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Simple home improvement tips

Paint inside and out

Painting the inside or outside of your home is one of the most low cost home improvements you can make. According to the Halifax Home Improvement Survey, painting or decorating can add around £2,000 to the value of your home. Painting can refresh or clean walls instantly and an entirely different shade can create the impression that the whole room has been redesigned. Painting old furniture and skirting boards is also a simple, cheap and effective home improvement.

For a professional finish and to save time, hire a professional painter. Eco-friendly paints are especially popular at the moment, interior designer Kate Ainsley Williams of KAW Design in London says: “Natural paints are better for your health and the environment, they last as long as synthetic paints but may just take a bit longer to dry.”

Revamp your windows

New double glazed windows are not necessarily the cheapest home improvement but they will save you money in the long run by reducing your fuel bills. New windows will increase the comfort and security of your home too. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), double glazing can save up to £135 a year on your fuel bulls and can cut your carbon emissions by 720kg a year. If you can’t afford brand new windows, why not repaint your existing window frames or put up some new curtains or blinds? Draught proofing your windows will usually cost less than £100 and will keep your home cosy as well as preventing all that expensive heat from escaping.

Lay a new driveway

Improving the exterior of your property will increase your home’s curb appeal; making it look great and perhaps even boosting the value of your home.Laying a new driveway can achieve just this; choose a material which suits your property – clay tiles, concrete, tarmac, brick or natural stone are all possible options. Make sure your driveway is laid properly by a professional to ensure that it lasts.

Install new kitchen and bathroom units

A quick, low cost way of refreshing the rooms you spend the most time in is to replace or repaint cupboard doors, units or work surfaces. Installing new worktops for instance can give the impression of a completely new kitchen. “Even if you can only afford laminate worktops rather than granite, as long as it’s good quality and is installed by a professional, it’ll look good,” says Tessa Andrew, from Rooms Kitchen Specialist in London. The same goes for new kitchen or bathroom units – in fact all furniture can be upholstered, painted or glossed to reinvent it.

Tile your patio

Make the most of your outdoor space by creating an area to eat or relax in.Tiling your patio is relatively inexpensive but does need to be carried out by a professional tiler for best results. Patio tiles come in a range of colours, styles and materials so whether you fancy natural rustic stone or brightly coloured clay, you can create your ideal outdoor space.

Get the gardener in

Tidying up your garden costs nothing; regular maintenance like weeding, mowing and weatherproofing sheds, fences and garden furniture is also worthwhile. Spending small amounts of time and money on garden maintenance will save money in the long run rather than waiting till fences, furniture and outbuildings are in such a state they are beyond repair. As Heidi Cornish, from Island Landscapes Ltd in Essex points out: “Gardens can look untidy very quickly, which is why some clients with less time hire us to come in and do some regular maintenance work.” If you don’t know which garden maintenance company to hire, try finding one who’s registered with a reliable trade company such as the British Association of Landscaping Industries (BALI).

Insulate your home

Insulating your walls and loft is a relatively low cost home improvement that will keep on saving you money for years to come and help the environment. Insulation not only keeps your home warm in winter but cool in summer and can cost as little as £250 to insulate walls and lofts and £100 to install floor insulation, says the EST. Installing 270mm of insulation in a loft that has none will save £150 a year, cavity wall insulation could save around £115 and floor insulation can save £50.

Insulating your home is an especially cheap home improvement because government grants are often available. Under carbon emission reduction targets, energy companies are required to help households become more energy efficient, so provide grants through schemes like the Green Project. Those over 60 and on most benefits can usually have their homes insulated completely free, so check with your local authority to find out what you’re eligible for.

Convert your garage

Want a cheap, easy way to increase the size of your home? Then consider converting your garage. This rarely requires planning permission as long as you’re not increasing the size of the garage. You can use your new space for a bedroom, kitchen extension, office or playroom; add some plumbing to create an extra bathroom or en suite.

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