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Creating your dream home: Part 2
In part one of our guide to creating your dream home we explored how you can start to make your vision a reality, and discussed the importance of research and budgeting. In case you missed it, you can head here to catch up.
In this second and final part, we’ll go through how you might finance home improvements, how they can affect your home’s value and getting help from contractors.
Financing the changes
When it comes to financing your home improvements, there might be several options open to you.
One way you may be able to fund your plans is with a credit card. Using a credit card to pay for your home improvements means you should be able to benefit from the consumer protection offered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, providing what you buy costs over £100 and less than £30,000. This clause means that should the products or services you purchase be faulty, or the company your contractors work for go bust, you should be able to claim your money back through your credit card provider.
Also, if you’re considering paying using your credit card, it’s a good idea to take advantage of 0% interest periods. Some providers offer introductory interest-free periods for many months, which means you don’t have to pay any interest on what you borrow until the end of the promotional period – so long as you keep to the terms, make at least the minimum repayment each month and don’t go over your limit.
For big jobs like an extension, you might be considering taking out a loan instead. A secured loan could allow you to borrow enough to cover the entire cost of the build. In this case, you would pay back the loan in monthly instalments with interest. It’s important to be sure that you can afford to repay a loan before you apply. Missing payments or making them late will damage your credit rating and affect your chances of getting credit in the future. Importantly, if you fall behind on a secured loan you risk losing your home.
Make sure you leave aside some cash for emergencies. Rather than pushing your budget to the limit, make sure you have some savings set aside to help you deal with the unexpected – from an emergency repair bill through to a period of sickness which means you can’t work.
Adding value to your home
Many home improvement jobs will add some value to your home, but some will up it more than others. This can be an added bonus if you think you might sell up in the future. But, if you’re truly just looking to create your dream home, you probably shouldn’t worry too much about whether your changes will add the most value to your property.
On the other hand, if you think you might move out later in your life, maybe when you retire or when your kids move out and you look to downsize, how your home improvements will affect your home’s value is important. Building an extension may add tens of thousands of pounds onto your home’s value, but you don’t have to go all out to increase your home’s worth.
Modernising your kitchen or bathroom, or adding an ensuite, could well push your home’s value up too.
Getting the right help for the job
Who to hire and when to hire them
For bigger jobs like building an extension, carrying out a loft conversion or anything that requires demolishing walls, you should hire professionals. If you’re not properly trained you could risk causing some serious structural damage to your property should you not consult the right tradesperson.
If you’re building an extension, it’s a good idea to speak to an architect to get some advice on what you’ll be able to do with your space. They may be able to draw you up detailed specifications for your build, and may even offer to oversee your build for an additional cost.
For big jobs like this, you should look to hiring builders as well. You may wish to go to an agency or just look at hiring a self-employed contractor. Hiring builders to do the job should ensure the work is done to a professional standard in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it yourself.
To make sure any contractors you do hire are reputable, you should check:
- Whether they belong to a trade association or professional body
- That they have public liability insurance
- Any relevant feedback they have
Unless the builders you hire are qualified to fit plumbing and electrics, you’ll have to think about hiring contractors for these jobs too. When hiring an electrician or gas engineer, you should make sure they are registered with one of the recognised organisations. Find more about this here.
It goes without saying that trying to wire the electrics to your build without any training is very dangerous – ask yourself if the money you save would be worth risking your life. It may even be illegal to carry out certain electric works if you are unqualified. Part P of the Building Regulations restrict what electric works you can do if you are untrained. The plumbing should also be left to a professional, as mistakes can cost you dear in the future.
When you should do it yourself
You might be able to do some of your home improvements yourself, especially if it doesn’t involve any construction.
If you’re just considering redecorating a room, you could save substantially by doing the work yourself. The internet is a goldmine of information, and there are tutorials all over YouTube that can help you carry out tasks like putting wallpaper up and fitting carpets. Although it may take you a bit longer, you’ll save money it and it’ll be much more rewarding once the job is done. You may surprise yourself, too!