Extending your home or move?

If your home is too small for your needs and it is time to take action or you think you can see potential to add value to youradding value to your home property. What are the options? You can find practical preliminary advice together with the pros and cons of extending or moving.

There are no fixed answers to whether it is worthwhile extending my home or moving. In some countries it is more usual to stay in one house and adapt it over the years to meet the family’s changing needs. In this country we have moved house on average once every seven years (the exact figures vary a little over time) although this covers those who never move and those who might move virtually every year. Perhaps this has something to do with our fairly uniform hierarchy of housing: two bedrooms terrace, three bedroomed semi-detached etc.

Initially you should decide whether the basic locality is still suitable for your present and possible future needs.
  • Do you get on with the neighbours?
  • Is it convenient for most routine needs: shops, schools, transport facilities?
  • Are there any obvious physical constraints to extending; very limited garden area, roof or basements too low to convert without substantial rebuilding; narrowness of the plot that might restrict due to overshadowing neighbours or even being able to retain enough natural light to the original property?
In comparing the relative costs of moving as opposed to extending there are the additional ‘moving’ costs such as:
  • Estate agent, solicitors, surveyors etc.
  • Possible stamp duty on the transaction,
  • Costs of bringing the new property to a liveable standard; carpets, curtains etc. (in some cases they may be left but invariably there are a few essential items)
  • Any essential repairs or replacements that may be required for the foreseeable future: wiring, heating system, roof, windows
  • Replacing a bathroom or kitchen to bring the property up to a preferred condition.
  • Some of the above costs could of course apply to both the existing and a new home, such as future maintenance costs. The actual costs of building an extension will depend upon the nature of the scheme and to a lesser extent the location (there are some regional variations in building costs).

 Adding value to your home

Whether extending my home adds significant value to the property and in particular adds more than the cost of it will depend upon several factors:
  • The area and the relative property values and building costs. In some areas of relatively ‘cheap’ housing it is virtually impossible to recover the costs of any extensions and improvements in terms of increasing value and can lead to properties falling into disrepair with little incentive for householders to do much about them.
  • The type of property in relation to those around it. Properties in villages or small towns may be easier to change into a different type of property and recoup the costs (such as perhaps changing a two bedroomed bungalow into a four bedroomed house) than extending a property in a large estate of fairly similar designs where it may reach a limit of value almost irrespective of what is done to it.
  • Some types of extensions will more readily improve the value than others. Usually the first area to look at is any lacking in essential facilities particularly an adequate bathroom and reasonably sized kitchen. After that possibly any imbalance in the accommodation such as reasonable bedrooms but lacking in living space (this can sometimes occur with integral garages where there is more habitable room upstairs than down). An additional bedroom is often a worthwhile asset as properties are often classified by the number of bedrooms. This is provided it is not significantly out of balance with the rest of the accommodation and should not generally be too far removed from the norm for the area. A single additional bedroom may well be reasonable where perhaps two or three additional ones might be more difficult to recover the cost.
  • Other extensions such as utility rooms, playrooms, cloakrooms, en-suites may be worthwhile in some situations. Garages are very dependent upon the type of area and other parking facilities. In a city or larger town with difficult or non-existent on-street parking and an increased possibility or threat of vandalism a garage may be a very good investment. Elsewhere often garages are not used even when provided (in practice many are too small for modern cars to fit in comfortably) so provided some off road parking is maintained it may make little difference to the value of a property. In some situations there may be space to provide a more basic garage or carport whilst an integral garage built to similar construction to the rest of the house may readily be converted to a room.
  • Conservatories may add to the value of the property where they provide a useful and useable addition to the rest of the accommodation. A cold (or in summer excessively hot) room may not add significantly to the useable space and is unlikely to be seen as much of an asset.
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