer would want to somehow ease our lives from taxes even for just some limited time or for certain percentage of what we are currently contributing. There is a solution indeed to it and taxpayers only need to understand how taxes, its collection, rules and regulations work in order to qualify for certain privileges which would greatly help in alleviating a taxpayer's obligation. One way is finding out how to acquire or pass for a tax relief. It really is not hard, you just need to ask for help from the nearest internal revenue office near you.

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Building The Right Team Behind You

This article aims to provide you with helpful information and useful guideline so you can get the right investment decision from the very start of your overseas property investment. We understand how hard it can be to invest in a foreign country and prevent you from going after the wrong properties and areas we advice to spend time upfront on creating the right strategy and make up a powerful team who will stay behind you and support your Interests:

Things To Consider Before Investing
Does An Investment Property Fit Your Financial Plan?

Investing in real estate can be a powerful wealth-building tool. It can also be a burden that drains away assets and monopolizes your time and effort. It's critical to be in control of your finances, have an overall plan, and believe that an investment property is the right strategy for you. Talk to a real estate expert, attorney and accountant about your particular situation and goals. Cultivate your relationships with these advisors. They'll serve you well through your investing career. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you start clarifying your goals:

O Do I expect the property to provide immediate income or long-term appreciation?

O What's the status of my retirement savings?

O Will liquidity be an issue for me?

O Will I be able to handle long-term ownership even with an unpredictable cash flow?

O Do I expect my investment property to provide me with income when I retire?

Setting Parameters

Should you invest in a penthouse or in a studio? A three-story house or development land?
The first time out, it's probably best to invest in something on the small side, keeping your strategy in mind at all stages would allow choosing the best unit!
Next decision: locale. City or country? Nearby or away from it all? Residential or resort? This would definitely depend on your strategy! Real estate experts suggest you start with what you want to achieve and the select area that can most likely achieve your goal. If you are after a whole year rental income then maybe a city location would give you the opportunity to achieve your goal, as well as some resort properties. Every strategy is unique because different investors have different personal and financial circumstances. A prime location in a basic rule in property investing but this does not always apply! There are rules in property investing that might not apply to your specific situation; The best option is to have a specialist advise you to avoid mistakes, especially if this is your first investment overseas.

An Expert Home Team

Makes A Big Difference

Building Your Team

Working with a team of experts can smooth your way to the right investment home, especially if you're considering a long-distance purchase. You started by talking to your tax adviser and attorney about the feasibility of making this purchase and about potential tax advantages. Now it's time to contact some other professionals:

Real Estate Consultants.
A solid relationship here can make all the difference, especially if you're considering locales that are farther than a car ride away. A consultant becomes your eyes, ears, and voice as they preview properties and locate homes that meet your criteria – possibly working online to send you listings. A good consultant can:

O Establish what you want in an investment property.

O Search resources for properties that match your needs.

O Tell you about appropriate properties.

O Provide valuable information on communities, comparable values ​​of neighboring homes, tax rates, rental amounts, and building code regulations.

O Arrange for digital photos or virtual tours to be sent via the Internet.

O Help you formulate an offer on the property you wish to purchase.

O Act as an interim between you and the seller, smoothing the negotiation process and negotiating a
Better price for you.

Mortgage Brokers – a broker is different from a mortgage lender. The broker does not make the loans, he or she has dozens of contacts with lenders and can tailor your financing package to your needs, whether a mortgage, a piggyback combination or hard money.

A Real Estate Attorney – This is all about asset protection; You do not want to amass your empire only to lose it to frivolous lawsuits. In certain states, attorneys rather than title companies do the closings, so you want your own on your team.

An Accountant – The accountant should know real estate and tax law. This is not just to get your taxes done at the end of the year; This is so you can strategize with someone who understands the impact of income taxes and capital gains on what you want to do.

Specialist on Emerging property markets will be able to help you create the right investment strategy and minimize the risk of your investment for maximum returns – http://www.sash-solutions.com

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Ten Commitments for Building High Performance Teams

High performance is very critical to the survival of any organisation or individual. And when we talk about organisational performance, teams (human beings) are catalysts for its realisation. I have decided to review this text entitled “Ten Commitments for Building High Performance Teams” as a guide on how to achieve organisational performance through effective teams. It is written by Dr. Tom Massey, a corporate leadership trainer and coach with about 20-year experience in optimising individual and organisational performance.

Team performance, according to Massey, is only as strong as the collective performance of members. This consultant says when committed, collaborative individuals with complementary skills work together, a synergistic effect takes place because total performance is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Massey adds that in other words, one-plus-one no longer equals two; instead, it equals three or even more in a high performance team environment.

