How To Renovate And Stay Under Your Ceiling Price.

So, you’ve just bought a house. You’re completely in love with it and your mind is a whirlwind of ideas and plans. Perhaps an extension, a loft conversion, new kitchen and bathrooms, or maybe even a pool! But, hold your horses! There’s something called the ceiling price and it’s incredibly important to understand. The last thing you want if you do ever come to sell your new home, is to find out that you overspent and won’t make your money back. In this post I’m going to tell you how to stay safely under that threshold.

One of the loft bedrooms. Work to do here!

I’m not trying to rain on your parade and I certainly don’t want to curb your enthusiasm. It’s still perfectly possible to make big changes to a house and make it your dream home. It’s just a case of knowing the facts first, so that you don’t go over budget.

Our Project

We have renovated and extended many homes over the years and our latest project is our tenth. I know, we’re insane and gluttons for punishment! I wrote a five-part series on our property journey and what we learned from it called: How To Climb The Property Ladder – feel free to have a read. The new house is a beautiful Victorian Gothic three-storey semi-detached townhouse that we call Victorian Dream, but it’s in need of some love. Our initial thoughts were that the house is top heavy. There are currently six bedrooms and two bathrooms upstairs over two floors.

Downstairs there is a huge entrance hall and a downstairs loo under the stairs. Then, there is a large living room and two more extremely large rooms that have been knocked through to create one “mahoosive” space! Off of that is the current single storey kitchen, which is also rather lengthy, but dog ugly. Finally, there is a dilapidated conservatory. The number of downstairs rooms don’t match what’s upstairs. So, another single storey extension would balance out the house, right?

Well, yes, but we have to remember that our house is a semi-detached. All houses have a ceiling price that they will fetch on the open market, but attached properties have a more rigid maximum in my opinion. So, we have decided that we won’t be adding the extension to the house. Instead, we are going to make much better use of the space that is already here, making every inch work hard and have a purpose.

But, Hang On One Cotton-Picking Minute!

I know you’re thinking: “why are your talking about your house’s selling price when you’ve only just bought it?” – “Surely, you’re all loved up with it, does it really matter what you spend, you may stay there forever? Not everything is about money you know!”

Here’s the thing: your house is the most expensive item you will ever buy and the biggest investment. I know it’s difficult to look at it coldly like this, but it’s true. You never know what is around the corner and even though you may think you have found your forever home, anything can happen. If you do come to sell one day, then you want to get as much profit out of it as possible, either for buying the next house, or for your retirement.

Never underestimate what a house’s profits can do for your life. Our last house sale allowed us to not only buy our little slice of Victoriana, but also enabled us to move to the coast and buy a holiday home too. There was a huge amount of hard graft along the way, but essentially, it paid for our new life. Get my drift?

How To Work Out Your House’s Ceiling Price

The ceiling price of a property is quite complicated and not cut and dry. However, there are a few easy steps you can take to work it out:

  • You already know what you paid for your home. Did you pay the asking price, or did you manage to get it for less? Well done if it’s the latter!
  • What are similar houses in your area selling for? You can look at sold prices on Rightmove. Usually, sold prices tend to get published about three months after they’ve completed the sale. You need to factor in whether they are attached, what condition they are in and whether they have been extended. You can usually see photographs and a floor plan on Rightmove too.
  • Get the estate agents in. You may know what you paid for the house, but they will be able to tell you what you could realistically hope to achieve in todays market once you’ve done the renovations. Make sure you tell them everything you plan to do.
  • Get more than one agent. The one you choose could be a complete numpty, so get at least three and then you can take the mean average valuation.
  • Pop on to Zoopla to get a price estimate for your home. Sold prices can be a bit skewed if similar houses haven’t sold in your area for a while. With Zoopla you can add in all the renovations you are intending to do to get an idea of what the house will be worth.

Work Out Your Budget

Once you’ve found out the ceiling price of your home you will be able to then work out the difference between what you paid for it and the ceiling price. This is your maximum budget if you want to at least break even if you had to sell as soon as you finish renovating. But, you want a profit right? So that means you need to spend less than the ceiling price. It’s dull, I know, but you’ll thank me in the end.

This realisation can potentially ruin your plans. Aren’t I the epitome of joy today! Let’s say you bought for £300,000. You’ve found out that your ceiling price is £390,000 in the current market. That means your maximum budget to just break even is £90,000. That of course, is not taking into consideration selling costs, stamp duty (UK property tax) on the next house etc!

