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Choose the improvements that add value

Kevin Dawes is among the army of homeowners taking advantage of the run of bank holidays to crack on with some home improvements.

The combination of consecutive four-day weekends, plus another long weekend at the end of this month, means householders are running out of excuses to delay their DIY projects.

Kevin, 49, and his wife Sue, 48, a communications consultant, live on the outskirts of Wolverhampton and he is in the middle of renovating decking in the garden of their Victorian detached home.

All hands on deck: Kevin Dawes gets to grips with DIY
Kevin, a GP, says: ‘I’m using the time to bring it up to spec. The railings we had before were just sawnup planks, which I guess was a Seventies idea of modernity, but now looks horribly dated. I quite enjoy getting on with this sort of project because it is such a change from my normal job.’

Over last year’s Easter weekend, DIY chain Homebase sold more than 71,000 square yards of laminate flooring, 9,000 toilet seats and enough paint to do up the interior of Buckingham Palace 40 times over. Early indications are that this year is even busier.

The most common home improvements are decorating, painting fences and gates and touching up the front door, according to a survey by HSBC. Revamping garden decking and patios and fitting a new bathroom are also high on the list of planned jobs.
While a key aim of DIY is to make a house right for your lifestyle, most householders hope that improvements will add something to the value of the property.

Indeed, many homeowners, unable to sell because of the moribund market, are spending on improvements in the hope that when demand does pick up, their property will get a better price. But what you believe improves your home may not always show on the bottom line.

Stuart Beattie, head of mortgages at HSBC, says: ‘The double bank holiday weekend is a great opportunity to make improvements. But householders should primarily do the work with the aim of creating a home they can enjoy as there is no guarantee of increasing a property’s value.’

Projects that add most value include loft conversions, adding a room or a conservatory, according to estate agents quizzed by HSBC.

A loft conversion, for example, adds an average of £20,800, while a conservatory boosts a home’s value by an average £8,200.

Other home improvements are less rewarding. Recarpeting the whole house, for example, could cost from £5,000, but four out of ten valuers said it would make no difference to the selling price of a home. Likewise, one in three agents said redecorating a home was unlikely to boost the selling price.

But in some cases, getting rid of outdated or unfashionable colour schemes could make a home more likely to sell. Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, says: ‘If you are planning to stay in a property, spend what you think will improve your enjoyment of the house.

‘If you really want and will use a fancy hot tub, then fit one, even though you are unlikely to get the money back in terms of the value it adds to your property.

‘But don’t start planning DIY just because you are thinking of selling and hope a new kitchen will help you get a better price. Your tastes may be totally different from the eventual buyer’s.’

Source : Stephen Womack - Mail Online

30 April 2011
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