Space has overtaken location as the first and foremost concern for homeowners for the first time in years, according to new research.
Bigger rooms topped the list of the most important criteria when shopping for a new home, according to a survey of 2,000 homeowners by ratedpeople.com, a website putting consumers in touch with trusted trades people. And one in six people are dissatisfied with the size of the rooms in their home.
However, many people aren't in a position to move home at present due to the stagnant property market and the prohibitive cost of moving.
"Faced with a difficult housing market, homeowners should be looking at what they can be doing to improve their current home - and where they can add value - rather than moving on," says Jonnie Irwin, spokesperson for ratedpeople.com.
How to add space and value to your home
"A well-planned extension nearly always adds value," says Irwin. "But look at house prices in your local area to gauge how much value another bedroom will add to your property - be careful not to overdevelop."
If you need more space another option is a conservatory. They can be a quick, cheap way to boost your home's appeal, and generally you don't need planning permission to build.
3. Planning permission
If you are worried about paying for planning permission - typically around £300 - and not getting approval, do a little bit of research before you submit your plan.
"Look at the other properties on your street, this will give you an idea of the type of projects that are likely to get planning permission as precedents may have been set by your neighbours' developments," says Irwin.
4. Internal changes
Before you fork out for an extension, consider whether you can increase the space and potential of your property by changing the internal layout instead.
Removing or moving internal walls can make a big difference at a much smaller cost than an extension – just don't start swinging the sledgehammer until you've checked whether your target is a load-bearing wall.
5. Side extensions
Side extensions may not add much floor space but they are a lot cheaper and can make a big difference to how you use your space.
Don't destroy your garden. "Building an extension at the expense of your garden can actually reduce the value of your home," warns Irwin. "Outside space is always desirable for future buyers - it's important to get the balance right."
DON'T DO THIS...
While some home improvements may not add much value to your home - often just breaking even - there are other changes that could actually devalue your home.
- Losing a bedroom in your property, for any reason, will devalue your house. If you're considering losing a bedroom in order to create a bathroom or study, think again.
- Garish and 'unique' kitchens and bathrooms will have a detrimental effect on value.
- Swimming pools or jacuzzis are unlikely to cover the installation costs.
- Decoration needs to be neutral - just because you love bright colours and patterns doesn't mean prospective buyers will.