Should I stay or Should I Go?
16th January 2018
An expert guide to help you make an informed choice, whether to stay and extend your home, or sell and move on.
At some point in time, whether you’ve lived in your home for a year, or a decade, your home starts feeling too small for you. Perhaps your children are outgrowing their bedrooms, and you’re struggling to find a place for their toys, belongings and even their friends.
If your family is growing in number, maybe you’ve lost a dedicated workspace, guest room or office, in favour of giving your children their own rooms.
Inevitably, you will end up asking yourselves, “Should we stay or should we go?”
Of course, not all homes can be extended. Some have already been stretched to their limit, leaving you no choice but to cope with what you have, or sell and move.
But some homes offer the opportunity to extend upwards or outwards, and a garden large enough to fit a garden office can help you find that extra space you need.
Your discussions about whether to stay or go will centre on costs, feasibility, timescales and return on your investment. Additional factors like how emotionally attached you are to your house, the type of house you live in and area planning restrictions will further add to the complexity of your decision.
To help you make an informed choice about whether you should stay and extend or move on, we’ve put together this handy guide to walk you through the options, together with a rough cost of each.
The costs and feasibility of extending your home can vary hugely, depending on the type and size of the extension, whether it’s one story or two, and the construction of the extension. For example a rear extension, usually to extend the kitchen or add a family space, can cost from just £15,000 for a conservatory-style extension, right up to £100,000 and beyond for a more designer-style structure with bi-fold doors, for example.
Converting part of the house that’s already there, like your garage, can be a relatively low cost option, provided the footings are deep enough and the garage has been built to comply with Building Regulations. From just £10,000 for the simplest garage conversion, this can be one of the most cost-effective ways of adding an extra room to your home. However, some people really can’t manage without a garage, so plan in advance where you are going to put all your possessions if not in your garage.
If it’s just a pleasant sitting area you need, then an add-on conservatory can be the answer. Often these don’t even require planning permission, and costing from just £15,000, they are one of the most popular choices for people looking to extend their home.
Depending on the roof structure and planning constraints, a loft conversion is one of the most straightforward ways of extending the space in your home. As a bonus, you don’t normally need planning permission, unless you raise the roof height, so it’s a much quicker way to add a room than some of the other options.
A very simple loft conversion could cost you as little as £20,000, though that cost will rise if you have to add plumbing, electrics and any new window openings. Dormer windows will increase your budget considerably, and usually you’ll need to apply for planning permission to add them.
A garden room, office or studio can be the least disruptive way to add an extra room to your home. With more and more people choosing to work freelance or remotely, having a garden office, separate from your home, is often an appealing proposition. Costing from just £8,000 for a simple wooden structure – kind of a glorified shed – a garden building can be erected in just days and usable straight away. If your building is under 2.5 metres high and more than 2 metres away from your house, planning permission is not usually required, though this distance increases to 20 metres in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks.
Underground garden rooms, or ‘base rooms’
A Base Room is a subterranean structure built underground in your back garden. This ingenious space-adding room means that you gain the extra space without losing your garden, because it is finished with grass or decking on top.
In most cases you don’t need planning permission, so long as the building isn’t more than 50% of the overall footprint of the garden, and it’s in your back garden, not front.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not at all dark in a base room, because of the strategic placing of windows and roof lights.
A standard base room can be ready to use in just 12 weeks, and costs from around £50,000. Although it’s not the cheapest option, it’s one of the easiest and least disruptive.
Let’s look at the costs you will incur by moving home. As an example, let’s say you’re selling at £300,000 and buying at £450,000. Here’s what you’ll pay on average to sell your current home, buy your new one and move from the old to the new.
Conveyancing fee (selling) £380
Conveyancing fee (buying) £430
Energy Performance Certificate £60
Estate Agency fees (1%) £3600 (including vat)
Stamp Duty (see table below) £12,500
Total moving costs £17,860
Stamp Duty bands
|Purchase price bands (£)||Percentage rate (%)|
|Up to 125,000||0%|
|125,001 to 250,000||2%|
|250,001 to 925,000||5%|
|925,001 to 1,500,000||10%|
Of course, the moving costs only tell part of the story. There’s still the emotional benefit of moving to a home that fits you and your family. The feeling of wellbeing to be in a house with enough space, the right number of rooms, and features like a garage or a sunny patio, that will improve the quality of your life immeasurably.
