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Home Enhancements on a Budget

The latest research from Abbey suggests that you shouldn’t spend a fortune doing up your home.  The bank say that previously profitable home improvements such as extensions and new kitchens are not adding value in the current market and could leave you thousands of pounds out of profit if you intend to sell your home.  They have concluded that costly home improvements are not being reflected in the asking price, so the more you spend, the more you stand to lose.

For example, the average cost of an extension has been cited as £33,800, yet it would add only £13,568 to the property’s value.  Adding a bespoke kitchen to your property could cost around £18,700 but the Abbey says it will add less than £5,000 to the asking price.  In the same vain a designer bathroom will only add £2,892 to the property price after you have shelled out £7,700.  

Despite these revelations, home owners are still borrowing money to improve their homes.  Lloyds TSB reported a jump of 20% in such customers, in comparison to this time last year.  This rise can be put down to people opting to improve their existing property, rather than move but there is undoubtedly a fair percentage who still believe that such projects will add value.  So what can you do to make your home more appealing to potential buyers without breaking the bank?  Getting the painters and decorators in; according to Abbey, that will be the project that will currently give the best return for your money.  The average cost of decorating a home is £1,330 but it will push up the asking price by £3,557 – if it’s done right.

By far the easiest and cheapest way to add value to your home is to clean it!  You can hire a steam cleaner for as little as £35 for a week to clean carpets and upholstery.  Curtains should be dry cleaned and don’t forget to freshen up grout with a grout pen.  Natural light also greatens the appeal of any property so clean the windows, get rid of the net curtains, prune the trees or do anything else that you can to let in more light.  If there are dark areas that you can’t brighten up from outside install more light fittings or paint the walls a bright, neutral colour.

You’ve probably seen it on TV programmes such as “House Doctor” or “How Clean is Your House” but they’re absolutely right when they nag about decluttering.  Go through your possessions with a fine toothcomb and get rid of what you don’t need.  Either bung it into storage, sell it on e-bay or get rid of it on freecycle.org.  Another point to take on board from Ann Maurice is to send the petspacking, along with the odours they create.  Unfortunately, potential buyers are also unlikely to appreciate your children either, so they need to go around to gran’s at viewing times.
The penchant for home improvements over the last few years has helped to drive up the cost of such projects.  Factor in a shortage of tradesmen and the rising cost of transport and raw materials and it’s now become very easy to get ripped off.  To avoid being overcharged purchase the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Building Cost Information Service’s The Property Makeover Price Guide (£17.99) or Sarah Beeny’s Price the Job (£9.99).

A final word on DIY; it’s absolutely fine and it can save you a lot of money – as long as it’s done properly.  Botch it and you will end up out of pocket.  The rule of thumb is to only take on the projects that you know you can make a good job of.  Don’t rush it – it’s not a race – do it properly and do it once.  The Reader’s Digest DIY Manual (£19.99) is a great place to start.