Trying to sell your house?  Buying a house to refurbish?  I recently read an article which said that creating living space is the key way to add value.  Here are some really great tips which I want to share with you.

Overvalue your house  :  You will have to look at the value of your house so that any changes you make will not leave you out of pocket.  If houses in your street sell for £200,000, don’t make improvements and ask for £400,000.  People buying a home for £400,000 do not want to live in a £200,000 street.

Botch up  :  Don’t try to do anything out of your league yourself.  Call in professionals.  A visible mess or a botched up job will just make buyers wonder what else could be wrong with the property.

Refurnish   :  Buyers are not looking at the interior décor.  A buyer may admire your brand new lounge suite but unless you are selling the place as a furnished property, it will not add a penny to the value.
You may enjoy watching your football matches and movies on your cinema size plasma.  When selling the home though, this is just a space consuming appliance.  Do not have a television in a room that will overpower the room and make it feel tiny.

Number of bedrooms  :  Unless you are selling a home to be used as a guest house or bed and breakfast, do not add too many bedrooms.  There is a large difference in price between a one, two and three bedroomed house.  Once you get to four and more bedrooms, it makes very little difference to the value.

Ensure that you get a recommended builder  :  You are not going to have a wonderful relationship with any building team you get in.   It costs you precious money and causes disruption, so avoid bringing in personal friends to do the work as it will strain your friendship.  Get hold of a professional organisation if you do not already know and trust someone who can do the improvements.  Ask for references, call the references and go see work they have previously done.  Back yard builders have caused many a nightmare – avoid this.
Smaller builders will be cheaper but take longer.  Big builders will probably do the job much quicker but at a higher price.  The time versus money equation will determine which you will choose.

Planning permission  :  If you are building on or converting a property you will need planning permission which will cost between £1000 and £2000 for a survey, design and planning.
If you don’t have the money to build the extension or do the conversion it is still worthwhile to spend the money to secure the permission.  To a buyer it removes an element of doubt if they know council have already approved plans.

Open up and add light to the home  :  Glass doors out to the garden add outdoor lighting to a room.  To give an impression that the garden is another room add some decking or paving for garden furniture.  This will cost up to £5000 and will add about two per cent to the house value.

Central heating  :  If the house is not already centrally heated, spending £3000 will add £5000 value to the property.

Bedrooms  :  Don’t make any large changes here.   Ensure they are clean and tidy and add some small finishing touches, cushions, curtains, etc.

Bathrooms  :  Bathrooms and kitchens can make or break a sale.  You do not have to redo the whole bathroom to make a big difference.  Add features such as new taps, heated towel rail, new shower heads, if you don’t have a shower have a power shower installed over the bath.  Do not use a shower curtain; install a glass screen or door.  All of this will cost £300 to £1000 but it put over two per cent onto the house value.

Kitchens  :  If you can only improve one room, let it be the kitchen.  This is often a hub of the home, a place to cook, do homework, watch television, sit and eat together.  Ensure there is enough work space.  Install up to date equipment and knock down any walls that are not load bearing.  Buyers are more interested in the usable space rather than the number of rooms.  Ensure the price bracket of your kitchen matches the price bracket of your house.  Don’t spend £30,000 on a house that is selling for £300,000 as you won’t see any added value.  The same goes for putting in a £10,000 kitchen into a house that is worth £1 million – the kitchen would bring down the value in this case.  A new kitchen should add about 4 to 5 per cent onto the value of the property.

Make visual space  :  Entrances and hallways often look narrow and cramped.  Move bikes, prams, shoes, etc. Put mirrors up on either side of the hallway – this gives a visual effect of space.

Front door  :  If you don’t put in a whole new front door, at least change sad looking doorknobs and letterboxes.  A new door will cost under £1000 and just sprucing up the fittings will cost less than £100.  This is one of the first impressions a buyer gets of the house – make it a good one.

Windows  :  Only change windows that are an eyesore.  Clean the windows.

Paint  :  Still on first impressions, a lick of paint outside the house will cost less than £1000 but could add value.  If nothing else it will make the house look better.  On the same note, clear the driveway and unblock gutters.

Front Garden  :  Unless you live in the countryside where the garden is an important feature, it is a good idea to pave part of the front garden.  This will add value if you use the front garden as a parking place.  You may need planning permission to do this and the overall cost could be £10 to £20,000 but the value added in an expensive urban area would make this worthwhile.

Garage  :  If your garage does not contain a car then it is a wasted asset.  Determine who your most likely type of buyers are and present the garage as a spare room, an office, a playroom, a gym or a study. For less than £10,000 you could turn the garage into a living area.

Basement conversion  :  The most expensive extension.  It costs £200 per square foot to dig and another £100 per sq. ft. to fit out.  Unless the house is worth £300 per sq. ft. you will not see any value added in doing this type of conversion. 
However, in space restricted or urban areas, where houses sell for up to £900 per sq. ft. it could be a worthwhile venture.  I read about a man who had a basement put into his London home.  Houses in the street sell for £700 per sq. ft.  Putting a basement into his 2,200 sq. ft. house doubled its size.  Value lies in increasing living space.  He suggests using a rule of thumb that every £1 invested into a house should increase the value by £3.

Add a conservatory Extending living space always adds value but ensure a conservatory doesn’t look like something just bolted onto the house.  Make sure the style matches the house. Ensure the flooring follows through in the same style as the house.  A conservatory must feel like part of the rest of the house.  A conservatory will cost anything from £5,000 to £30,000 and can add on 7 per cent to the value.  A fully blown extension will cost £10,000 to £30,000 and will add 11 per cent to the value.

Loft conversion The easiest way to make an extra room.  Most of the work is done from outside so it is not too disruptive.  The key is to make the access to the loft easy and ensure it fits the rest of the house.  Strengthening floor joists will raise the floor level so ensure there is sufficient space to stand up.  Spending £20,000 on a loft conversion can often add £40,000 to the value of the house.  Some valuators conclude that a loft conversion adds 12.5 per cent to the selling price.  Check with mortgage lenders first.


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