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Designer chic garden shed the new 'must have' for homeowners with Phil Spencer

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Brought to you by:

Standard Life Bank

The 21st century shed has undergone an amazing transformation. It's now more likely to be home to a bar than a barrow and often houses entertainment dens, meditation rooms, miniature spas and even offices.

The humble shed has become the must-have accessory for the modern home, particularly as it can add anything up to 5% onto the value of a property at a time when prices are falling and sales are slowing.

This trend is part of the movement away from open plan living towards 're-compartmentalism' - a matrix of re-defined spaces and a return to Victorian terms like parlour, salon, library and boudoir.

'Shedites' are using their sheds as a means to extend a property without the need for planning permission or re-modelling, creating alternative entertainment spaces.

But when turning your shed into a home theatre, gallery or bar, where do you start? Help is here!

Phil Spencer from Channel 4's Location, Location, Location joined us live online to discuss transforming your shed as well as pattern remix, glam baroque and all the other weird and wonderful future home trends.

With the acclaimed Location, Location, Location is in its ninth series and successful spin-off shows Relocation, Relocation and Location Revisited, top property professional Phil Spencer has become a feature of our TV screens. When Phil is not running his highly successful Property Search company, Garrington Home Finders, with his business partner and co-presenter, Kirstie Allsopp, he is a property writer in demand, notably with his monthly column in The Sunday Times.

Also joining us to answer those vital questions on how best to finance home improvements was Ashley Ramsay from Standard Life Bank.

The Transcript

We're going to kick off with some questions about buying as Emma wants to know:


I'm a first time buyer and would appreciate some advice on making an offer ? what percentage below asking price is normal / acceptable? Is there anything we can say or do to make our offer more likely to be accepted?


Phil said:


It entirely depends on the accuracy of the asking price. One suggestion would be to go onto this site you are able to assess the differences between asking prices and selling prices in your specific area. Broad information about national market conditions isn't particularly useful, you need to understand conditions in your local area. You must make your offer in writing, with as much information about your ability to proceed as possible.


Ashley said:


Hi Emma, this is a really exciting time for you. As a first time buyer it is extremely important that you have your finances in place, before you make your offer. The good news is that if you are bidding for a property under ?120,000 it is now exempt from stamp duty, which will definitely help towards your costs. If you want more information on arranging your mortgage, why not visit our website


Concerned wants to know:


Regarding Emma's question, isn't the flaw in using hometrack that it shows you past performance not what the market is doing right now?" 


Phil said:


Hometrack releases monthly reports, so things are pretty up to date. There are numerous other reports; some are better than others. Obviously you want to know what the market is doing right now, but it is impossible to predict the future. You are your best resource! You need to be speaking to as many people as possible who are involved in your market in your area.


Richard Singh wants to know:


Hi. I was wondering if you could recommend which area would be a good place to purchase a house/flat just outside Edinburgh, Scotland. An area most likely to go up in price over the coming years. My max price is 120K. A 2 bedroom would be good. PS: Love your show...!! :)


Phil said:


Edinburgh has the wonderful Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre, so I always enjoy searching in Edinburgh, because it is that much easier to find information on available property.


Ashley said:


Richard, I can vouch for living in the Edinburgh area as I live there myself - it is a great choice! Edinburgh and West Lothian are enjoying increasing property prices at the moment, so you may wish to consider other properties over your current budget. Our freestyle mortgage is based on affordability - you may be able to borrow more than you think. We lend based on how much you can comfortably afford to repay. Good luck with your house hunting.


89 wants to know:


What effect do you think will have on the offer prices at this point in time?


Phil said:


A very interesting question and one highly relevant to today's chat. I was in an estate agents' office yesterday morning, discussing this and in my hand was a sheet of A4 that I had printed off a similar website with the sale prices all the way up and down a road, from the last three years. The estate agent was horrified and admitted websites such as these will certainly affect things. Historically the UK property market has been difficult to understand and find accurate information from, so I am delighted to see things improve.


We're going to move on to some questions about renovating and the first is from Charles Raeburn who to know:


How can I add value to my bathroom? It's small (around 6m2) and I can only afford about a ?1,000.

Phil said:


?1000 is more than enough and there is nothing wrong with small bathrooms, so long as you plan them carefully and keep them simple.




We're going to move on to some questions about renovating and the first is from Charles Raeburn who to know: "How can I add value to my bathroom. It's small (around 6m2) and I can only afford about a ?1,000.


Ashley said:


You have set your budget Charles, but remember to add a contingency and then stick to the budget. You may want to consider hiring a professional to do your bathroom renovation for you, that way you are more likely to get the most out of your money, and potentially increase the value of your property at the same time. If you did reconsider your budget and want to spend more, you may want to draw down money from your flexible mortgage to fund your bathroom project - it is simple to do.


Ingrid wants to know:


Why has the nation become so obsessed with renovating its homes?


Phil said:


Hello Ingrid, us Brits have always been obsessed with our homes, over recent years our properties have made us feel wealthy. We get obsessed with things that make us feel good. It is often cheaper to renovate or extend than it is to actually move - if you are able to make money at the same time it has to be a good option.


Dan in London wants to know:


Interested in your thoughts on the move away from open-plan living. I have a 4-bedroom end of terrace Victorian house in London. Two smallish reception rooms - one of which I don't really use. I think we should knock through, my partner doesn't. In terms of the market - what advice would you give?


