Right-sizing your home
With fewer people inclined to leave their homes and face putting their property on the market, there has been a shift in focus to a do-it-yourself approach to fixing things up and giving a home a fresh new look or feel.
The idea has been termed “right-sizing” in American business speak, putting downsizing in a new light, while avoiding the negative connotations of financial distress or old age, but the concept makes a lot of sense so far as property is concerned as well. Why not improve rather than move? Why not maximise space and reduce the need for a bigger place?
Depending on the size and state of your home, you may have a broad range of ideas and different visions for how to make it better. Whether it involves adding space, revamping the interior, pinpointing and solving functional problems, or simply repurposing old furniture, there are endless cost-efficient options for homeowners looking to make a change.
There are, however, points worth keeping in mind when considering which right-sizing option will work best for your home.
For instance, it is easy to give in to the temptation to create a bigger space to enhance your home. Before you start knocking down walls and planning out extensions, ask yourself: Do you really need all that extra space or are you just feeling extravagant?
Keep in mind that when the reason behind property sale is not one of the three destructive Ds – death, debt or divorce – many people have sold their homes for one main reason: simply because their sheer magnitude makes it impossible for them to feel like a home.
In fact, if you have ever watched a TV show about celebrity homes or high-end property, you may have noted one resounding similarity between them all – that no matter how beautifully furnished they are or how convenient their appliances may seem, every one of the colossal rooms looks empty.
So before you embark on an expansion project, evaluate whether it would truly enhance your quality of living. What will you gain from the extension? What might you lose?
According to Ross Clark of the UK Sunday Times: “It’s all about striking a balance, whether you are moving or staying put and improving. Extending your home should strike a balance between doing things that add value and those that make the house your perfect place to live.”
As with any intelligent investment, assess the cost of your home improvement idea against its potential return. Focus your concentration on the main living rooms of the house – not necessarily the living room, but the rooms you really spend the most time in and love to retire to in order to think, relax, work or exercise.
In your valuation of the project, distinguish between ideas that are centred on luxurious, stylistic elements and those that can be identified as practical, comfort-related modifications. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which of your personal needs need attending to most, since your uses of various rooms will differ from the way others choose to interact with the rooms in their homes.
It is worth remembering that improving your home does not necessarily mean enlarging it. If you do feel that growing your home could be beneficial, be sure to go about it in a way that does not disturb the delicate balance of your home. It is true that home extensions usually pay for themselves when a property is sold, so long as they are planned carefully, done logically and executed effectively and in good taste.
If enlarging your home is not the way to go, consider reconfiguring your floor plan, moving furniture around, redoing a room or giving a space a new twist – perhaps a splash of colour or a new focal point. There is no telling just how much value improvements will add to your property because it depends on the layout of the house, its location and, of course, local demand. Generally speaking, there are several things you can do.
With a low budget, your house might benefit most from an all-around cosmetic but economical makeover. If you can’t afford to redo the whole kitchen, perhaps you can replace the taps of the sink or fit new cupboard doors into existing units.
In some cases, repainting a room can do a great deal to its appearance, making it look cleaner and fresher. Even the process of moving furniture to get a paint job done could help you rethink the layout of the space and discard unneeded furniture.
You might want to refit a room for utilities such as a washing machine, ironing board or extra storage space. An even more advisable thing to do is upgrade the underpinnings of the residence – the plumbing, wiring and roofing. Though changes to these will not be visible, they may save you a great deal of money in the long term. Make your home more attractive by keeping it tidy and making sure the driveway and garden are manicured. An impressive exterior can do wonders to a home in need of revitalisation.
For a medium-sized budget, consider creating space by taking some from another room, rather than opting immediately for a full-fledged extension. When planning colour schemes, go for clean, bright, lightly-coloured paint and furnishings; overpersonalisation can lose its appeal quickly. You may want to trade in your windows for double-glazed ones or tear down a wall to create an open plan kitchen/dining/family room, an attractive option since dining rooms have largely become underused.
For high budget improvements, you might consider adding a rear extension to create a new room, perhaps a bedroom or a study. You could upgrade the kitchen or bathroom with top-of-the-line fittings. Perhaps you might redo the basement and turn it into a family room, media room or utility room. If you’re thinking about excavating, do your homework in advance; if the cost per square metre to do the work exceeds the value per metre of your home, it may be a waste of time and money.
At the end of the day, it is up to you as a homeowner to decide what will add the most value to your home. But whatever your budget happens to be, there is always room for improvement.