Don't move, Improve! An Expert's Guide to Improving Your Home

Published on Tuesday, 15th December 2015

Don't move, improve!

With the cost of house prices going up and housing space available going down, most of us are looking for ways to get the most out of our homes. As the saying goes: Don't move, improve!

Expand your home and immediately add value to your property by building an extension which could house a new state-of-the-art kitchen, or build up and convert that cold, damp attic into a cosy, luxurious bedroom fit for a King or Queen.

In this piece, we go room-by-room and offer some expert advice on how to add life and value to your home.

Kitchens

Is your kitchen tight, cramped and dated? Can you all fit in it on a busy Monday morning when you're all getting ready for work and school?

If the answer to either of those questions is 'yes', then it's time to consider repositioning the main hub of energy in your home.

Moving a kitchen into an extension can be an absolute master-stroke if planned and prepared correctly. On offer is more room to manoeuvre for you and your family in a normally tight space, giving you a sense of freedom when it comes to doing the cooking or general housekeeping. 

Extensions are more often than not built with a flat roof in mind and because of this you can maximise the options available to you when it comes to deciding how best to flood your kitchen with natural light. In the occasions where a lean-to roof is built, a pitched roof window would be the perfect option for allowing natural light into your kitchen. Adding more daylight and, if your budget will stretch to opening rooflights, fresh air to your kitchen will make it a far more comfortable place to be. 

Sterlingbuild recommends an automated skylight for a flat roof or pitched roof that can be opened at the touch of a button. The electrically operated skylight will become a centerpiece of your home and the ultimate WOW factor that every home craves. A white roof window will match any other white PVC products already in the kitchen; such as bi-fold doors or windows.

Contemporary Kitchen by London Kitchen Designers & Fitters Harvey Jones Kitchens

Living space

The living room is the epicentre of any home so it makes sense to have it swimming in natural daylight, doesn’t it? Well, yes.

Losing the ceiling and gaining a pitched roof directly above your head will make you feel like a little child again. The size of your living room will look big and feel even bigger.

Having skylights installed in a living room works fantastically well no matter what floor the living room itself is on. Whether you own the top floor flat or the whole house, by exploiting the roof space and including a roof window, you add value and warmth to your living room.

Sterlingbuild recommends VELUX white finish windows. These stunning, high quality windows have a bright finish that will make your space appear brighter, as well as keeping your home snug in the winter months due to their improved U-values.

Contemporary Living Room by Melbourne Home Builders i2 Homes 

Bathrooms

Are you looking to convert your loft space into an additional bedroom? Why not add an en-suite and allow the occupant to enjoy their own private bathroom?

Adding an extra bathroom to your home will add value to your property as well as giving the family another shower to fight over on those busy school mornings. With the addition of a bathroom to coincide with the bedroom in your loft space, you will need to best utilise the space available to make it work.

Lighting and ventilation is key to any en-suite as you need natural daylight to light the area and a good source of ventilation to remove any steam post-shower or bath – whilst also keeping the room spacious and airy.

With limited space comes a tough choice in regards to what skylight to install in your en-suite. Obscure glass for privacy is a must to keep those prying eyes out, whilst also allowing you to enjoy the features in your en-suite bathroom. Obscure glazing is most commonly found with white windows. Their maintenance-free nature keeps your roof window looking sparkly and new even if dirt and steam gets to it. You simply wipe it clean and it looks as good as new.

Lacking in space on both width and height means a top hung roof window would be ideal for this type of room. No part of the window sash enters the room upon opening, which means no bumping your head on the window.

Sterlingbuild recommends a top hung roof window with obscure glazing for your en-suite. Quick delivery is available from VELUX on their GPU 0034 white polyurethane range or Roto’s WDF R84 K white PVC glazing range.

Contemporary Bathroom by London Photographers Chris Snook

 

Bedrooms

Converting a loft space into an extra bedroom is the most popular type of conversion. It can add up to 20% to the value of your home.

A successful loft conversion can create space, light and height. For you, it can simply become a welcomed extra bedroom for your home, or if converted into a child’s bedroom, a hidden den that will make them King of the castle!

At least one top hung roof window is required if converting a loft space into a bedroom. As explained further down, there are certain regulations that must be met when converting a loft.

Pine finish roof windows are a fantastic choice if you’re a fan of the traditional and are keen on a wooden internal décor. A chabby-chic inspired white-paint finish might be your choice if you’re looking to add that vintage design to the bedroom. Or the neat, modern finish of white PVC/polyurethane gives you an up-to-date interior oozing with class. 

Sterlingbuild recommends at least one top hung roof window to meet Building Regulations. The internal finish of the roof window is completely up to you! We do also recommend a good blackout blind to ensure you get a good night sleep!

Transitional Bedroom target="_blank" by London Interior Designers & Decorators Jess Lavers Design

Extensions

The easiest ways to add more space to your home are with a home extension or loft conversion.

If you have the space to extend your home, start by speaking to a professional. If you're worried about losing garden space, include a living roof* on your flat roof extension. Alternatively, you could convert your garage into an extra bedroom, office or family room.

Top off your home extension with a sleek flat glass rooflight or stunning lantern rooflight. Both will add up to 3 times more daylight to your space than vertical windows and usually have better U-values than uPVC windows, ensuring an energy efficient installation.

Planning permission for a single story extension isn't normally needed as long as you meet certain criteria. However, if it is, including a green roof in your plans might work to your advantage. Find out more about planning permission at planningportal.gov.uk.

A home extension is a huge project and investment. But, "whilst the average cost of an extension is approximately £35,000, the average difference between a 2 and 3-bedropom property in London is around £157,202." [thisismoney.co.uk] That's quite a leap.

Kitchen by London Architects & Building Designers GOAStudio | Residential Architecture & Home Design

Loft conversions

If you can't move out, move up.

A decent builder will be able to check whether your roof's construction is strong enough to accommodate an extra level. You'll need to use professionals to meet certain standards, for example, fire safety. 

If you’re considering converting your loft into a bedroom, it’s worth speaking to your local Building Office to discuss what’s legally required to meet Building Regulations. Extra smoke alarms, fire doors and means of escape roof windows are a few of the most common regulations that have to be installed into the room for it to pass Building Regulations.

Here's a tip: Loft conversions need top hung windows. Centre pivot windows won't give you the panoramic views or feeling of space top hung windows will.

Again, as long as you meet certain conditions, you won't need planning permission for your loft conversion. Real Homes Magazine offers some advice on troubleshooting and financing your loft conversion.

Contemporary Bedroom by London Architects & Building Designers Studio Mark Ruthven

Further reading

Find inspiration on our Pinterest boards or Houzz.co.uk.

* It just so happens our sister site, Roofinglines, sells wildflower and sedum green roofs. Speak to us about these easy to install, easy to maintain roof gardens.