Improve, Don’t Move

Living Magazines Property Feature Improve, Don't Move

If you’re unsure whether to move house or improve where you live, read this first…

Whether it’s uncertainty about the future, rising house prices or the cost of stamp duty, more and more of us are choosing to stay in our current home rather than move. According to the 2018 Barclays Home Improvement Report, 28% of homeowners who were considering moving have decided to stay put.

But never say never, right? Perhaps one day you’ll want to move, so how do you make the most of your current home, while ensuring you future-proof it? We take a look at the best ways to add value and the changes you should avoid.

Add a bedroom

Easier said than done if you have no more space to expand, but think laterally; could you go into the loft, basement, or add a bedroom in the garage or on a large landing? If so, this is the single biggest thing you can do to add value to your home. According to property management website Move With Us, it can add up to 8.8% – that’s a whopping £61,600 on a £700K family home.

‘Be careful not to make your home too top heavy though,’ warns David Milbourn, Mortgage Adviser for Stringer Mann Financial Planners in Berkhamsted. ‘Adding two bedrooms to a three-bedroom semi without increasing the living space downstairs is not ideal. While square footage does have a bearing on value, buyers today value light, airy open plan accommodation.’

Loft conversion

This can add 7.1% value, definitely worth considering if you need more space. You don’t usually need planning permission, but it’s worth checking. A typical loft conversion costs around £35-£45,000.

‘This is a good way to boost property value, however care must be taken to avoid overdeveloping your home for the ceiling price of the area,’ adds David Milbourn.

Add/improve bathrooms

An extra bathroom can add 6.1% value. Maybe you’ve got space to squeeze in a small en suite, or a large cupboard which could hold a loo and shower? Otherwise, simply upgrading can add 5% more value – that’s more than £38,000 on a £700k home! Replace old baths and basins, retile, replace taps, add mirrors and replace carpets with vinyl or tiles.

New kitchen

A new kitchen can add a huge amount of appeal – and almost 6% in value! You can buy a new kitchen quite reasonably, but if you don’t want to replace everything, go for new taps, worktops and new cupboard doors.

Off-street parking Parking is at a premium in both Berkhamsted and Tring, so off-street parking can add an enormous amount of value – more than 5%. Check with Dacorum Borough Council (DBC) about planning regulations in your street.


Conservatories are a cost-effective way of creating more room – and add 5% value. Consider a half-brick conservatory and even a proper roof rather than glass.


Most home buyers want double glazing and if you don’t have it they will calculate the cost of adding it. Double glazing can add around 4.2%, and if you’re planning to stay put it can seriously cut your energy bills.


A decent garden can potentially increase the value of your home by 4%. ‘A well-presented garden will make your property more attractive and likely to sell over neighbouring ones that lack imagination,’ says David Milbourn. ‘Many buyers don’t seek large gardens but want a low maintenance garden ready for entertaining all year round.’

Kerb appeal

If the exterior is scruffy it can reduce value of your home by 5%. Repoint brickwork, replace or repaint windows and old garage doors, repair cracked or broken cladding, replace door knockers and house numbers, and consider adding a porch.

Replace carpets

According to a survey by HSBC, decent carpets can add almost £2,000 to the value of your property. But if they just need a good clean, get it done professionally – it will be money well spent!

Restore or replace period features

If original features have been ripped out of an old home, consider replacing things such as cornices and fireplaces, as buyers look for these. It doesn’t have to cost the earth but can make the world of difference – check out salvage yards such as Timber Reclamation in Studham near Little Gaddesden.

Things to avoid

You might think that any improvement will add value, but you’d be wrong. Here are the common pitfalls to avoid:

Swimming pools

If you’re planning to stay in your home and will get use out of it, go ahead and build a swimming pool. But bear in mind that people see them as costly, and they take up valuable space, so they might actually put people off.

Solar panels

We’re all for saving the environment and if you want to save money on your energy bills then go for it. But bear in mind some people see solar panels as an eyesore, as well as expensive to upgrade. They rarely add value.

Easy improvements

Here are some more simple and affordable ways to make your house more appealing…

Give it a lick of paint

It’s easy to underestimate the difference fresh paint can make. Choose neutral colours, but this doesn’t necessarily mean pale. You can go dark, but not too bright, as this will put many people off.

Add wooden floors

Wooden floors are a surprising way to add value to your home without too much effort – up to 2% value in fact!

Add pots and plants

A few pot plants or potted trees in the front garden can transform a property’s kerb appeal. Add gravel to old paths, window boxes or hanging baskets.


Think about the lighting in each room as it can really make a difference; does it need to be bright for a kitchen, and dimmer or more atmospheric for a bathroom or bedroom? Consider lamps, uplighters and spotlights.