The Cost Of Home Improvements
How much do home improvements actually cost? Christina Jordan investigates.
Improving your home is a favourite pastime for Brits and each year we spend millions making our properties bigger and better. In 2007, planning permission was granted for 295,074 extensions, 43,761 self-build projects and 39,462 loft conversions in the UK, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
That's a lot of improving!
With house prices on the slide, it could make more financial sense than ever to stay put and do up your current home, rather than upgrade to a larger property.
Not only could it provide you with extra space but it could also significantly increase the value of your property, as highlighted in Why Home Improving Beats Moving. And there are many different ways to fund the work, as my Foolish colleague Ed Bowsher explained in How To Pay For Home Improvements.
But recent research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has found that the cost of home improvements has risen by 20% in the last two years, so be aware that the cost of your proposals could be significantly higher than you anticipated.
How much do typical home improvements cost?
How long is a piece of string? There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the cost of improvement work and a lot depends on your location, the number of tradesman in your area, the specification of your job and the quality of materials you are happy to fork out for.
RICS has come up with a list of useful averages, which provide a snapshot of home improvement costs, but it points out that a 3x3 single storey extension will cost approximately £23,940 in Greater London and just £19,320 in the North West, highlighting the importance of your location.
More detailed costs can be found in the latest edition of the RICs book, The Property Makeover Price Guide, which looks at specific types of work in different areas of the country. Sarah Beeny's book Price the Job does the same, giving typical prices on anything from getting a new doorknob to having a two-storey extension built. (Both of these books are available through Fool partner, Amazon.co.uk.)
But the figures differ depending on the source. The Federation of Master Builders puts the average cost of a loft extension at a whopping £30,000 compared to RICS £17,000 - but notes that it could add 20% to the value of your property. It also claims that a single storey extension would set you back £30,000 with the price rising to £40,000 for two-storeys.
Below is the RICS rough guide to the costs of some of the more common improvements, noting the equivalent cost in 2006 and the percentage increase.
Average home improvement costs in 2008 compared to 2006
Repairing windows in poor decorative order (both sides of an average window size from 600 x 900mm to 1500x1200mm)
Now £88 - £330 17% rise
Realign PVCu gutters
Was £340 - £1,260
Now £430 - £1,590 26% rise
Restoring a wall affected by damp penetrating through an external wall and plaster wall
Was £72 - £115 (area 1 to 5m2)
Now £83 - £135 16% rise
Replacing cracked brickwork using scaffolding (2m length of crack at a high level)
Was £205 - £330
Now £240 - £380 16% rise
Resecure roof tiles/slates
1 tile was £220 now £280
6 tiles was £245 now £310 up to 17% rise
6X5 Loft Conversion with 2 Velux windows
Was from £14,000
Now from £17,000 21% rise
Adding double glazing (PVCu sash window - approximate window size 600x900mm - 1200x1200mm)
Was £850 -£1,580
Now £1,040 - £1,930 22% rise
4X4 single story house extension with one window
Was £18,500 - £23,000
Now £22,500 - £28,000 22% rise
Basement conversions (Floor size 3x5m)
Now £10,000 25% rise
Adding a 4x4 conservatory
Was £15,000 - £19,000
Now £18,500 - £23,000 22% rise
Why have costs risen so steeply?
An increase in the cost of labour and materials has forced prices upwards.
In recent years UK homeowners have benefited from an influx of EU tradesmen, but now the tide is beginning to turn (helped by the weak pound). Many of these skilled workers, particularly those from central and eastern Europe, are returning home - for example, half of the estimated one million British-based Poles have already left the UK.
This decrease in supply of labour means fewer competitive quotes, which in turn has pushed up prices.
The cost of raw material is also rising and this has affected the trades enormously, with roofing costs having jumped 26% in two years for example.
If you do need to find a builder cost is going to be a major issue, but the FMB stresses that going for the cheapest quote is not always the best bet.
It advises asking family and friends for recommendations or using its Find a Builder service. Make sure your quotes compare like-for-like in terms of the quality of materials and go for the builder you can communicate best with and has the best references. Then make sure you get a contract - you can download one here - and never pay the full amount upfront, or in cash.
How should I pay for it?
For safety's sake, paying on a credit card gives you more protection than a cheque or cash. If the job is large you could pay it in instalments on your card and most reputable builders will be happy with this arrangement.
Raising the funds depends on the size of the job and your financial circumstances but personal loans, secured loans and remortgages are all viable options for raising the money to fund home improvements. If you are not sure which of these suits your circumstances, take advice from a qualified financial adviser.
Home improvements can give you enormous satisfaction and increase the value of your home, but they can also be extremely expensive. Choosing your tradesman carefully and borrowing wisely are the two factors most likely to make your improvement project run smoothly, on time and to budget.