Could you Improve rather than move?
Debate has raged in the media recently over Government plans to ease planning restrictions for three years to boost the building trade. While many remain unconvinced of the economic benefit this may bring, many Britons are now looking far more seriously at improving rather than moving.
The ceiling price
Whether you’re planning an extension or something less ambitious, one thing you’ll need to consider is how much value you can realistically add to your home.
There is likely to come a point where improvements will fail to add any extra worth to your property. This is known as its ‘ceiling price’. It is therefore worth talking all the options through with an estate agent to understand this threshold for your home. If the most valuable house in your street is worth £250,000, it will be unlikely that you can exceed this price, irrespective of the improvements you make.
In the meantime here are five areas worth considering, along with some of our top tips on how to add value step by step.
We have looked at kerb appeal in our guide to selling your home. If this made sense for your home, perhaps slightly bigger projects could now be considered, like adding a formal parking area.
In some areas of the country, the ability to park close to your front door comes at a huge premium. So if you have the room to add parking tastefully, you are sure to increase value.
Consider any other paved areas before making your final choice of hard landscaping material. Try to complement existing paths and patios. Block paving starts at around £12 per square meter, plus installation fees.
Top tip – Driveway
Believe it or not, planning permission could be a consideration if you plan to build or replace an existing driveway of any size.
To avoid planning permission, consider using porous substances such as gravel, block paving and certain types of asphalt. It is also helpful to consider areas of natural drainage.
If in doubt check the rules
Add a conservatory – add up 15%
Increasing the living space in your home is always a good idea and in some cases doesn’t require planning permission. A conservatory can be professionally installed from around £10,000 and is reasonably fuss-free.
For a more seamless exterior look, an orangery may be an alternative to a conservatory, or if you want to conserve as much outside space as possible, think about a sun room.
Top tip – Conservatory
To help ensure your conservatory doesn’t just feel like a ‘bolt on’ to your home, use the same flooring material throughout the ground floor to create one seamless space.
Kitchen – add up 15%
One of the top considerations if you are looking at home improvements should be a kitchen makeover.
Kitchens are the heart of the home, providing everything from a dinner party venue to the place where kids do their homework.
Concentrate on fixtures and fittings such as door and drawer handles, practical storage solutions and energy-efficient appliances to modernise economically.
Top tip – Kitchen
It’s easy to get carried away when choosing a new kitchen, with unnecessary appliances and other expensive details.
It is worth bearing in mind that on a mid-range property, a £10,000 kitchen could offer you £20,000 in value, while spending £25,000 on a kitchen may still only yield around £20,000 in value, resulting in a loss in real terms.
Bathrooms – add up 10%
Replacing or refreshing your bathroom can cost from a few hundred to a few thousand pounds. If your budget is tight, give some thought to modernising fixtures and fittings such as taps, showers and heated towel rails.
The best way to add value however is to add a second bathroom or en-suite.
Top tip – Bathrooms
When planning the installation, visualise where the pipework for central heating, water and waste disposal will be located and the potential impact on other rooms.
And if you are considering converting an existing bedroom into a new bathroom, bear in mind it could end up devaluing your home. In a street made up of three-bedroom properties, downsizing to two bedrooms would be a mistake. A better choice may be to carve out an en-suite in a large master bedroom.
Loft conversions and extensions – add up 25%
Extending upwards is one of the easiest ways to gain an extra bedroom and bathroom. If you can put up with the disruption it causes, extending is arguably the number one method for adding value to your home.
Consulting a structural engineer is a must as you’ll need to make sure your floor joists can support the extra weight. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough head room once the extra support is in place, not to mention deciding the most practical spot for the staircase.
Top tip – Loft conversions and extensions
Extending need not be confined to your loft space. Garage conversions, side or rear extensions and even basements are popular. These can range dramatically in both expense and disruption. It’s crucial to consider:
- if the ratio of living space to sleeping space will feel balanced once work has completed
- if the cost of the development per square foot will be returned in overall value. Remember to bear in mind your ceiling price and other limits such as Stamp Duty
Wherever you choose to focus your attention, you may want to hire an architect to bring your ideas to life and act as an agent to guide you through the required planning permissions and building regulations.
Be aware that if you select even a basic extension or conversion which needs planning permission, the fees for this, your architect, a building regulation application and associated inspections may run to £2,000. So, the more forethought and planning you undertake the better.
Find out more
For more information about adding value to your home, check out the Government’s planning portal.