Q. We have a growing family, and need more space. But with the market the way it is, wouldn't we be better off extending our current property, rather than moving?
ASK THE EXPERT
A. If you have the space to do it (not to mention the money), then extending is certainly an option. However, there are a number of important points you need to bear in mind.
Firstly, an extension will almost certainly require planning permission, and major work of this kind will in any case need to conform to current Building Regulations. This is expensive. Of course, you can always have things done on the cheap (and there are plenty of builders around who will be only too happy to oblige), but this will only store up problems for the future. For example, however happy you are in your newly extended home, there may well come a time when you do decide to move – and prospective buyers could easily be scared off if your conversion doesn’t have the proper approvals.
Secondly, extending always involves an element of compromise – not to mention the creation of an enormous amount of dirt and disruption. Trying to carry on anything resembling a normal life in the midst of a building site, perhaps for months on end, can be very stressful indeed.
Finally, remember that if and when you do finally come to sell, you will almost certainly fail to recoup the full cost of the extension work. Yes, a 3-bedroomed house is worth more than a 2-bedroom, but rarely by as much as you might think – and almost never by as much as it actually cost to have the work done! One reason for this is that while extensions may provide more accommodation, they will often only do so at the expense of the original character of the property. We’ve all seen nice, neat Victorian semis that have been completely ruined by the addition of huge, unsightly dormers.
At the end of the day, if you’d rather stay put, then by all means go ahead and extend. But if you would really prefer to move house, then do it – and do it now, because with prices still falling, this is actually a great time to trade up to a larger property!