Prefer to stay put and renovate than move? Lisa Salmon seeks some expert tips for the projects that promise the best returns.
Increasing numbers of homeowners are avoiding the expense – plus the physical and emotional upheaval – of moving house, by staying put and renovating instead.
In fact, the number of people choosing to do this has risen fivefold since 2013, according to a recent report by Hiscox Insurance – increasing from 3% of households to 15%, representing more than four million homes in the UK.
Supporting the notion that we’re becoming a nation of home-improvers, figures from Halifax show that planning applications have risen by a quarter over the last five years. Meanwhile, Hiscox found the average budget for home renovations was around £16,100 for each project, although 18% of the householders surveyed expected to spend more than £25,000.
So what improvements are they making? According to the research, homeowners are most likely to either renovate a bathroom or add a new one, followed by kitchen improvements, installing a new boiler or central heating system, or creating more living space. However, not every home-improvement project will automatically add value to a property.
“Cheap is cheap – nothing kills the value of a property more than doing cheap work in it. Estate agents have told me they’ve seen sellers with tears in their eyes, when they find out that construction work worth thousands of pounds hasn’t added a single penny to their home,” says Ash Chawla, chief executive of the design/build company Duke of Design (dukeofdesign.co.uk). “We live in a world which has become very aware and knowledgeable. There are no shortcuts to creating value to your home.”
So, what does Duke of Design recommend? Here are six home improvements Chawla says could be a wise investment…
The simplest home addition is a conservatory, which Virgin Money research says can raise the value of your home by as much as 15% if it’s included as part of an extension, or by 5% if it’s just a simple conservatory.
Chawla says choosing the right materials can help conservatories blend well with modern and period properties. “The key is to use materials other than the commonly seen white UPVC,” he says. “A muted, more sophisticated palette of taupe and grey-painted wooden frames camouflages itself in a natural setting, and the reflective properties of glass help it blend into the outside space more easily.”
Estate agents surveyed by Hiscox believe the best way of spending money on your home is by having an extension built, saying the addition of a new bedroom could boost the average home’s value by 11.2%. They reckon a new kitchen, meanwhile, will typically increase a home’s value by 5.5% (or £12,400 based on an average UK house price of £226,071), although 28% think a new kitchen can lift a home’s value by as much as 10%.
A single storey extension can be built in as little as three weeks once planning permission is granted, says Chawla, who suggests an average sized £30,000 single-storey rear kitchen extension on a £500,000 home can lead to a profit of £30,000-£35,000. “Aside from a rise in property value, you also benefit from a stunning home environment with added usable space,” Chawla adds.
Remodelling an existing kitchen – by adding high quality units and flooring, purpose lighting and redecorating – could increase a property’s value by as much as 4%, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – although Chawla warns that expensive purchases, such as kitchen units and flooring, should be kept in proportion to the value of the property.
“The most successful kitchen extensions consider the whole home,” he explains. “By removing internal walls, you can connect the kitchen to the dining room, creating a functional space for entertaining.” Alternatively, you may also choose to link the kitchen to the garden by using large windows or patio doors.
4. Garden landscaping
“Often overlooked, the garden can become the hub of home life and can work seamlessly with your home, as if brick and foliage were the most natural partners in the world,” says Chawla.
For family-sized homes, ensure the outdoor space is suitable for the growing needs of a family with low-maintenance planting and landscaping, while a small courtyard garden at a city apartment may appeal to younger working couples. The cost of landscaping a garden can be as little as £2,000, but Chawla says spending a little more can lead to a potential return of £40,000 on a £500,000 house.
Most towns and cities have a parking problem, Chawla points out. “By providing viable parking facilities, you can increase your property price dramatically,” he promises.
You could either convert land at the front or side of your property to add a driveway or parking space, or add a garage – possibly by converting an existing outside building, if there’s suitable access, or by building a garage extension. Full garage conversions commonly add up to 8-10% to your property value, says Chawla, particularly in areas where parking is a premium.
6. Loft and basement conversions
The Hiscox report says loft extensions are the most popular planning request, and Chawla says loft conversions are usually less troublesome than basement conversions. They don’t always require planning permission, although they do need to meet building regulations to be classed as a room. The Nationwide Building Society says the average cost to convert an attic is around £20,000, which rises to approximately £35,000-£45,000 if you’re creating a dormer loft with double bedroom and bathroom.
Just boarding out the loft for storage is unlikely to make much impact on the price of your property, and Chawla stresses: “If financial gain is your goal, converting the loft into a usable room is the way to go. The benefits of adding an additional bedroom to your property can be huge – loft conversions can add as much as £65,000-£75,000 to your property value.”
An alternative is to add a basement conversion if space allows, but Chawla says this is a complicated procedure and potential problems, such as water ingress and foundation issues, can be major concerns.