Home improvement ideas: what will help your home sell?

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Looking for some home improvement ideas to increase the value of your home and help it sell quickly? We've teamed up with some experts to bring you some helpful tips.


First impressions count and never more so than when you're trying to sell your home.

If you're in the process of trying to sell your house or are simply looking to do some home improvements, we can help.

Take a look at the list of tips we put together with help from our friends at Purplebricks, the leading online estate agent – you’re sure to come away full of inspiration for your home renovation.

First impressions count: your home’s exterior

The look of the outside of your home gives an impression of what to expect on the inside before visitors even take their first step over the threshold. Keep the outside looking clean, tidy and inviting.

Once your house becomes a home, you're probably more focused on the inside than out. Stand on the kerb and appraise your house like you’re seeing it for the first time – is there peeling paint or cracked gutters? If the answer’s yes, it's time whip out the paint and ladder.

The front door is the first thing a potential buyer will see when coming to visit your property so make sure it's clean, and if needs be, give it a lick of paint. Eye-catching front doors might be handy if you have guests coming to visit but may be off-putting to potential buyers, so keep it neutral.

Jeremy Jones, Swindon Local Property Expert from Purplebricks, said improving the exterior is “possibly the most obvious way to increase the value of a property”.

“In some circumstances the area itself is the kerb appeal – think Wisteria Lane – but with less premium properties, make sure your property is eye-catching and lush. Weed the front lawn and walkways. Repaint weather worn front and garage doors.

“Make sure bins and unappealing items (hoses etc) are hidden away,” he added.

Garden improvements on a budget

A looked-after front garden might help the on-the-fence buyer become a firm sale. Keeping your garden neat and tidy can be a great way to draw people to your property, and it needn’t cost a fortune.

  • Freshly cut grass
  • Flowers or plant pots
  • A pathway free of any weeds or debris
  • A well-maintained front garden

All these simple steps are attractive to home buyers and give the impression the inside of the home will be cared for as well.

Give your old plant pots a new lease of life with a lick of paint or get some hanging baskets if you’re stuck for space with a smaller garden.

Home improvements to increase the value of your home

  1. Try and work out who’s most likely to buy your home. Ask an estate agent what buyers are looking for in your town or look at the demographics of your neighbours and decorate your property accordingly
  2. Conventional wisdom among estate agents is that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, so if you’re thinking of improving with a view to selling on, this is a good place to start. A new kitchen can add 5% to the value of your home while a new bathroom can add 3% according to figures from Zoopla.

Jeremy Jones said: “Kitchens are at the heart of every home. Having a kitchen with modern appliances and decor adds immediate value – in some circumstances it can increase the value of a property by 4-5%.

“It can be tempting to turn the spare bedroom into an office or gym but losing a bedroom can harm your property’s value. If selling is on the horizon, hold off on converting the bedroom.”

Jennifer Kerr, Edinburgh and Lothians Local Property Expert, from Purplebricks, added: “Integrated appliances like coffee machines and waste disposal units, go down very well. Fabulous lighting can also make a big difference.”

Home improvements without planning permission

You can make certain changes to your home without applying for planning permission under permitted development (PD) rights.

We’ve made some suggestions below of home improvements that would be allowed under PD but carry out your own research to be certain. Planning Portal is a good place to start, but you should also check with your local council.

Move the bathroom upstairs

As long as you don’t live in a listed building, you should be fine to move the bathroom upstairs without planning permission. If you’re in an older property and have enough space, doing this will also allow you to expand your kitchen. Both could improve your home’s value and saleability significantly, even if it means sacrificing a small bedroom entirely. Speak to a local estate agent for an idea of what your home will be worth after any work is done.

A new shower head, toilet seat and taps will spruce up your bathroom without breaking the bank. New grouting can also be relatively cheap depending on the size of your bathroom. You should also replace carpets with vinyl or tiles as they’re easier to clean.

Convert the loft

There’s usually no need for planning permission with a loft conversion, as this kind of project requires internal work and doesn’t normally affect the exterior of the house or its footprint.

You’ll more than make your money back with a loft conversion, too, but it’s not quite as lucrative as other means of extending because of the costs involved. You’ll need to add some windows and a staircase, too, which can rob you of space elsewhere.


Add a porch

This is one of the few changes allowed to the front of your house under PD. Check the size of the porch you want to build, though, as there are some restrictions: it shouldn’t be any taller than 3m and it should cover no more than 3m².

