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Downstairs bathrooms wash property value down the drain

  • Estate agents estimate that a downstairs family bathroom wipes £13,500 (six per cent) off the value of the average property
  • 23 million people would not consider buying a property if the main bathroom was downstairs
  • Londoners are most likely to be deterred by a downstairs bathroom, while those in Scotland are least likely to have an issue with it

New research1 from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals that having the family bathroom downstairs can wipe thousands from the value of a property.

Estate agents report a downstairs bathroom can plunge a property’s value by as much as six per cent, which would amount to £13,580 off the average UK property2, and in London this could knock upto £27,000 off a homes value, compared to properties with an upstairs family bathroom.

The research reveals that Brits would much rather their bathroom was upstairs, with 44 per cent3 of UK adults saying that a downstairs bathroom would put them off buying a property. This could be the equivalent of 23 million people across the UK. Furthermore, downstairs bathrooms have reportedly directly contributed to the loss of millions of property sales, with 7.4 million people deciding against buying a property in the past because the bathroom was located downstairs.

The lack of desirability of downstairs bathrooms and the apparent negative impact on property prices, may also be contributing to the increase in homeowners choosing to move them upstairs, with 45 per cent of estate agents reporting there are fewer properties with downstairs bathrooms listed now compared to five years ago.

A quarter (25 per cent) of estate agents are advising homeowners that if a property has a downstairs bathroom they should consider relocating this upstairs prior to listing. Although this would be dependent on the cost of moving a bathroom versus the potential value, it would add to a property at the point of sale. If homeowners are considering where to spend money to increase the value of their property estate agents suggest adding an extra bedroom will add more value than an extra bathroom.

Dan Simson, Head of Home Insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Downstairs bathrooms are usually found in older properties accessed through the kitchen and despite them featuring in thousands of homes across the UK, they divide opinion. With some home buyers actively avoiding properties like this and others finding them much more convenient, especially if they are less mobile or have young children.

“Homeowners who are planning home renovations should let their insurer know about any changes being made to their house, as any work that involves walls being knocked down, floors being taken up, plumbing or electrical work, can result in damage to the property. Having builders and other trades coming and going with spare keys also increases the security risk.”

“Once the building work has been completed, householders should inform their insurer of any changes that have been made to their property, as adding bedrooms or bathrooms can not only add value to their home, but also change their home insurance requirements.”

No matter where it is located homeowners should remember that the quality of their bathroom is vital when trying to sell a property and attract potential buyers. The overwhelming majority (91 per cent) of estate agents report bathroom quality is important to a sale; with a third (33 per cent) saying it is very important.

Hints and tips

  • Before work starts householders should inform their insurer the work is taking place, so they can review the policy and make sure the work doesn’t invalidate their cover. They will also need to be informed;
    • If the builder will have keys to the property
    • If the property is being left unoccupied4
    • If there will be scaffolding up on the property
    • If the security of the property will be compromised at any time during the work e.g. replacing doors and windows
  • Check they have accidental damage cover on their home insurance5
  • Ensure the builder is qualified and registered with a recognised governing body
  • Ensure they have a Standard Buildings Contract in place with their builder
  • Make sure the builder has public liability insurance, employers liability insurance and contractors all-risk cover
  • Ensure they have the correct permissions from their local Building Control Officer before starting work, to ensure the renovations meet building and fire regulations
  • Householders should also notify their neighbours of any renovation work, not only to let them know to expect a little more noise than usual, but also in case there are any party walls affected by the work

Regional findings

On a regional basis, Londoners are most likely to be put off by a downstairs bathroom, with over half (57 per cent – nearly 4 million people) of those in the capital saying it would deter them from buying a property. Those in the North East (50 per cent) and North West (50 per cent) are also unlikely to consider a property with a downstairs bathroom. People living in Scotland are least fussed about the location of a family bathroom, with it only discouraging 28 per cent of purchasers.

Table one: Percentage of people who would be put off by a downstairs bathroom broken down by region

Region Percentage of adults who would be put off by a downstairs bathroom Estimated number of adults who would be put off by a downstairs bathroom
London 57% 3,916,000
North East 50% 1,063,000
North West 50% 2,879,000
East Midlands 45% 1,685,000
South East 44% 3,138000
West Midlands 44% 2,023,000
Yorkshire & Humberside 44% 1,867,000
Northern Ireland 41% 597,000
South West 40% 1,790,000
Wales 37% 960,000
East of England 37% 1,790,00
Scotland 28% 1,219,000
UK total 44% 22,979,000

Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2018

To protect their property, consumers can take advantage of Direct Line Home Plus which includes both Emergency Plumber and Fast Response cover. These services ensure a plumber attends a customer’s property within three hours to address an unstoppable leak and following an incident technicians will get to work, to get you back on track within 24 hours.

For more information on Direct Line Home Insurance please visit https://www.directline.com/home-cover

Notes to Editors

1 Independent research conducted amongst 100 estate agents from across the UK between 9th to 13th July 2018
2 Average UK property price of £226,351
3 Research conducted by Opinium amongst 2,008 UK adults between 3rd – 6th August 2018
4 Leaving the property unoccupied - Householders planning extensive renovations which require them to temporarily move out of the property need to make their insurer aware the house will be unoccupied. If the house is unoccupied for more than 60 days, Direct Line will add stipulations to the policy excluding things like: theft, malicious damage and escape of water. This time limit can vary widely between insurers, so it is important for householders to speak to their insurer and understand the implications.
5 Accident damage is often an optional additional cover on home insurance and not included as standard.

Emergency plumber

Direct Line will pay up to £500 (including VAT) for emergency assistance to cover the cost of the call-out, labour at the customer’s home, and parts to fix the leak.

For water leaks that can be contained by turning off the water supply, Direct Line will still ensure an Emergency Plumber is sent to the property at a time convenient for the householder. Customers also benefit from no excess charges for plumber call outs and unlimited call outs during their policy period.

Terms and conditions - excludes Highlands and Islands. Extreme weather conditions may extend response time. Terms and cover limits apply.

Fast response

Home insurer Direct Line promises to get to work within 24 hours after a severe leak so you will get back on track.

The technician will review the damage to your property in its entirety and make use of video technology to report back to the office, speeding your claim up

The technician will leave the customer with clear next steps on who will make contact, when and what action they are recommending.

Where appropriate to do so, they will also clean or remove waste from the property to help get things started or prevent further damage by installing drying equipment, moving items away from damaged areas or taking moisture readings.

Terms and conditions - excludes Highlands and Islands, extreme weather conditions may extend response time, £350 escape of water excess applies, underwritten by UK Insurance Limited

For further information please contact:

Claire Jarrett
Direct Line Home PR Manager
Tel: 01651 832 411
Email: claire.jarrett@directlinegroup.co.uk

Antonia Green
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Antonia.green@citigatedewerogerson.com
0207 282 2967

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com/home-cover.