Plenty of room for improvement

If you love where you live but feel it's too small, consider an extension, says Gwenda Joyce-Brophy

A JOB RELOCATION to another part of the country; or the imminent arrival of triplets in your one-bedroom flat. Such events offer little alternative to a house move, but at other times the decision is less clear- cut. You need more space, undoubtedly, but should you extend your present place, or move? Both options offer their share of financial and emotional costs, and their horror stories.

"As a first step, do the sums," advises Stephen Minchin, MD of the northern estate agent group, Reeds Raynes. "Ask your estate agent to value your property in its current state, and what it would be worth with an extra bedroom, bathroom or garage. Your decision will take into account more than just the financial side, but at least you will have a sound basis of facts and figures to work from.

"A key factor is the state of the local property market," he adds. "If what you are looking for is easily available in your chosen locale, it probably makes sense to move, and do without all the dust and inconvenience that comes with alterations. However, if you have a rather nice one-off property, you love the area, and the property market is such that finding what you want is going to be a painful experience, then staying put and adding to the property may well be the best option."

It is rare for properties to have no leeway for expansion, and if the decision is to stay, a strategy of rectifying the property's "weaknesses" - and ensuring that any work carried out is of good quality - will enhance saleability should you later wish to sell. "If you have three bedrooms, put in an extra one," advises Nick Gable of estate agents Winkworth's in Battersea. "Converting the loftspace into, say, a master bedroom plus bathroom, can be an excellent move." It won't come cheap - perhaps around pounds 20,000: "But in this area and in the current property market, you would likely get your pounds 20,000 back, plus say another pounds 10,000."

The cost of a loft conversion, and the returns, will differ regionally, but there is one crucial factor that applies wherever you live. "The quality of loft conversions is variable," warns Paula Henderson of Velux Windows. "It is vital to make sure it is carried out professionally. When we send out our loft-conversion information pack we also send a list of companies in your area whom we've checked out."

One way of expanding properties is to build a conservatory: "A conservatory is a boon to a property, especially where there is only one reception room, or where there is no view to the garden," says Richard Craig, MD of the independent National Conservatory Advisory Service. Good construction is crucial here, too: "We see cases of conservatories that have come away from the wall of the house. Some builders use just a sealant, when the brickwork should have been jointed in or attached by a fixing plate.

"Incorporate heating so that it's an all-year room, and, as with any extension, the conservatory ought to blend in with the existing property, so that it becomes an integral part of it." When Irwin and Annette Stephens built a conservatory on to their 60-year-old property they wanted to make it look and feel seamlessly part of the house. "We went for wood which we painted a `heritage' shade of green. And we visited architectural salvage yards to find reclaimed floorboards for the conservatory." It paid off. When they put the house up for sale, the estate agent selected shots of the conservatory to tempt buyers.

From Battersea, Gable agrees: "It's a winning option. In this area and in a good market, your conservatory which cost around pounds 15,000 would increase the value by around pounds 20-25,000. In a less bullish one you would still get your money back, and you would have had the use of the conservatory for a few years."

If these grand extension schemes are beyond your ambitions or pocket, there is a modest addition that can be valuable in its own way - a downstairs lavatory. Far better to think small than to become a victim of what most estate agents have witnessed - owners who have had a bad case of the extending bug. After all, you have to keep a sense of perspective. If you buy a small property and spend a small fortune doubling its size, it is hard to argue that a move would not have been the better option.

Mann and Company, Ealing: O181 579 6144. National Conservatory Advisory Service: 0500 522525. Reeds Raynes: 01565 634126. Velux: 0800 003555. Winkworth's: 0171 228 9265.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes