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Budgeting Your Home Improvement Ideas

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

When it comes to adding features and/or additional space to your home, it always pays to think carefully about what you are trying to achieve. Are you prepared to invest just to improve the quality of time you spend in the property, or are you looking to boost property value? Here are some top budget home improvement ideas to boost property value.

It’s not about how much you spend

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not about how much you spend. Instead it’s what you spend your money on that matters when it comes to boosting future property value.

For example, investing thousands to install a large patio area and extensively landscaping the back garden with a new pond may enhance your own experience living in the home. There’s a strong possibility you won’t see a return on your investment. In fact, a lot of prospective buyers may see this as a negative and something they’ll have to spend money on to rectify.

Whereas, adding extra space by building an extension onto your kitchen will benefit you while living in the property. It’s also highly likely to deliver a return when it comes to selling your home. It’s not unusual for the re-sale value per square foot added to be double the initial build cost.

Do you have planning permission?

If you’re thinking about a major home renovation project, you may require planning permission or building regulations approval from your local authority. If you live in a listed building, you may also need to seek approval from English Heritage too. You can easily check the latest planning permission requirements on the website. It’s also worthwhile checking with your own local authority too, as planning applications can vary slightly between regions.

There are ways you can build an extension without planning permission. However, you have to follow certain rules.

Generally, we’d recommend checking if you have any doubts about this. The cost and potential implications of proceeding without permission or being found to be in breach of regulations can be severe.

Also, always keep in mind that restrictive covenants may prevent you from making changes to your property, so it's vital you check. 

Working out the cost of your building works

How much you spend depends on what type of home improvement you’re considering.

For example, if you’re considering a loft conversion, there are five options you can choose from. Each option costs a different amount and will deliver a different return to your investment:

  • Introducing some Velux windows (costing circa £25,000)
  • Standard dormer extension (costing circa £30,000)
  • L-shaped dormer extension (costing circa £40,000)
  • Hip to gable extension (costing circa £48,000)
  • Mansard extension (costing circa £50,000)

If you’re looking for an ideas of costs, the Building Cost Information Service will be able to help. The service is run by the independent surveyors’ body RICS. Here you’ll find information on everything from garden landscaping to building an additional storey to your property. You can also calculate regional costs, including hiring a surveyor and even insurance costs with their rebuilding calculator.

Home improvement ideas

If you’ve got a limited amount to spend on home improvements, we can offer some guidance on where to put that money.

Garden improvements

One of the least expensive ways of giving your property additional space is to create an office pod or kids cabin in the form of a shed. Think of an adult version of a Wendy House – these can be a great annexe addition to your property complete with windows, alcoves and shelves. A high quality, fully-insulated shed can cost around £5,000 and shouldn’t need any planning permission.

While working on this project, you could also get the garden landscaped. Depending on how large the area is, it could costs as little as £1,500. If you have space, consider creating a driveway with off-street parking for as little as £1,000. These would all be huge selling points that could boost value when you look to move on and sell.

Decking and patio area is another home improvement which doesn’t cost much (from about £1,500) and could be a deciding factor when a buyer chooses between your property and a neighbouring one.

Environmental improvements

Solar panels, air pumps, bore holes, draught excluders and insulation can all reduce your utility costs. These also appeal to the recent wave of increasingly environmentally conscious buyers.

The average cost for buying and installing solar panels is between £6,000 and £9,000. If you factor in what they save on heating and lighting, as well as the money returned by the Feed-In tariff, the cost seems far more reasonable.

Cavity wall insulation is likely to pay for itself within about five years – this is thanks to the amount of energy it will save, thus lowering your bills. A certified installer usually costs around £500. Solid wall insulation on older homes (pre-1920s) can cost from £5,500 but the utility savings are enormous – around £460 a year.

Creating a living space

Open plan living is increasing in popularity. This is where the kitchen, dining room and seated area are opened up into one space towards the rear of the house. Usually, this will involve knocking down walls and building a small extension. A set of plans from an architect should cost around £2,000. This may make your home more attractive to prospective buyers.

Modern home improvements

A good home extension will add more light and warmth to your property while also giving you more space. Many modern extensions have floor to ceiling glass panels for walls and full-height sliding doors.

It’s becoming increasingly common that modern home extensions are built from environmentally-friendly materials like natural stone, reclaimed wood and even bamboo. This is a favourable approach to take but be sure your extension fits your family lifestyle.

Home improvements costing more than £100,000

You’ll pay this kind of sum when looking at renovating a whole floor of your property, such as the basement. This is because a project of this size will involve excavation and underpinning the entire house. If undertaking this type of renovation, it’s recommended you appoint an architect to oversee it.

Similar to a loft extension, past basement renovations were predominantly used as games rooms or bars (this was especially common in the 60s/70s). Today’s renovations are far more sophisticated and all-encompassing. From en-suite bedrooms to sitting areas, home cinemas and even underground parking, modern uses of basement extensions are becoming far more complex.

It’s important to research your renovation idea thoroughly before undertaking the project. It’s vital to understand whether the improvement is the type usually appreciated by buyers in your area, thus increasing the value of your property.

Get it right

Whatever home improvements you’re planning, be sure you cost it out properly before starting.

If you’re looking to boost property value, gain a strong understanding of the type of renovations that will help you. Throwing loads of money at your home isn’t always the best route to take. It’s also critical you achieve the necessary permissions and professional assistance required to complete any work to a high standard.

Get professional assistance

  • Get quotes from local building professionals in your area here
  • Get quotes from specialist trades local who work in your area here

Find a Tradesman


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