With the supply of properties for sale at a record low, home-owners across the UK — whether they’re in a million-pound house or a humble one-bedroom flat — are sitting tight and choosing to improve not move. Why? At the top of the market stamp duty increases are providing a disincentive to relocate, and at the lower end rising prices and tougher mortgage affordability checks have prevented many moving up the ladder as the rungs grow further apart. If you’re one of those staying put here’s where you can add value to your home, and what the likely boost will be.
1. ROOF GARDEN
10-15 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
With external space at a premium, especially in towns and cities, if you can add an outdoor area to your property you will immediately boost the value, sometimes by more than creating an extra bedroom. Planning permission may be required if you’re making significant changes, especially if the space overlooks other properties or you want to build upwards. Charlie Bubear, the head of Savills Chelsea, says: “Roof space gives a property a USP and can really boost saleability, so can be a major asset. A high terrace that ticks every box will really add value. Turfing or decking, screening for privacy, a built-in barbecue and an irrigation system for plants can all increase prices when it comes to selling.”
Cost: £12,000 to £60,000
2. BASEMENT DIG
10-20 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
As prices go up, digging down for space is ever more popular — although that’s a word you probably won’t hear from your neighbours if you undertake this project. Depending on the location of the property the work can pay for itself with the value it adds, but don’t be tempted to scrimp on contractors — if things go wrong your home could collapse.
A typical two-room basement will set you back at least £80,000 to £120,000, but the exact cost will depend on the size and conditions on site. Rosie Caley, of the Oxford and London Building Company, recommends creating a space with as much natural light as possible. “The basement will be more valuable, and more usable,” she says. “Patio doors are good for this. They trick the eye into thinking you are not underground at all.”
Planning requirements vary depending on the area you are in and the works that you want to do.
Cost: £4,000-£5,000 per sq m
3. LOFT CONVERSION
5-15 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
An extension into the loft space is a cost-effective and relatively painless way to add value and will be far less problematic with the neighbours than a basement dig. Robin Chatwin, the head of Savills southwest London, says: “They are fairly easy and you can go in from above without too much disturbance. If you spend £50,000 to £100,000 you are likely to get your money back and potentially make a good profit.” Standard loft conversions don’t usually require planning permission.
4. SIDE RETURN
10-15 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
If you can’t go up or down, think laterally with a side return. These extensions into the unused space between houses allow for the creation of the open plan, light-filled spaces that are at the top of buyers’ wish lists. Agents say that they are so in demand that, in some cases, they can add more value to your home than a loft conversion. The outlay will depend on the size of the room and the type of glazing that is used.
5. NEW KITCHEN
10-15 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
What to put in your new side return? A new kitchen. In a poll of 100 estate agents by Sainsbury’s Home Insurance, nearly two thirds said that this would add the most value to an average three-bedroom house. However, despite the appeal that a gleaming kitchen will deliver it’s important not to overspend. “A kitchen is very important for saleability but it rarely adds more than it costs,” says Ben Pridden, of Savills York. Despite this, a poor kitchen can drag down the value of the entire property so a renovation can be money well spent. “If a kitchen is in a really poor state, a buyer would tend to expect a discount to apply across the whole house,” Pridden says.
Cost: £10,000 to £30,000-plus
16-20 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
On average, agents say, a single-storey extension will add about 16 per cent, while a double-storey extension can add 20 per cent to the value of your home. Research by Countrywide shows that if you add an extension of 30 sq m — the size of two average double bedrooms — to a property in London it will provide an average return on investment of £156,000. The government has recently relaxed the rules on single-storey extensions and larger projects are allowed under permitted development concessions until May 2019. The limits have doubled to 8m for detached houses and 6m for all other homes. You will still need to inform your council about the work, however.
Cost: £2,500-£3,750 per sq m (single storey)
7. RELOCATE THE BATHROOM
8-10 PER CENT ADDED VALUE
If you are extending your property, moving the bathroom can pay dividends, especially if it’s a small space at the end of a galley-kitchen. “It’s always preferable to have the main bathroom on the first floor,” Chatwin says. “We typically see people sacrificing the smallest bedroom to create an upstairs bathroom, while extending into the loft to compensate for the lost bedroom. While it’s significant work and costly when you include the loft work, taking the bathroom up a floor can add significant value to your home.”