Looking to sell or want to know how to add value to your home? TV property expert Phil Spencer shares some top tips whether you’re thinking longer term or considering putting your property on the market soon.

With homeowners now staying put for an average 19 years before moving, according to a new report by property analysts Hometrack, Wise Living spoke to TV property expert Phil Spencer on current housing trends, the property pitfalls to watch out for, and why people are staying put for nearly two decades.

How to add value to your home in the current market

Why are people choosing to stay put rather than moving?
“The cost associated with moving has increased significantly in recent times, with agency fees, removal costs etc. Without a booming housing market, homeowners perhaps haven’t generated equity in their homes that they would have done in previous decades that would have enabled them to take another step up the ladder.”

People are increasingly less likely to move home and renovating instead.
People are increasingly less likely to move home and renovating instead.

How sellers are presenting their homes?
“I’ve been involved in the housing market for over 25 years and, as with all things, there are trends. There are elements of fashion and, as with clothing, fashion changes, so be careful of that and don’t go too far out on a limb.

“There was a trend for open plan and generally opening things out, but I’d say that’s changing again.

“More en-suite bathrooms have been prioritised recently. They take up more space and don’t always add huge amounts of value when re-selling, so it will be interesting to see if this lasts. Pantries and larders are also on the up, as we crave more and more space.”

What are there pitfalls when making home improvements?
“Simply put – bad DIY. It’s obvious when somethings been done cheaply, we should all be mindful of that. You also need to be realistic with the space you’ve got. Every property has a ceiling price and as long as you’re aware of that, then you’re good.

“I would say you need to be consistent. I’ve seen expensive bathrooms in cheap houses and it can look very out of place. Always match the price bracket of fittings to that of the house.

“Also, not to make things too personal to you and your taste and lifestyle. If you’re doing it for you, great, but if you want to re-sell be careful. You always need to appeal to the largest possible denominator – there is a reason people use magnolia!”

Move or improve – what should homeowners consider?
“Do the maths and your research. Work out how long you would be able to stay in your property if you improved. Is it worth it? What would it be worth having done the work? It’s a big decision, and it’s rare that the answer is obvious. If you’ve done your research, then go with your decision and stick with it.”

Is it worth spending money on the garden as well as the home?
“Yes – treat your garden the way you would treat another room. Outside space can be as valuable, if not more so, than another room in the house. I’m pleased to say people have realised this and are spending more time and effort on their gardens.”

Is it better as a buyer to purchase a ‘doer-upper’ or a turn-key home?
“Each to their own, to be honest. Some people are in the right stage of life to do a project, and some aren’t.

“Last time I moved, taking a project on was the last thing I wanted to do. I was changing areas, which meant changing schools, and I just wanted a home I could move straight into.”

Any tips for sellers trying to present their home to buyers over Christmas?
“Don’t over-decorate. But (the) chances of serious buyers looking at buying house over the festive period are rare. I wouldn’t take any estate agent photos with decorations, as they will date quickly.”

How to add value to your home – 6 home improvements

While an increasing number of homeowners are avoiding the expense – plus the physical and emotional upheaval – of moving house, renovating your home still makes sense financially, whether you’re adding home improvements to sell or to simply improve your home.

The number of people staying put has risen fivefold since 2013, according to a report by Hiscox Insurance – increasing from 3% of households to 15% – more than four million homes in the UK.

Supporting the notion that we’re becoming a nation of home-improvers, figures from Halifax show that planning applications have risen by a quarter over the last five years. Meanwhile, Hiscox found the average budget for home renovations was around £16,100 for each project, although 18% of the householders surveyed expected to spend more than £25,000.

What are the best home improvements to make

So what improvements are they making? According to the research, homeowners are most likely to either renovate a bathroom or add a new one, followed by kitchen improvements, installing a new boiler or central heating system, or creating more living space. However, not every home-improvement project will automatically add value to a property.

“Cheap is cheap – nothing kills the value of a property more than doing cheap work in it. Estate agents have told me they’ve seen sellers with tears in their eyes, when they find out that construction work worth thousands of pounds hasn’t added a single penny to their home,” says Ash Chawla, chief executive of the design/build company Duke of Design. “We live in a world which has become very aware and knowledgeable. There are no shortcuts to creating value to your home.”

6 home improvements that add value to your home

So, what does Duke of Design recommend? Here are six home improvements Chawla says could be a wise investment…

Conservatories

How to add value to your home with a conservatory.
How to add value to your home with a conservatory can increase value by up to 15% according to a report.