He says the ten commitments outlined in this text will help you get the right people in the right positions to develop a focused, values-driven, high performing team. The author advises you to learn how to get every member to take personal ownership of your team’s success by creating shared purpose, values and strategic goals.

Massey says through this text, you will be able to gain insights into how to set up profit-sharing, establish work standards and correct performance problems in addition to creating a learning organisation that is able to adapt to the challenges of the next century.

He adds that through this text, you will be better informed on how to build a team environment where people have fun and play to win. Massey submits that you will also be able to build a team environment with increased employee retention, job satisfaction, commitment and productivity that will propel your team to championship performance.

This text is segmented into ten chapters. Chapter one is entitled “Commit to getting the right people ‘on the bus’ “. According to the author, when you have the right people on the bus, with the right skills and a high-level commitment, regardless of whether you are a business manager or coach of a sports team, you will be successful. Massey says the first thing to start when picking the right people for your team is to develop job descriptions based on factors of success for each position.

“Great coaches and managers develop every position as if it is the most important position on the team, and it is. Remember the adage: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” he submits.

Massey educates that factors of success may be defined as the skills and behaviour needed to perform a job successfully within the culture operated by the team. He explains that these factors include more than simply the skills requirements. Skills requirements are essential characteristics or experiences team members must have in order to qualify for their respective positions, asserts Massey. He adds that however, there are other behavioural standards required to ensure team success.

Massey educates that when defining a position, you should first determine what the major purpose of that job is and how it fits into the overall purpose of the team. The author explains that each team member must see his or her position as a personal mission that contributes to the team’s success.

He says according to the results of a recent national study involving over 20, 000 employees in diverse industries, only 37 per cent of employees said they had a clear understanding of what their team or organisation was trying to accomplish and why; only 20 per cent were passionate about their team’s goals; and only 20 per cent said they had a clear ‘line of sight’ between their jobs and their team’s goals.

Massey stresses that in order to ensure that team members understand how their jobs contribute to the overall success of the team or organisation, they must know the purpose of the jobs, the reward of a job well done, etc.

Chapter two is entitled “Commit to greeting everyone ‘on the same page'”. According to the author here, established rules provide structure and people know what is expected of them and how they will engage one another in day-to-day interactions.

Massey says conflicts commonly arise in teams because of failed expectations caused by assumptions of one or more people. These assumptions often result from implicit agreements or standards of behaviour that have not been clarified because people do not understand the rules of engagement, expatiates Massey.

He discusses the issue of creating a team charter and says a team charter is a written document used to define the team’s purpose/vision, values and goals. Massey adds that the charter will also assist you to serve as a contract between the team and the organisation it represents.

In his words, “Charters may be developed by top management, then presented to team members, or teams can create their own charters and present them to top management. Regardless of who creates the charter, it is absolutely imperative that top management give their full endorsement to provide the team the direction and authority it needs to succeed.”

Additionally, Massey looks at the issues of developing a purpose statement; identifying team values and ground rules; developing Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-driven (SMART) strategic goals, etc.

In chapters three to six, the author analytically X-rays concepts such as committing to creating a learning environment; committing to sharing the profits and losses; committing to turning around poor performance; and committing to dancing with ‘those who brought you’.

Chapter seven is based on the subject matter of committing to win. According to Massey, if you want your team to reach levels of high performance, you must transform those moments of fear and uncertainty into opportunities for ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results.

He says the late John Wooden, hall-of-fame coaching legend once told his UCLA basketball team thus: “Men, the team that makes the most mistakes tonight will win the game!” Massey adds that Wooden encouraged his players to take risks and make more mistakes because he knew that you miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take.

According to Massey, never give naysayers a foothold in your team by allowing them to perpetuate a story of negativity. He says the story heard is the story told. Massey advises you to tell a different story, one that perpetuates a ‘play to win’ mindset that will allow you to create anything you want. Playing to win requires a commitment that even if you fail, you will never give up and never let your goals and dreams die, explains the author.

The author restates that playing to win means moving forwards regardless of what happens. “And that’s made possible when people don’t take mistakes personally,” he adds.

In chapters eight to ten, Massey discusses concepts such as committing to growing through adversity; committing to having fun; and committing to playing large.

Style-wise, this text is okay. Apart from the simplicity of the language, the mode of presentation is logical and highly didactic. What’s more, Massey employs classical allusions, starting every chapter with a quote from a legendary figure, just to achieve conceptual reinforcement and ensure easy understanding on readers’ part.

