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The Only Way is Up – If You Want to Keep the Value of Your Garden

Short on space indoors but lucky enough to have an area outside which offers the potential to extend? Although the idea of extending outwards might hold instant appeal recent statistics reveal that the solution for gaining additional accommodation, as well as potentially increasing the property’s market value, isn’t necessarily going to mean building over your outside space but extending your inside space instead – with a loft conversion.

Keep the garden, keep the value

Innovative Estate Agents Emoov has identified that properties in areas which enjoy well-kept residential gardens can command significantly more market interest and higher asking prices when it comes to selling. According to the report, where residential gardens account for:

  • Up to 10% of the local landscape, the property could be worth up to 5% more than the national average.
  • 20 – 30% of the local landscape, the property could be worth up 25% more than the national average.
  • 30% or more of the local landscape, then it could raise up to 42% more than the national average.

So, if you’re thinking of extending your property, it really makes sense not to just think about the outlay and potential returns in value are for each type of possible extension, for example:

  • Ground floor extension;
  • First or second-floor extension over a garage or other annexe;
  • Loft conversion.

… but to also consider what you might be losing if you opt for an extension which literally takes away some of the square footage of your garden or outside space; space which could provide not only fine features and facilities to enjoy whilst you’re living there, but could also bring additional value when you decide to sell.

Because having a loft conversion means you don’t have to reduce the garden (and therefore value) in the same way that you would by building a ground floor extension.

This kind of ‘green’ thinking is also relevant to city properties, such as London. Although city properties are often found in areas where gardens account for of less than 10% of the total local landscape, the scarcity factor of functional outside space and the overall value of every square metre in expensive cities such as London means that the actual value a garden holds could be significantly more.

The even better news is that extending your accommodation upwards with a loft conversion not only preserves the value added by your garden, but also brings additional living space which itself can increase your property value by up to around 15 – 20% according to TV’s Sarah Beeny, or even more according to a Nationwide survey.

Minimum hassle, maximum options

But as well as weighing up the impact on the value of your property, consideration of the cost-effectiveness of any type of extension should also include weighing up the convenience – or could that be inconvenience – cost?

Take extensions such as ground floor and over-garage extensions, for example:

  • Ground floor extensions aren’t just going to wipe out a significant area of your garden, they also naturally involve excavations, trenches, noise and dust for a considerable period of time, including putting functional areas out of use for a while (such as where the extension meets the rest of the house).
  • Over-garage extensions typically involve not just building onto the garage area but also building through from the property, which will again impact on the internal areas of the home, sometimes to a considerable extent depending on the design.

Work on a loft conversion, on the other hand, mostly takes place from the outside in, so any inconvenience is minimized until it’s time to breakthrough from the loft to the rest of the house – although this period has something of a real excitement to it.

Again, the actual impact of construction work will depend on the type of loft conversion, but with basic conversions, this can be minimal, whilst ‘off-site’ construction designs such as a Mansard conversion also keeps on-site construction intrusion to a minimum. From beginning to end, loft conversions can also be achieved much more quickly than average built-on extensions.

Suitable for all ages

A common reason for needing an extension in 2018 is to accommodate adult children who are still living at home due to the housing crisis. However, and particularly where the offspring of a family range considerably in ages, going for a traditional extension could mean accommodating an adult child with semi-independent, self-contained accommodation at the (significant) cost of depriving younger children of the safe, supervised playspace in the family garden, as well as the potential loss of garden value.

Factor in too that gardens are also wonderful places for learning about nature, accommodating small friendly pets such as rabbits, and can be a real educational hub for children in learning about nature, seasons, eco-systems, growing and garden produce. Can a value be put on that?

A loft conversion, on the other hand, means adaptable accommodation such as a master suite can be built to accommodate adult children, whilst maintaining all of the benefits of the garden for younger children, and grandchildren.

Maximising your value options – inside and out

So if you recognise the many benefits of keeping your garden, how can you organise new accommodation and also make the most of outdoors, in ways which maximise the value both offer?

Design outside
According to HouseBeautiful and IdealHome, there are several outside trends for 2018 which you can really make the most of by converting your loft instead of encroaching on your garden with an extension. For example, this year’s trends include:

  • Eating and entertaining outside in the garden
    This trend for ‘alfresco’ means making the most of any well-placed patch of garden which can accommodate a table and chairs. The next step up from accommodating the standard outside furniture could include putting up a dedicated verandah or pergola, which includes elements of heating and lighting to keep the area in use after dark and out of season.

  • Creating room to grow and storage
    There’s a rising popularity in multi-use sheds which remove utilitarian structures towards the bottom of the garden, but include hidden benefits, such as greenhouse capacity ‘greensheds’. This trend complements the growing interest in veganism as a lifestyle movement and a preference for cutting the cost of living by ‘growing your own.’ So, keeping the garden for produce growing and tool storage offers plenty of positive potential for future health and well-being, as well as being an additional selling point when you come to move.
  • Creating garden, rather than house, accommodation
    And of course garden cabins and summer houses remain popular, so keeping the garden at its maximum size leaves potential to add seasonal structures to use for enjoying everything the garden offers.
    And that’s not forgetting it’s a great way for the kids to enjoy a bit of camping out from time to time, especially if you build them a treehouse!

Design upstairs

  • Value-added
    Whilst loft conversions obviously cost money, they can be a useful way of investing in the home through potential return on investment: Nationwide suggest a loft conversion can increase the value of a property by 21% and Abbey Lofts find this could be 24.5% in London.
  • Increase the outside
    Loft extension designs which include balconies and roof terraces offer ways of increasing access to outside and inside space at the same time. Balcony gardening is a top trend for 2018, so if you’re looking to increase the value and sales potential of your property (particularly if you’re selling within a short time of having a loft conversion) incorporating a balcony for enjoying the open air, along with planters and foliage could mean you end up going up but also out, extending ‘growing’ and outdoor space as well as living space.
    Adding this kind of ‘bringing outdoors in’ facility can also particularly enhance any special purpose you want the room to have, such as a yoga suite or library/office space – adding an outdoor aspect adding a valuable open-air dimension to taking body and screen breaks.

Overall, a garden is a great thing to have and offers a location within which many memories – with families and friends – can be built. So to make the most of the fiscal, aesthetic and intrinsic value of your garden, when it comes to an extension moving up and away into the loft could be the best move you could make without the cost of moving. Why not take a moment to sit in the garden and think about it?