Which Home Improvements Add the Most Value?

The last 8 weeks in lockdown has seen Brits tackle numerous outstanding DIY jobs that they haven’t been able to turn a blind eye to; with many small to medium sized projects being accomplished. Whilst being confined to your home 24/7, you may also have been dreaming about the areas of your home you don’t actually like or feel don’t work; and how you would love more family space via an extension, loft conversion or remodelling of your existing space.  The current COVID-19 working situation has also brought a new problem to many households as more people have been working from home and will continue to do so for the considerable future. This means homeowners potentially needing an area to work from or potentially freeing up a bedroom for this use.

DIY Lockdown Projects
A study of 2,000 adults conducted by Ronseal during the lockdown found that more than half surveyed have noticed faults which need fixing or cosmetic damage around their house that they previously had ignored. 56% got busy with DIY projects with an average of four jobs being completed. The research also found that the kitchen was considered the room which needs the most improvement, followed by the garden and bathroom.

Bigger Home Improvements
However, when it comes down to the bigger projects where you involve professionals, you probably have no idea where to even start or which would be the best option for your family and/or bank balance.  Now that the government are starting to relax restrictions and are allowing more people back to work, the construction industry is springing back into life after building sites and house builds were abandoned up and down the country as brickie’s and plasterers laid down their tools.  After being stuck at home for weeks these trades along with architectural practices are now expecting to get very busy as households spring into action with the ideas and plans they have for their homes; but just what is the best option and value for money if you are hoping to add more space to your home?

Identifying the Current Issues
Firstly, you need to identify what the current issue is – do you need more downstairs living space or do you need an extra bedroom? These are all of course questions that an architectural practice like Building Tectonics will ask you but we thought we would help by giving you some advice on how much value the differing building works tend to add to your home.

Upsize or Improve?
With more people staying put due to the cost of upsizing to a bigger house and the extra stamp duty and moving costs it also incurs, homeowners are now looking at how to increase their existing house space the most cost-effectively.  Families with children also realise that they are now less likely to move out in their 20’s-30’s due to not being able to afford a deposit so are therefore, staying at home longer. This is especially a problem if you live in an average semi-detached house with 3 bedrooms as the small bedroom or box room is just not big enough for a young adult.  Alternatively you may need more living space downstairs; as the whole family is crammed into one small lounge or eating in a small dining room and would love an open-plan living space with zoned areas; but also one you can enjoy time in together.  

Loft Conversion – Potential Value Added: 15%
Everywhere you look loft conversions are springing up as people realise the benefit of converting their room space. This usually gives you the option of a master bedroom with an en-suite or office upstairs or alternatively two extra bedrooms upstairs.  Other uses include creating an extra lounge space or playroom/games room for your children or a bigger office space.

A loft conversion can be completed fairly quickly (5-8 weeks on average) and is not that disruptive as most of the actual work is done in the loft. The majority of lofts can be converted, but it’s worth measuring the loft space to ensure it meets building regulations; as you need a minimum height of 2.1 metres over 50% of the room after the new floor has been put in. You also need to check your landing can handle the extra staircase.

If you are looking to potentially go down this route, you’ll need to speak to an architect and a builder to look at the types of conversions available and what would work best for your home.  Options range from a roof light conversion, which needs the least amount of structural work and so is the most cost-effective, to a more expensive mansard conversion. This is where one or both slopes of the roof are replaced with a new structure with steeper sides and an almost flat roof.

Mansard conversions generally need planning permission, but the majority of loft conversions are included in your permitted development rights.  You may want to check with your local planning department as the rules can vary from one area to another; but generally if your neighbours have completed the work you should be fine.

Side or Rear Extension – Potential Value Added: 15%
There are several options when it comes to house extensions if you are looking to carry out a single or double storey extension. If you live in a typical terraced or semi-detached house a side return extension is often a cheaper solution.  A side return is usually classed as permitted development and is a narrow alley that runs adjacent to the kitchen and by extending the kitchen into the side return and to the full width of the rest of the house means you gain valuable space and can also improve the layout.  However, you could lose windows and the light they’d normally bring in but roof lights will fix this, or you could install a partially or fully glazed roof to keep the space light and airy.  

Although adding an extension involves adding extra square footage to the side or back of the house, it does come at a cost to your garden. Generally, the most popular room for extending is the kitchen, and converting a small galley-style kitchen into a much bigger one with dining space can make your living space much more flexible. You also have the option of building upwards as the same time to give you an extra bedroom which will add more value. If this is something you are considering bear in mind it is more cost effective to do at the same time as a single-storey as otherwise you may need to upgrade your foundations at a later date to take the extra weight. You will also already have the builders on site and machinery hire costs which means you will have this cost the next time.

Open Plan Living/Re-modelling Layout – Potential Value Added: 3 to 5%
Open plan living is still one of the most popular home improvement projects undertaken to maximise family space. You can save on the cost of an extension by knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room which gives you a bigger area to eat and live together in whilst still creating zones for time on your own.

Some homeowners may have the skills to undertake this but, in most cases, it is best to call in the professionals as it all depends on whether the wall is load bearing. If it is, taking it down yourself could prove disastrous. Alternatively, you could consider a rear or side extension instead as although this can be costly and time-consuming, it’ll give you exactly the space you want as well as adding potential value to your home.

Garage Conversion – Potential Value Added: 15%
If your garage isn’t being used for your car (as most are filled with junk), it can make sense to convert it into a living space; especially if you have parking space outside. Converting the garage into another room and then expanding upwards to include another bedroom can be a very good way of adding value to your home. Your first step is to check it is suitable for conversion and whether you need planning permission as although it is normally classed as permitted development, it is always best to check with your local planning authority.

Which is the best solution for you?
Whether you know you definitely require more downstairs living space or it’s an extra bedroom you need; the next step is to speak to a professional to see what your options are.  Building Tectonics has 35 years’ experience of re-designing, altering and extending houses across Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire; and we endeavour to exceed the aspirations and desires of our clients by generating innovative and intelligent ideas that often achieve much more than the original brief.

 To make sure that you have considered all possible options we provide a high-quality architectural design led by a careful feasibility planning process to make clients projects a reality, without suffering the pitfalls that many owners of properties face.

If you are ready to take the first step towards improving your home living space, please just either give us a call on 07548 884645, email us at email@building-tectonics.co.uk or message us via Facebook.

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