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A guide on home improvement in the UK

by | Jan 28, 2023

Home $ A guide on home improvement in the UK

Home improvements are an exciting opportunity to bring your living space up-to-date, increase comfort, and boost your home’s value.

Whether you’re looking to add an extra room, upgrade your kitchen, or simply give your property a fresh coat of paint, there are endless options to suit every budget and taste.

But with so many choices available, it can be tough to know where to start. So, in this article, we will be discussing whether home improvement is worth it for most people as well as going over the type of help from grants and schemes that are available via the government.

What is home improvement?

Home improvement can refer to anything a homeowner does to improve their property. Easy ways of conducting home improvement could be to add an extra coat of paint to a wall whereas more complex forms involve new buildings.

Some people choose to do home improvement because they want to get their hands on a new project and do some DIY whereas others want to add value to their home so they can sell it on in the future for a profit.

tools laid out for home improvement

Do it yourself (DIY) home improvement

There are some basics to be aware of if you’re set on doing home improvements yourself. For instance, knowing what kind of tools to buy and the type of paint that you should purchase are all valuable skills.

On top of this, being aware of what you can realistically improve in your home yourself and what you’ll have to hire a professional for is important. Doing a poor job on DIY because you didn’t know what you’re doing should be avoided.

In the long term, this can result in you having to do repairs to rectify the mistakes that have been previously made and will eat into any budget you have and waste unnecessary time.

Nonetheless, doing it yourself (DIY) can save money, be entertaining and allow you to learn some new skills if you have the patience to do a DIY job yourself.

It is often recommendable to place fragile pr precious items in self storage while you undertake your DIY, for obvious reasons.

What tools will you need to do DIY home improvement?

Depending on the job, the tools you may need include: 

  • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
  • Ladder
  • Power strip
  • Measuring tape
  • Wrench set
  • Hammer
  • Safety glasses
  • Drill
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves
  • Pliers
  • Sandpaper
  • Level
  • Saw (handsaw or power saw)
  • Drop cloth
  • Utility knife

What materials will you need for conducting DIY

Some materials you could need for doing home improvements are listed below. Of course, this depends on the job at hand and what kind of budget you have:

  • Drywall
  • Wood 
  • Nails and screws
  • Paint (interior and exterior)
  • Primer
  • Electrical outlets and switches
  • Light fixtures
  • Electrical wire
  • Insulation
  • Tiles
  • Grout
  • Tile cutter
  • Wallpaper
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Wood filler

How can you get help to improve your home?

There are a few ways you can get help from the local government if you’re in need of repair in your home. A local authority may provide various forms of assistance with home improvements, each with its own set of regulations and eligibility requirements. 

Discrimination based on factors such as age, disability, gender identity, eligibility for benefits, pregnancy, race or religion is not allowed and some local authorities may also have additional policies that prevent discrimination in this way.

Local authorities may be able to help

Local authorities can be contacted here and members can reach out to them for help. Typically this comes in the form of being able to:

  • Improve the home with help of a government loan and providing labour or material in order to complete the work. This is typically very low cost work and those eligible have to show they’re in desperate need
  • There are also government loans issued that are in place to in order to buy a home if it is determined that the living conditions of a current home aren’t up to scratch
  • If the home you’re currently living in is owned by the government and it has been demolished, a loan could also be issued to help with repairs or to buy a new home to rehouse you.
a work bench with home improvement items

Home improvement agencies

Although home improvement agencies (HIAs) are also run by local authorities some of the time, they are also run by charities and housing associations too. They are there to help those who are struggling socio-economically to conduct home improvements.

The type of people home improvement agencies are able to help include:

  • Those who are disabled
  • Those who are elderly
  • Those with a low income

Home improvement agencies will then carry out the repairs in the home and help the people struggling to apply for more government loans to help with repairs too. In addition, they could issue advice about living conditions.

For instance, if a wheelchair user is struggling to get about their own home, a home improvement agency could recommend they install things like stair lists, hoists or elevators to help their day to day life.

A home improvement agency is also able to organise smaller adaptations as part of home improvements. Simple things like installing shelves for those who don’t have the help available are common for agencies.

This means the work home improvement agencies do is very varied and doesn’t have to be large scale like many other general home improvement work. Installing locks, chains and doors are all common

Home improvement tasks.

What type of home loan is best for home improvements?

In the process of deciding what kind of home improvement loan you should go for, there are a few things you should look out for that makes each type of home loan different.

Personal loans

Personal home improvement loans are for improvements that require only a small amount of capital. For example, a typical personal loan would not be more than £1,000. On top of this, you may be allowed to start repayments after a short while.

