It is a constant question we are asked when individuals and families have outgrown their current accommodation and one that has no right or wrong answer.
The reality is that you have three options:
- The status quo
- Extend to some extent
For some, in the short term at least, staying where you are is the only option, although often far from ideal.
There are times however when extending, whether that be a conservatory, a more substantial extension or a loft conversion, would be the preferred option. This might be for a wide variety of reasons including location to schools, facilities or to friends and families or indeed that there is nothing larger in the vicinity which fits the bill or within your price bracket. The cost of the works, delays in obtaining consents and the mess/hassle of living on a building site also need to be considered.
Moving is often the best option to achieve the best space to meet your needs but this does come at a price and you need to look at the cost of moving in conjunction with the stress and hassle factor. In the current market, the advice would be to sell before you buy. This factor can considerably increase the stress as you cannot judge what will be available on the market once you have sold.
So how do you decide? Its not an easy question to answer and will totally depend on the location and style of the property and what you propose to do.
Many suggest that extending is the answer. Unfortunately this isn't always the best option.
There is a balancing act in relation to costs and benefits and there are a few things we need to keep in mind:
The old Estate Agent maxim comes into play - Location, Location, Location
- What else is available in the surrounding area?
- What is the best price achieved in the area and what are properties similar in size to your proposed extended home achieving?
- What do you lose if you extend?
- What are the costs of extending and do you mind living in a building site?
- What are the costs of moving?
So what does all this mean?
A property has at any moment in time, a valuation/price ceiling that will not normally be exceeded, no matter what you do to the property.
The location, style, neighbourhood and the availability of other properties in surrounding areas all play a part. These in conjunction with amount and size of the internal and external accommodation and the spending power of the usual purchaser within an area, influence the price that will be paid.
In an area where sales are slow with poor values, a significantly enlarged property will not necessarily enjoy an equivalent increase in value/price paid. Equally a small property in a high value area might enjoy a disproportionate increase relative to the size of the extension.
If we took a mid terraced three bedroom house and extended it to the rear, enlarged the kitchen, provided a dining room and two further bedrooms, you would imagine that there would be a significant uplift in value. This is not necessarily the case for a number of reasons:
- Firstly, the important thing to remember is that the value and price are determined by supply and demand so that whilst the proposed extension may really fit the bill in relation to your needs, what would the average person in the street think?
- The extension, whilst providing additional internal accommodation, might swallow up the garden to a disproportional extent. Family accommodation of this size with no garden restricts marketability.
- Whether there are purpose built five bed properties within the surrounding area that have not achieved high prices?
- Whether you will be creating a monster that does not fit visually with its surroundings?
- The reality is that there are price brackets where the average purchasers, if they can raise the finance, would prefer to buy in a "better" location.
- The extension discussed above may have taken the property out of the normal market. Is there a demand for a five bedroom property in your location? Possibly not and its now too big for the average purchaser reducing its marketability.
There are many extensions, alterations, and loft conversions that are very successful and have enhanced the property and its value. There are however sadly examples of properties that have been over extended and are difficult to sell at a price that reflect the full cost of the extension.
My recommendation is that if you are considering an extension, spend the nominal extra to obtain profession valuation advice in relation to before and after valuations. This allows you to truly break down the pros and cons of extending versus moving.