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Why move when you can improve?

01 Apr 2019
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In association with Hiscox

Rather than the hassle and expense of selling up and buying a new house, more of us are choosing to stay put and renovate or extend our homes. Gavin Abbs, Head of Personal Lines at Hiscox UK explains why…

Despite talk of a depressed housing market and stagnating or even falling prices, taking the next step up the housing ladder continues to be a challenge for many homeowners. It is partly why many of us are choosing to stay put and renovate or extend our homes. Last year, the Hiscox Renovations and Extensions Report 2018 found that there had been a 400% rise in homeowners – representing more than four million households in the UK – deciding to improve rather than move.

We like a bath

According to Hiscox, it’s bathrooms that lead the way when we look to improve our home. Over half (54%) of the survey respondents were planning or in the process of revamping their bathroom, while kitchens (51%) were the second most likely part of the house to be the target of a makeover. For expanding our living space, loft conversions saw a 114% increase in local authority planning permissions in the last nine years. It’s not just works indoors either with nearly a third (29%) planning or in the process of having a garden makeover.

If you’re looking for more living space, going up into the loft isn’t the only option. Other popular conversions include converting the cellar, going sideways into the garage, or a side return on the kitchen. Of these, the one likely to add the most value to your house is the cellar at a potential 30% uplift.1

What’s the cost?
How much are we spending on renovations and improvements? The Hiscox survey found that homeowners were typically looking to spend around £16,100 for each project, although one in five (18%) expected to invest upwards of £25,000. Beware though, it’s the budget that often causes the most heartache. Two in five (40%) past renovators (those who have completed projects) say they overshot their original budget by an average of 20%; equal to a cost of over £3,200 for each project. Other problems include projects overrunning. Over a third (35%) of those surveyed who had completed projects said it had taken longer than planned – with delays averaging three months.

Help your project run smoothly

Embarking on a home improvement project is an exciting time so, to make sure it doesn’t become beset by stress and problems, here are my top tips to help make sure the project runs as smoothly as possible:
  • Plan and prepare The more time spent planning will pay dividends in the long term, seek professional help where necessary e.g. architect, design consultant
  • Get personal recommendations Finding the right tradespeople can be difficult, ask around and get references for the ones you choose
  • Get a contract Know what is and what isn’t included in the project to avoid any surprises
  • Be realistic over time and money Renovations and extensions always take longer than anticipated, and often cost more so build in plenty of contingency

Tell your insurer

Finally, it is important to tell your insurer that you’re having works done at your home. Many mistakenly assume that they will continue to be covered by their home insurance and this is not always the case, leaving homeowners vulnerable to the wide range of risks that can accompany a home renovation project.

According to Renovation Insurance Brokers, the most frequent insurance claim during a renovation/extension project relates to the theft of building materials and equipment (e.g. bathroom and kitchen fittings). Second on the list is escape of water (e.g. burst pipes and water sources connected to the home) and storm damage (damage from storms excluding flooding e.g. high winds). Other common claims include party wall disputes with a neighbour; fire perhaps related to work carried out by an amateur electrician; subsidence; and accidental damage caused by a tradesman.

1https://www.propertypriceadvice.co.uk/home-improvements/ten-of-the-best-ways-to-add-value-to-your-home

The views expressed in blogs such as the above are those of the author and do not represent the views of the Institute of Directors.


We know that many of our members have valuable homes and possessions to protect. Our preferred partner of Home and Contents Insurance, Hiscox, provide the high levels of cover you may need and a 12.5% discount for the lifetime of your policy. You can also add Hiscox Renovation and Extension Insurance to your policy to cover home improvement projects up to £75,000.

Find out more

0800 840 2331


Headshot of Gavin Abbs, Head of Personal Lines, Hiscox

Gavin Abbs

I joined Hiscox in 2009 as part of the first cohort of graduate employees. I started off as an underwriter in the Direct Home team, before taking on the Overseas line of business in Broker Private Client in 2011. I moved into my current role in September 2018.


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