Dream home more important than value

Housing charity Shelter and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) commissioned a survey of homeowners to find out more about their home improvement aspirations.

The results showed that nearly three quarters of homeowners (73%) have a dream home improvement project and that making the most of space and improving the look of their property is their top motivation (74%).

One in ten homeowners (12%) seeking to improve their property want to make it more environmentally friendly or energy efficient, while just 8 per cent were hoping to improve its value.

Kitchen extensions were the most popular home improvement (13%), closely followed by conservatories (12%) and attic conversions (10%).

Shelter and RIBA released the research to coincide with the launch this week of Architect in the House, a successful fundraising initiative now in its 14th year, in which architects nationwide offer free hour-long consultations to the public in return for a £40 suggested donation to Shelter.

So far, the scheme has raised over £1 million for homeless and badly housed families and helped 50,000 homeowners realise their home improvement aspirations. It also aims to change people's perceptions of architects and demystify what they do.

Over a quarter of homeowners surveyed said they would consider using an architect (28%), with almost half (49%) agreeing that architects add value by creating a property that stands out. Over half of those who were not planning to use an architect (51%) felt their project was too small to warrant one.

Ruth Reed, President of the RIBA, says: "Architects can add a huge amount to any home improvement project, however big or small. Whether it's knocking down a wall or creating a new extension, only architects can give the bigger picture, offering design inspiration, knowledge of the latest fixtures and fittings, and advice on everything from planning regulations to energy efficiency.

"Architect in the House is a fantastic opportunity for homeowners to benefit from this expertise and see what architects can offer. A consultation for a suggested donation of just £40 can help homeowners take the first step towards improving their home, while raising money for a good cause at the same time."