Property makeovers for £15,000 or more

If you love your home but just wish it looked better from the outside, an external makeover could be the answer, says Michael Holmes. This part looks at what can be done with a budget of over £15,000, including changing the proportions or the roof shape and improving windows and doors

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This two-storey detached family home in Gosport, Hampshire, was redesigned by Space and Style Home Design (023 9252 5100,

Change the proportions

Some of the most remarkable transformations are achieved by changing the overall proportions of a building. For example, by extending upwards or outwards to achieve a more pleasing balance, perhaps bringing greater symmetry back to a classical style house. Or else by disguising, absorbing or replacing poorly designed extensions added by previous owners.

Subject to planning, it may be possible to add a second storey to a bungalow to transform it into a house. Or to build on top of a single-storey section, replacing a flat roof. Many smaller extensions can be added under permitted development rights (PDRs), without applying for planning permission, especially those at the back and sides of a property (see planning With the exception of listed buildings, partial demolition does not require planning permission either, so you can remove unsightly structures or features. The rules are different for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so always check with your local authority. It will be able to advise whether or not a planning application is necessary.

Extending your home using a main contractor will cost from £1,050–£1,650 per m² of added footprint for a standard specification, and from £1,450–£2,200 for a high-end finish. Design fees will range from 3-4 per cent for the design work, plus the same again to produce detailed construction drawings. A further fee will be payable if you then retain the designer to appoint and oversee your building contractor for the work.

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Change the roof shape

Flat-roofed extensions can look out of place on traditional-style houses, as can modern low-pitched roofs. Replacing these with a more appropriately styled design can make a huge difference to a property’s overall shape. Ideally, the new roof will be steep enough to create usable space beneath, to help justify its cost. If it is not economical to replace an inappropriate roof, it may be possible to disguise it with a steep-pitched front-facing gable or a parapet wall, built up in the same material as the exterior walls – a trick used by the Georgians. For a contemporary makeover, a ‘brise soleil’ overhanging sun shield can hide a low-pitched roof and give the appearance of a modern flat design.

Replace the tiles

If your roof covering is detracting from your home’s appearance, perhaps if several different types have been used for repairs or extensions, or it’s all covered in unattractive concrete tiles, this expensive option may be worth it. Lifting and replacing tiles will cost from £90-130 per m² for natural slate, or £60-110 per m² for plain clay tiles. One trick to help mitigate costs is to use better tiles, e.g. salvaged originals, on principal elevations and new, less expensive tiles elsewhere, round the sides and back.

An advantage of stripping a roof is the ability to make repairs to the structure, add insulation to improve energy-efficiency and ensure it is weathertight with breathable roofing felt. This can help mitigate the cost of extending or making alterations.

Note that painting over unattractive coloured roof tiles never lasts and so is generally avoided. Unless your home is listed, you will not normally require planning permission to change the roof covering and you can increase the ridge height by up to 150mm, provided your PDRs have not been restricted.

Improve doors and windows

Changing the size, shape, position and style of the doors and windows is one of the best ways to improve the appearance of your property, and you won’t usually need planning permission unless your home is listed or is in a conservation area (or similar). Upgrading to double glazing can also prove a good investment, as it will improve your home’s energy-efficiency.

If you live in a period property, make sure that new windows are sympathetic to the building’s original style. If all of the original windows are lost, do some research into the history of your home and area, to find out what they would have been like. Adding period-style windows and doors to a modern property can instantly add traditional character, but it is important to get the proportions and positions right, as well as the style and colour. You could make these changes as part of an overall retro redesign scheme (adding a false chimney, too, for example).

As a general rule, each glazed section of a traditional window has proportions that are taller than they are wide – stick to this and you won’t go far wrong. For a contemporary remodel, go for as much glass as possible, other than on your north-facing elevations. Contemporary window proportions are often wider than their height, with no glazing bars and minimal frames. Wooden frames clad in aluminium are a good choice and require little or no maintenance. Large sliding, or folding-sliding glass doors, and frameless, floor-to-ceiling glazing are popular features that maximise light and add instant modern style.

Replacement windows must meet the Building Regulations Part L (see You can apply to the local authority and work on a DIY basis, or leave it to an installer who’s able to self-certify their work if they are a member of the Fenestration Self-Assessment scheme (see

Case studies

What to do with a 1960s house

The form of this unremarkable 1960s house (pictured top) has been utterly changed by the introduction of shallow-pitched roofs at both ground and first-floor levels, plus oversized eaves. There are also two extensions to the front and rear, adding a workshop and a carport – with a cantilevered structure so it appears to float – on the ground floor, and a new master bedroom with a vaulted ceiling on the first floor. The existing bedrooms and the family bathroom upstairs have also been extended. Meanwhile, the brick exterior walls have been clad in a combination of render and cedar wood boards.

What to do with a 1960s flat-roofed house


Carol and Colin Joy have changed their run-down flat-roofed 1960s house in the South Downs (pictured above) into a modernist-look home (pictured below). Inspired by the 1930s Bauhaus movement, it has been given new doors and windows, and the walls – originally part blockwork and part hung tiles – covered in white insulated render from Sto (01256 332 770, The Joys’ remodelling scheme was designed by architects Morgan Carn Partnership (01273 557 777, and extended the house from 263m² to 414m² at a cost of £845 per m².


What to do with a 1960s bungalow


A brick farmworker’s bungalow has been totally transformed into a one-and- a-half-storey house in a Colonial style (below). The roof was rebuilt to create an additional storey with dormer windows. The window openings were changed and new timber casement windows fitted, while the walls have been re-clad in horizontal timber boarding. The project cost £200,000, including landscaping and building a new detached double garage.