Interior image of domestic project, Scotland Street Edinburgh, designed by Detail Design Solutions, Architectural Technologists in Edinburgh

How To Improve Your Property And Increase It's Value

Interior kitchen design Edinburgh

Making Property Improvements

Improvements such as internal alterations, extensions or conversions can be a great way to make a property more appealing and increase its value. But do you need a Building Warrant or Planning Permission? Or any other consents? How long will it all take and what costs are involved? It can be confusing and daunting so we’ve put together this step by step guide to get you started.

Step One: Appoint a Design Professional

It’s a good idea to find out what consents you will require to have in place before starting work on your project. To do so, we advise to get in touch with a local Architect or Architectural Technologist through the Architects Registration Board or Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists. Architects and Technologists both offer domestic services and will usually arrange a meeting with you to discuss how you can progress your idea to reality before providing a fee quote for their involvement. You may wish to obtain more than one quote and remember to take into account the services and level of expertise they are offering as well as costs. Think about whether you want to appoint someone to assist you in obtaining consents only or if you would like professional support on your project through to completion (more on this later).

Step Two: Initial Proposals

Once appointed, your design professional will need to carry out a detailed survey of the property and prepare drawings of the existing building. They will then develop an initial proposal, using their expertise of the Building and Planning Regulations to ensure the design complies, thereby increasing likelihood of obtaining consents more quickly. They will likely meet with you again at this stage to go over the proposed design and obtain your approval before finalising it and taking it further. We would advise clients at this stage to be as clear as they can about what they are looking for to avoid design change fees.

Step Three: Obtaining consents

Your consultant will then prepare the drawings required for the relevant consents you need. Depending on what’s required and the complexity of your project, they may need to prepare proposed floor plans, roof plans, sections, details and elevations along with the already prepared existing drawings, and gather any other relevant material such manufacturers product information. All of this information will be collated and submitted to the council as a Planning Application and/or Building Warrant Application on your behalf. Don’t forget the council charge a fee for applications which is based the estimated project cost; it is important to take this into account when planning your budget.

Once your application has been received by the council, they will assign a Planning Consultant and/or Building Control Officer to your project. Because Edinburgh is a particularly busy city with lots of building works being undertaken on an ongoing basis, it can take around 10 weeks for the City of Edinburgh Council to review Warrant applications. However there are other things you and your design professional can get on with in the meantime to ensure your project is progressing.

Step Four: obtain costs and appoint a builder

Your design professional will prepare documents for pricing your project at this stage and can assist you to appoint a builder so that you are ready to start works as soon as consents are obtained. Again we would advise clients to obtain more than one quote from builders and to use a reputable firm rather than the cheapest, to ensure your project is completed to a high standard.

Meanwhile your consultant will also keep in touch with the council and liaise with them to progress the application. Usually the building control officer will respond to the warrant application with a list of points for your consultant to address which they will do by making amendments to the drawings and submitting revised information.

Interior image of domestic project, Scotland Street Edinburgh, designed by Detail Design Solutions, Architectural Technologists in Edinburgh

Step Five: Consents Granted

When the Building Control Officer is ready to grant the warrant, they will request paper copies of all the drawings and then your consents will be granted and you can begin works. If you are on a tight budget you may end your consultant’s appointment at this stage.

Step Six: Begin Works

Building Warrant drawings can be used by your builder for those who do not wish to continue professional design involvement at this stage. Otherwise, your design consultant will prepare detailed Construction Drawings to give your builder, which contain all the relevant information they will require to carry out the works. Continuing professional involvement at this stage also means they can be on hand throughout the build to liaise with the builder, address any queries, inspect works on a regular basis and inspect the finished job to ensure it has been done satisfactory, which may make a difference to ensuring your project runs smoothly.

Step Seven: Project Completion

The Building Control Officer will inspect the finished works to ensure compliance, as will your design professional if still appointed. Then all there is to do is add your own finishing touches such as a lick of paint, then sit back, relax and enjoy your new space!

Our expert team of Architectural Technologists can help you improve your home and more importantly increase the value of your property.


Let us help you with your project: Contact Us today

Newhaven architectural-design staff

Converting a Newhaven Cottage into a Modern Space

First published in ESPC News, November 2017

When pub landlords, Jonny and Lyn first acquired this traditional little house in Newhaven, it required full renovation and modernisation. It had very small rooms and was in a dilapidated state, in much need of TLC. The couple had a vision for it however, seeing the potential it contained that others couldn’t see, and falling in love with its unique character. They appointed us in March 2016 to help them make their vision become a reality.

The first stage was to get their ideas into a working design. The “garden” – more of a scruffy patch of land at the back of the property– was over-shadowed by a church and got little sunlight so our clients were happy to sacrifice this in order to extend the property and increase the area inside.  Inside, the property was completely remodelled. Our design involved removing all the interior walls, the upper floor and a large portion of the rear wall, leaving just the shell of the building to contain a new, modern space.

On the ground floor, we opened out the area into a fully open plan kitchen and living space, moving the staircase from its original location as well as relocating the front door to its original position at the front of the property. This maximised floor space in the small area. In the extended area where the kitchen was to be housed, we designed large windows and roof lights in to maximise light coming in and provide a view onto the beautiful stained-glass windows of the church behind.

