It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of buying a new home, but choose carefully – you may still live there for years to come and it’s important that your home stands the test of time for your family…
OK, so you fancy buying a spanking new build or maybe you already have? Possibly, you’ve sold an older property and made the switch or you are first time buyers that have taken advantage of the government’s Help to Buy scheme? It’s a brilliant option that helps give you a leg-up onto the property ladder. You can find plenty of details online, via mortgage brokers and house builders etc, of course you can source great information via this very magazine and associated website too.
If you have already made the jump or you are still considering, one of the questions often asked is, ‘How can we make our new home look more individual and stand out from the crowd?’
It’s true, most new housing estates are built on a set design and footprint and therefore the properties can look like a flock of sheep grazing in a field. If you’ve ever parked in a huge car park and then struggled to find the car on your return then it’s a bit like that during the early days of living in your new home – they all look the same to begin with.
There are many benefits to buying a brand new home, but sometimes this fresh new space can lack a little soul. A little bit of forward thinking however, means you can get certain things right for the future from the get-go. Firstly, consider the location and the space your property will physically occupy, by following these top tips:
Get to know the area
If you’re unfamiliar with the postcode the property is being built upon, make plenty of visits. Morning, noon and night. Get a good feel for the area. Shops, schools, public services etc. Listen out for noise from nearby roads and neighbourhoods. It’s a good excuse to visit the local too; landlords and ladies seem to know all the gossip. Speak to an insurance company as to the area category, High, medium or low risk? It all adds up and therefore, makes sense. It’s an extra tool in your decision-making arsenal.
Consider the car
What is the parking like at your potential new home? Usually, the average is two cars per property off the road. So what if you’ve got family living with you who drive too? If you’ve managed to bag a much sought after corner plot or you have a lawned area in front of the house you can possibly lay that to hard standing to allow for extra vehicles in future. Otherwise, check for on-road parking availability and how wide your new road is and whether there are any parking restrictions, permits etc.
Future proofing your new home
Where possible, look to ‘future proof’ your property. Nobody truly loves moving house every few years and over time you realise just how much furniture and clutter you collect, that’s all got to be shipped out too one way or another when you move? If you’re thinking of planning for a family then remember, as your family grows so does your need for more space. Maybe you see your first move as just getting a foothold on the property ladder – but if not my advice would be to look for potential to extend in the future. Maybe over the garage or potential to convert the garage itself into a living space, or how about a loft conversion? A good loft conversion can put upwards of 20% on the value of your property too. Of course, any works to be carried out will be subject to planning applications and permissions with the relevant authorities. Currently, the government has a ‘permitted development’ scheme in operation where within a certain size you can build without the requirement of an official planning application. However, you will need to apply for ‘building regulations’. You can check all the information on the government planning portal via your local office or online at www.gov.uk/planning-permission-england-wales
For example, under this current rule you are permitted to convert a loft space up to 40m3 for a terraced, and up to 50m3 for a semi or detached property without the need for a planning application. Having said that, you will need a competent person to draw up plans and possibly a structural engineers report for strengthening the floor joists and safe access to the new living space etc, and check with the housebuilders to see if their conditions need to be met. Good luck!