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10 home improvement tips every homeowner should know

Every homeowner needs to know these 10 home improvement tips before starting their project, provided by our expert architects.

8 min read

When it comes to home improvements, everyone wants to know the best tricks and tips. Should you go DIY? Which rooms should you focus on first? How do you find the best contractors?

If you find yourself looking for some expert advice, congrats! You’ve found it. As the UK’s leading architectural practice, we’ve got the best home experts all under one roof. We reached out to our teams and asked them: what are the top home improvement tips every homeowner should know?

Here’s what they said…

Know what adds value

While homes are first and foremost a place to live, they’re also an investment. It can be easy to see the costs involved with big improvement projects (like adding an extension) and feel a little nervous about the numbers. However, a lot of projects can pay off in the long run and you can often work with an architect to find out which improvements might give you the best return for investment.

One of the biggest factors in home value is location, location, location. The national average for value added by a 15m2 rear extension is around £40,000. However, that same extension in Central London can add anywhere between £124,000 - £280,000 in extra value!

See our guide to adding value through home improvement.

Big projects don’t always need planning permission

If you’ve never attempted a big project before, you might feel some trepidation when it comes to gaining planning permission. With a good architect by your side, getting any project through planning can be a relatively painless process. However, if you want to create something without worrying about having to jump through subjective hoops, there are ways around this stage.

For instance, even big projects don’t always need a full planning application. Providing you don’t live in a flat, maisonette, or a listed building, you’ll benefit from a scheme known as permitted development rights. This entitles homeowners the right to extend / renovate their home provided they follow some strict guidelines.

Using permitted development rights, you could…

  • Convert your loft
  • Build a ground-floor rear / side extension
  • Add a two-storey extension
  • Create a new storey
  • Build a garden room

Now, while you won’t need a full planning application, you will still need documentation that your project is legal. Depending on which project you undertake, this could be through prior approval or a lawful development certificate.

Discover the ins and outs of permitted development rights here.

Think about the future

Unless you’re a renovation junkie, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to be tackling big projects every year. Therefore, it’s important you plan for the future with your project. What could your home life look like next year? Five years down the line? 10 or twenty years in the future?

In our Happy Homes report one of the key wellness qualities we identified was adaptability, meaning homeowners were happier in their home when it was able to grow with their family. Therefore, when planning out your renovation, consider adding in features such as…

  • An open-plan layout, this tends to provide more space for different activities and makes it easier to keep an eye on growing children.
  • Lots of built-in storage, so you don’t lose any space to clutter.
  • Multi-functional rooms, such as a spare bedroom that’s also a home office, playroom, and yoga studio.
  • Annexes and self-contained areas of the room, these could be used by independent teenagers, nannies, and even older relatives who need care in the future.

Learn more about designing with adaptability in mind.

Bifold doors
Open-plan and multifunctional spaces are the most adaptable

Put yourself first

Here’s an interesting fact, while putting together our Happy Homes report, we discovered families were designing their home around what they thought a future buyer might like. In some cases, homeowners were prioritising a future owner of their house even when they had no intention of selling!

While selling your home is important, the only person you should be designing your home around is yourself. 81% of those most happy at home say their homes reflect who they are.

Before you start work on your project, sit down and really try to work out what you need most. How does your specific family use spaces day to day? What trends do you like best and what common features tend to pop up in your favourite inspiration images? If you’re using an architect, make sure these are questions they’re also asking.

Learn more about creating a home which mirrors your personality.

Pay the right way

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an enormous fortune to transform your home. Often, the smartest way to finance a home improvement project is to utilise the equity your property has already acquired and to also consider its future value too.

In order to find the best finance route, we always recommend you go with a specialised property broker, rather than just looking on the high-street. Property experts will be able to assess not only how much money you’ll actually need but also create a finance plan which gets you the best rate in the long-run by using your newly created equity.

Learn more about financing your project the right way.

Resi Staff Member
Why not get in contact with Resi's in-house Finance team?

Choosing the best contractor

Unsurprisingly, your contractor is the most important professional for your project. After all, it’ll be this expert who’ll be bringing your vision to life. Therefore, when it comes to picking this vital tradesperson, you’ll want to make sure you do your research.

  • Always vet at least 3 different contractors.
  • Speaking to previous clients, ideally without the contractor present.
  • Go see their past work for yourself and look at recently completed projects and something from at least 18 months ago.
  • Check they have the right insurance policies in place.
  • Make sure everything is covered in their quote - never trust a vague price tag!

Learn more about choosing the right contractor.

Know what to DIY and what not to

If you’ve got yourself that handy touch, DIY is an excellent way to shave money off the cost of your project. However, not every project is made to be completed by mere mortals. Unless you have professional experience, we always recommend against tackling these jobs yourself…

  • Installing plumbing
  • Installing or modifying electricals
  • Fixing your own roof
  • Painting the exterior of your home
  • Removing a chimney
  • Demolishing a part of your home
  • Removing a wall

Learn more about the pitfalls of DIY here.

Fuse box
There are some projects you just need to leave to the experts!

Save the planet, save money

Creating an eco-friendly home is the biggest trend of the moment and one we’re hoping will stick. However, you don’t need to be David Attenborough to want to go green. Incorporating energy-efficient design features into your project will help you both feel good and safe money.

Whether it’s bulking up on your insulation, improving your glazing, or adding on some solar panels, all these things will help dramatically reduce the cost of your household builds - potentially saving you hundreds each and every year!

Discover how to go green with this home improvement guide.

Protect your investment

No matter which project you undertake, transforming your home is no small feat. Therefore, when all the hard work is over, you want to make sure it’s properly protected for the years to come. This is where insurance comes in.

At Resi, we’re lucky to have a team of insurance experts in house, who help guide our customers to the best policies. They always recommend that homeowners take out…

  • Home insurance: make sure yours will keep you covered during the construction process.
  • Structural warranty: protect yourself against poor craftsmanship ruining your home down the line.
  • Life insurance: no matter what happens, make sure your family doesn’t face repayments without you.

Learn more about insurance and home improvement.

Architects aren’t just for posh projects

Many people still think architects are only for posh people doing massive projects but this isn’t the case. Every day homeowners can benefit from the expertise of an architect, as they can help you get maximum value from your home.

They can help you enlarge rooms, add in clever storage features, build better connections to your other rooms, among many other things. They can also help ensure you navigate all the legal requirements correctly, such as building regulations and meeting the permitted development guidelines. For all the added value they can bring to your home and the legal troubles you get to avoid, these professionals are well worth the extra costs.

Don’t believe us? Talk to our team and discover the benefits for yourself. We offer free consultations to all homeowners, so you can get the best tips perfectly tailored to your home. Book your consultation here.

Flat development extension
Resi's architects are responsible for hundreds of projects like this one


When it comes to improving your home, there’s plenty of things for you to consider beforehand. If you want to get the best results, make sure you...

  • Know which projects add the most value
  • Understand UK planning options
  • Create spaces which can adapt to your evolving needs
  • Design with you and your family in mind first
  • Use a property specialist broker to find the right finance options
  • Take time to properly vet potential contractors
  • DIY with caution
  • Make energy-efficient design choices
  • Take out robust insurance policies
  • Get an architect on board from the start

And don’t forget, you can always get more tips from our experts by booking your own free consultation.

Design your own extension

With Resi Ready, you do the designs yourself on our whizz bang tech configurator. It’s the simplest way to get a spiffy new home extension.

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