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How-to guide: home improvements that add value

By Sophia Wood-Burgess

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It's here! We're in the season of renewal, resolutions and, for homeowners with big plans, renovation. Dreaming of a Master Chef-worthy kitchen renovation or a spa-style bathroom renovation? Before you pick up that power drill, read our step-by-step guide for making sure your renovations count towards your goals.

Photo by Foxtons Specialist Photography team.

Step one: follow the crowd or follow your heart

We’ll start this off with the most important point – if you’re spending money on a renovation to increase the value of a property before selling, the following steps may help you make decisions.

But, especially if we’re talking about your forever home, you should do what will make you happy living in it. Trends and neighbourhoods change over time, so there’s no point in trying to predict or worrying about overspending if you’re in this home for the long haul. Besides that, life is just better when you're surrounded by spaces that genuinely bring you joy.

home rennovation

Step two: measure twice, cut once

Any good renovation starts with research. You should look into what’s selling in the local market, because we can bet your buyer will.

For instance, if you overdevelop a property, adding more space than any of the neighbouring homes in hopes of getting a higher price than you’d normally see on that road, you may not get the interest you’d expect.

Every residential road in London has a ceiling price and you don’t want to be the first to go over it, because buyers will often decide whether your home's a good value by comparing it to everything else in the neighbourhood. Same as you’re less likely to sell a designer parka on a tropical beach, it helps to sell what homebuyers look for in that area.

home renovations

Photo by Foxtons Specialist Photography team.

Step three: think back, look up

Rear and loft extensions are the most popular for good reason. They're fairly cost-effective ways to make use of otherwise wasted space. Especially these days, when so many of us are working at least a few days from home, that extra room to set up a computer and a telly for the slow days (surely not!) is a valuable asset.

WFH isn't the only asset you can add - read more about what buyers are looking for in 2024.

However, you don't want to tip the balance too far – if there is a lot more bedroom space than communal space, it can be a turn off to buyers.

Kitchen renovations

Photo by Foxtons Specialist Photography team.

Step four: find your pièce de résistance

Kitchens and bathrooms are the hot ticket renovations – they are easily the most expensive, but they catch buyers’ attention better than anything else. There’s so much good you can do here, but it’s also very easy to go overboard, for example, if buyers aren’t looking for anything higher than £1m on that road and your new kitchen alone is going to cost £100k.

Home improvement

Step five: they're experts for a reason

If you aren’t sure what will work or what will work well, consult an architect or interior designer. When we’re out valuing homes, most of the best extensions and remodels we see focus on using the space effectively, instead of just having more of it.

Be sure, as well, that you’re selecting the best builder for your budget – poor workmanship can cost you much more time and money down the line. You’ll want to look out for a proven track record of delivery and project management.

If you’re renovating to sell, you’ll also have to juggle what renovation will be most valuable for your buyer and when to come to the market in order to get the best deal possible. We can put a custom marketing strategy together to sell your property if you book a Foxtons Market Appraisal.

The time it takes to renovate

Step six: don’t pack the Christmas decorations

So many of our clients who’ve renovated have horror stories about work taking much longer than planned. So, we've got a little joke floating around – if you’re starting now, you may want to keep your Christmas tree at the front of the storage unit, just in case.

Often, delays are unavoidable. Maybe your roofer set up the scaffolding and the heavens opened up. Perhaps the master craftsman who was hand-cutting the Arabescato marble worktop you designed your entire kitchen around wasn't quite ready to ship that masterpiece yet. Or maybe they pulled up the bathroom floorboards and discovered additional work to be scoped and quoted...rotten luck!

Especially if you’re getting work done on your primary residence, a renovation can really wear on your time, your available funds and your emotions. So dream big and have fun, but don't underestimate it.

If you're wondering whether to put your home under the hammer or on the market, get in touch. We can provide a strategy for when to put it on the market to achieve a great deal.

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