Only too glad to help as property is a passion of mine.

Dan had a dilemma, which I’m sure you and I have faced, but he didn’t want to reach for the phone or his iPad and incur sales tactics from estate agents he said.

So he texted me, knowing I’d have no contract on a clipboard tucked under my arm – with him, 20 minutes later, pinned down on the floor until he’d signed (in blood).

Ok hyperbole aside, Dan had a genuine reason to ask.

He wanted to know the answer to the classic property  question – stay and extend, extend and sell, just move.

I gave him lengthy advice as well as a valuation on his property, based on comparables, Nationwide house price calculator and other online guides. He was a bit flummoxed as Zoopla’s self-evaluation tool had pinned it at a price £15,000 less than he’d bought it for, 5 years ago.

Houses can depreciate, if you pay an inflated price, you buy at the wrong time, you can’t find a buyer, but depreciation is the real domain of the car world.

Start that engine, drive away – 20% off in a mile (the VAT).

As a general rule of thumb, property prices go one way.

Up.

So what were Dan’s plans?

He was considering extending his modern three bedroomed semi detached property at ground floor level or to both floors.

As a craftsman himself, in the trade, he’d costed extensions accurately.

But he wanted answers to the million dollar question – will it recoup it in cost?

Here’s what I said, summarised in 5 points:

1. How long are you staying there? If you intend to stay longer term (5 years or more), by all means extend as the capital price growth of the property along with a nice extension will cover most of the cost. Notice most.

2. Extend the ground floor as a pragmatic fiscal act. I asked, do you need 4 bedrooms? I know that on the new build estate we moved to a month ago now, that the 3 bedroomed houses sell on release, before a builder has put in footings, but the 4 and 5 bed ones tend to stick (okay the £40,000 price premium is a factor). I know from experience that 3 bedroomed homes sell like hot cakes – new or period.

3. Factor in moving costs. Moving is expensive – we moved three miles away but I’m sitting here typing with one arm and one leg – it cost that much. It’s not just the mortgage deposit – it’s removals, conveyancing, stamp duty, new furniture, new curtains and poles, estate agent fees, plumbing costs, electricity work. I know with the money we paid to move, we could have stayed and paid for an extension, albeit small, or a fine holiday abroad.

4. Value of extensions. There’s all sorts of varying opinions from property gurus, home programmes on Living etc. Some argue that a new kitchen extension will pay for itself and add even more value. Others talk about home offices and what they add as many of us are now shedworking. I’ll talk from experience – we converted half a double garage into a study 10 years ago. It only cost £5000 yet the value of the house dropped as the market was in the doldrums. That cost me £15,000 in terms of sale price. So not wise in that market in that time, given we sold a year after conversion.

5. The ceiling price. We all know the glass ceiling where there’s gender barriers to promotion at executive level. But Dan’s house has a ceiling price – put starkly, it’s the value of a 3 bedroomed semi-detached modern home around that postcode. Spending £15,000 on a home office, or up to £40,000 on one or two storey extensions will not make that ceiling price become elastic. It tends to be fixed, with small incremental annual rises. If that house is worth £220,000, spending £40,000 on it, will not necessarily make that house worth £260,000. May do in London and the Home Counties, but it won’t in the sticks.

Tough decisions ahead for Dan.