SSince the first lockdown eased, many owners have wanted to improve their properties. The space race has made loft conversions and extensions popular, while some of those who cannot make structural changes are considering how to remodel their homes.
“Most people have worked or spent a lot of time at home and, probably for the first time, really learned why and how their existing home just wasn’t working for them,” says designer director Sam Levene. and architects LLI Design. “This, combined with high stamp duty costs, means it can be much more appealing to renovate or extend an existing home to suit your wants and needs rather than moving.”
Katy Esdon of Esdon Architecture in Salisbury has been busy since June 2020 when some of the Covid restrictions were first eased. “We had about six or seven months of flooding,” she says. “It calmed down a bit, but it’s been stable ever since.”
Its customers typically want ‘truly breathtaking’ extensions and conversions – the company has designed new kitchens and remodeled the downstairs of homes to include games rooms and working from home. There’s “a lot of glazing,” says Esdon. “People are moving away from bi-fold doors and instead turning to structural glazing, large sliding panels or Crittall-style glazing as an alternative.”
However, this glazing costs considerably more than in 2020. According to Nick Cockayne of the Rooflight Company in Oxfordshire, since the first coronavirus lockdown, “glass has increased by 6% to 12% depending on type, steel went from £950 a tonne to £1,500, MDF jumped 38%, and silicone, wood, stainless steel and aluminum all went up in price.”
Painful inflation is not limited to windows. According to the National Builders Federation, material prices change every week – and are on average 23.5% higher than they were last year. The cost of cement, for example, increased by 1% in February, the price of imported wood fell by around 20% in the same month, but this followed a 200% increase over two years. The cost of sanitary facilities increased by 1.9%. Water-based paint increased by 2.3%, while non-water-based paint increased by 3.1%
“It is therefore very likely that prices [will] increase halfway through construction, especially for new constructions or expansions,” explains Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and development policy at the ONF.
Dealing with rising prices
Most companies that provide estimates for home renovations will advise that prices may change – and, with the situation changing so quickly, some make sure this is spelled out in very large print.
Esdon says his practice is clear with clients about the impact of inflation. “Things got very expensive,” she says. “We tell people you don’t get as much bang for your buck as you did two or three years ago.”
His company advises people to put more than the traditional 10% provident fund. It works with builders who are asked to submit a lump sum offer for the work. “That means there are no surprises,” she says. “But they’re not valid for as long as they were – before you might have had a few months to make a decision, but now they’re only valid for two or three weeks.”
A written estimate indicates the price that will be charged for the work that the builder has detailed – they cannot charge you more unless you add work later or change the specifications of the materials used. Make sure everything you want is included from the start, if possible. If prices continue to rise, things you add later may cost more than expected. A builder may be unwilling to give a written estimate for work that will be done in a few months or may make it clear that the estimate is only valid for a certain period.
Levene suggests that if you are responsible for purchasing anything for construction, “whenever possible, if you have an out of the way, clean, and secure storage space on your project, choose to order materials early and store them there. Or, if on-site storage is not possible, negotiate extended delivery dates with your suppliers so that you can order something at today’s price but the have it delivered as your project requires it.
Most loft conversion companies, for example, ask you to provide the plumbing for any bathroom or shower you have installed, so you can purchase it as soon as possible.
Another option may be to modify the specifications of your original design – Esdon says customers are opting for cheaper siding or different woods to cut costs.
To add to homeowners’ woes, there are long delays for things such as building permits, which means prices could rise before you get started. Licensed development rights now cover many loft extensions and conversions, so this won’t be a problem for everyone. But if you live in a conservation area or do non-duty work, the wait can be long.
According to town planning, the company of architects and builders Studio Charrette, the case managers of certain local authorities are struggling to pay a backlog. “As a result, the time available to consumers to start their projects, if they have requested authorization from the council, is more than three months,” he warns.
pay for it
The good news is that despite recent increases in the Bank of England’s base rate, borrowing through personal loans and remortgages remains historically cheap.
Personal loans of up to £50,000 are available and can be arranged over terms of one to eight years, says finance expert Andrew Hagger at the MoneyComms website.
“If you’re looking to borrow £20,000 over five years, for example, you can still get rates as low as 2.8% APR with a monthly repayment of £357 – however, you would need a clean credit history if you want to grab those best purchase prices,” he says.
Larger loans cost more. Hagger says borrowing £35,000 over seven years starts from around 6.7% APR, meaning monthly repayments of around £520. These rates are fixed, so you don’t have to worry about repayments increasing in the coming months.
“It’s usually easier and faster to borrow from your own bank as they should have all your financial information and background at their fingertips; however, don’t let that stop you from shopping around – the biggest banks aren’t always the cheapest,” he adds.
Some major banks will give you an instant decision and deposit the money into your account the next day.
A personal loan will generally be easier to arrange than a mortgage. But on larger amounts the rate will be lower, and you can spread the repayments over a longer period.
Credit cards can be a smart way to pay for home renovations, especially if you’re looking for a smaller sum, Hagger says. There are still cards offering up to two years of interest-free borrowing on purchases, from brands such as Barclaycard, Sainsbury’s Bank, Tesco and MBNA.
“It’s always worth putting an item on your credit card because it gives you the added protection of Section 75 if you have a problem with your builder and the upgrades aren’t up to par,” says Hagger. .
Is it worth it?
Yes, if you like where you live and want your home to meet your needs. During the stamp duty holiday, when you could save up to £15,000 in tax, moving became more attractive for those who wanted more space. Now that money will be used to buy you a basic loft conversion, without a dormer, and you’ll save the cost and hassle of a move.
Not necessarily, if you hope to recoup the costs when you move. Jonathan Rolande of the National Association of Property Buyers says that when it comes to return on investment, “loft extensions must add a required upside to make the very high cost pay off. If a house already has five bedrooms, a sixth will add- Does she do a lot? Not usually.”
He adds: “Double glazing won’t add much – buyers expect a house to have functioning windows. Kitchens and bathrooms that look stunning will help the property sell faster and for more.
How much will the work on your house cost?
The cost of your project will vary depending on where you live, the size of your home and the extent of the construction work, as well as your choice of fixtures and fittings. The prices below are indicative prices taken from the MyBuilder.com website and cover construction work only.
Small extension on one level (3 meters x 5 meters): £16,000 to £21,000.
Medium extension (4m x 6m): £26,000 to £34,000.
Large extension (6m x 8m): £52,000 to £67,000.
Creation of a loft bedroom: £17,500.
Loft layout with skylight: £45,000.
Transformation of a hip attic into a gable: £54,000.
Backed veranda in PVC (4m x 3m): £9,000 to £11,000.
Edwardian Veranda (4m x 3m): £10,000 to £12,000.
Victorian style veranda (4m x 3m): £11,000 to £14,000.
Painting (T3): £1,500 to £2,500.
Painting (five-bed room): £3,500 to £5,000.