If you’re looking around your house and thinking it could stand some improvements, you’re not alone. The UK is actually seeing quite a boom in major home improvements, due in part to the growing trend of multigenerational families living in one space. At the same time that soaring house prices and other escalating costs have prevented many grown children from moving out of Mum and Dad’s house, the grandparents who can no longer live on their own are also moving in. Many homeowners simply cannot afford to trade up so they do the next best thing: they build extensions and “granny flats.”
But perhaps you’re not ready to add an extension and you just want your living space to look better. Maybe you’d even like to do something affordable that will add to the resale value of your house. Even if you can’t afford to hire a professional decorator or house renovator there are many things you can do to make your house look bright and shiny without going broke. You just need to plan carefully, be realistic, and be resourceful.
You don’t have to do it all at once.
Unless you are planning to sell your house and want all of it to be in tiptop condition as quickly as possible, consider starting your improvement project with just one or two rooms. Perhaps the rooms with the most traffic, or the room where you spend most of your private time, would be good choices to begin the great renewal. Small changes can make a big difference and can inspire you to keep going. One caveat: Strive to keep a steady pace and don’t take so long to complete the project that the initial improvements will be outdated or faded by the time the last room is done.
Make a plan and stick to it.
Whether you’re re-doing the loo, brightening the kitchen, or repainting the interior of the whole house, careful planning is absolutely essential. It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of a brand new look for your home, but resist the impulse to go shopping or get started working before you’ve sat down and made a list of exactly what you want to do and the materials you will need. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from people who are more experienced than you, whether it’s your contractor uncle or the department manager at your local DIY shop. Once your plan is in place you don’t have to be totally inflexible, but if you go into this or any major project without a clear plan and a determination to stick pretty close to that plan, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Make a budget.
Part of planning is making a realistic budget, so you’ll need to research costs for materials and labour/installation (if applicable). While the last thing you want to do is get into debt over your head, you might decide to apply for a loan, at least for some phases of the project. There are various kinds of home improvement loans but if you do not qualify for one of those, or if the amount of money you need is within a certain limit, you might consider a payday loan. This is another area where research is essential. Carefully shop around for the best loan and, of course, make a commitment to pay it back on a timely basis.
Ask for help from family and friends.
Perhaps you’ve decided you just can’t do it all yourself, but you can’t afford to bring in a crew of pros to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask some of the people you know to help you. This can be tricky because you don’t want to impose and you don’t want to compromise your relationships. However, if you have friends, family members, or even co-workers who might conceivably be able to help you with labour, materials, or just advice, they may be willing to share their time and expertise if you approach them properly. Even if you can’t pay them in cash, perhaps you can do a favour for them in return, or simply cook them a nice dinner as thanks.
Remember that second-hand doesn’t mean second-rate.
When you’re redecorating, everything doesn’t have to be brand new. You may not be able to afford that dazzling made-to-order leather living room suite from one of the high street stores, but you can find some very attractive pieces – whether almost new or coolly vintage – at charity and resale shops. Live auctions are great places too, and for smaller items, haunt the online auction sites. You can find some amazing deals and you will be able to create a bright new look for your home without spending a fortune.
For practical advice about home improvements and other housing issues you can also find good information in the Housing category on the Citizens Advice site (look under Moving and improving your home/Help with home improvements). The site has plenty of free helpful advice not only for England but also for other parts of the UK.