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Don’t move – improve

The pros and cons of where to add extra living space.

Loft conversions are a great way to gain extra living space without altering the external appearance of your home, says James Squirrell managing director of James Allen Construction. "Costing 15K - 35K, they can add about 15% to the value of your home. Most homes built after 1975 are suitable for a loft conversion, which adds another room or two in the attic space. The work takes about 12 weeks and the builders access the roof from the outside, which means there shouldn’t be too much disruption until they break through to build the new stairs."

Adding a ground floor extension can create good practical space such as a bigger kitchen or dining room. Costing between 30K-50K, one-storey extensions are more common, but a two-storey extension can create another bedroom or bathroom without going into the loft. Again, the builders work from the outside until the existing wall is knocked through.

A conservatory is an inexpensive way of adding extra living space at around 10K-15K, but make sure you have heating and blinds to make it usable all year round.

A downstairs bathroom can be a useful addition to the home, costs around 1.5K - 3K, depending what work needs to be done and will add value too.

Kitchens/bathroom makeovers. We all know that good kitchens and bathrooms can make or break a sale, but don’t over spend or you won’t recoup your money. Often a lick of paint or some new tiles can improve an old-fashioned kitchen or bathroom.

Basements
An increasing number of people are converting basements and cellars currently, particularly in central urban locations where land values are extremely high. However this process is significantly more expensive than upwards or sideways extensions. Seek advice from estate agents, architects or surveyors before embarking on a basement conversion, as it may be that the work costs more than it adds in value to your property.

Garages
Most garages are too small for modern cars and end up being used as storage rooms anyway. As the basic structure already exists, there is no need for expensive external walls and foundations. Disruption to your home life should be minimal and this can take from a couple of weeks to a couple of months for more substantial conversions. Costs start at around 7K for a brick or stone garage, but can add thousands to the value of your home.


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