Staying put or selling on, there are clever ways to add value to your home
Your home is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make. Not only financially, although let’s not dismiss just how significant the financial element is. But emotionally, too. Home is where you relax. It’s where you can just be yourself. It’s a reflection of who you are.
Even if you’re not planning any moves in the near to mid-term future, you might be thinking of sprucing things up a little. Maybe that wallpaper that looked so good five years ago is in need of an update. Perhaps your kitchen surfaces are starting to look a little jaded. It might finally be time to get rid of that coloured bathroom suite you’ve never been quite sure of.
Whatever your reason for perking things up, you’re both making your home even more your own, and increasing its value and marketability. A win-win!
Working out where to start
Selling on or not, the most common places to start home renovations are kitchens and bathrooms. Let’s take a look at some ideas about where to begin.
Dream kitchen without the nightmare cost
Estate agents will tell you a kitchen is ‘the heart of the home’. And certainly, space permitting, that’s true. But even if your kitchen space is limited, there are ways you can make it feel bigger and brighter. Get it right and it’ll work for you — and for any prospective buyers further down the line.
Start with a wish list. What would you do in an ideal world? Greater worktop space? More storage? More light? Now, think laterally.
If you need more worktop pace, could you add an island or butcher’s block? Could you join up sections of worktop? How about simply buying a section of worktop and adding some legs? If you could get more things into storage, would that clear the extra space you need?
If you can’t squeeze in any more cupboards horizontally, think vertically. Could you make your wall cupboards taller? Pop the things you rarely use up top, clear the way for counter clutter at the bottom.
You may not be able to pipe in sunlight, but you can make the most of the light you have. White gloss units will bounce it around. White or light-coloured walls give the illusion of space. Clear worktops help here too!
The key thing to remember is that you don’t have to break the bank to make a real change. The average cost of a new kitchen in the UK is around £8000. If that’s over your budget, think about replacing just the worktops and cabinet doors. Maybe change the floorcovering. It’ll give you the brand new feel you want at a fraction of the cost.
A boss bathroom
Two minutes in the shower or two hours in the bath — either is better in a beautifully functional bathroom. Plus, if you do think of selling on at a later date, you’ve made it easier for the next owner. And that adds both value and marketability.
How much you want to spend is, of course, up to you. An entirely new bathroom could set you back anything from around £2500 to about £6500. More if you like your shower units with all the latest whistles and bells. So, start by getting a number of quotes from bathroom providers, both with and without installation costs.
It could work out considerably cheaper to bring in an independent tradesperson. In an ideal world you’ll have a personal recommendation, but there are plenty of tradespeople review sites out there to help you find someone you’re confident with. If you don’t want or need a full remodel, small changes can help. Change your taps, shower hose and shower head to a more modern design. Switch your shower curtain to a glass screen, adding the illusion of space. Change up the radiator — there are some fantastic designs at more than reasonable prices, and they can add a real sense of luxury.
Finally, and especially if you’re selling on, think about whether you might add another bathroom or WC. If you only have a bathroom on one floor, could you add another? If you have more than two bedrooms, could you create an en-suite?
Adding a second bathroom or WC could cost anything from a couple of thousand pounds up, more if you need additional plumbing. But it could add up to 10% to the value of your home.
A wash and brush up
A simple spruce up can add masses of marketability to your home. Buyers — particularly new buyers — don’t necessarily want to start decorating right away. If yours is in what estate agents call ‘walk-in condition’, that’s a real selling point.
Here’s the key: keep it simple. Choose cool, light colour schemes to give the impression of space. And don’t forget your woodwork and ceilings. White always looks clean, bright and smart and sets off any décor. Yellowing skirting and ceilings are not a good look.
Your carpets, especially if they’re light coloured, are probably showing signs of wear. But do they need to be replaced? Could you simply have them cleaned? A professional clean could bring them up like new.
Even replacing carpeting or flooring doesn’t have to be expensive. Try measuring your room from widest to widest point and deepest to deepest. Go down to your local carpet retailer and check the offcuts or roll ends. You might just catch a carpeting bargain. Although at approximately £90 per medium-sized room, it’s not a massive cost to begin with.
