Why more of us plan home improvement projects rather than move house

The costs and problems associated with buying and selling a house are leading more of us to improve our homes rather than face moving.

And with a current housing market outlook of falling prices and a shortage of houses for sale, it’s little wonder that we’re eyeing our current homes to see how they could be altered to better suit our lifestyles.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons for choosing home improvements over moving, and the best upgrades to make to your home.

A home improvement scheme underway at an Edwardian house.

Cost and affordability

Recent property price rises and the associated costs of moving, such as stamp duty, legal fees, and estate agent commissions, have made moving house an expensive exercise. On the other hand, home improvement schemes can be a more cost-effective solution to achieving a home to suit your changing needs, as they have a lower price tag than buying a new home.

Identify the best borrowing option

Our homes are usually our most significant investments, so it’s crucial to ensure that any home improvement scheme will add value to them. Of course, individual circumstances vary, and if you are considering a home improvement loan, the recent interest rate rise may affect your borrowing options. If you need to take out additional borrowing you may want to take advice on other borrowing options, which will be dependent on your regular income, your credit score, the outstanding balance on your existing mortgage and your mortgage repayments.

In most cases, expert advice will help you work out how much you are able to borrow and provide you with a personalised quote identifying the most suitable option given current interest rate volatility and the loan amount required. A financial advisor will be able to explain how home improvement loans work and may be able to provide a representative example of the home improvement loans available to you, or suggest ways to avoid higher interest charges: a personal loan may be another borrowing option.

Growing interest in home upgrades

Over a third (36%) of us are not thinking of moving, but are considering upgrading our homes, according to findings in `Functional Spaces: Homes for Living’ research by furniture and accessories manufacturer Häfele UK, and almost half of UK homeowners (45%) are planning a home improvement over the next two years. These findings indicate that people may be keen to invest in their homes again in view of reducing energy prices and a possible fall in the interest rate.

The research involved surveying over 2,000 UK homeowners: this chart shows their top home improvement choices.

Interior decorating29%
New kitchen23%
Bathroom renovations21.4%
New flooring21%
New doors15%
Roofing and guttering, external paintwork14%
New windows13%
Add or upgrade downstairs toilet10%
New boiler10%
New lighting9%
Research byHäfele UK.

Emotional attachment can tie us to our homes

For many homeowners, their homes hold sentimental value and emotional ties. Renovating and enhancing their existing home via a home improvement project allows them to maintain a sense of familiarity, which would be lost by moving to a new house.

Making home improvements may be more attractive than moving.

Lack of suitable properties to buy boosts home improvements

In certain areas, the housing market is still highly competitive which restricts the availability of desirable properties. A home improvement scheme offers an opportunity to create a dream home without having to take on the difficult housing market, giving homeowners total control over the outcome.

Best home improvements to consider

Before deciding on a home improvement scheme, it’s important to deal with any outstanding structural issues first; for example, if there’s a problem such as subsidence, this must take priority.

The second stage could be to consider remodelling the layout of your home to improve the living space; while this may involve taking down internal walls, open-plan design makes houses appear larger. Bear in mind that while your home improvement scheme may qualify under permitted development rules, it must still comply with building regulations.

Some of the best upgrades to add value to your home if you live in an older house include installing a new heating system, replacing windows, and adding insulation. You may also want to consider rewiring and replumbing.

If you live in a newer house, on-trend additions include bifold doors, a garden office, a conservatory, or a loft conversion. Creating an extra bedroom is usually a guaranteed way to add value but be aware of the ceiling price for houses in your area, or you risk not getting your money back when you come to sell.

Other great ideas for improvements to your home include putting in a new staircase or a roof lantern, while small home improvements making the most of existing features like alcoves, beams, and mouldings can give a house a natural lift.

Kitchen remodelling

A modernised kitchen not only improves functionality but will add value to your property. Popular trends and budget-friendly options for kitchen renovations include updating cabinets and countertops, fitting new floor tiles and installing a new lighting scheme.

The Häfele UK survey mentioned above revealed that 81% of homeowners feel that a kitchen upgrade would greatly improve their home: the biggest issue about our kitchens is not having enough storage space according to 28% of those surveyed. Kitchen size was an issue for a quarter of respondents who selected ‘too small’ as their biggest concern, while 19% complained about cluttered worktops and 17% were critical of damaged and tired kitchen cabinets. Inaccessible cupboards and shelving were also noted as frequent problems.  

Bathroom upgrades are a top home improvement

Fitting a stylish, modern bathroom is a very popular home improvement to make and will significantly enhance the overall appeal of your home. Increasingly, we want our bathrooms to be calming, warm and welcoming spaces with a touch of luxury. Great bathroom improvement ideas include installing a new suite – white-coloured fitments are on-trend and the colour is calming – while adding new tiles and updating the lighting can create a relaxing atmosphere.

Natural materials such as wood and stone are a great choice and work well alongside brass and chrome. Slatted wood and wicker can also add interest and are currently popular, and interesting mirrors can be positioned to great effect. Wallpaper can also be effective in a bathroom and there’s a host of dramatic patterns out there to provide inspiration.

Energy efficiency enhancements

More of us are concerned about sustainable living and energy efficient homes, and eco-friendly home improvements can boost your home’s value as well as reduce your carbon footprint. However, before embarking on any such home improvement schemes, the first step is to ensure your home is as well insulated as possible as any benefits will be lost if warm air is escaping. Improving insulation will also help keep energy bills down and create a warmer living environment.

Once your insulation is as good as it can be, then you can consider different types of renewable energy technology to find the most suitable option. Choices include solar panels which will provide hot water and electricity, or upgrading your heating system by installing an air source heat pump. Other eco measures include energy-efficient lighting, triple glazing, and low-flow showerheads and toilets will save on water consumption.

Home improvements can include outdoor space

Well-designed outdoor areas can make a big difference by extending your living space, allowing you to entertain, relax and spend more time in the open air. Great landscaping ideas include a patio or decked area, and you might like to add fun features such as a fire pit or a wildlife-friendly pond. A pergola can provide a shady space over an outdoor dining table, and raised beds can add interest and opportunities for growing vegetables.

Your home’s exterior

Don’t forget to think about your home’s curb appeal when you’re considering home improvements. The best ways to enhance your home’s appearance include repointing brickwork, painting doors and windows, repairing or replacing windows or even adding a welcoming porch.

To summarise:

The complications of moving house, including the cost, emotional attachment to our current homes, and a lack of suitable properties to move to, have led more people to choose home improvement schemes over moving.

If you choose to make home improvements, the best projects to consider include kitchen remodelling, bathroom upgrades, energy efficiency enhancements, and making the most of the available outdoor space.

It’s important to carefully evaluate all the options as personal circumstances differ. You may want to seek professional advice before taking on any home improvement scheme to make sure you’re making an informed decision that’s going to add value to your home as well as make it a better place to live in.

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