03 Nov 2015

Landscaping investment

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With the cost of moving house rising by 59% in recent years to an average of £12,000, more and more homeowners are thinking twice about relocating and are deciding to invest in what they already have. Here Malcolm Gough, Business Development Director at Natural Paving Products (UK) Ltd explains how hard landscaping can be a smart investment for those looking to boost sale value or improve their home.

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Although the housing market is showing promising signs of recovery and growth, the cost of moving house has been increasing way beyond the rate of inflation and now stands at a whopping £28,000 in London. Naturally, more homeowners are investing in the property they already have to either ensure maximum sale value or to make it suitable for their growing needs.

A popular investment with homeowners has been the expansion of ground floor living space through hard landscaping. Offering attractive additional living space without the need to comply with Building Regulations, patios and courtyards are becoming ‘garden rooms’ and are effectively extending properties beyond the back door. What’s more, this is a very cost efficient solution when compared to traditional methods of increasing square footage.

As a rough idea of cost, a typical installation of high quality natural stone flags or vitrified porcelain paving would come in below £120 per m² – according to website Home Advice Guide – which, compared to the average single storey extension costing £1000 per m² – as presented on buildinginspiration.co.uk – is a significant savings, and if a DIY approach was taken these savings would increase further.

Design and style

Attractive and versatile outdoor spaces can add thousands to the value of a property, as well as improving the overall experience of living in the home. Paying careful attention to the design is therefore very important and often ensuring a continuity of style from the indoor space and architectural heritage of a property is the key to success. Both natural stone and vitrified porcelain paving can be particularly effective as, if it is offered from suppliers in different thicknesses, it can be used both internally and externally, seamlessly extending a ground floor living space.

For modern homes, clean lines and straight cut edges have been most popular. Stronger colours and contrasts are also more prevalent – for example, Natural Paving Products’ new Ebony limestone with its rich black finish has been in high demand recently. In traditional settings more natural tones tend to be used along with more textured finishes.

Natural stone and porcelain offer a huge range of versatility as well as a number of advantages over concrete based alternatives, including greater durability and frost resistance. Natural stone also offers a unique blend of colours and tones, enabling homeowners to create completely bespoke designs, while porcelain provides flawless finishes that require minimal maintenance. Using flagstones of different sizes of either type in both symmetrical and less regimented patterns, can also lead to some really visually interesting and individual installations.

Critical to any investment made in landscaping is fixing, treating and protecting it adequately so that it continues to look its best for many years to come. Using high quality products for installation and care and that’s why Natural Paving Products has developed its Pavetuf range of accessories, which includes jointing compounds, mortars, sealers and cleaners.

Sealants and coatings

One of the key product lines in this range is the sealers. Homeowners should be aware that many sealants require newly laid stone to ‘settle’ for a minimum of three months before application. This is to allow trapped efflorescence to escape before the stone is sealed but this also leaves it exposed to the elements and vulnerable to discolouration from vegetation, birds, pets and spillages. Pavetuf sealers, on the other hand, are fully breathable and can be applied immediately.

It is also important to understand the difference between a coating and a sealant. Put simply, coatings will sit on the surface of the paving, while sealants are designed to penetrate deep into the stone itself. Superficial coatings will need to be reapplied on a regular basis, which can lead to a build up of layers over time that actually change the appearance of the stone and suffocate it.

On the other hand, sealants offer a much longer life expectancy than coatings as protection is held deep within the substrate. Again, it’s worth looking out for high quality products that are UV resistant and breathable.

Hard landscaping projects are a sound investment for homeowners and are increasingly desirable to prospective buyers. Good design and choosing the right materials is therefore critical to maximising return, whether that be securing a higher sale value or gaining greater enjoyment from the installation personally. Using a trusted supplier of quality natural stone, porcelain and a good range of accessories is the best way to ensure success on both fronts.

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