The Sunday Telegraph: Gardens that get house prices growing
Sun 12 May 2013
This month's Chelsea Flower Show will be the 100th held at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. No expense will have been spared on show gardens. And despite one of the worst winters for years, British gardeners are still spending some huge sums on their own patches. Figures from Homebase show that Britons have invested more than 80bn in their gardens. A separate survey from Lloyds TSB Insurance said the typical garden was worth 1,928.
A quiet property and an increase in socialising at home means more are spending money on luxury items such as hot tubs - which can cost from a few thousand pounds up to more than 16,000. Built-in barbecues and pizza ovens- a top of the range model can cost more than 9000- are also becoming popular. Around 10pc of Britons have hot tubs and 22pc have trampolines; 8pc have summer houses. Two fifths of Britons say they wouldnt even consider buying a home if it didn't have a big enough garden, while one in seven say the garden has added to its value. Damian Gray, from estate agnets Knight frank, said: "The pretty housewith a decent south facing garden is always in great demand. Whether it's a cottage or a country house, buyers will always ask about the garden. It's always near the top of their list." However, spending huge sums on swish garden features can be a waste of money. buyers may be put off by expensive to maintain pools and features. but Jonathan Hayward from Country Homesearch said a nice garden would always would always attract interest and could add upto 20pc to a home's value. But he added, " Home buyers should be careful of the burden a garden can bewhen buying a property. In the country a large well manicured garden of an acre or more, designed by the likes of Gertrude Jeykyll, may be a vital selling point with stripes on the lawn and ornate topiary.
But nobody wants to beslave to it because of the extensive maintenance. If you want to keep time for yourself, long-term cost implications can escalate to as much as 20,000 a year when considering the amountof equipment, soil and professional labour needed to maintain a garden to the highest possible standard."
Peter Rollings, the chief executive of London estate agents Marsh &Parsons, said: " In summer it is much harder to sell a house without a good garden than it is in winter. Londoners value outdoor space, and that includes balconies and roof terraces. "A garden that has been landscaped can add value and a wow factor to a house. However, maintenance can be an issue and a towngarden thatcontains grass will need a mower and a shed in which to lock it. A low-maintenance patio may be just as desirable" While a swimming poolmight be an aspiration for lottery winners, it can be a huge expense and put off buyers. Those with young children may see it as a hazard and the running costs which are about 10 a day from an outdoor pool-can be a deterrent, particularly as you may be able to use it only for a couple of months a year. Installing a heated, fully tiled sunken pool could cost more than 40,000. If it's indoors, the installation costs will be even higher, and will be around 15 a day. Mr Haward said: "On the one hand, a pool is a great selling point, boasting luxury. But in reality it is expensive to maintain because of the cleaning costs and heating bills. Sellers should be prepared to keep their property on the market as a pool is not always an investment buyers want."
A much cheaper and more reliable wayto make your garden attractive to buyers while adding to its selling price is to plant nice flowers and have a tidy lawn. Plants that can increase saleability are listed above. But most people dont have to resort to the expense of a landscape gardener-basic weeding, pruning and planting are likely to have a desired effect. Tracey Nicholls, the manager of estate agents Haart in Grantham, Lincolnshire, said: "We generally don't get people who purposely landscape their property in order to make it more saleable, although we do have one couple who are keen gardeners and have put their house on the market with us because they want to move to Devon because the soil is better there, apparently."
If you are spending money on your garden, you need to make sure that you are insured. There were nearly 1.4 million thefts from gardens and outside spaces last year, a 17pc rise over the past five years. Most of the thefts are opportunistic. Yet according to Lloyds TSB Insurance, 43 pc of home owners do not have proper locks on their gardens. Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Lloyds, said "When it comes to protecting our properties, home owners must remember that what is on the outside also counts and that taking some steps could help prevent having to fork out to replace garden goods should the worst happen. "Most garden items should be covered under a home contents policy but only if proper security measures are taken: if your state-of-the-art lawnmower is stolen from an unlocked shed then don't expect a full payout. And if you've expensive items then double check your cover. Andrew Cheney, senior risk and valuations adviser at insurer Hiscox, said " Requirements vary from home to home so consumers should check their policy carefully to make sure they understand their level of cover. It is also worth checking whether payouts are limited for each incident or item as most insurers will impose a cap." He said Hiscox's limit was 5,000 for each incident or 250 to replace any one tree, shrub or plant on its standard home contents policy.