Home improvements: the costs and benefits

How much you can expect to pay to upgrade your home in seven ways – and the rewards you can expect to reap

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist


Convert your loft

The cost: £21,000 to £44,000 (source: householdquotes.co.uk)

The benefits: Things you currently have in your loft: your old school reports, a bag of gas bills from the 1990s, a malfunctioning typewriter and three dead mice. Things you could have in your loft: a beautiful spare bedroom, a home cinema or a study where you can finally complete your screenplay about a middle-manager who turns out to be a wizard. In terms of improving your place, this is one of the costliest options, but it can add a huge amount to the value: around 21 percent according to a study by Nationwide. Just bear in mind that a loft conversion is likely to seriously disrupt your life for a while and that you may need to get planning permission – and endure life without a roof for a while.

Get a new kitchen

The cost: £8,100 to £11,700 (source: Houzz Kitchen Trends Study 2018)

The benefits: It’s no surprise that kitchens start to look tired before the rest of the house: their surfaces undergo a regular routine of spills, knocks and scrapes, with the occasional burn thrown in for good measure. And then of course kitchen trends change, from cosy nook to rustic farmhouse to minimalist chic and back again. All of which means that giving your kitchen a facelift – or even a full redesign – can make the world of difference to how you feel about your house, as well as boosting its value.

Convert your garage

The cost: £5,000 to £8,000 (source: Homebuilding and Renovating)

The benefits: Things you currently have in your garage: a miscellaneous assortment of drill bits, a stack of slightly mouldy copies of the Beano and the nozzle attachments for a vacuum cleaner you threw away five years ago. Things you could have in your garage: a granny flat, a play room, a mini gym or even a music studio. It’s much cheaper and less disruptive than a loft conversion too.

Install solar panels

The cost: £4,000 to £6,000 (source: Green Match)

The benefits: In the olden days you had no choice: other people would generate your electricity, largely through burning non-renewable fossil fuels, transport it to you through a complex network of pylons and substations and charge you for the privilege. These days you can bang some photovoltaic solar panels up on your roof and make your own electricity for free. And if you happen to be in an area that supports it you may even be able to sell excess electricity back to the grid through the UK’s system of ‘Feed-in tariffs’ (FITs). Two things you’ll need: a south-facing roof and patience, as it’ll take you several years to recoup your initial outlay.

Get a new bathroom

The cost: £2,500 to £6,000 (source: householdquotes.co.uk)

The benefits: Soaky baths in a new luxury tub, mildew-free grouting and the sort of high-powered monsoon shower that makes you eager to jump out of bed in the morning.

Get a new boiler

The cost: £1,750 to £2,600 (source: The Heating Hub)

The benefits: In the Oscars of home improvements, boilers are the award for best sound mixing: bottom of the pile when it comes to glitz, glamour and red carpet intrigue. But getting one installed can be a shrewd financial move – if it’s more efficient than your old boiler it can save you money, and if you’re thinking of selling your house it can be a major tick in the box for potential buyers.

Double glaze your windows

The cost: £500 to £600 per window (source: The Eco Experts)

The benefits: A double glazed home really comes into its own in winter. No more cranking the thermostat up to 27 in the hope of counteracting the Arctic chill coursing through your corridors. And no more wasting money on central heating: did you know that as much as 70 percent of your home’s heat is lost through single glazed windows? Combine those lower bills with reduced noise and increased security and you’re on to a winner.

Please note, the costs stated in this article are just a general guide and your actual costs will depend on the scale of the job and your home’s particular characteristics.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.