Silver lining for those looking to improve

Home-owners can use the economic downturn to their advantage, according to a top home improvement expert.

The housing market may be in meltdown, with only 35,000 mortgages issued in September, but savvy home-owners could use the time until it recovers to make sure their existing property realises its potential.

HousePlanner architect Chris Martin explained that now is the time to be adding conservatories and other sorts of glazed extensions to the home as a way of making the best of a bad situation.

"A number of things mean you can turn this [people staying in their homes longer] to your advantage," he said.

"The toughening economic climate means that architects and builders will price jobs more keenly."

Mr Martin also said that home-owners were more likely to get any required work done quickly as many builders are looking for work following the hold placed on many new-build contracts.

Recent research from Alliance and Leicester showed that more Britons are now taking an improve rather than move approach.