If we want to live in a beautiful home we need to take care of it. As well as general care and maintenance, we may also want to find ways to improve its value. Our homes are more than just a place to live – they’re usually our most valuable asset.
The most obvious way to keep our homes looking beautiful and making the most of the space available is through home improvements. Carrying out any renovation or remodelling work needs careful planning if it’s to be a success. Having the budget to cover any desired work is an important aspect of any improvement plan.
When you sit down to plan your home improvement project, the first thing you should do is to give yourself plenty of time. If you are considering major works such as a loft conversion or an extension then you will probably need to have a survey carried out to ensure your plans and ideas are viable. Can the supporting walls take the extra weight of a loft conversion for example, or making sure your desired extension will not impede on your neighbours in any way. Planning large projects can take months, so its important to make the most of your time perfecting your plans to be sure you’re happy with every aspect before committing to it.
Most people thinking about improving their homes will usually want to upgrade their kitchen or bathroom, replace their windows and doors, build a porch or conservatory or change how a room is used – for example changing a box room into a home office or adding to a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. All these additions could make your home a much more pleasant place to be and could also improve its value in the long term.
Never underestimate the time you will need to perfect your plans. Look at and prioritise your projects, for example if you have problems in your bathroom with loose or missing tiles, a leaky bath or a chipped hand basin that’s coming away from the wall, you may want to get any of these fixed before you have your kitchen upgraded.
Any improvements will need to be budgeted for and it will make your budget preparation much easier if you have sound plans in place. Saving for smaller projects and minor repairs will be cheaper than taking out a loan to cover the costs. If you are happy with your bathroom suite, but the tiles are making the room appear dated, then a box of designer tiles, some fresh grout and a lick of paint could be enough to give your existing bathroom a facelift without going to the expense of a total refit.
If you are thinking of selling your home and want to get the most money for it, then some of the best way to increase its value is to focus on the aspects of your home that both selling agents and potential buyers look at first. These would typically be the approach to your house (i.e. front garden), kitchen and bathroom.
If you’ve lived in your property for some time without having updated either of these, then it could be well worth the expense of having them upgraded. There could be nothing more off-putting to a potential buyer than the thought of having to replace a bathroom or kitchen before they can feel at home. Most buyers will want to be able to move in and happily live with what is already in the house for a few years. Even having a budget kitchen or bathroom suite installed could give these rooms an instant face lift at minimal cost. Estate agents are far more likely to value your home higher if they see a fresh new kitchen and bathroom in place.
Whether you are improving your home to aid in a sale or improving to stay put, make sure that you allocate your budget properly from the start. Prioritise the labour and materials involved in your project and if you have any friends or family that can help with the work, this could save money on labour costs. If you lack the necessary skills to do the work yourself and have people to help, then you can take a step back and play the role of chief tea-maker to keep everyone happy in their work!
Dividing your home improvement plans into different projects could save you money. For example, if you have a friend or family with building, plumbing or carpentry skills and they are happy to help you out, you can draw up a list of jobs they can do when it’s convenient for them and budget for materials to fit in with their schedule. If there are projects that need professionals to be called in, you may have to eat into your savings to pay for the labour and materials, or raise finance such as a secured loan to cover the costs.
Some home improvements may need major funding to complete, such as an extension and loft conversion and you may find that your savings won’t be enough to cover the expense (or maybe you don’t want to spend your savings). This is where a secured homeowner loan may be a useful way to finance the work. If you have lots of equity in your property, you are more likely to be offered a better deal.
Having a budget in place before you apply for a loan may also help lenders in their decision making (they may ask to see a schedule of works). You’ll also know how much you need to borrow from the outset, so its worth taking the time to plan well in advance.