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Your home is your prime asset. Not only is it where you spend most of your time – relaxing, entertaining family and friends, perhaps even working as well – but it’s also likely to be the most valuable financial move as well.
So it makes sense that improving your property is a course of action with the potential to both positively impact your quality of life in the here and now, but also to pay you back in the future should you come to sell your house. With increasing pressure in the housing market, spiralling costs of living and a gradual stagnation in wages, many homeowners are realizing that, in general, they’re usually better off improving, developing and maintaining their existing home rather than looking to move if it can be avoided.
Moving house racks up costs that don’t pay you back – such as property taxes, legal fees and removal costs. And that’s not to mention the time, effort and stress that goes into organizing a house move. By choosing to develop the home that you already have, you sidestep all that. Any money you spend is hopefully recouped in the future, plus you get to enjoy the improvements now as well.
And as our homes are the biggest purchase most of us make, it also makes sense to protect that investment. When not well-maintained, our homes can develop problems which seem small to begin with, but can quickly spiral into issues that cause a big headache and may involve significant cash outlay. So the best approach all round is to be proactive when it comes to home maintenance and improvement – this will safeguard your future. But thinking about planning big home projects can be a little daunting, especially if you’re new to property development. What should you do first? What improvements make the biggest impact on your home’s usability and value?
Cover Off Any Structural Issues
Whether you’ve bought a fixer-upper with a view to developing it or you just want to have it on your radar for future proofing when you build your own house, structural issues really are at the heart of the house. If you are unlucky enough to experience things like subsidence, you could find yourself facing a real headache. It will hugely impact the liveability and value of your property, and limit what else you can do – for instance, there is simply no point spending thousands on new kitchens and bathrooms if your building is not structurally sound. These projects have to be professionally handled, and they are generally fairly expensive. However, what they give you is peace of mind and if your goal is to add value, they are essential. Things to carefully look for when you are thinking of making a purchase, or evaluating your home for development are a roof that leaks or looks like it’s sagging, signs of damp or cracks in the wall, rotting in roof timbers of joists, or an uneven floor. Make sure that you get the advice of a structural engineer, surveyor or experienced builder before making plans. Often a lot of issues can be caused by inadequate drainage, so one area to look at improving is drainage. Often renewing guttering can help a lot, as well as looking at other options such as Swiftdrain residential trench drains, that can prevent surface water from flooding basements, garages and driveways.
Improve Energy Efficiency
With a greener approach being so central these days, you can be kinder to the planet and your wallet by improving the energy efficiency of your home. This is also a factor likely to appeal to buyers if it comes time to sell the house. There are lots of ways of improving your home’s energy rating. Some are really simple, such as adding extra insulation into your attic space. Others are a bit more complicated, such as replacing the glazing. New windows and doors can be really good at regulating the temperature inside and come with special coatings which can reflect sunlight to keep the inside temperature stable. Alternatively, adding a new heating system is something which always adds more value to your home than it costs. Other simpler things to try are keeping your HVAC system serviced regularly, using sealant to combat any drafts around windows and doors, and installing an underfloor heating system.
Add In A Loft Conversion
While some steps will make your home more saleable, and may well encourage higher bids from potential buyers if you come to sell, one of the ways to guarantee you can command a higher asking price is to expand the square footage of your home – and a loft conversion is one of the most straightforward ways to do this. Per square foot, converting your loft costs around half of adding the equivalent space with a downstairs extension, plus the work is generally less disruptive. One factor you will need to consider is access – you’ll be installing a staircase, and if this reduces the space and liveability of the floor below, it’s less of a good idea. It all depends on your existing layout and how it can be reconfigured – a good architect should be consulted to make the most of your home. Most people opt to add a dormer window or even in some cases install a mansard roof in order to maximize the usable space in their loft. A lot of loft conversions do not require planning permission either, although some will if they exceed certain specifications, so check into it before proceeding.
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Remodel Your Layout
Times and tastes change in homes as much as in any other area of life. So if you have a home with a layout that just doesn’t flow, don’t be afraid to see what you could achieve with a little remodelling work. In some cases, this can work even better than extending to make the most of floorspace and maximise value. You often get the best results from thinking creatively. For example, circulation space such as the entrance foyer or halls may not really be needed. A lot of people also choose to combine the kitchen and dining room, or create a large family room area with access to the garden beyond. These kinds of multi-functional living spaces are what buyers now look for, especially those with children. And having fewer rooms but which are larger in scale can really do a lot to make your home look bigger by opening up sight lines – you can further enhance this by choosing the same flooring and wall finishes throughout the space. It helps to work out which walls are load bearing with the help of an engineer. Non-loadbearing walls are very easy to remove and can be done by a reasonably skilled amateur. Structural walls are a different story – they can be taken out, but this will need to be done by a qualified professional and it generally involves reinforcing the structure with steel work, which is costly. On the other hand, adding stud walls is quite straightforward and inexpensive, but you will need to consider the acoustics and insulation when planning your new layout.
Update Your Kitchen And Bathrooms
One essential for a lot of buyers is having a modern, well-designed kitchen and where possible ensuite bathrooms, so covering these off can make a big difference in the value of your home. There are lots of different levels you can think about, from a full kitchen remodel to simply repainting or replacing cabinet doors and improving the storage and lighting for a cheaper, more cosmetic fix.