Homes are to be lived in, but the lived-in look unfortunately doesn’t appeal to many buyers.
When it’s time to sell up, renovations are less about how they work for you and more about how attractive you can make a property.
You want viewers marvelling at the storage space they’ll have if they move in, talking about unique features that make the place stand out, and picturing their lives in the space that you’ve created.
And, as a result, these viewers will be more likely to become buyers – and to pay a decent price to snag their dream home.
Ryan Ninnis from Foxtons says: ‘Presenting a stylish, well designed, and functional home to buyers is a key way to differentiate and sell your property quickly.
‘We regularly see increases in value of 15-20% for owners who have made home improvements that appeal to the demands of the local market.’
So with that, we’ve listed the things you can DIY inexpensively and easily. You’ll add value to your home when selling it without needing to spend lots, and learn a few new skills along the way.
Don’t retile, paint your tiles
According to property expert Bramleys, 20% of first time buyers would be put off by an outdated bathroom or kitchen.
However, tiling and replacing units can be expensive – especially if you’re selling up and have a variety of costs to contend with.
Kelsey Heinrichs, who runs interiors blog Home With Kelsey, revamped her kitchen by painting the tiles instead of replacing them, spending £15 on a tin of Ronseal One Coat Tile Paint rather than £600 on retiling.
She ended up using around four coats of the paint, finding a roller gave a much smoother finish than a brush.
‘Remember to use painters tape around your tiles and lightly sand (240grit sandpaper) between each layer of paint to remove any fibres/hairs that may have stuck to the paint while each coat was drying,’ added Kelsey.
Transform unused space into office space
You’re limited in the space that you have to show off in a property, but presenting it in a different way can be just as impactful.
Michael Reading, Property and Construction expert from Housetastic says: ‘Many first time buyers are looking for more space, perhaps an extra bedroom which they can then convert into their own home office,
‘First-time buyers are normally professionals making their way onto the property ladder, therefore, they have no choice but to incorporate their work with their home life.’
If you have a box room that currently houses all your extra clothes and a guest bed, put a desk and chair in to show viewers how it can be used as a home office.
Similarly, if you have a nook or under-stairs cupboard that’s not doing much, a floating desk can be made using a thick piece of MDF or wood that’s been sanded. Fit a bracket as you would a normal shelf (just ensure it can hold the extra weight) and plonk your new desk on top for a brand new purpose.
While a dressing table can be nice, switch yours up before viewers come over to look more like a workspace to draw that picture in their minds of how multifunctional this home can be.
Try using vinyl
As mentioned above, a well-kept kitchen can go some way to ensuring your home gets the price it deserves when you sell.
Worktops can be expensive to replace, but if the ones you currently have are dated or chipped you don’t need to go to all that trouble.
Zuzana James, 31, saved big on her kitchen renovation using DC Fix Oak Effect vinyl wrap for the countertops. At £10 a roll, and requiring three rolls in total, it was certainly cost-effective.
She told moneysaving Facebook group DIY On A Budget UK: ‘Wrapping the worktop was the trickiest job, so I’d recommend getting a second person to help hold it all in place. But it is doable – I managed on my own.
‘The advice I would give people is to go for it – but only if you have at least four or five days of time on your hands, as it’s not a job for one afternoon.’
Change fittings not units
Continuing in the kitchen, you can use your DIY skills to make the cupboards and drawers look like new without buying new.
As part of Kelsey’s kitchen makeover, she cut water-resistant MDF to the same size as her cabinets and affixed the panels using Wickes Instant Grab Adhesive Glue.
She then primed and sanded the surfaces, before painting with cupboard paint and adding gold handles for a modern finish.
If you don’t have the time or knowledge to add the panels, painting or even just refreshing handles is a quick fix.
Switch up wardrobes
Furniture experts at Neville Johnson say: ‘A buyer expects to see clever storage solutions in properties of all sizes, especially as new home developments from national house builders are providing excellent storage solutions and setting a new benchmark for buyers.’
To compete with these purpose-built properties, you may think you need to spend a fortune getting fitted wardrobes put in.
Instead, try fitting shelving or rails in corners of your home that you normally store clothes, shoes, and everyday clutter – or in cupboards you already have.
It’s about smartening up your storage space rather than creating more of it, so measure up the area you have and get materials cut to size at a hardware shop. A rail and some corner shelving, for example, looks a lot tidier than an empty cupboard.
Jack from Project Number Nine has a great tutorial showing you how to DIY fitted wardrobes if you do decide to take the plunge. It’s not an easy job, but the results are fantastic – all for under £300.
Jazz up your staircase
According to commentary from Foxtons, a potential buyer will make up their mind on a property within the first 30 seconds of walking into the home, making an inviting hallway a must.
If you have stairs, consider replacing or painting the banisters for an easy update.
It’s best to give carpet or wood floors a good clean before marketing a house as a rule, but if the stairs are looking threadbare, a carpet runner may be just the thing.
They’re easy to fit yourself using a stair runner or thin rug, staple gun, and a bolster chisel.
Measure up (ensuring you account for both the risers and treads) then use your staple gun to fix the carpet to the floorboards. The bolster chisel should help you push the fabric into the creases, and you can always remove the staples with a screwdriver if you mess up.
Runner rods, stair holders, and traditional nail heads all work to finish up the job.
Or, if you’re looking for something more statement, why not try a staircase mural like this arty homeowner?
Hide your boiler
In creating this imaginary dream home for viewers, you may want to hide unsightly appliances like the boiler.
Kelsey and her partner Justin built a high-end looking cabinet for their boiler on a budget, and you can do the same.
