It seems that every decade has its share of home improvement trends and one of the biggest right now is ‘Don’t move, improve!’
This is hardly an epoch-defining idea; the fact of the matter is that rising house prices and the general state of the property market have made moving a far less feasible option for both seasoned homeowners and first-time-buyers. As a result, many are choosing to build on what they already have and improve their properties in a way that not only provides what they need but also helps to increase the property’s value and appeal for future buyers.
So, what is the best way to improve a property? It really depends on what exactly it is that you require. Conversions and extensions are excellent options for creating more living space, while redecorating or re-fitting services can greatly increase the appeal of some of your property’s most valuable rooms. If you take your time, plan carefully and invest wisely, you will find that not only can you be satisfied with your current home, but by the time you are finally ready to sell you will be able to get a much better price.
There are a number of areas in a typical property that can provide golden opportunities for conversions, the most oft-used of which is the loft. An unused loft with the right amount of headroom is ripe for a conversion, largely because they can often be done within the boundaries of permitted development.
To find out exactly what you can do with your loft, you should start by asking a local builder or architectural designer. They should be able to tell you how much work your loft conversion will take and how much it could cost. If any major structural alterations will be required, you may find that the costs will outweigh the potential value of the conversion. However, if your home is in desperate need of another bedroom (with a nice ensuite of course), and as long as your projected costs do not dwarf the value that would be added to your home by too much, a loft conversion may still be worth considering.
An unused basement can also be turned into valuable living space, as can a garage. In the UK, around 90% of garages do not even contain a car; why not use this space for something more useful instead?
If the reason you are improving is that you are struggling to find a buyer for your house, it may be worth considering how you can raise your property’s appeal. Luckily, there are only a handful of rooms that really have a big impact on potential buyers, the most important of which is the kitchen.
An out of date, poorly decorated or badly designed kitchen will be an instant turnoff for buyers. The kitchen is called the ‘heart of the home’ for a reason: it is not just a place for cooking, but also for entertaining guests, spending time with the family and, much more than in previous decades, eating meals. While not all kitchens need to contain smart technology or beautiful mosaic tiles, buyers will at least expect good quality cabinets, clean worktops and clear paths between the sink, fridge and cooker.
As beneficial as a kitchen fitting can be for an average property, it is important not to spend too much. If you spend £20,000 doing up a kitchen in a property worth less than £150,000, you are unlikely to get a return on your investment. For a better idea of how much to spend on re-fitting your kitchen, collect quotes and advice from local kitchen fitters.
Extensions, like conversions, can actually be a lot easier to organise than you might think. If you have unused land, a single conversation with a builder could reveal a wealth of possibilities, some of which will also fall under permitted development.
The important thing to realise about extensions is that they are not as simple as adding more space to a property; in addition to construction, you also need to factor in the cost of adding utilities to the new space, not to mention decorating. That being said, the benefits of building an extension can be enormous; you could give yourself a much needed extra bedroom, expand a pitifully small kitchen or bathroom, or even make your property large enough for raising a family.
Depending on what you want to use the new space for, it could be that you can avoid adding features like wall sockets or light switches and save yourself some money. However, you will need to ensure that everything is done within the scope of Building Regulations, or you could find yourself having to make expensive alterations down the line.
Do you remember being a child and being told that not cleaning your room would create a bad impression when your friends came over? As difficult as it may be to admit that your mum was right, there is no denying that a property filled with clutter is almost certain to put off potential buyers.
If you are struggling to raise interest in your property, it could help to simply look at your rooms and ask whether you can do anything to create more space. Adding storage, removing oversized furniture or simply having a good clearout followed by a trip to the charity shop could do wonders for the appeal of your property.
Remember, floor space is golden: the more that you have on display, the more open and pleasant your property will seem. If you have any unused alcoves or awkward spaces to fill, you may even want to consider having a local carpenter create bespoke furniture for you, turning the off-putting areas into major features.
As nice as it is to talk about improving a property, actually doing it can be an expensive endeavour. If you lack the funds to consider an extension, conversion or re-fitting, you may want to consider simply making a planning permission application.
Why, you ask? Well, a property can seem much more appealing once potential buyers know just how much potential it has. If you can get planning permission then you will have cleared a major stumbling block in the home improvement process. This will help buyers to see your property as an investment which they too can add to in order to increase its value. Then, when it is finally their turn to sell, they will be able to make more of a profit.