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INNERSPACE Home Building & Renovating Magazine Feature

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KEN'S STORY
Ken Dijksman broke every rule in the book when it came to finding builders for a loft conversion at his Victorian terraced home in Berkshire— all the more surprising given that he is a planning consultant who really should have known better…

"We'd got a couple of local quotes, but they seemed expensive and the firms didn't impress when they came around, so I was wondering what to do. In the end, I just Googled a few key words to see what I'd find. I discovered a specialist loft conversion company in Preston and thought, 'Why not?'" says Ken, admitting that hiring a firm he knew nothing about, without recommendations and based 170 miles away was, at best, unorthodox.

He tried to identify their track record through online research and by speaking with contacts in the region, but could find no evidence of any previous work.

Home Building Quote 2

"They came down, had a look and gave a quote of £23,000 including VAT. That was a good £15,000 cheaper than local builders. They wanted 60% upfront but they agreed not to get that until work had started. I admit alarm bells rang but they knew their stuff so I didn't feel it was an enormous risk when I gave the go-ahead," he says. The team arrived, booked into a local bed-and-breakfast and worked 12-hour days.

The job came in on time and on budget and included installing a condensing boiler and a dormer window. "I was completely delighted and completely relieved, but now I'd recommend them to anyone. They're hungry enough to travel for business and work long days, so they deserve praise," admits Ken.


Our Advice: Eliminate Luck As A Factor

Before any project, whether a single loft like this or a full house construction, initially assess
the level of input you require from tradesmen. Do you need a builder to project manage or buy in the materials, or can you manage your own team of brickies, plumbers and so on? Whether you need a single contractor or a series of tradespeople, you should seek competitive estimates from builders, who should produce evidence of their past work and ideally be members of their appropriate craft associations. Get personal recommendations and speak to or visit clients who have used the builders before — and make sure you get firm, clear figures from them to assist with your financial planning. You should talk through the itemised quote with your chosen builder and ensure that all materials choices and exact work details are clarified before work starts —otherwise the initial quote can quickly
become meaningless.

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Article By: Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine - Aug 2011



Home Building & Renovating Magazine

Guardian Newspaper Loft Conversion Feature

Loft conversions are 'biggest boost to house values'

Loft conversions are ‘biggest boost to house values’

Survey shows that a loft conversion could add up to £20,000 to the value of a home, but home improvers warned to comply with building regulations

Thousands of DIY enthusiasts were busy over the bank holiday weekend, but homeowners should consider bigger projects if they want to add significant value to their homes, according to the Halifax.

More than a third of valuers (35%) said that while painting and decorating makes a home more appealing to prospective buyers, it adds little or no actual value.

Topping the list of value-adding projects are loft conversions, which experts say can increase the value of a property by an average of £20,876, at a cost of about £10,000. They are followed by room extensions, which add an average £16,069 to a home's value. New kitchens, windows and bathrooms also feature on the list, boosting property prices by an average of £5,617, £5,265 and £3,351 respectively.

According to Halifax there was a 124% jump in the value of adding a driveway or off-road parking to a home. It now adds an average £2,876 to the price of a home compared to £1,283 in 2009.

Home improvement
Average £ increase in property value (2011)
Percentage of 2011 property valuers who stated no increase in value
Loft conversion 20876 1%
Room extension 16069 0%
Conservatory 8233 5%
New kitchen 5617 10%
New windows 5265 8%
New bathroom 3351 15%
Redecorate house 3229 35%
Resurface run up/drive 2876 23%
Re-carpet house 2153 38%

Meanwhile, research carried out by the National Association of Estate Agents shows that more than 40% of its members believe creating additional living space is the best way of increasing the value of a property, but warns homeowners to consider overall prices in their area as this will dictate their home's maximum selling price .

Graham Lock, co-founder of housenetwork.co.uk, said adding an extra room to a house in an area of similar properties will make it stand out. "There is not a lot of movement in the market at the moment and competition between sellers is becoming more and more localised. It is about keeping a step ahead of your neighbours."

But homeowners should beware that building an extension or loft conversion can be more complex than it first appears, as there are building regulations that must be complied with, despite the work being carried out internally.

Emma Jeffreys from Emsleys solicitors and estate agents in Leeds said: "It is imperative that when considering a conversion you seek professional advice at an early stage, as if these alterations are not handled correctly it can have the opposite effect by actually decreasing the value of the home.

"It is often more cost-effective to extend rooms such as the living room or a sun room rather than adding a conservatory, as they are rooms which have a greater overall appeal. Generally, people will have to spend a minimum of £10,000 on a conversion or extension to see a return on investment in a typical family house."



Article By: Carri-Ann Taylor guardian.co.uk Tuesday 3 May 2011