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  • Writer's pictureZiggurat Realestatecorp

5 Naff Things That Devalue Your Home

The 1980s were a time of social and professional mobility— glass ceilings galore were smashed. At the same time British suburban families were putting up millions of their own glass ceilings at home,— these too should have been smashed. Conservatories with glass and uPVC roofs and windows soared in popularity, but what those who installed them did not realize was they would heat up intolerably in summer and freeze in winter. Now Chris Hodgkinson, managing director of the House Buyer Bureau, warns they will devalue your home by £15,000. However, poorly built conservatories are far from the only bad home investment. Here are five other disastrous forms of decor that typically devalue properties.


INDOOR SWIMMING POOLS


In March it was revealed that Rishi Sunak had built a 40ft swimming pool at his house in Yorkshire, and his link to the electricity network had been upgraded to heat it. Sunak is far from alone. In recent years residents of mansions across the UK have installed indoor swimming pools, usually in basements. The only problem, say agents, is that indoor pools are often unattractive and unappealing because they have been bunged in darkrooms with no natural light. Not only are they rarely used, but they can cause problems with damp and cost a fortune to maintain — particularly at a time of high electricity bills. Marc Schneiderman, director at Arlington Residential, another agency, agrees: “They [indoor pools]have no added value. They’re generally considered unenjoyable to use, expensive to heat and, if not properly managed, can cause a bad odor through the property, as well as condensation problems.”


HUGE GARDEN OFFICES


In the six months after the start of the first lockdown in March 2020, nearly one million homeowners splashed out on a garden office, according to the insurer Direct Line. If done tastefully they remain an attractive addition, but there is a tipping point. Some of the WFH brigade went OTT and built for themselves home offices so large that they obliterated much of the garden. “I was selling a large family home in Clapham [southwest London] that had a 40ft garden. Their children are teenagers so gardens are not as important, so they built a large home office/PlayStation room for the kids,” Kesha Foss-Smith, regional director at John D Wood & Co, an estate agency, says.“This may have added value for them, but the people who are moving to this house have smaller children and therefore the outside space is more desirable. Every potential buyer felt they would need to take it down.”


FLASH KITCHENS


Most spacious, presentable and modern kitchens still add significant value to a property. But, as with mancaves, if you’ve taken leave of your senses and knocked down all the walls in your home to construct a monster kitchen diner — often at the expense of anyone’s personal space — you’ll ultimately suffer for it. “I have had clients rip outa brand-new kitchen that cost over £150,000 to put in in the first place because it was too bling. Kitchens and bathrooms are very personal,” Mark Lawson, a partner at the Buying Solution, says. A key concern for some buyers is that those kitchens are so big they obliterate a house’s personal space. Magnet, a kitchen designer, found that 29 per cent of2,000 house hunters said they would pay more for a home where the kitchen, dining room and lounge remained separate. The trick is to use your common sense and think what looks stylish but is also useful.


BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ TOYS


As Harry Enfield’s vulgar show-off character Loadsamoney satirized, flaunting your wealth could leave you with an unsellable house — or one where you have to accept a price drop. Agents say examples of Loadsamoney toys that nobody wants are saunas, steam rooms, golf simulators, bowling alleys and cinemas. Part of this is cultural. “Buyers from different countries have different priorities. Russian buyers have always valued saunas and steam rooms as they are part of their culture, but for many UK buyers these are a waste of space in a confined London townhouse and will simply add to the cost of modernization,” Simon Barry, head of new developments at Harrods Estates says. Lawson says that if you must install lots of mod cons around your home, make sure they’re high quality. “Fancy extras such as saunas, steam rooms, golf simulators and bowling alleys need to be the best, otherwise top-end buyers notice and realize it will cost to tear them out and replace them. ”Philip Harvey, senior partner at Property Vision, a buying agency for up market clients, says koi carp ponds are never a winner. “In 23 years I have never had a client who wanted to keep koi carp.”


ICEBERG BASEMENTS


The combined depth of all the basements carved out underneath the capital over the past decade would measure 50 times the height of the Shard, according to a study by Newcastle University. And yet many experts say this feature won’t necessarily add value to properties — and, when done badly, can make them less attractive. “Basements by their nature are dark and have no windows, so you have to consider how that space will be used. For example, bedrooms cannot be designated or sold as a bedroom unless it has a window,” Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick, a property buying agency, says. “Some of the worst basements I’ve seen are multilevel ones. Space is often created for beauty salons, massage rooms, gyms — but the reality is these spaces are rarely used. Buyers do not place as much value in terms of price per square foot on basement space as they do on floors that are above ground. The differential can be as much as 50 per cent in the worst cases,” she says.


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