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January 2020


What is asbestos?

By Blog

Asbestos is a toxic material that is often found in buildings and homes – and it is something that can be fatal if you come into contact with it. Asbestos may consist of the six fibrous materials listed below, as they are all naturally occurring in it.  This includes:

  • Amosite
  • Actinolite
  • Chrysotile
  • Tremolite
  • Crocidolite
  • Anthophyllite

The most common types of asbestos are amosite and chrysotile.

As a development finance company, asbestos is a problem that can arise for many clients and in this guide, we explain in further detail what you need to be aware of.

Why Was Asbestos Popular for Construction Purposes?

Prior to the discovery of its toxicity, asbestos was commonly used in construction and on industrial premises as it is highly fire-resistant and durable. We then saw asbestos used across the globe for many everyday homes, building sites, offices and more.


What Was Asbestos Used for?

Given the hardwearing and durable nature of asbestos, it was commonly used as a material for things such as:

  • To tile floors
  • As a ceiling material
  • Roofing shingles
  • Put in cement compounds
  • Used in textile products
  • Vehicle parts

Although asbestos was once a widely used material, is it absolutely not in use any more due to its harm to people.



Why is Asbestos Bad for you?

Asbestos has been linked in to many cancers and also a wide range of respiratory and lung conditions too.

Asbestos was banned from use in the UK in 1999 and it has now been classed as a known human carcinogen.

The use of asbestos declined rapidly from the late 1970s onwards once research and trials were carried out that highlighted how dangerous asbestos could be.

It is still found in buildings and properties built before the year 2000.


What Makes Asbestos Toxic?

One of the main reasons why asbestos is so toxic is because it is so durable.

This is because asbestos fibres are practically microscopic, which means it has the unfortunate side effect of being inhaled very easily.

Inhalation of these fibres are extremely bad for you as they can stay inside your respiratory system, including the lining of your lungs and inner cavity tissue. The fibres can get lodged in the soft internal tissue as they are very small, but rigid in nature.

As it is difficult for the body to expel these fibres and they do not easily break down, inhaled asbestos can be deadly.


How Can Asbestos Be Removed?

Given the toxic properties that asbestos fibres contain, it needs to be handled with great care. If asbestos is located within a building, it should be removed by an asbestos removal contractor. They can assess what will be needed to remove the asbestos, perform asbestos removal as well as carefully dispose of the hazardous material for you.


Can I Remove Asbestos Myself?

It is strongly recommended to not remove asbestos yourself if you have no experience of working with the substance. This is because asbestos becomes most dangerous when it has been disturbed or moved in some way, as its fibres are then released. These fibres can then be inhaled directly into the lungs.

If you do decide to not use an asbestos removal contractor, you should seek advice from your local council and find out how it can be disposed of safely. Keep in mind you may need to get a Health and Safety Executive Licence (HSE) beforehand. This is needed if there strong chance asbestos fibres will be released into the air whilst work is taking place.


Magnet Capital Become NACFB Patron

By Blog, Development Finance

Magnet Capital have today announced that they have become patrons of the NACFB, just 15 months after their official launch.

CEO Ashley Ilsen commented, “I’ve worked with the NACFB for many years whilst at a previous lender and their work is consistently excellent in representing our industry. We as an industry need to band together in order to continue to improve our standards and our practices and I believe the NACFB lead the way in helping to demonstrate how best to do this. It’s a wonderful nod of approval to have been accepted as a patron of the organisation so soon after our launch and a testament to the extensive experience and stellar reputation of the Magnet Capital team.”




As a specialist provider of development finance, we believe that our niche offering will be invaluable to development finance brokers. We are extremely service driven and have a very powerful funding line behind us that most importantly allows us to move very quickly when it comes to assisting with a development deal. We are one of few lenders that meets every single individual that we lend to, which may seem slightly old fashioned to some, however I believe that genuine relationships are built only by face to face meetings.”

Managing Director Sam Howard commented “we have always believed in the power of trade associations, such as the NACFB to bring the short-term finance community together and uphold first class standards across the industry across all the stakeholders. We are delighted to become a patron and be part of this movement.

NACFB Managing Director, Norman Chambers said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Magnet at the latest lender Patron of the Association. Magnet will be familiar to many of our 1077 brokerages as they have previously exhibited at our annual Commercial Finance Expo.

“I’m delighted they have taken the next step in becoming Patrons of the trade body and we very much look forward to working with Ashley and the team in 2020.”

Magnet Capital recently announced that they have added two new recruits to their growing team.


What You Need to Know About Subsidence

By Blog, Development Finance

Subsidence is a term feared by many homeowners. Subsidence is caused when the ground beneath a property sinks, which causes the foundations of a house lower and become misaligned. It can have a considerable impact on both the value, the living conditions and structural integrity of a house.

From a developer’s perspective, it is important to spot the early signs of subsidence and knowing what to look out for. Otherwise, a house with subsidence can plummet significantly in value.

