Property investment tip 14: Moving foundation walls and partition walls to increase the value of your property

Reconfiguring the walls inside a building to create more space and/or to bring in more natural light can increase the value of your property to prospective renters and buyers.

By firstly, there are two types of walls you need to identify when inspecting a property: the foundation wall and the partition wall.

Foundation walls, also known as load-bearing walls, support the structure of the building and are built from the ground to the base of the roof. If you knock on a foundation wall, it should feel like solid bricks and cement.

Foundation walls can only be removed with building regulation approval so it’s highly advisable that you only hire a licensed builder to undertake the demolition and construction work.

Partition walls, on the other hand, are made of thinner materials (such as steel panels, bricks, blocks of clay, terra-cotta, concrete or glass blocks) and are built to divide a room, or are removed to create more open space.

If you knock on a partition wall, it should feel hallow. In fact, you could smash a hole through the wall with a hammer. Partition walls do not support the structure of the building. Thus, the building will not collapse if a partition wall is removed.

Reconfiguring the layout of a property is like playing Tetris

When I view a property for the first time, I always knock on all the walls to determine where the partition walls are.

For me, reconfiguring the layout of a property in my mind is like playing Tetris. You need to think of each living space as a different shaped block. Then, you re-arrange each block to make sure there are no gaps (unused living space).

The best way you can learn to foresee reconfiguration opportunities is by visiting many properties, including those of your friends and family, to understand how people use living spaces in different ways.

I also study the floor plans of many houses and apartments on property websites, like Zoopla and Domain. You’ll be surprised to see how many different internal layouts there are for properties which look the same on the outside.

Watching home renovation television programmes, particularly those focused on tiny houses, is also a good way to build your reference bank.

Refer to the ‘Lise and Kel’ comic strip on the top of this blog post to see an example of how the same apartment can be reconfigured to add more value.

Remember, you don’t need to reconfigure a property immediately after purchase.

My husband and I had very little money left after buying our last apartment so we hired an electrician to install a second light, a second radiator and a second electric socket on the opposite wall in the large single bedroom.

In future, when we have enough money, only a partition wall and a second door needs to be built to split the large single bedroom into two rooms.

This will increase our rental income and reduce the time our property is empty as half of the renovation work required to create two rooms has already been done.

Please note, though I own a few properties, I am not a legal, financial or professional property expert. I’ve written this post to share my personal experiences and would love to hear your opinions and views.

So, have you reconfigured any of the walls in your property? If so, what advice can you share?

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