Keeping you safe and comfortable in your home is our top priority. One of the ways we achieve this is by investing in your home to keep it to a modern standard through our planned programme of improvement works. Here are some of the ways we do it…
The process of improving your home will start with a detailed survey carried out by one of our specialist contractors. Each home will be surveyed individually to identify any improvements that need to be made.
Our contractor will then let you know what proposed works are needed and discuss the various options that may be available.
We recognise that not every home is identical, so not everyone’s home will need the same level of work completed. This means that your home may not receive the same work as that of your neighbour.
We encourage you to ask questions and raise any issues you may have regarding the work with the contractor, so that you are happy with the plan of action before any work is carried out.
As with any contractor visiting your home, please make sure you ask for identification while you ask the person to wait outside. If you’re ever unsure, please give us a call on 0800 678 1221 and we will be happy to double check it for you. Do not allow any one into your home if they do not have any identification.
We will make sure that:
For peace of mind, you will have the contractors contact telephone numbers for both day time and out of-hours emergencies.
While we carry out this work, we would be grateful if you could:
Following the electrical test, if we identify that your home only requires minor changes to improve the electrical system, these will normally be completed on the day. If a full electrical rewire is needed, our contractor will agree a plan with you to replace all electrical cables, switches and sockets, however in most instances we only may have to replace the consumer unit and fit smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The first thing we do is carry out a survey to your building. This is where we review what work has been done previously and identify what needs to be included as part of the new project. Areas that will be surveyed will be parts of the building that were previously painted so will be repainted again.
This work can include:
Elements that will not be painted would be items such as:
After the initial survey, we will discuss and agree with you the layout of your new kitchen. We will produce a plan which will show the position and number of kitchen units, lengths of worktop and where your own appliances, such as your fridge, freezer, etc., will be fitted within the kitchen. If after the survey you decide to purchase new or additional appliances such as a new oven for example, please contact us so that we can ensure it fits within the design. We will leave you a copy of the plan for your personal reference.
We will also give you a choice of:
Once the design has been finalised, we will ask you to sign it off, so we can then order your kitchen units from the supplier.
If our initial survey recommends that your home needs a new bathroom, we will:
To improve the heating system in your home and help reduce your heating bills, we will either install a gas central heating system - subject to the availability of a gas mains, or fit high efficiency electric storage heaters.
Gas central heating
When we install a gas central heating system, we will either replace the whole heating system or we will replace your gas boiler only. The new boilers that we use are ’condensing boilers’, which are modern, efficient and should reduce your heating costs over time. In addition to this, all radiators, whether they remain or are replaced, will have thermostatic radiator valves fitted. This will enable you to control the temperature in individual rooms by setting the amount of heat given out by each radiator.
Electric storage heaters
If we replace your electric heating system, we will fit new storage heaters, which are both modern and efficient, and make the best use of the economy electricity tariff. All electrical wiring and the consumer units that need replacing will be replaced at the same time, ensuring your home is kept safe and warm.
To improve the insulation level of your home, we will fit an additional insulation package if it is needed. This will help to reduce energy costs further and will consist of laying insulation into your loft space to a minimum depth of 300mm. If your home has a cavity wall we will, where possible, inject the wall with cavity insulation foam. We will need access to your loft to be able to complete this work.
We will visit to survey, inspect and measure the windows and doors in your home that are to be replaced. You will have choice over the colour of the door and the design. The windows will be replaced in line with current planning regulations.
Normally when we carry out this type of work, we will re-roof the entire roof of your home. This involves fitting new timber battens, roofing felt and new tiles or slates to match the existing covering.
If you have a flat roof, we will lay new roofing felt and install roof insulation, if required, to a depth to match the current Building Regulation Standards. Whilst we carry out the work, we will also complete any additional works where they are required, such as:
This type of improvement work will require our contractor to install a scaffolding system and is necessary to carry out the works safely. We will ensure that you are able to get into and out of your home while the scaffold is in place and that any satellite dishes or television aerials that you may have are kept working.
We aim to keep disruption to a minimum during all of these works and have agreed the following timescales with our contractors. As with all works, unforeseen events may mean these timescales need to be extended:
We aim to provide a 5 star service and will send you a survey to make sure you are happy with the work carried out, 5 being happy.
Major adaptations like level access showers or ramps required are not carried out by Orbit and you should contact your Local Authority for a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) funding and Occupational Therapist (OT) support.
Orbit will review the permission given by your Local Authority to adapt your home through a Disabled Facilities Grant.
For minor adaptations to your homes such as grab rails, please contact us with the request supported by an Occupational Therapy assessment arranged by you where required.
If you want to make alterations or improvements to your home, you may require our agreement first.
Most often we are happy to agree to improvements, but there are some exceptions. Details of the types of improvements you can do without our approval and ones we have to agree to can be found here.
We won’t agree to improvements if you only have a licence to occupy or an agreement to rent your home for less than a year. We will also not give our agreement to changes if your rent and service charges and any other charge due under your agreement are not paid up to date.
There are some types of work we will only consider for our home ownership customers, due to their own rights and obligations to fully maintain and repair their home.