Our Plans Now We Know Our Ceiling Price

After working out our ceiling price, we came to the realisation that an extension was not on the cards. Instead, we are going to make the house as beautiful as it can possibly be, make good everything that is dilapidated and change the flow of the house. We don’t need six bedrooms. You’ve got to be careful taking bedrooms away because it can affect the sale price, but five bedrooms is still a lot and a third bathroom would add more value.

Changing the current kitchen into a home office, a boot room/utility room and a better situated downstairs loo will also add value and give the space a better purpose. The two huge downstairs rooms that have been knocked together will become the new all singing, all dancing kitchen/diner of dreams and a chill out zone. Always wanted one of those, although don’t know if I’d ever actually “chill out” near my kitchen. I’d be too busy thinking about the washing up, or whether the oven needs a clean!

The current downstairs toilet will become a kitchen pantry (jealous much?) and the living room will have reclaimed French doors added to it to create drama and lead people to a reception room (I’m calling it the Drawing Room and I don’t care how pretentious It sounds!) as they enter the house, instead of the kitchen. We will also sort out the guttering and all the external issues. Finally, we will redesign the garden and turn it into an oasis of calm and somehow we will connect it to the house better, so that we bring the outside in.

Conclusion

So, you see, even though we aren’t doing the extension, the plans are still super exciting. Actually, I now think we don’t need the extension at all. We just needed to utilise the existing space better. By knowing and understanding our ceiling price we have been able to make quite early decisions that will hopefully mean that we don’t go over budget and don’t risk breaking the ceiling price of our home. You can definitely do the same!

Curveball

Now, what I’m about to say, will sound like I’m contradicting everything in this article, but hear me out. It is sometimes possible to break the ceiling price of a home and still make a profit. I know, roller coaster crazy, right? Mad as a lipstick me! It’s a rare thing, but we have achieved it a few times. It’s about choosing the right house and making sure your decisions are sound and that the finish is impeccable.

Our last property was detached. It was also very ugly and had a mountain as a garden. However, there were quite a few other detached houses near by that were very beautiful and very expensive. I’ve already said that there is more leeway with a detached house because you can change the look of it so much more than you can an attached one.

We were able to change that house into a much larger New England weatherboard home. It did take three years of planning permission hell though! We also bought the field at the top of the garden to add flat space to outside. We then put every ounce of our passion for interiors and gardens into it and tried to think about the family that might buy it one day. What would they need in a house? What lifestyle are they after? Everything we did was very much our taste and what we wanted, but with a keen eye on what future families might need to. We made it extremely saleable and then waited for a good market.

So, it can be done, but you’ve got to be so careful and really do your homework first and be honest with your ability to transform something. I’m so excited about our current renovation. Good luck with yours and let me know your plans!

JP Clark signature

Why not read:

How To Climb The Property Ladder – Part Two.

How To Climb The Property Ladder – Part Three.

Designing A Small Bathroom You’ll Love

24 Comments

  1. Emma (party_at_the_gaze)
    August 8, 2021 / 7:05 am

    This is such important advice. My in laws keep doing work to their house and have far exceeded their ceiling. We keep telling them to move instead 🤦🏻‍♀️. Where we live has currently gone crazy with house prices (covid, work from home and Londoners moving down to the coast) so our ceilings have gone crazy!

    Before insta I would never have thought of reconfiguring either! I always assumed extension to get the space I wanted which then resulted in unused space elsewhere. Reconfiguring the rooms/space is much better where possible. I can’t wait to see what you do with yours x

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 8, 2021 / 10:01 am

      Lordy, it sounds like they’ve gone a bit mad! The ceilings are so skewed at the moment and I’m worried there may be a correction.

      • Emma (party_at_the_gaze)
        August 9, 2021 / 8:44 am

        I honestly think it’s only a matter of time before it crashes again!

        • JP Clark
          Author
          August 21, 2021 / 11:04 am

          I think you may be right Emma. I don’t think it’s any time soon, but it has to at least have a correction at some point. Xx

  2. Julie
    August 8, 2021 / 9:09 am

    Loved reading that!! When we moved in we had lots of plans of what we wanted to do but we decided to live here a few months before making permanent decisions and found that we changed our plans not only because of the ceiling price but also looked at how we used the areas and worked out what was important to us.
    Well done on all your blogs, they are all so helpful x

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 8, 2021 / 10:02 am

      That’s such good advice. Take you time and don’t rush into anything. X

  3. Anne
    August 8, 2021 / 9:56 am

    Absolutely brilliant read and I have just re read your kitchen blogs. How have you not written a book or have you and I missed it.

