Improving not moving
More people are choosing to stay in their homes longer, extending and enhancing them to enable them to meet a variety of needs.
With the uncertain economic climate, slow housing market and low property stock, architects are busier than ever helping homeowners to improve instead of move.
At Howie Architects, we currently have a number of clients who are “future proofing” their homes.
Instead of considering a move later in life, they are making their properties ready for when they become less mobile.
They are looking ahead to a time when they might not be able to use stairs and perhaps have to use a wheelchair, so increasingly they are asking for ground-floor bedrooms, bathrooms and wet rooms to be added to their homes.
Alterations also often include creating wider doorways and corridors, designing level and flexible layouts and building in staircases that are able to accommodate chair lifts.
We are also seeing clients who want to create self-contained accommodation within their houses for grown-up children who cannot afford a home of their own. These might be annexes, loft conversions or basement flats.
Some of these young people are unable to get a foot on the property ladder as prices are so high. They are not able to get a mortgage or to afford high rents – and staying with their parents gives them breathing space to save.
Other clients are carrying out extension work to their properties with the aim of generating an income.
In these tricky times they can see that offering holiday accommodation or short or long-term rental spaces could help them through periods where money is tight.
None of us know quite what is going to happen over the coming months – maybe even years – with the housing market but certainly it will take some time to pick up again.
In the meantime, those who have the space and can afford to enhance their homes are looking for increasingly creative ways of doing so.