Which improvements add the most value to your home?

Which improvements add the most value to your home?

By Ellie Isaac

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Want to boost your home’s value? Renovations and conversions are a great way to do it. We break down the costs of different home improvements and the value they can add to your home.

There are lots of different opinions as to which improvements will add value to your home.

It's thought a loft conversion can add 15% to your home's value. Off-street car parking, a kitchen redesign and a garage conversion can have a similar effect.

But what improves the value of someone else's home might not do the same for yours.

The best renovation to add value totally depends on your property, the local market and your potential buyers.

When you know what your future buyers are looking for, you can choose home improvements that add value.

Before we dive into value-adding improvements, you need to know your starting point.

It'll help you work out the value you'll add against the cost of the work, so you can figure out if it's worth it.

Find out what your home’s worth.

Improvements and renovations to add value to your home

Let’s go through renovations that will add value to your home, which properties they’re best suited to and what you can expect to pay for the work.

1. A loft conversion

Image: Loft bedroom. Credit: Brickworks

Creating an additional room in the loft increases the sale price of the typical home by 15%. It could be more if you add an extra bathroom too.

It’s particularly worthwhile for homes in the city, where floorspace is limited. In June 2022, Barbour ABI found that urban homeowners are much more likely to renovate loft space than rural livers.

If you live in a more rural location or have more space, it may be better to extend outwards rather than upwards.

You can make some changes to your loft space without planning permission, which will be more cost-effective. This includes converting up to 50 cubic metres of loft space.

If your plans exceed certain limits and conditions, you’ll need planning permission. This includes extending or altering the structure of the roof space.

The average cost of a loft conversion comes in at a hefty £22,000.

Find out about the home improvements that don’t need planning permission.

2. Off-street parking

A terraced house with a gravel driveway, next to other houses without driveways

It's estimated that off-street parking could add a whopping £50,000 to your home's value.

Estate agents say it can make or break a sale, and that this home improvement does well across the market.

It'll have the biggest impact in prime city locations, but suburban and rural buyers also see off-street parking as a must-have.

The cost of converting a garden to a parking space can vary from a few thousand to more than £15,000.

It depends on the cost of dropping the kerb, reinforcing the pavement, and adapting the garden.

Even if you don't drive, it can be a worthwhile conversion. Lots of people are making money from renting out their spare car parking space.

Find out more about turning your front garden into a parking space.

3. A new kitchen

A family enjoying breakfast in their kitchen

A new kitchen is a great way to improve your home, but you need to go big to add value.

Simply replacing units and cabinets can cost you more than you’ll gain.

A lot of buyers look for a kitchen where you can sit down and eat – particularly if your home’s suited to families. So minor updates to a galley kitchen won’t have a huge impact.

To add the most value to an outdated or small kitchen, you’ll need to create a great lay-out. This might mean extending the space.

For a full kitchen redesign, you’re looking at a cost of about £45,000. 

You can expect to add a tidy 15% to the value of your home.

4. A garage conversion

A desk and chair set up as a home office in a converted garage

It’s thought a garage conversion could add up to 15% value to your property.

It’s a great way to add extra floor space to your home without extending.

However, you need to weigh up whether future buyers will value a garage over an extra room.

In a city, where parking is difficult or costly, a garage can get you a premium price. 

Similarly, rural buyers might find a garage useful – particularly if your home is already spacious.

But you could create a valuable extra bedroom, a granny flat or a home office. You might even consider an extra income flow with an Airbnb rental.

It’s affordable in comparison to some other conversions, and most of the time you won’t need planning permission.

A standard garage conversion costs between £5,000 and £7,000.

You’ll need to make sure you comply with building regulations, which involves paying for someone to inspect your conversion.

5. A cellar or basement conversion

A light basement-level lounge with a brown sofa, with the street above seen through large windows

Creating a basement can add 10% to 15% to the value of your home. 

But it’ll do more for some properties than others.

It’s a bit like a loft conversion: buyers might wonder why you dug down rather than extended outwards, if you have the space.

That means a basement conversion is usually the best choice for urban properties, terraces, and homes without the ability to extend.

Barbour ABI found that more than 90% of basement works are done in urban boroughs in 2022.

It’s also a good choice for older homes, where buyers will feel that a basement or cellar fits with the period it was built in.

Keep in mind that building a basement won’t come cheap – it can be up to twice as expensive as converting a loft.

6. Open plan living space

Open plan kitchen dining lounge space
Image: The Modern House

Open plan living space is one trend that’s not going away any time soon. It’s thought to add 3 to 5% to the value of your home.

Creating large multi-functional spaces is great for family living and entertaining. 

It brings people together and can be great for parents to keep an eye on young kids.

However, open-plan spaces are more expensive to heat and keep warm. With lots of people worried about the rising cost of living, it’s worth considering if that could put buyers off.

It’s relatively straightforward to create an open plan living space by knocking through a wall. 

But it can be more expensive (and sometimes not possible) if it’s a load-bearing wall.

7. A new bathroom

Bathroom

A new bathroom will add value to your property – and you don’t have to spend a fortune.

But to add value with a new bathroom, the rest of the house needs to be in good shape.

Changing the layout of your bathroom and changing pipes and plumbing can be expensive.

But simply replacing the sink and toilet or bath and shower could have a big impact without breaking the bank. 

Retiling is a fairly straightforward DIY job, and new lighting and a vanity unit can also transform the look of your bathroom.

Doing up your bathroom can add 3% to 5% to your home’s value.

See what similar properties are selling for

Check out local house prices to understand what appeals to buyers in your market.

You’ll get a feel for the features people want in a home like yours, and what they’re willing to pay for them.

Most of our house price records also have historic photos, so you can see what difference any improvements have made.

House prices in Northampton

The most popular home improvements aren’t necessarily the ones that will add the most value.

A survey by mortgage lender Halifax found that homeowners were most likely to have installed a new bathroom at 38%.

We’re also likely to get a new kitchen or a new boiler, both at 34%.

Other popular improvements include replacing windows (29%) and landscaping the garden (27%).

21% of homeowners have repaired or replaced the roof, and 15% of us have installed a new heating system.

Why are homeowners carrying out home improvements?

A study for the Post Office Money revealed the motivations behind home improvements. 

It found that 28% of people improve their home because they think it’s a good investment and will add value.

A further 5% of homeowners carried out improvements because they planned to move in the near future.

But 40% said it was to create a cosier living space and 23% said it was to increase their home's energy efficiency.

With lots of people opting for home improvements that don't necessarily add the most value, it suggests we're renovating with a view to living, rather than selling.

A combination of the costs involved in moving, such as stamp duty and estate agent fees, as well as a recent shortage of homes for sale, has led many people to focus on upgrading their current home.

Do your sums before you get started

If you’re keen to improve the value of your home, make sure you’ve done your sums before you start any work.

While renovations and conversions can definitely add value to your home, you want to check that you’ll make a good return on your investment.

Find out what your home’s worth, and check that the cost of any improvements will be worth it.

Then you can get started with the fun bit: giving your home a makeover and knowing it's money well spent.