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Do the maths before making alterations or additions to your home

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When homeowners began to feel they want a change, they often first consider making alterations before moving.

This is especially the case when they still like the area in which they live, says Gerhard Kotzé, managing director of the RealNet estate agency group. Before they embark on alterations, they must establish if this makes financial sense.

“Will the cost of the additions or alterations needed to give you the extra space really be less than the cost of selling, buying a bigger home and moving? Or if the value of your home is already pretty close to the price ceiling for your area, what is the risk attached to spending a lot on renovating the kitchen or bathrooms?”

Realistically, owners will seldom be able to recover the full costs of additions or alterations if they need to sell soon after they have been completed.

“The changes might add to the appeal of your home for prospective buyers, but will usually not add to the price they are willing to pay, which will still need to be competitive for your area.”

To get maximum benefit out of alterations, owners must be sure they will remain in their homes for a few years.

Other vital issues Kotzé says they must consider include:

  • Whether your local authority or homeowners’ association will allow you to make additions or alterations. You need to find out before you go any further, and what the requirements and costs are to get planning approval.
  • Whether you can afford the alterations. These often turn out to be more expensive than expected and will most likely increase your debt, so get quotes from building professionals before you go ahead.
  • The possibility of a move in the same area. If you’ve been paying your bond for a few years and live in an area where prices have gone up, you probably already have enough equity in your home for a decent deposit on a new one. If you really like your area, there’s no rule that says you can’t move to a bigger home up the road rather than to a different suburb. Consult a qualified and experienced local estate agent to explore your options.
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