A property investment offers the chance to have fun with design while increasing the value of your house or apartment. It’s not just about decorating, fixing the roof and overhauling the plumbing, although these will all increase the value. You can also elevate your property value with luxury interior and exterior features and design that will make it a pleasure to live in until you sell. Truly a win-win situation.
The property experts at the Luxury Property Show have picked out six of the best home improvements to make your property stand out in the market.
Luxury elements can be that x-factor in clinching a sale or holding onto an asking price. With the UK property market changing in response to the pandemic, and houses that offer a more pleasant (and professional) working-from-home environment exploding in value, sellers should consider upgrades that add value.
However, not all installations are equal and some home improvements will cost more than they recoup. So, it’s worth assessing how much a feature is going to cost you and whether you’ll enjoy using it when still living in the house, and then checking with a specialist luxury-property estate agent how much it will actually increase the asking price of your home, before embarking on an expensive improvement.
A garden office
The proportion of people working from home in the UK rose vastly during the pandemic and is unlikely to decrease soon. So if your property has space, a garden office overlooking the flowerbeds can really push up the value. A garden office space is also a great choice for properties that would be made cramped by including the workspace inside.
To be clear, we’re not talking about a glorified shed, but a smart, well-insulated, damp-proof and beautiful building, with electricity and possibly even plumbing. Prices start in five figures, but planning permission is generally not required – a saving in itself both in time and money.
A pet and wildlife-friendly home
If you’re among the 3.2 million households that acquired a “lockdown pet”, you’ll know the challenges that pet ownership throws up. There are simple improvements that make accommodating a pet easier, such as a smart cat flap that only opens to your own microchipped cat, or more substantial, like converting the cupboard under the stairs into a little pet room or bed.
A cleaning station where you can bath a dog after a muddy walk will be a lot more pleasant than the garden hose – for both of you – while a stylish feeding station can keep mess and smells to a minimum.
The lockdown also encouraged many homeowners to rethink their gardens to be both more enjoyable for themselves and more wildlife friendly. A professionally designed pond can certainly increase the value. It will not only encourage birds, bats, reptiles, hedgehogs and even deer to your garden, but can also be calming and fun for you too.
Going one better, a natural swimming pool, also known as a swim pond, uses natural processes to clean a swimming pool. They cost from around £50,000 from scratch, but much less if you convert an old-style chemical pool to use naturally clean water. You can then swim among the rushes and reeds, iris and forget-me-nots, while dragonflies hover and swallows swoop.
Make the basement into a wine cellar
Strange to think that until 1970 fewer than half of UK households owned a fridge. Once upon a time everyone knew that the lowest, north-facing part of the house was the coolest, even capable of keeping ice until well into the summer.
Perfect for wine then! Wine should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight. The temperature mustn’t fluctuate too much throughout the day, or throughout changes in the season. If your basement is where the boiler is built, for example, the temperature might rise and fall too much.
The dedicated oenophile may well invest instead in a commercial-grade wine cooler. But if you have the space, a smartly designed wine cellar will certainly add value to a home. A purpose-built, climate-controlled wine cellar works particularly well with homes clearly designed for entertaining, with large and attractive dining rooms and gardens with terraces and high-end pergolas.
A wine cellar also offers potential for dramatic and exciting storage. The combination of oak – traditionally used in viniculture – steel, glass, subdued lighting and those rich wine colours is inherently classy. Feel free to do a few vineyard tours to gather ideas!
Install a walk-in wardrobe
Nothing says “you’ve made it” like walking into your own wardrobe, to see your clothes beautifully presented rather than stuffed into drawers. A walk-in wardrobe attracts attention to your property. It is also likely to appeal to the female buyer – traditionally the final decision-maker in property purchases.
Recent research has also found that it can add over £100,000 to the price of your property. So, consider this as one of your pre-sale improvements.
Your high-tech bathroom
A well-designed bathroom will always add value to a home. While for some high-end buyers throwing out the old fittings and installing your own fresh, unused design will always be essential, others will be wowed by a beautiful bathroom.
You can go high or low tech – either can work well. Meghan Markle’s £5,000 copper bath was a distinct nod to the traditional, as are waterfall showers and wet rooms. A wet room, especially in an upstairs room, requires the highest quality fitting, and will normally add 20 to 30% to the cost.
For others, mood-enhancing lights created by a “chromotherapist”, a waterproof TV built into the tiling and an LCD panel from which you can set the mood from within the bath might just make that sale for you. After the pandemic it’s all about touchless technology – yes even in your own bathroom – with digital taps and toilet seats, and self-cleaning facilities.
Install or upgrade the security
Burglary offences in the UK have, mercifully, roughly halved in the past 20 years. Even so, with police resources stretched the first of defence has to be prevention, and high-end homes are certainly a tempting target. A modern security system should be able to prevent all but the most determined burglar. Cameras will enable you to keep an eye on your property while out, but who really wants to spend their holidays peering at footage of their – hopefully – empty house?
Much better to use thermal imaging technology that recognises the difference between a badger and a burglar, or even anti-terrorist grade tremor detection to reduce the risk of false alarms.
The weakest link in a robbery will often be your wish to protect loved ones, which is why many wealthy homeowners want a safe room, also known as a panic room. To make a room in your home safe from entry while still pleasant to use can be relatively inexpensive, with reinforced walls and doors. Even so, you’re still looking at a budget in the tens of thousands. A hidden panic room, undetectable unless you know it’s there, can easily cost £100,000.