These types of loans are also desirable as you don’t have to put the equity in your home as security, unlike other payday loans that allow the creditor to gain ownership of equity in your home if you don’t pay the loan back in time.

On the other hand, the fact that you can’t borrow a lot of money makes this type of loan not that desirable and the interest rate on a smaller loan is typically higher than if the loan was increased in value.

Secured loans

A secure loan is a type of home loan that allows you to borrow a lot more money. So, for the home improvement that requires the most amount of money, a secure loan should be the right choice.

With a secured loan, you also have more time to pay it back which means you’ll be able to stretch the repayments out for longer and reduce the monthly payment you have to make.

However, there are some restrictions on the loans. For instance, the amount that you can borrow could be impacted by the value of the home you have, which means you won’t have enough money to do all the home improvements you want.

A house that is worth £100,000 will likely be eligible for a loan that has a lot less equity than a house that is worth £300,00 for example. However, a house that is just worth £100,000 may need more work.

improving a home yourself
Guarantor loans

Guarantor loans are great for those who have bad credit and are similar to personal loans. The difference is, a close friend or family member will need to sign to be on the agreement and agree to cover payments if the person in debt cannot pay.

Therefore, the approval process for loans of this nature is slightly more complex. Not only will you have to know the requirements for the loan for yourself, you will also have to know the requirements for your guarantor.

Only then is it possible to find an eligible guarantor who is able to cover a loan if you can’t. It is useful to note that loans like this could cause personal relationships to suffer as money and debt is involved between close friends and family members.

If you own your home, is it worth doing home improvements?

So, the process of conducting home improvements is a difficult one which could leave you wondering if conducting home improvements is even worth it in the first place.

Below, we will be going over the pros and cons of conducting home improvements so you can assess whether taking this step is the right option for you as a homeowner.

Pros of doing home improvements

First of all, doing home improvements can increase a home’s value. This can make it easier to sell your home and potentially increase the resale value of the property. Perfect for those looking to buy a property for profit.

In addition, doing home improvements gives a property improved functionality. You may be able to add in things like outdoor living spaces and potentially things like kitchens, bathrooms or convert unused rooms into functional spaces that can make your home more practical and enjoyable to live in.

Alternatively, you can convert your garage into an extra room and increase the living space of your property.

On top of this, home improvements can increase the energy efficiency of a home. Upgrades such as new windows, insulation, and efficient appliances can reduce energy bills and make your home more environmentally friendly.

This is a beneficial feature for those looking to comply with the EPC regulations of 2025 that state all homes must have an EPC rating of C or above in order to rent out a home legally.

Home improvements also give a person who owns their home an improved sense of satisfaction in their home and can be a great creative personal project to work on. 

It is typical to have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction and pride in a home once improvements are complete which means it could be classed as a great way to spend money. 

Finally, there is the advantage of having improved safety in a building that has conducted recent home improvements. 

If you install things like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers they could potentially save the lives of those living in the property.

Cons of doing home improvements

While there are many benefits to doing home improvements, there are some disadvantages that could mean home improvements aren’t actually that appealing with all things considered. 

The most obvious disadvantage being that home improvements are classed as expensive and if you don’t plan ahead, go over budget or use incorrect knowledge, these expenses may not be worth the added value to your home.

Furthermore, home improvement can take up a sizable amount of time. If you have other commitments in life such as a job or you have other things to do, even if you aren’t doing the improvements yourself, things can get disruptive.

With the time commitment involved, financial commitment and the potential need for a deadline, projects can be stressful and challenging, especially if you’re tackling the project yourself or if unexpected issues arise during the process.

Another disadvantage of home improvements is that the quality of work may not be up to scratch if you hire someone else and often the time it takes to rectify mistakes is not worth any more financial investment.

For example, if you are redoing a floor in a property and the floor is installed incorrectly. It could cost more to remove the floor and then install it correctly than if it was done correctly in the first place. 

This could result in disputes with contractors which can add additional time and expenses to a project.

A final challenge that could occur as a result of doing home improvement is the fact that an improved home may not be able to be resold easily because the home has been customised too much and is too personalised.

When a property is sold, it has to appeal to the mass market and the majority of people look for common features in a property to add their own taste too. A property that is already highly unique is therefore unappealing.

creating the tools for home improvement

Home improvements using disabled facilities grants

A disabled facilities grant is financial aid provided by the local government to assist disabled individuals in making necessary modifications to their homes for increased independence. 