Phil said:


Wasted space is my worst nightmare Dan, so I understand your dilemma. Knocking through is likely to improve the value of the house, however retaining some flexibility, or the ability to re-compartmentalise in the future is your best advice. Your space needs to be targeted to your eventual buyers. Your local sales agents should be able to help...Who is buying? What do they want in your area out of your type of house?


Ashley  said:


Our research shows that many people are looking for different things from the space in their home, more and more men want entertainment dens, whilst women are looking for 'wellness' rooms! Maybe the space you currently have can be adapted to suit both tastes and needs.




Concerned is back with another question:


Is it a good idea to borrow against your mortgage for renovations right now if there is a possibility of house prices going down? Doesn't that increase the chances of going into negative equity?" 




Ashley says:


The beauty of a flexible mortgage is that you can use the different features according to your circumstances e.g. you can overpay which means you build an equity cushion should interest rates rise and you can also draw down from your equity to fund your renovation projects. The important thing is to understand just how you can make your flexible mortgage work for you, rather than the other way round.


 We've been joined online by Matt O'Leary, editor for Virgin. net?s Lifestyle Channel who has some questions on our topic of the day - designer sheds! His first is:


Do you see sheds surpassing the lounge as the ideal place for socialising in the home?


Phil said:


No, sheds aren't in the home, but they are an addition to the lounge and cost a lot less.


Matt @


What do you think are the most vital things you can keep in a shed?


Phil says...


It depends what you use it for, but do remember to make them secure - so a strong lock would be a good start.


Matt @


"Can they be converted into places where the kids can spend time? " 


Phil said:


Yes, of course they can. Although it would not be common because most people want to keep an eye on their children - as tempting as it might be to keep them down the end of the garden!


Matt @


What potential ways of using the shed space do you envisage becoming popular?


Phil said:


I have seen a lot of saunas, cinemas, hot houses, offices, play rooms and games rooms for grown ups.




And finally, the last one from Matt for the moment:


What is the ideal location for a designer shed, for access and convenience?


Ashley said:


In the Standard Life Bank survey we spoke to someone who had actually put a shed on the roof of her house! This is unusual though and normally you would expect to find them in the garden which access via all the usual places.




KIM24 wants to know:


"I have two cats and one nearly died when it was locked in a neighbour's shed for several days. Any prospect of sheds with emergency exits for cats?" 


Ashley said:


Put a cat flap in the shed?!


Francesca wants to know:


I fail to understand the attraction of open-plan, especially when the kitchen is part of it. The smell of cooking goes everywhere because there is no kitchen door to shut. You cannot watch TV because the washing machine is in the same room as you. The children pull pots of hot water on their heads because there is nowhere to fit a safety gate. Why are people so obsessed with open plan? It's inconvenient at best. My feeling is that people use open plan to try and mask how small modern houses are.


Phil said


You are absolutely right modern houses are getting smaller. As the report showed the modern trend is to re-compartmentalise open space. Tastes and living requirements always evolve over time and this is a reflection of that.


energyi wants to know:


Isn't it way too expensive to buy when buying costs more than renting, and you also have the risk of capital loss?


Phil said:


Long term no it is not. While you are renting you are paying off somebody else's mortgage. Should the property market remain stationary you would be better of reducing your own mortgage as opposed to somebody else's. Of course markets can go down as well as up, however over the long term the UK market has always risen.


Henry wants to know:


What's driving the increase in basement renovations? Is it cheaper to expand downward rather than outward?


 Phil says


Hi Henry, what's driving it is simply the cost of property and land. It is not cheaper to expand downwards than outwards, in fact it is usually more expensive. However, once you have expanded outwards and upwards, it is your only option. Bear in mind living space is more valuable than bedroom space so converting cellar space is often a viable option.


Ashley said:


Interestingly we spoke to many architects when we were doing our research and the general consensus seems to be that expanding both upwards and downwards is the way of the future - particularly in urban areas where space is at a premium.


Also on the subject of basements, Pas Sena wants to know:


What does Phil think of the viability of building basements under barn conversions, which I am about to carry out?


Phil says


I have never seen it done, I am sure it is viable although barn conversions don't have the same structural foundations as a standard residential house, which would mean extra research, or care is essential. Good Luck I think you are brave!


Chris wants to know:


Regarding interiors, could you elaborate on glam baroque?


Ashley said:


Glam baroque is sensual, intimate and opulent; efficient and hi-tech. Surfaces are varnished, walls flocked, lighting and room screens finished in lace. There is a definite move away from minimalism - it looks like stark white walls are becoming a thing of the past.


Amy Cooper wants to know:


Talking of wasted space, we have a very large spare room next to the lounge. What would you advise putting in it and call it to sell the house? We already have a kitchen/dining room and just use the room as a study at the moment. Thanks.


Phil said:


I think the study is likely to be the best use. If it is a family house it could also be used or referred to as a playroom. The trick is to tailor your space to your target market.


Dayglow wants to know:


What are your opinions on the forecoming housing market crash?" 


Phil said:


It is simply not going to happen. In order for the housing market to crash we would need to have 'forced sellers'. Currently we have historically low interest rates, a rising population, very high employment and a housing stock which is not increasing at any speed, these are not conditions likely to create 'forced selling'.




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