Add real value to your home

By Ruth Kennelly

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The Irish Independent, 28 May 2004

Stop! Before you waste thousands on structural home improvements read this advice from the experts.

Time and time again we are bombarded with information as to what structural work will add or reduce a property’s value. For instance a recent home improvements programme questioned whether it was more valuable to build an adjoining study or an en suite bathroom on to the master bedroom. Considering that many people now work from home the use of an office can often be an advantage when it comes to selling. However, to clear up the issue ‘Property Doctor’ enlisted the valuable advice and experience of four top estate agents.

Mark Singleton, partner in Young’s Auctioneers states very clearly that a balance of reception rooms to bedrooms is a top priority for selling a property. A client looking to sell a property containing four bathrooms and two bedrooms is generally going to experience some resistance. Considering that currently many couples are moving into their second home, Mr Singleton comments that “A downstairs loo is one of the main requirements of families with young children. Conservatories are not the attraction that they once were and generally only add their own cost to the final sale price of a house. Only one in 10 attic conversions are worth the money they cost”, he adds.

Generally, a conversion of this type is badly lit with restricted ceiling height and often the requisite stairs retracts from the landing space. Off-street parking is a huge advantage in towns or cities and should be maintained and not built upon. Even decreasing garden space to the front of a house to accommodate two cars can be advantageous at sale time. Mark Smith, associate director with Douglas Newman Good, recommends that any well-built structure that extends floor area will add value and therefore is worth considering, if the budget is available. However, if an en suite bathroom is added to a master bedroom that is already spatially limited there will be no final benefit. This is as a result of the recent emphasis on a property’s square footage. There is a current trend among buyers to use square footage as their primary criterion in the search for a home. This has evolved in response to the number of potential buyers viewing properties over the internet with no basis for assessing the actual size. With this in mind adding 250 square feet to the floor area of a property will attract a set of purchasers requiring more space, thus naturally increasing the property’s price bracket.

“Commencing structural work to any property can be an arduous task so it is vital that the cost is covered in the final sale price.”

The main priorities for home owners in rural settings are drastically different from those in larger cities. Parking is one obvious example. John Callaghan of Hubert Callaghan and Co Auctioneer’s, based in Castlerea, Co Roscommon, finds that the majority of his local buyers are looking for a site on which to build, or a house under construction to a builder’s finish, (the purchaser can then add his own tastes regarding tiling, fireplaces etc). “Over the years it has become increasingly important for any rural property to contain a downstairs loo, an en suite bathroom and PVC windows and doors. Most of the properties on the market in this area are new-builds and as such they reflect the most recent planning regulations. Space is not an issue with most sites ranging from one acre upwards and therefore attic conversions are neither necessary nor commonplace. Unlike Dublin, where high-density housing reduces the benefit of a conservatory, in rural areas a sunroom is often a highly attractive addition to a property. In fact it is often a prerequisite for many first-time home owners in this area,” comments Mr Callaghan.

Commencing structural work to any property can be an arduous task so it is vital that the cost is covered in the final sale price. One thing is clear however; a downstairs loo and an en suite bedroom are now de rigour whether you live in Dublin 1 or on the outskirts of a rural town. Replacing your old wooden windows will pay more dividends than risking an attic conversion and building a conservatory in Dublin will not necessarily increase the value of your house.

If your home is your castle, it should reflect you own lifestyle requirements. As John O’Sullivan, divisional director with Lisney states, “Do not add structural improvements to a property unless it will directly benefit the current owner. Speculating to add value is a risky business and may not pay dividends if the final buyer has differing interior tastes.”


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