£154billion* bill for home design crimes

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Britain’s homeowners have spent more than £154 billion on tasteless home improvements that will actually reduce the value of their properties, according to new research from Direct Line Home Insurance.

More than 20 million Brits** (49 per cent) have carried out, or plan to make alterations that property experts say are likely to erode the value of their homes. The most costly changes include laying cheap wooden flooring (33 per cent of these), installing PVC windows (32 per cent) and removing fireplaces (20 per cent), according to a list of ‘design crimes’ compiled by Direct Line Home Insurance in collaboration with surveyors Habitus.

According to the research, these alterations can reduce the value of a property by up to five per cent, knocking £9,637 off the average house price***. Despite this, nearly half (48 per cent) of those making changes mistakenly think that they will add value, with one in ten (11 per cent) estimating that they will net more than £10,000 as a result.

The list of design faux pas doesn’t end with home alterations. The 1.8 million homeowners digging fishponds in their gardens could suffer an average of £3,854 each in lost value and concreted over front gardens may set the owners back by a similar amount, according to Habitus.

Many of these costly home improvements are inspired by home makeover shows, with one in twenty (6 per cent) saying that TV shows motivate them to make these changes. A desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is also in evidence, with a similar number (7 per cent) saying that they copied alterations that their friends or relatives had made.

The homeowners themselves may not be the only ones paying the price for bad taste. Nearly a million**** Brits reckon that neighbours’ tasteless alterations have reduced the value of their own homes.

Nor are bad taste home improvements purely a 21st Century phenomenon. Today’s homeowners are still paying the price for design fads from previous decades, with pebble-dash and stone-cladding both estimated to reduce the value of a property by up to 5 per cent.

Commenting on the findings, Direct Line Home Insurance Spokesperson Simon Ziviani said:

“Taste is a subjective thing, but our research does show that certain home improvements have a detrimental effect on property values. Homeowners need to think extremely carefully before making changes to their properties, to ensure that they don’t end up costing them dearly.

“From an insurance perspective, it’s also important for homeowners to remember that changes they make to their interiors may affect the value of their home contents. One in ten (11 per cent) people tell us that they wouldn’t re-assess their home contents insurance if they made alterations, which is a mistake that could end up costing them even more in the long run.”

Ends

Notes to Editors:

* 71 per cent of UK population have made alterations in the last ten years, or are planning to in the next 12 months =32,258,776
70 per cent of these had carried/are planning to carry out one of the ‘design crimes’ identified = 22,581,143
They spent an average of £6,854, therefore total spend = £154,771,154, 122

** 70 per cent had carried out design crimes in the past ten years, or plan to in the next 12 months =22,581,143

*** Average UK house price is £192,745 according to Land Registry figures

**** 2 per cent of UK adults =908,697
Direct Line Insurance plc, authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Calls may be recorded. Conditions apply.