This grant can be used to cover expenses such as:

  • Widening doorways or installing ramps for easier access to a property 
  • Installing a stairlift or adding a downstairs bathroom 
  • Improving garden accessibility so outdoor spaces can be enjoyed
  • Providing or upgrading bathrooms and kitchens for safety
  • Improving heating systems which suit the needs of a disabled person
  • Making rooms more adaptable so those who are disabled can stay safe in a property 
  • Adding space for carers of the disabled to live with them comfortably

Who is eligible for a disabled facilities grant?

In general, a disabled facilities grant is only given to members of the public if there is an assessment conducted and it results in one of the following outcomes:

  • Home improvements  are essential to meet your human needs from the point of view of a therapist.
  • The age and condition of a home do not inhibit the repairs necessary in a building
  • If the property is rented, permission from the landlord must be granted if not the process must go through the landlord instead. Making modifications to a home that is not yours may be against the terms of a tenancy agreement.

How to apply for a disabled facilities grant

So, if you have decided that you could be eligible for a disabled facilities grant to help with your home improvements, the next step would be to apply using the government’s website.

To apply, you must obtain a form from your local authority and complete it. The local authority may request additional information or tests before your formal application in order to determine you are who you say you are.

Double checking that the property is able to have repairs done on it, that the applicant has the right to make changes to their home and that the home isn’t a temporary home like a boat home or a mobile home is necessary.

This application process will be followed by approval from relevant organisations, such as building regulations or conservation areas in some cases if there are any restrictions on the land where you live.

Your local authority may provide a list of local professionals, including architects, surveyors, and builders, who specialise in renovations and they will also cover the costs of these professionals.

It is the applicant’s choice as to whether to take help or conduct the repairs themself. If they choose to hire professionals then claiming back the cost of labour is no longer an option.

Applications then take around six months to complete.

How much can you get towards home improvements?

The maximum amount of a disabled facilities grant in England is £30,000, while in Wales, it is £36,000. However, your local authority may provide additional funding for home improvements under their “Help with home improvements” program. 

The decision for how much grant someone is eligible for is dependent on your income, savings and age. As those under the age of 109 have special consideration.

Can you get a disabled facilities grant for renting?

When applying for a disabled facilities grant as a tenant, you must have your landlord’s consent in order to receive assistance from your local authority. 

However, despite the landlord still owning the home, a landlord must have a valid reason for denying permission for home improvements and if the changes to the home are necessary due to your disability.

This is because it is considered disability discrimination if your landlord does not agree to conduct improvements that are necessary to help with the quality of a disabled person’s life, which is illegal. 

What building services can help with home improvement?

Home improvement can come in many forms. As part of installation, many choose to install things like bathrooms, kitchens and even conservatories. Below is some inspiration for what this could look like.

Bathroom services

Kitchens to help improve a home

Loft conversions to aid home improvement


Increasing insulation

Are there any schemes to help with home efficiency improvements?

There are several energy efficiency programs and financial assistance options available from the government and NGO’s in the UK. One of which is the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) offered by the government. 

Obtaining help from your energy supplier is a valid option for cutting the cost of energy-saving options as part of meeting new EPC regulations. For government advice on this, click here.

EPC regulations are set to change in 2025. All homes in order to be rented out legally will have to have an EPC rating of C or above. It is therefore useful to know what kind of grants are available for those looking to improve their home.

Below, some of the most popular schemes are listed with their details.

The boiler upgrade scheme

For more information on how to apply for the boiler upgrade scheme, you can visit the government website here. However, it is essentially a grant to cover the cost of replacing a boiler that runs on fossil fuels with one that is able to run on biomass.

This will definitely improve the energy performance of a property and the scheme is currently available in England and Wales. It is super simple to work out if you can add this to your home improvement.

Energy company obligation grant

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a British government initiative aimed at decreasing carbon emissions. 

The program has gone through four phases and the final phase will cover installations from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2026.

The ECO scheme operates by assigning heating reduction promises to medium and large energy companies. This includes activities that lead to reduced energy consumption, such as installing insulation or upgrading heating systems. 

The green deal loan

The green deal loan is a loan that helps those wanting to do energy-saving improvements in their property by helping homeowners to find the best way to pay for improvements that help the environment.

This means you’ll be able to reduce the cost of eliminating draughts, increasing insulation and adding renewable energy to a property such as solar panels.

britains green deal loan

In conclusion

All in all, home improvements on a property can be an easy way to make a change that has financial benefits for the future. Before you go ahead, it is important to make a note of the grants and schemes available.

The government incentivizes those looking to help those who struggle to find mobility and those who use renewable energy and add energy efficient changes to their property.

Hence, consider all things together when making a decision including the long term consequences, who in the property this will affect, if you can subsidise any of the costs and if the pros outweigh the cons of home improvement.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.