Property Expert Advice Article – Retirement Magazine – 14th Dec 2010
Investing In Your Home – By Interiors & Property Expert Luci Roper
Home in retirement can mean many things ranging from a welcome sanctuary from the outside world to a temporary stopover between travels or a place to welcome your extended family.
If you decide to part with some of your hard-earned cash to improve it, do consider the practical aspects as well as the aesthetics of your domain.
For example, is a water feature a good idea if small children are regularly visiting? Where will guests stay when they visit?
You may be finding that you beloved bath is now providing an obstacle course, with route planning necessary before you can get in and out of it. Or, you could discover that, now you have more time to enjoy them, your hobbies and pursuits demand considerably more space.
When it comes to funding your plans, interior design specialist and homes’ expert Luci Roper states that it is always best to pay for work from your savings rather than taking out a loan and finding the interest offsets any potential increase in property valuation.
“In a property market that’s hard to predict, most home improvements – if done well – should have some impact in increasing the property’s value,” says Luci.
“The key is to decide what money you have got to spend and to think carefully about what your priorities are – for example, what will improve your life significantly now – and balance this with adding maximum value to your property and future requirements.”
On A Budget Of £5,000
Luci recommends focussing on improving the look and feel of your property for your own enjoyment.
“Take time to think about which rooms you spend the most time in and how they can be improved. Freshen things up with a coat of paint, improve storage, create focal points in rooms and add some accessories and consider new carpets or flooring”
Keep decor simple with natural walls enhanced with feature walls and colour coordinated soft furnishings like curtains, cushions and fabric blinds.
“Stick with the same tones throughout even if you choose different colours for various rooms” She adds.
“In other words, opt for pastel, muted shades or rich vibrant colours and try to create flow with one colour that goes from room to room, say on the woodwork or wall.”
For more practical additions than decorative changes, opt for a new central heating system, loft or cavity wall insulation or double glazing.
“Insulating your home is a great way to both spend and save money.” says Luci
“It is likely that you will have recouped your outlay within 3 – 5 years.”
A spokesman for the Energy Saving Trust explains that most F and G rated homes can be improved very cost effectively for less than £3000 pounds. He also points out that, with the abolition of Home Information Packs and the new Government committed to the green agenda energy Performance Certificates are going to enjoy a higher profile.
This means that anyone about to sell their home with an old boiler or lacking full loft and cavity insulation could end up with a poor energy rating an potentially lower sale price.
Luci suggests other options within this budget might be “changing the use of space to create a more modern, open living area with minor building work like knocking through from one room to another, rearranging room layouts, moving or widening doorways to improve access and light.”
On A Budget Of £10,000
At a push and working to a very tight budget, says Luci “you might be able to squeeze a budget bathroom and kitchen into this type of spend but it may be better to think more carefully about the use of your space, rather than compromise on standard and style.”
It may be that guest accommodation is a priority, or perhaps your kitchen, the hub of the house needs a makeover or a conservatory might allow you to better enjoy the garden an add living space.
On A Budget Of £20,000
In this bracket you can seriously improve your home, consider extending to create bigger living areas, happily invest in a new kitchen, bathroom, extension or conservatory.
“Loft conversions make plenty of sense” suggests Luci “adding value and space to your property.”
On A Budget Of £50,000
You can renovate the average 3 – 4 bedroom house to a good standard, build a small extension, re-organise internal space or go for that kitchen or bedroom of your dreams. You can decorate throughout, upgrade of electrical work and central heating might also be affordable here.
Get plenty of quotes for any work first so you know the type of cost involved, advises Luci.
“work out your budget and stick to it where possible. Know what you want to achieve from the start. Put some room schemes together by getting ideas from magazines or the internet.”
“choose fabrics, decide colours, collect samples from suppliers. If you like, bring in an interior designer to do this for you – having a project manager to take away the headaches can prove your to be best bargain”
These are the most demanding rooms because of the amount of time you spend there, so it may well be worth investing a large part of your budget here. But if you want to cut costs, Luci recommends “just replacing the cupboard doors and handles and adding smart new worktops”
“Re-grout or replace tiles, tile floors, add shiny new socket fronts, clear clutter from worktops, throw out your old kettle and treat yourself to a new one, and add colour co-ordinated accessories and storage jars.”
Consider opening this up to create a bigger, more useable modern living space, first checking whether doors would be better positioned before starting on the decor and detail.
“Suitable flooring is critical to designing living areas as they have the potential for high wear and tear,” states Luci. “Although carpet may be warm and comfortable, consider whether it will tolerate grandchildren tearing in from the garden with muddy feet, or spilt claret when guests come to call”
She suggests “solid flooring as durable, easy to clean and attractive, and they are great for mobility, for wheelchairs and prams if this is an issue.”
Solid wooden flooring or specialist products can provide a quality look and feel, “or use laminate and add under floor heating or add rugs in Winter.”
Luci advises finding professional, helpful builders, decorators, architects and tradespeople by recommendation or testimonial: “Request to see samples of work completed, look for affiliation to trade bodies and, once you have identified someone, ask to speak to a selection of their previous clients,” she states. “Most reputable contractors will have no problem with this.”
“Most of all enjoy your home – it’s an extension of your character and personality.”
LUCI’S TOP TIPS
Declutter and add storage space
Improve lighting and install low energy upgrades.
Brighten dark corners with skylights
Go for neutral walls
Don’t be afraid to use coordinating colour
Personalise you home with displays of mementos
Re-frame photographs and prints
Hang pictures grouped together on one wall rather than clutter surfaces