Image © Woodpecker Flooring
Getting on the property ladder is a real challenge these days. The economic situation in the UK has made it particularly difficult for first-time buyers to save enough money required for a deposit. Even those lucky enough to be on the rungs now find themselves in a situation where economic uncertainty is making it increasingly difficult for them to sell their homes and to find a suitable property should they be looking to move up the ladder. This has led to many homeowners now considering improving their existing property, rather than buying a new one.
My husband and I are in this exact situation. We count ourselves extremely lucky that we were even able to get a mortgage in the first place and this is down to the very generous help my parents gave us with our deposit. We bought a small two-bed flat just before the arrival of our first daughter. Two years later, we had a second daughter and we are now acutely aware of the fact that we may need a bigger place in the next few years.
However, the housing market in our area is extremely challenging with average house prices ranging from £593,559 for a detached house to £328,845 for a terraced house and as much as £243,173 for a flat. I am obsessed with property websites and spend an inordinate amount of time trawling these portals trying to find us our next home. What has become abundantly clear is that we can’t really afford to move. All the properties that are within our budget are either in an undesirable area, provide no extra space, or need complete renovation which we would have no money to do having maxed ourselves out with the larger mortgage.
So we have started to seriously consider extending our flat to give us the extra space that we need. This would also help us to add value to our home which would put us in a better position should we ever be able to afford to move in the future. This realisation that we would be better off improving rather than moving has really got me thinking though. What are the best ways to add value to your home if you find yourself in the same position as we are in? So I’ve done some research and these are 5 key ways to add value to your home.
Image © Karen Knox of Making Spaces
Convert the Loft
A loft conversion is a really easy way to add value to your home as it reuses existing space and therefore does not usually require planning permission unless you intend to add dormer windows that face a road or you want to extend your roof space by more than 50m3 (40m3 for terraced housing). It is the easiest way to add an extra bedroom and even an extra bathroom, which will undoubtedly add to the sale price and even push your home up into the next price bracket. A bedroom generally adds somewhere between 10 and 15% to the value of your home and using the existing loft space is the most cost-effective way of doing it. A typical loft conversion costs around £500-600/m² compared to around twice this for an extension. It will generally take about 6-12 weeks to complete and will cost anywhere between £20k and £45k.
Build an extension
As we just learned, a loft conversion is about half the price of other extensions. However, unless you have a minimum headroom of 2.3m, a straightforward loft conversion won’t always be possible. In this case, other types of extension should be considered such as a side return, a glass-box extension or a conservatory. Adding an extension is a relatively easy way to add value to your home as you are basically increasing the floor space and potentially adding a whole new room.
A conservatory will generally cost somewhere between £5-£30k and can add approximately 7% to the value, while a full-blown extension can cost anywhere between £10-£30k and will add about 11%, which is a good return your investment. It is advisable to check with your local planning department whether you need permission to build. Generally, if you’re within your home’s permitted development allowance you may be exempt, although it will still have to comply with the Building Regulations.
The design of the extension is key. You want to make sure it complements the style of the rest of the house and doesn’t appear to be a separate entity just bolted on. You can ensure the space between the existing building and the extension flows seamlessly by installing the same flooring throughout the living area. This helps to lead the eye on and ensures that the extension feels part of the rest of the house.
Convert the garage
Here in the UK about 90% of garages aren’t used to house the car but are rather used as a storage solution, which is a real waste of an asset. If you have another parking space outside, an unused garage can be turned into an investment by transforming it into extra living space such as a bedroom. If the garage is attached to the house you can even build above it. Converting the garage can add as much as 10% to the value of your home.
You must make sure you get all the necessary planning permissions and building regulation sign-offs though, otherwise, you won’t be able to call it a habitable room when you do come to sell the house.
Another way to add value to your home and to make it more attractive to potential buyers is to include a couple of statement features that will really add a wow factor to your home. These features help to set it apart from other properties on the market as well as add a significant premium to the sale price. Wood flooring is a perfect statement feature to add if you are looking to add value to your home.
If you are thinking of upgrading your flooring and are currently torn between wood flooring and carpet, it’s worth bearing in mind that it is often difficult to recoup the costs of expensive fitted carpet. It is also unlikely that the statement carpet you choose will be in keeping with your potential buyer’s ideal flooring, whereas wood flooring is far less likely to offend people.
There are also numerous benefits to installing wood flooring that potential buyers will really appreciate. It is a healthy choice for our homes because there are no fibres, no grout lines, and no embossing that can attract dust particles, pollen, animal dander, and other allergens that can often present a problem with carpets. Wood flooring, therefore, contributes to healthier indoor air quality. These same properties also make it more practical as it is easier to clean, especially if you have small children or pets.
Then there is the fact that wood flooring is a long term investment due to its durability. It is very hard wearing and can, therefore, last for generations even in areas of heavy footfall.
There is no hard and fast rule as to how much value these cosmetic changes can add to your home and valuers often find it difficult to put a figure on such improvements. However, the market always puts a premium on a well-decorated property and therefore the sale price will be correspondingly higher.
You can browse the various styles available and get free samples from the Woodpecker Flooring website.
So what do you think? Do you agree with these 5 key ways to add value to your home? Are there any others that you would add to this list?