Your guide to improving your home

There’s a lot of talk of a housing shortage in this country, and it’s not really a secret that houses just aren’t being built quickly enough to keep pace with demand. Interestingly, when the choice comes down to home improvement or moving home, we seem to emphatically opt for the former. Home improvement is a £25bn-a-year industry, with the average Brit spending over £36k on DIY and renovations over the course of a lifetime.

It makes a lot of sense too. Unlike most expenditure in life, home improvements are an investment, and the opportunity to recoup the money you spend – and then some – means we’re pretty well placed to indulge our desires of creating our dream home. Even if it means turning to credit or loans in order to finance it.

If improvement is something you’re in the market for, the key is to maximise value for, well, as minimal input and/or cost as possible. Here are some ideas:


The value of adding, or even just letting in, extra light into certain rooms cannot be overemphasised. It’s especially important for those considering selling up soon too. Skylights and sun tubes are hugely beneficial as natural light is always prize number one. But if these options aren’t practical, simply increasing the wattage of existing lights and adding in dimmer functions are great value adders too.

Sort out defects

Structural problems are never as much fun to indulge in than cool, cosmetic and decorative changes. After all, it feels like you’re just sinking money into something that restores the old status quo, rather than adding value. But the truth is that the basics are the most important of all: floors, ceilings, walls and plumbing all need to be structurally sound. Neglecting these can cause problems further down the line, which can be far more costly in the long run.

Window upgrade

Double-glazed windows are worth their weight in gold – both for your comfort of living, and also in terms of resale value. You’re probably looking at upwards of £10,000, depending how much you need done, but the rule of thumb is that double glazing can add 5 per cent or more to the value of your home. Be sure to install windows which match the style of your house though – such little things are very important to get right.

The loft conversion

If you’re in a position to do it, and particularly if you have a young and growing family, loft conversions are often a no brainer. They are a costly venture, there’s no getting around that. But they are also one of the best returns on investment available in terms of renovations, with a 10 per cent increase on the value of your home the very least you can expect. They also don’t tend to be too disruptive when being done either, as much of the work will be away from your major living spaces.

Garden TLC

You’ll be hard pressed to find more fulfilling and satisfying jobs than taking it upon yourself to give your garden a boost. No one wants to open their door to a swamp in the backyard. Weeds, debris, overgrowth, clutter – it can all be fixed with a bit of DIY, and I always find that the pride in the garden work I do just keeps growing the more I do it. It can be a cheap, fun job, and the difference it can make to your home – both in terms of aesthetics and liveability – should not be underestimated.

A kitchen booster

Kitchens are a focal point of just about any home. Estate agents will always tell you that it is the first room would-be buyers are drawn too, and it’s so important to optimise it. Whether this means major modernising undertakings and renovations, or simply giving surfaces, fittings, appliances and the general interior a bit of a facelift, it should always be one of your foremost priorities.

Tread carefully, of course. Whether it’s the kitchen or any other significant home improvement, be sure to do the groundwork in terms of quotes and quality control. Seek reviews and referrals. This is as much an exercise in increasing your net worth as it is improving your comfort and surrounds at home, so taking the time to ensure you get good value for money now will pay great dividends later.

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