Quite often, the houses that we buy are in need of tlc and require a sensitive injection of cash. We are all accidental developers to an extent, because maximising value should be at the back of everybody’s mind when tackling a project. The task may be as simple as replacing a dated Kitchen and Bathroom together with an overall spruce up, or it may involve an improvement in the layout and fabric of the property.

Spending too much money in the wrong direction is a trap that can be easily sprung, so how do you know where and how to improve a house?

Unromantic though it may seem, you should always remember that one day you will sell, and your house is as much a property for you to live in, as it is a commodity, that in the future might have to attract a wide market. In a sense, therefore, you are improving your house as much for yourself, as for its next owner.

Decor of your property

The key is to avoid extremes and think about what might appeal to a wider audience. Of course you will want to furnish a property to your own taste, but it is risky to be too radical; ultra-modern, for instance, is not everybody’s cup of tea. An occasional cry from viewers of ‘done’ houses is that they object to having to pay for someone else’s excessive taste.

Improvements to your property

Think about rooms and features that tick boxes for people. The most important room in the house these days is the family Kitchen. If this can be a large and light space of reasonable quality, it could sell the house by itself. Anything that you can do to open it up and create light, therefore, would reap benefits. There are some very good and reasonably priced kitchens around and, of course, excellent local craftsmen for the bespoke look.

Having more than one Bathroom is important for most people and if you can squeeze in a small ensuite without taking up too much space, it would be worth it. It’s amazing what you can fit into a couple of square meters. Think about effective lighting, opening up fireplaces, improving flooring, exposing beams and walls. Character can be injected into most houses with the minimum of difficulty and expense.

Extensions to your property

You often don’t have to extend to increase value. We handled a house in Dorset where the owner had simply divided a large bedroom into two to create a four bedroom house. That, together with a new septic tank and some landscaping realised a far higher price than he paid only six months earlier. If you are going to extend, think about balance and cost. A house with a good overall balance of ground and first floor accommodation will maximise value. If you over-extend on a small plot, however, the ratio of house to outside space will be impractical. It’s often a good idea to obtain planning consent and then you have the option of simply selling on with that in place.

Of course there is far more to say than will fit in this concise blog, so if you are in doubt about adding value without compromising your own lifestyle, seek the advice of an agent and an architect…it could reap benefits in the long run.

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