And finally… Only one in five Scots living in their dream home

room-2269594_960_720Just one fifth of Scots claim to already live in their dream home as planning applications for home improvements slow to their lowest ebb in five year growth to stand at just 3%, new data has shown.

According to Halifax Insurance, since 2012 just over 92,000 planning applications have been submitted in Scotland, including everything from loft extensions to new bedrooms, bathrooms and basement extensions.

Single storey extensions have seen the greatest growth in popularity with applications increasing by 35 per cent.

In contrast garage and car ports, and conservatories have fallen out of fashion with applications falling by 14 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

Region Growth in planning applications, 2012-2016
London +60%
East of England +31%
East Midlands +28%
South East +24%
West Midlands +19%
Yorkshire & Humber +19%
North West +18%
South West +11%
Wales +6%
North East +6%
Scotland +3%

Across the UK a fifth (22 per cent) of homeowners have spent at least £11,000 on domestic improvements in the last two years. In fact, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of homeowners have done up their dwellings over this period with the majority spending between £2,000 and £5,000. In Scotland just 56 per cent have carried out work to improve their homes.

The Halifax Insurance’s Dream Abode study shows that planning applications in Britain have risen by 27 per cent over the last five years. Nowhere is the “simply extend” trend more popular than in Barnet in north London, where the number of domestic planning applications reached a 51-month high in March last year.

Scotland sits at the other end of the scale, with the Western Isles seeing 357 applications over five years.

There are signs, however, that Scotland’s cooling enthusiasm for renovations might be reflected in the wider country: the last 12 months (June 2016-May 2017) have seen a year-on-year increase in planning applications across Britain of less than 2 per cent, a significant slowing from the 6% growth seen over the same period a year earlier.

Across Scotland, kitchens top the list of the most desirable changes to people’s current homes, cited by 43 per cent of homeowners. In contrast to the rest of the country, Edinburgh has seen the most national applications for kitchens over the last five years at 10 per cent higher than the next-highest authority.

Encouragingly, a dream abode may not be as out of reach as we think – when asked what homeowners would like to see in their ideal home, respondents said an extra bathroom is a more desired addition than a swimming pool. While differences in the definition of an ideal home varies between the sexes –  twice as many women as men would look for a separate utility room, while twice as many men as women want a games room.

Melanie Backe-Hansen, historian and author of House Historiessaid: “The way we live in our homes is evolving: for example, 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.

“A lot has certainly changed in the last 150 years, but the Halifax Dream Abode study reveals that we will continue to aspire to our dream home.”

 Jeremy Wardhead of Home Insurance, Halifax, said: “There’s an ongoing desire to improve where we live, as this increase in home improvements shows. It’s encouraging to see that the nation is doing what it can to improve living situations as well as saleability – but in the creative excitement of developing their dream home, it’s important not to forget practical matters like insurance.

“Many people may not realise they need to let their insurer know about works they carry out on their home – just 15% of Scottish 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. 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.”