If you own the freehold to your home you will not normally need our permission to make improvement, unless you have a loan from us, but sometimes permission is needed for changes to the outside of a home. This is to protect the look of an area and might be because of planning rules. You can find details of any restrictions on the freehold transfer or property title from the Land Registry.
If we do agree to improvements being done, we may attach conditions to this, which you will need to ensure you follow. It may include things like:
You may have to send us paperwork and certificates to prove you have met any conditions.
Sometimes, if you move out after the improvements have been finished you may be required to put the property back to the condition it was in before the improvements where carried out. If this is the case, we will tell you about these conditions when we give you approval.
If you move out and we have agreed you don’t need to change the property back to how it was originally, then we may compensate you for the work you have done.
You can apply by completing the application form and attaching it to your contact form requesting permission to make improvements or by posting to:
PO Box 6406
You will also have to pay an administration fee to cover the cost of work involved in considering your application for improvements and any work required to check you have met the conditions, which form part of our agreement. Details are shown on the administration fee pages of the improvements leaflet.
Once you have submitted your application, we will contact you to make payment over the phone by debit or credit card. We will not progress your application without payment of the fee.
If we don’t agree to the improvements to your property you have a right to appeal the decision.
Sometimes, if you move out after the improvements have been finished, you may have to put the property back to the condition it was in before the improvements where made. If this is the case, we will tell you about these conditions when we give you approval.
If you are a leaseholder with us, you are responsible for paying a share of the costs for maintenance, repairs and improvements to your building. These costs will be recovered through your service charge.
Where we need to carry our major repairs and improvements, we will consult with you over any work that need to be completed, of which you are expected to bear the costs. The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 sets the financial limits for works which you must be consulted about. This process is referred to as Section 20 Consultation, outlined below.
If you require further information about the Section 20 process or about a specific consultation please contact us.
When we are going to carry out major work or redecoration to your block or estate, you have a legal right to be consulted. We will send you a formal notice and details of the estimates for the work and your estimated share of the cost.
You will have 30 days under each stage of consultation to give us your comments. We will look carefully at your comments and will take them into account before making our decision on how to proceed. We have responsibility under the lease to repair and maintain the building and ultimately to decide what work needs to be done, taking into account the comments made.
Where there is a recognised residents’ association we will consult with them.
The Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 states that we need to consult you on two areas of cost:
This is an agreement or contract for a term of more than 12 months. These could include repairs, maintenance, cyclical work, servicing, improvement work, communal cleaning and gardening, contracts for lift or door entry/entry phone system maintenance, fire precaution equipment servicing, insurances and utilities (if tendered).
We will consult where the contribution by any one leaseholder or shared owner exceeds £100 (including VAT) in the accounting period of one year. Where residents pay proportional payments (i.e. buildings insurance), we will consult with all residents if one or more residents are required to pay over £100.
This is repair, maintenance, cyclical decoration or improvement work on a building or any other relevant premises. The inclusion of improvement in the definition of qualifying works does NOT allow a landlord to recover costs for improvements unless a liability for costs of improvements is included in the lease. When calculating the estimated cost, VAT on works must be included. We must consult if these works will cost over £250 for any one leaseholder.
For both types of consultation there are three main stages:
We will write to you detailing the scope of the work. You will be given 30 days in which to submit any comments and nominate a contractor of your choice. Please note that any contractor nominated by a resident must meet all the conditions we set for our contractors.
We will tender the work and following receipt of the tenders, set out our proposals to you. You will be given a period of 30 days to comment on the proposal.
If we instruct the work but do not select either a nominated contractor or the lowest estimate, we will tell you why. A summary of your written views will be included together with our responses.
If you need changes to be made to your property to improve your comfort and independence, we may be able to help.
If you rent a home under social or affordable tenancy, we can fund and carry out certain types of property improvements, known as 'aids and adaptations', to help if you have a disability or long term health condition.
If you are a leaseholder or own your home, you may be able to get support for making changes to your home from your local authority. If you live in Suffolk County Council area please read about our Home Improvement Agency.
Because we have limited funding available to make property improvements, we assess applications against our aids and adaptations policy to ensure fairness and consideration of individual circumstances.
We also consider the scale of the changes needed. Minor adaptations, likely to cost less than £1,000, can often be carried out as part of our normal repairs service for tenants. Major adaptations (over £1,000) require an assessment from an occupational therapist to ensure that the requested changes are appropriate and meet your individual needs. We will also carry out our own appraisal of the requested changes on your home. We will make a decision and inform you after these reports have been received and assessed.
If you believe that the change you need to your home is likely to cost less than £1,000, you can simply request this as a repair booking.
If the changes you need are likely to cost more £1,000, please contact us first and your housing officer will get in touch to discuss your needs. They will contact you within five days of receiving your request.
Orbit will no longer be providing the Home Improvement Agency for Suffolk from 30 November 2020. Any enquiry related to the Occupational Therapy or Grab Rail service should be signposted to Suffolk County Council. Any enquiry related to works under a Disabled Facilities Grant should go to the local District or Borough Council.
The latest edition of Orbit Life magazine is out now! This issue is our customer annual report special edition where you can find out all about how we have delivered services over the past year and on our Customer Promise to you. You can also be in with a chance to win £100 in shopping vouchers by taking part in our first ever Orbit Life reader survey – just in time for Christmas!