Which Home Improvements Add Value to Property

Which Home Improvements Add Value to Property

by Rebecca Hall on 7 Jul, 2011

A recent study suggests fewer people are opting for home improvements. The research, conducted by Lloyds TSB, revealed that UK spending on DIY has fallen in 2011 to its lowest point since 1998. Following a countrywide economic downturn, non-essential home improvements are increasingly considered low-priority luxuries. However, staying put rather than selling up is common in a stagnant property market, and if finances are in place, home improvements prove to be a worthy investment. With more daylight hours, the summer is the most popular time of year for DIY and renovation projects. One of the chief concerns for homeowners is the potential increase in the value of their property, weighed against the costs of renovation.

The cost of home improvements can easily build up once materials, transportation and labour expenses are combined. Projects that add the most value vary according to size, location and buyer demographic. There are, however, some home improvements that are less likely to leave the property holder out of pocket.

Off-road Parking

Many buyers view off-road parking as essential. In urban areas and London in particular, the value this improvement adds to a property vastly outweighs the initial investment. Off-road parking gives the owner an added sense of security and convenience, while driving down the cost of insurance. It can make the property more desirable to buyers, increasing value beyond the cost of installation. Compared with more extensive home improvements, the price of installing a drive or off-road parking is relatively low, with the strong likelihood of adding value. The aesthetics of the property need to be carefully considered to avoid creating an eyesore, and surface water drainage should be taken into account. Properties facing classified roads will need to comply with safety criteria set out by the Highways and Planning Department and may need planning permission.

Loft Conversions

The cost-to-value ratio of loft conversions is a controversial topic. While some claim the conversion is a poor investment, others suggest that the additional space can add an impressive £20,000 to the value of a property. Essentially, this depends on the size and layout of the house. When extending on to another floor, plumbing and wiring become more complicated. Ensuring sufficient natural light and headroom can also be limiting factors. The loft can provide additional space, but access will alter the layout of the floor below.

Bathrooms and Kitchens

According to a Halifax survey, when a new bathroom or kitchen is installed, 85 and 90 per cent of properties increase in value respectively. Updating fixtures and fittings can be handled with DIY, but a major change to the layout of a room often requires a complete overhaul. An additional bathroom can add balance to a property, depending on the number of bedrooms.

Do It Yourself

Labour is one of the biggest costs involved in home improvement. DIY can make renovation more affordable, but for those who don’t know their Clarke generator from their lathe, power tools are best avoided. Amateur errors can sometimes end up costing more time and money than professionals would charge. At the least, it is advisable to gain an impartial and expert opinion before starting any major work. Planning permission must be followed and special care taken with plumbing, wiring and load-bearing walls. Safety should be the highest priority; inexperienced use of an electric Hitachi or Bosch tool could lead to a loss of much more than a financial investment. However, with the right precautions, planning and expertise, a DIY approach can create a large return on a relatively tight budget.

About the Author

Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall worked as an independent mortgage adviser for 10 years before turning to financial journalism full time. She has strong links to the CAB advising families on mortgage refinancing.