FAQs

Detailed below are answers to many questions that have previously been asked. This is not an exhaustive list. Do please contact us if you have a different question.

The Property

Can I add the dormer rooms later?

A. Yes. The windows and basic structure is already there. However, it will be more difficult (and costly) adding them retrospectively.

What sort of warranty do I get?

A. You get a comprehensive warranty (labour and materials) from Middleton Hall for the first two years. In addition, there is a further 8 year structural warranty backed by the LABC (Local Authority Building Control) insurance scheme.

I currently live in a detached property. Will I hear noise from my neighbours?

A. You shouldn’t! The majority of the properties are semi-detached (and some in effect detached) but given the high levels of insulation, they are also very well sound proofed.

With triple glazing throughout, the experience of the Gate House and our residents is that it is very quiet – even next to the road, it is hard to hear traffic noise.

The sound engineer found The Waterside to have the quietest homes he has ever tested…

Can I add a conservatory?

A. No. This is for the property to meet the planning permission requirements for zero carbon homes.

Can I make internal alterations?

A. Often, yes. Permission must be granted for any structural alteration.

How does parking on site work?

A. Each property will have a parking space outside (in addition to any garage) for cars only (not vans or caravans). There are parking spaces for visitors around the access road and we are asking residents to restrict any car parking outside their property to only one car to avoid cars blocking neighbours’ views.

The Price

What is included in the price?

A. Please see the individual sales details, key facts sheets and purchaser information for full details of properties available.

Care

If I need a greater level of support or care in the future, do I get preferential treatment for a place at Middleton Hall?

A. Yes – all existing residents automatically get priority on the waiting list. We also keep a short stay suite in Middleton Grove and a short stay room in Middleton Gardens that residents can book on a short term basis.

Re-sales

If I decide to move from the Waterside, how do I sell my property?

A. Middleton Hall will sell the property for you. We currently charge a 2% sales fee.

What if you can’t sell it?

A. After six months, you have the right to ask us to work with an external agent to help market the property.

Can I have a normal estate agent sell my property?

A. Not initially. There is a planning restriction on the site that does not allow The Waterside properties to be sold on the open market. In practice, external estate agents have told us they would not be able to sell a Middleton Hall property as they are not familiar with how a retirement village works.

Do you have a buy back scheme?

A. No. However, in circumstances where someone wanted to sell quickly and we were in a position to be able to do so, we would informally look at doing so.

Carbon Neutral

How does this MVHR work?

A. The mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system (MVHR) extracts the warm air from the house (kitchen and bathroom fans) and passes it through a heat exchanger in the loft that uses the heat to warm incoming fresh air that is ducted back into the house automatically. This means it is not necessary to open windows for ventilation.

How long do PV panels last?

A. No one really knows but they are expected to last at least 30 years. The panels do degrade over time so will become slightly less efficient eventually.

How much will they cost to replace?

A. By the time they need replacing, technology will probably have changed and there will be new more cost effective systems for generating electricity.

Do I own my PV panels and how does this FiT work?

A. You own your own PV panels. This ensures that you receive the highest rate of Feed in Tariff (FiT). The FiT is a government incentive for renewable energy that is paid for each unit of electricity generated – you will receive this directly. The electricity can either be used in the property (or to charge your electric car!) or sold back to the grid. It is best to use as much as you can to avoid buying electricity when the panels are not generating. We will be covering this during residents’ workshops before you move in.

The panels are insured for the first two years by the manufacturer and then through the service charge for all residents.

How does the heating work?

A. The properties are designed so that they should not need as much heating as a normal house. Most of the properties have energy efficient, Rointe Radiators to the ground floor. As well as being thermostatically and time controlled, the Rointe heaters have a fluid filled core that gradually releases heat and provides a more stable room temperature.

Is the heating the same in all properties?

A. In some of the properties there is an air source heat pump fitted with underfloor heating. Underfloor heating is fitted in each ground floor room with a ‘wet’ radiator system in the Dormer, these are heated by the air source heat pump, each room has its own individual thermostat.

Do I have to have a wood burning stove?

A. Yes. This is for the property to meet the planning permission requirements for zero carbon homes. You don’t have to use it however, although it will make a considerable difference to your electricity usage in the winter.

Where do I get wood from?

A. You can buy it from various sources including Middleton Hall. Each property will have storage for wood in either their garage or an external shelter.

Will any wood do?

A. For the stove to work most effectively, you should use wood that has been allowed to dry out (three years is ideal).

What do I do with the ash from the wood burning stove?

A. As the stove is very efficient, if you use dry wood, there should only be a small amount of white ash that can be vacuumed out of the bottom.

How much will my electricity bill be?

A. Simple answer – small. However, it will depend on how you use the property. We will be running a workshop for all purchasers before they move in to help familiarise them with living in a carbon neutral property as there are plenty of ways to minimise your electricity purchases – using appliances and doing your ironing when the sun is shining for example!

Our Energy Assessor pointed out that they are the most energy efficient buildings he has ever tested …

One resident commented:

‘We are really pleased with our energy costs. Yes, we are careful in our consumption of electricity and may prefer a cooler living temperature to some, but even with the cost of logs, over the year we have done better than the promise of low energy bills and actually had a negative energy bill.’

