• Abbie Sorabjee

How to Add Value in a Refurbishment

Whenever you are planning a refurbishment in a property, it’s best to focus on what you want the end result to be. And for most of us, a successful result is a property which is valued as high as possible, whilst spending as little as possible!

What often gets forgotten though, is who is valuing the property at the end. For example, if you plan to sell the property on, then the people to concentrate on are your potential buyers – what will they value most highly in a new home? Will they want a nice outside space and somewhere they can turn into a home office?

But it you are planning to re-mortgage the property, then the person you need to concentrate on is the valuation surveyor. How can you convince them that this property is worth as much as possible? They are more likely to focus on checking that the property is as structurally sound with everything up to current regulations and standard rather than worrying about how well suited a corner of the living room will be as an office.

Whoever you are trying to impress, there are three key areas to look out for where you can add the most value…

1. Big Chunky Works

These are the types of jobs which put some people off buying houses. The bigger, slightly more costly works which take a bit more time and effort to sort out.

Re-roofing, installing heating (traditionally this would be gas central heating, but it is worth checking out installing solar powered heating instead considering the current Green Homes Grant and the government’s future plans for making homes more energy efficient!), re-wiring and damp proofing are all great examples of this.

The really great thing is though, that most of these works don’t actually cost anywhere near as much as you might think. Normally any one of these chunky items costs within the region of £2-4,000 (assuming a standard 2 or 3 bed terrace property). And, if you plan for a void period while the works are done anyway, then it shouldn’t even take that much long to get the job done.

Both potential buyers and valuation surveyors love to know you’ve done the “hard” work and made the property more liveable and long-lasting. Which means that usually, once you’ve done one or two of these big, chunky pieces of work, you will have added far more value to the property than the amount which you spent doing the actual work.

2. Layout

One of my favourite ways to add value in a refurb is to tweak the layout of a property to make the space more useable.

The most common way to do this in a typical terrace house is to go from 2 to 3 bedrooms by moving the bathroom from the back of the house to the middle.

Bedrooms need to have windows for health and safety reasons, but bathrooms don’t. This means you can often move a bathroom into a space between two rooms where there isn’t a window, leaving space elsewhere for a third, useable bedroom.

Another great way to add a useable room, is to look out for houses where someone has gone up into the loft to create a room, but hasn’t quite met all of the fire regulations and so the room can’t be officially classified as a bedroom.

This leaves you with the opportunity to come in and tweak the room to meet all the necessary regulations – something which is often far less complicated than you might think.

For example, it might be that there is no door at the bottom of the stairs, or the stairs which have been put in have the wrong tread size or head height. Or maybe you just need to add in another skylight to let in enough light. Check the regulations and why that specific room isn’t currently classified as a bedroom and then see if you can fix it!

Just make sure in all of these layout changes that you are sticking to all the necessary planning laws and safety regulations…and always bear in mind what kind of wall it is that you plan on moving.

If the wall is a “stud” wall, then it means it is essentially just a wooden frame with some boards and plaster…so it’s very easy and cheap to move. However, if the wall is solid, it might be load-bearing and important for the structural rigidity of the property.

You can normally tell by knocking on the wall and listening to if it is hollow (indicating a stud wall) or not (indicating a solid wall). But always get a qualified builder or surveyor to check before you commit to the property!

3. New Shiny Appeal

There are a lot of small touches which you can make to a property to make it attractive (and therefore valuable) to prospective buyers.

A great, low cost example of this is adding slightly fancy taps and handles onto otherwise fairly low range kitchens and bathrooms. Having a nice, modern chrome mixer tap on a sink can suddenly upgrade the feel of the whole room without having to get a high-end kitchen installed.

And the same is true of door handles. A very bog-standard door will look much fancier if it has a modern handle on it and all for the cost of a few £s!

Another example is lighting…how different does a room feel when there are spotlights installed instead of one, lonely bare pendant light hanging down and crying out for a lamp shade?!

And let’s not forget the outside space. Given everything that has happened in the past year, outside space is in demand more than ever. So, it is well worth your effort emphasising any outside space which is available with your property.

For example, if you spend a little balcony available – put a nice pot plant or two out there. If you have a garden, make sure the wall or fence look tidy and consider turfing the area or putting down a ground sheet and some grey slate stones etc.

It’s a well-established rule amongst many property experts that if you spend £1000 improving the outside space, you will be adding around £3-5,000 to the value! Now that is a return on investment not to be missed!!

Whatever you choose to do in a refurbishment, just make sure you keep the end in mind and tailor the work you are doing to best suit the viewpoints of your buyers/tenants or surveyors.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out how Nala Coaching can help you make life-changing money through property.