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Value in doing some changes

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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Planning applications for home improvements made the surprising leap from arcane local authority red tape and into the racier world of national political debate last week after the coalition revealed plans to jump start the economy with loosened rules on 'permitted development' for homes.

Cameron and Clegg are hoping that, by sweeping away the thresholds at which council planners must approve home improvements, an army of newly instructed builders will reinvigorate the economy as Britain improves rather than moves.

So what exactly is being permitted that the government believes will set the building trade alight?

The permitted length of a single storey extension to a house that can be built without planning permission will soon, after a one month consultation, be doubled to six metres for semis and terraces, and up to eight metres for detached houses, although the length under which two-storey extensions will not need planning is to be shorter.

The rest of the rules remain the same. Roofs of single storey extensions still cannot be higher than four metres (from roof top to eaves) and never taller than the existing roof, if it's a double storey extension which in turn must be set back at least seven metres from the rear of your garden or property boundary and be built using 'similar material'.

Side extensions are still allowed to only be single storey and no higher than four metres high or half the original building's width.

But remember that planning approval is still not needed for porches, internal alterations, loft conversions (without dormer windows), satellite dishes, antennas, roof lights and for new doors and windows.

But is all this worth doing if it doesn't add value to your home? Research by property website Zoopla.co.uk shows that on average loft conversions and basements add the most value to a home, not extensions.

For example loft conversions add on average 12.5 per cent to a property's value compared to 7.5 per cent for conservatories and 11 per cent for extensions, although a rule of thumb worth applying is that each room added to a property increases the property's value by five per cent.

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