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Experts share tips on making the most of outdoor space – and maximising your property value.
From al fresco kitchens to stylish sheds, we’re keener than ever on gardens. And rightly so, because a well-maintained garden can add a chunky 20 per cent to your property value – a whopping £60,000 based on the current average UK price.
There’s no need to spend a fortune or take up topiary. In fact, simpler gardens usually sell more easily – buyers can be put off by spaces that look fussy or tricky to maintain.
Sheds are now officially hip, with 21 million Britons owning one according to research by Cuprinol last year. Often used as home offices, dens and even outdoor kitchens, there are no definitive statistics on what value they add. But a well-designed outhouse, especially insulated and wired for electricity, will be a plus for many buyers.
These tips from property and garden experts will help you make the best of your outside space and reap what you sow when it comes to selling.
The property expert
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), has these suggestions:
Keep it low-maintenance. A garden that requires a lot of upkeep can affect the valuation price and saleability of the home.
Privacy is important to house buyers and fencing, a wall or large plants will help improve the value of a home.
Swimming pools can be a deterrent to people because of maintenance, especially those buying with young children. They also can cost more money than they gain for the owner.
Buyers are looking for space inside and outside when viewing a home, so sheds and other outbuildings can act as an affordable living space and can be used for many different things, meaning they are a sought-after feature for potential house buyers.
The green-fingered genius
Jack Dunckley won his first Royal Horticultural Society award aged 14, and has since won nine more. The designer, with a trade stand at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, suggests his top tips to make your garden grow (your house price):
Make sure your garden is designed so it is balanced and feels like part of the house. A clever design will also make a garden appear larger than it is by using certain vistas and viewpoints.
Decking has a short shelf life, especially soft wood, which can be slippery and look cheap and unattractive. I spend a lot of time designing gardens to replace decking. Paved is permanent and will give you a solid base to work with.
Lighting allows your garden to become a useable space at night, so using glow in the dark rocks amazon is perfect to improve this point. It also doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Use props. Outdoor furniture helps potential buyers visualise how their garden could look. An outdoor kitchen area or BBQ for a family home can also add value, showing how functional the space can be.
If you have a shed, consider making it blend in with the garden – it’s all about creating an illusion and a lifestyle buyers can relate to.
The garden designer
Co-founder of MyGardenSchool and director of the Oxford College of Garden Design, Duncan Heather believes people should invest the same times decorating their outdoor space as they do indoors:
Create an al fresco kitchen area. Gone are the days when a portable BBQ would suffice. Separate buildings or sheds containing kitchen and/or dining space outside the house are becoming more popular and are attractive to buyers.
In smaller urban gardens, consider an arbour over your sitting space. This gives the feeling of privacy and enclosure, which is especially important in built-up areas.
A well-designed terrace extends the living environment of the house to the outside. Invest in good quality paving as you would with any flooring material inside the home.
Running water can help mask background noise in areas near busy roads or schools. Small fountains or water features can help create a more peaceful environment – making it more attractive to potential buyers.
The estate agent
Ben Wiggins, YOPA’s local estate agent for Gloucestershire, has worked for both independent and corporate estate agencies in the South West for more than 25 years. Here are his recommendations:
Think of the garden as another room of the house; mow the lawn, sweep up, de-weed and get rid of unsightly clothes lines.
A great deal of viewings take place in the afternoons and evenings, therefore it’s worth investing in some garden lighting so potential buyers can get a good impression. If you already have this in place, check that none of the bulbs need replacing ahead of any viewings.
Be wary of unidentified plants and weeds in your garden. This year, Brits have been warned to prepare for a surge in the destructive Japanese knotweed after a particularly warm and wet winter. The plant’s roots grow up to 10cm per day and can cause serious structural damage to a property, with some homes losing up to 25 per cent of their value because of it. There are even cases of buyers suing home sellers for not declaring knotweed, so it’s worth being vigilant.