He adds “Practical Application” segment at the end of each chapter where additional tips are offered, to ensure practical involvement of readers.

However, the phrase “High Performance” in the title needs to take a hyphen (“High- Performance”) so that it becomes a compound modifier to the noun “Teams”. Also the uncountable noun “Behaviour” is pluralised in chapter two.

Generally, Massey’s intellectual efforts in this text are commendable. If you want your organisation to surpass previous achievements by building highly-effective teams, then this text is a must-read and the tips must-apply for you.

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Building Shared Vision – The Third Discipline of Learning Organizations

“If you don’t care where you’re going, then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

-Lewis Carroll

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire cat to tell her which way to go, and he responds that it depends on where she wants to go. When Alice replies that she doesn’t care, the cat responds with the above quote. This quote speaks volumes about the importance of creating a shared vision. It is reflective of the shortsighted focus that is all too common in organizations today. To be fair, it is exquisitely challenging to disentangle oneself enough from the grip of day-to-day operations to “see the forest for the trees.” Yet without a shared vision, the force of the status quo will prevail in an organization.

A shared vision emerges from the intersection of personal visions and helps create a sense of commitment to the long term. However, there is more to a shared vision than just this amalgamation of personal visions. Vision is only truly shared when people are committed to one another having it, not just each person individually having it. There needs to be a sense of connection and community with respect to the vision that provides the focus and energy for learning in learning organizations. It is the commitment to support each other in realizing the shared vision that gives the vision power. Furthermore, it supplies the guiding force that enables organizations to navigate difficult times and to keep the learning process on course.

Shared vision cannot exist without personal vision. An organization must start the process of building a shared vision by encouraging others to create personal visions. Everyone must see a part of his or her personal vision in the shared vision. Shared vision takes time to emerge and requires on-going dialogue where advocacy is balanced with inquiry. By sharing and listening to each other’s personal visions, new insights will surface that continually shape the shared vision. Building a shared vision is a perpetual process. There is a constant need to assess both the internal and external environment.

Just as personal vision reflects individual aspirations, a shared vision must reflect organizational aspirations as well as the individual visions that form its foundation. It is not the leader’s individual vision that has been expressed, sold, and accepted. There is a crucial element of choice and ownership in a shared vision. Without that sense of commitment to the vision, an organization is left with compliance.

Commitment vs. Compliance

It can often be difficult to distinguish between commitment and compliance. Compliance, at its best, is when someone believes in the leaders creating the vision and willingly follows the rules, working diligently to make that vision happen. At its worst, compliance creates employees who perform at the absolute minimum. Commitment, on the other hand, happens when employees take responsibility for achieving the vision and will change the rules if they become a barrier. In the world of transactional analysis, compliance would be described as a parent-child interaction where commitment would be described as an adult-adult interaction.

The differences between commitment and compliance can often be subtle, but the outcomes never are. True commitment to a vision creates a passion and energy unattainable through mere compliance. Committed people want the vision; compliant people accept the vision. Committed people enroll in the vision, an action that implies personal choice. Compliant people are sold a vision, an action that implies a form of coercion.

One of the biggest pitfalls in creating a shared vision is the belief that employees are committed when in fact they may only be compliant. How do you know? Start by asking how much you are trying to control the outcomes. Much like the difference between debate and dialogue, compliance relies on convincing someone of the rightness of a particular point of view, where commitment relies on a willingness to listen to all points of view as well as sharing your own. To create a shared vision, leaders must be willing to share their personal vision, accepting that it is not the shared vision, and ask others to share theirs. Finding the common ground in those collective visions is the beginning of a shared vision. If you find yourself doing more talking than listening, then you probably have compliance and not commitment.

Why Do Visions Die?

In the past, visioning has often suffered from a black eye in the business world. (Remember George H. W. Bush’s comment about the “vision thing”?) It is frequently viewed as faddish or too “touchy-feely.” Most businesses prefer to analyze hard data rather than dealing with amorphous ideas and feelings, and without the essential facilitative skill set, that discomfort is rightfully placed. It is this perception that can ultimately feed the failure of a visioning process. Here are some more common reasons why visions die:

  • The organization believes employees are committed to the vision when in fact they are only compliant. The assumption that visions are dictated from on high has not been surfaced, examined, or challenged, let alone changed.
  • During the process of sharing personal visions, the diversity of personal visions creates conflicting visions and polarization. The organization has not developed the capacity to harmonize these visions into something larger than just a set of individual visions.
  • Employees experience the vision as unattainable. The gap between the current reality and the vision is too wide and/or employees have not developed the ability to hold the vision in face of current reality.
  • The immediacy of the day-to-day demands competes with the need for long-range planning. Employees may complain that it takes too much time and/or feel unproductive.
  • Organizations believe that they are done – that the vision has been created and now it’s time to move on to the next thing. They do not see the visioning process as an on-going dialogue that maintains their sense of community.

