Should I Move, Or Improve My Property?

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Yesterday, I was having a discussion with a twitter buddy about mortgages and the market in property sales. When the market is on a downturn, there is negative equity around, or if financing is hard to get, then usually what tends to happen is that folks will look at ways to stay put and improve or enlarge their property instead.

Of course, this is a long term solution, so you should think carefully about what makes more sense for your own circumstances along with what may add value for later down the line.This is great news for people involved in the building industry or suppliers of bathrooms or home design elements. It’s logical really, if you can’t remortgage, or move due to finance issues, then the next best option is to ride out the dip in the market whilst adding more space or accommodation for your own needs. This tends to have the added benefit of making the property more valuable in the long run if it’s done right.

Open Plan Is Not Always The Answer

Adding more bedrooms should increase value in houses, so long as it’s not at the expense of something else. One of the worst trends to hit the market is the ‘open plan’ style when applied to flats to make them into 2 bedrooms rather than one ( or 1 beds when they are really studios.) Carving up a lounge area into lounge/ dining/ kitchen at the expense of living space, in my view, detracts from value.

I would take a large 1 bed flat over a compromised pokey 2 bed any day of the week, because what you end up with is spaces such as a smaller living area which is difficult to place furniture in, a kitchen permanently on view, and a washing machine effectively in the living room! Nice.

And remember, before you do this kind of carve up to an upstairs flat, that your washing machine or dishwasher is more than likely going to be above someone elses living space, which will require some form of extensive soundproofing for their benefit and to stay within the law.

And, before you go hell for leather knocking down walls to make big open spaces to live in, consider that not everyone likes that form of living. Doing that to our Victorian or Edwardian property can really spoil the proportions if done badly. It can be noisy to live the open plan way, especially with children and animals running around on hard floors.

Heating

Big open spaces with high ceilings are also harder to heat, as most of the heat will end up at the ceiling unless it’s generated at floor level. You may even need an extra solid fuel burner for winter and some added insulation to keep the heat in. (remember that the government have grants for insulation too, so you may qualify to get it free.) If your building is not insulated and heated well, open plan will exacerbate the issue not solve it. Massive walls of glass can add to the cold feeling too, especially in winter, and do you really want to live with your whole life on show?

Having said all that, I do think that renovating to add more space is a good long term solution if finances simply don’t allow you to move at the moment, or if the costs of moving prove higher than the gain. The great thing about improving instead is that you get the added benefit of using the new space in the meantime. :-)

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