Add decking

Decking is a great way to improve your garden, giving prospective buyers the perfect place to entertain guests. You can create a decked area in your garden under PD, as long as it’s no more than 30cm above the ground and doesn’t cover more than half of your garden.

Which home improvements add the most value?

Some of the best returns on investment come from those things that aren’t particularly glamorous:

  • Windows
  • Damp proof courses
  • Roofs
  • Boilers

It’s because buyers crave the peace-of-mind their new home won’t spring a nasty bill on them within months of collecting the keys.

Adding extra windows will also help. British homes tend to be dark, and those with lots of natural light feel larger. Even if you’re not planning on moving, adding these can promote a sense of wellbeing.

Expanding the amount of physical space available in your home is one of the more expensive improvements but can also increase its value. Adding a conservatory is, on average, the most lucrative – just make sure it doesn’t eat up too much of your garden. Typically, you’ll not only make back what you spend, but double your money – and then some.

Adding an extension to a house

Whether it’s a conservatory or another kind of conversion, adding more space to your home will dramatically increase a property’s value. Just make sure the style and shape of your extension fits in with the rest of your house.

If you don’t want to go through with the extension but you want to show the possibilities available, Jeremy Jones said: “Getting planning permission is a great way to increase your property’s value. Not only is it cheap in securing, but planning permission gives potential buyers the ability to put their stamp on the property once it is theirs.”

Check out our guide to extending your home to give you an idea on what to expect before you extend.


Converting your basement

If you’ve nowhere to extend sideways, one option is extending down – into a cellar, or by adding a basement. Cellar conversions are comparatively inexpensive, but creating a new basement can be seriously pricey.

Based on this, a small (5m x 4m) basement can set you back tens of thousands of pounds. Even if the local market is strong and your estate agent thinks you’ll make it back, it’s less likely than other extensions to prove a major money-spinner – and that’s before you’ve factored in any stress associated, such as legal wrangles with unhelpful neighbours.

Dead money

Some things will cost a pretty penny but won’t make a significant impact on what your home is worth to someone else. Remember also that your road or neighbourhood will have a ‘ceiling price’ that’s very difficult to break through, so even worthwhile additions can be less lucrative if there are simply too many of them.

A garden hot tub – though lovely – could be viewed as something of a frippery and while it might set some hearts racing, it’s very much a case of taste. If you simply must have one, go for a deck-top one that can move with you.

In fact, when it comes to the garden, adding value is often a case of simply tidying up and perhaps putting down some turf. Buyers are most inspired by a blank canvas that they can project their own ideas and lifestyle onto.

You can also spend a lot of money on expensive finishes that other people simply won’t appreciate: pricey tiles, wall coverings, flooring and kitchen surfaces. Unless you’re planning on staying put for years and enjoying these premium finishes for yourself, don’t bother.

7 top tips for improvements to sell a house:

  • Seek expert advice – estate agents are a great place to start!
  • Save some money by making home improvements yourself – clear the front garden, make sure it's free of weeds and pot fresh flowers or plants. If you have a steady hand you can also give the outside features a fresh coat of paint
  • It can be a real plus to have clean, painted windows and front door
  • Symmetry is appealing on the eye and a pot plant either side of the front door can be a great finishing touch
  • If you have outdoor lighting or a bell, check they’re in full working order
  • Remember: a simple, clean, attractive home allows buyers to picture themselves putting their own stamp on the place
  • Painting the rooms in your home can be one of the most cost-effective improvements you’ll make if you do it yourself. Remember, your own style and tastes may not suit everyone so broaden the appeal by keeping the colours neutral


Paying for home improvements

How you’re paying for your improvements depends largely on what you need to borrow. Very large projects may be best financed by remortgaging; banks and mortgage providers will normally consider extending your mortgage if you explain that you’re planning on making significant home improvements.

Alternatively, you may want to consider a home improvement loan. An unsecured loan, such as those provided by Admiral, can be used for anything from a new boiler to loft insulation without any financial risk to your home.

Home improvements and insurance 

If you plan to carry out any home improvements, you should tell us before the work is carried out. Not doing so may invalidate your home insurance.

You should also check you have the right amount of cover through your home insurance when the work's finished. This is particularly important with extensions and structural changes that can affect the rebuild cost of your home. Make sure your contents cover is enough to cover any extra furniture you’ve bought, too.