• UK homeowners invest £8.5 billion every year in home improvements
  • Two million extensions, one and a half million new bathrooms and a million new bedrooms were added to UK homes over the past five years 
  • One in five of those who made structural changes didn't have any home insurance or planning permission in place when work was done

Rising property costs in the UK are forcing millions of would-be house buyers to abandon their dreams of moving up the property ladder. According to research from LV=, money seemed to be the main reason homeowners were put off moving, with 55% saying they wouldn't be moving, despite wanting to, because of high property prices and the additional costs involved with moving home, such as stamp duty, lawyer's fees and removal vans.

But that's not stopping aspirational homeowners from making the most of what they’ve got. Instead of saving up for a larger deposit or mortgage, Brits are now spending millions on home improvements.

The research found that homeowners are spending around £8.5bn (roughly £7,500 each) every year on extensions, conservatories and other home improvements, instead of moving house. Other renovations included removing doorways, installing a fireplace or merging rooms by knocking through walls — while others have converted their loft, attic or garage space so it can be used as an additional bedroom. As a result, over the past five years there have been close to two million extensions, one and a half million new bathrooms and a million new bedrooms built and created across the UK. 

However, the research also revealed that many homeowners are trying to make their money go further by cutting corners. This could prove to be a false economy; of those who made structural changes to their home, more than one in five (21%) had no planning permission or home insurance. Similarly, 22% carried out the work themselves or with the help of friends or family, while 18% used tradespeople with no proof of qualification or insurance, leaving themselves open to huge risk, especially as Accidental Damage cover may not cover damage caused by demolition, structural alteration or repairs. 

The current state of the housing market means that unfortunately, moving up the property ladder is out of reach for many. Although Brits are showing an enterprising spirit by improving what they have, it's important that they protect their homes and don't leave themselves open to risk.  Make sure you're covered when making changes to a property, especially if it involves structural changes or vacating the property for an extended period. 

Source: LV= commissioned ICM Research to conduct bespoke research among a sample of 1,359 British homeowners. Interviews were conducted in March 2016.

  • 44% of homeowners who have considered moving in the past five years decided to stay in their current property. 
  • 5.7 million homeowners have considered moving house in the past five years but decided to stay put and improve instead. They spent £7,435 on average. 5.7 million x £7,435 = £42,379,000,000 = £42.4billion over the past five years. £42.4billion / 5 = £8.5 billion each year. 
  • Of those homeowners who have considered moving in the past five years but decided not to, 11% have removed doorways, 9% have installed a fireplace, 8% have merged rooms by knocking through walls, 4% have converted their loft or attic and 4% have converted their garage. 
  • When homeowners who improved rather than moved were asked if they had home insurance or planning permission for their structural improvement works, 21% revealed that they had neither of these.
  • In the past five years, 9% of homeowners in London have added an extension, while 7% have converted their garage and 6% have added a utility room.