Top Ten Home Improvements

Page 1: Extensions and loft conversions
Page 2: New kitchen and bathroom

Hannah Shanks - Editor

Is it time to have a bash at that triple-storey extension? Will buyers go for a lime-green paint job? Well thought out, quality home improvements can boost the value of a property, but botched work and bad judgement can do more harm than good. When navigating your way up the property ladder it pays to do your homework…

Building 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.

Converting the loft

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 normally used to add another bedroom, and there's often space for a value-boosting en-suite.

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.

Adding extra bedrooms

Whether you extend or convert existing space, it's tempting to add an extra bedroom. This has a satisfyingly visible effect on estate agents' statistics. Figures released by Nationwide in 2003 showed that adding a bedroom could increase value by 11%.

It's wise to consider the proportions of your home 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 spacious bedrooms.

Opening up space

There's no sign that the trend for open-plan living is going away. Any why should it? 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.

Fitting central heating

Fitting central heating is not the most inspiring project, but it's a must-do for anyone renovating a property without it. While other improvements have the potential to go wrong, 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.


Property pros