Services

Can I have a pet?

A. Yes – subject to Middleton Hall’s assessment. We make sure that any pet will not disturb other residents or wildlife.

Can I bring my own cleaner?

A. Yes. You can also book a cleaning service from Middleton Hall.

What transport is available if I don’t drive?

A. Middleton Hall runs regular shopping trips in our minibus to Darlington and Yarm including stops at supermarkets. This is included in the service charge.

There is also a bus service to Darlington from the rear entrance to Middleton Hall and a train that runs from Middleton St George (Dinsdale Station, 1.4 miles) to Darlington station and Middlesbrough station.

There are also local taxi companies.

What happens if I need help in an emergency?

A. Each property has an emergency call system that will automatically telephone Middleton Hall 24 hours a day. Residents can have a neck pendant or wrist band which will work immediately outside their property. We recommend that everyone uses one of these for peace of mind.

If I am on my own, will anyone check on me?

A. The emergency call system has an “I’m OK” button that, by agreement, can be used by a particular time each morning. If it is not, someone would then call you. Alternatively, there is an automated system by motion sensor (PIR) fitted that can be programmed to tell us someone has not got up in the morning, for example.

Is there a burglar alarm?

A. The emergency call system can be set as a burglar alarm through the PIRs fitted and a number pad near the front door.

Is there a fire alarm?

A. Each property has a smoke detector fitted that will sound inside and notify Middleton Hall via the call system in the event of smoke or fire. Occasionally burnt toast might set this off, but we will call you to check you know your toast is ready!

There is also a carbon monoxide detector fitted in the living room.

Do I need an aerial and can I have Sky TV?

A. There is a communal aerial and satellite dish fitted. You will need your own subscription for Sky.

Do I have to get a window cleaner?

A. No. Window cleaning is included in the service charge.

Will I have a telephone line?

A. You will need to apply for your own telephone service.

Is there a good mobile phone coverage?

A. It is possible to use a mobile phone in The Waterside and throughout most of Middleton Hall.

Do I arrange my own broadband?

A. Yes, alongside your phone line you will need to have your own broadband package in your apartment. Alternatively there is Wi-Fi in Middleton Hall and a computer with broadband in the library.

What happens if I am taken ill?

A. Middleton Hall offers an unrivalled level of care and nursing services. In the unfortunate event that you require care due to recovery from illness, accident or a hospital stay, Middleton Grove has a guest suite and Middleton Gardens (Residential Care) has a guest room that can be booked for short stays. These facilities are charged according to needs.

What do I do if I have a complaint?

A. We would encourage you to speak to a manager first, there is a full complaints procedure on display within Middleton Hall, your information guide as well as a link on this website.

Are there restrictions on how I can personalise my patio/balcony/garden area?

A. A sensible amount of garden furniture, pot plants an a bird feeder would be considered, for any other items please ask first.

What kind of temporary or one off support can I have?

A. We do not currently offer care packages for residents in The Waterside. There are a number of local home (or domiciliary) care agencies that can provide this service. A list is available from Reception or see the Care Quality Commission web site for details where inspection reports are available.

The Lavender Girls – Need a little extra help? For a competitive charge the Lavender Girls offer a bespoke service with additional help, shopping, ironing, companionship or sewing. Each package is tailored to you.

Lease

Are there any restrictions in the lease?

A. The main restriction is that at least one of the purchasers needs to be 55 year or older.

Middleton Hall also expects prospective purchasers to demonstrate their financial ability to buy the property and pay the service charge. We will also carry out a health assessment to ensure all residents are able to live independently, that we are aware of any health issues and know who to contact in an emergency.

Can I change from paying the infrastructure charge on re-sale to annually or the other way around?

A. Once you have selected to pay on re-sale it is not possible to change to annual payment. For people opting to pay annually who later decide it would be preferable to pay on resale, it should be possible to change. In these circumstances, the amount already paid annually would be deducted from the final payment on re-sale.

Can I have family and friends to stay?

A. Yes, there are no restrictions.

Can they use Middleton Hall facilities including Middleton Spa?

A. Yes. We have guest fees for using Middleton Spa and sessions when guests can use the pool/gym (over 18 years only).

Can I have lodger?

A. Yes, subject to approval from Middleton Hall. There are schemes running for younger people to provide help around the house in return for free lodging and we would obviously approve this as a means of someone continuing to live independently.

I play the trumpet – is it ok if I practise at home?

A. At least during the day, it should be! Given most properties are semi-detached, we might suggest that you discuss with your neighbours and choose an appropriate room if you play any instrument loudly, but given the levels of insulation, we would expect your music practice should not disturb your neighbours!

Running costs

Is the service charge reduced if there is just one person living in the property?

A. No. We have found that the vast majority of service charge costs are dependent on the number of properties not the number of people living in it.

What if I don’t use Middleton Spa?

A. You still have membership automatically and this does entitle you to other forms of exercise and advice from our Living Well team.

How much is the council tax?

A. It will depend on if and how the dormer is fitted out. Darlington Borough Council has assessed each property individually. Please see the Key Facts Document for individual properties.