DIY has long been a hobby of the British; in recent years DIYers have had one eye on what the homeowners want for their property, but at the same time having one eye on the potential resale benefit of their work.

First-time buyers keen to move up the ladder are most involved in home improvements with more than two thirds doing DIY. More substantial improvements may cost more and involve professional builders – but could add more to values. Spending money on home improvements doesn't automatically increase the value of your property. The work has got to enhance the property, be in keeping and be well designed/constructed (or you could risk devaluing it instead).

Here are some of the preferred options for making changes to your home:

Converting the loft

Most home improvements will add some value, but the cleverest will reap rewards in relation to outlay. According to valuers in The Halifax Home Improvement Survey 2006, loft conversions represent the best value for money. Prices start at around £8000 and most lofts with a good roof height are suitable for conversion. Loft conversions are normally used to add another bedroom, and there's often space for a value-boosting en-suite bathroom.

Converting the cellar is often thought of as a cost-effective way to increase square footage in your property. Beware, though, as costs can spiral (especially if you dig out the basement). According to RICS, installing a basement could cost you £50,000 but might only make you a measly £4,000 when you sell.

Extensions and loft conversions involve major building work and require expert help.

Adding extra bedrooms

Whether you extend or convert existing space, it's tempting to add an extra bedroom as a way of increasing the resale value of your home. This has a satisfyingly visible effect on estate agents' statistics. Figures released by Nationwide showed that adding a bedroom could increase resale value by 11%.

It's wise to consider the proportions of your home and avoid the developer trap of cramming in additional bedrooms unnecessarily. Think about your potential market. Families may want to give children small rooms of their own, but couples or single-occupiers often prefer one or two spacious bedrooms. Consult an experienced property developer (Sarah Beeny if she’s available!) before you make any decisions.

Opening up space

There's no sign that the trend for open-plan living is going away. Any why should it? Natural light, sociable cooking space and luxurious living areas appeal to all sorts of buyers, young and old. Just don't get carried away. Practical family homes often need rooms to shut away white goods, household waste, children and pets. It's also essential to get the professionals in to make sure you're not bashing down load-bearing walls.

Kitchen-diners are a popular use of space, but the sitting room was ranked the most important room in the house by respondents in the Halifax survey. The most successful open-plan rooms tend to be 'zoned' to define space.

Fitting central heating

Fitting central heating is not the most inspiring project, but it's a must-do for anyone renovating a property without it. While other improvements have the potential to go wrong, central heating and a modern boiler are a safe bet. Figures from Nationwide suggest this can add 13% to the value of a property.

Even if your property is already kitted out, investment in a new high-efficiency boiler is worth considering. These can cost £100-£200 more than conventional boilers, but will reduce your heating bills and attract 'green' buyers.

To give you some firm figures on what home improvement will add how much, look a these figures from the National Association of Estate Agents:

Which Home Improvements Add Value And How Much?
(percentage figures in brackets are approximate)

  1. An extension (10 to 50 per cent extra value)
  2. New kitchen (five to 10 per cent)
  3. Loft conversion (five to 10 per cent)
  4. Off-road parking (10 per cent)
  5. A conservatory or glass extension (five per cent)
  6. Creating an en suite bathroom (0 to five per cent)
  7. Upgrading the exterior (15 per cent)

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