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 14, 2021 / 10:03 am

      I’d love to write a book. One day perhaps. X

  4. Chriss Lewis
    August 8, 2021 / 1:54 pm

    Very helpful and useful blog JP. Plus, I love your fun personality mix in with the important issues of the day. Thank you this information pertains to where ever you live. I live in California!😎
    I wanted to add that if your home is historical it can be touchy getting planning approval for some or any of the changes you want to make, and costly.
    Hopefully devoted to my renovation! XOXO😊🥴

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:06 am

      You are so right there Chriss, it took us three years to get planning on our last house. Xx

  5. Sarah
    August 8, 2021 / 6:49 pm

    Love this JP! We have managed to stay within ceiling despite an extension and loft conversion partially because property prices in our area have risen so much. We have excellent transport to London and amazing local (grammar) schools so I am not worried too much about whether the market corrects itself. Am thinking of a self-build in the future and that is something where ceiling price has to be front and centre of every decision I think….

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:05 am

      Well done Sarah. Sounds like you’ve got your head screwed on xx

  6. August 8, 2021 / 10:32 pm

    Such good advice, also, I think it’s really important to live in the house for a while and see how it will
    Work for you! We moved 18months ago with the intention of opening a B&B ( which thanks to covid didn’t happen until 3 months ago🙄) Only this week after having the B&B running over the summer I’ve decided to swap the drawing room and dining room round to give me more space! Of course i had finished the drawing room months ago so now I’m going to ruin my beautiful new carpet, the 1st person to spill coffee or ketchup will not be welcomed back😂 so lesson learner! WAIT!!
    Very best of luck with your new venture and I look forward to seeing the miracles you work
    Kindest Regards Jenny

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:05 am

      That’s really good advice Jenny. Xx

  7. Fiona
    August 9, 2021 / 10:56 am

    Very good advice – the other thing I look for is a road or village with mixed/various house types. It’s harder to evaluate the ceiling price and therefore your valuer and new buyer will find it difficult too. As long as the finish is ‘ top drawer’ you can often sell for more than expected. Good luck with your new reno I know it will be fab.

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:04 am

      You’re so right Fiona xx

  8. Kathryn
    August 9, 2021 / 2:57 pm

    You are spot on about repurposing the existing space rather than building an extension. I can’t wait to see what you create here – I know it will be beautiful x

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:03 am

      Thank you Kathryn. Xx

  9. August 9, 2021 / 5:45 pm

    Such excellent advice, JP, and the product of many transactions worth of experience. I think this will make your reno all the more exciting to follow – the reconfiguration within the existing footprint, and the creative solutions you’ll come up with and still stay in budget. I’ve loved watching the harbor house, and would love to stay there one day, if we ever get let back into the UK! I also have to ask if you’ve considered being a design consultant on projects?

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:03 am

      Can’t wait to get on with it Mary. Thanks for reading.

  10. Vickey
    August 10, 2021 / 11:32 am

    Finally had chance to read this thoroughly. What a wonderful post JP and I’m sure very enlightening to people. You are quite right in every aspect about ceiling prices on houses and pleased you have highlighted this. You did a wonderful home from an ugly house in your previous one so can’t wait to see what you do to this one. So much good advice here, thank you xx

    • JP Clark
      Author
      August 21, 2021 / 11:02 am

      Thank you so much Vickey xx

  11. Kamila
    October 10, 2021 / 11:38 pm

    Excellent post JP! Such shame it came 10 years late😳
    We live in relatively in newly built (2000) and done extension after we moved in about 9 years ago. It was such small kitchen, I extend it it and made it open plan. However, recently we had estate agent around & he highly recommend that we don’t invest into the property anymore 😬 as he thinks we overspend. I still want to change the decor. Unfortunately we spent most on the fixtures and fittings instead of furniture so we can’t even take it with us . And somehow now we can’t afford the place we would like to move as the property prices almost doubled. Definitely good idea to keep eyes on ceiling price 😭

    • JP Clark
      Author
      October 14, 2021 / 9:59 am

      God, it’s so hard isn’t it! Property prices have gone crazy this year!

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