Spring is almost upon us and many homeowners will find their thoughts turning to DIY projects.
Whether it’s the longer days or the fact there are a string of bank holidays coming up, this time of year is traditionally a very popular time to make home improvements.
There are a couple of reasons why 2015 might see more people than usual take on some sort of domestic project. For one, the housing market appears to be slowing down – at least if this week’s figures from Nationwide Building Society are to be believed.
For anyone looking to sell their property in the coming months, making some sort of alterations could help secure a buyer in what look like more challenging conditions.
Equally, you may decide to improve rather than move if you don’t think you can get the price you want for your current place.
The other important factor is the low cost of borrowing: so if you are planning to seek credit to pay for your new kitchen or loft conversion, say, there has probably never been a better time.
But what are the most profitable changes to make? Some research carried out by Zopa recently quizzed homeowners who had made improvements to find out which they thought had added the greatest value to their properties.
Top of the list was a conservatory: the typical cost of having one added was £5,300, but this increased the value of a property by around £11,000 on average, representing a 108% return on investment.
Garden improvements were the next most rewarding with an 88% ROI, but installing a new kitchen – one of the most popular projects – only managed an ROI of 48% on a typical outlay of £4,900.
Whatever alterations you decide to make, they need to be done right whether you’re taking a DIY approach or paying tradesmen to carry out the work.
If you do need some outside help, how do you find a builder, plasterer or plumber that you can trust? Seeking recommendations from friends, family and neighbours is always a good starting point. But if that approach doesn’t bear fruit, there are a number of websites that can help you make your choice.
Trade body the Federation of Master Builders has a Find A Builder service that lets you input details of your job project: FMB members will then get in touch to give you a quote.
Checkatrade.com is another option: this is a directory of a wide range of tradesmen around the country. You can search according to the work you need doing and your location. Firms pay to be listed but customers are encouraged to post detailed reviews covering the likes of work quality, punctuality and whether the project was completed on time and to budget.
Sites like RatedPeople.com and MyBuilder.com also put you in touch with local builders. MyBuilder lets you post a job and get responses back from local tradespeople interested in picking it up. RatedPeople lets you solicit three quotes from local firms and the tradesmen then buy these leads from the site. On both sites you can check what other site users have to say about the workmen before you commit. RatedPeople also has some useful information about drawing up a contract and payment schedule, which is often a good idea on larger-scale projects.