DIY vs Debt: UK homeowners try to balance long-term financial goals

Warren Lewis
11th April 2019

According to the latest research by Just Group, improving the home has climbed the ranks of long-term financial objectives for UK homeowners and is now a priority for almost two thirds of survey respondents.

The study revealed what UK homeowners ranked of highest importance when trying to balance their long-term financial goals and found other top priorities included being financially comfortable in retirement (89%), maintaining their current lifestyle (87%), preparing for later life and retirement (74%), and health care provision in older age (74%).

When choosing where to spend their limited resources, the study shows that homeowners’ other long-term goals, such as leaving an inheritance (50%), achieving a better work-life balance (51%) and paying off debt (50%) are being pushed lower down the list.

Home-owning Millennials are the biggest advocates of home improvements, ranking homes over holidays in their long-standing financial goals. Almost three quarters (72%) of homeowners in their 20s and 30s prioritise fixing up their homes compared to just over half (56%) who aim to increase their spending on luxuries and holidays. The research also discovered that preparing for retirement and long-term care (73%) is surprisingly high on the list of priorities for this younger age group.

Homeowners aged 60 plus tend to focus on care costs (79%) and maintaining their current lifestyle (92%). However, home improvements are still of high importance amongst this age group, with just over half (52%) listing it as a priority for their long-term financial goals.

Just Group communications director, Stephen Lowe, comments: “Everyone’s long term financial priorities are different, and for most of us, deciding how to meet them is a careful balancing act. Our specialist equity release advisers regularly meet customers who want to make their bricks and mortar work harder for them and use some of the value in their property to fund long-term goals like home improvements.

There are lots of good reasons to do this but when thinking about home improvements there are other considerations to take into account. Seeking the right advice is crucial to ensuring you fully understand the impact this decision may have, not only on your property value but on the value of the inheritance you can leave behind. It may also affect your tax situation and entitlement to State benefits, particularly as you approach retirement.”

Top tips to help when considering home improvements:

1: Better heating

There may be Government grants available to help you fund this - particularly if you have an old boiler which isn’t very efficient, or if your property doesn’t have enough insulation.

2: Better double-glazing

Grants for improving window installations aren’t as widely advertised by the energy companies as they used to be, but they do still exist. Even if you don’t qualify for a grant, draught-proofing strips from your local DIY shop are inexpensive but very efficient.

3: Better kitchen

This is an improvement that could help you if you’re struggling with mobility issues and want to lower work-top heights for example. There’s usually a significant cost involved in updating or modernising a kitchen so be sure to check if your Local Authority offers grants to help meet this cost. If your Local Authority can’t help, do get more than one quote and don’t be afraid to approach local contractors as well as high street names.

4: Better garden

This home improvement may give you hours of pleasure as well as increasing the value of your property. Again, getting a range of quotes is important and take time to talk with gardeners and landscapers to understand how much maintenance your new layout may require. Make sure to ask how durable the materials will be as any improvement now needs to hold its value in the future.

5: Better carpets or flooring

Old carpets are easy to trip over, and polished floors build up a patina over time that’s easy to slip on. The benefit of updating or replacing your flooring is that not only can it help reduce the chances of falling or injuries but will be one less expense for prospective buyers to consider if you decide to put your home on the market in the future.

Related articles
More from Finance
Latest from Financial Reporter
Latest from Commercial Reporter