Spending on home improvements not only makes your house a more enjoyable place to live, but if done right it is also likely to give its value a boost.
The average home improvement could add in excess of 10 per cent to the value of a home, while those who build conservatories come out top on their return on investment of potentially 108 per cent.
So, what are the best home improvements?
Best Home Improvements – Fix Structural Problems
Before you begin to consider cosmetic improvements and repairs like new bathrooms, kitchens, flooring and redecorating, make sure you fix any major structural problems.
Cosmetic solutions can hide problems from potential buyers but are very unlikely to fool a valuer and this will be sure to hinder any sale.
Examples of structural defects include:
- a sagging or leaking roof
- rising damp
- structural cracks to walls
- bowing walls
- rotten joists or roof timbers
- insect infestation
- missing or broken roof tiles
- an unstable chimney stack
- a collapsed floor/slab
These defects can all be repaired but at a price. They are likely to be amongst the most expensive work required in a renovation project but, in terms of adding value, they are absolutely essential. If you are unsure about confusing structural defects with purely cosmetic faults, then consult a builder, surveyor or structural engineer.
Icynene spray foam insulation is an excellent and cost effective method of preventing and protecting against rising damp.
As repairing any of these problems can be disruptive, it is essential to identify them and get the work completed in the early phases of a project, ideally before you move in.
Best Home Improvements – Add Central Heating
Adding or updating the central heating system will always add more to the value of a property than it costs. It will be considered an essential by most buyers and mortgage valuers.
Using a plumber to add central heating to an average three bedroom Victorian or Edwardian house will cost £3–4,000.
Updating the heating system needs to be done in conjunction with improving the general energy efficiency of the building.
- sealing any air leakage points with spray foam insulation
- replacing windows that are beyond repair with double glazing
- add insulation into the loft space
If the existing boiler is in reasonable working order and has adequate output for the heat requirement of the building, always try to make use of it with the exception of boilers that draw their air intake from inside the house. Implementing spray foam insulation in your home will help to reduce your energy bills considerably and prevent and protect from rising damp.
Best Home Improvements – Loft Conversion
Most home improvements will add some value, but the cleverest will reap rewards in relation to outlay. According to valuers in The Halifax Home Improvement Survey 2006, loft conversions represent the best value for money. Prices start at around £8000 and most lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres are suitable for conversion.
Loft conversions are usually used to add another bedroom, and there’s often space for a value-boosting en-suite. Insulating your loft with Icynene spray foam insulation will also save space and make your new loft conversion a more comfortable space.
Converting the cellar can also be a cost-effective way to increase square footage. It’s not advisable to dig out beneath a property though; this is structurally difficult, you’ll need to move out during the work and costs in the region of £80,000 make it near impossible to recoup your expenditure.
Extensions and loft conversions involve major building work and require expert help.
Best Home Improvements – Pave over the front lawn
If you live in a city or busy urban location where parking comes a premium, swapping your front lawn for a driveway can be a savvy and practical move. Homeowners have been known to rent out their driveways in prime locations and as well as adding value to your home, this could also add a additional monthly income.
Potential value added: Up to £50,000 in some pockets of London
Best Home Improvements – Open up space
There’s no sign that the trend for open-plan living is going away. Natural light, sociable cooking space and luxurious living areas appeal to all sorts of buyers. Just don’t get carried away.
Practical family homes often need rooms to shut away white goods, household waste, children and pets. It’s also essential to get the professionals in to make sure you’re not bashing down load-bearing walls.
Kitchen-diners are a popular use of space, but the sitting room was ranked the most important room in the house by respondents in the Halifax survey. The most successful open-plan rooms tend to be ‘zoned’ to define space.
Best Home Improvements – Build an extension
Extending your property is an ambitious and expensive move. Any significant building work will cause disruption and reduce outdoor space. On the other hand, extra square footage can be a real advantage.
Make sure your plans are in line with the style of your property (especially in period homes) and that the extension will add functional living space. It’s not wise, for example, to add bedrooms when you have a living room the size of a postage stamp.
Another common mistake is tacking on a half-hearted conservatory without choosing the most suitable design or making efforts to define usage.
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