It's home improvement season, but before you crack open the paint tins, it's worth considering the home improvements that will make you the most money. Property improvement guru Sarah Beeny has recently revealed her tips for adding value, so we have taken advice from a number of experts, and can reveal the five home improvements that will add the most to the value of your property.
1. Convert the loft
Sarah Beeny told The Sun that adding an extra bedroom is the best way to add value, and usually the most sensible way to do that is by converting the loft. You might spend £30,000 on a typical loft conversion, but it can add £44,000 to the value of the average home.
2. Add a conservatory
Phil Spencer - presenter of Location Location Location agrees with Beeny, but says that second on the list should be a conservatory. The advantage of this is that you can keep to a smaller budget if you need to - and spend between £5,000 and £30,000. He says the potential value added is between 7% and 15% of the value of the property, so on an average £220,000 home that's between £15,400 and £33,000
3. Modernise the kitchen
Kirsty Allsop, Spencer's co-presenter, is less likely to be found dishing out renovations advice, but in the past she has said that one of the rooms to focus on is the kitchen - because this is the kind of thing that buyers worry about doing themselves.
She's not keen on people installing expensive designer kitchens that will never repay the investment, instead she suggests focusing on something timeless, and concentrating on the finish. If the interior of the cabinets is in reasonable condition, you can just replace the doors and worktops, and do the whole lot for £2,000. This can add £10,000 to the value of an average home.
4. Neaten up the garden
NAEA Propertymark puts the garden second on the list (after installing plenty of mirrors). They say the two priorities are tidying things up, and ensuring a sense of privacy. This could include, for example, installing a pergola.
While you're tidying the exterior - it's also a good idea to pay attention to any exterior paintwork, and the front door, to ensure they look their best. The work could cost anything up to £1,500 - but could add more than £4,000 to the value.
5. Paint the house
Beeny suggests getting the paintbrush out, and applying some fresh, modern colours - just be careful that the work is finished well. You can do it yourself for £200 or less and can add £4,000 to the value of your home.
If you have the energy (and the right house) you could even tackle all five jobs this spring - and add a potential £95,000 to the value of your property. It might make it the most rewarding home improvement season of your life.
10 top ways to add value to your home
10 top ways to add value to your home
Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.
This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.
It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it.
Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.
This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.
A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.
Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.
Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.
According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.
Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.
Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.
It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.
Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.
Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.
Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.
While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."