Although creating a shared vision is a time-consuming process that often feels lacking in direction, it sets the stage for achieving the desired future. It is the foundation upon which all else will be constructed, and without a solid foundation, future work will be shaky as best.

What Can Organizations Do To Create Shared Vision?

As is the case with the previous disciplines, there is no set recipe or road map to creating shared vision. Each organization’s process will reflect its own individuality. However, there are a number of tasks to consider:

  1. As mentioned earlier, shared vision begins with employees developing their personal visions. This can be done prior to or in conjunction with developing a shared vision.
  2. Organizations must determine their core values, define their core purpose, and envision the desired future by asking their employees the following questions: a) “What are our guiding principles for how we operate and work together?” b) “Why do we exist?” and c) What do we want to create?” There are a variety of techniques that can help create an atmosphere of discovery and dialogue. Some of the better-known models are Café Conversations (http://www.theworldcafe.com/), Study Circles (developed by Everyday Democracy), and Future Search (http://www.futuresearch.net/). Every organization will need to find a methodology that fits its own needs and culture.
  3. The emerging shared vision must be consistent with the organization’s core purpose and values. Likewise, it must in some way reflect the individual visions upon which it was built. This is the crucial point of creating harmony and commitment.
  4. Once a shared vision is developed, it is important to set success indicators or benchmarks that mark progress toward realizing the vision. Such intermediate goals will alleviate the difficulty some experience in holding the vision in face of current reality.
  5. A vision is akin to a living organism: it requires sustenance. Organizations need to continually reflect on it, test it, and reshape it. The vision will die without on-going dialogue.
  6. Organizations need to view themselves as a community where people are bound to the organization by the promise of what they can contribute, not by what they can get.
  7. Leaders within the organization should begin to view themselves along the lines of the servant leader, as described by Robert Greenleaf in Servant Leadership. A servant leader is one who emphasizes service to others, a holistic approach to work, creating a sense of community, and shared decision-making.
  8. Everyone in the organization will need to develop patience, perspective, and perseverance as you embark on this journey. Developing shared vision is a change process, and like any change process, it will be harder to manage initially than it will be further in to the process.

Creating shared vision will not happen overnight nor will it be easy, but you will reap the rewards for years to come. Inspired and energized people working in concert with each other, achieving feats never before imagined is a gift worth waiting for. The essence of creating shared vision is captured in the following quote:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In my next article, I will focus on the fourth discipline of learning organizations, team learning.

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Team Building and Neuroscience

Building teams and developing leaders with the human brain in mind is somewhat of a hot topic amongst L&D and training folk.

The downside is that just as with past “hot topics” that infuse team building and development from time to time, it can be tricky to sort the “wheat from the chaff.”

The use of the word “neuroscience” and “brain” in connection with teams and leadership abounds, but just using the word “neuroscience” in connection with team building and leadership does not a genuine expert make.

Getting beyond the buzzwords requires genuine experts in the field, and furthermore the ability to select the more pragmatic insights and match them to meaningful day to day take away tools for the participants.

Unfortunately not every bona-fide expert in the field of neuroscience can easily pitch their knowledge at the layman or busy business person.

We have worked very closely with author and behavioural expert Peter Burow and his team at the Neuropower Group to match current neuroscience to corporate and government team and leadership briefs. It’s this ability to take the best from the science and match only the relevant components to each brief where the real power to get results resides.

Based on over 25 years of research, Peter created the Neuropower framework that explores the social systems of the brain, core beliefs and behavioural archetypes.

As an integrative model it does not exclude other models (unless the current research positively invalidates them, as on occasion it can) but rather enables a careful user to enhance their use of the tools they know and love.

For decades many providers have used established models such as Belbin Team Roles, Tuckman’s Model or Situational Leadership and experiential learning knowing that they work, but perhaps not understanding at great depth why.

Neuroscience is starting to uncover some exciting areas of social and behavioural insight that help us better understand why the good models work, and more importantly how to deploy them even more effectively.

With the right time and effort dedicated to understanding the neuroscience of behaviour, decision-making and cognitive bias it’s great to be able to have those “eureka moments” that not only confirm that an existing tool works, but that also better inform us as to why they work.

Neuropower explores in depth six major social systems of the brain (Automatic, Emotional, Intervention, Relational, Objective and Open) that profoundly influence individuals and teams as they develop, and also serve as the “emotional fuel” for individual and collective approaches to daily interactions, planning and execution.

