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Basements are booming as Brits build down

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Homeowners are improving not moving, as planning applications soar
Basements are booming as Brits build down

Basement conversions have jumped in popularity in the last five years, said Halifax Insurance, with a massive 183% increase in planning applications for the projects.

But they are not the most popular home conversions. That accolade is taken by single storey extensions, which have risen 49% since 2012 and loft conversions which are up 43%.

Total planning applications have risen by 27% over the last five years. With a 60% hike, London saw the highest increase in planning applications between 2012 and 2016, followed by the East of England (up 31%) and East Midlands (up 28%).

Lack of appetite

Scotland showed the lowest appetite for home improvements, with planning applications growing by just 3% between 2012 and 2016, even marking a fall of 1.3% between 2015 and 2016.

Conservatories and porches are falling out of fashion in most parts of the country, recording a 3% fall in applications over the last five years. However, Wiltshire and Cornwall bucked the trend, where conservatories and porches have remained popular.

Melanie Backe-Hansen, historian and author of House Histories, said: “The way we live in our homes is evolving. Take the example of basements and the trend for extending downwards: this is probably down to a lack of space in our cities and towns, and it represents a big shift in the way we think about our homes.”

Dream home

Just one in five Brits (22%) said they already live in their dream home, and a fifth (22%) of homeowners have spent at least £11,000 on domestic improvements in the last two years. In fact, almost two thirds (63%) of homeowners have done up their dwellings over this period with homeowners most likely to spend between £2,000 and £5,000. 

Jeremy Ward, head of home insurance at Halifax, added: “Many people may not realise they need to let their insurer know about works they carry out on their home – just 14% of homeowners say they have notified their insurer before beginning work.

“It’s imperative to have the necessary insurance policy in place whilst carrying out the work and equally important to update insurance when the job is complete – failing to do so will invalidate the policy.”

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