INCREASING numbers of homeowners are avoiding the expense - plus the physical and emotional upheaval - of moving house, by staying put and renovating instead. In fact, the number of people choosing to do this has risen fivefold since 2013, according to a recent report by Hiscox Insurance - increasing from 3% of households to 15%, representing more than four million homes in the UK.

Supporting the notion that we're becoming a nation of home-improvers, figures from Halifax show that planning applications have risen by a quarter over the last five years. Meanwhile, Hiscox found the average budget for home renovations was around £16,100 for each project, although 18% of the householders surveyed expected to spend more than £25,000.

So what improvements are they making? According to the research, homeowners are most likely to either renovate a bathroom or add a new one, followed by kitchen improvements, installing a new boiler or central heating system, or creating more living space. However, not every home-improvement project will automatically add value to a property.

"Cheap is cheap - nothing kills the value of a property more than doing cheap work in it. Estate agents have told me they've seen sellers with tears in their eyes, when they find out that construction work worth thousands of pounds hasn't added a single penny to their home," says Ash Chawla, chief executive of the design/build company Duke of Design ( "There are no shortcuts to creating value to your home." Here are six home improvements Chawla says could be a wise investment...


The simplest home addition is a conservatory, which Virgin Money research says can raise the value of your home by as much as 15% if it's included as part of an extension, or by 5% if it's just a simple conservatory. Chawla says choosing the right materials can help conservatories blend well with modern and period properties. "The key is to use materials other than the commonly seen white UPVC," he says.


Estate agents surveyed by Hiscox believe the best way of spending money on your home is by having an extension built, saying the addition of a new bedroom could boost the average home's value by 11.2%. They reckon a new kitchen, meanwhile, will typically increase a home's value by 5.5% (or £12,400 based on an average UK house price of £226,071), although 28% think a new kitchen can lift a home's value by as much as 10%. A single storey extension can be built in as little as three weeks once planning permission is granted, says Chawla, who suggests an average sized £30,000 single-storey rear kitchen extension on a £500,000 home can lead to a profit of £30,000-£35,000.


Remodelling an existing kitchen - by adding high quality units and flooring, purpose lighting and redecorating - could increase a property's value by as much as 4%, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors - although Chawla warns that expensive purchases, such as kitchen units and flooring, should be kept in proportion to the value of the property.

Garden landscaping

"Often overlooked, the garden can become the hub of home life and can work seamlessly with your home, as if brick and foliage were the most natural partners in the world," says Chawla. For family-sized homes, ensure the outdoor space is suitable for the growing needs of a family with low-maintenance planting and landscaping, while a small courtyard garden at a city apartment may appeal to younger working couples.


Most towns and cities have a parking problem, Chawla points out. "By providing viable parking facilities, you can increase your property price dramatically," he promises. You could either convert land at the front or side of your property to add a driveway or parking space, or add a garage. Full garage conversions commonly add up to 8-10% to your property value.

Loft conversions

The Hiscox report says loft extensions are the most popular planning request. They don't always require planning permission, although they do need to meet building regulations to be classed as a room. The Nationwide Building Society says the average cost to convert an attic is around £20,000, which rises to approximately £35,000-£45,000 if you're creating a dormer loft with double bedroom and bathroom.