Expert View: Should you move or improve?

Tim Hollingsworth, Rumball Sedgwick

Tim Hollingsworth, Rumball Sedgwick - Credit: Archant

The high cost of moving can make it more attractive to extend your existing home. Tim Hollingsworth, managing director of leading estate agency and surveying firm Rumball Sedgwick, weighs up the options.

If you have bought a new home recently, you’ll know that the costs involved in moving nowadays really mount up. Small wonder, then, that many homeowners are now thinking very carefully about whether it may be better not to move at all, but to create more space in their current home by building an extension. Statistics bear this out – currently UK homeowners are staying in the same home for a whopping 23 years on average, compared with nine years in 1988.

However, if you have a family, you may find pressure for space becomes unbearable. The high cost of entry-level homes, and high rents, mean that most children need to stay in their parents’ home well into their twenties. But living in a house with several other adults can be extremely wearing, if you don’t have enough space.

So it can make a lot of sense to extend. You may not even need planning permission – under ‘permitted development’ rules, you may be able to build a two-storey rear extension up to 3 metres deep, or a single-storey rear extension up to 4 metres deep (on a detached house), without planning permission. Talk to a property professional to find out exactly what can be done.

Think carefully before embarking on an extension though – an extension will not always add more to the value of the property than it costs to build. Be aware of the ‘maximum price’ that people will pay for a house in your area – you may find buyers will not pay more than a certain amount for a property in your road, no matter how much space it has.

Also, beware of losing existing space: if you add an extra bedroom in an extension, but you then have to turn an existing bedroom into a hallway in order to get to the new room, you may have spent a load of money to gain very little extra space.

One idea is to consider the ‘value’ of the extra space to you, and to put a price on it. A good rule of thumb is to divide the cost of the extension by two, then divide that by the length of time you think you will live there. So, for example, if an extension will cost £80,000 to build, and you think you will live there for another 10 years, then the cost to you for the benefit of that extra space would be £4,000 a year, or about £11 a day. If that seems to you to be good value, then go for it.

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