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Move or Improve?

Posted 28/03/2022 by Reeds Rains
Categories: Selling
Move or Improve?

A question that many homeowners ask, perhaps as their personal circumstances change, is whether it’s better to improve or enlarge their existing home or to buy a different home instead? Here we set some further questions which might help you in making that final decision.

What’s the real reason for change?

It’s worth listing the reasons that you want to make a change; whether it’s to gain more space, to adapt areas to better suit you, or your family, or perhaps because you’re simply ready for something different.  It’s then time to consider the impact of each.

Moving home, for example, might mean you don’t have the convenience of local facilities that you’ve been used to, or you lose contact with existing neighbours you have. In contrast, an extension to your existing property might mean you forgo space in the garden or loft to make it happen or that there’s ongoing - and potentially increasing - costs that you may not foresee.  You need to list the pros and cons of each.

What are the timescales?

There’s often some certainty about the amount of time it takes a property sale or purchase to complete and a good estate agent will be able to advise you on this. In comparison the time it takes to find a builder, associated suppliers and even materials to renovate or change the structure of the property can be unpredictable. Question whether some predictability on timings is important.

What disruption are you prepared to face?

Whether moving home or improving it, there will undoubtedly be disruption to your day to day life in the short term.  Aside from the inevitable preparation of moving or improving, however, it’s the ongoing disruption that’s worth considering. If your next property is in relative good order - and ‘fits the bill’ in terms of space etc. - you can soon be settled into a new home with minimal impact. Renovating or improving a home, on the other hand, can bring with it major disruption for long periods of time, dependant on the scale of work being completed. Even having builders in your property can affect daily routines and impromptu disturbances that you (and any partner, children, visiting relatives, friends or even pets) have to be prepared for.

Do you know the costs?

After considering possible mortgage costs, it’s important to fully appreciate the costs implications of either moving or improving. To a large extent you can predict the cost of moving home - bearing in mind any set agency fees, conveyancing fees and removal costs – and, if making home improvements you should also have a good estimate of what the costs will be. The problem is, however, if these home improvement costs rise.

Reports at the end of last year highlighted the increasing costs of materials to build (*) and, whilst this has eased to a certain extent, there continues to be concerns about the impact of energy prices on building costs including self-build renovations, and extension projects. Concrete, steel, sealants, coatings, paints and even insulation are just some of the materials that may be affected. In fact, it was acknowledged by Sarap Ubhi, industry analyst at the British Merchants Federation (BMF) that there is a high degree of uncertainty for the construction industry in the year ahead due, in part, to rising energy prices as well as continuing supply issues and skills shortages. It’s something definitely to consider.

What next?

It’s important to keep abreast of changing property market conditions and really understand the motivation for change. Discuss this and the impact openly with family, and even friends, and you could gain the support of an estate agent too by booking a free market valuation. This should help you in understanding the value of your property, as it is, and through discussion help you in finding out what added value your home improvements may bring or what properties may be available to buy that just might make the decision easier. 

(*) www.rics.org/uk - November 2021

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