If you’re thinking of going down the laminate route, go for something that will stand the test of time. White will get grubby. Black will scratch and mark. Go for a classic natural wood shade that complements all colour schemes, and it stays fresh and contemporary for far longer.
Let’s finish by talking ‘kerb appeal’. What’s the space in front of your home like? It’s the first thing people see when they come to view. So make sure it’s neat, clear and cared for. Same at the back – if you have back garden space, keep it neat. You don’t have to be an expert. And if you’re in doubt, hire a gardener for a day. It doesn’t have to cost a lot but it makes a huge difference to marketing and selling your home.
Creating more space
There’s a simple equation when you’re selling a home: more space = more money. So it makes sense to consider how you might add more rooms to support a sale, either now or in the future.
Extending your reach
What could more space add to your home? A dining kitchen or separate dining room? Another lounge or TV room? Play space for the kids? Extending might be the way to go.
But before you rush out and book that builder, speak to a local estate agent. They’ll tell you how much your proposed improvement will add. And that will tell you how much you want to spend.
Make more of the space you have
In fact, before you book a builder at all, think about whether you need one. If you have an attached garage, for example, converting that could give you the extra space you need at a fraction of the cost. You just need to get rid of all that stuff you never use first.
Take a look in the loft. Having it properly floored and walled — especially if it already has a window — could be your answer. Having it completely converted might also be a less expensive option than adding an entirely new section of building. And it could add anything up to 20% to the value of your home. Again, check with a local estate agent for the figure that applies to you.
But let’s say the garage is full (there might even be a car in it) and the loft is already in use. Additional space is your only option. What kind of structure is going to work best?
If you have a large, sunny garden, you might want to think about a conservatory. Compared to a full extension it’s the cheaper way to go, but done well it’ll add a great deal of value to your home. Exactly how much depends on where you live right now, so it’s always worth chatting to that expert before you begin.
A full extension is the costliest and most disruptive option, but if you’re planning on living in your home for a while before you sell, it could be the right one to give you exactly the home you need. Cost is going to depend on design, materials, size and specification, but at top quality you can guesstimate it at around £2000 per square metre for a single storey design, and around £2500 for two stories.
As always, the question of how much value your planned extension will add will depend on where you live. But unless it’s a terrible job, it’s not likely to bring the value down.
The need-to-knows before your home grows
Let’s talk planning — permission, that is. In most cases, you don’t need a planning permit to convert a loft or garage. That’s unless you’re raising the roof height or enlarging the building, or intending to use your garage as a separate house. Your local authority will be able to guide you — and it’s worth checking with them before you start. You don’t want to complete the work then have to tear it down again.
You will, however, need approval under building regulations. And make sure you get it, or you’ll find selling on isn’t as straightforward as you thought it would be.
Conservatories and extensions within certain limits may not need planning permission. But it’s more than likely that your project will exceed those limits, so again, check your plans with your local planning authority before you begin, and make sure you have all relevant permissions and certifications in place.
Tracking down your tradespeople
This is your make-or-break moment: finding the right people for your job. Personal recommendations are always great, so if you know someone who’s had the work you’re considering done, ask for their advice.
If you’re the first of your friends to give it a go, try talking to local tradespeople. If you know a decent plumber, or electrician for example, ask them who has the best name in the building industry. Chances are they’ll have worked with them, or know someone who has.
You can also ask your local building inspectors – they may offer informal guidance rather than direct recommendations — or visit the websites of the Federation of Master Builders and the Guild of Master Craftsmen. Sites like checkatrade.com also run stringent assessments, so they can offer a degree of reassurance.
Always meet with your potential builders, and get a range of quotes. Do your research and make sure they have all the certifications and qualifications they should have. Don’t believe anything that seems too good to be true — it probably will be. And get everything you’ve agreed to in writing. That will keep both parties happy.
Remember: we’re just offering some ideas. You must always do your own research and make sure you’re 100% satisfied with the decisions you’ve made and the people you’ve hired before you start work. Don’t rush it, don’t cut corners, and don’t start before you’ve worked out all the details. Do all that and you’ll have a home to be proud of, whether you sell it or decide to stay.