These social systems develop for a team along a similar trajectory to Tuckman’s established “Form – Storm – Norm – Perform” model, but with greater sophistication and insight into the individual core belief preferences that people bring into the team with them.

Each system relies upon a balanced unfolding of various social of the human brain to enable people and teams to progress. Imbalance or gaps at any stage can put teams askew for best progression through the process, and ideally require revisiting and repair by informed leadership.

Underlaying the six social systems are also nine major clusters of core belief types residing in the faster and more intuitive neuro-limbic system (as opposed to the more evolved “neuro-rational” system) of the brain. fascinating also for those who are fans of enneagram work.

Humans being emotional creatures, perceived and real external threats trigger these deeper core belief types and bias observable behaviours and decision-making within teams. If these dynamics are better understood then leaders and teams can map the strengths and weaknesses of their team more accurately and counter such biases more effectively.

Enhanced understanding of what drives the team and its people at this level also enables teams to experience “accelerated teaming” with respect to their progress from being a newly “formed” team to a “performing” team.

This form of more “practical” application for current neuroscience is where there is great progress to be made in enhancing team building and leadership development processes in general. We have certainly become fans.

It does however require moving beyond the mere buzzwords to access recognised experts in the field who can marry the science to real world practice.

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16 Helpful Things You Should Know About Planning and Building Regulations (A Guide to the UK)

16 answers to frequently asked questions with regard to industrial planning applications. Entering your project in the correct order of events will save you time and money later. It is never too late to get helpful advice and early help with designs and sizes never goes amiss.

For small to medium sized businesses it is sometimes difficult to get to grips with tricky and complicated legislation which dictates what you can and you can’t build. This article is designed to shed some helpful light on the subject as a first step in helping you to correctly assemble your project.

1) What needs permission?

Most building work usually does need consent. Anything which is fixed down directly to any form of foundation will be the subject of building control and may need planning consent.

2) Consent – Pre-Planned Approved Sites

Model industrial estates owned privately and ‘let out’ or sold to a pre-designed format may have been pre-planned so you can build to the ‘approved format’ without any further application. Variations will require consultation and extensions permission. If you are within the plan, you can probably build with minimal procedural recourse.

3) Other People with Interests in your Application

Beware of third party consents, for example National Trust, landlords, areas of outstanding national beauty, sites of historical or national interest etcetera. You may find yourself paying for a Roman Fort you didn’t know you had or worse still a county gas main!

4) If in doubt do Nothing

Never build anything where there are any doubts until you have taken professional and specialist advice (local knowledge is always an advantage).

5) Specialist Knowledge

There are at least 20 key areas of specialisation ranging from bye laws to archaeology, from highways to runways, and from railways to waterways. This is quite apart from engineering design and environmental expertise. The Local Authority is there to help you, not hinder you. However some of these items may not show up until consent is through and compliance can be costly. There is no need for shocks and surprises if you take the right help on board at the start.

6) Usage

All land has authorised usage. It is allocated a status, i.e. residential, agricultural, retail, warehousing, manufacturing et cetera. There are also sub groups. If what you intend to do does not fit in with the existing status, you will have to seek advice and may need ‘change of use’ or full planning consent.

7) Planning v Building Control

Planning permission details ‘what’ you can build, building control governs ‘how’ you build it. Both are governed by a whole range of regulations and directives covering safety, environment, welfare and technical aspects of the work.

8) Dangerous Processes

If you are using hazardous substances, the chances are you will already know where you stand. If you are not, then look over the fence! What your neighbour does can be surprisingly important! The COSSH regulations were developed in part to stop the mixing of potentially cataclysmic chemicals and gases when shipped in ignorance on the same vehicle. A resulting incident could set off reactions in the ensuing leakages adding catastrophically to what is already a bad situation. Exposing any high risk activities to further uncoordinated processes is unacceptable. A surprising number of us have no idea what is happening over our fences. It is becoming an increasing issue for insurance companies and company officials, many of whom are only too well aware of their responsibilities and in particular the risks imposed by neighbours. Any outside storage therefore raises the need for such an assessment

9) When you may not need Consent

There are circumstances where the size of the proposed development and/or the type (i.e extensions) are allowed, provided they stay within limitations. These vary by cubic capacity and foot print and very much depend on what is already there. At the end of this guide there is a link to a calculator on the internet, there are notes which will guide you through this section. The distance from your boundary to the location of the proposed development is also legislated and there are also guidance notes for you on this. It is worth a visit and will help you to understand and assess your own position more clearly. There are however hidden dangers with these notes read in isolation. For example you may be within the law on one aspect but miss critical traffic issues in the event you lose parking or turning room. This becomes fraught when it spills out onto the road and the local authority won’t want to be left to clear up unmanageable traffic issues as a result of your need for covered space. Our buildings can be made to retract to help with such issues. This feature also helps with applications.

