“The high cost of moving can make it more attractive to extend your existing home. Tim Hollingsworth, managing director of leading estate agency and surveying firm Rumball Sedgwick, weighs the options.
If you have bought a new home recently, you’ll know that the costs involved in moving nowadays really mount up. Even the most humble properties in Hertfordshire are likely to attract stamp duty at 5%, and many detached homes will come into the 10% bracket as well. So, the costs of moving home can run into many tens of thousands of pounds.
Small wonder, then, that many homeowners are now thinking very carefully about whether it may be better not to move at all, and to create more space in their current home by building an extension.
This is compounded by an effect often seen when the housing market is ‘cooling’ – which is that reduced confidence can result in fewer properties coming to market, with the result that competition for each property can be surprisingly fierce, and prices stay high.
In these circumstances, many homeowners prefer to keep their heads down and stay put – and statistics on the number of times people move bear this out – currently UK homeowners are staying in the same home for a whopping 23 years on average, compared with 9 years in 1988.
However, if you have a family, you may find pressure for space becomes unbearable. The high cost of entry-level homes, and high rents, mean that most children need to stay ‘at home’ (ie. in their parents’ home), well into their twenties. Gone are the days when after they’d left for Uni, you could have your space and life back.
But living in a house with several other adults, along with boyfriends, girlfriends and other hangers-on, can be extremely wearing, if you don’t have enough space.
So if your property is suitable, it can make a lot of sense to extend. You may not even need planning permission – under ‘permitted development’ rules, you can build a 2-storey rear extensions up to 3 metres deep, or a single-storey rear extension up to 4 metres deep (on a detached house), without planning permission in most situations. In fact, the size limits are even greater currently, under a scheme that runs until 30th May 2019 – so now is a particularly good time to think about extensions. Talk to a property professional to find out exactly what can be done at your property.
You do need to think very carefully before embarking on an extension though – an extension will not always add more to the value of the property than it costs to build, although it is unusual to actually lose money. In particular, you should be aware of the ‘maximum price’ that people will pay for a house in your area – you may find that buyers will not pay more than a certain amount for a property in your road, no matter how much space it has.
Also, beware of losing existing space – for example, if you add an extra bedroom in an extension, but you then have to turn an existing bedroom into a hallway in order to get to the new room, you may have spent a load of money to gain very little extra space.
It can be a very good idea to consider the ‘value’ of the extra space to you, and to put a firm price on it. A good rule of thumb is to divide the cost of the extension by half, then divide that by the length of time you think you will live there. So, for example, if an extension will cost £80,000 to build, and you think you will live there for another 10 years, then the cost to you for the ‘utility’ of the extra space will be £4,000 a year, or about £11 a day. If that seems to you to be good value, then go for it.”