So what steps can you take to maintain or increase the value of your property?
Improving the interior of the property may go a long way to increasing the value of the property and this need not be expensive. A new coat of paint and new carpeting are an example of how a property therefore more appealing to potential buyers. It is important to keep the decor relatively neutral and make sure that any decorations is not too outlandish or niche so that it will appeal to the widest of audiences.
The kitchen and the bathroom are often important factors to potential buyers. A filthy and dilapidated bathroom or kitchen is most likely to be off-putting to potential buyers, whereas clean and modern bathrooms or kitchens are often a main selling point. Improving the bathroom or the kitchen need not entail a complete gutting and refit-a new basin or bath coupled with new tiling and a new coat of paint may suffice in the bathroom and new cupboard doors and work surfaces for the kitchen. A recent Money Wise survey revealed that a new kitchen can add 19% to the value of a property and a new bathroom 11%.
Remodelling the layout of the inside of the property may also add value to the property, for example the removal of an internal wall between an undersized kitchen and an undersized dining room to provide a larger kitchen/diner. It should be noted that care should be taken when removing walls and Buildings Regulations Approval will be required if the wall to be removed is a load bearing wall. Removing a chimney breast may also increase the size of, for example, the living room and removing the restrictions on the possible layouts of the room the main focal points by the chimney breast. Although, again the removal of chimney breast would require Buildings Regulations Approval.
When remodelling the internal space of a property, care must be taken as such remodelling may have a detrimental effect on the value of the property for example combining 2 small bedrooms into one large bedroom will reduce the number of bedrooms within the property thus converting a three-bedroom property into a less valuable two-bedroom property.
Increasing the size of the property
The most popular way of increasing the size of the property is to add an extension. In general terms extensions will require planning consent unless they are within the strict limits of “Permitted Development” and will almost certainly require buildings regulations approval. Other factors as to whether or not planning consent will be required will be whether or not property is within a particular type of areas such as a national Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty or a conservation area. It is important to ensure that any extension to the property is within keeping with the character of the property, for example a square breezeblock extension with the flat roof added to a Victorian property is more likely to devalue the property then increase its value; where as an extension built of matching bricks with a pitched tiled roof may add value to the property. Other considerations include whether or not the extension is being built over part of the public sewer which may be running under the property as this will require specific consent from the local authority and utility company. Another consideration when deciding to extend the property is the effect that such an extension would have on the size of garden that will remain for example, a large property with a very small courtyard garden is unlikely to appeal to families.
Extensions can also be a fairly expensive way in which to increase the size of the property and the costs involved (planning applications, building regulations approvals, plans, building materials and the cost of labour) as this may exceed the value added to the property by the extension.
Converting a Loft
According to a recent survey by the Nationwide Buildings Society found that a loft conversion can increase the value of the property by up to 20%. However, a loft conversion can be a major undertaking and may have serious structural implications on the property as a whole; not all properties are suitable for a loft conversion and the following factors will need to be considered:
The strength of the roof construction-as a general rule the original supporting beams of a roof will not be strong enough to accommodate an additional floor and it is common for the supporting beams to have to be replaced by more robust supporting beams.
There must be suitable and safe access to the loft/attic
You will need to check that there is sufficient headroom in the existing loft space and if the headroom is insufficient the roof may need to be raised and dormer windows and it which will add considerable sum at the cost of the loft conversion
If the loft has been converted, other alterations may be needed in the rest of the property to accord with buildings regulations for example, all the doors throughout the house will need to be replaced with fire resistant doors.
The extra weight of an additional storey of accommodation produced by a loft conversion may have an effect on the structural integrity of the load-bearing walls and foundations of the property.
A loft conversion can be an expensive way in which to increase the living accommodation within your property and if the work is not carried out properly very serious structural damage may be caused to the whole of the property and have a detrimental effect on the value of property.
Converting a garage
When converting a garage you will need to consider whether or not the garage is structurally suitable. A garage which has been built separately from the main dwelling may not have foundations that are sufficiently deep to cope with the extra weight. You will also need to factor in the costs of increasing the ventilation, heating and insulation together with the extra utility installations and connections such as water, drainage and electricity (if example converting the garage into a bathroom or kitchen).
The most obvious exterior improvements would be a tidy and well cultivated garden. Potential purchasers will be put off the idea of purchasing your property if they have to negotiate a “jungle” to get to the front door. A carefully planted flower bed and a newly cut lawn will provide a more inviting environment.
Decking, a new patio, French windows out the garden or the addition of a conservatory may also add amenity value to the property.
A property that appears to be dilapidated will also be off putting for potential purchasers, a new lick of paint on the exterior woodwork and masonry (if appropriate) can do wonders to the appearance of a property. New windows are also a relatively inexpensive way to improve the appearance and therefore the appeal of property.
Another enhancement that would be very worthwhile, would be to provide off-road parking if the size of your front garden would allow. However before considering this you will need to apply to the Local Authority for consent to install a dropped curb and have a right of way over the public footpath. It is also important to check the deeds of the property as there may be a covenant on the title prohibiting the parking of vehicles with in the curtilage of the property. Particularly with in the inner cities and larger towns off-road parking can add considerable value to your property.
When considering carrying out improvements to increase the value of the property, you need to weigh up the actual cost of the improvement compared to the additional value achieved. This may differ from one property to another depending on the area which the property is situated. There is often a ceiling as to the price at which properties in a certain area will sell and no amount of additional improvements to the property within the area will enable it to be sold at a price above that ceiling. It is therefore important to take account of the area and the neighbouring properties and to observe what improvements if any have been added to those neighbouring properties and this will enable you to gauge the likely effect a particular improvement is likely to have on the value of the property, an example would be the addition of for example, a swimming pool to a semi-detached property on an ex-council estate, although desirable a swimming pool is unlikely to increase the value of property significantly. It is important that you consider not only the cost of a proposed improvement to the property but also the likely uplift on the value of the property to be gained..