Adding Value Through Home Improvements - They Can Turn A Tidy Profit

Before you contract a local builder to fit a new, more luxurious bathroom or bedroom in your home, consider the following question:- Does fitting a new bathroom or kitchen add value to your home, or should you invest in less 'decorative' improvements, such as installing central heating or adding a loft extension?

The results a of survey cnducted by Wicks suggested that when looking for a new home the most important room in a house is the kitchen. Surprisingly, this was followed by the living room! Perhaps a sign of how our social lives have changed after the 2010 market crash?

David Spittle, an award-winning property writer, gives some solid advice about the pitfalls and bonuses of spending money on your home with a view to making a profit...

This year we are likely to spend an amazing £40 billion on home improvements, ranging from simple maintenance and repair jobs to major projects like building an extension.

Most improvements are done with an eye to increasing a property's value as well as making your home more comfortable. Have you ever considered adding Solar Panels to your roof? This is one way for homeowners to both earn a small income from their home improvement project and add value to the house at the same time. This income will be used to offset the costs of your solar panel installation thanks to Government grants and other incentives which have been introduced in recent months. What a great way to do something which helps both you and the planet at the same time! When looking for green options why not investigate something called a green roof at the same time? Strict consideration must be given to your surrounding neighbourhood though as you may not be granted permission in your area.

Usually, improvements that add space, like an extension or conservatory, also add value, but there are pitfalls and, in payback terms, some improvements may not be worth it (see League Table)

Home improvement projects must add value!

One way of moving up the property ladder is to convert your loft. A well-conceived design can create generous extra living space and boost the value of your home - perhaps by 10%.

But it is not an automatic money-spinner. With family homes in particular it is important to achieve the right room balance. Stacking more bedrooms on top of limited living space can make a house unwieldy and less desirable. Similarly, if you add a conservatory that eats up the garden, the house could become less saleable.

Treat with scepticism estate agents' and builders' claims about 'add-on' value. According to Halifax Bank, more owners are making improvements because of the upturn in the property market. But some people confuse the intrinsic value of the improvement with the general lift in house prices.

Normally, there is a trade-off between making your home more comfortable and the extra value the improvement may yield. Also, bear in mind that if you move soon after making an expensive improvement like an extension, you may not even recover the construction costs.

The market value of a home is still influenced most by its location. All properties and streets have an optimum value and there is a limit to how much an improvement can boost the price. Often, the harsh commercial reality is that your house needs to look much like the one next door. Better, perhaps - but not too much.

A two-storey extension may cost the same in Hull as in Hampstead, but the extra rooms are likely to push up the price of the Hampstead home by considerably more.

Over-developing your home - turning a modest bungalow into a sprawling Mediterranean-style villa - can be a liability. If you customise your house, you narrow down the field of would-be buyers.

Some improvements make a home more saleable rather than more valuable. If you splash out £15,000 on a new kitchen, do not expect your home to rise in value accordingly. But the improvement is likely to entice buyers if you decide to sell. Designer radiators are another example of this.

The Dangers Of Actually Reducing Your Homes Value

Conservation bodies like English Heritage say out-of-character improvements can actually de-value a house. Stone cladding seems to provoke most outrage (Planning Permission is now necessary), followed by replacement doors and windows.

Double-glazing is the most popular improvement, but unless the windows need replacing anyway, it can be one of the least cost-effective. The capital cost could take 15 years or longer to recoup through energy savings. Using sympathetic materials to retain or enhance the character is likely to pay dividends.

So avoid substituting a Welsh slate roof - which is serviceable after some remedial work - with a cheap cement-tile one. Where it is practical, consider putting back original features like cornices, fireplaces, railings, dado and picture rails.

The standard of workmanship is an obvious factor and a job well-done is clearly better than a shoddy cowboy excuse or a botched-up DIY solution, so choose your contractor carefully. The HomePro process of finding a 'Trusted Tradesman' should help you find a vetted professional to take on the task under the terms that suit you. Feel free to use our FREE get a quote service, this feature can be found in our business directory located at the top right of every page on the website.

For bigger jobs, it may be worth appointing a chartered surveyor or architect to supervise the work. These normally charge 10-15% of the contract sum, but will often haggle with builders and get the tender price reduced.

Be Practical When You Take On A Home Improvement Project

Balance the expense against the return on your investment. Surveyors are sceptical about indulgent, one-off improvements like stone cladding. They say the priority should be to bring your house up to a reasonable standard - at least to that of neighbouring homes. A shoddy home just gives buyers an excuse to negotiate on price; and a neglected home can cause expensive structural problems to develop.

If you are thinking of putting your home on the market at some point in the future, make sure any changes you make have an impact. For example, a slick new bathroom makes more of an impression than a 30-year guaranteed paint finish.

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