The satisfactions – and challenges – of a small rural business

The satisfactions – and challenges – of a small rural business

There is no denying that there are challenges to running a small business in a rural location that urban-based businesses generally do not have to deal with.

Approximately 17% of England’s population, or 9.5 million people, live in rural areas and many others dream of doing so.

Among them are many actual or potential small business owners who can provide the services those residents need, from hairdressers, to accountants, to lawyers, dentists, doctors and various tradespeople.

This is not only a lifestyle choice, to live in a quieter, “greener” and generally more friendly environment, but it can also be a good opportunity to set up a small business.

There is no denying that there are challenges to running a small business in a rural location that urban-based businesses generally do not have to deal with.

Among the challenges is the patchy connectivity, be it broadband, mobile phone signals or transport links and infrastructure.

In some rural locations there is the added issue of not being connected to the mains gas grid, because the energy suppliers argue that installing the pipework infrastructure is not economically viable, and this means depending entirely on electricity for all heating and cooking or finding an alternative.

For those small businesses whose premises are of the same size as a residential property, there are other options.

These are oil-fired boilers or nowadays a cheaper and the more environmentally-friendly options, LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) and BioLPG, all of which are stored in a tank in the garden with regular scheduled deliveries to top up the supplies.

There are some drawbacks to oil-fired heating, among them the fluctuating cost of a commodity of a commodity that is traded on world markets, the fact that you cannot use it to power cooking appliances, updated safety and planning regulations, and the increase in the theft of oil from tanks located in the grounds.

On balance, therefore, the obvious choice is LPG, which can be used for both heating systems and cooking appliances, is generally cheaper and cannot be stolen.  Also, if your home is Listed or in a sensitive location the tanks can be installed underground.

An above ground LPG tank costs around £500, with a small annual charge, and top-ups can be automated so you never worry about running out.

Your property will have to be viewed by a locally-accredited installer who can advise on your gas storage options and the location of your gas storage tank and ensure it is a workable solution for your home/business.

So if you are thinking of moving your family and your small business away from a town or city, and have found a suitable property, why not call us at UK Boiler Care to talk through what you need.

The answer is only up to a point. A manufacturer’s guarantee only guarantees repair or replacement of parts for the actual boiler and does not cover the rest of the heating system, such as the radiators, plumbing, additional room thermostats and the like.
Also, guarantees are understandably tightly-written documents which include exemptions such as failure to have the boiler serviced annually, or if it wasn’t installed by an approved Gas Safe engineer, or perhaps you haven’t acted on any advice the service engineer has given at the last service such as adding inhibitor to guard against corrosion.

Perhaps you have had building work done in your house that has made access to the boiler more difficult. This, too, could affect the protection in your guarantee. So too could moving the boiler to a different location without the manufacturer’s consent.

Remember, you must have your new boiler serviced annually or the guarantee will be invalidated and the guarantee will not include the cost of the annual service. It is up to you to arrange and pay for the annual service yourself.

Not only that but, you may be asked for a refundable deposit prior to a call-out visit even within the guarantee period. The manufacturer will keep this deposit if the diagnosed fault is not covered by the guarantee.

Many of the UK’s national money-saving advisory websites have questioned whether householders really need to have additional boiler cover on the grounds that it is an extra cost when claims are fairly rare.

However, anyone who has shivered through a heating system breakdown in the depths of winter, with the attendant difficulty of finding an available fitter to come out quickly in what is their peak time, will understand.

While you may have emergency breakdown cover on your home insurance policy this can be less than helpful, as we covered in our last blog.

In this context a proper boiler cover plan is more cost effective and will also reach the parts of the heating system that the manufacturer’s guarantee does not.

Again, it is advisable and more cost effective to buy local.

Local suppliers’ boiler cover plans will usually include an annual service, unlimited call-outs and no additional charges for coming to your rescue in an emergency. Above all, unlike a central, call-centre-managed service, the company is accessible and will usually employ its own Gas Safe certified and accredited engineers rather than relying on sub-contractors, who may be “snowed under” with work when you need them most.

Your local company relies on maintaining its good reputation and values its customers, not least because if it does a good job at a reasonable price you are likely to stay with them.

So, yes, you get some protection from the manufacturer’s warranty, but the addition of locally-sourced boiler cover will safeguard you and your family so you can have a worry-free winter.