Move or Improve

  • Nearly 6 out of 10 (59%) homeowners snub moving up the housing ladder in favour of making home improvements
  • Nearly a third (31%) cite housing inflation as their main reason for not moving house
  • Over one in ten see stamp duty as prohibitively high and a third (31%) would be more likely to move if duty was significantly lower

Six out of ten homeowners are set to snub a move up the housing ladder in favour of making improvements to their home. A survey of over 2,500 UK homeowners from found that, at a time of economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote and when house prices are still hitting record highs, a clear majority of homeowners plan to remain in their current properties and undertake improvements, indicating a possible slowdown in housing demand in the coming months.

The research shows that a key factor in the lack of movement is high house prices, with almost a third (31%) citing recent housing inflation as the cause of their decision not to move. Many also see stamp duty as a major hurdle: one in ten view the high cost of stamp duty as preventing them from moving home and nearly a third (31%) admitted they would be more likely to move house if there was a significant cut in stamp duty.

With the average cost of stamp duty standing at over £3,500 across the UK – not to mention other moving costs such as legal fees, estate agent fees and removals – many homeowners are opting to use that money to add a new kitchen, bedroom or living room to their existing home which could further increase the value of the property when they do decide to sell.

Investing in an extra bedroom adds nearly 9% in value to your property, or on average £18,971, and could add significantly more depending on which area of the country you live and the quality of materials used. Those who have built up enough savings could therefore consider investing in home improvements instead of spending the money on stamp duty costs. Even small changes such as adding wooden flooring can enhance the value of your existing property over and above the average cost of stamp duty (£3,500) if you were to move.

In London, where has calculated that the average cost of stamp duty stands at over £16,700, the equivalent sum spent on refurbishments can have an even greater impact on the value of a home.

Value added from home improvements

Home Improvement

Typical average value added*

Extra bedroom



Loft conversion



Extra bathroom



New kitchen



Central heating



Off street parking



New bathroom






Double glazing



Landscaped garden



home improvements

Making significant home improvements is now increasingly viewed as a vital part of adding value and rising up the housing ladder rather than improving quality of life: 38% of respondents said they planned to make improvements to increase the value of their property, compared to 32% who gave their reason as wanting to create more space and improve living standards.

Gemma Sonfield, head of home insurance at, said:

“The huge growth in house prices since 2009, which has seen the average price go from just over £150,000 in June 2009 to nearly £214,000 in June 2016, makes it difficult for many people to make the move they'd ideally want and, for a lot of would-be movers, stamp duty is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. With nearly four in ten homeowners saying that they would undertake home improvements specifically to increase the value of their home, "improve before you move" is becoming an important tactic for climbing the housing ladder versus simply making a person's living quarters a bit nicer.”

“If improvement work is done on the home, you must then inform your insurer of the changes made as that could provide insurers a reason to reject your claim. Properties that are undergoing building work can constitute more of a risk to insurers and if you are planning to undertake major works it is worth notifying them. They need to know if the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is changing, with escape of water being a major cause of damage, or if there are changes to security features like locks on windows and doors. Equally there is a risk to contents when premises are unsecured, there are multiple key holders and if a larger range people have access to your property.”