AdviceMoving house tipsPhil Spencer

Phil Spencer’s Advice on Finding Your Perfect Home

Some people are house sensitive and look for specific types of properties, others are more location sensitive. I’ve always said to people I’ve helped house hunting that they need to recognise which type they are, as it can become frustrating if you’re both house and location sensitive. Personally, I’ve always been very location sensitive.

perfect home

Whenever I’ve moved I’ve chosen the location, I’ve even narrowed it down to the very street I wanted to live on; but then I haven’t been overly particular about the house. I knew I would adapt anything I bought to suit my needs, so the condition or what it looked like inside wasn’t too important. I was looking for opportunity to add value, make it bigger and make it better.

Because I knew the market, and given what I do for a living, I was able to be highly specific. When you’re only looking in a limited area, it means you don’t have to go around talking to 25 different estate agents. It also means not trying to compare house prices in different areas.

So I found my house, bought it and moved in. We lived in it for probably about 6 months before starting the renovations. Initially, it was a 6-bedroom house and I made it a 5-bedroom by creating an ensuite bathroom. It definitely helps living in a property before you transform it. We took our time and enjoyed the process of planning the works very carefully.

We lived in it for 2 years before we tackled the big projects, which included a kitchen extension and basement excavation. We also needed to change the layout for the ground floor. How people live in houses change as life evolves; hobbies come and go, children get bigger and toys change. I just wanted to create a house that was flexible enough to allow all that to happen. My aim was to create a house we could grow into as a family.

We got planning permission for a kitchen extension and basement conversion, and we moved out for a year, while the basement was being dug. Half way through the works, we kind of thought ‘maybe we should keep on digging’, and so we re-applied for planning permission and then dug an extra room beneath the garden. As is often the case with large scale building projects it took longer and cost more than expected, but then, as is also often the case, the end result was satisfying and worth every penny that we put into it.

It was a strange time looking back. I did the projects in 2009 when the market was tumbling south. I had moved out and so was paying rent as well as a mortgage; meanwhile I was investing large amounts of money into the basement – so, even though I knew I was doing the right works to the right property – it was an odd emotion.

I was confident that for every pound that I invested, I would get at least 2 pounds back. Having said that –  it’s my family’s home, it’s not for sale, and I’m very happy living there and that has a value in itself. It’s not all about the pounds and the pennies.

Tips for finding your perfect home

When you’re looking for houses, look for an opportunity to add value. Look at neighbours’ houses, I often stand at the back end of the garden and look back as you can see what different planning permissions people have got. Obviously you can’t see what they’ve done underground.

Keep an eye on the ceiling price on the property. There’s only a certain amount people will pay for living in a certain place, regardless if you’ve done a wonderful job on it. A house or a flat can’t be worth immeasurably more than the other ones of its type on its street.

There’s a jigsaw of the amount of space that you need, the location that you’d like and the budget that you have. The budget is fixed, the location and the space aren’t. So it’s about fitting the jigsaw, and finding that you might not get quite the location but you’ve got the space and vice versa. One thing I do encourage everybody at the moment to do is to think long term, and that’s where adding value comes in.



If you’re location sensitive, you’ve probably got a house in the area that you love, but it may not be the house that you’d ideally like. To find a tradesmen in your local area who can help turn your house into your home, post your home improvement job on; you’ll be put in contact with up to three quality, local tradesmen. Get quotes for the work and read their ratings from previous customers to help you chose the right person for the job.

Phil Spencer

Phil Spencer doesn’t need much of an introduction, he’s TV’s most well-known property presenter, having co-presented Location, Location, Location and Relocation, Relocation for over 10 years. Phil'ls blog posts focus on adding value and advice/ tips for when you're buying or selling your house.

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One Comment

  1. I found Phil`s piece very interesting as we always put location first. Three years ago the only house we could afford in our very limited desired location was a complete wreck and my pet hate – modern. By that I mean built in the 60s. Previously the youngest house I had EVER lived in, including childhood, had been Georgian, but this place is in the most stunning location. It hadn`t been touched since it was built so it was tempting to keep the retro stuff, but the 60s wasn`t an attractive time! We did a complete renovation while living in it – still not finished, but we have a house that we absolutely love because it`s now our style, our feel, and ours. We have the wonderful bonus of living somewhere with huge windows and rooms full of sun and light – something we`d never had before. There are a lot of good things to be said about the bigger, well-built 60s houses, and we have a large kitchen (they always had small kitchens next to small dining rooms – easily dealt with, just ask Kirstie!) and the house already had a wonderful spacious hall and a large sitting room with those huge patio doors that make you feel you`re sitting in the garden. We`ve chosen timeless colours, shelves, furniture etc – we`re not trying to make it look `period` but neither does it look modern. I would never have believed I could be so happy in a `new` house but an additional plus feature is that it was built in 1969, the year we got married and were just moving into our first very old cottage. It`s a lovely thought that while we were starting out our current home was being built and has waited 40 years for us. So I would say never dismiss anything – in our case the only NO GO area was anywhere near a main road.

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