Making improvements to your home is a great way to prepare it for sale. But why wait? Invest a little time, energy and cash now to put your personal stamp on your property and enjoy the benefits while you’re still living there. Be smart about which projects you choose, and you’ll add value too. Here’s how.

On a budget

Improving your home doesn’t have to cost big bucks. There are many small things you can do, often for very little money, that will make your property look and feel better, and add value into the bargain:

• Refresh your internal walls – it’s amazing the difference a fresh coat of paint can make to the feel of a room. Choose light colours that will make your rooms feel spacious
• Buy a heat-gun and strip old paint off anything wooden – doors, skirting boards, picture rails, etc. – then make it glow with a lick of varnish
• Repair anything that’s broken – a leaky tap, loose door handle, wonky cupboard door, dodgy loo seat … all of these little things add up to a big impression, and are often simple and inexpensive to rectify – and will improve your quality of life, too
• Fill-in and paint over any settlement cracks
• Sand and re-paint any surfaces that are peeling
• Oil squeaky doors and windows
• Sand your floorboards – many homes have glorious hardwood floorboards hidden under carpets. For the cost of hiring an industrial sander for the weekend, and a tin of varnish, these can be transformed into a brand new floor for a room

Mid-priced projects that can make all the difference

There are many mid-priced projects you can invest in that will add value to your property, make it ultimately more saleable, and enhance your own enjoyment of it at the same time. Here are a just a few to whet your appetite for change. Not all are glamorous, or visible, but all will make a difference to your property’s market price, and in some cases will also reduce your monthly energy bills:

• Get any old and crumbling brickwork repointed or rendered
• Address any areas of damp in your property
• Install double glazing
• Invest in cavity wall or loft insulation
• Splash out on a cosy wood burner
• Update your boiler and central heating system
• Paint external windows, doors and bargeboards
• Refresh your flooring – replace musty old carpets, and consider hardwood flooring for living areas
• Address any structural issues – or at the very least get them checked out

Focus on key rooms

If savings (or borrowing capacity) permit, you could look at updating the kitchen or bathroom – two of the key rooms in your home. In good shape, these spaces really enhance the value of your property because future potential buyers know they take time, effort and money to do. You may end up refreshing these rooms for sale, so do it now and make the most of them!

• Kitchen – a full refurbishment for the average home, supplied and fitted by one of the big chain DIY stores, will cost maybe £5k-£10k, and could be much less if you can undertake some of the fitting work yourself. Avoid pricey gimmicks, opt for mid-priced white goods, and spend a little extra for small comfort features such a soft-closing doors and drawers, and your new kitchen will feel like a million dollars. It could also add around 5% to the value of your home.

If a full refurb is beyond your budget, then invest instead in a new sink, new worktops, and doors for your existing units, and replace whatever white goods you can afford. This could keep your costs as low as £1k.

And if that kind of cash is still out of reach, look at up-cycling your existing doors with a lick or paint or varnish, and simply adding a fresh coat of paint to your walls.

• Bathroom – a full refurbishment for the average home, supplied and fitted by one of the big chain DIY stores, will cost from £3k-£4.5k and, as with the kitchen, can be much less if you are able to do some of the work yourself. The price will depend a lot on the quality of fittings you choose, but even the cheapest suites can be made to look amazing if fitted and accessorised well. To keep costs down opt for a low-mid-priced suite but spend more on the fittings.

Again, if a full refurb is out of reach here, you don’t have to replace everything. Give your old suite a thorough clean, and splash out instead on taps, showers, screens and towel rails, as these lower-priced items can make a real impression, and could all be changed for £400-£700 if you choose wisely.

As with your kitchen, if your spend range is more in the sub-£200 arena, roll up your sleeves, buy some top lime scale, grout and mould cleaning products and your tired old bathroom will be gleaming in no time. Add some new towels, a plant or two, a blind and a lick of paint, and the transformation will be complete.

Don’t neglect your garden

Your garden is the extra room you never knew you had – until you dress it, that is. You could spend a lot here, adding patios, decking, a summer house, a brick BBQ, and so on, and if you have the cash to do so then it’s well worth the expense. A nicely decked area alone can add around 2% to your property’s value.

For those watching the pennies, there are a few simple things you can do to make your garden look smart, and increase its value as part of your overall property. Fixing broken fence panels and gates is a good starting point, as is clearing any rubbish and weeds. Pressure-washing paving slabs can make them look like new, and adding outdoor paint and trellis to your fencing will create that all-important impression of a space that is cared for, and enjoyable to use.

Smart properties command better prices

At Underhill Real Estate Agents we see and sell a lot of properties. Most homes will sell if priced right, and marketed effectively. But the properties that fly off the books, the ones that we have buyers clamouring for … well, they’re often the ones that look smart and cared for. And they command a higher price because of that. Wise investments of time, energy and a little (or a lot) of cash in your home will enhance its value, no question.

If you’re considering making some home improvements but are unsure of where to direct your efforts, we can help. Drop in for a chat at our Cowick Street office, or call us on 01392 434172 and we’ll be happy to guide you.