What with such uncertainty surrounding our lives at the moment, any control that we can take back should be thought of as a massive positive! If, as a country we’re met with something like a recession, it’s good to know what to expect so that you can better prepare yourself and respond proactively should one occur. In economic terms, a recession can be thought of as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. When they hit, they bring with them several key impacts. Amongst other things, recessions lead to widespread unemployment, businesses going bankrupt and a significant drop in consumer demand that extends throughout all sectors. Another main issue stemming from a recession, and one that we’re particularly interested in here at Munday + Cramer, is the effect it has on the housing market. The team here at our practice, which comprises an experienced mixture of architectural and building surveyors, RIBA-qualified architects and CIAT-qualified technicians, knows better than most the inherent dangers of a recession. However, they also know how to make the best of a situation, and you can do this in more ways than one.
A Hit On The Housing Market
When a recession hits, many people find they’re simply not in a viable enough position, financially, to go through with proposed plans to move homes. The main reason behind this is the inability to secure mortgages in such a period of financial instability. Banks stop lending to one another and this, in turn, leads to a credit crunch. As soon as that happens, these monetary powerhouses become very reticent to dish out mortgages.
As bitter a pill as this may be to swallow, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In such periods of economic turmoil, many people will instead turn to home improvements. This not only makes your current home a much nicer place to live, but it also helps add value to your property for whenever the housing market bounces back to a position of strength. Here at our practice, we’re noticing that there are certain areas in which people are coming back to time and again; amendments to homes that are certified winners. With that in mind then, what areas of a property should you be looking to focus on?
What Are The Options?
Knowing that you want to do something is one thing, knowing what exactly, is another thing entirely. The truth is that there are countless things you can do to improve your home. We’ve decided to list some of the most common examples:
The kitchen is the focal point of many a home, essential both for daily life and as a social space. It’s also thought that the kitchen is one of the crucial factors when it comes to home purchases. Simply put, if your kitchen isn’t up to scratch, your home will be harder to sell. When looking to refurb or replace your kitchen units, there are several key considerations you need to factor in.
Firstly, above all else functionality must still reign supreme. Asides from anything else, the kitchen is a functional space and not a decorative one. You should also consider other areas such as your storage needs, or whether you want purpose-built features for applications? Fitting worktops and cabinets around your fridge, let’s say, looks gorgeous but reduces your capabilities to change and adapt your kitchen in the future.
From an added-value perspective, you should look to use modern materials where possible as well as implementing a working triangle. What do we mean by this? In an ideal kitchen space, you should be able to stand within a working triangle that offers easy access to preparation, cooking and sink areas all within close proximity of one another.
Many people only use loft spaces for storage purposes. This seems almost criminal when it presents such an opportunity as a space. Loft conversions tend to be used for the addition of another bedroom. This instantly leads to an appreciation in your home’s value. In fact, it’s thought that loft conversions can add anywhere between 10-20% to a home’s value. So, if for no other reason than financial, loft conversions are worth carrying out.
Also, because loft conversions require a u-value of 0.18W/m2 or lower. This u-value represents the efficiency of a space in terms of heat loss. By carrying out a loft conversion, you’ll therefore have to insulate the space properly if it hasn’t already been done so. This improves your home’s overall energy efficiency, saving you money on bills and improving your home’s value. One thing worth noting regarding loft conversions is that timber-framed properties can be more challenging to work with; they sometimes require steel beams for additional support.
These daylighting elements serve as a good middle ground between having an extension and not. They tend to be much cheaper than a full-on extension for a start. They also enable huge swathes of natural light to enter a home. They’re efficient, versatile spaces and usually don’t require planning permission unlike many extensions.
Then there are the additions you can make to your home. By this, we are of course referring to extensions for your home. The first step when considering any extension is ascertaining whether the extension will indeed add the value required to outweigh the project’s overall costs. There’s no point in committing to an extension as an investment project if you’re going to make a loss on it. After this, you need to discern your proposal’s feasibility with regards to planning permissions. Get in touch with RIBA-qualified architects and show them your plans if you’re unsure about what’s required. They’ll easily be able to inform whether your proposal complies with building regulations.
When having an extension done, look to implement roof lights or lanterns to maximise the quantity of natural light that your new space receives. To get the most out of your extension, you should also consider having it as an open-plan living space – more flexible, functional spaces always go down well when it comes to selling a property on.
Other Key Considerations
As a rule, extensions at the front of a property will always require planning permission whilst extensions at the rear and side often fall under permitted development. This very much varies, however, from case-to-case. Furthermore, before you begin jotting down ideas, know that most planners require two off-road parking spaces for a home. Now, this next one won’t apply if you live out in the sticks, but it’s important in urban areas. Consider whether any developments will lead to your property overlooking onto another, thus breaching the privacy of neighbours.
When you’re building between two semi-detached houses, be very aware of a terracing effect. This should be avoided if at all possible. Finally, whatever design plans you have in mind, make sure you consider the importance of natural light in a home. Not only that but the overall flow of a home as well – maximise your efficiency and useable space whilst at the same time minimising circulation space.
If we are to see a recession anytime soon, there’s a lot to be getting on with in your home; this will help to make up for the more damaged state of the housing market, overall. If you’d like to find out more about our multi-disciplinary practice, which offers services spanning from architectural design to building surveyors, then get in touch! Contact Munday + Cramer today on 01245 326 200.