Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Someone once said that no reason to stay is a good reason to go.
But when it comes to the home where your eldest took their first steps, where you arrived as Miss and became a Mrs, the home where your most precious memories were made – reason can become blurred through the rose-tinted glasses of reminiscence.
Here, we examine the reasons why you may want to move, explore ways of making your home more suitable to your current needs and, finally, whether you should stay or if it’s time for you to go.
Everyone’s home has one. Some are as blatant as the red marker at the centre of a bullseye and others are so subtle they creep up on you like a slow-growing and choking vine.
The Trigger is the thing about your house that makes you snap and sob, “I want to move home!”.
For Emily, it was her kitchen. Or, more specifically her husband. Or, more accurately, her husband trying to fill the kettle over her shoulder in the kitchen whilst she was trying to make sandwiches for lunch and put the baby’s bottles in the steriliser.
We’ve all been there, bleary-eyed and just-got-up grumpy; personal space is a treasured commodity on an early October morning, especially when you’ve not had your first coffee. It was, quite literally, a wake-up call for Emily. Their kitchen just wasn’t big enough.
Once the Trigger has been pulled and the explosion of realisation has occurred, it’s hard to put the bullet back into the gun.
The Trigger may be discovering a thick coating of dust when you go to retrieve an item from the guest bedroom, realising that the grandkids have grown up and gone to university now. The Trigger may be hitting your shin (again) on the toy box that doesn’t quite fit in the too-small space by the armchair. The Trigger may be realising that the garden that once gave you so much pleasure to prune and primp now fills you with anxiety over its maintenance.
Perhaps you’re reading this and nodding. Have you found your home’s Trigger?
Don’t panic. Realising that you have outgrown your home, or that your home has outgrown you, or even that you have less in common with your home than you once thought, doesn’t necessarily have to spell The End.
Before you throw up the ‘For Sale’ sign, let’s take a look at the options and see what moves you can make to improve your home before making THE move.
Extend your options
Perhaps you’ve recently decided to start a family, or maybe your home business is really starting to take off and the dining table you’ve been working on is no longer practical (crumbs in the keyboard are never a good idea). Or, like Emily, the kitchen that was tiny for two, is now teeny for three.
Trouble is, aside from the space issue – you love your home. The location is ideal, the garden is great and you love your neighbours. Extending could be your space-saving solution.
However, as appealing as an extension seems on the surface, there are a number of factors to take into consideration before booking your builder.
Extensions will cost you; in time, money and convenience.
The planning application alone requires a minimum of eight weeks ordinarily to process (on paper – much longer in some authorities), and that’s providing your neighbours and the local council have no objections. If you’re planning to extend in an AONB, you can anticipate far more stringent restrictions too. Anticipate also additional time for the to-ing and fro-ing between the overseers of the application, yourselves and your architect, as the process progresses in some cases.
Money, money, money. The average cost of a single storey extension, should you wish to add on a room or two downstairs, starts at around £30,000 (outside London), and that isn’t even taking into account the architect’s fees, building regulations and chartered surveyor’s fees.
Those with children and pets can also anticipate a summer of stress with a construction site, trucks and diggers on site. That’s not to mention the endless brews you’ll be making to keep the workforce sweet…
Covert the attic
Rather than creating space at the side, how about reaching for the skies?
A bonus of loft conversion is that, normally, planning consent is not required – meaning one less headache for you.
In fact, there are lots of benefits to a loft conversion. An extra room is bound to add value to your property and, in theory, the process of converting the attic room should keep the mess and stress confined to the rafters and away from the main life of the home.
Of course, there are some negatives. There’s a reason your attic isn’t currently a room in its own right; it wasn’t designed to be. How feasible is it to create the right room for your needs with the space that is there?
Also, have you considered how practical it will be to access. Led Zeppelin may have sung about buying a stairway to heaven, but precisely how much will it cost to pave your way to the heights above – particularly if there is no room for an additional flight of stairs?
A quick Google will give you a rough idea of how much a loft conversion is likely to cost you (we saved you the time though – costs start at around £20,000). Take your time to weigh up how much return you will really see on your money here.
Stick or twist
At six months into the single-storey extension (12 months in the planning) that Emily was told would most likely be completed by summer, Emily can still be found sharing the teeny kitchen with her husband and newly-toddling daughter.
The reality is, with an extension of any kind, despite all the best will in the world, things don’t always go to plan. In that time, Emily spotted four potential properties in her neighbourhood come (and go) on the market with the kitchen she desperately needed.
Worse still, other Triggers have begun to appear. Cracks in the plaster around the log-burner, a dated bathroom that she can’t afford to update now, due to unforeseen issues with the extension.
Should Emily have stuck when she could have taken the plunge and twisted? The truth is, no one knows. No one knows how an extension will progress, or when it will complete any more than when a sale will.
Perhaps it’s simpler to look at your relationship with your home in the same way you would any other relationship. If it’s not moving forward, then you should. Falling out of love is a gradual process, but once it’s happened, can you ever really find your way back?
And just think…waiting out there for you is a new, exciting prospect. One that ticks all your boxes – compromise, restriction and re-tape free.
If you’ve been Triggered by any of the issues raised above, then why not get in touch for a chat. We’re always here to lend an ear, and would love to learn more about what you are looking for in the ideal home. Please give Sam a call on 01204 329975