Asked what she and partner Chris Hamer did to renovate their house on Pendarves Road, SW20 – formerly a property in severe disrepair – Waveney Thomson quips, ‘what haven’t we done!’ Indeed, the alterations she reels off seem endless: adding a ground-floor extension and loft conversion, replacing the roof and some walls, rewiring, replumbing and replastering the house, installing underfloor heating in two new bathrooms, a new kitchen and the extension, putting in new flooring and carpets throughout, swapping aluminium windows for sash ones...and that’s just inside.
External works included rebuilding a garden wall, adding a new fence and re-landscaping the back and front gardens; the latter was also spruced up with new railings. While some might be daunted by such a radical overhaul, Thomson and Hamer – who’ve owned the house for one and a half years and share it with the five children they have between them – felt giddy with excitement at the thought. It helped that they co-own GD Developments, a building company that develops and refurbishes high-spec projects.
‘When we first saw it, the house had been on the market for over a year, and the estate agent warned us that prospective buyers had struggled to get a mortgage on it. But that was heaven to our ears!’ recalls Waveney.
Here they share their tips on how to renovate a property and, crucially, add value to it:
- A new loft conversion or ground floor extension can add significant value; however, prices vary and are dependent on many factors, including the size of a property and its location. For this particular property, the loft conversion cost around £40,000 but added approximately £70,000 to the property’s value, while the ground floor extension cost around £60,000 but added close to £100,000 to its value.
- Choose the right builder for you — one who understands and is willing to meet your requirements rather than opting for the easiest route. Remember, the cheapest builder isn’t necessarily the most economical one in the long run.
- Take full advantage of specialist shops – for example, for tiles and flooring – rather than large DIY stores. Their staff will be hugely helpful when advising on how to create the look you’re after according to your budget.
- Maximise space. Adding even an extra 20cm to an extension’s ceiling height makes it more spacious. A higher ceiling also allows you to install larger, bi-fold or sliding patio doors (rather than standard 2m high ones). These can be custom made for a small, additional charge.
- Add light, for example by installing a stairwell skylight that draws natural light right down to the ground floor.
- Capitalise on space in bathrooms by installing wall-hung toilets, under-mounted (rather than freestanding) sinks, a wall-hung cabinet, wall-mounted taps and a space-saving walk-in shower.
- Be adventurous with unusual paint colours that create a more bespoke feel. Make use of your local paint retailer for its expertise and advice on colours. For a small extra charge, plump for different tones to those on standard black or white bi-fold or sliding doors and windows, such as chic grey. Painting ceilings and woodwork off-white rather than white will make a room look warmer and softer.
- Lighting will also create a warmer, more inviting atmosphere. Instead of cold looking downlights, build up layers of lighting by mixing wall, pendant and floor lights.
- Keep neighbours on side. Works can be disruptive, but remember, refurbishing your house increases the value of theirs, too. Keep neighbours updated, and check whether replacing garden fences or walls, say, can benefit them too. Upgrading these might be their responsibility, but sharing the cost benefits both parties.
*This article is an extension of one which originally appeared in issue 17 of Completely London magazine. Completely London is our award winning customer magazine which we produce several times a year. Alongside exclusive features about living in the Capital and the London property market, we showcase a number of properties for sale and to let.
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