Read on to see our top ten ways to add value to your home...
Top ten ways to add value to your home
With property prices continuing to rise and recent increases in interest rates starting to bite, many homeowners are deciding to stay put rather than move. Instead of shelling out vast sums on stamp duty, legal, survey and estate agent's fees, and mortgage and removal costs, they are choosing to invest in their current property - maximising their enjoyment of it now and, they hope, adding value for the future.
Unless you carry out the right kind of improvements, however, you're unlikely to see even a return on your investment. By all means, indulge in a swimming pool or a garden makeover - they may add immensely to your quality of life - but don't expect them to boost your home's value. And even if you choose the right sort of improvements, if the work is done badly, or in a style that is unsympathetic to your property or the area, they may actually reduce it.
**Some points to consider
Location is the most important factor in deciding the value of your property and, therefore, how much you stand to gain from improvements. Never develop a property out of its neighbourhood, externally or internally. Spending £30,000 on a new kitchen in an area where the maximum selling price is £150,000 is clearly a poor idea from an investment viewpoint.
Pinpointing the sort of buyer you will be targeting when you come to sell is a good way of ensuring you don't get carried away. Before you knock down that wall to transform two small rooms into a larger, open-plan living space, consider: if your target market would be young families, double doors might be a better option. Seek advice from a local estate agent.
Some improvements, like installing a security system or restoring period features, won't add appreciably to your home's value, but may help make it more saleable.
**Our 10 top tips
Predicting the future is a tricky business. There are no guarantees, but here are some ideas for improvements that should increase your property's value.
Adding space is by far the best way. This includes converting something that's already there (for example, the loft) or creating new space through, say, an extension.
- Convert your loft
One of the most popular ways of adding space, a loft conversion can increase a property's value by as much as 20 per cent. In some cases, the work can be carried out without planning permission, under what are known as permitted development rights (see Obtaining Planning Permission).
Before calling in the builders, consider whether your property will benefit in investment terms from the extra accommodation. If not, a loft conversion could be an expensive mistake. You cannot transform your three-bedroom house into a desirable five-bedroom one just by converting the loft into two bedrooms; chances are that the downstairs rooms, and perhaps the garden, will not be in proportion. In the longer term, you might be better off moving now.
Consider also whether you have the right kind of roof. The steeply pitched kind commonly seen on Victorian or 1930s houses is ideal. And both the construction of your roof and the type of access available may limit your prospects of converting your loft into a proper room, rather than just a ‘loft room'.
- Convert - or construct - a basement or cellar
Converting cellars into living space, and even digging out new basements, is fast becoming the in thing in some metropolitan areas, owing to pressure on space. Older properties are usually the most suitable candidates for this.
Such undertakings are very expensive, often requiring reinforcement of foundations and extensive damp proofing. Like other major works, they can also be disruptive and stressful.
- Add an extension
Provided it is well built and in keeping with the rest of your property, an extension can add significant value. It will almost certainly be an easier (and hence less expensive) option than a basement.
Extensions can be built without planning permission, subject to restrictions on height and volume, and certain other conditions.
- Build a garage
A garage, particularly a double, will almost always add value - as much as 15 per cent in a busy urban area. The desirability of garages often makes it a mistake, if adding value is your goal, to convert a garage into living space.
- Add a bathroom
Here, we have in mind converting a bedroom into a bathroom, rather than building a new bathroom as part of a loft conversion or extension.
Use common sense when deciding whether this is a viable option for you. If, for example, you have a five-bedroom house with only one bathroom, it may be wise to turn a bedroom into a bathroom. However, from an investment point of view, it would be a poor idea to transform a three-bedroom house with one bathroom into a two-bedroom house with two bathrooms.
- **Update your kitchen
While a new kitchen may not add greatly to value, it will certainly add hugely to appeal, provided it is well fitted, of reasonable quality and as timeless as possible in design.
As with any home improvement, resist the urge to save money by fitting a kitchen yourself, unless you are confident of doing it to a professional standard.
- **Improve your bathroom
Gone are the coloured suites of yesteryear; today, the only colour is white. Avoid fancy taps, lurid tiles and anything gold-plated.
If you're tempted to go for a fashionable wet room, consider whether this is something your target purchaser would be likely to want.
- Install central heating
Many older homes still lack central heating. Install it and you'll make your property more saleable. Be sure to choose an energy-efficient system.
- Fit double glazing
Double glazing is a must for many potential purchasers. Replacement windows should be in keeping with your home, in style and materials; they can detract from its value otherwise. If you have a period property, secondary glazing may be a better bet.
- Obtain planning permission
Since a property with planning permission usually commands a higher price than one without, obtaining planning permission, even if you do not intend to use it yourself, can be a great way of maximising your property's value for minimum outlay - although, of course, unlike our other suggestions, it won't add to your quality of life in the short term.
Whether you are likely to get planning permission depends on the nature of the project, the type of property and the location.
Before you start
By now, you're probably raring to go! Before embarking on any project, however, make sure your finances are sorted, seek appropriate professional advice, and check whether you need planning permission or other approvals.