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  1. Blog
  2. Home improvements that do not add value (UK)
House selling tips
01 August 2022

Home improvements that do not add value (UK)

Sam Edwards
Writer
Home improvements that do not add value

Table of contents

  1. 1. Six of the worst home improvements
  2. 2. What home improvements do add value?
  3. 3. Do solar panels add property value?
  4. 4. Summary - Choose wisely

Home is where the heart is - but while every change you make to your home should benefit you and your family, it pays to think logistically. If you’re not planning on living in your house forever, ensuring that your developments add value is a worthwhile endeavour.

Unfortunately, it’s a well-known fact that some home improvements do not add value. There are a lot of factors that can affect the popularity (and consequent value) of certain improvements.

For example, in some areas where renewable energy hasn’t caught on, solar panels won’t do much to improve the value of your home.

So, if you’re looking to move in the near future, what are the pointless home improvements that won't add value to your home? Find out here at GetAgent, the UK's leading digital publisher of homeseller tips.

Six of the worst home improvements

1. Buying high-end appliances and utilities

Why spend thousands of pounds on a high-end product when you can get an appliance that does the same thing for less?

It might be tempting to purchase the latest boiler, washing machine or fridge for your property - especially if you think your white goods will sweeten the deal when the time comes to sell.

But these products might not be worth it in the long run!

They add the same value

The value a high-end fridge adds to your property is almost indistinguishable to that of an average fridge. Except for a bonus ice cube feature, your old and new fridge both perform the same function: to keep foods from spoiling.

Working condition is good enough

Boilers, electrical wiring and plumbing are all vital assets that must be maintained, but they don’t need to be replaced if they’re already in working condition.

Our advice is to save your money for more worthwhile improvements.

2. Building a wine cellar

If you’re a connoisseur of wine, a wine cellar might seem like a neat, albeit lavish, feature to add to your property. But will other homebuyers share your taste?

Expensive

Wine cellars are expensive to build. A bespoke wine room or spiral cellar can cost up to £50,000 to build, but they can cost much more depending on the property.

Only appeals to wine lovers

A cellar for storing wine has zero practical usage to a homeowner who lacks your love of wine. As such, the market for your property narrows. Other homesellers with extra bedrooms and utilities in their basements will receive greater attention.

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3. Extending your property

First and foremost, extensions do add value to properties - just not as much as you might need them to.

Time and effort

Extensions are a massive undertaking. On average, they take three months to build, but they can take up to six if necessary. You'll need to hire architects to design a plan, and apply for approval under Building Regulations.

Brexit

As a result of Brexit, the UK is currently experiencing a severe lack of building materials. Extensions that once cost homeowners £40,000, are now costing upwards of £60,000 and £80,000.

Unpredictable market

If you're planning on going to market in the next five years, you’ll want your extension to matter. And in the best case scenario, it will. A loft conversion can technically add up to 20% to a property's market value.

But the best case scenario isn’t one you should hold out for. The market is turbulent at best, and in five years, a lot can change. If a loft conversion fails to provide the returns you need, you will have lost money.

Our advice is to save your money for renovations of existing rooms. There is nothing more jarring than an outdated room in a modern house.

If your kitchen needs doing up, spend a fraction of the amount you would have spent on an extension and make some much needed changes. Extensions are best saved for that dream home.

4. Adding a freestanding bath

In recent years, freestanding baths have become an immensely popular feature. You would be hard pressed not to find one in an interior design magazine.

Extra plumbing and reinforced flooring

While certainly stylish, freestanding bath tubs are notoriously difficult products. An entire room below the tub must be dedicated to plumbing. Their sheer bulk often requires reinforced flooring to prevent them from falling through the floor. As a result, this type of tub requires a lot more time and money than a traditional model.

More leaks and mess

If that wasn’t enough, you’ll be signing up to a lot more leaks and mess. You will need more space around the bath tub to clean due to the increase of water and dirt between surfaces.

Our advice is to hold onto your old bath tub or install a new built-in model.

5. Making a splash on a swimming pool

Thanks to gloomy British weather, swimming pools aren't that common in the UK. However, this hasn’t deterred some affluent homeowners from installing pools in their gardens and basements.

While pools are an impressive feature, the maintenance costs and pitfalls that coincide with them should be enough to deter you from building one.

Unused for majority of year

For almost eight months of the year, an outdoor pool will be unused. Despite being protected with a plastic cover, the pool will be vulnerable to leaves, debris and other creepy crawlies.

It’s difficult to sell a property with a covered pool. The large, unused feature will leave buyers wondering, ‘How is this going to be useful to me when I move in?’.

Indoor pools need more work

An indoor pool is much more favourable than an outdoor one in the UK - but it’s also a lot more costly. Indoor pools require a great deal more space due to the extra plumbing and heat they need to function.

Unless you have a large enough property (not to mention thousands of pounds), a swimming pool is not worth the trouble.

6. Converting your rooms

We all have an idea of the perfect property. Unfortunately, our ideal properties are likely to be very different. As a result, home conversions like libraries, saunas or cinema rooms often have a detrimental effect on a home’s marketability.

