Have you opted to stay put rather than start looking for a house at a time when supply is scarce, the stamp-duty rates are punitive on expensive properties, and tough affordability rules may make it tricky to obtain finance? Then you need to plan your makeover in the same way you would a search for the right property — set aside emotion and do the maths.
Download some apps
Move or Improve, an app from Rightmove, will help you see whether work will add value, based on the prices of other properties in your area. Other handy apps include Screwfix Toolbox, which gives an estimate of the cost for flooring, paint or wallpaper. It’s a good idea to have an in-depth estimate of the materials you will need to buy for your project, and how much they will cost. The app also includes a spirit level that you can use via your phone. With MagicPlan you can accurately measure how much floor space you have — it also allows you to create a floor plan in minutes using your phone’s camera. Room Planner Home Designwill produce realistic 3D models of your plans and help you to visualise how the rooms will look with furniture in them. Brickhunter should allow you to match existing bricks. With Photo Measures Lite you can take a picture of a room and write all the measurements on the picture. Houzz should give you some tips on different decor styles.
Add value in the right places
The kitchen is the focal point of a home, and it is tempting to overspend. However, an expensive kitchen update will not necessarily add equal value to your home. As a general rule, a kitchen refurbishment adds 15 per cent to value, according to research by Sainsburys Bank.
Note that in many new developments each bedroom has its own bathroom, which means that you should add bathrooms to your home where possible. Install a separate shower cubicle to the bath, if there is space, and rather than lavishing cash on an existing bathroom, spend the money on putting in another. Such improvements tend to add about 13 per cent to total value.
Extending upwards has many benefits, and can add 16 per cent to value. Create a master suite which means that parents have their own floor, or turn the space into a playroom, meaning that the rest of the house is free from toys and other children’s clutter. If you feel that you’ll need some financial help to achieve this, it’s worth checking out companies like Sofi (https://www.sofi.com/personal-loans/home-improvement-loans/). Consider the fact that in these scenarios, it’s better to make a short term loss for long-term gain – treat it as an investment that you’re looking to get a return on.
A similar amount of value can be added by creating space on the ground floor with a single-storey extension, but be careful to observe regulations. Until May 30, 2019, homeowners can build larger, single-storey extensions under permitted development concessions. For this fixed period the size limits have doubled from 4m to 8m for detached houses and from 3m to 6m for all other homes, although homeowners will need to provide their local authority with a written description of the work and a plan of the site.
This more generous approach was due to expire in May but has recently been extended. Before professional fees (architects and structural engineers’ fees, planning application charges, VAT etc), a single-storey extension costs about £1,200 per square metre, but this could be double in London or the southeast. A double-storey extension costs about twice this, again before professional fees and VAT are added. This type of refurbishment can double the size of your home and add about 20 per cent to its value.
Finding a builder or architect
A recommendation is the best way to find a good builder or architect. Use a building firm belonging to a trade body, such as the Federation of Master Builders (fmb.org.uk).
When looking for an architect, check the database at the Royal Institute of British Architects (architecture.com) or Architects’ Republic (architectsrepublic.com). Don’t be shy about asking builders for references, and check that they have personal and public liability insurance, and ask to see their certificates.