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If you’re planning to undertake home improvements, it’s important to consider what adds most value to a house. You might have always dreamed of installing a hot tub in your lounge or transforming your open-plan living space into a bowling alley, but it’s unlikely to do much for your property’s price tag.

On the other hand, there are several upgrades and renovations that are almost guaranteed to increase the sale price of your house. Whether or not you’re currently planning to sell your property, read on for our guide to the most valuable home improvements.


Identifying and fixing structural issues

Before you start focusing on nice-to-have upgrades, we recommend concentrating your attentions on resolving any pressing structural issues, such as:

  • Rising damp
  • Subsidence and movement
  • Rotten roof timbers and / or joists
  • Sagging or leaking roof
  • Bulging walls

Sometimes these can be small costs, but there are times where they can be among the most expensive improvements to your home. Either way, fixing defects such as these is absolutely critical to adding value. Consider hiring a surveyor or qualified technical expert for an expert opinion if you’re unable to differentiate between cosmetic faults and major structural defects.


Upgrading your kitchen

With any structural issues resolved, it’s time to move on to the improvements that will make your house most attractive to potential buyers – and that means upgrading your kitchen.

According to Lloyds Banking Group, one in three homeowners spends most of their time at home in the kitchen, so any changes you make here are likely to have a significant impact. The kitchen is also the most expensive room in the house, with an average value of just under £5,000. No wonder, then, that the National Association of Estate Agents insists it is essential to have an “attractive, hygienic and fresh-looking kitchen”.

Removing an internal wall to create an open-plan kitchen and diner can cost around £3,500, but could add between £5,800 and £48,500 to the value of an average home, according to research from the Federation of Master Builders and the HomeOwners Alliance. Additional kitchen improvements – such as laying new flooring, and installing new worktops and cabinet doors – could add as much as £26,000 to an average home for an outlay of just over £4,000.


Building an extension

Perhaps more so than any other improvement on this list, the value of building an extension is heavily tied to the price per square metre of your property.

An average extension will probably set you back £20,000 or more. If you live in Kensington and Chelsea – with the highest average price per square metre in all of England and Wales, at just under £18,000 – then a 25 square metre extension could add almost £450,000 to the value of your home. In contrast, for a property in Blaenau Gwent (with an average price per square metre of £775), you might just break even by building an extension. Use the Office for National Statistics’ excellent calculator to get an understanding of whether extending your home is likely to be a good investment:

If you are considering an extension, bear in mind that a single-storey build – such as expanding your kitchen or dining area – may not require planning permission, depending on where you live, whereas a two-storey extension almost certainly will.  Please ensure you check with your local planning office for guidance prior to undertaking any extension

Converting your loft

A loft conversion is another way to increase the floor space of your property, but unlike an extension, it rarely requires planning permission. Converting your loft is considered to be “permitted development”, provided it doesn’t extend or alter the roof space, or exceed other specified limits and conditions. You can find more information from Planning Portal, a joint venture between TerraQuest and the Department for Communities and Local Government.


Converting your loft is likely to be a sensible investment, with Nationwide Building Society calculating that it could increase a property’s worth by around a fifth. However, a conversion is probably only worth undertaking if it expands your overall floor space. Bear in mind that your loft conversion will necessitate the installation of a dedicated staircase, which will eat into the existing space in the rest of your house. Compliance with building regulations is vital to ensure all works meet minimum standards of design and construction as well as adhering to health and safety regulations regarding safe exit in case of emergency.

Considering on extending into your loft? Read our in-depth article on loft conversions here.


Adding a new bathroom

From lavish showers to decadent bath tubs and stylish sink units, a new bathroom can often give your house some real “wow factor”. If you ask any estate agent or interior designer what adds most value to a house, you can bet that a new bathroom will feature high on the list.

It’s important to consider the number of bedrooms per bathroom. A ratio of one bathroom to every bedroom might be theoretically ideal, but unless you’re running a bed and breakfast it’s probably not practical. What’s more, any extra bathrooms you choose to install could be taking up room that would be better used for something else. On the flip side, if you have a three-bedroom house with only one bathroom, you should certainly consider fitting an en suite.

As with so many things in the world of property, you’ll also want to consider location. An additional bathroom isn’t necessarily a license to print money; research by Direct Line Home Insurance suggests that a downstairs bathroom could even detract from the value of your home.


Improving your driveway

While it may be less glamorous than a revamped kitchen or a luxurious new bathroom, improving your driveway is a cost-effective means of increasing the worth of your home. After all, it’s one of the first things that a potential buyer will see on viewing your property; if the driveway is cracked, overgrown or otherwise in disrepair, they could be put off before even crossing the threshold.

Best of all, installing a new driveway will generally involve a smaller outlay than the other upgrades detailed in this article. According to the Federation of Master Builders and the HomeOwners Alliance, the work can cost a little over £2,200, but could add more than £13,000 to the value of your house.

If you are wondering how much value does a drive way add to a house? read our in-depth article on the subject here.


It is worth it or is life just too short?

While research suggests there is money to be made when done right, always consider the impact of undertaking improvement works on your lifestyle and family. Significant works have a huge impact on the usability of your property, often for many months at a time. When considering this disruption cost, you may just decide to sell your property and leave the hard work to the next owner. Your expert local estate agent will of course be able to highlight your property’s potential to any potential purchaser, which will make it more appealing to those with the appetite to undertake the works – potentially leading to significantly better offers for your property.

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Correct at time of publication (20th November 2018). The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chancellors Group of Estate Agents Ltd or its subsidiaries. References to legislation, best practice and other matters with legal implications such as fees, rules and processes are included for information and editorial purposes only and are not authoritative, nor should they be interpreted as advice. When in doubt you should only take advice from an industry professional or solicitor where appropriate. E&OE.

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