Justin built a timber frame around the unit and glued on MDF strip wood to create a box. They used a shaker-style to fit in with the rest of their kitchen, but you can go with whatever looks best to you.
He then built a three-sided box that slots over the piping below the boiler, so it’s hidden but easy to reach for plumbers and while cleaning.
Give yourself kerb appeal
Don’t forget the outside of your home when selling – or as agents call it, kerb appeal.
According to RatedPeople, debris or rubbish in front of a home can tank its value by an average of £8,963. Ensure everything is in tip-top shape and you won’t put viewers off before they even get in the door.
Rather than painting the exterior of a house, get your pressure washer out, which is cheaper and just as effective.
Wash in between paving slabs to remove weeds and smarten up the front of the property – and don’t forget to have a clear up before viewings begin.
Research by Goodmove revealed 49% of homebuyers want to see lots of plants outside of their dream property.
And according to RatedPeople, an overgrown garden can drop your property’s value by £8,817, while broken and missing fence panels reduce it by an average of £8,957.
How you repair a broken fence will depend on what you already have. Removing a standardised fence panel and replacing it is an easy DIY job if you know which parts to buy and have basic tools like a hammer, spirit level, and saw.
You may need to affix fence posts in with concrete, which can be done yourself but is quite a mess for an amateur. Speak to an expert at your local hardware store to find out your best course of action.
As for planting, even potted plants by the door can make a place feel more hospitable – and you can take them with you when you move.
Bedding plants can be purchased from most garden centres to give your borders a lift, or hanging baskets suit smaller spaces. Shrubs make great perennials if you want a low-maintenance option.
Even freshly-mown grass could be the difference between getting the asking price for your place or receiving no offers.
Paint your front door
Regardless of whether you have outdoor space to put plants, you can still make the front door welcoming and attractive.
A repaint could add £5,241 onto the value of a property according to MyToolShed, and Goodmove found that white was the most desired front door colour, followed by black, blue, and green.
You’ll need a paint scraper, sandpaper, masking tape, a paintbrush, and paint with built-in primer. Wipe the doors down and sand and scrape off any flaking paint before taping up around handles, keyholes, and letterboxes.
Then paint with your chosen colour, leave to dry, and apply a second coat the following day if required.
Smarten up your walls
According to RatedPeople, poor decor finishing can whack thousands off your home’s value.
They estimate that cracks in walls, scuffed paintwork and marked walls, and peeling wallpaper could knock almost £10,000 each off the price you get – that’s a lot of cash if you have all three.
Scuffed paintwork can easily be fixed with a full repaint, but a magic eraser sponge should wipe away marks without requiring this. Just be careful not to rub the paintwork off altogether.
To fix small cracks in paint, use a scraper and sandpaper to create a smooth surface before applying patching material (like Polyfilla) and leaving to dry, sanding again, then painting with the same colour as the rest of the wall.
Larger cracks may require a removal and repaint, but you can make light work of that using our handy decorators’ tips.
Wallpaper that’s peeling only in certain areas can be gently peeled back and adhesive applied underneath. Smooth it back into place using a seam roller (or another similar tool) and you’re good to go.
For bubbles in wallpaper, an adhesive syringe can be placed into the offending spot before being smoothed down.
Try DIY decking
Installing decking in a garden is seen as a major job. But did you know, according to My Tool Shed, this feature could add a whopping 10% to the value of a property?
It’s not a DIY project for the faint-hearted, but it can be done on a budget.
Trex Composite Decking say that you can easily replace deck boards for a new look. Start by checking the condition of the footings, post, and joists, then remove the nailed deck boards and ensure everything is level. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit the new ones.
If you don’t have a substructure in place, section off the area you want the deck and dig down to a depth of 50mm before checking everything is flat with a spirit level.
Some people choose to build on top of risers as this prolongs the life of the wood, although you can built onto the ground if you cover it with weed control fabric and around 50mm of gravel.
Once you’ve created a timber structure (with four outer joists and inner joists at a maximum of 450mm apart) you can lay deck boards as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Depersonalise the place
A survey by Hammond’s Furniture found that 11% of Brits would offer up to £5k above the asking price for a minimalist home.
Your interiors style may be unique, but the aim when selling is to appeal to a broad spectrum of people so they can picture themselves in the home.
Tidy away personal effects, and consider repainting walls in neutral cream or white tones.
Go for a warm-hued off white when decorating north facing rooms that get less light, or add hints of blue or black in south facing rooms to balance out the bright sunlight.
It doesn’t have to be totally neutral – a feature wall or painted arch adds some intrigue. Just try to tone down anything that may put off a potential buyer who wants to walk straight in.
Create a mini library
The experts at Neville Johnson say: ‘Over the past two years we have seen an increase in home library projects.
‘Depending on the style of the property, a traditional library, complete with mullions, skirting and cornicing or a contemporary library with shelf lighting and seamless doors, can be a real focal point and add desire, quality, and value to the home.’
Most people don’t have the space to go full Dewey Decimal in their living room, so consider a reading nook instead.
In the same way you may add a workspace to paint that important picture of life here to potential buyers, sell them the dream of a cosy place to while away the days with a good book.
‘Decorate a corner that’s dedicated to self-care,’ Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture And Choice says.
‘Choose a relaxing colour palette like sage green and a comfy armchair that’s great for lounging. Make the space extra cosy by layering with comfy accessories like a throw or cushion. Freshen up with indoor plants for that extra boost.’
A bookshelf and somewhere to sit is really all you need, but you could go even further and build alcove shelving.
Not only will it appeal to buyers as a charming feature in the property, these shelves also give them some much-needed built-in storage space.
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