The top ten DIY projects: are they worth it?

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tins of paint

A new survey has revealed the top ten most common home improvements being carried out in the UK at the moment. The most popular one - installing a new kitchen - has been carried out by 42% of people in the last three years, and another 34% of people plan it in the next three years. Three quarters of people clearly think it's worthwhile, but with an average cost of £8,000, will it pay you back financially?

And how does the rest of the top ten fare?


The research, commissioned by comparison website Gocompare.com, found that the top 10 renovation projects include: updating kitchens and bathrooms, building an extension, and garden makeovers.

Gocompare.com's home insurance spokesperson, Mark Greening, commented: "Undertaking a home renovation or extension not only helps to improve or increase your living space, but can add to the value of your property and your fixtures and fittings." So which ones will pay you back in the value they add to your home?

1. New kitchen

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

2. New bathroom

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

3. New boiler of central heating

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

4. Extension

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

5. Garden makeover

17% have done one of these in the last three years, and 20% will in the next three. This doesn't have to cost more than a couple of hundred pounds, but according to a survey from Halifax a few years ago it costs an average of £850 and adds almost £1,500 to the value. This is the second financial sound project in the list.

6. Knock through rooms

11% of us have knocked rooms through in the last three years and 8% will in the next three. If you're creating more usable space, then buyers won't mind you are reducing the number of rooms. If it's a supporting wall you can end up spending around £1,500, whereas a non-load-bearing wall should be doable in a day with a laborour and a plasterer for a couple of hundred pounds. It's unlikely to specifically add value though.

7. Install solar panels

8% have put them in over the last three years, and 8% plan to in the next three. A solar panel costs about £6,500. It's definitely not going to add value to your property. However, it can pay off. With a feed-in-tariff you can save yourself £600 a year in heating, and can sell up to £450 back to the grid. The lifespan of the panel should be 20 years, so you'll break even after six and a half years and start making money. It's the third wise financial move here.

8. Attic conversion

6% have done this in the last three years and 11% plan to in the next three. According to HSBC it adds the most value - at an average of £16,000. However, at a cost of £20,000 or more, it won't make you money.

9. Adding an extra bedroom

4% of people have added one in the last three years and 7% plan to in the next three. As with a similar extension, you're likely to spend £20,000 and add £15,000 of value. So it only makes sense if your family is too big for the house.

10. Cellar conversion

2% have converted the cellar in the last three years, and 4% plan to in the next three. This is not a great way to see a return on your money - unless you live in the kind of area where you are absolutely out of any other options when it comes to making more space. It's not cheap - starting at £10,000 for simple waterproofing and finishing, to £50,000 for more intensive work. It will typically add £20,000 to the property.

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It seems, therefore that only three in ten of these projects will make a return on the money you spend.

However, it should be emphasised how much difference your location makes. In London, for example, every one of these developments will add value - HSBC shows that just a new bathroom adds over £4,200, while a room extension adds £53,000. However, in Wales, at the other end of the spectrum, adding a room adds just £12,000 - so very few improvements will actually be worth your while in pure financial terms.

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