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Add space and value: Basic repairs to your home

Michael HolmesExperienced renovator Michael Holmes warns of the dangers of neglecting your property and how basic upkeep and maintenance can increase its value over time.

Give your home a health check

‘Athough it’s tempting, do not repair your plasterwork and redecorate, or fit new flooring, until you have checked whether your heating, plumbing and electrics are in need of updating, or before you have confronted any structural problems.’

Tackle leaks and damp

‘Cold and damp will quickly lead to decay. Make sure that the roof is fixed and that the building is stable and dry, and treat any wet or dry rot or insect infestation.’

Give your heating system an overhaul

Basic repairs are the best investment, but adding central heating will add significant value to your home if there isn’t a system in place. Also consider upgrading an inefficient boiler. An energy-efficient model can reduce bills by £200 to £300 per year and pay for itself within five to 10 years. Don’t forget to lag (insulate) the hot water cylinder and hot water pipes.’

Worcester Bosch Greenstar Ri open-vent boiler; Potential repairs on the exterior of a property
ABOVE: (Left) Update your home’s heating system if it is outdated – in an average three-bedroom house, you should be able to do this for less than £5,000. Look for a boiler to suit your family’s demands and the space you have available. Pictured here, the Worcester Bosch Greenstar Ri open-vent boiler costs from £775; (Right) It’s important to check for potential repairs on an annual basis. Pay particular attention to broken guttering, damp patches, cracked downpipes and broken roof tiles – ignoring any of these issues could result in serious damage to your property, which will be expensive to fix.

Improve your basic insulation

‘Loft insulation is usually the easiest way to improve your home’s heat retention, and the savings made will rapidly cover the costs. Fitting doors and windows with draught-excluders is also a good idea, with payback within a couple of years. You can also insulate beneath a suspended timber fl oor; the most common method is to fit chicken wire between the joists and to lay insulation over this. It’s important to use a breathable insulation, like mineral wool.’

Invest in wall insulation

‘If you have cavity walls, explore options to inject insulation. Cavity wall insulation costs between £200 and £400 for a typical three-bedroom house, and the savings made will cover the cost within five years. If you have solid walls, consider adding insulation behind a new exterior finish, such as render or timber siding. If you are reluctant to alter your home’s exterior, you could try fitting wall insulation on the inside of the external walls, but be prepared to lose some space and original architectural detail, such as mouldings, or to replace them on the new internal walls.’

Don’t neglect ventilation

‘If you insulate your home and seal up draughts, it is also essential to upgrade the ventilation or you may suffer from damp problems as a result of condensation. Keep air vents/bricks clear and fit extractor fans in the bathroom, kitchen and utility rooms. If you add insulation to the walls of a traditional house (solid rather than cavity walls), it’s important to use breathable insulation material to ensure walls remain ventilated to prevent the build-up of damp through condensation.’

All prices and stockists correct at time of publishing