Making improvements to your home can add value, but are they worth the effort and expense?
Adding an extension, fitting a new kitchen or installing a utility room can add thousands to value of your home.
But some improvements need to be viewed as personal comforts rather than as extras that will provide a return on investment.
Experts say that adding an extension is an ambitious way to maximise space, but it will give you rewards in terms of extra room and regain your investment when you sell.
Squeeze in as many extras as you can, such as a utility room or downstairs cloakroom, but beware of the effect on your garden and make sure that inside space remains in proportion with outdoor space.
A loft conversion, usually cheaper than building an extension, adds value and should cover its cost when you decide to sell your home, but beware of cellars as you are less likely to recoup money spent converting or creating a cellar space.
Similarly, open-plan living is an attractive proposition to potential buyers, but don’t overdo it – opening up the whole of your downstairs is a mistake; go instead for an open-plan kitchen-diner.
The Government has proposed reforms that it claims will simplify the local planning system in England and make it far easier for homeowners to extend or improve their homes.
Whilst good in theory, the planning proposals could have the reverse effect for loft conversions because of the proposed ‘impact test’ on neighbouring properties, which could mean that planning permission is denied.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is lobbying the Government to rethink this proposal before it comes into force in 2008, as it runs counter to the Government’s aim to speed up the planning process.
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, advises that before you invest in a building project you should consider:
If the new configuration of your home, perhaps five bedrooms and three reception rooms, is well above the average configuration in your road you will not add much value as the average price for the road will hold down the price of your home.
Upstairs, you need to be more restrained, as you probably don’t want to knock down a wall and turn a three-bed des res into a two- bed starter home.
An additional bathroom will usually add value to your home, as will a new kitchen, but think long term and go for a simple, classic design rather than high fashion.
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