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Problems in the property market are leading a surge in home improvements

Picture: stock

Picture: stock


Home improvement companies are seeing a boost in trade as more homeowners opt to stay put rather than venture into the property market.

Rob Scott (left), owner of Cabins Unlimited in Dereham, with a customer from Wigan at the company's show site. Picture: Rob ScottRob Scott (left), owner of Cabins Unlimited in Dereham, with a customer from Wigan at the company's show site. Picture: Rob Scott

The desire for more space, and continuing short supply of housing, is leading more people towards extensions such as basements, loft conversions, conservatories, and even garden annexes.

Planning applications for home improvements rose by 31% in the East of England between 2012 and 2016, according to Halifax.

Meanwhile separate research from Lloyds Bank found that in the first half of 2017, the number of home movers was down by 2% nationally compared with the same period a year earlier.

Martyn Baum, group residential manager at Arnolds Keys in Norwich, believed the increase in home improvements and extensions was due to an imbalance of supply and demand in the housing market.

He said: “It is driven by the lack of available property out there to purchase. There is a continual want from people to move and better themselves but we are not seeing enough properties to match the demand.”

He added that alterations such as bigger kitchen/living areas and extra bedrooms could add the most value to a house when owners eventually sold up.

Rob Scott, owner of Cabins Unlimited in Dereham, said home improvements – particularly the use of garden space – have been on the rise for the past few years.

Mr Scott said: “Space is the main reason. It is very expensive to move house, plus there is the upset and organisational chaos of moving. People buy our cabins for working from home, as hobby rooms, home gyms, or space for the kids.”

The firm set up subsidiary Spas Unlimited 18 months ago in response to customers asking for cabins in which to house hot tubs – named by Halifax as the preferred house addition for East Anglian homeowners.

Malcolm Payne, a director at Hartog Hutton in Bury St Edmunds, said while enquiries for refurbishments had remained steady the company had seen an increase in the number of people opting to build their own homes.

He said: “There are a few self-build projects around, but I think that has increased because people are willing to pay a little bit more because they do not have to pay stamp duty on the land.

“If you buy a £750,000 house, the stamp duty will be around £30,000, whereas if you buy a piece of land for £150,000 you will be paying around £1,500.”

Dave Rea, sales manager at conservatory installer J Moon Home Improvements in Wymondham, said trade was “busier than ever”.

“There are quite a lot of people deciding not to move, with the cost of housing going up, so they improve their properties instead.”

He added that home improvers seemed to be spending more. “People are having other work done at the same time. They choose to go on a big project if they are borrowing money.”

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