Buyers look for potential

Buyers prefer to see the potential in a room. While rooms with specific leisure functions may appeal to certain people, they ultimately reduce your number of interested buyers.

Our advice is to keep the layout of your home simple, but engaging. You will appeal to a greater pool of buyers. And if you’re thinking of making improvements, simply update the worst rooms in your property. If the downstairs bathroom could use some work, add some tiles or replace the sink.

What home improvements do add value?

If you’re looking to sell in the coming year, here are some things you should consider:

1. Deep clean

This might be the hundredth time you’ve read the phrase ‘deep clean’, but that shouldn’t devalue how important a good clean really is.

If your property is about to go to market, your best hope of securing a decent offer is by revealing its potential.

Declutter as much as possible, removing all non-essential items and storing them away. Kids toys, dog bowls, piles of magazines, ashtrays - anything too smelly or pertinent to your family - needs to be hidden away.

In this useful article, we go into great detail about the ‘big clean’ and provide some tips and pointers. One of our best tips is about decluttering - a simple four step system to maximise your property’s space:

1. Keep

If you decide to keep an item, leave it where it is with a spruce and tidy.

2. Storage

Store sentimental items somewhere where potential buyers won’t notice them.

3. Donate

If you don’t need the items, donating is a great way to recycle the items you no longer find useful.

4. Bin

If you don’t need the items, chuck them in the bin.

Once you've decluttered, you can start the actual clean. You might be tempted to hire a cleaning company to do the heavy lifting, but companies aren’t perfect. Only one person knows the ins and outs of your property - and that person is you. Plus, buyers can tell a ‘company clean’ from a ‘personal clean'.

2. Fresh coat of paint

Your home needs to be bright and inviting, so splash a fresh coat of paint on the surfaces that need touching up. This includes skirting boards, grouting, and most importantly, your front door!

Your front door is the first thing that buyers notice when they come and look at your house, which is why it has a massive impact on their perception of your home. A battered and beaten front door will leave a sour taste in a buyer's memory of your home.

3. Apply for planning permission

Building an extension or conversion might seem like a solid way to add value to your home, but there’s a lot to be said for simply applying for planning permission.

Some projects can be loss-making because they limit your number of potential buyers. Buyers pay for the opportunity to add an extension or conversion rather than the asset itself.

To make a greater return on investment, request for planning permission and leave everything else to the next owner.

4. Build an outdoor patio or decking area

Our research recently revealed the summer additions that add the most value to your home. One of the top contenders was a leisure area in the back garden - either a patio or decking.

What makes these such good investments?

The average cost for a patio or decking is £2,235 but their projected return on investment is 4.3%. With the average UK house price currently at £281,161, a patio or decking would see another £12,090 added to your home's market value. After the initial outlay, you could be looking at a profit of £10,000.

Do solar panels add property value?

There's a lot of debate over whether solar panels add significant value to properties here in the UK. Unfortunately, you'll most likely see a better return on investment by spending your money on something else - especially now that the government has stopped subsidising green improvements.

But while it may take a while for solar panels to actually add any concrete value to your home, that doesn't mean they're useless.

Installing solar panels can add real value to your home by:

  • Consistently lowering energy bills, allowing you to save money
  • Protecting against price hikes through an energy efficient system
  • Redirecting solar energy into hot water, reducing gas prices
  • Allowing you to sell energy back to the grid for money

What about extra living or storage space?

Usually, extra living space adds significant value to properties. But this home improvement can have a negative impact on your property’s marketability.

As mentioned earlier in the article, some extensions can have a negative effect on your property's market performance. A home cinema, library or weight lifting room might seem like a good idea at the time, but these can reduce your number of interested buyers significantly.

Buyers prefer the choice to add specific rooms. A property with a dedicated library or cinema can alienate buyers, particularly if it goes against their idea of a perfect home.

It's much more cost effective to apply for planning permission and allow your buyers to see your home’s potential.

Furthermore, every property has a ceiling price - the point at which major improvements cease to add any value. Estate agents use this price to help position your property on the market.

While extra living space is always a plus, it may not provide the return on investment you seek. Your house may already have reached its peak.

Thinking of selling? Request a free valuation!

It’s always useful to know the value of your largest financial asset. But if you’re thinking of selling in the near future, it pays to know your home’s true value.

There’s plenty of online valuation tools online - our GetAgent Valuation Tool is one of the best - but the surest way of finding out your home’s value is by booking an in-person valuation with an estate agent.

Every estate agent is different. You can make sure you’re booking with the best by comparing agents in your local area.

We rank the top six estate agents in your postcode according to:

  • Most experienced selling in your area
  • Most likely to achieve your asking price
  • Fastest seller

Find the best estate agent for you and book a free house valuation today!

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Summary - Choose wisely

Ultimately, your home is for you. Add renovations that you will enjoy, especially if you’re planning to live there for many years. Make your house a home.

On the other hand, if you are planning to move within the next few years, avoid improvements that are subjective in taste and style. You’ll need a good return on investment if you’re moving in the near future.

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