Has the housing market made you decide to improve, not move?

If the turbulent UK housing market has made you think about staying put and improving your home instead of moving, now’s the time to consider your strategy as spring approaches.

Perhaps you haven’t been able to find a house you want to move to due to the lack of properties and high prices in this housing market, and that, combined with the Bank of England raising interest rates, has made you decide to stay in your home.

Any home improvement will depend on how much your plans have changed: perhaps now you don’t plan to move for a long time, or maybe you want to make your house more attractive to prospective buyers as you wait for the housing market and rising interest rates to settle down.

Either way, you may be considering the best way to improve your existing space, which may well involve a conversion or extension project to give your home a new lease of life. The right scheme will help you to achieve house price growth in the current housing market, or give yourself extra room to enjoy if you decide to stay.

The housing market is prompting many homeowners to extend rather than move.

How to improve your home

Before planning a property renovation, it’s a good idea to find out what your home is worth now. Speak to estate agents to get a good understanding of the housing market 2023 and find out what people making house purchases want. Examine average house prices nearby to work out the right way to add value to your home. Be wary of overspending: your house will have a ceiling value for the area and if you spend too much, you may not recoup the investment.

Some improvement work can be carried out under Permitted Development Rights; these are rules that allow alterations to be done without making a full planning application, while more ambitious projects will need full planning permission. It’s best to check with your local planning authority to make sure before making any decisions.

Generally, garage conversions are unlikely to require full planning consent to change their use, and most loft conversions can be done without planning permission. Both these options are likely to give you house price growth in this housing market. However, if you live in a conservation area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you will probably need planning permission to make any changes.

What can I do under Permitted Development Rights (PDR)?

Extensions

Extensions can be carried out under PDR but will need building regulations approval. If your house has already been extended it may have used up its PDR allocation so, check with your council’s planning department. Also, get a Lawful Development Certificate before you start work.

A 6m single-storey extension can be added to a terraced or semi-detached house under PDR, or an 8m extension to a detached house, and they must not cover more than half the garden space. A double-storey extension can be built if you want to extend by 3m in build height. You can add a storey to a single storey house such as a bungalow; if you have two storeys, you can add up to two storeys providing that the total height does not exceed 18m.

Investment in a loft conversion will usually achieve house price growth.

Loft conversion

This is usually the most cost-effective project; it often makes sense as footings are not required and it doesn’t involve losing any of your outdoor space. They can also flood a space with natural light, which may appeal to prospective buyers if you do decide to sell. Remember that the conversion must not exceed the existing roof height (or planning permission will be needed). Under PDR you can:

  • convert up to 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.
  • convert up to 40 cubic metres for terraced houses.
  • insert dormer windows if they are not higher than the existing roof space.

Garage conversions

Most can be done under PDR and will need building regulations approval.

Removing walls

Taking walls down does not usually need planning consent, but the following structural changes and electrical works will require building regulations approval:

Replacing windows, doors, and roof lights

Planning permission is not usually needed, except in a conservation area where replacements may well have to be like-for-like.

Conservatories

These usually need building regulations approval and there are guidelines to follow. They are a great way to get natural light into your home, but designs and installation costs vary so research is needed.

A garden room or shed

While most don’t require planning permission there are some rules about size and location. Planning consent may be required for a garden room depending on the use class you envisage for it.

Other home improvement ideas

Insulation

If you want to make your house more energy efficient, it makes sense to think about its current insulation performance before carrying out other improvements – if it’s not well insulated, you could be wasting your money on the options below if heat is going to escape anyway. Most heat is lost through the roof, followed by the windows and walls so think about insulating the floors, walls, and roof space. Insulation is high on buyers’ wish lists now and house prices are reflecting this.

Double glazing

While installation costs may be high, double glazing will make a big difference; secondary glazing can also be very effective and suitable if you live in a period property.

Boiler replacement

If you have an ageing boiler, you might think about installing a more efficient heating and hot water system in line with government targets to end our dependency on natural gas.

Solar panels

Solar is another option if you’re interested in renewable energy and if your roof is structurally sound enough to accommodate the panels.

Energy efficiency

Buyers in the UK housing market are increasingly concerned about a home’s green credentials, its Energy Performance Certificate rating, and energy bills, and even if you decide to stay in your home, you’ll benefit from any improvements by having a more comfortable environment and lower bills.

Final thoughts on improving your home in the current housing market

Every house is different, and you need a plan that makes sense to achieve the results you want. Once you’ve decided on the right way to proceed, it’s time to get professional advice. Consult estate agents about the housing market and local house prices, consider asking an architect for advice, and check your ideas with your local planning authority.

Bear in mind the various time factors involved if you do need to get planning permission. If your improvements involve altering old buildings or removing trees, you may well need a bat survey and as these can only be carried out between May and September, it’s essential to think ahead.

Other steps include getting quotes to compare from reputable builders. Then you can get down to fixing timeframes and look forward to making your home a great place to live, as you wait for interest rates to settle and the next development in the UK property market!

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