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How to Use Your Property's Flexible Space

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

When considering your next home, it’s worth looking for somewhere you can add value to. Or, a property you can adapt and create value as and when your needs change. You want to be sure you can add space when you require it. Here’s a guide to how to use your property’s flexible space.

Think long term

When viewing a potential property, don’t just look at what is immediately in front of you and whether it’s suitable for the here and now. Think longer term. Will it still suit you in 5-10 years, or will you have to start this property hunt all over again when you need to upsize? Your needs, and those of your family, will change over the years. Just because a property ticks all the right boxes now, doesn’t necessarily mean it will continue to tick them over time. So, be savvy.

Moving home, with all its associated costs, is something you don’t want to be doing regularly. Be smart and plan ahead. Have a long term strategy in mind when you’re property hunting and it will benefit you in the long run.

What to consider when looking for a property with flexible space

You’re likely to already have a dream property checklist of the key features your home must have. If you haven’t considered how this will change with time, now’s the time. Think about it and discuss it with others. Here are a few points to consider:

  • How is your lifestyle likely to change over the next few years?
  • How will your priorities shift over time?
  • If you haven’t started a family yet, is that something you will do in the future?
  • Will you always work at the same place?
  • Do you need access to good education for your children?
  • What are your entertainment wants and needs? Will these change with time?

You can’t predict the future, but you can choose a destination that you would like to get to eventually. And if you invest wisely now, it will save you time and heartache further down the line.

Knowing you’ve bought a property which offers the flexibility of change when you need it, adds an additional level of security. The longevity to see you through the future years and the ability to realise opportunities which may present themselves is certainly desirable.

The vast majority of current housing stock in the UK is of Victorian and Edwardian vintage. Requirements of the time differ greatly from ours, which is why we no longer build properties like them. This is also why owners often alter their layouts. The shell is desirable, but often the floorplans are not

This is where flexible space comes into its own. You don’t have to alter a property when you first buy it, but it offers the ability to be adapted later down the line. Having the space to be able to open up hallways and confined spaces, knock through walls and remove doors is going to be invaluable to accommodate your family’s needs.

In the meantime, if structural work isn’t what you’re after, you can always add value by redecorating - new bathrooms or a kitchen are usually the favourites.

But to ‘create’ value in your property, this is where having flexible space comes into its own. It will require you to do some serious work but it can be more than worth it to increase the value of your home.

How to use flexible space to add value to your home

  • Build up through the roof, make that loft space work for you, or even add another level
  • If you have the outside space, spread sideways
  • Dig down and convert your cellar or basement
  • If you have a top floor one bedroom flat, this is ideal to convert to a two bedroom by extending into the roof space. (Of course, you will have to guarantee that you own the roof space first through your solicitor, and that you have the consent of the freeholder, if that isn’t you).
  • Add a conservatory to create a comfortable lounge space
  • Convert a garage into more rooms. If there is space above it, build upwards too
  • Knock through small rooms to create larger ones
  • If you have plenty of outside space, consider building a summer house or garden room. Somewhere to escape to when the chaos of the main house becomes too much, but you don’t want the mess and hassle of converting your loft space
  • Turn your front lawn into an off road parking space - this instantly reduces your car insurance and removes the need to pay for on-street parking
  • Utilise the garden. If you have an outside terrace consider installing sliding doors in the room or wall adjacent to it, so you can open up the house and have it flow onto the terrace. Or if you have the planning permission, build a separate annex entirely onto your house. If you adhere to Permitted Development rules, you don’t need to apply for planning permission for your annex

Be mindful that if this is not your ‘forever home’, try not to get too carried away with renovations and redecorations. There will come a point where your property reaches the top of its potential sale price and building or decorating further, won’t add any more value. People can often get carried away with very expensive bathrooms and kitchens!

Ensure any fixtures and fittings you put in match the price bracket of your property i.e. there is no point installing marble tops in the bathroom if you plan to sell your home in a few years, there’s no guarantee you will recover this cost in your sale price.

Think long term. If this isn’t your dream home and you plan to move on at some point, consider the re-saleability of your property. People always like to make a mark on their property so holding back can pay off.

If you’re thinking about buying a home and doing renovations that require planning permission, use our property report to find out neighbourhood planning history (granted and rejected) to gauge what might get approved. Get your report here.

Equally, get realistic quotes from reputable tradespeople isn't a bad idea either.

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