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Keeping up with the Joneses

We all love our homes and it’s no surprise that home improvements are the third most popular reason for why our borrowers take out a loan from Zopa. Since we started in 2005 our home improvement loans have helped over 12,000 households make improvements to their properties.

Getting your dream home in perfect shape, be that with a new fitted kitchen, bathroom renovation, or installing new boilers and double glazed windows, is not cheap. Through our own member’s survey we found that on average, £2,058 is spent on home improvements changes a year. We were also surprised to find that 36% of neighbours speak to each other and this may be a reason why many households embark on making changes – in order to keep up with the Joneses.

Additionally we found that 39% of Zopa home improvement loan customers stayed on budget – well done, savvy renovators. 71% called in the pros, but many said that they also helped out with finishing touches like painting and decorating.

For many, the main reason to embark on making changes will be to add value to your property. This is of course a long term investment. We found that the loft conversions typically add £20k to a home, an extra room adds £10k and a conservatory adds £8k. It is worth remembering that not all changes will add value. Some very personal changes could actually decrease your properties’ value, as the next buyer may not like the neon green walls the same way you do!

Below are the survey results transformed into the “How are the Joneses improving their home?” infographic as well as a few tips for making those home changes.

  1. Plan before you buy. Sketch your plans out paper so you have an idea of how it will look. Knowing the exact layout and where things will be placed will help during the execution. Many of our existing customers offered up the advice – ‘plan, plan, and plan!’
  2. Shop around. Get many quotes from different tradesmen to compare, and ask for references. Cheapest may not be best in this case! For your materials, discounts on furniture can be found online if buying out of season or from sites that deliver direct from the manufacturer. Free cycling and restoring old pieces of like fireplaces and sheds can help keep costs down and provide a vintage and unique feel.
  3. Budget well. Keep a little bit extra for unforeseen circumstances, and don’t forget about the finishing touches! Stick to your budget. Carry out the work in phases if you have to. Not everyone has the financial resources to get everything done at once. Split up the project into different sections and work out realistic timelines and budgets for each so that you have the funds and extra time to make amends if any changes are needed.
  4. Be sociable. Getting on with your neighbours can help cut down labour costs, as an extra pair of hands in return for a few cuppas and some cake will really reduce the total cost and time it takes paint those walls and lay down laminate flooring.

So if you do decide to borrow money to improve or re-do your home, plan it carefully, stick to your budget and shop around for your loan to get the best APR! With a home improvement loan, you can spread out the costs monthly in more manageable payments. This will help reduce the amount of potential debt in the future, and can be a much cheaper option than using some of the high APR credit cards! It is also important to look at options where you can pay your loan off early at no extra cost in case your financial situation improves.

We are looking forward to helping more people add value to their home by creating their dream place to live in. If you have a project where you have used a Zopa loan for please do share your photos and stories with us at We are looking for member stories to be featured in a national magazine in the upcoming months and would love to hear from you!