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Does Building An Extension Add Value To Your Home?
Tom Norris

Unless you carry out the right kind of improvements you’re unlikely to see add value to your home. By all means, indulge in a swimming pool or a garden makeover – they may add immensely to your quality of life – but don’t expect them to boost your home’s value. And even if you choose the right sort of improvements, if the work is done badly, or in a style that is unsympathetic to your property or the area, they may actually reduce it.

Some points to consider

Location is the most important factor in deciding the value of your property and, therefore, how much you stand to gain from improvements. Never develop a property out of its neighbourhood, externally or internally. Spending 30,000 on a new kitchen in an area where the maximum selling price is 150,000 is clearly a poor idea from an investment viewpoint.

Pinpointing the sort of buyer you will be targeting when you come to sell is a good way of ensuring you don’t get carried away. Before you knock down that wall to transform two small rooms into a larger, open-plan living space, consider: if your target market would be young families, double doors might be a better option. Seek advice from a local estate agent.

Some improvements, like installing a security system or restoring period features, won’t add appreciably to your home’s value, but may help make it more saleable.

Our 10 top tips to add value to your home

Predicting the future is a tricky business. There are no guarantees, but here are some ideas for improvements that should increase your property’s value.

Adding space is by far the best way. This includes building an extension or converting something that’s already there (for example, the loft) or possibly a garage conversion. The main thing is to add new space add value.

Convert your loft

One of the most popular ways of adding space, a loft conversion can increase a property’s value by as much as 20 per cent. In some cases, the work can be carried out without planning permission, under what are known as permitted development rights (see Obtaining Planning Permission).

Before calling in the builders for building an extension, consider whether your property will benefit in investment terms of the extra accommodation. If not, a loft conversion could be an expensive mistake. You cannot transform your three-bedroom house into a desirable five-bedroom, one just by converting the loft into two bedrooms; chances are that the downstairs rooms, and perhaps the garden, will not be in proportion. In the longer term, you might be better off moving now than building an extension.

Consider also whether you have the right kind of roof. The steeply pitched kind commonly seen on Victorian or 1930s houses is ideal. And both the construction of your roof and the type of access available may limit your prospects of converting your loft into a proper room, rather than just a ‘loft room’.

Convert – or construct – a basement or cellar

Converting cellars into living space, and even digging out new basements, is fast becoming the in thing in some metropolitan areas, owing to pressure on space. Older properties are usually the most suitable candidates for this.

Such undertakings are very expensive, often requiring reinforcement of foundations and extensive damp proofing. Like other major works, they can also be disruptive and stressful.

Building an extension

Provided it is well built and in keeping with the rest of your property, building an extension can add significant value. It will almost certainly be an easier (and hence less expensive) option than a basement.

Home extensions can be built without planning permission, subject to restrictions on height and volume, and certain other conditions.

Build a garage

A garage, particularly a double, will almost always add value – as much as 15 per cent in a busy urban area. The desirability of garages often makes it a mistake, if adding value is your goal, to convert a garage into living space.

Add a bathroom

Here, we have in mind converting a bedroom into a bathroom, rather than building a new bathroom as part of a loft conversion or ground floor extension.

Use common sense when deciding whether this is a viable option for you. If, for example, you have a five-bedroom house with only one bathroom, it may be wise to turn a bedroom into a bathroom. However, from an investment point of view, it would be a poor idea to transform a three-bedroom house with one bathroom into a two-bedroom house with two bathrooms.

Update your kitchen

While a new kitchen may not add greatly to value, it will certainly add hugely to appeal, provided it is well fitted, of reasonable quality and as timeless as possible in design.

As with any home improvement, resist the urge to save money by fitting a kitchen yourself, unless you are confident of doing it to a professional standard.

Improve your bathroom

Gone are the coloured suites of yesteryear; today, the only colour is white. Avoid fancy taps, lurid tiles and anything gold-plated.

If you’re tempted to go for a fashionable wet room, consider whether this is something your target purchaser would be likely to want.

Install central heating

Many older homes still lack central heating. Install it while building an extension and you’ll make your property more saleable. Be sure to choose an energy-efficient system.

Fit double glazing

Double glazing is a must for many potential purchasers. Replacement windows should be in keeping with your home, in style and materials; they can detract from its value otherwise. If you have a period property, secondary glazing may be a better bet with building an extension.

Obtain planning permission

Since a property with planning permission usually commands a higher price than one without, obtain planning permission for building an extension, even if you do not intend to use it yourself, can be a great way of maximising your property’s value for minimum outlay – although, of course, unlike our other suggestions, it won’t add to your quality of life in the short term.

Whether you are likely to get planning permission depends on the nature of the project, the type of property and the location.

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