Upstairs was also completely remodelled. Our brief was to ensure Jonny and Lyn had space for their relatives to stay as well as a home office to run their business from. The couple were keen to extend into the attic and since space was limited and we came up with a design that involved raising the roof to allow this to happen, creating a new mezzanine level for guests to sleep in above an office area. This was a challenge to agree with Building Control: the fact that the third level was not enclosed meant it was difficult to comply with fire regulations. We successfully negotiated however and agreed with the Building Control Officer that a sprinkler system would be installed to be automatically set off in the event of a fire. This allowed us to continue with the open plan theme that Jonny and Lyn were keen to have throughout the house. We also left room on the middle floor for a good-sized master bedroom and a luxury bathroom containing a large walk-in shower which doubles as a steam room.

Completely remodelling the inside of this building was challenging: creating a space within the walls of an existing building can be more of a challenge than a new build home. Furthermore, being of historic interest means the building is listed and we had to apply for Listed Building Consent as well as Planning Permission. The extensive amount of work being carried out, including moving point of access, required lengthy negotiations with the Planning Department. Obtaining the Building Warrant was also a challenge, since we had to ensure the complex design complied with regulations. We were successful however and obtained Planning and Listed Building Consent in June 2016 and a Building Warrant in March 2017.

Works began as soon as we obtained the Warrant and took 3 months to complete the major construction work. In July 2017 we went on to install the kitchen and bathroom. Jonny and Lyn chose a modern kitchen from Richard F. Mackay with a clean, sharp look and all mod cons. The bathroom had a similar feel and modern, high-tech features were used throughout the property. Meanwhile in the living room, the stone work was left exposed, displaying the original character of the building. The couple have an eye for design and the look was finished with a range of modern and traditional furniture pieces which tie together very well with our architectural design.

In August 2017, all work was complete and Jonny and Lyn could move into their home along with cats Minky and Mya. Mya wasn’t so sure and made a dash out the front door one night, migrating back to their old flat a mile away. However, she is now happily safely back with her owners and the four of them are settling in nicely.

Jonny and Lyn are owners of the Roseleaf Bar café in Leith.  They purchased the property for £167,777 in December 2015. A total of £123,000 was spent on the works, including all building works, fixtures & fittings, professional and application fees.  The property has been recently valued by McEwan Fraser Legal. It has an expected home report value of £310,000, with an expected higher sale value due to its high-quality finish.

Update, April 2019
Jonny and Lyn have recently put the property on the market at offers over £340,000.

Image of interior at Scotland Street property

Is doing work to your home worth it financially?

spiral stairs ryehill place

For many of our clients, the issue of whether works they wish to carry out in their home will mean an increase in the value of the property or not, is of no concern. They have found their ideal home, they have no intention of ever moving, and the works they wish to do are for the purpose of creating the perfect space for them and their family. But for many others this is an important factor to consider when deciding on home improvements, and something we are often asked by prospective clients.

Generally speaking, if you make improvements to a property, the value is going to increase as a result. But the question is by how much and will the increase take account of the amount of money spent?

The answer to this is not clear cut. As a general rule, adding additional rooms through extending your home will add value, although not always. Likewise, removing a room, for example because you wish to knock two rooms together to make an improved space, may in theory reduce value but if you have made the space vastly more useable you will likely have increased the value.

Our clients, Jonny and Lynn Kane are a good example of carrying out work to a property and increasing its value substantially in doing so. They bought an old stone cottage in a dilapidated state in 2016, requiring a huge amount of modernisation. Jonny and Lynn took it a stage further however and carried out an enormity of work to the property. We designed a glass extension to the rear and the full ground floor was opened into one luxurious open-plan kitchen/living space, with the front door relocated in the process. Upstairs was completely remodeled also and the property was also extended into the attic. This involved raising the roof of the building and going with a design that was highly challenging for us to agree with Building Control. Modern finishes were added and the result was a stunning home for the couple and their cats; completely unrecognizable from the old cottage they originally purchased.

So what about the costs? They originally purchased the property in 2016 for £167,777.00 and they spent a total of £123,000.00 on the project. This covered the build cost itself as well as professional architectural and engineering fees, council application fees, as well as all fixtures and fittings. The total spend was £290,777.00. In 2017 the property was valued at £310 thousand but Johnny and Lynn were informed that they would likely receive a higher sale price due to the very high quality finishes they used throughout. This is certainly a factor to consider if you are intending on eventually selling your home. Good quality, modern finishes are appealing to buyers and you may be able to achieve a higher sale value as a result. Jonny and Lynn’s property is currently on the market for offers over £340 thousand, meaning the financial profit they can expect to make is in the region of £50 thousand.

If you are intending to carry out improvements to a property with the only intention of increasing value and making financial profit, you may consider this sort of return over a 3 year period to be relatively low when considering the financial investment as well as the investment in your time and energy, which should never be underestimated. But Johnny and Lynn, as for our other clients, have lived in their dream home, exactly suited to their personal needs, for two happy years and this is something that does not come with a price tag.

If you would like to know if works you are considering in your home are financially viable or not, it is best to get professional advice. We always recommend appointing a quantity surveyor for accurate costs of your project, and it may also be worth seeking the opinion of a property agent. They will usually carry out a property valuation for free and will likely be able to give you a rough indication on whether the works you are considering will add value and by how much.

Find out how we can help with your project and contact us today