20% are improving not moving

06 November 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Brits are taking advantage of the recently relaxed planning permission rules regarding loft conversions, by improving their home instead of moving as household budgets remain stretched and mortgages hard to find.

Since October this year, the majority of UK homeowners have no longer had to go through the rigmarole of applying for planning permission from their local authority to extend their homes.

As mortgage payments remain expensive and the cost of living rises, a fifth of British homeowners are planning to convert their lofts instead of moving house now that it has become easier to do so, according to research from Alliance & Leicester.

Homeowners are also considering improving instead of moving to create more space without having to move house and to add value to their existing homes as house prices continue to fall.

Three in 10 homeowners would consider converting their loft as a means of adding value to their property, A&L found, and this is supported by data from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which says a loft conversion can add as much as £10,000 to the property's worth.

"In an uncertain economic climate where homeowners are finding it too expensive to move house, the Government's plans will be welcomed with open arms." commented Mark Boyle, personal loans manager at Alliance & Leicester.

"While it may prove too costly to upsize to a new home, converting a loft into a useable room can not only increase the size of the property, but it can also add value to the house price, benefitting homeowners when they eventually come to sell."

Alliance & Leicester found that homeowners expect a loft conversion to cost somewhere between £5,000 and £25,000, and in order to afford the alterations, so it suggests that they shop around to find the most competitive loan.

Homeowners should also consider what extending or altering their home might mean to their home insurance, and ensure that they update their policy to reflect the added value of a loft or garage conversion.

"Homeowners may want to consider taking out a personal loan to fund loft conversions and other home improvements to add value long-term value to their property." Mr Boyle added. "However it is crucial that they shop around for the best deal to suit them in order to make the most of their investment."

The new legislation has also made it easier for homeowners to carry out other common building projects without having to apply for planning permission first, such as fitting solar panels to their homes, or converting a garage.

The Government urges anyone who is unsure about what the new regulations mean for them to contact their local authority before making major alternations to their property, otherwise it could prove costly if they need to be changed afterwards.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd