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Rogue DIY improvements damage house values

Press release: 01/05/2010

  • New research by home insurer LV= reveals that many Brits tackle complicated home improvement jobs themselves, to try to increase the value of their property.

  • Thousands of homeowners admit to knocking down walls and taking on gas, plumbing and electric works without resorting to professional help.

  • LV= also warns that if certain jobs are not done properly by professionals, it could invalidate the home insurance policy.

The recession has driven many UK homeowners to take on complex home improvements themselves, in a bid to increase the value of their home.

New research by home insurer LV= reveals that in the last few years as many as 4.05m homeowners have undertaken electrical jobs without professional help, 3.3m have attempted plumbing work and 1.35m have carried out structural work such as removing walls. Nearly 1m (900,000) have tried their hand at major building works, such as loft conversions, and 450,000 have tackled potentially dangerous gas repairs.

According to the LV= survey, many homeowners admitted undertaking these works in an attempt to improve the resale value of their homes. However, the effects of doing these jobs badly can reduce the sale price of a property by more than 5% in some cases.

John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= home insurance, said: "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.

"But although nine out of ten people in our survey (88%) recognised that jobs like gas work should only be left to the professionals, nearly 0.5m 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."

The LV= report surveyed both homeowners and estate agents, and reveals a myriad of conflicting opinions when it comes to the impact of DIY improvements. A fifth of home owners (21%) believe that redecorating adds the most value to a house, followed by kitchen refurbishment (14%), garden work (12%), and bathroom replacement (6%).

The estate agent survey asked whether agents had seen home improvements done in an attempt to increase home values, with follow up questions to those who had seen different types of work carried out.

Seven out of ten estate agents (69%) who have seen decorating carried out say it will make no difference at all to the asking price of a property. A similar number (64%) say that garden landscaping won’t add value, whilst nearly a quarter (22%) say 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 ‘improvement’ work was done poorly.

Despite popular opinion, estate agents say that some of the most costly jobs are likely to have only a minimal impact on the asking price of a home. Those agents who believe that improvement work usually or always adds value say that a new kitchen, if done well, can add around 2.5% to the price on average. 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. 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.

Average cost of a property

Average cost of a loft conversion

Estimated value added

£219,832 [1]

£35,000 [2]

£17,600 [3]

John O’Roarke continued: "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."

Notes to editors

  • Consumer research was carried out by Opinium Research. 2,012 UK adults were questioned online between 5-9th March 2010.

  • Estate agent research was carried out by PCP Research. 205 UK estate agents were questioned over the phone between 12-25 March 2010.

[1] Land Registry, October to December 2009

[2] Phil Spencer, property expert

[3] 8% of £219832


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LV= employs around 4,000 people, serves over 3.8m customers and members, and manages around £7.7bn on their behalf, via LV= Asset Management (LVAM). We are also the UK's largest friendly society and a leading mutual financial services provider.

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