Quality home improvements boost the value of a property, but botched jobs and bad judgment can do more harm than good. When navigating your way up the property ladder it pays to do your homework.  What home improvements really pay off when the time comes to sell your house?

Extending your property is an ambitious move.  Any traditional building work will cause disruption and reduce outdoor space.  On the other hand, extra square footage can add value and make use of space outside by adding a garden building.  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 to add bedrooms when you have a tiny living room.

  1. Loft Conversions.  The Halifax reports this as best value for money.  Investing with an experienced builder can produce a loft conversion from £10,000 and most lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres are suitable for approved conversion.   It’s wise to consider the proportions of your house and avoid cramming in additional bedrooms unnecessarily. Think about your potential market – families may want to give children small rooms of their own, but couples or single occupiers often prefer one or two more spacious bedrooms.
  2. Nationwide’s figures show that adding a garage or garden room, which can cost anything between £10,000 and £30,000, increases the value of your property by at least 11%.  You can usually have one installed without planning permission but again, a responsible company will be able to advise you and guide your choice.  If in doubt, check your local council’s planning office website for advice on garden buildings
  3. There’s no sign that the trend for open-plan living is waning. Natural light, sociable cooking space and large living areas appeal to all sorts of buyers.
  4. Fitting central heating is not the most inspiring improvement, but it’s a must for anyone renovating a property without it. Efficient central heating and a modern boiler are a safe bet.  Figures from Nationwide suggest this can add 13% to the value of a property.  Even if your property is already kitted out, investment in a new high-efficiency boiler is worth considering. These can cost £100-£200 more than conventional boilers, but will reduce your heating bills and attract ‘green’ buyers.
  5. Don’t neglect outdoor space during a property spruce-up. Gardens can be a room, or several rooms, in themselves.  Remember, first impressions count, so cast a critical eye over the approach to your home.  A mere £50 will add a few pot plants or hanging baskets.  In the back garden, consider your potential buyers.  Busy professionals might be tempted by low-maintenance paving, but families benefit from a patch of grass to frolic on. Barbeques, outdoor furniture and subtle lighting suggest a laid-back al-fresco lifestyle.  Simple but attractive planting won’t scare off amateurs and will give expert gardeners room to make their mark.  Investing in a garden room can sell your property on lifestyle alone but make sure you opt for a professional product; doing up a garden shed will not have the same appeal.  Many couples and young families have an office in their garden – properly insulated, like the house, with electric, heating and lots of glazing for natural light.  Such extra rooms can serve as an occasional guest suite or transform into a party pad, home cinema or other leisure room to appeal to your buyer.
  6. A good old neutral paint job, carefully done, leaves the property fresh and appealing to the masses.  Highlight colours or papers can be used on odd walls but be aware that colour choice is a very personal thing and many may not like strong hues or contrasts.
  7. Loft conversions without permission from the local council are worthless.  Those done DIY style will simply not recoup their cost.  Ask any estate agent what makes their heart sink fastest when viewing a new property and they will recount the horrors of the badly planned loft conversion with no head room and access through a bedroom.
  8. If considering a garden room, take care to match the extra room with the style of your house.  A minimalist cube style garden room in a Victorian terrace may well upset the neighbours.  Shop around for companies that can design to your needs, there are some out there who offer this service free.
  9. Don’t blag it and think that doing up your timber shell garden shed will serve as an extra room – modern garden buildings are highly insulated, appear as a room in your house from the inside and have double gazing, lighting and power sockets.
  10. Don’t get carried away with the open plan idea – 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 knocking out load-bearing walls or making expensive mistakes moving plumbing or electrical services.  The down side to open-plan homes is the inevitable loss of heat and sound insulation.  So have a balanced view and be aware that opening your kitchen allows all the sounds and smells to wander through your living area.

By Jewel Gallagher

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