Move or improve - is it better to make energy improvements to your home or a move to a new property altogether?
In the words of the great Joe Strummer – should I stay or should I go?
It’s a question that home owners in older properties often ask themselves. The appeal of a modern, brand new and energy efficient property can be hard to resist, however is buying new necessarily the best choice?
Ultimately the answer depends on individual circumstances but this article examines some of the benefits of upgrading your existing property instead of buying new.
Why improving the energy performance to your property can be better than moving to a new home
If you find yourself tempted by the thought of a new build home, take some time to stop and consider the pros and cons and whether you might actually be better off staying where you are and investing in improvements to your existing property. Here are some of the downsides of buying new.
- Just like when you take possession of a new car, the minute you move into a new property it drops in value. Buyers are willing to pay a premium to move into a home that has never been lived in before and is filled with brand new fixtures and fittings.
- Once a new home has been occupied, even in a rising market, you may not get your money back if you need to sell within a year or two. There is also likely to be more potential to add extra value to your existing, older home, not least because the premium paid for a new property will always reduce any gain you make in the future compared to an older equivalent property that wasn’t bought from new.
- Removal expenses can be significant. According to www.zoopla.co.uk, the average price paid for a property in Brighton and Hove is currently around £404,000. If you were to sell your existing property for £400,000 and buy a new build property for the same amount then, according to comparemymove.com your moving costs would be in the region of £18,800.
- You could choose to use this money to significantly upgrade the energy efficiency of your current property instead of moving. Not only would this make your current home more comfortable and cheaper to live in, you could continue to enjoy all the attributes that you originally fell in love with while adding value to the property for when you eventually make a move.
- Many new builds are sold as leasehold rather than freehold properties or they have areas of common ground such as car parking, private access roads or landscaping. These come with associated costs, charges and restrictions which you probably don’t have in your older property.
- New build properties can be less spacious than older properties with lower ceilings, less storage space and smaller gardens. Will this affect your current lifestyle? Also consider whether your existing furniture will fit into a new property? If not, you will have the expense of buying new.
If you want to stay in the Brighton and Hove area, you will probably find that new build properties close to the city centre or other neighbourhood amenities are quite rare and often compromised in some way because they are squeezed into small plots between existing developments.
The benefits of remaining in your existing property
Often the benefits of older properties just can’t be found in new build homes – or they are outside most people’s budget. Have you considered the following?
- Old homes can be more beautiful and more interesting than new. Often they’ve been built by master craftsmen with great attention to detail, incorporating unusual features such as ornate plaster work, architraves and coving.
- As already mentioned, you get more space for your money in an older home.
- When a property has existed for many decades, it’s proved itself to be a sturdy and reliable structure most probably built using tried and tested techniques.
- Older properties are likely to have well established gardens and benefit from the existence of mature trees.
- If you’ve been living in your property for some time then you probably have friends or trusted neighbours near by and appreciate the benefits of your local community.
Of course, living in an older property is not all rosy, you wouldn’t be thinking of moving if it were. Generally, there are two main disadvantages to an older property: it may be much more expensive to heat than a new build and it might need maintenance to deal with issues such as damp.
However, by putting the money you would spend on moving to a new property towards refurbishing your existing property, you can have the best of both worlds – a high degree of efficiency and comfort plus the beauty, interest and space of an older home. You’ll also be increasing the value of your existing home for the future.
How Warmer Sussex can help you make energy improvements to your property
For many people, the thought of carrying out improvement works on their home is a daunting prospect. There’s no doubt that you’ll face some degree of disruption (depending on what you decide to carry out). However, this pales in comparison to moving home which is a major upheaval as well as being, to some extent, a leap into the unknown that is often classed as one of life’s most stressful events (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/online-estate-agent/reduce-stress-moving-home/).
There are plenty of resources you can call on to help with your home improvements. Commissioning a Whole House Plan from our partners at Warmer Sussex is the best start you can make in your journey to an improved home.
For a limited time you can register your interest for a home energy survey at the heavily reduced cost of £75 (usually £150+).
Following a survey of your property, you’ll receive a detailed report which will identify all the ways in which your property can be improved to cut your fuel bills, improve the comfort of your home and reduce your environmental impact. BHESCo may even be able to help you with funding through our ‘Pay As You Save’ financing scheme.
Here's some useful resources to help you improve the energy performance of your home
Take a look at www.superhomes.org.uk. This site provides information and case studies about home owners in our local area who’ve already carried out eco renovations. At certain times of the year some open their homes so that interested people can visit and gain practical insight into how to carry out energy efficiency retrofits. The site also provides an opportunity to ask questions of people who have already been through the retrofit process and may well have a similar property, with similar issues to your own. They’ll be a good source of information about local companies experienced in eco-retrofitting.
If you already have a good understanding of building performance, the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance website http://responsible-retrofit.org/ is an excellent resource for those carrying out retrofit work. Its ‘Responsible Retrofit Guidance Wheel’ is an interactive tool that will guide you through the process, highlighting the interactions and possible conflicts that can arise when retrofitting old buildings.
You may wish to consider the possibility of financing your home improvements via an innovative equity release strategy offered by our partners at London Rebuilding Society and Legal and General.