As an interiors addict, there’s never any question of me buying the odd ‘treat’ for our home every month, and enjoying watching our family space all come together. But what if you want to do something bigger to your home: A new kitchen, bathroom, or like we recently completed, a loft conversion to add a new bedroom and bathroom?
With house prices continuing to rocket (hello, suburban South-East London), the cost of actually moving to a bigger house with only one more bedroom, or an extra reception room, immediately whacks up the price up by £100-200,000, which it really quite INSANE. So no wonder more people like us are choosing to ‘upgrade’ our existing homes and improve and/or expand the space we currently live in. Making our houses a long-lasting home.
So what additions and changes could you make to your home, in order to improve it, avoiding the hassle of a big (and expensive) move?
We decided to add an extra big bedroom and bathroom into our loft this summer, and I can honestly say it’s the best thing we’ve done for our home. Sasha no longer has a teeny tiny room (she has our old one), we have a whopper of a bedroom (more wardrobe space, woohoo!), and our littlest bedroom is now in the process of being turned into a study. A win for everyone! It has also upped the value of our home by at least the amount we paid to have it done, so whilst we have extended our mortgage slightly, we have gained a bigger house and not really lost anything. Our builders were the wonderful Smiths of Bromley, and we have been really pleased with the job they’ve done.
If your garden (and planning permission) allows, then extending your current kitchen and/or dining room can give you more than ample space in the downstairs part of your home for your family to work, rest and play. This is something we’d like to perhaps do one day, once the children are old enough not to need such a big outside space to play in.
The only real bugbear about our house right now, is the fact that we are situated on a red-route without off-road parking, meaning that we have to park the car on an adjoining road, and fight for space with all and sundry for a space on a day-to-day basis. NOT ideal with young children, especially in the winter when it’s piddling down with rain. As a result, we’re currently looking into the best way of rectifying this situation, whether that’s lowering the kerb at the front of the house and designing a quality driveway, or knocking down our too-small garage at the back and building a new, wider one that will fit our car. If we decide to go with the front driveway, we’ll have to contact TFL for permission, and possibly pay them an amount of money to have a survey done.
When it comes to any of these larger home improvements, we’ve had to do our homework before embarking on anything, or getting our hopes up, and therefore that’s included pricing up everything and working out how we’re going to pay for it all.
There are a number of ways we have done this:
- Savings – When we’ve had the money to pay for the improvements, then this has certainly been the simplest option. We haven’t had to worry about taking out credit and making repayments once the work is done.
- Credit – . If the job didn’t cost too much (i.e. some new furniture for our new loft room), then we’ve used our credit card, making sure pay it off in full (if possible) at the end of each month. The higher the cost of the work, obviously the more likely it is that you’ll need to take out a loan to pay for the work. It pays to shop around to get the best rate in order to minimise the cost of monthly repayments.
- Mortgage – If the improvements are going to add value to your property, like our loft conversion has, or if you already have equity in your home, you may well be able to increase the value of your current mortgage – or you could think about re-mortgaging. The plus side is that the interest rate is likely to be considerably less than it would be with a loan, but the downside is that you could be paying more interest by repaying it back over a much longer period. We chose to re-mortgage and it’s worked out really well (touch wood) for us.
If you’re going to finance your improvements through credit, it’s worth checking your Experian Credit Report http://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/experian-credit-score.html first. It’s not uncommon for people to only discover problems with their credit once they’ve already gone to the time and trouble of putting everything in place.
It would be gutting to have lined up builders, materials and even potentially paid for some work, only to discover that you couldn’t get the loan you wanted due to credit issues- always check first!
Have you made any big improvements to your home lately?
We’re about to move to a very similar sized mid-terrace house, and thinking of doing a lot of these things you’ve mentioned in your post, so this was really useful to read. First priority for us I think is to extend downstairs and create a big kitchen/diner, then in about five years time (or before if we can swing it) I think we will want to go up into the loft and create two further bedrooms. Seems a no brainer when the money you spend creating it is immediately made up for in the house value increase. Be prepared for me to bombard you with questions/recommendations for builders, bathroom renovations, etc. We’ve never done any work to a house before so we are a bit clueless, argh!