Go for a pool or garden office but avoid hot tubs and conservatories. Since the pandemic has changed how we use our properties, there’s a temptation to spend up on home improvements according the The Financial Times in a recent article on the subject. Especially if you think you’ll recoup those costs — and more — from an increased price when you sell up. But be careful.
Not every project is going to add value to your home.
Recently, bathroom retailers reported record sales of hot tubs. You may be tempted by a top-of- the-range number, with fancy Bluetooth speakers, 47 hydrotherapy jets, LED lighting and a host of other features included. Think again. No one will ever say, I must buy that house because it has a hot tub, says the above mentioned British newspaper. Read more, ’21 Updates For 2021 Shaped by The Pandemic.’
And why are people still obsessed with conservatories, asks the respected British Times? “These relics from the 1990s are brutally hot in summer and fearsomely cold in winter. But often they are considered an investment. It is also assumed that any added square footage will end up on the bottom line when you sell. This is not always the case. So, what can you do to add value? Consider space and how you use it. Use sunlight to your advantage, and the outdoors to its full potential.” Read more, ‘The Biggest Residential Directions for This Year.’
If your kitchen is small and poky or unconnected to an area to eat or relax in, change it.
“Increasing floor area is one objective. Improving the flow of that space is just as important. Internal walls are often in the way, or kitchens are located in the wrong part of a house, with little thought as to where the sunshine will be on a summer’s evening. Don’t be afraid to change the layout.”
“From pools to playrooms: here are the home-enhancing projects to plan now. You could add a rear extension, providing you don’t take up too much of your garden.
Creating an uninterrupted space with a kitchen and seating areas on a single level is a project likely to return the money you’ve spent.
Add roof lights (with electric blinds to control levels of light) and bifold rear doors to open the space from indoor to outdoor. Make sure to install underfloor heating. Spaces that open up are a joy in the summer. But they’ll be cold in winter. When you slide back those doors, indoors moves outside.” Read more, ‘An Evolution: Trend Report Exploring What’s Next For Design.’
Improve the outdoor area
Outdoor space perfect for entertaining will increase the desirability of your home. While shade and shelter are essential, fire pits and fountains have also become popular additions to many backyards. Cheap stone patios, outdoor lighting from a DIY store and a range of garden furniture that looks like it’s fallen off the back of a truck are not the way to go. As we enter the second year of the pandemic, these things matter. So does having a convenient place to put a barbecue. Better still, install an outside kitchen. Yes, they are expensive, but buyers love them. A retreat away from the main house has always been on homeowners’ wish lists, but the pandemic has brought this to the fore. There’s an entire industry that’s emerged in the past few years building bespoke outside rooms that don’t need DA approval. You can usually put a retreat in your garden without permission but do check with your planning authority. For added value, put a beautiful prefab building in your garden, even if you need deep pockets. Read more, ‘The Biggest Lesson’s We Learnt From The Year of Covid-19.’
It pays off, to go upscale.
Build a Swimming Pool
Don’t build a pool too small. No one will pay a premium for a pond. Kidney shapes are best left in the 1970s Back in 2008, as the property market cascaded into oblivion, commentators opined on home improvements that lost you money. Top of the list was a swimming pool — because they take a lot of time and money to maintain, they put off buyers with small children. Wrong! A decade and a half later, swimming pools are more desirable than ever. Make sure they’re designed properly and installed well. Modern technology means that chemical balance and cleaning can all be done by systems and tech. Lower-cost solutions can ionise the water — or try chemical feeders that maintain the right pH and chlorine levels. Robotic pool cleaners such as a Dolphin or Zodiac will happily keep the tiles spick and span. The best machines can save a lot of work.
A pool without a pool house is like a car without a windscreen.
And you’ll want to keep wet feet and dripping bodies from traipsing through your home. Don’t forget to install a fridge and freezer. Perfect for poolside entertaining. It’s these little features that sell a concept and add value to a bigger spend. A pool doesn’t come cheap. For a proper 11m x 5m outdoor pool, expect to spend. You’ll see quotes for less but often they don’t include earthworks. Will it return that amount for your property sale? Yes, if you’re at the top end of the market, where a pool is considered as standard. Don’t shoehorn a pool into an average-sized garden, though. Or build one that’s too small. Manual covers annoy users so don’t be tight — go hydraulic. And don’t skimp on the heating system. Choose an air source pump rather than gas boilers. The biggest horror is a pool that’s installed above ground. When it comes to making home improvements, check what’s for sale locally as markets differ from area to area. If you get the project right, you’ll make a decent return. And if the money is just sitting in the bank anyway, you might want to consider spending it before the tax man spends it for you.
Improve the layout
Layout It is important when considering the layout of your property to try and avoid losing rooms. Even if you are creating a superb layout, if in the process you go from a 3 to a 2 bedroom property it is extremely likely that you will be reducing the value of your home. Also, try to keep layouts flexible – if you create an open plan ground floor layout consider installing dividing doors and make it easy to reinstate stud walls so potential purchasers understand they can change the layout to meet their needs. Read more, ‘Why Open Plan Homes Are Actually A Terrible Idea.’
How your home looks from the street influences desirability. Adding a fence can be expensive but won’t necessarily increase the value of your home. However, it would be worth fixing and painting any existing fences around the property. Read more on how to update your curb appeal here, ‘Curb Appeal.’
Additionally, replacing or painting your front door a different colour will boost your street aesthetic for little cost.
Build a granny flat
It’s becoming more common for generations of families to live together and split the cost of living. If you have space, adding a granny flat to your property can increase the overall value as long as it’s done right.
Install gas heating and appliances
Improve energy efficiency. Estimates for fuel inflation mean that by the end of the decade fuel costs will be the second largest household payment after the mortgage. This means that having a fuel efficient home will be a big advantage for many prospective buyers who are becoming increasingly conscious of a home’s running costs. If you are extending or converting then consider insulating the walls and ceilings because 70 per cent of all heat is lost through them. Gas appliances are a favourite home feature for a couple of reasons plus they’re efficient.
Gas heaters and in particular, flame-effect fires, give all the warmth and comfort of a wood heater without the hassle or damage to the environment.
Installing gas cooktops and ovens add value in the kitchen and is often preferred to electric ovens and cooktops due to its ability to provide instant heat and even temperature compared to electric. As for the environment, gas may produce less greenhouse gas emissions than electricity. Changing to a fuel efficient system will also reduce bills as can under-floor heating. We have found that many simple low cost measures are effective at reducing energy costs, which will become increasingly important as time goes on.
A new paint job
A new coat of paint is the easiest and most cost-effective way to refresh the look of your home while boosting value. Decide whether you want to redo the whole house or focus a couple of rooms? As for the colour, it’s been said that ivory is the one colour that will add value to your home. Read more, ‘Paint Colours With Cult Followings: 10 Picks.’
This article is an edited except that first appeared in The Financial Times.