Only 22% of people in Britain live in their dream home, new report reveals

Just 22% of people in Britain live in their dream home but many are taking steps to do so with planning applications rising for extensions, loft conversions and basements.

Research from Halifax Insurance also shows that living in an expensive home does not always mean it is a dream home with 62% owning a property worth more than £500,000 saying it is not idea.

A new kitchen is top of the list of those wanting to have a dream home and porches and conservatories have fallen in terms of popularity at a time when 22% of owner have spent at least £11,000 on improvements in the last two years.

But it is not just small jobs that home owners are opting for. The research also shows that planning applications for basements have increased, especially in London, up 183% in the last five years.

Overall, total planning application numbers have increased by 27% across the country while single storey extension applications are up by 49% and loft conversions by 43% since 2012.

In Barnet in north London the number of domestic planning applications reached a 51 month high in March last year while at the other end of the scale, Scotland’s Western Isles saw just 357 applications over five years.

There are, however, signs that enthusiasm might be cooling. From June 2016 to May 2017, the year on year increase in planning applications is less than 2%, a significant slowing from the 6% growth seen over the same period a year earlier.

London saw the highest increase in planning applications between 2012 and 2016 with a rise of 60%, followed by the East of England up 31% and the East Midlands up 28%. Scotland showed the lowest appetite for home improvements, with planning applications growing by just 3% between 2012 and 2016 and a fall of 1.3% between 2015 and 2016.

But while porches and conservatories are going out of fashion, they are still popular in Wiltshire and Cornwall while new kitchens are most popular in Edinburgh where they are 10% higher than elsewhere.

Garages and carports are also poplar in Cornwall where there have been 61% more applications than the next highest location and Derby has seen the greatest number of applications for both bedrooms and bathrooms.

While 37% of home owners want a new kitchen, the research also shows that 22% want bigger rooms, 19% want extra bedrooms and 17% want extra bathrooms. Indeed, an extra bathroom is more popular than a swimming pool.

Twice as many women as men would look for a separate utility room, while twice as many men as women want a games room. Yorkshire and the Humber have the greatest appetite for a ‘man cave’.

‘The way we live in our homes is evolving. Take the example of basements and the trend for extending downward. 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. If we look back to Georgian and Victorian times, the basement is where you’d have found the kitchen and the servants’ quarters and was certainly not viewed as a space to be used for family life,’ said Melanie Backe-Hansen, historian and author of House Histories.

‘The place of the kitchen has changed dramatically. In this study it takes the top spot on Britain’s dream home wish list, yet in historical terms the kitchen is a relatively modern invention. Where once you’d be lucky to have running water, today it is the ultimate status symbol and where we do most of our entertaining,’ she added.

Jeremy Ward, head of Home Insurance at the Halifax, pointed out that home owners carrying out work on their property need to let their insurer know and said there is concern that just 14% of home owners 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 as failing to do so will invalidate the policy. On the positive side, however, having a burglar alarm or CCTV installed as part of home renovations could help reduce premiums, and also provide extra peace of mind,’ she explained.

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