Now that you have a realistic idea of what needs doing to your home, the next step is to plan what the various improvement options will involve in terms of time, logistics and, of course, money. Like most common projects this can be divided up into a number of groups as a brief summary of what each might involve.
Changing the room usage
Just because a particular room in the house currently has a particular function, it does not have to maintain that function. For example, if you have the traditional arrangement of two rooms, one used for sitting and one for dining, you could consider swapping their functions. Similarly, a bedroom swap could involve parents giving up their large bedroom to a teenage child for use as a study and recreation room. Other possible options include turning a spare bedroom into a home office, switching the kitchen and dining rooms to make better use of space and access, or fitting out a small spare room as a second bathroom.
Sometimes the way your house is laid out no longer suits the way you want to live. Rearranging the room layout is a bigger job than changing the room usage, since it usually involves removing or building internal walls. It will not give you any extra floor space, but it will let you use the existing floors pace more efficiently and creatively. Options that involve knocking down walls include creating a joined living and dining room, a combined kitchen and diner, or a master bedroom with en-suite bathroom from two smaller adjacent rooms.
You can build partition walls in large spaces to create extra rooms, and you can also change the size of adjacent rooms by repositioning dividing walls. Repositioning doors to alter traffic routes can make a difference, and you could even consider altering the way the staircase runs.
Converting uninhabited areas
Unless your house has a flat roof, you will have a loft (attic), and this could offer the perfect opportunity for conversion to valuable extra living space. The conversion is a complex job to carry out, since its feasibility depends on the way the roof was built, how access to the loft (attic) can be created and how safety requirements can be met. It is definitely a job to be left to an architect and builder or to a specialty loft-conversion company.
Older houses with basements offer another conversion option. Here the feasibility depends on the size of the basement (many are just small storage cellars), how damp-proof it is and how easy it will be to provide ventilation and some degree of natural light, all essential if the basement is to be used as a habitable room.
Installing tall glass doors leading on to an outdoor area is a simple alteration to a room that makes a dramatic difference. The third uninhabited area you may have available for conversion into extra living space is an integral or attached garage. If you intend to create habitable rooms, you will have to upgrade the damp proofing (water-proofing) and insulation. Garages can provide the opportunity for some creative converting, and it is worth taking the time to consider what is possible. The garage-door opening, for example, can be filled in as a large window. A doorway into the house will be needed unless one exists already.
Building art extension
If rearranging existing space or carrying out internal conversions cannot give you the extra living space you need, then building an extension is the only solution (apart, of course, from moving house). Its feasibility depends mainly on whether you have the space to extend and whether the work counts as permitted development under the local building codes. Depending on where you have the space and what you want the extension to provide, you could build a one-storey or two-storey building at the side or rear of the property, front extensions seldom get planning permission. The design and construction of a home extension is definitely a job to leave to the professionals unless you are a highly skilled and motivated person with enormous organizational skills.
If all you want is some extra room downstairs, adding a conservatory (porch) to the side or rear of the house could be the answer. Modern conservatories are modular buildings, so they are quick and simple to erect, even on a do it yourself basis, although most people leave their construction to a specialist supplier. Adding one is also relatively non-disruptive, since all the construction work occurs outside the house. Conservatories count as home extensions for planning purposes.
Getting better services
Older houses are likely to benefit from some upgrading of their services, for instance the plumbing, the wiring and the central heating system. Plumbing improvements could include washbasins (sinks) in bedrooms, a second lavatory, plumbing in a utility room and so on. Wiring work can provide extra socket outlets and up-to-date lighting .Heating improvements can bring more efficient water and room heating. The kitchen and the bathroom seem to need upgrading every ten years or so to keep them looking up to date and working efficiently.
Improving the site
Not all home improvements involve the house. Improvements to the site could include building a garage or carport, providing extra car parking space in front of the house, creating walls, paths and steps and adding outbuildings such as a garden shed, a green house, a children’s play house or an aviary. All can add significantly to the way in which you live in and enjoy your home.
Converting a loft or attic could be the perfect solution as children grow up and desire more space.This can be quite complicated however, so do seek specialist advice.