Our advice on moving and improving

Why considering move and improve can be the right step up the property ladder

By Sarah Beeny

Finding your dream home, in the perfect location, with all the space you need isn’t easy. Often, many of us feel we have to compromise. The key to finding that perfect property can often be to look at the potential of a new home and consider ways to make it your own. In fact, it can often be a smarter way to buy and help you save in the long term.

Moving and improving is a growing trend in the UK – we’re purchasing properties within our budget, in the location we want, that have the potential to grow and evolve with us. I believe transforming your property into your dream home is achievable if you follow some simple, but crucial steps.

1. Proper planning

When you visit a potential property, think about how the space could be maximised – not just for now, but for the future. Is there space to extend? Has the loft been converted? What have other properties in the area done to make the most of their space? If you’re serious about a property, sketch out a rough layout of what you think can be done and run it past an expert. That way you know what’s possible before you offer any money.

2. Money matters

Budget is fundamental to any project. It can be tempting to spend the majority of your money on the initial house purchase, but if it’s not exactly what you want, you have to ensure you’ve got enough money to make the improvements you want to, even if they are five or ten years down the line. Always calculate ahead and don’t forget the small things like décor and accessories that will eventually make your new house, your home.

3. Let the light in

When you’re viewing a property for the first time, think about the aspect. If it feels dark when you visit, you needn’t rule the property out as adding windows could be a quick and simple addition to brighten and visually broaden the space inside. They can be vital to changing the appearance and atmosphere of your home and roof windows in particular will help open up the space without taking up any themselves.

4. The heart of the home

Although the hub of the household, a kitchen doesn’t need to be huge in size to be practical. One way of improving a small kitchen is by using pastel colours that reflect the light and create illusions of space. Use fresh whites, bright blues and light greys to make the kitchen somewhere the family can use for function and enjoyment – it’s also easy to refresh over time. For décor, I would always recommend a classic kitchen interior. It’s ageless, cost effective and in the long term it will always sell when re-entering the market. Make use of your budget by investing in quality equipment that will stand the test of time and don’t skimp on buying a sturdy kitchen if (fit when) you can afford it. It’s a decision you won’t regret.

5. Convert your loft

Always consider loft space if it’s not already converted. The loft conversion trend has been around for years, but styles and building habits are changing – your roof space can be made into a homely, useful space and it may be more cost effective than a ground floor extension and certainly will be than a basement conversion.

Always ensure you have the appropriate clearances before embarking on big plans. It’s worth checking this when considering buying the property and looking at neighbouring properties for inspiration is a simple starting point. You’ll see if conversions are possible and can draw some ideas on how to do so while fitting with the local style.

A loft can make a fantastic office, living or bedroom space – proper insulation and well-placed roof windows will make it a cosy and bright place to think and relax. It can make a fun, play environment for kids and the perfect getaway for teenagers (or parents!) who are looking for their own space.

6. Be open to the outdoors

In the long term, you should use your house to its fullest. Outbuildings and outdoor areas will help you maximise your space and add value to your home. Converting a property using outdoor space doesn’t come cheap but it will be worth it in the end. Again, always check ahead for any regulations which might impact your plans. I would always advise renovation outdoors comes last in your move and improve project – this way you can be sure you want to make the commitment to stay.

Breaking down the barriers between inside and outside will help to improve the atmosphere of your home as well. Like windows, outbuildings can give you access to outdoor elements all year round, bringing in additional greenery, daylight and sunshine to make your property an inviting, healthy place to live.

A final thought…

Generally, my rule of thumb for taking on a move and improve project is serious planning. Always consider budget. Don’t get caught up in thinking about the now but think about how much your family home could be worth a few years down the line. You don’t need to invest heavily in advisors for every decision you make, but always spend the money getting professional advice for big projects – that way you know your plans can become a reality. Mostly, enjoy – it should be a fun process – and a truly worthwhile investment.

Original article hosted at Building Inspiration.

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