There’s nothing quite like a cold winter to remind us of the importance of having a home that is well equipped to handle the rigours of the chilly season. With so much time spent indoors, the importance of having homely, warm and enjoyable surroundings is all the more underscored.
As the temperature threatens to rise this week, one can’t help but get that little tingle of excitement at the prospect of summer though. True, it will inevitably be something of a false dawn, and it is only February. But there is nothing quite like that feeling of having the sun on our backs after the winter months.
One other great benefit of summer is that it also offers up the chance to do a bit of work on your home, and, where possible, make the necessary improvements to ensure that everything is in tip-top shape. The question is, which improvements are beneficial, and which aren’t?
The good old loft conversion
It’s a big undertaking, but according to research by Nationwide, loft conversions can add up to 20 per cent to the value of your home. To put that into context, for a £200,000 house, that means a gain of £40,000. Of course, you should factor in all funds spent on construction, not to mention additional things like planning permission, building regulations, surveys and statutory levels of insulation. In addition, there will be some disruption to your household while the work is being done. But if this is a road you decide to go down, and you believe it is right for you, then even when things get a bit stressful, be sure to keep your eyes fixed on the prize at the end of it.
If you’re even slightly unhappy with the current state of your kitchen, chances are it will be a good room to invest in. This isn’t just about ROI – think about everything that takes place in the kitchen. Cooking. Kids’ homework. Socialising. Perhaps even watching television in there. You thus want to ensure that you have an ample, but efficiently laid-out work surface, particularly between the fridge, cooker and sink – the so-called kitchen triangle. Use up-to-date equipment that has a fresh look about it too.
Kitchens refurbishments and renovations have a lot of scope. Yet while it isn’t always about capital gains, money is still an important consideration, so be sure your outlay is in line with your house value. For example, putting in a 50-grand kitchen for a £250,000 home is overkill, while a £5k kitchen will likely drive down the value of a £500,000 place. It’s all relative.
Other dos and don’ts
Do: put in central heating! Providing you don’t have it already anyway. This is unlikely to cost more than £2,000, and will add a good deal more than that to your home. The bathroom is another winner in terms of value adding, whether you go big or small. And consider getting rid of your garage as well. Around 90 per cent of British garages don’t even have a car, and are just waiting to be converted into living space!
Don’t: bother with bedrooms. Unless it’s smaller odd jobs, there is isn’t much to be gained here in terms of value-adding renovations. And don’t do any half jobs, or bungle DIY. Leaving things visibly in a state can raise doubts in future buyers’ mind with respect to the things they can’t see – like electrics or plumbing.
The front door
The front door, I hear you ask in surprise? Particularly if you have eyes on selling up in the near future, this is a huge winner when it comes to value. First impressions are crucial when buyers come for a viewing, and the front door is key to that. For under 100 quid, you can upgrade your doorknob, put steel numbers on and give it a coat of varnish, and add a good chunk of change onto the price tag as a result. And while you’re at it, why not put in a brass letterbox for as little as £15.
Other quick, cheap and easy fixes
The term ‘home improvement’ is a very broad one, and the truth is that there are a myriad of things you can do yourself for a negligible cost. Putting LED lights in your kitchen cupboard? Whitening tile grout? Lubricating hinges? Replacing washers on dripping taps? A new lick of paint all round? A facelift or spring-clean for your garden? These are all things which require minimal input on your part, and can largely be done irrespective of season. So why not have a look around and see which little odd jobs can be done in order to give you a running start going into summer?
Cost is an obvious obstacle if you’re looking at taking on big home improvement projects. But if you’ve done your research, and consulted some expert advice, then this need not be a blocker. The big mistake people make though is financing such things on credit card simply for the sake of convenience. Locking yourself into high-interest repayments can negate the benefits of adding to the value of your home in the first place. Good-value home improvement loans are likely to be a better alternative, particularly with the growing number of lenders competing in the marketplace.
Ultimately, making home improvements just requires a bit of common sense from start to finish. Each home, and each homeowner, are different. But the principles of how to enhance your abode are much the same regardless. Stay in line with these, and you can’t go too far wrong.
*Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post*