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Extending and improving your home

 Extending and improving your home


Extending and improving your home

Houses are like people. They are conceived (in the mind of the designer). Over several months they grow (during construction) and they are eventually born (when completed). They grow and have to change to meet the changing circumstances of a growing family (extra bedrooms or new conservatory) and gradually mature as they grow older. If they go out of fashion they are updated with all the latest trends (en-suite bathrooms and central heating). Sometimes they get sick (dry rot, woodworm and rising damp) and have to be cured so that their lives can be extended. Eventually they get very old and then it may be necessary to put them out of their misery (although we do not advocate euthanasia here!). Unlike people, houses are virtually immortal and as they get very old they usually become more interesting and more loved (even if they are a bit crotchety).

There is no doubt that carrying out significant changes to your own house can be incredibly rewarding. We all have our own ideas about the sort of house we want to live in but, unfortunately, we nearly always have to buy a house that does not come up to our expectations. So then we have a choice, keep moving in the forlorn hope that we will find the perfect house, or try to make the one we are living in as near as possible to our perfect house. It is reckoned that the three most stressful things that can happen to you in life are (in order of greatest stress) 1. The death of a loved one, 2. Divorce and 3. Moving house. In this book we cannot help with the first two but, hopefully, we can eliminate the stress of the third by helping you to avoid moving. In this chapter, a few basic questions are covered, such as & Why would you want to extend or improve your house anyway? & Where did this idea of controlling or doing the alterations yourself come from? & What processes and procedures do you need to go through to have the most chance of success when making these changes? & Are there a few simple things that you need to know to help you avoid the tiger traps that you might otherwise fall into?

WHY EXTEND OR IMPROVE YOUR HOME?


There are almost as many answers to this question as there are ways of actually doing the work. It is incredible to think that only 5 years ago property prices seemed that they would continue inexorably to rise by considerably more than the rate of inflation year after year. After all, it had been like this for such a long time that your house was seen (perhaps incorrectly) as not just a place to live but also as an investment. How else, the theory went, could you expect to beat inflation so easily. People tended to move rather than face the stress and strain of ‘having the builders in’ and they were often put off carrying out improvements for fear of getting ripped off by nscrupulous tradesmen and builders, and then of course there was ‘the mess’! Strangely enough, when they actually did move, they would normally replace the bathroom and kitchen and carry out a complete redecoration! How things have changed.

The credit crisis of 2007, the subsequent recession and the resultant fall in houses prices (and current stagnation in the market) have convinced most people that unless you have to move, do not – improve or extend instead. According to a report by Sainsbury’s Finance, an estimated £3.2 billion worth of personal loans was taken out in 2010 for home improvements alone, and it is likely to be a similar figure in 2011 – with one in five personal loans being taken out solely to pay towards improving people’s homes. Arguments against moving include & The high cost: At least £7500 in stamp duty for a property over £250 000, professional fees payable to estate agents and solicitors amounting to another 3 or 4% of the sale price, removals costs adding another £1000 or £2000 – for an average priced house it can cost between £15 000 and £20 000 to move, and much more as you go up market. & The stress of selling your house and buying another one, especially in a stagnant market: According to Hometrack the average time it takes to sell a home stood at 9.4 weeks in July 2011, which is almost the longest time taken to sell a property since the survey began in 2001 and ‘despite weak consumer sentiment the housing market is currently in broad equilibrium although prices continue to slowly edge lower’, in other words – stagnant! & The difficulty in raising a mortgage deposit: The deposit needed will vary with the type of mortgage sought and, generally speaking, the lower the deposit, the higher the interest rate you will have to pay and the higher the arrangement fee.

At present minimum deposits start at 10% of the valuation and go up depending on the product sought. That is a sum of at least £25 000 to be raised. & The general state of the economy: Do you really want to spend all your savings and end up with higher mortgage repayments when you may not have a job next week? So, unless you have to move for personal or business reasons, why spend so much money moving when you could spend it on the house you currently live in and make it how you want it to be? Some of the reasons often put forward for extending and/or altering your home are & It will add value to your home: To check if this is true you should first find out the current market value of your home by getting it valued by an estate agent. Then get an estimate of its potential value once the proposed improvements have been completed

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