Renovating a house on a budget

Adding value to your home

Upgrading your home on a budget? Experts reveal the refurbishments that are really worth spending your money on.

Whether you’re thinking of selling or simply want to make the most of your property, it makes sense to renovate. We asked a selection of experts to give us the lowdown on renovating a house on a budget and some of the low-cost, high-impact fixes that can add value to your home.


Whether you’re thinking of selling or simply want to make the most of your property, it makes sense to renovate. We asked a selection of experts to give us the lowdown on the low-cost, high-impact fixes that can add value to your home.

Increase the kerb appeal

A freshly-painted façade will instantly give your home a facelift and is a great example of how to renovate on a budget to instantly improve the look of your home. Painting the outside of the house usually costs a lot less than painting the interior, too. The Which? Trusted Traders website says that repainting the rendered exterior of an average three-bedroom, semi-detached house can cost anything from around £850 to £1,500, depending on whether you need scaffolding (but expect to pay more in London).

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Upgrade the boiler

Although the latest decoration can help to win over a wavering buyer, it’s often the more basic renovations that can have the most impact financially. A new boiler, costing you around £2,000, can add at least £8,000 of value to your property, according to research from GoCompare. Property expert Henry Pryor, who helped to compile the Property Investment Calculator with the company, says: “Practical things like a new boiler will not only help convince buyers that you have looked after your property, but is also one of the few things that, research suggests, you will actually get your money back on.”

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Make the most of the sunlight

A light and airy property will feel more spacious and attractive both to you and to a potential buyer, so it’s worth investing time and money to maximise the natural light.

“Although not the cheapest upgrade, installing skylights or full-height windows is one of the most dramatic improvements you can make to your home,” says Andrew Mulroy of Mulroy Architects.

“Skylights are a good way of bringing natural light to rooms in the centre of your home. The cost ranges from about £400/sqm for a simple pivot skylight in a pitched roof to around £2,000/sqm for large electronic skylights (plus builders’ costs). A simple but effective idea is to use a skylight over a shower in a loft conversion, as it will give the effect of bathing in the open air.

“Floor-to-ceiling windows connect inside and outside space, giving the illusion that a room is bigger than it really is,” adds Andrew. “Installation will cost anywhere between £600 to £2,000/sqm (plus builders’ fees).”

If adding windows isn’t a viable option for you, use mirrors and reflective surfaces in your decoration, as these can also make a room feel more spacious.

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Add some period detail

Upgrading your home on a budget? Experts reveal the refurbishments that are really worth spending your money on

As well as adding value to your home, restoring an old property to its former glory can be a fulfilling project. But it can also be expensive. If you’re looking to replace period features that have previously been removed – such as a decorative cast-iron radiator or a Victorian fireplace, for example – local auctions and salvage yards can be good places to start. Try UKauctioneers.com, which has an Auction Calendar that you can browse for upcoming sales in your region. To hunt down salvaged architectural features, search the international Salvo Directory which lists reclamation yards across the UK, and beyond.

But buying second-hand doesn’t necessarily mean rock-bottom prices; it can be more cost-effective to opt for a reproduction piece or a modern equivalent, which can look just as good. “Take Victorian encaustic floor tiles,” says interiors writer Amelia Thorpe. “They’re beautiful but they can be expensive thanks to their intricate and handmade construction. To recreate period detail without breaking the bank, look for modern ceramic variations. These are available in stunning patterns inspired by Victorian designs but, as they’re digitally printed, they usually cost significantly less.”


Bring your home up to date

Whether it’s a wireless home security camera, colour-changing bulbs or the latest Bluetooth speaker, smart home tech can give your home a high-functioning, cutting-edge feel.

“Smart tech just makes life easier – and it can save you money,” says James Stables of The Ambient – a website dedicated to helping people buy and use smart home tech, which launched in January 2018. “Smart heating, lighting and cameras are now becoming so ubiquitous that they’ll soon be the norm,” he adds. “We no longer highlight ‘automatic washing machines’ or ‘colour TVs’. Soon people will just assume that bulbs are connected, and that heating is automated.”

To make smart tech work in your home, and to help it add value to your property, the key is to integrate it into your plans at the outset, by building functionality into the infrastructure. “Putting a £50 smart speaker in a home won’t make much difference,” says James. “But if you get a builder to add ethernet to plug sockets, so people can hook up set-top boxes and consoles without clogging the Wi-Fi, or to install receivers into the wall studs in readiness for a full-scale smart lighting system, that can make all the difference.”

Costs vary widely, depending on what smart tech you opt for. “A smart home security system can set you back £400 plus,” says James. “However, you can start off with a camera, door sensors and connected lighting for as little as £100.”

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Funding your home renovations

One way to finance larger home improvements is by borrowing against your home. Find out about our mortgage options – or, if you already have a mortgage with us, you can apply to borrow more. Alternatively, consider a home improvement loan.

Before any work begins, make sure you have the right cover in place. You should protect your home and what’s in it with buildings and contents insurance.

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