Date posted: 20th January 2015
Move or Improve?
In my experience, that of my friends and many of our customers, buying a property which is part of a chain quickly descends into endless calls to solicitors and estate agents and all to often, sleepless nights.
And the costs can also quickly add-up. I suspect solicitors charge more ‘per word’ than Shakespeare did for his entire works. Then there are other transaction costs. Stamp Duty on the UK ‘average £180,000 home' is £1,800.
This may not sound too painful but houses at this UK average across Southern England are few and far between. On a £500,000 property, you’ll pay £15,000. Add estate agent fees, surveyors bills and of course those 200 word letters from solicitors and the cost of moving could be 10 to 15 per cent of the purchase price.
A little closer to ‘home’ for us is that statistically, you’re far more likely to buy new windows and doors within a year of moving house than at any other time. Mortgage surveys go so far, they don’t test each and every mechanism, lock, or account for personal taste.
There are also other considerations. If you have a growing family and need more space but want to stay in the area that you’re already living in, inflation means the jump in house prices for a comparatively small amount of space can be disproportionate, which may mean you have to move further afield.
This means that moving, although the right option for a lot of people, isn’t any longer automatically the right option for everyone. Adding space may be far more cost effective.
So what are your options? Anything at the top or the bottom of your property is going to cost a typical loft extension costs between £30,000 and £60,000, adding space by digging into a basement if you have one is even more - £300 to £400 per square foot of accommodation.
And the space you get isn’t always as functional as you may have hoped for. Lofts weren’t built to live in. There is little to insulate you from the noise outside so it can feel a little like you have ‘pitched a tent on the top of your house’. Hot air also rises, so even if you have got great insulation, the heat collected by your property during the day has a nasty habit of collecting on the top floor.
Ground level additions to your home tend to work best from a practical perspective. Filling in a side return can give you new space for a kitchen without encroaching too far into your garden. But be creative – you don’t just have to think bricks and mortar.
A new generation of highly insulated and high specification conservatories, sun rooms and orangeries are giving homeowners far more flexibility and year-round living space. Forget your image of the traditional mock Victorian conservatory where you shivered in winter and baked in summer.
Energy efficient and even self-cleaning glass means that new glass extensions can be used for a host of different uses, for example for use as dining room, sitting room, home office or even gym. We can also install free-standing garden and sun rooms away from the main property to create an enviable commute to the office!
There are also a number of alternative options including the addition of an atrium or ‘lantern’ roof to a ‘traditional’ brick extension, plus ancillary products, for example bi-folding doors, that when retracted can open whole facades to the great outdoors.
It really is worth spending a little time to ‘think outside the box’ if you’re looking for more space. We have an in-house team that would be delighted to discuss the options which we can offer you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.