Property improvements done on the cheap can de-value prices by up to 5%, research shows DIY affects property price

Dodgy DIY improvements damage property values and can reduce the sale price of a home by up to 5%, according to new research.

The recession has driven many property owners in the UK to tackle not just small jobs but even plumbing and electrical work on their own, the study from home insurer LV= reveals.

Many do so to try to increase the value of their property but it is a false saving. Tackling complicated jobs such as knocking down walls and taking on gas, plumbing and electric works without resorting to professional help is incredibly damaging, it also shows.

The report warns that if certain jobs are not done properly by professionals it could invalidate the property’s insurance policy.

In the last few years as many as 4.05 million property owners have undertaken electrical jobs without professional help, some 3.3 million have attempted plumbing work and 1.35 million have carried out structural work such as removing walls.

The research also found that 900,000 have tried their hand at major building works such as loft conversions and 450,000 have tackled potentially dangerous gas repairs.

‘With house prices falling or stagnating in some parts of the UK, it’s understandable that many homeowners should try to bump up the value of their properties through DIY home improvements,’ said John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance.

‘But although nine out of ten people in our survey recognised that jobs like gas work should only be left to the professionals, nearly half a million Brits are still prepared to give it a go.

Not only could bungling these jobs be dangerous, and costly to put right, but if they caused a serious problem with the property it could invalidate the home insurance cover,’ he explained.

The survey also found that a fifth of home owners believe that redecorating adds the most value to a house, followed by kitchen refurbishment,14%, garden work 12% and bathroom replacement 6%.

Real estate agents though have very different views. Seven out of ten estate agents who have seen decorating carried out said it will make no difference at all to the asking price of a property. A similar number said that garden landscaping won’t add value, whilst nearly a quarter said that even a new kitchen won’t really improve the price.

Estate agents also believe that the sale price of a property could decrease by more than 5% in some cases, if so called improvement work was done poorly.

Those agents who believe that improvement work usually or always adds value said that a new kitchen, if done well, can add around 2.5% to the price on average and a good new bathroom or garden landscaping can each add 2.2% to the value on average.

Structural improvements that are done well, such as a good loft conversion, top the added value list and can boost a property’s price by around 8% on average, they said. But whilst a good loft conversion can add value it still doesn’t make good financial sense, as the cost of the work is likely to be higher than the increase in the property’s value.

‘Our research shows that the days of being able to buy a property, do it up yourself on the cheap and then sell it on at a profit, are over. DIY home improvements may cut the initial costs, compared with getting the professionals in, but they might not add any value to the property at all. And sloppy work is likely to reduce the resale price and could even invalidate the home insurance cover,’ added O’Roarke.

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