10) Working round the Clock

Businesses and their activities always raise issues regarding working hours. The local authority is under direction to ensure unnecessary disturbances are avoided in the best interests of harmony. It doesn’t just affect your industrial estate or location, all the movements to and from site, noise and traffic congestion and safety are real issues for concern for everyone in the community. Accordingly, where areas are sensitive to these issues, restrictions are inevitable. In extreme circumstances there can be grounds for applications being refused.

11) Altering Appearances

Anything which alters appearances is a consideration, especially windows, doors and access arrangements and will almost certainly require permission, even if it satisfies other criteria and doesn’t require consent in other respects.

12) Shared Property

If you are joined on to someone else’s boundary or property you need to stay away from it, by at least 5m. It is a minefield of legalisation, technical engineering problems and conflicts of interest. That said, there are occasions when mutual interests surface for the best, especially if the land is open.

13) Existing Structures

The main issues we deal with are existing concrete pads. If you have an existing pad it will have to be strong enough to take the proposed structure. You cannot tell by looking at it. Although it may not affect the application it will have to have structural calculations prepared for it, especially if you expect it to bear the load of the new structure. This is where people confuse a slab with foundations. A foundation for a modern portal frame building may be anything up to 700mm below what you are looking at, be a metre cube or more and weigh in at anything from 1000 to 2000kgs as opposed to the 200 kgs you see on the surface which is a floor not a foundation. Needless to say foundations are complicated with many technical considerations. If you are building next to existing structures it gets really tricky especially if you don’t own them (see item 12). It will affect your application if your factory is perched over an underground system for example or joins on to the local supermarket, especially if they object.

14) How to achieve the best Results from your Application

The role of the planning officer is to act as an intermediary between you and the sitting planning committee so that your application is approved. Assuming you have never applied before you can expect to be given a lot of hoops to jump through. Two different officers may well give you totally different hoops to jump through and then give you more just when you think you have done everything right. Avoid the temptation to become frustrated or disillusioned with the process and remember it is not there just for you it is there for the community as a whole and protects you more than you probably know. Just imagine the mess we would be in without it! Most of the information you need can be teased out of constructive telephone calls and informal meetings – these are essential in the lead into your submission. It is time consuming and there is a learning curve and it may take up to 2 years to get it all in order even with professional help. Larger projects may take 2 to 4 times this length. If your site has a special status because it in the moat of Windsor Castle or has the only surviving Bactra Robustana moth you will need expert help and it will be a protracted application. So be patient and give yourself plenty of time. You simply cannot rush it. The fastest application I have ever achieved was 8 weeks from a standing start on to a site which already had approval for the type of development. People sometimes call this rubber stamping, but nonetheless the procedure still has to be fully observed. 6 months is very fast and 18 months is about normal for small works.

15) The First Step to Applying

Download a planning application form from the internet. The questions are relatively straight forward and try to think of the full implications of where the questions lead, for example if it creates new jobs it means more people, transport, services and infrastructure loading. If your area has already reached its capacity in this respect you can expect it will be subjected to in depth examination from the people who are charged with safety and good community management as well as the much simpler implication on the immediate effect on your own premises. Thankfully most applications go through with relative ease but the issues they raise, the design support required and the mandatory provision of information will take time and money. We usually do things in a set order so that minimal cost is incurred in the event of a serious and/or insurmountable problem occurring. Please ask us for more information on how we can help save you money and time.

16) When you do not need Permission

You do not require permission to renovate or restore, or for some types of extension provided they are sympathetic with the existing structure and when the build is an insignificant size in proportion to the rest of the development. (see also numbers 9 and 14)

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Building a Playhouse – How to Design a Playhouse for Your Kids

Before you can build a playhouse for your kids, you obviously need a plan. Without a plan you’ll stumble along, making random cuts and wasting your time and money on wrongly cut lumber. But how and where do you get a design and a plan?

Let’s face it, most of us are just regular guys or gals without a degree in architecture, right? So how do we design and build a playhouse?

One way to get your creative juices flowing is to study other playhouses. Whether online or in person, look at and study as many playhouse designs as you can. If you are lucky enough to see some in person, take a measuring tape with you and physically measure the height and widths. Get a feel for how big a playhouse should be and how big you want yours to be.

