The lockdown has prompted many of us to embark on DIY projects at home such as painting and decorating or getting to grips with our gardens.

Until now, any plants, compost or garden tools had to be ordered online, but garden centres can re-open from today (May 13) provided they have introduced social distancing measures. While homeware, building supplies and hardware stores have been classed as essential businesses by the government, many of them still chose to close after the lockdown was announced. Recent days, however, have seen growing numbers re-open their doors to customers.

As well as making your home a nicer place to live, making home and garden improvements can help boost your property’s value which could be useful if you’re considering selling in future. According to a study carried out by Halifax earlier this year, on average, people who have recently carried out home improvements reported that doing so had added an average of £4,806 to their house price.

Here, we look at some simple ways to update your property and improve your garden without breaking the bank.

Update your bathroom

There are plenty of ways to give your bathroom a makeover without having to get a plumber involved and it could be a good way to add value to your home. According to the website, updating or fitting a new bathroom can add between 3% and 5% to your property’s value.

Even changing a few fittings, such as installing a new loo seat and towel rail can make a big difference. If you fancy a change of colour scheme, then as well as painting the walls, you could consider using tile paint to paint over existing tiles. Make sure you buy paint that is specially for bathrooms though so it can survive in damp conditions. Tins of tile paint usually start from around £20 for 0.75l, so this can be a cost-effective and low effort way to give your bathroom a fresh new look. 

It’s also a good idea to scrape out any grout that’s discoloured or cracked and re-grout the whole room to make everything look clean and fresh. B&Q has a useful video which shows you how to go about this and explains which tools you’ll need.

Set your free home insurance reminder​

Let us know when your home insurance expires and we’ll remind you when it’s time to check for a better deal.

By providing us your email address you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the link in our emails.

Success! Your reminder has been set.

Give your kitchen a makeover

If you want to update your kitchen, but don’t want the upheaval or expense of fitting a new one, fitting a new splashback can be a good option. You can buy stainless steel or PVC ‘peel and stick’ panels starting from around £40. You might also want to think about giving your kitchen cabinets a lick of paint and changing the handles on them. Home and lifestyle vlogger Mr Carrington explains how to go about painting kitchen cupboards without removing the doors here:

Spruce up your garden

If you’re lucky enough to have a good-sized outside space, separating it into separate zones can help make each area work better for you. For example, dedicate one area to eating outdoors, with a table and chairs and barbecue, and another part of the garden to growing vegetables.

Your garden should be an extension of your home, and having different areas for different activities can make it a much more enjoyable place to be. If you can’t afford to buy new plants, and already have a decent selection of perennials, try dividing them up to increase the number of plants in your garden.

Even if your only outside space is a balcony, or even just a window sill, you can still make it look more welcoming with the addition of some plant pots or window boxes.

Compare home insurance quotes

compare home insurance quotes

Home insurance renewal premiums increase every year, even if you haven’t made a claim. Compare deals from over 50 UK providers now and you could pay less than £201* on your home insurance deal.

Compare quotes now

*51% of consumers could save £201.06 on their Home Building & Contents Insurance. The saving was calculated by comparing the cheapest price found with the average of the next fourteen cheapest prices quoted by insurance providers on Seopa Ltd’s insurance comparison website. This is based on representative cost savings from January 2024. The savings you could achieve are dependent on your individual circumstances.

Make your home more energy efficient

Fitting draught-proofing round your doors and windows and replacing incandescent bulbs with LED ones might not be an obvious visible improvement, but it could make a big difference to your energy bills over the long term.

For example, according to the Energy Saving Trust, each traditional light bulb you replace with an LED one will save you up to £2 a year, whereas draught-proofing doors and windows will save you around £20 a year. If you have an open chimney, draught-proofing this could save you a further £15 a year.

You can find other ways to make your home more energy efficient in our article Save money on your energy bills.

Boost your home’s kerb appeal

First impressions count, so if you want your home to have the wow factor, look at ways you can improve it from the outside as well as the inside. If your front door is looking a bit tired, consider painting it and updating the hardware such as the letter plate, house number and door knocker.

If you have a front path, give this a thorough weed and plant some pretty flowering shrubs and bedding plants if you have any flower beds. If not, a couple of pots either side of your doorway can provide a splash of colour. Think about investing in a bin store too to hide unsightly rubbish bins. These can vary widely in price, but a triple bin store that you’ll need to assemble yourself typically starts from around £150.

Can I get a trader in to help me with my home improvement projects?

Government guidelines state that tradesmen can carry out repairs and maintenance in people’s homes, provided they are able to keep a two-metre distance from anyone living there. Work should not be carried out in your home if anyone living there is isolating or shielding. In these circumstances, only emergency jobs can be carried out, for example, if a pipe is leaking or there’s a dangerous electrical fault.

Make sure you’re covered

While the home improvements we’ve mentioned here won’t usually require you to notify your home insurer, it’s still worth checking your policy to see if you’re covered if, for example, you spill paint on your carpet, or chip tiles when you’re removing old grout.

Most buildings and content policies don’t include accidental damage as standard, so you may need to pay an additional premium if you want this cover. Ben Wilson, from GoCompare Home Insurance said, “Before undertaking any home improvements it’s a good idea to dig out your household insurance to check whether you’re covered if things go wrong.  While you don’t need to inform your insurer about routine decorating or maintenance, it’s a worthwhile precaution to check whether you’re covered for accidental damage.

“If you’re planning a major renovation project, particularly if it involves structural changes, one of the first things you should do is to review your buildings and contents insurance to make sure that you have adequate cover both during and after the work has been completed. Otherwise, you could find that you aren’t covered, or worse still you might invalidate your policy.”

Have you embarked on any home or garden improvements during lockdown, or are you planning on making any in the coming weeks? If so, we’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch via [email protected] or leave a comment below.