More people are renovating and extending

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More people are renovating and extending

An increasing number of homeowners are choosing to improve rather than move, according to a new report.

The recent research from insurance company Hiscox suggests figures have soared in the past five years.

In 2013, just three per cent of homeowners took the decision to improve instead of move but five years later this has risen to 15 per cent.

And the figure further increases to 26 per cent among millennial homeowners (those aged 18 to 34).

The subdued and costly property market has been a clear catalyst for this trend.

When questioned, homeowners cited prohibitively high property prices (25 per cent), stamp duty (13 per cent) and a sluggish property market (15 per cent).

They also suggested potential interest rate rises (eight per cent) and the uncertainty caused by Brexit (eight per cent) were reasons for investing in their current home instead of looking elsewhere.

UK local councils have seen a near one third (29 per cent) rise in the number of planning permission requests made by homeowners over the last 10 years.

Requests for loft renovations have seen the greatest increase at 114 per cent from 2008 to 2017, closely followed by living room extensions (113 per cent).

Phil Thorn, head of direct home insurance at Hiscox UK & Ireland says: “The decision to improve instead of move is a new normal for homeowners whose lifestyles are evolving.

“People are looking at ways to adapt their existing homes to meet their changing needs, whether that’s a growing family or the beginnings of a new home business.

“Many view home renovations as an easier or more economical alternative to moving, but our report highlights that these projects are often underestimated in both cost and scale.”

Architectural designer and television presenter Charlie Luxton adds: “There’s been a generational shift resulting in more and more of us feeling empowered to change our houses rather than move.

“We need to renovate and improve our aging housing stock and if we can nudge people to make sustainable, as well as spatial, improvements this can only be a good thing.

“It also means people stay longer in their homes, which is usually beneficial for both community spirit and engagement in local issues.”

However, he warns: “There is a big ‘but’ – renovating and extending houses is almost never easy, and should always be tackled with careful professional advice on both design and cost issues.

“Relying on optimism and a ‘back of envelope’ cost plan can actually take longer and cost a lot more in the end, so don’t rush or cut corners in the planning stages as this is likely to show in the end results.”

The Hiscox Renovations and Extensions Report draws on insight from homeowners, UK-wide estate agents and more than 400 local council planning permission records.