As a good rule of thumb, an average sized playhouse should be about 50-100 square feet in floor area. The walls need not be over 6′ tall, as most children are about 4 to 4-1/2 feet tall.

If you’re a novice woodworker, keep the design simple. A square or simple rectangle is the safest bet. Don’t try to get all fancy with an overly elaborate design. You may get bogged down halfway through and give up. Better to keep it simple and complete it.

Design your playhouse with a gable roof. A gable roof is the easiest to build and still looks good on a simple structure. The pitch or angle of the roof should be 1 to 2. In other words for every 12″ the rise should be 6″. This makes it easier to figure the ridge height.

For siding, use T-111 plywood turned horizontally. This gives the impression of lap siding, but is quicker and cheaper. When using this method, keep your wall lengths 8′ or less, as plywood siding comes in that length standard.

Build a front door out of either thicker plywood or 1×6 boards. You can get some basic strap hinges from a hardware store to allow it to swing. If you design the walls 6′ tall, make the door 5′ or 5′-6″ tall.

Don’t try to use a regular door knob for the playhouse door. They’re made for a standard door which is thicker than the door you’ll be building. Just use a hasp or slide bolt. Or you could opt for no knob at all!

Finally, design your playhouse with a few windows. Make them about 18″ square as this will look better as far as the proportion to the rest of the playhouse.

So you need to check out other playhouses, and take notes. Sketch your ideas on some blank paper. I like to use graph paper with 1/4″ squares. Spend some time tweaking and perfecting your design. Once you get it the way you want it, you’re ready to start building!

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DIY Hammock Stand Plans – Things to Consider in Building the Perfect Hammock Stand

Feeling bored and wanting a hammock to relax on but you just do not have the perfect trees in your backyard for it? Well, how about if you build a hammock stand yourself. It's definitely inexpensive and with quality DIY hammock stand plans, it is something you can build in a day. So you can spend the rest of the weekend enjoying your new hammock.

The good thing with a hammock stand compared to the original hammock is that you can easily place it wherever you want. You can place it on shady place during the afternoon. You can take it with you on a camping or fishing trip. It has a portability that's wanting from a traditional hammock. All the more reason for you to want to build one.

So if you're all ready to build a DIY hammock stand, here are a couple of things you'd best keep in mind and prepare:

Materials

A DIY hammock stand is one of those projects that does not need that much materials and tools to complete. However, you do need to be more careful with your choice of materials here. Your safety depends well and good on the sturdiness of the stand so you have to make sure that the stand is strong enough to take on your weight or anyone else who 'll likely use it for that matter.

For the main material, you need to use pressure treated wood. Given that the hammock will be placed outdoors, it is exposed to harsh elements. Pressure treated wood are resistant to rotting so that makes the stand more longer lying. To increase stability, you can use wire rope diagonals connecting both side of the base to the middle portion of the top beam.

Aside from those, you will also be needing bolts, nuts and washer. The quantity of those will have to depend on the design you are using. As for the tools, you will need to have these prepared: miter saw, hand saw, electric driller and measuring tape. These are just but the basic tools you will need to build a hammock stand.

DIY Hammock Stand Plans

Choosing quality DIY hammock stand plans is half the battle of building this project. As mentioned before, safety should be of utmost priority here. And you can only be sure of that safety when you've built a stand that's sturdy enough to hold massive weight without giving in. That entitles right design and plans. And you can only be sure of that once you have high quality plans on hand.

Beside, you are able to save a lot by building this yourself. I would suggest that you invest some of those money saved in a good blueprint. This way, you would not have to worry about kids or other family members or probably even guests being sentenced in a frail hammock stand giving in. There's danger in that especially if you are just relaxing and unaware of the impending disaster.

Also, you'll have an easier time during construction when you have a proper plan to guide you through the process. You get to finish the task faster and you'll be left with much time to enjoy the hammock stand you've built with your own hands.

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How To – Building a Real Estate Website – Part 1

As more and more people use the Internet to research, buy and sell homes it is getting extremely important as a real estate investor to have a web presence. This can be a daunting task for many, but it does not have to be. You can hire out the job to professionals for upwards of $ 5000 or even find a rent-a-coder and pay them a few hundred. Why would you do this? When it's so easy to create your own page quickly and cheaply!

In Part 1 of this article series I'm going to describe the parts that you need in order to develop your own professional looking web-page. Lets get started.

