We all need a bit of help with property projects – even me!

publication date: Jun 4, 2015

We all need a bit of help with property projects – even me! 

I was reading some research from Barclays recently about home improvements. Their report reckons we have added over £164 billion to our homes since we lived in them and that home improvements can help to add an average of £31,000 to a property’s value. 

That’s a lot of potential money to make, but as always, there is someone out there that will disagree. Another survey from the insurance company Allianz suggests the opposite can happen. According to their research, home improvements which lead to DIY disasters cost the nation over £4.4 billion a year! 

Whatever the reports say, all I know is when you buy a house, it’s all about location, location, location, but when you want to make changes to your home, it’s all about research, research, research. 

I cannot tell you the amount of times I end up having to try and help people with problem property projects – after they’ve made their mistakes. That is frustrating when you run a business which helps educate people to carry out property projects successfully – for free!

So, if you are considering any home improvement project from hanging a new door to renovating a home from scratch, here are my top five research tips:

Top Tip #1 Find out if you CAN do the job!
In an effort to increase the safety of the homes we live in, particularly as we have so many old properties in the UK, there are now lots of rules and regulations which mean you have to get a properly qualified professional in to do certain work around your home. 

This includes all types of gas work, main electrical work, some plumbing and glazing jobs. If you are doing anything to do with drainage or that could affect the property’s structure, it is likely you’ll need to have building control sign off. 

Top Tip #2 Work out a budget – and stick to it!It’s easy to get carried away and spend a lot more than you planned on home improvements – there are some very good kitchen and bathroom salesmen around! However, not all updates will add the same value as they cost. For example if you put a £30,000 kitchen in a home worth £150,000 it won’t necessarily raise the value by the same amount. 

Top Tip #3 Understand timescalesThere are lots of jobs which on the surface look like they can be done in one weekend or over a bank holiday. It’s only when you read the instructions you find you have jobs to do beforehand, such as fill in cracks in walls before painting or acclimatise laminate flooring for a few days before it is laid. 

Don’t forget too, ‘life gets in the way’. Someone might be poorly at the weekend or need your help when you wanted to carry out the work on your property, so always plan to do a job well in advance of when it actually needs doing, that way you won’t end up working under lots of pressure or worst still employing a cowboy tradesman who happens to be free when you need quality work doing.  

Top Tip #4 Use trusted trades people who guarantee their work
Whatever the work you need doing on your home, there isn’t really any excuses for using cowboys. Electricians have to, by law belong to one or more organisations such as NAPIT and anyone working with gas must be Gas Safe Registered - remember it’s not CORGI anymore! There are even organisations for roofing companies, chimney experts, painters and decorators and window companies. 

All of the real professionals will sign up to a code of conduct which includes making sure you have a contract in place, agree payment terms, and have insurance in place should something unfortunate happen. Once the work is done, they should offer warranties and a free, independent complaints procedure - just in case. 

Yes you might need to pay VAT which costs 20% extra, but don’t forget that means they are paying their taxes and are far more likely to carry out your job legally and well as a result. 

Top Tip #5 Come to the Big Home Improvement Show – sign up now and it’s free!
There is nothing better than being able to chat about your plans, however small or large, with experts, for free, before you carry out the project. Remember, none of us know what we don’t know until it’s often too late and when it comes to home improvements mistakes can be costly and miserable to live with when it’s your own home.

Coming to the Big Home Improvement Show means you can chat through your project with myself and my Property Clinic team which include builders and surveyors; Checkatrade and the huge number of experts at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre. 

I’ve carried out many a project over the years, but I’m about to embark on some complex improvements this year too, so while I’ll be at the Centre to answer your questions, I’ll also be getting expert help to get answers for the jobs I need to do over the coming months! 

Interested in coming? Free on the Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th June? 
Then sign up NOW so you can get FREE entry to the Big Home Improvement Show! It will be great to see you there and I look forward to helping you with your property project – small or large.

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner OBE, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
This website is Copyright © Designs on Property Ltd and Propertychecklists.co.uk protected under UK and international law.