Extend, don’t move

Does it ever feel as if your house has shrunk? Mine has definitely got smaller in recent years. I suppose this has something to do with the fact that my babies aren’t babies anymore, and that our puppy Max is now a fully-grown black Labrador.

We moved into our three-bed semi in south-west London five years ago. Back then, it was airy and spacious. Now, it’s chock-a-bloc! Trouble is, with the economy still in the doldrums, we just can’t afford to upsize and move to the area we really want to be in. So we’ve decided to stay put, and use some of our savings to add some space instead.

Fingers crossed, not only will our plans give us all some room for manoeuvre – very literally, for the children – but hopefully we’ll boost our property’s value when things do pick up a bit, and we can finally move out of the area and to somewhere with a bigger garden.

Moving on up

We’ve been saving hard and we’re lucky to be able to afford to extend upwards and outwards. Our first job is going to be a loft conversion. We’ve read that this could even add £20,000 to our property’s value. Apparently, it’s a good way to extend and it’s generally the cheapest, as most of the structure is already there –walls, roof and so on.

We didn’t want to take any chances with our hard-earned savings so before we started any work we checked with our home insurance provider to make sure it wouldn’t affect our insurance and that we wouldn’t need to amend our policy. Remarkably, despite the fact that UK home insurance policies cover the building itself, renovations to structure, and fixtures and fittings in the event of an accident such as fire, as standard, almost two million people in the UK don’t have home insurance. This means that even if damage is caused by someone else they could lose everything.

We’ve been big fans of all the Channel 4 property programmes for years, and we’ve found the channel4.com/4homes site a great source of advice. For instance, the section on loft conversions warns not to forget headroom, and says that any ceiling less than 7ft high will feel cramped. Seeing as my husband is 6ft 4 inches, we’ve really had to think about the layout of the bedroom we’re hoping to create up there: we’ve made sure there’ll still be enough room to stand around the bed, and we’ll put the shower of the en-suite under the highest part of the ceiling.

Outward extension

Back at ground level, we’ve also decided to extend the kitchen out into the garden. Again, I did a bit of research online, and Phil Spencer of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location says if you’re only going to improve one room in your house, make it the kitchen. We’re going to take his advice and ensure easy access between the three points of the kitchen triangle – the sink, fridge and cooker. So as well as adding to the square footage and installing a skylight to make the space light and airy, we’re hoping that our work will add the 4.6 per cent to our home’s value Phil says is about the norm – if we get it right, that is!

So we’ve set ourselves a budget for all the work and hopefully we’ll successfully improve our home by adding space and value. I look forward to the day the kids’ toys all have homes, and we all have a little more space to ourselves.

This is a Sponsored post by Guest Blogger Lizzie Buckley, on behalf of Sainsbury’s Bank. Lizzie is a busy mum of two and a part-time graphic designer.



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