Web Hosting Service – 1 and 1 Hosting – $ 5.00

The web hosting service provider is where all your files and webpages will be stored and served to the public. There are TONS of options out there for you and you could get dizzy trying to decide which one is best for you. That is why I'm going to just recommend one and it's the one I use. 1 and 1. This could not be cheaper! I pay $ 5 a month (they are actually running a special right now for $ 2.49 / mo). The plan you want is the 1 and 1 Home Package . It provides everything you will need and I'll get into it in another article.

Domain Name – GoDaddy.com – $ 9.99

The domain name is the webpage address your visitors will type into the address bar. For example my domain name is StrugglingInvestor.com. Are you wondering what the "www" is that you always have to type in? That is the Sub-Domain name. By default a "www" is created for your domain, but as you get more advanced you can create subdomains yourself like, homes.StugglingInvestor.com. It can be a great way to organize your site. Ok, back on topic … Godaddy is the domain registrar I use. There are TONS out there and prices vary greatly but I like the way GoDaddy handles it and there is always a coupon out there to make the price cheaper (you can usually get 25% knock off by searching Google for "Godaddy Coupons").

Now the reason why I do not use 1 and 1 to registar my domain (which you can) is that having one central location for all my domains (godaddy) allows me to point my domain names to different Web Hosting Providers (1 and 1 or Wherever). Not only that but most importantly if you were to register your domain with 1 and 1 you may have difficulty if you ever decided to switch Web Hosting Services. With GoDaddy all you do is redirect your domain. It's also good to have all your domains organized in one easy spot.

Note: Godaddy also offers webhosting, but I do not like it very much.

Development Software – WordPress – Free

This is by far the best way to get a professional looking website up and running in a matter of hours. Many of you might know wordpress as a blogging site, but they also offer a free software that you upload to your site and it gives you all the tools you'll need to develop a quick and easy web-page. My site is 100% developed in wordpress! It's not just for blogs baby! (In my best Costanza voice) I will have a separate tutorial on setting up wordpress as well as using it in a later article.

WordPress Theme – Studio Press Theme – Agent Theme – $ 75

If I had a gun to my head I would say the theme is not that important and you could get by without it. Heck though, why do you want to just get by? Having a professional looking theme makes life so much easier. I use the Agent Theme from Studio Press and love it. It is rather expensive, so you can find some rather good free themes like the Arras Theme. You will get better support and quicker updates from a paid theme provider.

FTP Client – Filezilla – Free

For those that have never used an FTP client before, it's really simple. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocal, aka, a program that helps transfer files from your computer to the web hosting server. You will not be using this much, but comes in handy if you ever want to upload tons of pictures at once. Good to have it and FileZilla is the best and it's free so you can not be that with a stick.

Image Editing Software – Paint.net – Free

You will ever need to create icons or modify an image here and there and MS Paint is just not gonna cut it. If you have Photoshop or Fireworks or another editor like that, use it. I have them on my home computer but for work I found this great free softward called Paint.net that is awesome! If you are a graphic designer you might find it limiting, but for a hacker like myself it is perfect! Go get it!

Finally ….

That's actually it. You do not really need more then that. The above tools will give you an outstanding framework for your content. Go get all these items and I'll be continuing this How To Series on monday with Signing up for a 1 and 1 account, creating a domain name and pointing the domain. It's a lot easier then it sounds!

Hope that helped …

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Email Reverse Lookup – Find Out Who Owns an Email Address and Get His Or Her Street Address Too

It is hard to find anyone in today's world that does not have an email address. With so many people using this as a way to communicate, there is a lot of potential to receive messages that may be suspicious. You may even just want to find out who sent you the electronic mail. Well, you're in luck because there are services out there that can help you find out who does that email address belong to.

If you have some time to do some research, then you may want to start off by simply punching in name of the person who sent you the message into a search engine, like Google or Yahoo. If that does not pull anything up, then enter in just the domain name from where the message came from. And if that does not pull anything up, finding out who does that e-mail address belong to for free may be pretty hard to do.

I would highly recommend you use what is called an email reverse lookup. These will help you save a lot of time, an actually return the information you were looking for in the first place. And when you need to know correct information, you really do not want to trust information coming from a free source. A good example would be if you think your spouse is cheating on you, and you do not want to make an incorrect judgment from an unreliable source.

Not all email reverse lookup services are good though, so you will want to do a little research on whatever service you are about to use. Try to find reviews online. A good indicator of how good the site might be is how It looks. I know they say never judge a book by its cover, but if you go to a site and you can not navigate very easy, and it's confusing on how to sign up, I would guess that's what their service is like. Also confirm if they have a money back guarantee, reliable look up services will offer a money back guarantee.

With so many options out there when it comes to answering the question: "which email address is this", there is no reason to settle for nothing but the best.

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