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Pickles last won the day on August 20 2023

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  1. Thank you all very much for your contributions to this: as a result I have been able to help one of my Irish friends to get a significantly better pension with Class 2 payments.
  2. From what I think I recall, I don't think that they moved the window frames outwards. However, I seem to recall that they were badly fitted, as you imply, with liberal use of polyurethane foam. There were also holes between flats where upgrades to heating systems etc had essentially destroyed the fire compartmentation that the "stay put" strategy relied on. The other issue that you touched on was about the lack of warning. We had lots of discussions about this. With a "stay-put" strategy, you do not have a linked fire alarm system that can be heard inside the individual flats: there may be an alarm system in the common parts but it is not intended to be heard inside the flats. The reason for this is that you are supposed to be safe in your fire-compartmentalised flats and you do not want the fire brigade coming up the single set of stairs to be hampered by residents getting out. That's great as an idea, but I felt quite uneasy about this in our building. Most incidents are the result of a "Swiss cheese" effect: normally all the holes, or failings, don't interact but occasionally the holes line up and create a disaster.
  3. Thanks for pointing this out. I must admit that my calculations assumed Class 3 NI voluntary contributions: if you qualify for Class 2, that would be an absolute no-brainer. Assuming that the same 17-year opportunity applies (I don't see any reason why not) then for around £2800, you would get around £5K per annum!!!!
  4. I don't know whether this has been discussed before: I have had a look but didn't find any reference to it. As you may be aware, the UK govt has provided an extended window for those with missing or incomplete years of NI contributions to make voluntary Ni payments to fill in years going back to 2006. What had passed me by (because I am not affected by this) is that it seems to be possible to draw separate pensions from eg the UK and France. I learned recently from an Irish friend who has worked in the UK and Ireland that if you have ever worked in the UK and therefore have an NI record, you can make use of the current scheme to buy up to 17 years of UK pension entitlement. The return is pretty spectacular: from what I calculated, 17 years of voluntary NI will cost you around £14K and will yield around £5K per annum (at current pension payment rates). This would be added to whatever UK state pension entitlement you already have, subject of course to the maximum of 35 years of NI contributions. If you don't have £14K immediately available, then you could purchase the 11 years from 2006 now, and buy the rest under the normal "6 years" rule later. The best guide to what you need to do is on Martin Lewis's Moneysavingexpert website. It is well worth working your way through his guide. The deadline for the years 2006-20016 is 31st July this year: after that you can only go back 6 years. Part of the process involves calling either the Future Pension Centre or the Pension Service (depending on your situation) and the phone lines are apparently VERY busy, so if you want to do this, don't leave it until the last minute. It probably concerns those who are between 45 and 70 years old.
  5. This type of system is very dependent for its fire safety on the integrity of the render and the proper fitment of protective shields of non-combustible material, especially around door and window openings and any protrusions. The expanded plastic may be "treated" to reduce its flammability and promote charring, so that it will tend not to promote a fire (and may be difficult to light), but if subjected to a fierce source (eg flames coming out of a fully-developed fire through the windows), from what I was able to see, they will still burn and produce really nasty toxic gases. The temperatures produced by a fully-developed fire in an apartment make "man holding blowtorch to insulation" look like a kitchen match in comparison. The inspections that were carried out on UK buildings after Grenfell revealed many examples of shoddy workmanship, where gaps were left between metal covers and the parts that they were supposed to be fixed to, and gaps filled with combustible material, missing fire-stops, wood frames used as supports for the various elements, etc etc. Once this type of system has been fitted, even well fitted, then of course it has to be properly maintained, and any modifications (eg when people fit external shutters or new windows frames, or ventilation flues etc) need to be properly installed to ensure that they don't provide a path for air and fire to get into the insulation. These subsequent modifications are frequently carried out by people who have absolutely no idea what the implications of their works could be. This is why we went for a system that had no combustible elements in it as it reduces/removes the risk of the effects of a maintenance or installation oversight or subsequent damage. Incidentally the rain screen that had been originally fitted to our building would withstand a blowtorch played on its aluminium surface for quite a while (we know because when we removed samples for testing by BRE, we had some material left over and our maintenance guys had a blowtorch, so inevitably we played with it), but as soon as the blowtorch touched an exposed edge (where the plastic core between the aluminium outer sheets was exposed), the sheet sample caught fire in a very impressive manner. Don't do this at home!
