Since the first lockdown eased, many homeowners have wanted to improve their properties. The race for space has made loft conversions and extensions popular, while some of those who cannot make structural changes are considering how to remodel their homes.
“Most people have been working or otherwise spending significant amounts of time at home and, probably for the first time, really getting to know why and how their existing home wasn’t working for them,” says Sam Levene, a director of the designers and architects LLI Design. “This, together with large stamp duty costs, means it can be a significantly more appetising proposition to refurbish or extend an existing home to suit your wants and needs rather than move.”
Katy Esdon of Esdon Architecture in Salisbury has been busy since June 2020, when some of the Covid restrictions were first relaxed. “We had about six or seven months of being inundated,” she says. “It’s quietened down a bit but has been steady ever since.”
Her clients generally want extensions and “really wow” conversions – the company has designed new kitchens and remodelled the downstairs of houses to include playrooms and working from home space. There’s “lots of glazing”, Esdon says. “People are moving away from bifolding doors and are instead looking at structural glazing, large sliding panels or Crittall-style glazing as an alternative.”
The Rooflight Company says the cost of glass, steel, MDF, timber and more has increased in price since the first Covid-19 lockdown. Photograph: Rooflight Company
However, that glazing costs considerably more than it did in 2020. According to Nick Cockayne of the Rooflight Company in Oxfordshire, since the first coronavirus lockdown, “glass has increased by 6% to 12% depending on the type, steel has increased from £950 a tonne to £1,500, MDF has shot up by 38%, and silicone, timber, stainless steel and aluminium have all increased in price”.
Painful inflation is not confined to windows. According to the National Federation of Builders, material prices are changing weekly – and are on average 23.5% higher than they were last year. The cost of cement, for example, rose 1% in February, imported timber went down in price by about 20% in the same month but that followed a two-year rise of 200%. The cost of sanitary ware was up 1.9%. Water-based paint went up by 2.3%, while non-water-based paint has risen by 3.1%
“It is therefore very likely that prices [will] increase mid-build, …….