Raising money for home improvements

People improve their homes for all sorts of reasons. They might be uniting two small living-rooms to create a spacious den the whole family can enjoy with room to spare. It might be because they’re putting the property up for sale and looking for a cunning way to add to the price tag. It could be because the family’s crying out for more space, but loath to abandon the beloved home that’s served them well for so many years.

They’re all worthy goals – but turning dreams into reality requires money. So the latest Bank of England (BoE) Credit Conditions Survey (published January 3rd) provides some encouraging news to would-be home improvers looking for finance.

 Availability of secured credit increasing

‘In the three months to mid-December,’ it tells us, ‘lenders reported a significant increase in the overall availability of secured credit to households.’

 “Availability of credit has been an issue since the start of the financial crisis,” commented a spokesperson for Ocean Finance, supplier of this text. “In 2011, gross mortgage lending totalled £141 billion, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders; compare that with the massive £363 billion we saw in 2007.

“Obviously, availability isn’t the only issue; reduced demand has played a part in this decline as well. But overall, lenders’ appetite for lending has decreased significantly in recent years. So it’s good to see more positive figures coming out as the New Year gets underway, especially figures in publications like the Credit Conditions Survey, as those figures come straight from the horse’s mouth – from the lenders themselves.”

So many ways to improve a home

If you’re looking for something specific (more space, greater convenience, better heating, etc.) you probably already have a good idea of how you’re going to improve your home.

If you’re specifically looking to increase your home’s value, you might have more choice than you expected, depending on your budget (and your home’s current layout, of course). Here’s a look at just three of them:

Loft conversion. If you’re looking for more space but building outwards isn’t an option, could you expand upwards? Loft conversions can be an excellent way to add an extra bedroom / bathroom / study, depending on what your home already offers. According to homebuilding.co.uk, a typical loft conversion can cost around £500-£600 per m2 – around half the price of building an extension – and it can seriously add to your property’s value.

Central heating. A lot of people won’t even consider a property without central heating. Whether you’re replacing an old system or starting from scratch, a modern central heating system could make your house far more welcoming – and therefore far more appealing.

Conservatory. It’s not just a way to increase your living space. In the right position, a conservatory can let you take advantage of the sunny-but-cold days we’re only too familiar with in this country. If you’re showing your house to potential buyers in Spring or Autumn, for example, you could make a point of leaving the heating off, just to show off how the sun’s heat pours in through the glass. With the cost of gas and electricity sky-high and still rising, this could be an excellent selling-point, maximising your profit from the sal

Julie Hanson

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