The simplest home addition is a conservatory, which Virgin Money research says can raise the value of your home by as much as 15% if it’s included as part of an extension, or by 5% if it’s just a simple conservatory.

Chawla says choosing the right materials can help conservatories blend well with modern and period properties. “The key is to use materials other than the commonly seen white UPVC,” he says. “A muted, more sophisticated palette of taupe and grey-painted wooden frames camouflages itself in a natural setting, and the reflective properties of glass help it blend into the outside space more easily.”

There are lots of different types of conservatory to choose. Read the Wise Living guide to building an Edwardian conservatory and building a Victorian-style conservatory.

Extensions

An extension is more involved by can increase living space and boost selling price.
An extension is more involved by can increase living space and boost selling price.

Estate agents surveyed by Hiscox believe the best way of spending money on your home is by having an extension built, saying the addition of a new bedroom could boost the average home’s value by 11.2%. They reckon a new kitchen, meanwhile, will typically increase a home’s value by 5.5% (or £12,400 based on an average UK house price of £226,071), although 28% think a new kitchen can lift a home’s value by as much as 10%.

A single storey extension can be built in as little as three weeks once planning permission is granted, says Chawla, who suggests an average sized £30,000 single-storey rear kitchen extension on a £500,000 home can lead to a profit of £30,000-£35,000. “Aside from a rise in property value, you also benefit from a stunning home environment with added usable space,” Chawla adds.

Remodelling

Remodelling a kitchen is one of the best ways of how to add value to a home.
Remodelling a kitchen is one of the best ways of how to add value to a home.

Remodelling an existing kitchen – by adding high quality units and flooring, purpose lighting and redecorating – could increase a property’s value by as much as 4%, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – although Chawla warns that expensive purchases, such as kitchen units and flooring, should be kept in proportion to the value of the property.

“The most successful kitchen extensions consider the whole home,” he explains. “By removing internal walls, you can connect the kitchen to the dining room, creating a functional space for entertaining.” Alternatively, you may also choose to link the kitchen to the garden by using large windows or patio doors.

Stuck with single-glazed windows? Read the Wise Living guide to choosing double glazing.

Garden landscaping

Landscape your garden
Don’t forget the outside, too, and landscape your garden – it’s seen as an extra ‘outside room’.

“Often overlooked, the garden can become the hub of home life and can work seamlessly with your home, as if brick and foliage were the most natural partners in the world,” says Chawla.

For family-sized homes, ensure the outdoor space is suitable for the growing needs of a family with low-maintenance planting and landscaping, while a small courtyard garden at a city apartment may appeal to younger working couples. The cost of landscaping a garden can be as little as £2,000, but Chawla says spending a little more can lead to a potential return of £40,000 on a £500,000 house.

Parking space

Parking spaces can be at a premium depending on where you live.
Parking spaces can be at a premium depending on where you live.

Adding adequate parking for the size of the house can be a great way of how to add value to your home. Most towns and cities have a parking problem, Chawla points out. “By providing viable parking facilities, you can increase your property price dramatically,” he promises.

You could either convert land at the front or side of your property to add a driveway or parking space, or add a garage – possibly by converting an existing outside building, if there’s suitable access, or by building a garage extension. Full garage conversions commonly add up to 8-10% to your property value, says Chawla, particularly in areas where parking is a premium.

Loft and basement conversions

Lofts and basements can be a cost-effective way to extend your home.
Lofts and basements can be a cost-effective way to extend your home.

The Hiscox report says loft extensions are the most popular planning request, and Chawla says loft conversions are usually less troublesome than basement conversions. They don’t always require planning permission, although they do need to meet building regulations to be classed as a room. The Nationwide Building Society says the average cost to convert an attic is around £20,000, which rises to approximately £35,000-£45,000 if you’re creating a dormer loft with double bedroom and bathroom.

Just boarding out the loft for storage is unlikely to make much impact on the price of your property, and Chawla stresses: “If financial gain is your goal, converting the loft into a usable room is the way to go. The benefits of adding an additional bedroom to your property can be huge – loft conversions can add as much as £65,000-£75,000 to your property value.”

An alternative is to add a basement conversion if space allows, but Chawla says this is a complicated procedure and potential problems, such as water ingress and foundation issues, can be  major concerns.

Looking to extend into your loft? Read the Wise Living guide to how to choose the right lift conversion.