  6. I had quite a few discussions with "the men from the ministry" and our very expensive Chartered Fire Engineer about the regulations that implied that below 18m in height, very flammable materials suddenly became not worth worrying about. Wood is an interesting one because (apparently) thick pieces of dense wood tend to char and so are considered less combustible. The stuff that some appear to have been using as cladding looks to be neither thick nor dense ... Euroclass B still means that it will have some combustibility. However, you can apparently clad your own house in wood, and you will see new-build terraces of wood-clad houses, on the basis that the risk is low from what I understand. Non-residential buildings are a completely different matter, and all bets are off. If a building is commercial or a day-patient hospital etc, then because it is not residential accommodation and in particular no-one sleeps there overnight, my understanding is that combustible cladding can still be used. I have become an expert in spotting very combustible High-Pressure Laminate which is to be found on a surprising number of buildings.
  7. Good afternoon Lehaut, I've been a long time away from the forum, having mostly sold up in 2015. I was unfortunate to be caught up in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy through being a leaseholder (and for my sins, the founder and chairman of the building's residents' right-to-manage company) in a block that had the same combination of insulation and rain screen materials as was used on Grenfell. I had to spend a lot of time researching the subject and as a result we ended up with a pretty good solution, and even more fortunately we were able to get it funded by the UK Govt Building Safety programme. At the outset, we were being offered materials that had various claims made about them in terms of their resistance to the spread of fire. Once you took a long hard look at them, however, most materials which claimed to be "modified" plastics of any sort or treated with a "fire retardant" chemical, were ultimately still capable of spreading a fire and generating noxious fumes. If you want non-flammable materials to be used, then you are basically restricted to Rockwool-type insulation (though there may now be suitable ceramic/cement foam products that you can use) and metal sheet or ceramic panel rain screen. To have a Euroclass A1-rated system, we couldn't even have painted metal sheets for the rainscreen. Although the cost of the materials is significant, labour made up a big part of our costs, with the scaffolding being the third major component. Overall, the difference in costs between having an Euroclass A2-rated system (where people may still ask questions about combustibility) and an A1-rated system was quite small.
  8. Ah, sorry Nick, the charges are in the email ... which they haven't sent to you ... yet!In the email that I received it says: En choisissant la formule topEurop France Espagne Portugal, votre nouveau badge AREA vous sera offert (frais de mise en service de 11 € offerts) ainsi que votre premier mois de frais de gestion. Vous le recevrez gratuitement chez vous (frais de livraison de 4€ offerts), et il sera immédiatement utilisable en France mais aussi en Espagne et au Portugal. Cette offre vous est proposée avec des frais de gestion facturés seulement les mois utilisés : 1,70 € par mois circulé en France, 2,40 € par mois circulé en zone ibérique. If you take up the offer to transfer to AREA, then they will send out to you a reply-paid envelope for you to return the ALIS/Easytrip transponders.
