Home improvements: Five renovation mistakes you don’t want to make

Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. - Credit: Archant

To ensure your home renovations add value to your property avoid making the following errors.

1. Don’t cut corners

Don’t take on a big project unless you can afford to do it properly. If you’re going to spend money on building work, ensure you get the maximum benefit from it, both in terms of improving your home and adding value to it. With loft conversions, for example, incorporating a dormer window (planning laws permitting) will give you most head height and useable space in the loft room/s. Changing the line of the roof from sloping to ‘straight’ (looking from the front or back), with a dormer at the back spanning almost the whole width of the house, costs more but gives you the best possible loft room/s. Some homes have a converted loft that can’t officially be called a bedroom because it doesn’t comply with buildings regulations. If you can make your conversion comply, and get a completion certificate to prove it, it will be worth a lot more.

2. Don’t overspend

Don’t overspend on your home, unless you’re not concerned about recouping the cost. It’s easy to splash out on expensive home improvements, but it’s wise to spend in proportion to the value of the property and the area. Don’t, for example, pay £30,000 for a kitchen in a property that’s only worth about £150,000, as you’re unlikely to see that money back.

3. Don’t be too ruthless

Don’t rip out original features. In decades past, beautiful period features weren’t always as valued as they are now, but original cornicing, floorboards, fireplaces, doors and the like add value and make your home more attractive and sellable. Features can often be restored if they’ve been removed, either original or reproduction ones - eBay’s a great place to find them.

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4. Don’t be too different

Don’t ignore what your neighbours have done. Not improving your home in line with the rest of the neighbourhood could cost you dear. Let’s take windows as an example: if all or most of your neighbours’ homes have the original wooden sash windows, replacing your windows with UPVC casement ones will probably devalue your home. In some areas, UPVC windows are everywhere, so fitting them is more likely to add value than not.

5. Don’t ignore the rules

Don’t forget to get permission. Planning permission is, of course, sometimes required for building work, but it’s not always obvious when you need planning and when you don’t - if in doubt, ask the local council. Flats and maisonettes don’t have permitted development (PD) rights, so if you live in one of these, you’ll need planning for things that you wouldn’t if you lived in a house, such as erecting a garden shed. Some houses have had their PD rights removed, so they have the same restrictions, and houses on ‘designated land’, which includes conservation areas, are subject to different planning rules to those that aren’t. If your home’s listed, alterations usually require listed building consent from the local council, or in some cases English Heritage. And if your home’s leasehold, you usually need the freeholder’s permission for alterations, depending on what the lease says. Even if you own a share of the freehold, you still need the other freeholders to agree.