There are various different causes for subsidence. It’s important to know what these are in order to better check a property for this condition. Some of the main cause of subsidence include the following:

Types of Subsidence


Damage Done
Soil Content Having soil with a high clay content can make it more prone to change volume, swelling when wet and shrinking when dry. This can cause the ground beneath the foundations of a house to become unstable, and lead to subsidence.
Leaks When there is a water leak around the foundations of a property, this can have a significant impact on the soil, causing it to swell or wash away depending on the soil content. This can alter the level of the ground beneath a property’s foundations, further causing subsidence.
Trees and Shrubbery If a house has trees and large shrubbery too close to its surroundings, this can drain a significant amount of moisture from the ground underneath the house, altering the level of the ground and causing the property’s foundations to sink.
Mining (Location) Houses that are built close to an old mining site can also be at risk of subsidence. This is due to the material in the mining site decomposing, altering the ground and impacting the structural integrity of nearby houses.

Whilst understanding the causes of subsidence can help to prevent it, spotting the signs of subsidence are also vital in helping to protect a house from the condition as best as is possible.


How to Check If a Property Has Subsidence

There are numerous ways subsidence can present itself, the main ones being as follows:


  • Cracks around doors and windows – cracks from subsidence can appear both outside and inside the house, they are typically found near a property’s doors and windows, and spread significantly faster than other types of cracks.


  • Crinkling wallpaper – when wallpaper begins to crinkle this can also be a sign of subsidence, typically being around where the wall meets the ceiling.


  • Doors and windows jamming – when you begin to have difficulty opening or closing any doors and windows to a property this could be due to subsidence; the sinking of the house’s foundations cause these features to become misaligned.


When spotting signs of subsidence, it’s vital that these are checked by a surveyor, who can inspect the property to confirm this.


If you see cracks in walls, you could be dealing with subsidence

What to Do If My Property Has Subsidence

If you think your property is suffering from subsidence, it’s important to contact your buildings insurer as soon as possible.

Typically, the quicker subsidence is noticed the easier it is to manage. Your insurer will organise for a surveyor to come round and inspect the property. The surveyor can then confirm whether it is subsidence or not.

You can get insurance for subsidence, however most standard insurers will not cover a house that is, or previously has, suffered from subsidence. Therefore, when looking to buy a house it’s important to learn about its history, and whether it has at any point been affected by subsidence.


The end of the 2010s

By Opinion

As one decade ends and a new one begins, I want to reflect on the 2010s and what has been a bizarre decade from the perspective of the housing market.

The decade started with the property market pulling itself off the floor after the slump, caused by the credit crunch. There had been a dramatic slump in housebuilding, as credit lines were pulled with banks and lenders desperately trying to rebuild their balance sheets. The development finance lender where I worked at the time, was getting calls from prospective borrowers, asking not what our rates were but whether we were lending. We were one of the few funders who still were!

The then Labour government were struggling under the precarious public finances, to be replaced by the Conservative and Liberal Democrats coalition. The next few years were characterised by a housing market that was stymied by a lack of credit both for mortgage market and development. House prices did fall initially but the lack of new homes being built, combined with low interest rates maintained a lack of affordable housing. The political world turned upside down in 2016 with BREXIT, the rise of the hard left and the hard right.

Economically, we had the Bank of England continuing to respond to the ongoing crisis, caused by the financial crash, by keeping interest rates low and injecting trillions of pounds of new money into financial systems to ward of depression. This financial wizardry of quantitative easing, counter intuitively seemed to push up asset prices (including house prices) but failed to create inflation. 10 years on we still have historically low interest rates at 0.75%, and little indication that the economy is in a state for them to be raised significantly.

From a housing market perspective throughout this period, various housing ministers have tried  to fix the housing crisis. It has been a crisis largely characterised by the chronic lack of supply of housing, leading to rising house prices and rents preventing first timers getting onto the housing ladder and private renters facing crippling rent bills. We saw the introduction of “Help to Buy” in various guises, increases in stamp duty both in terms of rates and also an additional levy on second homes, and numerous white papers designed to solve the problem. None of them have got to the root of the problem; which is the need for more new affordable homes. The new Conservative government has promised at least a million new homes this parliament, called for a shaking up of the planning system, and proclaimed that there would be a 30 per cent discount on new homes to local people and key workers. The proof will be in the pudding and I hazard a guess that Boris Johnson might get BREXIT done but will struggle to fix the housing market.

Finally, I thought I would list a few things that I have learnt over the last decade in the short-term finance industry, they are simple but worth remembering:-

Always assess the level of risk and whether you can live with the downside.

To minimise risk aim for numerous smaller deals rather than a few large ones.

Work with experienced and trustworthy people

Know your own strengths and weaknesses and surround yourself by colleagues who have complimentary skills.

Avoid what you don’t understand.

Lend near where you are based so that you know your location or at least if there are problems you can easily visit the site.


I wish everybody a very happy and productive new year.