  9. Easytrip's facebook page has been updated with the following:Chers clients, Nous vous informons qu'Easytrip France va cesser prochainement ses activités relatives au télépéage. Par conséquent, les badges Easytrip seront désactivés à compter du 15 avril 2020 et tous les contrats seront malheureusement résiliés à cause de l'arrêt du service. Nous contactons en ce moment, par e-mail, tous nos clients, quant à la cession de notre activité de télépéage. Si vous n'avez pas encore reçu d'e-mail, soyez assurés que vous en recevrez un dans les prochains jours. Afin que vous puissiez continuer à bénéficier des avantages du télépéage, des offres exclusives vous sont proposées par notre partenaire AREA, et de nouveaux badges télépéage vous seront livrés gratuitement. Pour ce faire, vous pourrez souscrire chez AREA via l'e-mail envoyé par Easytrip. Pour plus d’informations, rendez-vous sur notre site web : https://www.easytrip.fr/transition. Merci pour votre compréhension. L'équipe Easytrip
  10. [quote user="NickP"]I haven't had any E/Mails at all about this I looked on their website a couple of days ago, there was no mention of the situation.[/quote]Yes, it's quite weird: all the old gumpf about the Liber-t peage transponder is still there BUT there's nowhere to sign up for Easytrip's offering any more.The email may have ended up in your spam, but they claim that they may have tried to call you or sent an SMS in the FAQ below. Customer service is NOT their forte! They have updated their FAQs in the last couple of days:https://www.easytrip.fr/faqThe first FAQ is:J’ai reçu un message (e-mail, sms, appel) m’invitant à m’abonner chez AREA et à changer de badge. De quoi s’agit-il ? Les badges télépéage Easytrip seront désactivés à compter du 15 avril 2020 et seront donc hors d’usage. Rassurez-vous, nous vous proposons un nouveau badge chez notre partenaire AREA pour que vous puissiez circuler en toute liberté. Cette proposition est valable pour chaque contrat télépéage que vous avez signé lors de votre souscription chez Easytrip. Les modalités de votre offre chez AREA seront très proches de celles de l’offre Easytrip dont vous bénéficiez. Nous vous informons que votre espace client Easytrip restera accessible après la désactivation de votre/vos badges télépéage. Notre équipe est à votre disposition pour vous informer sur cette transition. Nous vous prions de privilégier le contact sur Facebook Messenger pour des réponses rapides à vos questions. Regards Pickles
  11. Hi DD, The penalty is not mentioned in the email: it is in the FAQs on the Easytrip website. Personally, I'd rather not give them the opportunity to grab my money ...! RegardsPickles
  12. I've been away from the forum for a few years but I recall that some of you got toll transponders from Alis when they were doing a decent deal for low use drivers. A few years ago they shifted everything over to a company trading as Easytrip, with (of course) a less good deal. Now Easytrip is throwing in the towel and proposing to transfer people over to yet another crowd. This new deal is again slightly more expensive and the transponder will also work in Spain and Portugal as well as France.If you do nothing, your account will be closed.BUT if you do NOT return the transponder within 30 days of receiving the email, you will be charged 35€.So, if you are intending not to move to the proposed new provider, get the transponders sent back! Pickles
  13. [quote user="tinabee"]One of the more recent problems French (and other European) banks have is the requirement to comply with FATCA (US tax reporting). They have to report anyone who may have a link to the US tax authorities or face potentially severe penalties.[/quote] I came across a couple of articles recently where it was said that some US citizens resident in France have now been essentially forced to renounce their US citizenship in order to continue to have accounts with French banks. The reporting requirements are onerous and costly, and if any mistake is made the repercussions on the bank's US operations are apparently out of all proportion. Our bank in France became increasingly demanding of proofs of this and that, and we have now ditched them. We were already with their online subsidiary, which still occasionally asks for some ID proof (but nothing like to the extent demanded by their parent) but is happy to receive the documentation online as well.
  14. Telling them that we were renters put off most cold callers ...
  15. [quote user="tinabee"]Capital gains tax only applies if the property has increased in value over the period of ownership. There are some allowances for building works (e.g. extensions) and there are reductions in tax after 5 years of ownership. There is a simulator you can use here http://www.notaires.fr/fr/les-plus-values-immobili%C3%A8res[/quote] Yes, but if you are UK resident then you will have to pay UK CGT on any gain. And you need to be aware that in order to calculate the gain for UK CGT purposes, you need to convert the Euro original purchase price into GBP at the exchange rate applicable on the date of purchase, and the again to convert the Euro sale price into GBP at the exchange rate applicable on the date of sale (and any improvements need to be converted into sterling at the Euro exchange rate appropriate on the date incurred). This can mean that if you purchased in 2001 and sold for the same Euro value in 2016, there will be a capital gain in sterling because of the appreciation of the Euro against sterling. You will receive a credit against UK CGT for French CGT paid.
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