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Expert’s corner: which home improvements are worth the expense?

Expert self-builder Jason Orme takes the mystery out of the best and worst places to spend your pennies
   Hannah Caton  |  written on: 23-08-2019 14:30pm

It can be tricky to know where to start when renovating a property, especially when you’re trying to use those updates to climb the slippery property ladder.  There might be many areas you can think of to begin upgrading, but which ones are going to offer you the best returns on your investment?

Fortunately Jason Orme, the content director for My Homebuilding, Real Homes and Period Living Magazine, is on hand to help.

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

Getting things spotless is always must, as buyers are highly influenced by a clean home.

But if your budget can stretch to it, Jason advises that replacing kitchen counters and old tired bathroom fittings can also make a huge difference. It doesn’t mean you have to break the bank, but small changes like replacing tired worktops, sinks, lighting or re-painting cupboard doors can help massively.

Contrastingly, spending money on things like luxury wallpaper is too taste-dependent and might result in putting some buyers off. Better to rejuvenate your walls with a splash of paint, it’s easier to cover over if buyers don’t like the colour.

Work with what you already have

The space you already have could be an untapped gold mine.

Lofts and basements often have more potential than realised, increasing the floor space of most homes by 30%.[1] Additionally, they often add character to a property; as you can see from some our favourite examples. You should consider this even more if you live in an urban area according to Jason: “Urban properties tend to benefit disproportionately from relatively small extensions and remodelling projects that can turn existing space into living accommodation…with every inch counting, it can make a huge difference to the enjoyment and value of a home in the town or city.”

Although many sellers feel that knocking walls down creates space, it’s better to keep a higher number of bedrooms. It attracts more buyers and higher price evaluations from estate agents. Though it might seem like a good idea, reducing the number of bedrooms essentially blocks off entire groups of buyers. And as bedrooms can add up to 15% of value to a property, taking a room away is likely to result in a similar loss of value.[2]

Go Eco

Jason comments that eco-friendly upgrades “either reduce a home’s energy demand (insulation, double or triple glazing, etc.) or they generate the energy the home requires more sustainably (e.g. solar panels). While both improvements are becoming increasingly popular, it’s the former that is likely to add more in the way of house value.”

That in mind, double-glazing is likely to add around 10% of the property value and only cost around £5000. Whereas solar panels cost closer to £7000 but it will take you a couple of years living in the property to earn back your initial spend. After this point, they will likely be a good selling point, but it depends on your time-frame for moving.

Mr Roboto

Smart home tech has been the centre of a lot of excitement recently.

But a general rule is to stick to inexpensive tech that could potentially save buyers money: items like home security, app-controlled lighting and video doorbells. Thermostat control is especially promising as it could cost as little as £280, but has the potential to improve the energy efficiency and therefore energy bills for the new owner. As Jason explains, “it’s a relatively straightforward improvement that doesn’t require too much DIY.”

In contrast, although it may seem anyone would love to own a home cinema, the average value you add to your property (£2,000) is a measly 10% of the price of installing one (£27,500). Other luxurious tech items like huge music systems and expansive underfloor heating might also prove fruitless, as they over-personalise the property. Buyers like to imagine how they can make a space their own, not buy into someone else’s fantasy home.

The take-away message seems to be that a clean, blank slate in what most buyers are looking for. But adding relatively low cost perks, especially ones that will save people money in the long-run, could give you the edge over competition.

NEXT! If you need some inspiration for a simple but fresh look, check out the moodboard below. Click any image to begin browsing. 

Also read
Revealed: the best ways to boost the value of your home


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Hannah Caton

Hannah is the online writer for KBBArk, providing the latest scoop on all things interior. She's always on the lookout for the latest trends and most beautiful re-designs.