Adding value with home improvements
Written by:Laura Staples
Deputy editor of Moneywise magazine.
Sometimes, you have to spend to accumulate, and spending money on the fabric of your home can be a shrewd move. Get it right and not only will you boost its value should you want to sell, but you could also save money on your bills and improve your quality of life.
Property prices being what they are, there's never an absolute guarantee you'll make money on the changes you make to your home, but there are three basic categories for adding value – space, functionality, and 'look and feel'. Adding space is the most obvious way to add value to your home, so by adding square footage in the form of an extension or conversion, you will be likely to boost the asking price of your home if you were to sell it.
To give the example of a loft conversion alone, it could increase the value of your home by anything from 10–20%.
But how much will the work set you back? Well of course, it will vary by property type and location, but property developer Monika Slowikowska, director of Golden Houses Developments, says a simple conversion of a loft that has decent headspace can be done for between £15,000 and £20,000, based on a basic fit–out of a rear dormer. "But if the whole loft needs to be rebuilt to achieve your desired headroom, or the floor needs to be upgraded because the existing joists are too small and will not take the additional weight, then you are looking at between £50,000 and £80,000," she says. However, the cost can be more than worth it, Monika adds. "To give the example of a loft conversion alone, it could increase the value of your home by anything from 10–20 per cent. But, of course, everything depends on location."
Adding or updating the central heating system will always add more to the value of a property than it costs.Fit for purpose
To really add value to your home, it must be fit for purpose. That means having modern central heating and insulation to keep your home warm in winter, cool in summer – and to keep your energy bills down.
Adding or updating the central heating system will always add more to the value of a property than it costs.
The building experts at homebuilding.co.uk say: "Adding or updating the central heating system will always add more to the value of a property than it costs. It will be considered an essential by most buyers and mortgage valuers. Although prices vary depending on the system you choose, they say:"As a rough guide, to install central heating into an average three–bed property with no heating system will cost between around £3,235–£4,200."
According to the Energy Saving Trust, by upgrading an old fashioned G–rated boiler to a new condensing A–rated boiler can save you around £215 a year – not to mention 940kg of carbon dioxide.
Investing in other energy–saving improvements such as wall, floor and loft insulation can also cut your bills.
One person who knows a thing or two about improving a property's functionality is 26 year–old Heather Healy from North Yorkshire, who had a damp–proof course fitted to her 300 year–old house and installed underfloor heating throughout.
I decided to buy a property that needed a massive overhaul. It meant that I could live in an aspirational area that I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.
"I decided to buy a property that needed a massive overhaul. It meant that I could live in an aspirational area that I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. I saw the property's potential and knew how to make better use of the space."
Heather's project is still a work in progress, but she says, "I'm transforming a property that was basically uninhabitable and massively inefficient energy–wise into an efficient and sizeable family home, which means I get to live somewhere I love, without the crippling debt of a huge mortgage".I decided to buy a property that needed a massive overhaul. It meant that I could live in an aspirational area that I wouldn't be able to afford otherwise.
But when it comes to adding the convenience factor to your home, don't forget about your four–wheeled friend. Having easy parking is a massive selling point – adding a single parking space to your home could see your property's value soar by 5% – though it may cost upwards of £10,000 to install. The experts at propertypriceadvice.co.uk say: "It may not look as pretty, but if you have a front garden and no off–street parking it would be financially beneficial to convert the garden into a parking space, especially if you live in a city/busy urban area."
It may not look as pretty, but if you have a front garden and no off–street parking it would be financially beneficial to convert the garden into a parking space.
The government brought in new guidance in the wake of the 2007 flooding, aiming to reduce the amount of water running off into drains, instead of being naturally absorbed by the ground. This means that you may not need planning permission if you install a permeable or porous surface – for example gravel, or even permeable concrete – though you are likely to need permission for some other associated work, such as adding a dropped kerb.
As with all building work, it always makes sense to check first – find out more about paving your front garden from the government's planning portal.It may not look as pretty, but if you have a front garden and no off–street parking it would be financially beneficial to convert the garden into a parking space.
Look & feel
When it comes to adding value to your home, there's a lot you can do without spending a fortune. Matthew Turner, director of Astute Property Search, advises: "Remember the little things when refurbishing. If you're trying to add value so that you can sell your home at a premium, don't scrimp on door handles or light sockets, as these can add an all–important finishing touch."
He also suggests redecorating "with minimal, neutral trends, keeping things non–personal".
Victoria Sheridan, 25, a public relations executive who lives in Islington, followed this advice when she refurbished the home she shares with her boyfriend, adding some softer touches and increasing storage space, with a view to moving on after a year.
One of the best changes we made was installing wooden floorboards to match the period of the property.
She added: "One of the best changes we made was installing wooden floorboards to match the period of the property. Everyone who came to view gushed at them and said what an impact they made on the flat. Good flooring combined with quality paint is money well spent when you are trying to increase the value of your home."One of the best changes we made was installing wooden floorboards to match the period of the property.You get what you pay for
Whatever work you do to your home to boost its value, cut your bills or simply to improve your quality of life, remember the one golden rule of home improvement – you get what you pay for. Trying to do things 'on the cheap', whether that's by taking on a complicated job that should really be done by a professional or using poor quality materials, usually ends up costing you more in the long run. There are many ways to fund your refurbishments by borrowing or by saving in preparation for a big home improvement.
If a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly.
Russell Jervis, managing director of Haart estate agents, says: "The old adage of 'if a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly', really does apply here. A botched DIY job will not help improve the saleability of a home and could even devalue it."
It's also important to protect your home from any accidental damage. If you've invested in those little extra touches, make sure you're adequately covered with home insurance. You'll be thankful you're covered if anything were to happen.
Mistakes to avoid:
Sacrificing a bedroom Converting a single bedroom into a study or knocking down a wall to make the adjoining room much bigger may seem like a good use of space when you're living in a property, but when you come to sell, it could affect the asking price.
Finishing jobs 'on the cheap' Plastic windows and doors will reduce the perceived value of your home, as will linoleum on floors.
Miscommunication Find an architect you can talk to so you can work together to get the most value into your design. If you cannot afford an architect, find a sensible builder who cares about design.If a job's worth doing it's worth doing properly.How to add value to your home
Tidy up the exterior by clearing the front garden, re–painting your garage door and front door as well as adding new door accessories such as a smart letterbox or doorknob.
The main reception rooms create the biggest impression, so always ensure the carpets have been professionally cleaned as well as touching up any paintwork.
Make over the bathroom with simple changes such as new taps, new grouting and new shower screens.
Fit new kitchen worktops as well as laying new flooring.
Add new lighting and switches with modern contemporary fittings.
Replace any broken storage in bedrooms, such as wardrobe doors – and if you have a viewing by prospective buyers, pay special attention to keeping the bedrooms looking tidy.
Tidy the rear garden and add a splash of colour by painting the fence or shed.
Always make sure drain pipes are secure and not leaking, as well as giving them a coat of paint to make them look new.Useful linksPlanning Portal Government website with all you need to know about planning. planningportal.gov.uk Federation of Master Builders UK's largest trade association for builders. fmb.org.uk/ Checkatrade Search for tradesmen with a good reputation. checkatrade.com
The views expressed here are solely those of the author,
and do not necessarily reflect the views of M&S Bank.About this