It pays to have a little imagination at property viewings. Not all of us can see beyond the bad decor to what a space could become.
But it’s vital to be realistic, too. There are lots of ways to add value to a home, but you need to know what to look out for.
Here’s our guide to the key things to hunt for on property viewings.
1. Ways to extend the footprint of your home
Building outwards is a great way to add value.
Many Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses have a ‘side return’. These dark and often under-used strips of garden present a great opportunity to extend a kitchen.
Detached homes with plenty of outside space also offer the potential for future extensions.
Properties with unconverted farm buildings or outhouses might be an opportunity to join up via a link extension.
Don’t forget to check out the basement, as there may be space for a lower floor conversion.
2. Opportunities to add an extra storey
A home with a loft space that hasn’t yet been converted is ripe for adding value.
Look at the adjacent houses to see if they have had dormer windows or full extensions. Planning permission is more likely to be granted if others on your street have done it.
Adding a bedroom and bathroom is an effective way to boost your home’s value.
If your roof is large enough, a conversion might turn a three-bedroom terrace into a five-bedroom home with two bathrooms.
If your home already has a downstairs extension, look at whether there’s scope for adding another storey on top.
Always seek expert advice from a builder on whether the existing extension is strong enough to support a second storey.
3. Explore buying more land nearby
Don’t be too quick to dismiss a home where the plot is too small for the size of the property.
Check out the possibility of purchasing adjacent land. If you are able to do so, this could mean a dramatic increase in the value of the property.
This might mean buying a bit of extra land from a neighbour or the freeholder of neighbouring flats.
It’s always worth asking the estate agent showing you around if they have any local intel to share.
4. Ways to create open-plan living space
Building an open-plan kitchen-living room is a great opportunity for adding value to your home.
Look out for places with a small kitchen situated beside a large dining room or living room.
Do a bit of detective work right away to work out whether the wall is internal or load-bearing. If it’s load-bearing, you’ll need to replace it with structural support.
If in doubt, arrange a visit with a surveyor or structural engineer.
5. Scope out improvements to the layout
Before you view and while you’re at a viewing, spend time scouring the floor plan.
A bad layout offers huge potential if you can sort it out. Can simple changes be made? Is something obvious currently in the wrong place?
Whether by opening up rooms, reinstating walls, or shifting doorways, most layout problems can be solved.
Think big: using your imagination could really help you to cash in when it comes to selling.
6. Don’t overlook tired kitchens and bathrooms
Pay close attention to homes with dated kitchens and bathrooms. They are two of the most valuable rooms in a property.
A brand new kitchen with the latest mod cons and oodles of storage could add serious value.
The same goes for a sparkling new bathroom suite with shiny taps, a power shower and fancy tiles.
Yes, updating these rooms will cost you money, but you are more than likely to make it back in the value you add.
7. Consider adding a downstairs toilet
A home with space to install a ground floor loo also has decent potential to add value.
An extra toilet downstairs will appeal to families with young children, as well as older couples who may struggle with stairs.
Think creatively. You may not need to knock down walls or build an extension to fit a downstairs toilet.
It may be possible to put a loo under the stairs, in a large cupboard, in the basement, or by partitioning a room.
Plumbing will be the biggest factor, so be sure to ask an expert.
8. Don’t rule out homes that don’t meet your aesthetic
While an ugly home can be a turn-off, at first sight, it’s worth looking beyond initial impressions.
It might be possible to give the place a facelift. This could be especially worth it if the property is in a location known for its good schools or transport links.
New windows, painting, cladding and plants can all make a dramatic difference.
Consult an architect for bigger structural changes that can boost kerb appeal.
9. Consider buying on a busy road
Many people don’t want to live on an A-road or main street that is full of noisy traffic.
But there are steps you can take to improve the nose. Double glazing, good screening and a change of access to the property can be transformative.
It might be possible to buy a home on a big road for a bargain price and improve both the interior and exterior so that you add considerable value.
10. Size up a room in the garden
If a home almost meets your needs but doesn’t have that home office, why not see if there’s space for a garden room?
A self-contained structure in the garden can add value as it increases the usable floor space.
If you can install electricity and heating, or a wood-burning stove, it can be used throughout the year.
11. Seek out period features to restore
You can add real value to a property by restoring original features.
Spend some time looking at homes that are period but where these features have been removed.
Restore an Edwardian home to its former glory by putting cornices back and replacing fireplaces. It can add wow factor and resale value.
Wooden beams, original floorboards, bannisters and doors all offer potential, especially if they haven’t been treated very sympathetically by the previous homeowner.
12. A poor energy rating is an opportunity to add value
You might view a home with a G-rated Energy Performance Certificate as a complete deal-breaker, but think again.
It’s worth seeing these weaknesses as potential because dramatic improvements can be made to this property.
It might be a matter of upgrading the heating system, installing a modern condensing boiler and insulating the loft and cavity walls.
You might also add solar panels and ground/air source heat pumps.
Changes like this will bring home of any age up to modern standards and will make a huge positive impact on its value. Your bills will get cheaper, too.