Interiors: Where to invest money if you're thinking of renovating your house

When we bought our old farmhouse cottage, we knew we could add value eventually but we still had to do our homework to ensure we weren't investing money we would never see back. So the first thing is to make sure you know the ceiling limit in your street for property prices. Unless it is your forever home, and even then, you don't want to spend more than the value you can add.

A look at property sales in your area will give you an idea, plus a conversation with an estate agent or two will help. Zoopla is also a great resource, so make sure you do your homework.

The other thing to bear in mind is the uniqueness of your own property. Only you will know the areas of your house that are letting themselves down. Whether it be a dodgy kitchen or an avocado bathroom, or the shabby front drive and exterior. Even relatively modern 90's houses are now looking quite dated compared to modern standards.

It's very hard when you're living in your house all of the time to see where the issues lie, so look online at houses that are popular. Rightmove has a good feature for finding most viewed or recommended properties and also Houzz is a great resource for viewing amazing properties of all sizes and types.

So with that in mind, you might be interested to know which renovation projects add the most value to a house and without a doubt, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Even if yours is serviceable and not that old, trends change and the move towards open plan living, kitchen islands and entertaining space, as well as seperate utility areas are all things that modern families are interested in. If just ensuring the correct flow using the triangle approach to having the sink, fridge and cooker in easy reach of one another, is an area that you may be able to improve.

If your house is not the forever home, there are some reasonable budget and mid priced kitchen retailers or even DIY efforts to bring it up to date. Even a simple refresh, like a lick of paint on cupboards, or changing tiles, can make your house more saleable. But of course, if you are in an area with a high ceiling for property value and you can make money, they say that you can add up to 20% -30% to a house value with a new kitchen, so you may want to invest in a real wood, or bespoke kitchen.

The other area that gives the greatest resturn on a property is the bathroom spaces. Some people want to shower, others want a seperate en suite for them and another kids bathroom. But either way, a bathroom refresh can add around 15% - 20% of value to your house. Even simply refreshing the sanitary ware like sinks and toilets, are a good bet. But with the great options with tiles and decor now, making a wow bathroom could help your house stand apart.

Garden rooms have become a big thing and replaced the traditional conservatory, given they are hot in summer and freezing in winter. But people still want a connection to the outside and a garden room adds much more flexibiiltiy and longevity. Used as either an extra bedroom, study, lounge or playroom, it is a great addtion and can add 25% value to your property, if it is done well. Even a garage conversion can attract a great return on investment as families find ways to be together and then seperate into different rooms for different purposes. Who wants to watch the kids play Fortnite, right?

If your house doesnt have a garage then building one if there's room seems like a good place to add value but it may only add around 5-10% of value. Although, off road parking does increase value and even just a driveway or parking space at the front of a terraced house will be received positively. It may cost you £1500-£3000 to drop the kerb but you will find your house is more saleable and user friendly because of it.

An extension can recover around 20% so it seems extra living space may be more in demand. The humble side return is probably the best bang for buck in the extension wars, for a relatively small imvestment it can achieve a big impact. However, before you go finding builders, make sure you've made the most of the internal space you have. Removing a wall somewhere or recongifiguring the space might give you far more bang for buck and save months of headaches and dust.

So how much does kerb appeal play a role? Well, it depends. They often say that its better to buy the ugliest house on the best street, as it's all about location, but I think discerning modern buyers want the best of both. We are all time poor these days and sometimes we just want to walk in and start living. If this is your demographic, then tarting up the outside of your house with paint, render or even cladding could make an ugly duckling one that stands out.

It goes without saying that if you have poor doors and windows, people will instantly be seeing pound signs in front of their eyes for all the wrong reasons. You may get opportunistic investors offering you low ball as they have to do the hard work of updating these features. So keeping on top of maintenance and replacing leaky windows is not a sexy place to put money but probably sensible.

Most people are happy to add decorative things their selves and some people don't mind DIY but just expect it to be reflected in your offer at the time of sale. But you'd be surprised that even painting your walls in a neutral off white will help prospective buyers see a vision of the house they could create and improve buying prospects.

If your house does not offer opportunities to improve in these areas and it's not your forever home, consider packing up and cutting your losses. Better that than throwing good money after a poor investment. Sometimes, as much as we want to add value in this DIY obsessed culture, not all houses are worth the investment and you can easily lose money.

It can be a real minefield and so consulting a friend or someone who has experience in renovations is always a good bet. When we renovated our house, we already had the design and a good set of technical drawings but there was something missing so we decided to pay for a couple of hours consultancy to sense check our approach and it was invaluable. 

It also may be wise to invest in a bit of interior design consultancy, as it  could really stand your house apart during the selling process and for a relatively small cost, could have a big impact. Someone who has their pulse on house trends will know what buyers are looking for.

Are you thinking about investing or selling your house? What would you invest in?

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