12 Ways you know it’s the right time to move home
Some people (like Sam) thrive on moving home. Loving the thrill of packing up and starting a new chapter in a new home, and sometimes new place, is exciting. Others feel it’s a bit of a hassle, and can be tempted to overstay their welcome in their current home to avoid it.
If you’re on the fence about moving, our 12 reasons to move home should help you work out if it’s time to take the plunge:
Taking a good look at your current expenses is a first step when you’re considering a move. Yes, you may be able to extend, convert or add to your current home to fit your future needs, but will you see a return on your investment when it’s time to sell? Now is the time to examine your finances – try breaking down your options on a spreadsheet – and work out which is the best way forward for you and your wallet.
- You’ve outgrown your storage space
There’s only so much de-cluttering and KonMari-ing you can do to make your storage fit your needs. At some point, you start to realise that your current space just isn’t working for you any more. If your cupboards, under beds and cubbyholes are full to bursting, and in danger of exploding every time you open a door, it may be time to accept you just need more space.
- Your family is expanding
Maybe when you moved into your current home you were child-free, or you had just one tiny baby. But now a few years on, has your brood expanded? Maybe pets too? Moving to a bigger home may be the next logical step. Aside from needing more space, (bikes, toys, games kit, all takes up so much space) aspects you may have overlooked before — like good school catchment areas and local parks— may be a priority for you now.
- Empty nester?
If however, you’re now or soon to be an empty nester, why waste money on space you don’t need? If it’s just you and your other half now, or perhaps just you, why not downsize to a smaller home or apartment to save not only on your mortgage but also on utilities, repairs, cleaning time, and more?
- You have a dream your current place won’t support
Thinking of a change of lifestyle that will require extra space? Maybe you’d like to indulge in a hobby, go freelance or simply start working from home more. If your current home doesn’t allow for the extra space, perhaps it’s time to find one that will accommodate a home office, studio space or whatever your new life chapter needs.
- You’re ready for a new challenge
If you have spent a lot of time, effort and money on making your current home just right, it can be hard to walk away from it. But what if you’re just bored, and want to start again, putting your stamp on a new place? Maybe in hindsight you would have chosen a different kitchen, a bolder flooring, but it’s too expensive – and new – to replace? Moving to a new home and having a new blank slate to put your own creative mark on can be really exciting.
- You’ve started cooking at home more
If you can’t get enough of Masterchef and Great British Bake-off, and your current kitchen is limiting your creative cooking, then perhaps moving to a home with a spacious, state-of-the-art kitchen would seem like a dream come true. All those big, shiny surfaces, built in appliances, space to move around…. culinary heaven.
- Your children don’t invite their friends over
Are your children always going to their friends’ houses, but never invite them back home? Maybe Jack has more room, Rosie’s home has a den, and Ethan’s house has a massive garden with a tree house. Pester power can really make you think about your current home and whether it has everything the whole family needs.
- You’re sick of sharing a bathroom
Do you crave a candlelit bath with a book, uninterrupted by someone needing the loo? Sick of there being no clean, dry towels left for your shower? You definitely need an ensuite. A space just for mum and dad (but mostly mum) to have some peace and quiet pamper time. Think of it – your own loo, clean hung towels, no empty toiletries’ containers. Bliss.
- You’re not sure what interest rates are doing
With interest rates at rock-bottom, the only way is up. If you have an amazing mortgage deal, perhaps you’re reluctant to give it up, even if you really do need a bigger home. Whilst it’s true that interest rates are almost certainly set to rise, albeit moderately, the reality is that you can’t control all the factors. So if you’ve outgrown or just aren’t happy with your current home, there’s no reason not to at least explore your options. You might be surprised at what you can afford if you’ve built up enough equity in your current home.
- You really want to cut the commute
Commuting to and from work can take hours out of your week. Just think, you could be doing much more important things, like spending time with your family, indulging in your hobby and just enjoying some quality after-work time.
Whether you’re starting a new job or keeping your current one, moving closer to work has a lot of benefits.
- You’ve found love
Meeting that special someone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s suddenly time to pack up and move in. But if you’re seriously considering a permanent commitment, buying a new home you can enjoy together is the next logical step. And house hunting as a loved-up couple is just sooooo romantic.
We hope you’ve found our guide helpful in making your decision to stay or go. We’d love to help you, either way. Whether after reading this, you’re raring to get your house on the market, or else you have lots more questions before you’re at that stage, let’s have a chat. You’ll find us via email if that’s easier at email@example.com.
We’re really looking forward to talking to you.
Annabelle and Phil